Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. For the Christian, life is often hard. We may feel alone and tempted to take shortcuts from God's path, but Jesus stands before the Father as our Intercessor praying for His own that we might be able to persevere. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, sometimes we're glad someone goes to bat for us standing in when we can't make it alone.
Is this similar to having an Intercessor? Exactly. You know, Dave, one day I was in a cab here in Chicago and the driver was from a different religion following a different leader. So I said to him, what has your leader been doing since he died? He had died centuries earlier.
And he said, well, I have no idea. And it dawned on me that Christianity is the only religion that tells us what our Redeemer is doing today. He is there beside the throne, representing us to the Father. To all who are listening, I need to emphasize that if you want to be blessed, I sure hope that you stay with us because in this message, I believe that your soul is going to be lifted and encouraged. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts so that the blessing that you receive from running to win, that blessing will then be extended to even more people. Here's what you can do.
Go to RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. At the end of this message, I'll be giving you this contact info again. Well, if you know anything about me, you do know that I love to engage people in religious topics, hoping for an opportunity to talk about Christ. And when I do this, I never have an argument. Once it came close, maybe twice, but never have an argument. There's no use doing that and always being respectful. The Bible says we should respect those with different opinions and if we don't respect them, why should we listen to them or they listen to us? One day I was in a cab with a Muslim driver and I just asked a random question.
It was somewhat random. I said, Muhammad has been dead now for several centuries. What do you think he is doing? What is his occupation? What is he up to?
The driver thought for a moment and said, nobody knows and nobody can find out. So he pointed out that it is really different than Jesus because we know that Jesus didn't stop being the shepherd of his sheep when he went to heaven. In fact, he continues it today. Jesus didn't stop being a redeemer when he died on the cross, was raised and went to heaven. He continues his redemption work. We don't know everything that Jesus does for sure, but we do have some insights as to what Jesus is doing today. The Bible speaks about him as being our advocate. That is one who defends us. It speaks about him being our intercessor and our mediator.
We know that Jesus is doing that. This is actually the sixth in a series of messages titled the inheritance of the redeemed, blessings that belong to all those who put their faith in Christ. And today's blessing, we are going to sail to the heavenlies.
And when it's over, I believe that your life is going to be changed. The context in which we're going to look at scripture are the context really of persecution. Christians found the pressure to live for Christ so strong that they were tempted to give up the faith. Just like we sometimes find that pressure today, though we have no idea of what all the saints in the past have endured. In fact, it's written to those who are going through periods of doubt.
Is Jesus really all that he claimed to be? Can we hang in when life gets difficult? I hope that at the end of this message, you'll realize that you can hang in when life gets difficult. I hope you also realize that if you're planning to sin, and some of you may be planning to sin this coming week, that you recognize that that is such an indictment regarding the savior whom we are going to expound upon that sin is never a good idea.
I hope we learn all that and more. Two passages of scripture that we're going to use, and we have to use both. Both of them are in the book of Hebrews, and I want you to take your Bibles and turn to Hebrews chapter four, and also seven. Now, I thought I had it in my Bible, and I'm sure that unless somebody pulled the pages out, the book of Hebrews is here somewhere. I don't think anyone did.
I was just sitting beside Bill, so I don't think he'd have done that. It's the last verses of chapter four of Hebrews and the last verses of chapter seven. In my Bible, there's only a page between.
Now, if you have a phone or other means by which you are watching or reading, you'll have to go back and forth. And if you are listening to this by radio and you may be driving a car or running on your treadmill, whatever it is that you're doing, remember, last verses of Hebrews chapter four, last verses of Hebrews seven. I'm going to take time to actually read these verses.
I'm picking it up in chapter four, 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 to 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. 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.
Now, chapter seven, just turn the page at verse 23. The former priests were many in number because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds the priesthood permanently because he continues forever, consequently is able to say to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he is always living, he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.
He has no need like those high priests to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. Since he did this once for all when he offered up himself, for the law points men and their weaknesses as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law appoints his son who has been made perfect forever. The reason I'm using both passages of scripture today is both of them have to do with the advocacy of Jesus, Jesus as intercessor, and today I may be using the word advocate, intercessor interchangeably because they essentially mean the same thing. Here's what we're going to do. I'm going to give you four characteristics of Jesus as our intercessor, four characteristics, and then we'll talk about the implications, the life changing implications, and we're going to be using both passages in the process.
I hope that our intention here is very clear. The first characteristic of Jesus as our intercessor is that he is sinless. You'll notice we read it there in chapter seven. We have a high priest who is holy, innocent, undefiled, unstained, and in chapter four it says he was tempted like we are, but without sin. The sinlessness of Jesus. Now we must understand that Jesus had a fully human body, mind, and soul.
