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Our Great High Priest

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
October 15, 2023 7:00 pm

Our Great High Priest

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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October 15, 2023 7:00 pm

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If you have your Bibles, turn with me if you would to Hebrews chapter 4, and we're going to be looking at verses 14 through 16. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace and help to help in time of need. Would you bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, I pray for our sick this morning.

We have many. Pray for Lisa Menzel, who is awaiting serious surgery for a brain aneurysm. Pray for Bernie Lowes, who will soon be operated on for a knee replacement. Pray for May Rainey, who's greatly suffered through a bone marrow transplant. Pray for Jeremy Carriker and Jim Belk, Brenda Torrance, Kim Oudy. Pray for Nicole Lowes. Lord, we also pray for Fran Ruisi, as she this week has experienced, John, her husband's home going. I pray for Betty West, that you would strengthen her body and give her joy. Pray for Wanda Abercrombie, that you would bring healing and peace to her. Lord, this morning especially, I pray for our world as militant Muslims slaughter innocent Israelis, Americans and others.

I pray that you would bring their terror to a halt. Heavenly Father, what a glorious and exciting passage of scripture that we have before us today. We're being commanded to come boldly under the throne of grace. Father, this can be hard because when we think of your greatness and majesty and holiness, then we consider our sinfulness and failures. We feel so unworthy that it's tough to come boldly to you in prayer. Help us to realize that our boldness is based on what Christ did, not what we did. Father, help us to hold firmly to our confession. Lord, keep my lips from error. Use this message to exalt Jesus, for it is in the holy and precious name of Christ that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. When my kids were little, we would go to Freedom Park every July 4th, and they had a fireworks celebration there that would absolutely knock your socks off. Skyrockets, giant skyrockets, giant Roman candles, and they would just explode into the air. The colors were gorgeous, the patterns were always perfect, and the sky would just light up with brilliance. I loved seeing the fireworks.

Let me tell you what I liked even better. I loved seeing the expressions on my children's faces as they looked at those beautiful fireworks. Their eyes would twinkle with wonder and just joy over what they were seeing.

I loved the fireworks myself, but I loved the expression on my kids' face even much better. The writer of Hebrews is writing to persecuted, ostracized, hurting Christians. Christians who have gone through a very tough time, and they are very discouraged. Now, the writer of Hebrews in earlier passages has been warning them not to give up, but to persevere, not to quit. But in the passage that we are looking at today, he's encouraging them by pointing them to their spiritual hope. The writer of Hebrews wants to see what I saw in the eyes of my kids. He wants to see wonder and joy over what Christ has done for them. He wants to see their spiritual backbones solidified as with concrete.

I've got three points I want to share with you this morning. Point number one is this, a requirement, hold firmly to your faith. Look at me at verse 14. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens. Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. Why should we hold fast our confession? Why should we refuse to just give up and quit?

Why should we persevere when there's family and friends and business associates and government and culture that are just telling us that this Christianity stuff is nothing and that we should walk away from it? And today, there's unbelievable pressure coming on us from social media. About two months ago, there was a 16-year-old boy in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system who committed suicide. His grandmother said that he lived on Facebook and that he wrote on Facebook to all of his friends out there. He said, I am terribly, horribly depressed. I don't think I want to live anymore. I think it would be better for me just to not exist so I think I may kill myself.

And 16 of his so-called friends on Facebook said, yes, that's what you need to do. You need to go ahead and take your life and that will end your depression. You'll cease to exist.

You won't feel anything anymore. That's the thing for you to do. Not one person said to him, don't do it. Don't kill yourself.

Don't believe Satan's lie. Your answer is not suicide. Your answer is Jesus Christ. And what did he do? He took his own life. The writer of Hebrews said to these downtrodden Christians, hold firmly to your confession.

Why should they? Because Jesus Christ, our great high priest, has ascended into heaven. I want you to listen to what Kent Hughes said. He said, Jesus, our great high priest, after his once only sacrifice for sins on the cross, passed through the heavens, going through the first heaven, the atmosphere, the second heaven, outer space, and finally into the third heaven, the most holy of all places, the presence of God. And there he sat down, something no high priest had ever done because his atoning work was finished.

He remains at God's right hand, making intercession for us. Folks, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was proof that Jesus Christ was exactly who he said he was. Who did he claim to be?

Jesus said that he was the Messiah. He was the Christ. He was the Son of God. He was the Son of Man. He was our Lord and our Savior.

