AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
November 29, 2003
GOOD, BETTER, BEST
How can this be ? God is good, and His creation was so; but man fell, and the creation was cursed.
How quickly does the neglected farm go from green landscapes to arid dust; and how much more quickly does the cursed creation become hostile in much, beggared from its beauty.
Better by far than this was the symbolic presentation of the Gospel to come,
The prophetic presentation of the grace to come,
But best was and is the Saviour:
The Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53),
The Man of healing and conveyor of joy (Isaiah 29,35, Mark 1, Matthew 4:24):
The substance of the symbol,
The meaning of the message,
The centre of the heart of God,
The way of life and
The eternal life of God:
So while in Hebrews 7ff., we are conceiving Christ is the BETTER MAN, the BETTER MINISTER and the BETTER WAY, than that of the preliminary symbols and words, yet in terms of the status of man at the first, given initial help and charge in Moses, but now final consummation in Christ, He is the BEST!
I. A BETTER MINISTRY - Hebrews 8:6
Priests, then as now, are mere mediators of a covenant, given in word, applied with power, available from God. They may sin, will die and are imperfect. They symbolised the one who would offer the sacrifice to God, on behalf of a sinful man (Leviticus 1, 4). Christ in Himself and His work substantiated what was symbolised, realising in practice and to the full what was foretold, accomplishing what was portrayed He therefore has a better ministry.
No more priests, no more mediators of imperfection, but ONE priest, the High Priest of Heaven (7:26-27). Now again, there is ONE offering (Hebrews 7:27 cf. 9:12-28), unrepeatable, since the One who made it died to sin ONCE (9:24), with blood, with suffering. