Jesus Offers You a Better Promise

Steve Viars February 21, 2009 Hebrews 8:1-13

- many of you have probably been working on your taxes lately…this is the season to at least begin thinking about that job…

- well, let me ask you about the tools you used to get the job done…

- did it include one of these?, or this, or this?...

- do you know what those different pictures are?...

- it’s an abacus…they were used as an accounting tool prior to the invention of the calculator or adding machine…

- Kris and I used to know an elderly refugee from the former soviet union…and he worked for the government as an accountant…and he still had an abacus…and one day he brought it out and had me give him different math problems and it was incredible how fast he could do those problems on his abacus…

- but you know what – this week I was doing some work on our taxes…and you know what I didn’t use?...an abacus…

- because we all know – there’s a better way…

- you’re going to do it on-line…or use Turbo tax or some other tax software…

- or at least you’re going to use a calculator or some kind of adding device…

- you’re not making fun of the abacus, you’re just acknowledging that you’ve found a better way…

- that essentially is the argument of the book of Hebrews…Jesus Christ is better…

- Jesus is better than the prophets, and He’s better than the angels, and He’s better than the OT sacrificial system, and He’s better than Moses, and he’s better than the Levitical priests in the temple…

- And every person then, and every person now, has to decide if they believe that…and if they are building their life around a vibrant, growing relationship with Him that is the logical extension of that belief…

- the purpose of this book, in many ways, is to give us reasons to come to that conclusion…

- so it began by telling us that…

Hebrews 1:1-14 – Jesus is Superior in Every Way […which is why chapter 2 would claim that…]

Hebrews 2:1-18 – Jesus Deserves your Attention

Hebrews 3:1-19 – Jesus Can Soften Your Heart

Hebrews 4:1-5:10 – Jesus Can Give Your Rest

Hebrews 5:11-6:20 – Jesus Provides Lasting Hope

Hebrews 7:1-28 – Jesus Can Help You Draw Near to God

- and all of this was driving for a response, both for the original hearers and for people like you and me…do you agree with this assessment?...and would there be clear evidence in your life that you agree?...is His superiority an organizing truth and a motivating factor in your existence?...

- now, one of the ways this book really helps us is by presenting a significant amount of evidence…or reasons to come to this conclusion…

- in 3 primary categories…

- many references back to the OT that show how Jesus is a perfect fulfillment of promises and prophecies made about the coming Messiah…careful students of the Scripture should have been expecting someone just like Him…

- secondly, there are many direct references to his superiority…we have seen a number of beautiful descriptions of the Person and work of Christ in these chapters…

- and then lastly there have been some very forceful warnings…

- people who had not yet made up their mind about Christ needed to avoid the tendency to think they could always decide later – that’s why there is this significant emphasis on the importance of deciding…today…

- and those who had trusted Christ needed to be careful not to let apathy or fear stop them from continuing to grow in their love for Christ…

- the next chapter in this book adds another piece to the puzzle, where we learn that Jesus Offers a Better Promise.

- to see what that’s all about, let me invite you to open your Bible to Hebrews chapter 8…[page 173 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…]

- the overall title we’ve chosen for this study isHope in Our Sufficient Savior.

- that’s what we’re seeking to do this year as a church family…Finding Hope

- and we don’t believe that’s ultimately found in material possessions, or political posturing, or worldly pleasures…

- all of that is temporary…it’s passing away…

- we want to say with the Psalmist… Psalm 62:5 - My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.

- let’s see how Hebrews 8 motivates us to continue down that trail… read Hebrews 8:1-13

- we’re talking about how Jesus offers a better promise…and with the time we have remaining, let’s look for 3 reasons Jesus’ promises are worth believing.

I.Because of His Amazing Position.

- we have said all along that this book is challenging…it’s not for theological lightweights…

- but one of the nice things about this chapter is—it clearly states what the main point has been thus far…

- cf. verse 1 – Now the main point in what has been said is this…

- it is also a bit easier to understand that some of the previous chapters…which gives us a great opportunity to step back and ask…is this really having any impact on me?...

