Sermons

Jesus, The Same Forever

Sun, Jul 02, 2017
Teacher: Tom Blackford
Passage: Hebrews 13:8
Duration:32 mins 13 secs

Message text

Jesus, the Same Forever
Hebrews 13:8

INTRO:
Good morning.

This is the last sermon of our mini series on Hebrews 13:8 where the Hebrew writer tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Today, we’re going to look at; “Jesus Christ is the same forever”.

There was a man who was driving a local priest down a country road, when all of a sudden, the car in front skidded off the road and killed a hare in the process. The driver was deeply upset because he had killed one of God’s creatures.

The priest gets out of the second car and went over to the hare, poured something on it and the hare came back to life. The driver was amazed as he saw the animal take off into the field. As he was watching it run, the hare stopped and waved, he ran about a 100 yards and stopped and waved. The animal did this until it was out of sight. The guy said to the priest, ‘wow, that holy water is amazing!’ to which the priest replied, ‘oh, this isn’t holy water, its hair and wave restorer.’

Silly story and I did not tell it to make a point, but instead to ask you what picture comes to your mind, when you think of the word, ‘priest’.

When it comes to the word ‘priest’, most people think about a guy who goes around wearing black garments, has a white dog collar and perhaps a cross around his neck. He carries nothing but a Bible and a small bottle of holy water.

The very word ‘priest’ means one who stands for and mediates for another -- one who offers sacrifices. The word ‘priest’ is used 725 times in the Old Testament and 29 times in the New Testament. The word carries with it, the idea of one who acts as a bridge to link two parties. In the Biblical sense, the two parties are God and man.

In the book of Hebrews, the word ‘priest’ is found 12 times, the words, ‘High priest’ are found 16 times and the word ‘priesthood’ is found 5 times. You don’t have to be a scholar to understand what the book of Hebrews is about, because it tells us clearly.

With that in mind please turn in your Bibles to the Book of Hebrews. We are going to spend some time there. This is where we’re going to learn that Jesus is the same forever, as our High Priest.

Hebrews 4:14-16 – “Seeing then that 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 cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are,... yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

I. I’m not going to talk about the word priest as it is applied to us. That is a whole different lesson. Here the Hebrew writer tells us that Jesus is our High Priest, but notice He isn’t just our High Priest, He is our great High Priest, but what makes Him great?
A. First, Jesus is our great High Priest because ‘He has ascended into heaven’. Jesus is operating as our High Priest in the heavenly realms. Jesus is great because He is serving as our High Priest in God’s house.
B. Second, Jesus is our great High Priest because ‘He is the Son of God’. If you recall in the first sermon in this series we looked at how Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of God, which always refers to His divine nature. When He talked about being the Son of man it referred to His human nature. You see, Jesus wasn’t just a mere person; He is someone who carries great authority and honor. He is the Son of God.
C. Third, Jesus is our great High Priest because ‘He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses’. Often people fall for the lies that Satan whispers to us, especially when we’re going through difficult times. Satan tries to convince us that Jesus doesn’t really care about us, or that Jesus doesn’t understand us and our suffering.
D. Have you ever seen two different Christians going through similar trials in their lives, but handling those trials differently?
1. For example, one Christian is suffering with severe health issues and you very rarely see them because they’re focusing so much on their problems. Then there is another Christian suffering with the exact same severe health issues and yet they are still actively involved in church life.
2. What’s the difference? I believe the difference is that one is focusing on their problems and the other is focusing on Jesus.
3. Those who focus on Jesus realize that there’s nothing they will go through in life that Jesus doesn’t understand. They know that Jesus sympathizes with them. People often think that God and Jesus are way above and beyond us. While in a sense that is true, we have to remember who created us. To think of God only as a figurehead denies Gods power and His love. Remember, too, that Jesus came and lived as a man.
i. As a human He was deserted by His disciples, rejected by the religious leaders, He experienced loneliness, hunger and thirst. Jesus was mocked, spat upon, tortured and crucified on a cross.
ii. Folks, He knows what we are going through. He was tested in every way just as we are.
iii. He knows what temptations are all about. He was exposed to the onslaught of Satan straight on.
iv. Why do you think He’s sweating blood in the garden of Gethsemane? He knows what it’s like to endure great trials.
E. Fourth, Jesus is our great High Priest because in the face of all the adversity and in the face of all the temptations that came His way, ‘He didn’t sin’.