He was King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is from everlasting to everlasting. He is the great I Am. He is Yahweh. And the resurrection of Jesus Christ was God's stamp of approval on all that he said about himself. But then there was a second stamp of God's approval, and that was Jesus' ascension into heaven. His ascension reminds us that he is our great high priest and that he is seated at the right hand of God, and he is interceding for all of us as believers.

A moment ago, I shared with you about enjoying the expressions of joy and wonder on the face of my children as we were watching the fireworks at Freedom Park. That is exactly what the ascension of Jesus Christ ought to do to the heart of every genuine believer. Now, I want you to think back with me, if you would, just for a minute to the recording in the scripture of the ascension. I want you to find that in the first chapter of the book of Acts. The disciples are there with Jesus. Jesus has given them marching orders, so to speak.

He has given them instructions. They've asked him some questions, and then Jesus said to them, he said, And you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. And as they stood there watching, the Shekinah glory cloud of God surrounded the Lord Jesus Christ, and he ascended back up into heaven. The disciples watched that.

I'm sure they knew that they were going to miss him, but they watched that with unbelievable wonder. I believe their eyes sparkled, and all of a sudden two angels appeared before the disciples. And I'm sure the angels were excited as they saw the wonder and the joy in the countenances of these disciples. And then one of the angels said this, You men of Galilee, why stand you here gazing into heaven? This same Jesus who has just left you is going to come again in like manner.

Now, I want you to think about something. What did the disciples put their mind on? What did they think about when they were going through persecution? I think about James, who was the first disciple who was martyred. They took James and they drug him down the streets of Jerusalem, and they were dragging him right to the chopping block where his head was going to be decapitated. As they were taking him there, what was James thinking? I'll guarantee you he was thinking about the ascension.

And he was thinking to himself in just a few minutes, I am going to be with him, and I'm going to be with him forever and ever and ever. I think of the Apostle John, James' brother, and how he was taken and taken off the street. They ripped his toga off, they took to a whip, and they lacerated his back. And what's John doing during all this time? I think that he's thinking about the resurrected, ascended Christ, who is seated at the right hand of God, who is interceding for him. I think of Peter when they took Peter and they threw him into jail. And they told him that on the very next day, Herod Agrippa had ordered that he be executed. He knew that James, just the day before, had been executed. He had been decapitated, and he's thinking, well, maybe now it's my time.

And they put him in the prison, and they chain him up between two Roman soldiers. What is he doing? Is he begging the soldiers to let him go, to free him? No. Is he scared to death and crying about death that looks like it's very imminent? Is that what's going on?

No. Peter did not recant his faith. What did Peter do? Peter fell asleep.

He was just sawing logs. How in the world do you do that when you know that in just a few hours you're going to die, you're going to be executed? Peter sound asleep.

How? He remembered the ascension. He remembered that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father, and Jesus was interceding for him. And God the Father sent an angel, and the angel released Peter, put all the guards to sleep, pulled his chains off his hands and his feet, opened up all the prison gates and doors, and Peter walked out. Peter lived for 30 more years after this, and every day preached the gospel. He didn't die then. Let me tell you this.

He wasn't scared to die either. Well, the writer of Hebrews is using that same motivation to put joy into our eyes and to put wonder into our hearts as we remember who Jesus is, and he tells us to hold fast that confession. What does it mean to hold firmly to our confession? What is our confession? I guess I could share with you the Apostles Creed.

Let me make it a little bit easier. I'll just do it in my own words. Jesus Christ was the virgin-born Son of God. He lived a perfect, sinless life here on this earth. He died on a cross and shed his blood to pay our sin debt. He rose from the dead to break the power of death. He ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for us, and the day is coming when Jesus is coming back a second time to judge the quick and the dead. Folks, Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation.

Every other road that people give us telling us, this is the way, is a lie, and it's absolutely false. So every Sunday in this church, what do we do? We confess our sins, don't we? And we confess who Jesus is, that he is Lord, that he is Savior, that he is God.

And you know what? I love doing that. It's very special. It helps me to put myself in the light of who God sees me. God sees me as a sinner that has been saved and my sins have been washed away. When he looks at me now, he sees the righteousness of Christ, not my filthy rags.

He sees himself, and it's a glorious and wonderful thing. But you know what? When we do that on Sunday morning, it's kind of easy, isn't it? It's kind of easy because we're among friends. People here are here because we want to worship Jesus. And they love us and they love Jesus, and so it's not too hard.

