Hebrews 7:23-25

Earlier this year many conservatives were happy when the president nominated Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court. Besides his conservatism one of the things many of them were excited about was the fact that he was only 49 years old. Some pundits said that he could be on the court for three or four decades and thus help the conservative agenda for a long time. Both conservatives and liberals would like their respective justices to serve a long time. I recall one conservative pundit say something to the effect that if President Trump gets to appoint another Supreme Court Justice that conservatives would be able to breath a big sigh of relief because the conservative agenda will be secure for quite some time.

But nothing is certain. Life is fragile and death sometimes comes unexpectedly to relatively young people. Even if liberals or conservatives get a clear majority on the Supreme Court they really can't be sure that things will continue like that. Like all other human beings Supreme Court justices are mortal and they have to be replaced. No matter how much you like a certain justice, no matter how good he or she is—they can't continue to serve. Too soon their time comes to an end.

One of the wonderful things about our great High Priest Jesus, one of the ways that He exactly meets our needs is that

He lives forever.

This perfectly fits our need. As human beings we need to be saved eternally. Jesus can save us eternally because He lives forever. He has life in Himself. His life is indestructible. Hebrews 7:23–25 says,

"Now there have been many of those priests,
since death prevented them
from continuing in office;
but because Jesus lives forever,
he has a permanent priesthood.
Therefore he is able to save completely
those who come to God through him,
because he always lives to intercede for them."

One of the big problems with the Old Testament priesthood is that they could only help the people for a certain period of time. Then they died. After that they we gone, out of the picture. No matter how good the Levitical priests were, they died while the people lived on. The priests couldn't help them then. William L. Lane writes of the multiplicity of the Levitical priests, (Hebrews 1–8, WBC 47A; p. 188)

"In Hebrews multiplicity signifies incompleteness, imperfection, and inconclusiveness…"

We see this in other aspects of life. Consider U.S. Presidents for example. No matter what your politics you know that some presidents are better than others. If you have a really good president in office, you want him to stay. But you only get four or eight years. Then, even if you get another president from the same party, he may not be as good as his predecessor. A very good president may be followed by a very bad one. The British have a system where a Prime Minister can serve more than 8 years. Sir Robert Walpole served the longest, just over 20 years. But even that's not very long. If you had a president who was perfect, a man of wisdom, skill, integrity—how long would you want him to serve? You'd want him to serve as long as he had those qualities. But even the best presidents are soon replaced by lesser ones. And how would you rate them? The best president would be rated a 10. But what would the average be? 6 or 5 or perhaps lower?

In the same way the Levitical priesthood was inadequate. Aaron was mostly good, but he fell into sin with the golden calf. But it was the people who led him into sin. But two of his sons were much worse than he was. Nadab and Abihu offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to God's command. We read, (Leviticus 10:2)

"So fire came out from the presence of the Lord
and consumed them, and they died before the Lord."

It's no wonder that in Hebrews multiplicity signifies incompleteness, imperfection. Jesus the perfect one, is so much superior to the Levitical priesthood. He lives forever, He is perfect and always meets our needs.

But there were other ways that the priests dying was bad for the people. We have an example of this during the reign of King Joash of Judah. Joash was seven years old when he became king. He had the priest Jehoiada to guide him. 2 Chronicles 24:2 says,

"Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD
all the years of Jehoiada the priest."

But then Jehoiada died. After he died King Joash departed from the Lord. The officials of Judah led him into idolatry. Joash and the people of Judah abandoned the temple of the Lord. Instead the people worshipped Asherah poles and idols. Although the Lord sent prophets to them to bring them back to the Lord—they did not listen. King Joash listened to Jehoiada while he was alive— but after Jehoiada died Joash did not listen to his successor. God even sent Jehoiada's son, Zechariah, to King Joash. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Zechariah and he rebuked King Joash for the wickedness. King Joash put him to death.

Jehoiada could keep King Joash on the straight and narrow while he was alive but that was it. Not only that, but Jehoiada couldn't really ensure that King Joash's heart was pure in his service of God.

The second thing we see from our text is that because Jesus lives forever, because He has a permanent priesthood,

He is able to save us completely.

We've just seen that Joash's obedience was outward, not inward. Jehoiada, try as he might, couldn't change Joash's heart.

Jesus, not only lives forever, but He can change our hearts. Jesus is a perfect High Priest. He is holy, blameless, pure, separate from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He could die for us and wash away our sins. He could ascend to heaven and enter God's presence on the basis of His work—His perfect life and sacrifice. He was qualified to sit down at the Father's right hand and make intercession for us. He can send His Spirit into our hearts and give us hearts that love God. He can save us eternally.

The Greek word translated 'completely in our text is a compound word consisting of the word 'all' and 'complete'. The 'complete' portion of the word often refers to perfection, something done so well that is is fully complete.

Can you imagine anyone looking at the Mona Lisa, the most famous painting in the world and saying,

"I'm just going to touch it up a little. I'm going to get my paints and brush out and just change a few things to make it better."

They wouldn't let him anywhere near the painting. If he touched it he'd make it worse. He'd ruin it.

But Jesus work is even more perfect than the most perfect painting. It is complete, perfect, lacking nothing. His work in saving us is perfect. It lacks nothing. Nothing needs to be added to it.

But getting back to the compound word. With the word 'all' added at the beginning, joined to the word, 'complete' the resulting word gains a time function, ("παντελής," BDAG, 754)

"unlimited duration of time, forever, for all time"

Philip E. Hughes paraphrases our text this way,

"he as able for all time and in all completeness to save"

The word encompasses both eternity and completeness. The ESV translates our text this way,

"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."

Jesus is able to save us completely and forever.

