Aug. 12. (Near Kent.) - "This morning and last night I was exercised with sore inward trials: I had no power to pray: but seemed shut out from God. I had in a great measure lost my hopes of God's sending me among the heathen afar off, and of seeing them flock home to Christ.
"I saw so much of my vileness, that I wondered that God would let me live and that people did not stone me; much more that they would ever hear me preach!”
However, I believe he was simply a man who was in touch with himself and the exceeding holiness of God.
And I wonder if you have moments like Brainerd? Do you have those times where you are struck with the true vileness of your state? Are there times when your mind is taken captive by the depth of your depravity and the multiplicity of your sins?
As we stand here at the head of a new year I believe it is good that we come to a passage like this. For this passage deserves to be pinned at the top and should serve as a banner over the whole of 2015. For in this passage we have the full guarantee that there is a true and sure remedy for all of those sins that may crowd in upon your mind.
This passage declares in the most robust tones the saving power of Christ. If you are one who has taken to heart the fact that you have offended God and repeatedly grieved him by your waywardness, then this passage should serve as a blanket of comfort to you. For it reminds us that Christ is able to save.
This is what is declared right in the heart of our passage. Verse 25 is embedded right in the middle of our text and it contains the central thought of the passage. It says, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him.”
And as we look at what this passage says about the saving power of Christ we will be comforted all the more.
We’ll begin to find some of its comfort when we understand what this passage says about the breadth of His saving power.
I. The breadth of this salvation
The verse before us doesn't just say Jesus is able to save. It says that he is able to save “to the uttermost.” Do not let those words be lost on you. The author could have said that Jesus is able to save and left it at that. But he didn’t. He wanted to reinforce just how comprehensive. So he, almost redundantly, added these words “to the uttermost” to emphasize the full scope of his saving power is.
You may ask, “Well, how far does it extend?” And we can answer that by saying that, for one, Christ is able to save to the uttermost point of heaven.
Christ does not leave one halfway on the road to heaven. He does not drop you off at the corner and make you walk the rest of the way. This is, of course, the view of the Roman Catholics. They pride themselves in a partial salvation. Jesus, they say, can save you from Adam’s sin and get you out of hell. But he cannot get you into heaven. You must first go through purgatory and you must suffer there for eons before you ever dare step foot into the presence of God in heaven.
But this is a blatant denial of Christ’s saving power as it is described here. Christ is able to save to the uttermost. He not only gets you out of hell, he bring you nigh unto God so that when you die you come immediately through heavens gates and into His glorious presence.
If you understand this, then you should also know that Christ is able to save to the uttermost point of sin too.
When we look at a verse like this, we have to recognize that the Jeffery Dahmers of the world are just as easily saved as the Mother Theresas.
In other words, there is no sin that is too big for Jesus. It does not matter how vile your sin may be; there is a trump card to it and it is the cross of Christ.
Some sins are extremely heinous. Murderers and rapists are sometimes looked upon as beyond the pale of God’s grace because their sins are extraordinarily awful. But even then there are some murders that are worse than others. If you’ve watched the news for any length of time, you know such that there are some that are exceedingly more gross than others. And there that some that are especially egregious because they are compounded by other sins and aggravations.
But the grace of God is for the chief of sinners. No matter how dark your sin may be, not matter how odious it may appear, Christ is able to save.
And let us not forget that he saves to the uttermost point of your life too.
Why is it that we believe in eternal security? It is because we believe it has to do with the saving power of Christ. If he cannot save us to the end of our lives, then there is something incredibly wrong with his saving power. He would be dropping us halfway. He would not be making good on his promise to save.
But Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one can pluck them out of my hands.” When he said that he was indicating the extent of his saving power.
Some of you have heard that we believe in the perseverance of the saints. We do. But that is not the best way to think of it. It is better to say that we believe in the preservation of the saints. Because that puts the emphasis more on Christ. It is not about our ability to persevere. It is about Christ’s preservation of us. He keeps us to the very end because he saves us to the uttermost.
The breadth of Christ’s saving power is pretty expansive. But there is one caveat. There is a limit to his saving power. The passage may emphasize the breadth of his salvation, but it also notes that not everyone will be saved.
Verse 25 goes on to tell us that those who benefit are those who “draw near to God through him.”
II. The beneficiaries of this salvation
Now, it is important that you catch every word here. A lot of people are mistaken because they don’t understand what it means to draw near to God.
Those who are saved are people who draw near to God through him (i.e. through Christ), not through church or through formalistic religious practices.
There are many people who think they are drawing near to God, but in all reality they are drawing near to damnation. This is because they confuse drawing near to God with church attendance. To be sure, everyone who draws near to God will join the assembly of believers each Lord’s Day. But not everyone who joins that assembly draws near to God.
