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Why We Need Jesus - 30

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
May 26, 2024 7:00 pm

Why We Need Jesus - 30

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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May 26, 2024 7:00 pm

What is necessary for us to be reconciled to God-- Our human inability highlights our need for the high priestly work of Christ on our behalf. Pastor Greg Barkman continues his expositional series in Hebrews.


Well, returning to the book of Hebrews after an interlude of a couple of weeks, it might be helpful to remind ourselves of the purpose for the writing of this book, which was that first century Christian Jews, Jewish by race and Christian by faith in Christ, were suffering persecution because of their faith in Christ, primarily from their friends and neighbors and unbelieving Jews.

And some of them were evidently tempted to return from their faith in Christ back to the old covenant way of worship. Doing so would certainly avert the persecution which they were now experiencing. Doing so would surely honor Moses, the one who God used to give the old covenant to the people of Israel.

Surely that would be a way of honoring their godly heritage, which was a remarkable one indeed, and a way of honoring their forefathers and what they had believed and practiced and some had died for down through the years. But no, they cannot do that. They must not do that because now that Jesus has come, you cannot find salvation in the old covenant.

And that's the problem. God has arranged it so that the old covenant served a temporary purpose until the ushering in of the new covenant and the coming of Jesus Christ. And now that that has been done, now that that is fulfilled, the old covenant does not serve any useful purpose anymore except to study it and see what God has done.

But as far as a way of worship, as far as looking to it in regard to salvation, it's over, it's done, it cannot save. You must continue to trust Jesus, for there is no salvation without Him. You, first century Jews, need Jesus.

And you, 21st century Gentiles, I take it for the most part, also need Jesus. There's no salvation without Him. And why we need Jesus, we'll see in the last three verses of chapter seven, which is something of a summary of what the writer of Hebrews has been saying throughout the seventh chapter and indeed some of the things that he's been saying even prior to that. But summarizing, wrapping up what he said about the superiority of Christ to everything in the old covenant, he answers very clearly this question, why do we need Jesus?

And here's the answer. Number one, because Jesus alone is qualified to save. Number two, because Jesus alone is able to save. And number three, because Jesus alone was appointed to save.

Let's look at it in our text today. Why do we need Jesus? Number one, because Jesus alone is qualified to save. Verse 26, for such a high priest, like the one that has been described in the preceding verses, for such a high priest was fitting for us. He is suited for us. He's perfectly suited to meet our need of salvation.

And why is that? Well, there's several characteristics that qualify Him for this work. He is number one, holy, number two, harmless, number three, undefiled, number four, separate from sinners, and number five has become higher than the heavens. Five wonderful qualities that make Jesus Christ qualified to save sinners.

Number one, because He is holy. At its root, the word holy has the idea of separate, and it is used in a couple of different ways in the Bible. Sometimes it is used of that which is separated from the mass of things and dedicated to the service of God. The Levites in the Old Testament, the Levitical tribe, was separated unto God. In that sense, they were holy. The sons of Aaron and his descendants were carved out from the tribe of Levi and separated to God in an even greater sense, because they and they alone among the Levites were separated unto God to serve as priests. The tabernacle structure, tent, though that it was, was separated unto God. It became holy because it was separated for the worship of God in that alone, as were all of the utensils, the various furniture, items of furniture, and other things in the temple and later in the tabernacle and later in the temple. All of these things were dedicated to God.

They were separated from common use, and they were appointed only for the worship of God, which is why when Belshazzar, who followed Nebuchadnezzar, took the vessels that had been captured in military conquests from the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, and he used them in a drunken feast, God said, that's the final straw. Meanie, meanie, tickle, you farcen, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. You're done, brother.

You're done, bub. I guess brother is not the right word for this man in this situation. You took that which was holy and used it for profane purposes. It was holy. It was separated unto God. However, the word holy also has another meaning when we think about separation, and that is separate from sin. When we say God is holy, in one sense, of course, he's separated from everything else in the world because he's the only thing that is uncreated and everything else he made.