II. In 1 Peter 2:21-23 Peter tells us; - “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth''; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;”
A. When we sin, it’s our choice to do so, and it’s a choice that we sometimes fail at miserably. He didn’t fail. Despite facing everything that we face, He is our great High Priest because He didn’t sin. Because Jesus is our great High Priest, the writer encourages us to do two things.
B. First, the writer encourages us to ‘hold firmly to the faith we profess.’ Remember the Book of Hebrews was written to encourage the Jewish Christians not to turn back to Judaism.
1. That is an application which is still very relevant today. It’s as simple as this, don’t give up, and don’t go back to the world and its ways.
2. How many people do we know who have given up the faith and gone back to the world?
3. How many people do we know who were Christians for years, and suddenly give up the faith?
4. I’ve heard of people over the years who were once faithful Christians and loved God dearly. They were very active in service, -- some preached, some taught children in Sunday school, some taught adult Bible study and others were brilliant leaders. Then all of a sudden – they’re gone.
5. What happened? Why did they fall away?
6. I think perhaps it could be one of these reasons. It might be that they were either in a sin that they enjoyed so much they didn’t want to stop. Or there were relationship problems with their brethren. They ended up allowing a few people to stand between them and their salvation. They ran into a stumbling block and stumbled.
C. Folks, I certainly understand what it means to struggle with sin and I understand relationship problems within the body. I’ve seen it and I get that. - Perhaps the real reason we have so many fallen saints is simply because they have ‘forgotten’.
D. They’ve forgotten why they came to Christ in the first place. They have left their first love. They’ve forgotten that the Son of God is in heaven, acting as their High Priest, waiting for them to talk to Him about their struggles and problems.
E. They end up focusing on the wrong things and just go through the motions of being a Christian before they fall away.
III. I’ve wondered how people can forget that Christ is there to help them. How can they forget the lessons they have learned? - Perhaps it comes from becoming too used to something. I know we can become too used to sin. Everyday we are exposed to things in the media, that to put it simply, are not right. Perhaps we frequently hear people swear at work. Because we see these things or hear them on a daily basis, we somehow get used to them being there and become desensitized. We don’t even pay attention to everything being said.
A. I mention that because there are times when I think Christians can become spiritually desensitized. We’ve been taking the bread and the fruit of the vine so long that we just take it without any deep thought as to why we are doing it. It’s something we’ve done for years. We’ve sung the same hymns for years and we know them all by heart, but the words have become just words with no meaning anymore. Our hearts are no longer moved. We’ve heard thousands of sermons over the years, and we’re at the point where we think there’s nothing new to learn from the Bible, -- we’ve heard it all before.
B. I suspect we all can become desensitized, even in matters of faith, if we’re not careful. Yes, we struggle with certain sins in our lives, and yes, we might struggle to get along with certain members of the Lord’s body at times.
C. But we must never forget Jesus will forever be our great High Priest who has nothing but our personal interest at heart, and He’s longing for us to talk to Him about our struggles and problems. We need to speak to Him, don’t give up, don’t go back to the world, don’t let go of the faithful confession we made at the beginning of our walk with God.
D. I think this applies to everyone whether they have been a Christian for one day or sixty years. Don’t throw it all away now. Don’t give up. ‘Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever’ and He will never, ever give up on you, so don’t give up on Him.
IV. Second, the writer encourages us to recognize our ‘ability to approach the throne of grace with confidence’.
A. Do we understand just how blessed we are to have this access to God today? Let’s look at the Old Testament. In those times, the high priest was the spiritual religious leader of the Israelites. Because the high priest held this leadership position, one of his roles was overseeing the responsibilities of all the other priests.
B. The Levitical priests entered their service when they were 25 years old and retired at 50 years old. On the Day of Atonement, it was only the high priest who could enter the Most Holy Place. It was only he who could offer a sin offering for the sins of the whole congregation, and also for himself.
C. Only the high priest who could enter the Most Holy Place behind the veil to seek forgiveness from God.
D. The people couldn’t enter, the normal priest couldn’t enter. No one could enter and seek forgiveness themselves, no one except the High Priest.
E. Today, Jesus by being our High priest allows us to access God with confidence.
F. Look with me at; Hebrews 9:11-12 – “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
1. Folks, when we approach God in prayer, we shouldn’t be fearful or nervous. We should have confidence.
2. When we’re going through difficult times in our Christian life, we should have the confidence to know that we will receive what we need.
G. What is it we need most of all when we are going through a tough time? Grace. Help. Jesus knows what our needs are and He is there and will be there to forever meet those needs with grace and help because Jesus will forever be our High Priest.
V. Then look next at; Hebrews 6:19-20 – “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
A. When you think of the word ‘anchor,’ what comes to mind? We know an anchor is a huge metal object that ships use to moor or keep fast in one place.
B. The scripture says here that “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul”. Hope is the great anchor, or stabilizer, of the human soul. That hope for the Christian is Christ the Lord, who has entered into that which is beyond the veil, that is, into heaven itself; and this corresponds to the actions of the ancient high priest who was typical of Christ in that he went into the Holy of Holies, behind the veil, in the tabernacle.
C. I find there is aptness to the figure of an anchor in the fact that an anchor is not doing any good at all as long as it is visible. It is only when it disappears in the deep beneath, that it stabilizes and protects the ship. How beautiful is the imagery of Christ also being out of sight from Christians, having disappeared into the unseen world, but who is nevertheless connected with Christians by the strong and effective cable of His love just as the anchor, though unseen, is connected to the ship by a mighty chain.
D. Jesus is our anchor not necessarily in the sense of stopping us from drifting away, but in the sense that, we will be secure in the presence of God, if we stay tied to Him. Through Christ we have assurance. Thus it is literally true that the Christian's hope is in heaven where the Lord has already entered and with that hope, all else that really matters is also there.
E. For the Christian, his treasure is there (Matthew 6:19), his citizenship is there (Philippians 3:20), his name is written there (Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3), his Lord is there (as here, and in John 14:1-6), and his affections should be there (Colossians 3:2 KJV).
VI. Jesus is the same forever and will not change; therefore, we can be assured of our hope if we stay tied to Him. Jesus will not change, but what about us? Can something happen on our end that will cause us to be disconnected from the Lord, lose our connection to our anchor?
A. In our busy complicated world today, there are many things contending for our time and attention. Many things can cause us to lose our focus on Jesus, lose our first love, and when that happens -- our ship -- our soul -- can come adrift from our anchor.
B. This casting adrift can happen gradually as we allow our tie to Jesus to fray. I know there are many people who have difficulties when things don’t go a certain, familiar way.
C. There are those who want worship to finish at the exact same time every week. There are those who only want to sing a certain amount of songs during worship. There are those who believe that a sermon must not be less than ten minutes or over thirty minutes long.
D. Why do you suppose we grumble about things not happening the way we think they should happen? Why do we grumble when things are running late? I think we grumble because we’ve got places to go. Haven’t we all got busy lives? Haven’t we all got places to go and people to see?
E. Thinking about that, what do we tell our non-Christian friends and family when we are late? ‘Oh, I’m sorry we’re late for dinner today because the preacher was longwinded!’ ‘Oh, I’m sorry we were too late to can’t watch the football game this afternoon but the person doing the announcements went on and on’!
F. Why can’t we say things like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry for being late for dinner but the preacher’s message was good. I didn’t want it to end’! Why can’t we say things like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, but we have to get going early on Sunday because I want to be there for the Bible study!’
G. I am very much afraid that The Lord’s Day has become the Lord’s two hours. I suspect that Christians are now investing more time watching television than they do with the Lord. Christians are investing more time at work than they do with the Lord. Christians all over the world are investing more time chilling out (Whatever that means.) than they do with the Lord.
VII. You might be thinking, is Tom speaking to me? Well yes, I am. But here’s the thing, I’m speaking to all of us including myself. Every preacher knows you have to apply everything you say to yourself.
A. I recognize my own personal time management problem. When I look at the church (and not just the church here, by the way), I see a virus that is spreading throughout the Lord’s church. You know what it’s called? It might be called busyness, though to be more correct -- it is worldliness. I do not think I’m over-stating that either.
B. Just look at how Sunday evening worship doesn’t exist anymore in many of our congregations. Look at the attendance at mid-week Bible studies in many congregations. Look at the congregations who don’t even have a Bible study, they just get together for worship on Sunday morning.
C. Don’t these things tell us we’re buying into the world’s culture? Don’t these things show us that we are being influenced by the world? Shouldn’t we be influencing the world instead?
1. I understand we have to work. I understand that we want to spend some time with our families and enjoy the pleasures God has given us in this life.
2. I know we need time to rest and sleep.
3. Think about it this way. There are 7 days in one week, there are 24 hours in one day and there are 168 hours in one week. There are 10,080 minutes in one week and 1,440 minutes in one day.
4. That’s a lot of time that God has blessed us with, isn’t it?
D. I know we worship God every minute, of every day, of our lives. I get that. I understand that.
E. Have you ever asked yourself, how much time do we do things as a congregation in a normal week? About 2 hours for our worship on the first day of the week, an hour for our Bible study, and an hour for our Mid-Week Bible study. That adds up to 240 minutes.
F. God gives us 10,080 minutes every week The church here, if we attend everything, meets together a grand total of 240 of those minutes. What are we doing with those other 9,840 minutes of week?
G. Surely, the God of the universe, the God who sent His Son to die for us, deserves more of our time. I wonder how many Christians out of their love for God, do more?
VIII. This may sound like I’m rebuking you if you don’t attend anything other than worship. I’m not saying you’re a bad Christian. Please don’t take it that way. I know that many of us study and pray through the week on our own or serve God in some way. I’m not ignoring that.
A. I do want us to stop for a moment -- stop and think about what we are doing with our time. We need to look at that once and awhile. Think about what we are doing with our lives. The time we are with other Christians is really not that much is it? If this is all we offer then how can we let other things interfere with even that? And we do sometimes, don’t we?
B. I admit there are times; there are those moments, when I’m really tired and have had a busy day working on a project. I feel that it is almost too much to make it to the mid-week bible class. Those other opportunities, like Friday night sings at some far away congregation or a gospel meeting somewhere else are sometimes daunting.
C. Yet, we go as often as we can manage. Why do we go? There are blessings to be had. There’s rich fellowship to enjoy. There’s encouragement to give and receive and there’s love to share among one another. I find that as we go to more things where the focus is on Jesus that it gets a little easier, I look forward to each a little more.
D. Unfortunately, the opposite becomes true for many Christians. Maybe some of us have become desensitized to those words -- blessing, fellowship, encouragement and love. Maybe we’ve forgotten what they involve and mean. We need to ask ourselves, what’s stopping us from being more involved in church life?
IX. Have you ever watched the program ‘Undercover Boss’? It is where a high ranking officer in a company changes their appearance and poses as an ordinary new employee for a period of time. Usually they get an eye opening view of what is really going on in the company. There is an old saying ‘If you can’t see the problem, you can’t solve the problem’.
A. We need to stop and take stock of our life as a Christian once and awhile. There are many things the world does to desensitize us to what we should be doing. It happens gradually, so gradually that we often don’t see it. I’m calling on us to take the time to honestly evaluate our Christian lives.
B. I want to encourage us to stop and take the time, every now and then, to check our connection to our anchor. Check it for signs of fraying. If it is weakening I pray we make repairs before, in some storm of life, we are lost.
C. We are told in; Ephesians 5:15-16 - “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” I paraphrase it this way; “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