It's kind of easy. But we are told to hold firm our confession, not just when it's easy, but all the time. And that means that we're to hold our confession at school and when we're in the business world and when we're on the ball field and when we're in the marketplace. Let me tell you, when you hold first fast your confession during those times, there's going to be people there that hate you because they hate Jesus. And they're going to talk trash about you.

And they're going to put you down so much because you love Jesus that you're going to feel like an unintelligent, unenlightened, brainwashed, radical fanatic. It doesn't feel good, does it? It kind of hurts, and it makes us want to pull back. It makes us want to be quiet. Folks, that's a wrong response.

That's the wrong response. That's the perfect time for us to hold firmly our confession. In my last sermon, I shared with you an illustration about Grant Castleberry's father. He was in the Marines. And I shared with you how there was a situation where they were taking this squad of Marines to a house to award them for their services. They didn't know what was going on.

And when they got there, they brought in entertainment, and the entertainment was strippers. Grant Castleberry's dad was a strong Christian. And what he did was he sat down in the corner of that house.

He put his hands over his eyes, and he refused to look. Exactly a week later, Grant Castleberry's dad died in battle. He was killed. And at his funeral service, the other Marines went up to his wife.

And they went up to his wife, and they hugged her neck. And they said, we want you to know that his testimony greatly convicted us. We want you to know that when he stood up and he fought sin, when we didn't have the guts to do it, that made us convicted of our sin, and it made us hunger for Jesus. Folks, that is what it means to hold fast to your confession. That's what he's talking about here in verse 14.

Before I move on, let me say this. We need to be sure that our confession is biblical. Look with me in 2 Corinthians 11, verse 3 through 4. Paul said, but I'm afraid that as a serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus and the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

What people say is this. We worship Jesus. This is the Jesus who wants us to be rich. This is the Jesus who is proud when we take part in the gay pride parades. This is the Jesus who looks the other way in our immorality and the abortions that we commit.

This is the Jesus we worship. What is Paul saying? Paul's saying that's not the true Jesus. Paul's saying that's a false Jesus. That's a phony Jesus. You're being lied to.

You're being deceived. That's a demon that you're worshiping, but it's not Jesus. Brothers and sisters, we have to be faithful to biblical truth. We can't pick and choose which biblical truth that we're going to follow and what we're not. We must bow to all biblical truth. J.C. Ryle said the following about verse 14, A religion without doctrine or dogma is a thing which many are fond of talking of in the present day. Sounds very fine at first.

Looks very pretty at a distance. But the moment we sit down to examine and consider it, we shall find it a simple impossibility. We might as well talk of a body without bones and sinews. No man will ever be anything or do anything in religion unless he believes something. No one ever fights earnestly against the world, the flesh, and the devil unless he has engraven on his heart certain great principles which he believes. Alright, my point too is reasons that we should persevere. Look at verse 14 and 15. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.

Let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. So here the writer of Hebrews is giving us reasons that we should persevere in our faith.

His first reason is that Jesus has gone ahead of us and he has secured our salvation for us. His saving work is the antidote for our fear. You say, Doug, what fear are you talking about?

What kind of fear? It's fear of failure, fear of falling away, fear of not measuring up, even the fear of drawing near to God, even the fear of prayer. You remember verse 13 that we looked at last time?

It says no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account. I tell you, it makes me uneasy to realize that God sees everything I've done, that he knows every thought that I've had. He's right there when I'm watching the Clemson football game and the kicker misses a field goal, loses the game for us, and I get mad. He's right there when somebody says something that offends me and I get ugly and bitter about it. He's right there when I have a lustful thought and I treat that lustful thought as being trivial. Understand why Adam and Eve pathetically ran off and hid from God after they sinned because they were filled with shame and they were filled with embarrassment. This is how many Christians feel in their relationship with God all the time.

The thoughts of his gaze upon them just chills their bones. They struggle to pray because of the horrible, horrible presence of shame. I understand that.

I think you understand that, too. Philip Hughes said that verse 14 and 15 are tremendous, glorious verses that we should use in our life to fight against shame and embarrassment and conquer it. He said this, Sinners are no longer commanded to keep their distance in fear and trembling, but on the contrary are now invited to draw near and to do so with confidence. The writer of Hebrews is teaching about who Jesus is and he does that.