So there is a remarked difference there as a separation. But when we say God is holy, we mean that he is without sin. He's completely separated from sin. And in that sense, the people of God who have been justified by the work of Christ on the cross and the application of that work through faith in him, when we say that saints are holy, and the very word saint carries that idea of holy, we don't mean that we are holy, that is sinless in ourselves, but we mean that we have been made holy in the presence of God before his judgment bar. In our record in heaven, we are not only separated unto God, we are sinless.

Amazing. In ourselves, we are sinful. At the judgment bar of God above, when the books are opened and our record is examined, we are sinless. We are holy. We are in our record before God because of his justifying work and because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. In the record of heaven, believers in Jesus Christ are as holy, are as sinless as Jesus Christ himself. Marvel at that reality.

But it is true. And it is in that second sense that the word holy is used in verse 26 of Hebrews chapter 7 of Jesus Christ. And I know that because the next verse makes that clear. The context tells us which concept of holiness is in view here. So holy means that Jesus is sinless. He has no sin. He has never sinned. He never disobeyed the will of his heavenly Father. He is holy.

That qualifies him to save. Number two, he is harmless, as my translation says. You find different English words to translate that Greek word, depending on what version of the Bible you may have. Some Bibles say that he is innocent, others that he is guileless, others that he is blameless.

And all of those words relate to the meaning of this Greek word translated harmless in my Bible. And what it means is that Jesus Christ has not one slightest evil or harmful thought toward anybody else. He's the only one who fulfilled God's requirement to love your neighbor as yourself. He loved his neighbors as much as he loved himself.

We don't really know how much that is or how to measure that or describe it. But he had not one angry thought, not one bitter thought, not one vengeful thought, not one harmful thought, not one negative thought toward anyone else in all the world. This one is harmless, blameless, guileless, innocent.

He injured no one because he had no thought that even could take him in the direction of wanting to injure someone else. Nobody else in here can say that of themselves, but that was true of Jesus Christ. He's holy. He's harmless. Number three, he's undefiled, sometimes translated pure.

He's undefiled, which takes us one step further. He not only is sinless in the fact that he did not sin, he never did actively commit a sin of transgression against God, but he was inwardly pure to the extent that he had no desire for sin, not the first thought towards sin, really had no capacity for sin. He had no sin within his nature. He was the sinless Son of God, not only in that his behavior was impeccable, but in that his nature never inclined him to sin.

That's amazing, isn't it? Undefiled and pure, inwardly pure. No sinful disposition whatsoever. Sin could not tempt him. Sin could not entice him. Sin could not catch him by surprise. He had no sin nature, nothing within him that responded to any sin or sinful temptation.

He was undefiled. Number four, he was and is separate from sinners. Now, obviously that does not mean that he was removed from sinners, isolated from sinners, corralled off from sinners in some way. That's not what separate from sinners means, because if there was ever anyone who was gladly willing to interact with sinners, to live among them, to eat with them, to talk to them, to appoint to them to truth, that was Jesus.

That's what he did all throughout his earthly ministry. He was the friend of sinners, and yet he was separate from sinners in some sense, and what does that mean? Well, it wraps up what is said about his being holy and harmless and undefiled in saying that he was in a class all by himself. He's separate from sinners because he's the only man who never sinned. He's the only man who wasn't a sinner. He's the only man who had not the slightest bit of sinful inclination within his being.

He is separate from sinners in the sense that he is totally unlike them in that regard. It's so comforting to know that in most respects, Jesus was like us, and therefore he can understand us, and therefore he can help us. We can go to him, we can pray to him. He does understand the difficulties, the disappointments, the infirmities, the trials of life. He understands the loss of a loved one. He understands tiredness and hunger and so forth and so on. He understands all these things because in his humanity, in those respects, he was exactly like us, and so he makes a very suitable high priest in that regard because he can represent us knowingly.

