Our Thoughts on Christ's Sufficiency
When God's word performs spiritual surgery
revealing the darkest secrets of our hearts we need confidence for spiritual
survival. What person would enter an operating room for surgery knowing
they would not come out alive? What person would be willing to bring his/her
life to Christ without confidence of the success of the spiritual surgery?
The person must know that God has a solution to sin and failure problems.
Sometimes there is a very fine line between revealing the reality of sin
and offering a person hope rather than condemnation. God's word is designed
to lay our souls bare before God, but it is also designed to give us confidence
that we can and will survive the spiritual surgery the living word performs.
The Hebrew writer spoke of the effectiveness
of God's word to lay our souls bare.
Let us, therefore, make every
effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their
example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper
than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing
in all creation is hidden from God's sight Everything is uncovered and
laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (NIV)
From a human viewpoint it is scary to think
that others could know the darkest secrets of our hearts. What happens
when we know that God knows those secrets? He not only knows them but he
seeks to reveal to each of us things that we do not yet know about ourselves.
What he seeks to reveal is not always encouraging, at least initially.
Why are we afraid of the exposure of God's
penetrating word? No doubt, one of the major reasons is that the source
of our confidence will be destroyed. Sin places confidence in self. Sin
persuades us to place confidence in our own way. When God exposes our sin
he reveals the condemnation of sin and destroys the source our confidence.
The source of our confidence now becomes the source of our condemnation.
When God destroys the source of our self-sufficiency,
he does so to point us to the sufficiency of Christ to save us. The Hebrew
writer wants us to know that God has saved us from the futility of self-effort
Christ Provides Our Confidence
Therefore, since we have a
great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God,
let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has
been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin. Let us
then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive
mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV)
Our confidence resides in the person
and position of Christ. "Therefore, since we have a great high
priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold
firmly to the faith we profess." It is impossible to understand who
Christ is without realizing his position before God. He is God's Son and
he has gone through the heavens ahead of us as our high priest. Christ's
person and position are inseparably connected. All authority has been given
to him in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:18-19) He is enthroned at the
right hand of God. (Acts 2:37; Philippians 2:1-10)
"Therefore he is able to save completely
those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede
for them." (Hebrews 7:25 NIV)
Christ the creator was made lower than the
angels. (2:9) He became flesh and blood with us. (2:14) Christ became one
of us so that he could destroy Satan's power of death. He came to deliver
us from the fearful bondage of physical and spiritual death. He was made
like us in every way, so that he might become our faithful high priest.
As our high priest, he not only intercedes for us, but he also made atonement
for our sins. This makes Christ highly qualified to become our high priest.
His suffering for our sins enables him to help us when we are tempted.
Sin has many convinced that Christ came solely
to bring condemnation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus did
come to condemn sin, but God sent Christ to save the world rather than
for the purpose of condemnation. (John 3:16-17) God sent Christ to reconcile
the world to himself. (2 Corinthians 5:19) Christ stepped out of eternity
as a just person willing to die for the unjust. (1 Peter 3:18) He bore
our sins in his own body on the tree. (1 Peter 2:24) He came to bare the
condemnation of our sin. God has sought to reconcile us to himself through
Christ while we were alienated from him as his enemies. (Romans 5:10) The
beauty of this is that Christ has not saved us because of what we have
done or haven't done. He saves us despite either.
Christ's suffering without sin provides
our confidence. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable
to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted
in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin." We expect others
to succeed at what we succeed at. Often when we experience success in things
that others have experienced failure in, we have no sympathy. We figure
if we were able to succeed, others should be able to succeed in the same
Christ didn't come to show us up. He didn't
come to bring that kind of condemnation. Christ came to experience what
we experience, so that he could understand our needs. Although he created
us, there was no way he could truly understand our position until he experienced
it in the flesh.
Every high priest is selected
from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to
God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently
with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject
to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as
well as for the sins of the people. (NIV)
Christ through his incarnation defeated Satan's
powers. Christ hasn't just passed through the heavens he has passed through
our earthly existence. He has not only fought Satan in heaven, but he has
fought him in the realm of our existence. He continues to fight Satan on
our behalf. He knows what it is to have your most vulnerable weakness attacked.