There's all kinds of references to the Old Testament in Hebrews. He goes back to it over and over again just like you see in the book of Revelation. How does he teach us about Jesus? Through the Old Testament. He uses types and symbols and pictures that point us to who Jesus is. He is the reality.

He is the substance. I'll give you an example. Bev Nolan teaches the fifth grade kids at Wednesday nights. She told me that they had come up with a list of 25 questions and they wanted me to come in and answer those questions. And so I looked at the questions. They were poignant and unbelievably well thought out. Let me read you question 11. Does Isaac represent Jesus or does the Lamb represent Jesus in Genesis chapter 22?

My answer is both. Isaac is a powerful picture of Jesus. Isaac and his father Abraham are walking together up on Mount Moriah and Isaac holds on his shoulder a wood that is going to be used to burn him as a sacrifice.

That wood is a picture of the cross. They get up to the top of Mount Moriah altars there and Abraham takes Isaac and lays him out on the altar and begins to tie him up. Now Isaac is 16 years old. Abraham is way over 100. Isaac doesn't have to do this.

He could have just run off as fast as he could and gotten away from his daddy. He doesn't do that. He is in full submission to his father. Who's that a picture of? That's a picture of Jesus who said no man takes my life from me.

I lay down my life for the sheep. Abraham reached down. He took his big knife.

He pulls it up over his head. He gets ready to plunge it into his son's heart and God stops him and points him to a ram that's caught in the thicket. And so he lets Isaac go free and then he reaches over and he takes the ram and lays it on the altar.

He kills the ram. Folks, who is the type of Christ here? Both Isaac and the ram are beautiful pictures, symbols, or types that are pointing us to who the Lord Jesus Christ really is. In John chapter 5, Jesus said to the religious leaders search the scriptures for they testify of me. The writer of Hebrews is going to great lengths here to let us know that the Levitical priest that started way back during the time of Aaron all the way through until that point in time those Levitical priests were types and pictures of who Jesus really was.

He's the reality. Jesus is the substance. Let me remind you very quickly of the Day of Atonement. We call it Yom Kippur. And the Day of Atonement is one day a year and the high priest is the only one that can perform the actions on the Day of Atonement. He first of all gets a ram, a goat, and he kills it for himself and he offers the blood as a sacrifice for himself. Then he cleanses himself over and over and over again and then he gets another ram, a goat, he kills it and he takes that blood in order that he might sacrifice it for all the people of Israel. And he goes with a basin of that blood in his hands, he goes into the tabernacle and he walks through the first room called the Holy Place.

He goes back behind the veil and he goes into the second room called the Holy of Holies. In the Holy of Holies there is an object and that's the Ark of the Covenant. On the top of the Ark of the Covenant there is a mercy seat. On the top of the mercy seat there are two sculptured cherubim.

They have their wings over their heads pointing toward each other. And then the high priest takes the branch of hyssop, he dips it down into the goat's blood, he sprinkles it on the mercy seat and all of a sudden the Shekinah glory of God, the bright shining presence of God, enters right between the wings of the cherubim and hovers there letting the high priest know that the people's sins had been forgiven for that year, that his sins had been forgiven, that the sins had been dealt with by the blood of that goat. God's wrath was propitiated. That means his wrath has been appeased.

His wrath has been turned away from his people. Israel's priest pointed us to Jesus. But Israel's priests were just types, they were just pictures, they were just symbols of the reality Christ. The sacrifices had to be offered every year by these Levitical priests, had to be offered every single year.

Why? Because the propitiation was just temporary, only for a year. Folks, the blood of the bulls and goats could only temporarily cover sin, but they could not wash it away. The book of Hebrews spends vast amounts of time teaching us about the priesthood of Christ. In chapter 4, chapter 5, chapter 7, we're going to see it, and it's absolutely beautiful that Jesus didn't go into the Holy of Holies in a tabernacle or in a temple. Jesus left this earth and went into the very heaven of heaven itself, and he met with God the Father. And when he went, he didn't take the blood of bulls and goats with him, he took his own precious shed blood and presented it before God the Father. The blood of bulls and goats could only cover sin, but the blood of Jesus Christ washed our sin away forever and ever and ever and ever. Folks, the writer of Hebrews is saying this, fear God, respect God, worship God, but don't be afraid of God. Jesus paid it all. All right, the second reason that we should persevere is the sympathy that Jesus bears for us in heaven.

Verse 15 again, for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet was without sin. The question the writer of Hebrews is asking is this, does Jesus really care? Does he really care?