- am I finding ways to change?...

- is my hope in Christ becoming more developed and mature?...

- now, what is the “main point in what has been said” thus far?...

- it has a lot to do with thinking about Jesus’ amazing position...

- for one thing…

A. He is seated.

- v. 1 – who has taken His seat…

- the words “priest” and “seated” do not go together very well…

- why?...because a priest’s work was never done…

- that will be emphasized in the next chapter where we read…

Hebrews 10:11 - Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins

- see, a normal priest never rested because he was never through…

- do you remember that commercial years ago from Dunkin Doughnuts where the guy gets up at 4:00 am (time to make the doughnuts)…

- the same was true of a priest in the temple – time to make the sacrifices…time to make the sacrifices…

- nothing he did was permanently effective…

- and the impact that would have had on the people of God would have been significant…there is never a way to get out from under this crushing load of spiritual debt…it’s like the person who only makes the minimum payment on a high interest credit card…you’ll never be finished…

- by the way, if you’ve studied this concept in Scripture carefully, you might say – but wait a minute, aren’t there examples in the Bible where Jesus isn’t seated at God’s right hand?...

- the answer to that is yes…one occurs during the stoning of the first martyr of the church…Stephen, who is being put to death by the mob because of His faith in Christ…

- Acts 7:55 - But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;

- some have asked, why was Jesus standing during that event?...of course we don’t know for sure, but some have suggested that Jesus is seated as our redeemer, but is standing as our helper during our time of need…

- but the repeated emphasis in the book of Hebrews is that because Christ was the perfect Son of God, He only had to make one sacrifice…the perfect shedding of His own blood…once and for all and then, regarding our salvation, He was able to sit down…

- another aspect of this amazing position was that it was…

B. At the right hand of the throne of Majesty.

- v. 1 – who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of Majesty

- of course the right hand of a king always symbolized favor, and position, and authority…

- Psalm 118:16 - The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.

- Psalm 80:17 - Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.

- and the point is – when you’re considering whose promises you’re going to believe and embrace, think carefully about the nature of the person’s relationship with God the Father…Jesus Christ is seated at God’s right hand…

- by the way, some Bible students believe this may have also had reference to the arrangement of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish supreme court…

- the original readers would have certainly been familiar with the way that body was organized…

- in their arrangement, the person who sat on the left side was responsible for writing condemnations…the person who sat on the right side was responsible for writing acquittals, pardons…aren’t you glad Jesus is on the right side?

- the passage also makes the obvious point that he is seated…

C. In the heavens.

- v. 1 – who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of Majesty in the heavens

- imagine that office…imagine those views…imagine that perspective…

- and as beautiful as the tabernacle and various temples were…that’s but a shadow, the text says…of our high priest being seated in the heavens…

- another curious aspect of this that is very clear in this text is that Christ is…

D. Continuing to serve.

- v. 2 - NASB – a minister in the sanctuary…

- v. 2 – NIV – and who serves in the sanctuary…

- that is clearly the point of verse 3…Hebrews 8:3 - For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer.

- now you might say – wait a minute – I thought He was seated…He is – with reference to the sacrifice that had to be made for our sin – that was completed once and for all because of the sufficiency of His blood…

- but now, what is Christ doing?...according to this passage – one answer is -- He continues to make “gift offerings” on our behalf…

- those represented personal dedication, commitment, and dedication to the Lord…

John MacArthur - Jesus has already ministered the one final blood sacrifice that is sufficient for all people for all time. This work of His is completely finished, because there is no need, and there will forever be no need, for any additional sacrifice for the cleansing of sin. But the need for His redeemed people to come to dedication and commitment and thanksgiving is not over. These gifts of praise and thanksgiving Jesus continues to minister for us before His Father.