CONCLUSION:
There is a song that goes something like this;
Every day is a journal page
Every man holds a quill and ink
And there's plenty of room for writing in
All we do is believe and think
So will you compose a curse
Or will today bring the blessings
Fill the page with rhyming verse
Or some random sketchings

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
Somehow our souls forgot

Every day is a bank account
And time is our currency
So no one's rich, no one's poor
We get twenty-four hours each
How are you going to spend
Will you invest or squander
Try to get ahead
Or help someone who's under

Folks, have our souls forgotten what life is really all about?
Have our souls forgotten there’s more to life than work, pleasure and family?
Have our souls forgotten that we’re only here temporarily and our eternal home is heaven?
How’s our time management? What are we doing with our God, given time?

Folks, I understand we’re not commanded to come together for a Bible study or a prayer meeting any more than we are commanded to meet in an upper room or have fellowship meals. I get that. I understand that, but if coming together with other Christians isn’t important to us, we need to understand that it’ll never become important to those who are watching us--our children, young Christians or friends.

If our neighbors or new or young Christians see that studying the Bible with other Christians isn’t important to us, we better believe they won’t think it’s important for them. Crowds attract crowds.

The more time we spend together means less time we spend with the world. Coming together as a group of Christians regularly, not just on Sunday mornings, actually gives us strength. Togetherness gives us strength to stay focused on Jesus. Togetherness gives us strength to stay faithful another day. Togetherness gives us strength to help us stop the world from influencing us.

‘Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever’. His eye is on us 10,080 minutes a week, He cares for us, understands us and sympathizes with us 168 hours a week.

He gives us His full attention, especially when we need grace and help, when we ask Him in prayer. He will be our High Priest forever, which also means we will be with Him forever.

May God bless us as we seek to serve our great High Priest, as He seeks to forever serve us in God’s presence. May we always appreciate that God has appointed Jesus to speak to Him on our behalf as our great High Priest.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins... If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.

# xxx

Reference Sermon
Mike Glover

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