We picture Jesus and all of his glory on his throne, we think about what's going on here on this earth, I think about the wokeness and the perversion and the corruption that's taking place in our government, in our culture, in our institutions, and even in many of our churches. I think about the war in Ukraine, I think about the godless attack of Hamas on Israel this past week, I think about the rise of communist China, I think about the decline of the dollar, and we think about all that and we say Jesus has got to be way too busy with all this going on to really care about what's going on in my life. He couldn't really care.

Let me tell you something, he does care. Jesus is not disinterested and cold to what you're going through. Jesus took on human nature and was tempted in all points, even as we are, yet without sin. You have never experienced the temptation that Jesus did not experience himself and defeated, and defeated totally.

I think of Jesus when he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Satan came to him while he was out in the wilderness and Satan said to him, you're hungry, why don't you take these stones, turn them into bread and eat? And Jesus said, it is written, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple, he said, why don't you just jump off and you won't dash your foot of stone and that will prove that you're God. Jesus said, it is written, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Satan brought all the kingdoms of the world before Jesus and he said to him, you just bow before me and you worship me and if you do that, then all these kingdoms will be yours and Jesus said, it is written that thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him alone shalt thou serve. Every temptation that Jesus ever faced, he conquered and he knows that we need his strength. So, listen carefully to this, Jesus cares. He really cares.

He's interceding for you because he cares. He hurts when you hurt, he hurts when you're tempted and he intercedes for us to God the Father. He explained this to his disciples on the night that he was arrested in the upper room, John 14, 1 through 3. Jesus said this, let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there, you may be also. Jesus said that he would not leave us like an orphan. He would send the Holy Spirit ahead of us to comfort us. Some of you are going through troubles like you've never been through before.

Maybe you've gotten a diagnosis from your doctor that you've got cancer and maybe it's a cancer that could very well be fatal. Some of you are going through a time where you've got a rebellious child. You've been praying for that rebellious child and yet he just, he or she just continues to turn more and more away from Christ and more and more toward the world. Some of you are going through times of deep depression and that depression is just stealing all of your joy. Jesus said, you're not alone. You're not alone. Jesus is at the right hand of God the Father. He is interceding for you and the Holy Spirit is not just with you, but he is in you, in you to bring assurance and peace and joy. Folks, don't give up.

Don't quit, but do persevere. Alright, my last point is a resource and that is the throne of grace. Verse 16, let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. So how do we draw near to the throne of grace? And here I'm not talking about heaven and the sweet by and by. I'm talking about earth right now, the nasty now now.

This is what we're talking about. To approach the throne of grace is to pray. How are we to pray?

I think first of all we're to pray with humility. Oh, but Doug, the scripture says here that we're to come boldly before the throne of grace. Well, that doesn't mean to come cocky before the throne of grace. That doesn't mean to come self-assured. That means you understand that Jesus did it all.

You didn't do anything. You just depended on him. That's why you can come to him in prayer.

And then secondly, you come to him with joy. Prayer is a privilege. Unbelievers don't have that blessing and privilege. We do have that blessing and privilege.

This is one of the greatest joys in my life that I don't deserve. Three, we are to come to prayer with great expectations. Ephesians 3.20 says, Now to him who is able to do more abundantly than we think or ask.

We honor God when we pray big, don't we? We should be realizing that our God is omnipotent. What does that mean? That means all powerful. Luke 1.37 says, For with God nothing is impossible. But Jesus is not just omnipotent, he's also omniscient. What's that mean?

That means that he knows everything. And so we pray something and that prayer, Jesus knows, is not going to lead to our ultimate good or his ultimate glory. He's going to answer that prayer with a no.

And we need to be serious about that and excited about that. And we need to accept that no as being a blessing. Four, we need to pray with confidence.

Love the way the King James Version translates verse 16. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. We don't have to be tentative. We don't have to be anxious.

We don't have to be scared. We are to come boldly to the throne of grace. Just trusting him, just having confidence in him, and approaching that throne of grace with joy and approaching that throne of grace with great expectation. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, you've commanded us to come boldly before the throne of grace. The Scriptures teach us how, with humility, with joy, with great expectations, and with confidence. As the disciples said 2,000 years ago, Lord, teach us to pray. It is in Jesus' holy, wonderful, and precious name that we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-19 01:40:52 / 2023-10-19 01:53:57 / 13

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