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FIND YOUR WAY TO A BETTER HOPE
"Muffins are messy," I read while eating one. "Yep," I thought. "Life is messy, too." Sometimes the hope soís and the glib promises of a better tomorrow just donít cut it. Words have their place, but sometimes a simple touch or a sincere tear would be more appropriate. Sometimes someone needs to do something more than merely say something. I say, "We need a better hope."
I spoke to the Christian Fellowship at Harvard Law School April 20 and 21 on "Keepiní It Real." We talked about hip-hop culture and plastic Christianity. We talked about those who want brutal honesty in relationships today, about those whose vulgar and violent expressions of anger mask inner pain and despair. To these, "a true friend is someone who lies for you." Thatís "keepiní it real" out there on the streets, in the real world.
Multitudes canít hear what we say because of what they see. Yet Jesus, I must tell you, will not lie for you. Jesus will not lie to you, either. But Jesus wept when His friend died. Jesus touched people to heal them. Jesus shows you that He is your true friend because to Him, "a true friend is someone who dies for you." At Harvard, we talked about what "keepiní it real" means to Jesus--radical, resurrection, relationship in which we keep His words, keep our witness, and keep the worship of the One True and Living God. Jesus washed dusty feet.
Yes, Jesus spoke words of promise, but He meets you where you are and says, "Come, follow Me." Jesus is the surety of a better hope arising out of a better covenant. Jesus is the Forerunner. Jesus came to work and reveal and impart the perfection that the law could only foreshadow. The law made nothing perfect, but a bring-ing in of a better hope through which we draw nigh to God did.
On Tuesday nights, Iíve been teaching out of the message to the Hebrews at Zion Foundation Tabernacle in Lauderhill, Florida. In Hebrews 7 we read in verses 18 and 19 that the commandment of the Mosaic system of worship was disannulled because of its weakness and unprofitableness. It could not effect "perfection."
In Psalm 110, God greets the Messiah, inviting Messiah to sit at His right hand. Then He declares, "The LORD has sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." (Psalm 110.4) This speaks of Jesus Christ.
The Levitical system of worship was unable to bring in perfection, or else there was no need for another. In Hebrews 9.9 and 10.1 we find that in OT times the gifts and sacrifices offered "could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience." But as to Jesus, "by one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10.14)
"ĎPerfectioní means the bringing of a thing to that completeness of condition designed for it." (A. W. Pink) It looks to the judicial and official. It refers to a satisfactory and final relationship between God and man being produced, an unchangeable standing in the favor and blessing of God. This Christ has secured for His people. Being "made perfect" is the believerís title to heavenly glory.
What is a priest to effect? The priest was the mediator who drew near unto God on behalf of others. He was to present to God a sacrifice for the satisfying of Divine justice. This sacrifice was to procure Godís favor and secure a standing-ground before Him for the ones represented so that their conscience might be at peace. So they could rest in God.
God is the prime and immediate object of the proper acts of the priest. Godís people are the subject of its blessings and the beneficiaries of its administration. As to God, there was to be made expiation of sin by means of an atoning sacrifice. But the Levitical priesthood system couldnít do this effectually, vitally, and permanently. (Hebrews 10.4) Nevertheless, it exhibited the holy claims of God and the requirements of His justice.
What did Christ bring in with His priesthood? He brings in perfection as to righteousness. (Isaiah 60.21, Psalm 72.7, Jeremiah 23.6, Daniel 9.24, 2 Corinthians 5.21) He brings perfect peace between God and sinners. (Romans 5.10, Isaiah 9.6, Colossians 1.20, Romans 5.1, Ephesians 6.15) He brings perfection in light, bringing life and immortality to light, the mysteries of His wisdom and grace. The OT times looked forward to a fuller revelation (Song 2.17; 4.6). The Son of God makes known the fullness of Godís counsels. (John 1.18, Hebrews 1.1, 2; Ephesians 3.9) Christ brings access to God, a boldness of approach unto the Throne of grace. (Ephesians 2.18; Hebrews 10.19, 22)
Christ also brings the unveiling of the future state. (2 Timothy 1.10; Hebrews 2.15, 6.20; John 17.24) He brings joy (Romans 14.17; Isaiah 25.8; John 8.56; 1 Peter 1.8). Christ brings the fruit of joy, i.e., glorying in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1.29, 31; Isaiah 45.25; 2 Corinthians 3) Now, we can draw near through Him without the mediation of another.