Totally, completely 100% human. You know, that explains why sometimes he made statements that are mysterious to us that he didn't know when he was going to return to earth. He said, nobody knows that. The angels don't. The son of man doesn't.
Just the father. And you read that and you say, well, didn't Jesus have omniscience? As God he did, and sometimes he displayed that omniscience, but oftentimes he was thinking of himself and operating in the incarnation, not depending upon his divine attributes. And that explains also why he even made the statement once, my father is greater than I. Well, not in essence. We know that. But greater in the particular incarnation that Jesus was experiencing. But he was totally sinless. Now I've told this story many times.
It's probably the last time you will hear it, but it's necessary, especially for students that are here. You remember at the Parliament of World Religions where I've told you how I went down in the Palmer House where there were about 100 different religions with their various propaganda and information. And I went for a search for a sinless savior. I went to the Buddhists. No, Buddha didn't claim sinlessness, enlightenment, Baha'u'llah.
I already knew as I went to the table regarding Islam that in the Quran, Muhammad indicated that he also had sinned and needed forgiveness. So here I am. I'm looking for a sinless savior. And I explained to the people, and they had very blank looks on their face, when I said, I'm a sinner, and I'm looking for a sinless savior because another sinner can't save me.
I need somebody who is above the battle. You know, in Florida, there was a toddler who fell into a swimming pool. The grandmother, in desperation, hopped in after the toddler. Both of them drowned because neither of them could swim. And that's the way the religions of the world are. Not to put too fine a point on it, but other religions say this. Look, I'm a sinner, but I'm telling you how to live.
Let's join hands and go to the bottom of the lake together, enjoying it to the extent that we can. We are sinners, and we need somebody to save us who's sinless. Jesus meets that qualification. And I also believe that that's why he was virgin born, to protect his sinlessness. All right, first of all, Jesus is sinless. Secondly, he is sympathetic.
He's sympathetic. We read it there in chapter four when it says, we do not have a high priest, this is verse 15, I think, who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who is in every respect been tempted as we are, yet without sin. He can sympathize with us, tempted in all points. Now, of course, that doesn't mean that Jesus experienced every single temptation that human beings ever would experience.
That's not possible. For example, he'd have never experienced the temptation that perhaps a woman has because Jesus wasn't a woman or a married man. And so what it means is that Jesus experienced the essence, the essence of temptation for all of us. And what was the essence of temptation? We see in the book of Matthew that the Holy Spirit comes down like a dove upon Jesus.
And the Father says, you are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And immediately after that, it drives Jesus, the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And he's tempted by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, just like we are. But his temptation always, remember this about the devil, his great desire is to separate you from fellowship with the Father. He doesn't care what sin it is. What he wants to do is to make you question God's goodness. He did this in the Garden of Eden. You know, would a good God restrict you so that you can't eat the fruit of the tree of the garden?
Of course not. A good God wouldn't do that. A good God wouldn't restrict you the way he does morally and in other ways. And so what you want to do is to argue against the goodness of God and drive a wedge between you and God. That's why Satan is a splitter.
He wants to split you from God. Jesus experienced that. But because he was pure, he experienced that in a way that you and I will never have to experience it with a tremendous amount of pressure.
None of us, for example, have ever been in such agony that we have sweat drops of blood. But Luke says Jesus did that. So he experienced the great trials and the great pressures. You say, could he have sinned?
No, I don't believe that Jesus could have sinned for the obvious reason that his deity and his humanity were united in such a way that he could not have sinned as man without also tainting the divine nature. They were brought together in a way by which he couldn't sin. But yet he experienced the temptations powerfully. And that's why he can sympathize with us.
That's what the scripture says. Jesus feels your pain. You know, if you had two pianos together and you hit middle C on one piano and there's another piano in the room, the other will pick up that kind of resonance, that kind of sympathetic resonance, Jesus picks up on your pain.
And he can say, I know what the temptation is. I know what the trials are. I have been through all that.
And I understand in a very special way what you are enduring. So the cries on earth have sympathy, resonance, if you please, in heaven. That's why when the Apostle Paul, you remember, was accosted on the way to Damascus, Jesus came to him and said, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? You persecute my church.
You are hurting me. And throughout the world today where there is persecution of Christians, Jesus is entering into their pain, into their loss, into their loneliness, because he knows what it's like experientially to go through pain and loss and difficulty. So Jesus here is saying to us, as we think about him, we've covered two characteristics. First of all, he is sinless. And secondly, he is sympathetic. By the way, these four characteristics all begin with a letter S. Normally, they don't in my sermons, but today they do. It just happens that it fell out that way. You know, the sermon came down from heaven already made.