Remember that many of the people in Ancient Israel were very good when it came to being present in the temple. They came with their sacrifices and they were religious in their observation of the various rites and practices. But God despised their sacrifices. He hated their offerings. He even called their worship a “trampling of his courts.” It was essentially a religious trespassing.
They might have drawn near to the temple, but they did not draw near to God. And we must remember that the same can be true here today. You might come to church, but you may not be coming to God. It is not one and the same. Many people will find that on the Last day Christ will say “Depart from me I never knew you.” And their jaws will drop to the floor because they stand there decked out with their perfect attendance pins.
Notice too that it does not say those who draw near to God through sincere devotion to any particular religion.
This is perhaps the greatest deception of our day. We are told that “all roads lead to God” and that all religions are basically the same. There can be nothing further from the truth. Others will say that it doesn’t matter which religion you choose, just as long as you are sincere. But sincerity will not save. Sincerity can be the most deadly vice in the world.
I once knew a nurse who was going about her business at a hospital tending to her patients. She was one of the most loving people you can imagine and she was a great blessing to many. One time she was putting meds into one of her patient’s IV’s. It was a procedure she had done a thousand times. You take the bottle from the medicine cabinet. You poke the needle into the bottle and fill the syringe. Then you empty its contents into the IV line. But on this occasion she had pulled the wrong bottle from the medicine cabinet. Instead of putting in the item that would cure, she put in a lethal dose of toxins.
Now, no one can question her sincerity. She truly believed that the drug would save. But it proved to be otherwise.
This is the same mistake so many make today. People think that they can draw near to God simply by sincere devotion to any old religion. But such a belief is just as deadly as the poison injected into the veins of that patient.
The passage states that those who will be saved are only those who draw near to God through him (i.e. through Christ). They must come in true faith to Jesus Christ. They must believe him to be the son of God and only savior of sinners. They must recognize him as the sole means of salvation. If they do not, or if they hold to any false Christ, then they will be greatly disappointed.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” Anyone who wishes to have communion with God and salvation from sin must enter into it through Christ.
And that is because he is the basis for our salvation. That’s what our passage explains. We can talk about its breadth and its beneficiaries.
What is our salvation based on? What is its basis?
III. The basis of this salvation
He is able to save because he has become our great high priest. Our passage reminds us of the two great aspects of his priestly work. Our passage here reminds us that our salvation rests upon his sacrificial death and his regular intercession.
Look at verse 22. This verse reminds us that Christ died in our place, and, in so doing, appeased God’s wrath. In verse 22 it says that Jesus has become a guarantor (or surety) of a better covenant.
A guarantor or surety is someone who agrees to take the responsibility of another or willingly agrees to pay another’s debt.
For instance, if you have bad credit, it will be hard for you to get a lone. A bank will only give you money if you have someone who will cosign for the loan. That person is a guarantor. He becomes responsible for the debt in the event that you cannot pay.
This is exactly what Christ has done. He has become a surety for us. He has guaranteed our place in God’s covenant by taking upon himself the debt we have incurred. Christ went to the cross and there he bore the wrath of God in our place. He took upon himself the penalty that was due to us for our sin. And since he has paid the price with his blood, there is no charge against us.
So we take comfort in this: Christ died in our place. But our salvation rests not only on the death that he died. It also is based on the prayers that he offers.
Look at verse 25. At the end of that verse it says that Jesus always lives to make intersession for us. But not only did he die in our place, but he also rose from the dead. And he now lives at God’s right hand. And there he continually acts as our advocate. He is ever praying to the Father and interceding for us. He’s securing God’s favor.
This is what lawyers do for their clients. If you are ever put on trial, you will have a lawyer who intercedes for you. He appears before the judge to state your case and defend you. Christ does just that.
This is part of the reason why you never have to worry about our salvation ever being revoked. It is because it is not based on what you do. It is based on the fact that Christ is right now standing in the presence of God defending you.
This is one of the main reasons why we should believe in eternal security, or what is commonly called perseverance of the saints. Our salvation is not based on our ability to hold on to Christ. It is based in his prayers for us! If we would fall away and lose our salvation, then the prayers of Christ would be ineffectual prayers.
Satan can bring all kinds of accusations, but every one of them will be shot down by Christ. For he says, “I have born the curse on his behalf. Grant him your favor; for my blood has been shed for him.”
Robert Murray M'Cheyne, a famous Scottish preacher, once had a fellow who was deeply distressed by his sins come to him. He was filled with anxiety. He knew himself to be a great sinner and his sins always dogged him. M’Cheyne asked him, “Would you be anxious if Christ were in the next room praying for you?” The man replied that he would not. He knew that if Christ were in the next room praying for him it would mean that Christ was acting on his behalf and not against him. M’Cheyne then said, “Then fear not. The Bible says he is praying for you.”
When you “Draw near to God through him” as our text says, you should also know that Christ draws near to the Father as well. And in doing so, you can be assured that he is able to save to the uttermost.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.