He has been there and he has survived. He knows your greatest needs for
survival. He is more than willing to provide those needs.
Only the incarnate God can provide what you
need to defeat Satan. Christ knows you cannot win on your own. He didn't
come to make you feel condemned because of his perfect obedience. He rendered
perfect obedience because he knew your salvation depended on it. His perfect
obedience provided for your atonement.
Christ's throne of grace provides our
confidence. "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
do you find at the throne of grace? You find mercy and grace to help in
time of need. In times of failure, I need something more than the forgiveness
that mercy provides. I need help! Grace provides help. Grace goes
beyond not getting what we deserve. Grace enables us to discover God's
power in times of temptation.
When Paul struggled with his thorn in the
flesh, God told him that divine grace was sufficient. Grace was sufficient
to atone for his weakness and it also gave him strength as he struggled
with his weakness. Grace empowered him to live above the condemnation of
God's grace helps us by giving us divine protection
when we are tempted. Grace will not allow us to be tempted beyond what
we are able to bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Grace provides divine strength.
For if you live according to
the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death
the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the
Spirit of God are sons of God. (NIV)
In all my prayers for all of
you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from
the first day until now, 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.
I can do everything through
him who gives me strength. (NIV)
God's purpose in Christ provides our
confidence. The superiority of Christ is not designed to make us
feel inferior. Christ doesn’t sit on his throne in scowling condescension.
The superiority of Christ should help us realize our superior standing
before God. God assigned Christ's superior position to him on our behalf.
No one takes this honor upon
himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did
not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said
to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father." And he says
in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
If Christ's position was made possible through
the sacrifice of God, you can rest assured that you can approach Christ's
throne of grace with confidence. God has appointed Christ to the throne
of grace as our high priest. Christ’s position wasn’t just a position created
to exalt God’s Son. It is was a position designed to exalt us. God has
made the greatest sacrifice of all time to provide a throne of grace for
our salvation. In doing so, God has provided the confidence you need to
approach heaven's throne through Christ. You can rest assured that the
One on the throne understands your dilemma.
Christ's atonement provides our confidence.
God purposed to save each of us through Christ’s atonement. Aaron was assigned
as high priest because Israel needed an intercessor. Aaron could only enter
into the tabernacle to offer sacrifices for himself and Israel. The tabernacle's
Holy Place represented the throne of God's presence. Only the High Priest
of Israel could enter the Holy place after offering up sacrifices for himself.
He went into the Holy Place once a year to offer a sacrifice for Israel's
sin, but he couldn’t go in until he offered a sacrifice for his own sin.
This tended to make him empathetic toward those for whom he was offering
The superiority of Christ priesthood over
Aaron's priesthood provides us with a much greater confidence. Christ entered
into the tabernacle to offer up himself as our atoning sacrifice. This
means he knows the pain of your sacrifice for him; he has made the same
sacrifice for you. The veil of the temple was torn in two as he passed
through it as a sacrifice for our sins. Now each of us can come boldly
to his throne of grace. We need not go through anyone on earth. We can
approach God's throne with boldness through confidence in the sacrifice
of Christ. God has declared Christ, his Son, as our high priest forever.
Christ’s reverent submission to God’s
will provides our confidence. His reverent submission was exemplified
through his obedience. Although Christ’s call for us must culminate in
personal obedience, it is his obedience that gives us the confidence we
need as we approach the throne of his grace. When Jesus said, "It is finished"
as he hung on the cross, this was the modern day equivalent of stamping
a financial document with "paid in full." Christ’s obedience paid our debt
During the days of Jesus' life
on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears
to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his
reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what
he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation
for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the
order of Melchizedek. (NIV)
Christ’s prayers for us provide our
confidence. Christ offered up prayers to God who could save him
from death and he was heard because of his reverence for God. Christ not
only prayed for his deliverance and sanctification, he prayed for your
sanctification also. John reveals the nature of Christ’s prayers on our
My prayer is not that you take
them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They
are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth;
your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into
the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly
sanctified. "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who
will believe in me through their message, that all of them may
be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be
in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given
them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I
in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the
world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved
Christ's prayers of intercession were more
than casual prayers. Jesus' prayers were wrung out of him in blood sweating
tears. In this prayer Jesus intercedes for us, he prays to his Father for
his sanctification so that each of us might be sanctified through him.
This prayer gives us a hint of what he is no doubt doing as he occupies
the throne of grace as our mediator and high priest. As Jesus intercedes
as our high priest today, there is little doubt but what he reminds his
Father of the purpose of his own sanctification. Your sanctification was
the purpose of his sanctification.
This righteousness from God
comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified
freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God
presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had
left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--he did it to demonstrate
his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies
those who have faith in Jesus. (NIV)
We may think Jesus finished his work on the
cross and now he has ascended to heaven to retire. Nothing could be further
from the truth. He lives to make intercession for us. (Hebrews 7:24; 9:24)
He is in heaven advocating our cause. (1 John 2:1-2) He stands in God’s
presence interceding for us as he hears our pleas, our petitions and feels
our pain. His ears are open. His heart is empathetic. His arms are open
wide as he invites us into his presence. "Come to me, all you who are
weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and
learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest
for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew
Christ's authoring our eternal salvation
provides our greatest source of confidence. The Eternal One is
the Originator and Author of our eternal salvation. Salvation is not some
scheme dreamed up by us. Salvation has its beginning and end rooted in
the Eternal One. There is no other name that offers such salvation. (Acts
The Danger of Losing Our Confidence in
The lack of spiritual growth poses our
greatest threat to living with confidence in Christ.
We have much to say about this,
but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though
by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the
elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid
food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted
with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature,
who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
We lose our confidence in Christ’s sufficiency
when we refuse to grow up spiritually. We are born into God's family.
Our new birth requires growth. Growth from within does not always match
our growth without. There are a lot of gray-headed babies in Florida. Babies
are fed, burped, changed and entertained, and that is all some of us want.
However, babies must grow up.
1 Corinthians 14:20
Brothers, stop thinking like
children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.
Then we will no longer be infants,
tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind
of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful
scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow
up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. (NIV)
1 Peter 2:1-3
Therefore, rid yourselves of
all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow
up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (NIV)
We lose sight of our confidence when
we forget our ABC's. "The scene in Hebrews 5 is a tragic one. It
looks more like a day-care center than a church--grown men and women sitting
around in circles playing with ABC blocks. They ought to know better. They
ought to grow up. But there they sit, playing in the nursery school of
elementary truths." (Charles Swindoll, The Preeminent Person of Christ,
A study of Hebrews 1-10, Word Publishing, 1989. Page 90)
It is sad when we come to a place in life
where we ought to be teachers, but we need someone to show us the order
in which the ABC blocks go.
We lose our confidence because our lack
of spiritual growth dulls our hearing. Learning promotes learning.
Ignorance promotes ignorance, especially when it is willful ignorance.
I have also realized that ignorance can also be the greatest motivator
to learn, when ignorance is used as a signal for our need to learn.
When we willfully neglect knowledge of God's
provision for our salvation the darkness of ignorance overwhelms us. The
writer wants to lead the Hebrews into a deeper understanding of Christ's
priesthood, but their willful ignorance has blinded them.
Although he was a son, he learned
obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source
of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to
be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. We have much to say about
this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. (NIV)
If we deliberately keep on
sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice
for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging
fire that will consume the enemies of God. (NIV)
We lose our confidence when evil dulls
our ability to hear. Evil has a way of projecting the cause of
our pain on God as it dulls our sense of hearing. Hebrew Christians were
being persecuted for their faith. Their pain was dulling their discerning
ears. The evils of persecution were about to convince them to give up their
faith in Christ.
We lose our confidence when we refuse
to exercise our spiritual muscles to discriminate between good and evil.
ability to discern good from evil is a vital part of maintaining our confidence
in Christ. It is impossible to stand still as a Christian. We either go
forward claiming the promises of God or we go backward and wander about
One preacher said that most Christians are
"betweeners." He said most people are between Egypt and Canaan. They have
escaped the dangers of Egypt, but are not enjoying the rest of Canaan.
They spend their lives between Good Friday and Easter. They seek forgiveness
the cross provides, but do not want to experience the resurrection the
new life demands. There is a rest that remains for those who are willing
to move forward into it. (Hebrews 4:1)