He can represent us as a man representing men and women whom he fully understands. But though he is like us in most aspects of his being, he is totally unlike us in this aspect of his being. He is the only person ever born into this world who has never sinned, has never thought of sinning, never desired to sin, no capacity for sin.

He is in an entirely different class from every other person in this world. He is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. And that's qualification number four that enables him to save us. He alone is qualified to save. And then number five, he is higher than the heavens, or maybe more literally, has become higher than the heavens, or as some translations put it, was made higher than the heavens.

We have to think that through. He is, after all, the eternal Son of God. He had no beginning. He has always been God. God has eternally existed in three seasons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is God the Son from the beginning. So hasn't he always been higher than the heavens? Hasn't he always been exalted above everything else, exalted higher than anything else on heaven or on earth?

Isn't that the case in terms of the Son? And the answer is yes, absolutely yes, emphatically yes, as to his deity. But this is talking about his humanity. It's in his humanity that he was holy.

He did not sin. It was in his humanity that he was harmless, innocent, guileless, blameless, never had a ill thought toward any other person. It was in his humanity that he was undefiled, that he was pure inwardly, as well as in his perfect obedience to the Father. It was in his humanity that he is separate from sinners because he is an entirely different class from all other people who have ever been born and lived in this world. And therefore, it is in his humanity that he has become higher than the heavens, that he has been made higher than the heavens.

Not in his eternal deity. He's always been in that position in his deity. But as the incarnate Son of Man, in his humanity, he has been exalted from lowly man upon the earth to the highest position in all the universe on the throne of God in heaven above. And that is an exaltation that took place in time. Christ the man was exalted to the highest position.

That's what Paul tells us in Philippians chapter 2, does he not? Who being in the form of God, did not consider robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men and being found in appearance as a man. He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. And because he did all these things as a man in perfect obedience to his Heavenly Father, therefore, verse 9 tells us, God has also highly exalted him. He's exalted the man, Christ Jesus. When he came out of the grave as a glorified man with a glorified body, he was still a man.

He had still two natures, his divine nature and the human nature that he took upon him in the virgin conception. And so God took that humanity of Jesus Christ and exalted that to the very highest place in heaven above, given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and those in heaven and those on earth and those under the earth, that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ, the glorified man who died on the cross, is Lord, sovereign Lord. He is God, higher than the heavens. He was exalted higher than the heavens. And so this one, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and higher than the heavens is certainly qualified to save sinners from their sins. He is eminently qualified. How could you find anyone who meets these qualifications?

You can look high and low and you never will. But because he alone is qualified to save, we need Jesus because he's the only one who is qualified in this way. Think about that. You first century Jewish Christians who are being tempted to pull away from Jesus, think about this. He's the only one who's qualified to save.

Don't turn from him. Think about that. Any of you who are still wrestling with the concept of salvation and whether or not all of this is true and you're in need of Christ and maybe there's another way that one can be saved, think about this. If you don't come to this one, you'll never find another one who is qualified to save. So why do we need Jesus? Number one, because he alone is qualified to save. Why do we need Jesus? Number two, because Jesus alone is able to save.

Being qualified, he can do it. And that's what verse 27 says, who does not need daily as those high priests to offer up sacrifices first for his own sins and then for the people's for this he did once for all when he offered up himself. The book of Hebrews is a book of contrasts. And here's another contrast. The writer helps us by contrasting this with that, this with the other, that with this, showing us the distinctions that are important in those contrasts.

And here he does it again. First of all, he sets before us the sinful Levitical priests. He describes them as those high priests. Verse 27, who does not need daily as those high priests of which we said there must have been close to a hundred of them down through the history of Israel from Aaron to the last one after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. But these Levitical priests, one after another after another after another, these Levitical high priests were sinners.

That's the point. And those priests, high priests as well as the other priests, but here high priests are in view, needed to offer up sacrifices. And why did they need to do this? Because everybody's a sinner. And because our sins have separated us from God. And because we need to satisfy the justice of God in order to be able to be reconciled to God. And so every high priest being a sinner, like all men are sinners for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, needed first of all to offer sacrifices for himself to deal with his own sin, or he couldn't qualify to offer sacrifices for others. First of all, he needed to qualify himself in relationship to God. And then secondly, to offer sacrifices for others, for the people.

Why? Because all have sinned, including the priests. And that's the contrast.

That's the first category here. The Levitical priests were all sinners. And so they didn't really qualify to bring one into the presence of God. They didn't qualify themselves to come into the presence of God, but God made a provision for them. And he said, if you'll offer these sacrifices, I'll count you qualified, but don't you dare, don't you dare, don't you dare try to carry out priestly work until first of all, you've acknowledged that you are a sinner in need of cleansing and you offer the prescribed sacrifice for yourself in such a way that both you and everyone who witnesses you doing that understands you are a sinner like they are. And now having your own sins dealt with according to the Old Covenant prescription, you can now offer sacrifices for others according to the Old Testament prescription. That's the first category. The sinful Levitical priest.

What's the second category by contrast? The sinless new covenant priest. Look again at verse 27. This high priest taking that phrase from verse 26 and supplying that in that word who at the beginning of verse 27 who Jesus Christ, the high priest, does not need daily as those high priest to offer up sacrifices first for his own sins and then for the peoples. For this he did once for all when he offered up himself.

Now there are two things going on here in the second contrast. The sinless new covenant high priest, number one, needs no sacrifice for himself like the old covenant priest did. They had to offer sacrifices for themselves first and then secondly could offer sacrifices for the people. But Jesus doesn't have to offer any sacrifice for himself.

Why? He has no sin. The shedding of blood and sacrifice is an acknowledgement of sin that must be dealt with. So he needs no sacrifice for himself unlike the old covenant priest. This is one contrast. But there's a second contrast. The old covenant priest had to keep offering sacrifices over and over and over and over again.

Why why? Because they weren't truly efficacious as we'll explain in a moment. But Jesus only needed to offer one sacrifice one time forever and it was done. One was needed because we are all sinners but only one because his sacrifice was effectual to take care of sin forever. One time forever. Unlike the old covenant priest who offered daily sacrifices and never stopped. He was never done. He was never complete. They never could say, now your sins are gone forever. Gone, gone, gone, gone. Yes, my sin is gone. They couldn't say that.

They could say covered, covered, covered, covered. Yes, your sin is covered until the next time when you've got to do it again. And so why do we need Jesus? Number one, because he alone is qualified to save and number two, because he alone is able to save. He is able to save because he's the sinless one. He's able to save because his sacrifice of himself as the sinless sacrifice was done one time and the fact that it did not need to be repeated, it could not be repeated means that it was efficacious forever having been offered one time upon the cross of Calvary. But there's a third one in verse 28.

Why do we need Jesus? Number three, because Jesus alone was appointed to save. Verse 28, for the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath which came after the law appoints the son who has been perfected forever.

Again, contrasts. First of all, what the Old Covenant law provided. It provided, first of all, men to serve as priests, men to serve as high priests. But these high priests were weak.

Why? Because they were men. That's why. They are sinners, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Therefore, they weren't really able to save anyone else. They weren't really able to offer sacrifices that actually saved. They could not bring men into the presence of God to reconcile sinners to God because they could not even bring themselves into the presence of God because of their sins.

And yet that's what the Old Covenant law provided. It was a system of rituals and symbols which taught much truth but could not achieve what the truth revealed, which was needed because of the truth that was revealed in these symbols. These symbols taught that men are sinful. These symbols taught that God is distant from men because of their sins, that you cannot come into the presence of God because you are a sinner.

There were walls and barriers and compartments, and the presence of God and the Holy of Holies could only be approached briefly one time a year by the high priest, and he had to get out of there very quickly after offering blood upon the mercy seat. And all of these are symbols which teach truth, but the system could not address the truth which was revealed in the symbols and the rituals. It could only point to the promise that God would provide.

It could not say, God has made a provision for sin which will satisfy the need and render you reconciled to himself. These symbols in this Old Covenant system could only say, here is the constant reminder that you need a Savior, you need sacrifices, but animal sacrifices really can't do the job. They only point to the need that a greater sacrifice is needed, and by God it has been promised, and you've got to await the fulfillment of that promise. And what the Old Covenant said in effect was, you're not saved by the animal sacrifices. You're not saved by the Old Covenant priesthood. You're not saved by the temple ritual. You're not saved by any of these things.

You're saved by believing the promise that God will provide a Savior. And your participation in all of this is evidence of your faith. Why are you doing this? Why are you coming to the priest? Why are you bringing your animals? Why are you sacrificing them upon the altar?

Why are you going through all of this? Because you are trusting in the God who gave all this and the promise that he would provide the ultimate sufficient forever final efficacious sacrifice, but that sacrifice hasn't been revealed yet, so you believe in the promise that it will come, and God will count that as righteousness. How was Abraham saved? By faith in the promise of God.

The Bible tells us Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. That's the way every Old Testament saint was saved, whoever was saved, by believing the promise of God. If they could not rise above the ceremony and the ritual to understand what all this was pointing to and to trust in God's promise of a coming Redeemer, then they were as lost as a pagan Gentile, even involved in all of the sacrifices and prescriptions and requirements of the Old Covenant law, because that didn't save.

That couldn't save. Only the one and only Savior, the promised Messiah, could save and would save, and so Old Covenant saints were saved by trusting in the promise that he would come, and New Covenant saints are saved by trusting in the promise in the reality, the historical reality, that he has come. So what did the Old Covenant law provide?

Men as high priests and high priests who are weak in a system of rituals and symbols. What has the New Covenant oath, as it's called here, provided? The oath because it was a special promise of God sealed with an oath, according to Psalm 110 4, which is quoted five times throughout these chapters, and the last time just above our text in verse 21, where the emphasis is upon this oath. But what does the Old or the New Covenant oath provide? It provides, number one, a stronger promise.

Levitical priests appointed by divine declaration. The ultimate and only efficacious high priest, Jesus Christ, promised and sealed with an oath. The New Covenant provides a stronger promise. What does the New Covenant oath provide? A subsequent promise. Notice the words of verse 28. For the law appoints as high priest men who have weaknesses, but the word of the oath, notice this, which came after the law, appoints the son who has been perfected forever.

It is a subsequent promise. The law that provided the Levitical high priest came in the days of Moses. It was God who did that.

It was his appointment. But the oath that God swore came in the days of David, several hundred years after Moses. It is therefore to be understood as a subsequent declaration, which announced the replacement of the Old Covenant system. God declared the Levitical priesthood and the Old Covenant system, but when he pronounced that oath, that promise in verse 21, which is a quotation of Psalm 110 4, the Lord has sworn and will not relent. You, my son, are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.

When that oath came, it was a declaration that came after the provision of the law that said, in effect, the law's days are numbered. It will serve until this one comes, but I am swearing by a divine eternal oath that you are a permanent priest, a forever priest, unlike the Old Covenant Levitical priests. And so the New Covenant oath provided a stronger promise. The New Covenant oath provided a subsequent promise. The New Covenant oath provided a perfect high priest.

The Old Covenant provided imperfect priests. That's the best that was humanly possible until God brought His Son into the world by the miracle of the virgin birth. Who could have conceived of that?

Who could have imagined that that's how this would come about? But of course, God had it designed all along. So the Old Covenant provided imperfect priests because that's all that was humanly possible. If you have a priest that's a human being, he's a sinner.

