Half a Gospel — Lord’s Day 11
// January 4th, 2012 // Sermons
Along with this conviction I have also noticed how pride can really blind people to see the obvious truths in scripture. I have had numerous discussions with people lately about some controversial topics in Christianity. I tried my best to keep these conversations from getting heated, they did get a little heated, but for the most part the conversations were good, except two things. First as the conversation went on farther many people made lots of claims about things that I had never heard of in scripture. They would say this or that but never way where it was mentioned in scripture. When I finally asked them to show me where it says these things, they were unable to show me. The second thing is a big one. The other thing that I noticed is that when people have decided that they know everything about a particular topic, pride come creeping in and blinds them from even looking at the truth (Sadly I have noticed this in my own life as well). As I showed them passages of scripture that, I felt, argued my point, they came up with some really off the wall responses to what the passage really meant. They were so determined to be right, rather than seeking the truth, they were blind to even seeing what God’s word is telling them.
Tonight I want to challenge you as believers to strive, to fight, to stay away from these two ways of thinking and acting. There are many of you in this room who believe something but you are completely unable to explain why you believe it. To be completely honest you don’t even know why you believe it. The majority of your belief system is based on what people have told you to believe rather than basing it on God’s word. Go to God’s word for your guidance. Search God’s word for the answers. They are there waiting for you. You need know why you believe what you believe or you will never live it and you will never actually believe it.
As for the other issue, the one that deals with pride. There are many of you here in this room tonight who have grown up in the church your whole life. You have gone to private school, Sunday school, and have attended church every night. Your family has done devotions after supper every night since you can remember and you have tried your best to get up every morning to read the bible yourself. As a result of this, you think you have it all figured out. Pride has begun to creep into your life and is beginning to blind you from the truths of God’s word. You look at certain topics that we talk about and you shut your brain off because “you’ve already heard all this before”. The question I have for you tonight is, are you living it? Does your life represent what you say you believe? If your life isn’t changed by what you believe, you really don’t believe it. The truth about scripture is that that more you read it, and the more you understand it, the more you will realize that you don’t understand it all. If you feel like you have all the answers, you don’t, and pride has begun to creep into your life.
The scripture we are going to talk about tonight is one that many will skim over and miss some of the beauty and power that is in it. I don’t want you to do that. I don’t want you to miss out on the power that our God has in our lives. Open your eyes, ears, and heart tonight to hear God’s word!
The passage that we will be discussing tonight is Hebrews 7:25 and it says, “Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save[e] those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” Now before we go any further I want to point out a couple things. First, I usually have been happy with the NLT translation and it accuracy of interpretation, but not this time. If you look at this verse you will notice a little [e] after the word “save”. This is a little footnote that says, “Or is able to save completely.” As I have studied this passage, this is a better translation. So for the rest of the evening I am going to switch from our normal translation and use one that does a better job, the ESV. The ESV says, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives.” This passage is one that you should hold onto for great peace and hope.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this deals with something I have been convicted of lately. I have heard many pastors talking of preaching “Half a Gospel” and how many pastors are only preaching part of the gospel and are leaving out parts. At first when I heard this I couldn’t believe that anyone would do this, until I realized I was to some extent. There are many times when I have stood in front of you and told you that “Christ has died for your sins” and if you believe in Him you will have eternal life. There is power in that statement. It brings conviction on those who hear it but there is more power when you preach the rest of it. You see, when we stop at Christ’s death for our sins, we are left at square one. He has paid for our sins but now what? Hasn’t He also done something else? He has also risen from the dead! Now some would say that is a minor difference and really the power lays in the death but I think the writer of Hebrews says differently. Let’s take another look at this verse.
“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives.” As we see this verse there is one thing that should stand out in your head as you read it, the word “consequently”. This means that we should read the verses before it to understand what he is saying. So let’s look at verses 23-25. “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” So the verses before hand are talking of the Jesus’ priesthood and how it is better than the Levitical priesthood. It says that it is better because “he continues forever” then it says “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him.” Why is that important? As you begin to break down the argument you will see why it’s important. The writer of Hebrews is basing Christ’s ability to save on the fact that he lives forever, not solely because of the cross. You can see this by him using “consequently” at the beginning of the verse and “since” at the end of the verse. You could reword the verse to say this, “Since he always lives to make intercession for them, Christ is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him.” Have you ever thought of that?
This verse is saying that Christ died to cleanse you from your sins. It is only because of his death that the penalty for your sins can be removed. But it is also saying that since Christ rose from the dead and is living forever at the right hand of the Father, he can intercede for us, he can pray for us. This is how he is able to completely save us. If he had only died for our sins, they would have been removed but we still would not have access to the Father. It is only because He also lives that we have access to the Father.
This puts a whole new outlook on the Paul’s saying in 1 Corinthians 15, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.” I used to look at this passage as saying that the resurrection proved Christ’s divinity but now that I understand Hebrew more fully, I don’t think that is what Paul is saying. He is saying the same thing; if Christ isn’t living forever, then we have no access to God and our faith is in vain.
Now some may look at this and wonder why the big deal. They may think that this is solely someone who love theology making distinctions that really have no impact on our lives. This is completely untrue! When we have a better understanding of this concept it give us great peace and hope in our lives. There are many but let me give you two areas where it gives me great peace and hope.
First, it give me hope as I daily struggle to follow Christ with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let’s look at Romans 8:34 where Paul talks about this same thing. He says this, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” What a powerful comfort to those who are following Christ! Who can condemn you? Nobody! Christ lives and is pleading to God on your behalf. It doesn’t matter how many times you stumble and fall in your walk of faith, Christ is able to completely save you because he is pleading your case in heaven. This should not only cause you great peace but should also give you great courage. Step out in faith, be bold, take a chance for God’s kingdom, all the while knowing that if you fall and mess up, Christ is still pleading you case and nobody has the right to condemn you. NOBODY!
Secondly it give me peace to know that since Christ “always lives” he is able to save to the “uttermost”. This means that those in my life whom I love, who are not following Christ, some are walking away, some are running away, some are wandering aimlessly through life, all of these Christ is able to completely save. He is always alive and is able to completely save to the uttermost. The “uttermost” is long way and a huge distance. None of you can run or fall farther than the uttermost. All are able to be saved, none are too far from God. Christ is able to save because He lives forever. What an amazing truth!!
Tonight if there are any of you who are not sure where your life lays, or where you have put your faith, I plead with you to choose Christ tonight. He is able to completely save you from all of your sins, no matter how far you have fallen, but our verse says that you must come “through him”. There is no other way. Christ not only died on the cross for your sins and made them white as snow but he also rose from the grave. He is sitting at God’s right hand and is willing to plead your case, if you will turn to Him, if you will follow Him. Will you do that tonight? Will you choose life?