In the Mosaic economy, the people were legalized; their state was such that they were brought beneath its power. The law demanded perfect righteousness, but fallen people could not produce it (Romans 3.19, 29; 8.3), nor could the Levitical priesthood effect it. Thus "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes." (Romans 10.4)
How could God set aside as dead and useless the whole solemn system of worship which He Himself had appointed and His people had accepted for so many centuries? The law and the Gospel could not mix. Works and grace are antithetical. Moses had to disappear, as it were, when Christ was revealed. (Mark 9.5-8) Itís a better hope.
The priesthood of Christ is a permanent office and abiding ministry. The arising of Christ brought an end to the Aaronic order, just as His arising in the hearts of His people (2 Peter 1.19) puts an end to looking elsewhere for salvation.
The whole system of worship under Judaism was according to the law of a fleshly commandment. (Hebrews 7.16;Ephesians 2.15) The Levitical priesthood was "carnal." 1. Commandments were so multiplied and obedience exacted with such severity. 2. Sacrifices offered at consecration were the bodies of beasts. 3. The priesthood was by fleshly propagation, from father to son. 4. Their ministration availed only to the "purifying of the flesh." (Hebrews 9.13)
When the "law" did its work of demonstrating the need for something better, God sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, by which believers may now draw nigh unto God. By nature we were unable to get back to the Father, as it were. Our sin separated us from such fellowship. Nothing really cleansed the conscience, really reached the inside. We were "alienated from the life of God" (Ephesians 4.18). But the offering up of the body and blood of Christ (Hebrews 9, 10; Ephesians 2.13) has now made it possible for Jews and Gentiles alike to "have access by one Spirit unto the Father." (Ephesians 2.18)
This better hope is based on a better covenant with better promises, a better sacrifice, and a better priesthood. Jesus Christ, a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, has brought in "perfection." Our sins have been put away. We already have "access by faith into this grace wherein we stand." (Romans 5.2) The Forerunner has "for us entered" within the veil (Hebrews 10.19, 20). And so, we are encouraged to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4.16)
Jesus Christ is the door to the Fatherís heart. The better hope He brings tells us this: "But He, because He abides forever, has His priesthood unchangeable. Wherefore also He is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near to God through Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7.24, 25) Because of the effectiveness of Jesusí priesthood, we can enter life within the veil, drawing near to God. That wasnít possible in the OT system of ceremonies and worship. But now it is.
Our eternal salvation is secured by Christís eternal intercession for us. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, saves us from the wrath of God that burns against all ungodliness and unrighteousness (Romans 1.18), a most terrifying thing. Christ intercedes for us and continually puts Himself between the Father and us. I call it putting on your fire-protection suit, like an asbestos shield against the fire of Godís vengeance.
Jesus entered the Most Holy Place in the true tabernacle in heaven and placed there on the Mercy Seat His Blood. The Father accepted Him, and Jesus sits at the right hand of the majesty on high. The better hope for sinners is that we have a faithful high priest who intercedes for us forever. This high priest is King of Righteousness and King of Peace (Hebrews 7.2). He has an indestructible life (Hebrews 7.16) and will never die.
We canít save ourselves. Godís solution was to solve our problem His way. He ordained a Priest, His Son and Messiah. (Psalm 110) God in His love does all of this so as to rescue from His wrath those who come to Him through Jesus Christ. This vindicates His justice, and believers exalt the glory of His grace. This better hope is one that means for us welfare, supply, deliverance, and salvation. Jesus prays perfectly on the basis of His perfect sacrifice and so we are saved eternally by His prayers (Romans 8.34) and advocacy (1 John 2.1).
Whatís Jesus praying for? He prays that you will keep on drawing near to God through Him. God bids you to come to Him through His Son to a life within the veil, a life of fellowship with the Father, a true worship in spirit and in truth. If you have found yourself growing dull of hearing, drifting, or doubting, then may Jesusí prayers for you be realized in your life today. You have a better hope. You can come boldly to the Throne of Grace to find the grace and mercy you need to go on, to carry on, to continue.
God desires you to draw near. He delights in you and discerns your deepest needs, meeting them before you even articulate them. Bring to God the good news of all that Jesus Christ has done in your behalf. You have a King-Priest who effects salvation for you in the power of an endless life. Itís a better hope.
Calling the nations to resurrection,
"Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you." James 4.8
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