Has to be, because that's the only kind of people there are. All have sinned that come short of the glory of God. But the New Covenant provided a perfect priest.

Why? Because he's not simply a man. He is the God-man. He is the sinless man. He is the virgin-born man. He is the one untouched by Adamic sin. He is the only man who actually is a sinless, perfect, eternal high priest. And so what does the New Covenant oath provide?

A permanent high priest. The Old Covenant provided a temporary solution. It was helpful. Oh, how helpful it was, because God honored those who believed in His promise. God honored the faith that believed His word that He would send a Messiah to effect reconciliation with God. And so the Old Covenant was wonderful in that regard. But the New Covenant provided a permanent solution, not just a temporary solution.

The New Covenant fully addressed the need for reconciliation. With the work of Jesus as the high priest, nothing more is needed. It's done. Nothing more can be added.

It's done. Christ's work satisfied the need once and for all forever. When Jesus on the cross said, it is finished, that's what He meant. Nothing can be added to this sacrifice. Nothing can be added that will do anything to help or to add to the salvation which has been secured once and for all and forever for all God's people, down through the people before the cross and the people after the cross who trust in Him.

What are some applications from our text today? I'd like to have you think through proper reasoning about salvation, which I think is illustrated in this. Human thinking can go something like this. The Old Covenant priests, evidently from what the Bible says, cannot satisfy the need for sinlessness which is required to be reconciled with God. Therefore, God who knows that this is impossible for Old Covenant priests to be sinless and to bring about the reconciliation that is required, therefore the God who knows this will not require more than what human ability is able to produce. Thus, God will accept my best efforts as sufficient to save me.

That's the way human thinking goes, right? But wait, let's hear the word of God. We must have our human thinking tested, shaped, corrected, and replaced by divine thinking.

Divine thinking. Old Testament priests cannot satisfy the need for sinlessness. Their failure exemplifies all human failure. However, God's righteousness cannot lower the standard. Perfection is required to be reconciled to God, but God's grace provides the remedy that man is unable to provide. You, sinner, must humble yourself before Almighty God to accept God's way of salvation, or you will be lost forever. Your reasoning that because God knows that it's impossible for anyone to be perfect, He doesn't require perfection is faulty reasoning. Yes, you are a sinner. Yes, you cannot provide what God requires.

But no, God is not able by His divine justice, His righteous justice, to accept anything short of perfection. Now what? We're in a dilemma.

We're in a corner. We're shut up to God. Salvation is impossible.

Ah, no. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son as that perfect sacrifice, as that necessary righteousness, as that perfect law-keeper that whoever believes in Him will be saved. That's one lesson.

I'll give you one more before we close. And that is all of this, this text and those that go before it, should give us a greater appreciation for Jesus as High Priest. That particular work of Christ is not often mentioned, is not even known by some of God's people, because it's not dealt with in other parts of the Bible, but it is dealt with in chapter after chapter after chapter in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews shows the significance of Christ's High Priestly work. Hebrews shows the essentiality of this truth of Christ's High Priestly work. And therefore, as we study the book of Hebrews, this enlarges our understanding of both the Old Testament as well as the way of salvation, because salvation is only accomplished by the High Priestly work of Jesus Christ, who not only became the sacrifice by dying on the cross, but offered the sacrifice as our High Priest before God in heaven. And this understanding enlarges our understanding and appreciation for the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus, our great High Priest, offered Himself and died.

Shall we pray? Father, we bow at Your throne as we consider the marvel of Your effective way of salvation of sinners. We acknowledge, O Lord, that there is nothing within ourselves that merits salvation, and we acknowledge that we are sinners deserving eternal condemnation. But we reach out to Jesus Christ the way You have provided—the perfect way of salvation. And we cling to Christ, and we trust in Him, and we are secure in trusting Him to be reconciled to You and forever in Your presence. Thank you for these great truths, O Lord. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-28 17:37:32 / 2024-05-28 17:50:28 / 13

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