- I don’t pretend to fully understand what that means…but it is amazing that Jesus Christ would still be willing to serve people like you and me…just like He did for disciples in the upper room when He took the initiative to wash their feet…

- Chuck Colson tells the story of walking through the White House one night with President Nixon…He said that Nixon was musing about what people want in their leaders…

- Richard Nixon – “The people really want a leader a little bigger than themselves, don’t they Chuck?  Someone like de Gaulle.  There’s a certain aloofness, a power that’s exuded by great men that people feel they want to follow.”

- in retrospect, Colson wrote - Chuck Colson – “Jesus Christ exhibited none of this self-conscious aloofness. He served others first; He spoke to those to whom no one spoke; He dined with the lowest members of society; He touched the untouchables.”

- now, what are the practical implications of all of this?...if Jesus Christ truly is willing to be our high priest, seated at the right hand of the throne of Majesty in the heavens, willing to minister on our behalf…

- whatever promises He has to make to us are worthy of our faith, and our allegiance, and our hope…

- this is one of the reasons followers of Christ are overwhelmed by the privilege of knowing and serving Him…He holds an amazing position…

- what does that look like in real time?...you may have noticed a prayer request from one of our missionaries this week…Nate Watkins…he and his wife Karol have been part of our missionary family for a long time…

- they have not had it easy…

- Nate grew up on the mission fields on West Africa where his father was a missionary pilot…

- his dad, Chic Watkins died in the service of Christ at a fairly young age…but Nate kept serving God…

- then there were political uprisings in Liberia so they were forced to flee the country and moved to neighboring Ivory Coast…

- many Liberian refugees were there – so they worked with them…

- then there were political uprisings in Liberia – so they had to come home…

- then Karol became ill and they were advised not to go back to Africa…

- so they are now working with Liberians in NYC…

- this week Nate was at a missions conference at a church, and one of the ways this congregation sought to bless the missionaries was by sending them all to the dentist at the church’s expense…

- and they found out that Nate had an abscess that went so deep into his jaw that it was going to require oral surgery…

- so the prayer request came through with a note that Nate had a great opportunity to talk with one of the nurses about Christ and would we please pray for that ongoing ministry…

- and you hear all of that and you say – at what point do you just quit?...at what point do you become bitter?...at what point do you start worrying and complaining?...

- and if Nate were here this morning, he would say what a lot of other people in our congregation would say…

- I have the privilege of knowing and serving the One who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens…

- I’m not going to let being run out of a few foreign countries or an abscessed tooth stop me from walking with Him…think of his position…that motivates me to latch onto the promises He’s made to me…

- friend, would you be able to say that this morning?...

- now, let’s bring verse 6 into this discussion…

II. Because of His Crucial Ministry.

A. Mediator.

- Hebrews 8:6 - But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator…

- mediator – mesites – someone who stands between two people and brings them together

- this is the only way you and I could possibly hope to be reconciled to a holy God…we need to know someone on the inside…

B. Of a better covenant.

- God had often chosen to relate to His people on the basis of covenants…promises, agreements…

- like the Adamic covenant made with Adam and Eve…

- or the Noahic covenant…made with Noah…

- or the Abrahamic covenant (Abraham), or the Davidic covenant (David)…

- the problem was that any aspect of a covenant that was dependent on the faithfulness of man was always broken…which is why God said through the prophet…

- Jeremiah 31:31-32 - “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.

- the rest of Hebrews 8 is a quote of Jeremiah 31…

- that is why it is so significant that in the upper room, Jesus raised the cup of wine, signifying His blood and said…

1 Corinthians 11:25 - In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

- that is why verse 6 ends by saying that Jesus ministry is…

C. Established on better promises.

Hebrews 8:6 - But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

- we’ve all been reading about the stimulus package, and the bank buyouts and the attempts to solve the foreclosure crisis…and I’m sure we have all sorts of opinions on all of that…

- but imagine that you were one of those persons in danger of losing your home…

- and perhaps you had gotten way behind on your payments…and you should have contacted the banker but you didn’t…and then when they tried to reach you, you ignored their calls…