The great application that you Christians should take from this text is

how safe you are in Jesus.

You are totally safe today because Jesus lives. You will be safe tomorrow because Jesus will take care of you tomorrow. You will be safe for the rest of your life because Jesus will be alive the rest of your life. Indeed, you're not just promised that you're going to be safe for the rest of your life, you're promised that you're going to be safe in the hands of Jesus until Jesus comes again. Even more than that, you're promised that you'll be safe forever because Jesus lives forever. What promises you have!

Spiritually you are safe. As the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6.

"being confident of this, that he who began
a good work in you will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus."

The good work God has begun in you, transforming you into the image of Jesus—will be completed. It will be carried on to completion. What a promise. Jesus is able, unlike the Levitical priest, Jehoiada, is able to keep us inwardly, making sure that we will continue to love Jesus and obey him. Like Peter, we may temporarily fall, but Jesus the Good Shepherd will bring us back and keep us. Like Thomas, we may temporarily doubt, and be in danger of losing our way. If a true believer goes astray Jesus will bring him back. As Jesus said in Matthew 18:12–14,

"What do you think?
If a man owns a hundred sheep,
and one of them wanders away,
will he not leave the ninety-nine
on the hills and go to look
for the one that wandered off?
And if he finds it, I tell you the truth,
he is happier about that one sheep
than about the ninety-nine
that did not wander off.
In the same way your Father in heaven
is not willing that
any of these little ones should be lost."

God promises that the transformation taking place in you will continue and be made perfect. 2 Corinthians 3:17–18 says,

"Now the Lord is the Spirit,
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom.
And we all, with unveiled face,
beholding the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from
one degree of glory to another.
For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."

We are becoming more glorious. One day we will be perfectly glorious. In Matthew 13:43 Jesus said,

"Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father."

Jesus will keep His people until He comes again, until He presents you before the Father. As Jude 1:24–25 says,

"To him who is able to
keep you from falling and to present
you before his glorious presence
without fault and with great joy—
to the only God our Savior be glory,
majesty, power and authority,
through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages,
now and forevermore! Amen."

In 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24 the apostle Paul prayed for the Thessalonian Christians,

"May your whole spirit,
soul and body be kept blameless
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."

Inwardly, spiritually, you are going to be kept by Jesus until He comes again. We are going to be presented to the Father without fault.

You are going to be protected from any external or outside forces.

The devil and his minions hate you and are fighting with all their strength to cast you into hell. 1 Peter 5:8 says,

"Your enemy the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

Revelation 12:12 tells us,

"He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short."

Satan particularly hates Christians. Revelation 12:17 says,

"Then the dragon was enraged
at the woman and went off to make war against
the rest of her offspring—
those who obey God's commandments
and hold to the testimony of Jesus."

Satan wanted to sift Peter so that His faith would fail. (Luke 22:31-32) But Satan was not successful.

In spite of all their hatred toward you, Satan and all the forces of evil cannot separate you from God's love. They cannot prevent Jesus' salvation from coming to pass. Romans 8:35–39 says,

"Who shall separate us
from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written:
'For your sake we face death
all day long; we are considered
as sheep to be slaughtered.'
No, in all these things
we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

What promises! How safe God's people are! You will be safe forever because Jesus lives forever. Hebrews 7:16 says Jesus,

"has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation
as to his ancestry but on the basis of
the power of an indestructible life."

What promises! 1 Thessalonians 4:14–17 adds,

"For since we believe that Jesus died
and rose again, even so, through Jesus,
God will bring with him those
who have fallen asleep.
For this we declare to you
by a word from the Lord,
that we who are alive, who are left until
the coming of the Lord, will not precede those
who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself will descend
from heaven with a cry of command,
with the voice of an archangel, and
with the sound of the trumpet of God.
And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive,
who are left, will be caught up
together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air,
and so we will always be with the Lord."

In John 10:27–29 Jesus said,

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them,
and they follow me.
I give them eternal life,
and they will never perish,
and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one is able to snatch them
out of the Father's hand."

Many Christians today will tell you that you shouldn't be sure of your salvation. They will tell you that it's presumptuous to think that you're safe forever.

But that's not true. God has given us these promises to His people. Yes, there are hypocrites who will take these promises and use them as an excuse for sin. But they're not Christians. Their disobedience proves that they don't know Christ. (1 John 2:3) In Matthew 7:21–23 Jesus said,

"Not everyone who says to me,
'Lord, Lord,'
will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only he who does the will
of my Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
'Lord, Lord,
did we not prophesy in your name,
and in your name drive out demons
and perform many miracles?'
Then I will tell them plainly,
'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' "

But having said that, Jesus wants His people to believe the promises and take comfort from them. He wants His promises to give them hope. He wants us to take these promises, impress them upon our hearts and rejoice in them and give praise, glory, and honor to our great Triune God. These promises are given to you, in part, that you may, (1 Peter 2:9)

"declare the praises of him
who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."

Indeed, you should do that because what our text tells us, is that

your salvation does not ultimately depend on you—it depends on Jesus.

He's the One that keeps you. Think of that. It's an incredible truth. You will be in heaven, you will enjoy the new heaven and the new earth eternally—not because you will keep yourself—but because Jesus will keep you. Because of His indestructible life that you will gain access to it and live forever with God.

How you should rejoice in Jesus and in our great triune God.

If you're not a Christian, you should see how much you need Jesus.

You have such great enemies standing against you seeking to cast you into hell. You have a corrupt heart that you cannot change. Only Jesus can give you a new heart. You do not have anyone to intercede before throne of God on your behalf. You're surely lost without Jesus. You have no hope without Him. Go to Him today.