Wouldn't that be easy if it did? He's sinless. He's sympathetic. He's sacrificial. Now notice what the text says in 723.
We're again back in 7. It says that the former priests were many in number because they were prevented by death. Death has a way of ending your career. By the way, if you ever meet somebody who's complaining about old age, encourage them by reminding them that old age does come to an end.
Yeah, it comes to an end. They were prevented from living forever because of death, and so there had to be many priests. So one of the contrasts is between many priests and this high priest who lives forever, as the text says. And it's not just that, it's many sacrifices. They offered many sacrifices, and Jesus, you have to read these verses for yourself, but in verse 27 of this passage, it says that he offered himself once for all because his was the final sacrifice and the only sacrifice that really took away sins and all the other sacrifices pointed toward it. So Jesus is the sacrificing intercessor, the third characteristics. And the other is this, that all the other priests stood. There were no chairs at the altar, and so they worked in three shifts of eight apiece, that is to say eight hours apiece, because if you were to sit down, that would imply that your work was done. But God wanted to say, in the Old Testament, your work is never done because there's this river of sin that needs to be taken care of continually, and so it is what it is. And Jesus sat down. I've mentioned this before, but again, you should keep these things in your mind so that you can witness to people and answer some of their objections. You don't have to answer all of them. But if somebody says to you, well, you know, this idea of demanding a sacrifice, other gods demanded that too.
You can go on the internet and you can see it. The answer that you need to give to people is simply this, that there is no other religion in which God becomes the sacrifice. This is so critical that Jesus not only was the priest, the priest offered sacrifices. Jesus, the text tells us here at the end of verse 27, once for all offered himself, he becomes the sacrifice. You know, sheep often lay down their lives for the shepherd. This is the one instance in which the shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He is the sacrifice. And that sacrifice is the blood of Christ, which takes away the sin of the world. So we have Jesus sinless. We have him sympathetic. We have him sacrificial. And now it's very critical he is seated at the right hand of God.
Why is that important? Listen, if you had a dispute with the President of the United States, you know, you could say, well, Mr. President, we have this dispute. I am bringing my own mediator to help us negotiate this.
I think the President would say, no, no, that's not acceptable. If we're going to have a mediator, and sometimes it's good, I'm going to supply the mediator. So not any old mediator is going to do. It is God who is going to supply that mediator, and that mediator has a right to be the mediator because after his work was done, he was taken to heaven and he's seated at the right hand of God the Father. Now, it's very interesting that in the Old Testament, when a priest was going to offer the final sacrifice, or when the high priest went into the Holy of Holies, as he did on one day a year, he had to basically go through three entrances. The first entrance got him into the Court of the People, the General Court, and then there was an entrance into what we call the Holy Place. And then there was the curtain, and he had to go behind the curtain into the Holy of Holies, where the mercy seat was. And what the Bible says is that this Ark of the Covenant and this whole tabernacle is actually a copy of the tabernacle in heaven. That's what it says in the ninth chapter of the book of Hebrews. So you see, what Jesus did is, when he ascended on high, he went through, first of all, the atmospheric heavens, the birds of the heaven, and then he went through the stellar heavens, where all the stars are, and then he went into the third heaven, which is really the essence of where God dwells. Now, God is everywhere, but there's a sense in which God is localized to one place, and it's that upper heaven that Jesus went to.
But furthermore, the scripture says in the ninth chapter of Hebrews that he passed through the heavens, well, I'm reading it here, for Christ has entered not to the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things that are in heaven, but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God and our behalf. Well, I certainly hope that you listen to Running to Win next time, because I believe that the continuation of the message will be a tremendous blessing. I'm holding in my hands a letter from someone. It is a brief letter, but it means a great deal to me. It says, I've been listening to the teachings of Running to Win and need to follow in the ways of the Lord now.
Why is this letter special? Well, it comes to us from West Africa, and it reminds all of us that Running to Win is in 20 different countries in four different languages. We are throughout the Middle East and much of Africa. Would you consider helping us as we expand this ministry? Would you consider becoming what we call an endurance partner? You need more info, don't you? So here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com, and when you're there, you click on the endurance partner button, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Endurance partners stand with us regularly with their prayers, their gifts. Consider becoming a partner of this ministry. Once again, go to RTWOffer.com, click on the endurance partner button, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
Thank you so much for helping us. God bless you, and let's continue to spread the gospel. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. Jesus is the great mediator between God and man. He himself was the sacrifice. Next time on Running to Win, more about our intercessor. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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