- and then one day you come home and there’s a bag hanging on your door with foreclosure papers and a big “bank sale” sign in your yard…

- and now you’re really motivated to get a hold of them but it’s too late…now they’re not taking your calls and you don’t know what you’d say if they did because you don’t have enough money to catch up the payments anyway…

- and then you meet someone who says --- I know the banker, and I can get an appointment, and let’s sit down and see what they’ll do…trust me, I think we can work this out…

- and you’re sitting thinking maybe they will relax the payments, maybe knock a little bit off the interest rate…maybe they’ll do something to give you a bit of breathing room even though it will still be hard because you’re way over your head…

- so you get to the meeting, and it is obvious the banker knows the mediator really well…

- and then the banker pulls out your mortgage, and you regret ever taking out that kind of debt…

- and then he shows your payment history and you’re ashamed you missed so many payments…

- and you start wondering – what’s this mediator going to do? – why did I come to this meeting?, why did I believe what he said?...

- and just when you think it looks really bad…the mediator says---I’ve got an idea, and he pulls out his personal checkbook and says – how about if I pay off the mortgage…in full, forever…

- and you’re rubbing your ears…you can’t believe what he just said – and he’s writing the check from His own account…

- he didn’t just mediate for you…he paid off your house…

- now can I ask you this…has that impacted the way you feel about the mediator?...and will you ever doubt his promises again?...

- isn’t that exactly what Jesus has done for us?...the next chapter says…

- Hebrews 9:15 - For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance

- 2 questions at this point –

1. Are you sure you’ve let him pay off your mortgage?

2. If so, have you allowed that ministry to motivate you to want to cultivate a relationship with Him that is genuine and authentic?

- Jesus offers a better promise because of His amazing position, and because of His crucial ministry…and also…

III. Because of His Transforming Relationship

- that is one way to summarize this information from the New Covenant…

A. New inwardness.

- Hebrews 8:10 - …Iput My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts…

- under the Old Covenant, the Word of God was primary an external matter…the tables of stone, something they would carry on their foreheads or write on their doorposts…

- but now because of the finished work of Christ, and because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the potential change was much more concentrated on the heart…

- John 14:16-18 - I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.I will not leave you as orpha

- the better promise is that you can have a new relationship with God’s truth in your heart…

- there was a very sad article in the paper this week entitled “Some Fear Britain is Socially Broken”

- read selected portions…

- I was talking to someone this week who did an internship in England several years ago and said that there was practically no gospel witness there…in fact, he went to hear a lecture where the speaker claimed that evangelical Christianity would be extinct there in 40 years…

- when you think of the rich spiritual heritage that nation once enjoyed, and also that our country tends to trend behind England in spiritual matters in many ways, it breaks your heart…

- but what’s the opposite of that?...it is when young people, and older people, are so in love with their Savior that they consciously choose to allow His Word to be written on their hearts…they have concluded that He truly is a better priest who has offered a better promise…

- so what does that look like in real time?...

- why would teenagers participate in binge drinking?...a lot of possible answers, including wanting the acceptance of their friends, or trying to drown out their problems, or an attempt to fill the emptiness inside…

- is that the best we have to offer our kids?...take this external chemical and put it in your mouth?...

- how about, take this eternal truth and place it in your heart…

- and we’ll have young people here today who have drawn the conclusion – I find my joy in Christ, and my acceptance in Him…

- and that’s where I am, not because my parents made me think that – the one who paid off my spiritual mortgage is worth that…

- Ephesians 5:18 - And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

B. New identification.

- Hebrews 8:10 - …I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

- Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

- Colossians 3:1-3 - If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

C. New knowledge.

- Hebrews 8:11 - And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

- while of course the possibility exists for people to be in the church who don’t truly know Christ…there is a potential genuineness, and authenticity for those who are in the local church…

- when you put a group of people who have claimed the promises of the high priest together in the same body – powerful things can occur…

- cf. our corporate witness tonight…

D. New forgiveness.

Hebrews 8:12 - For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video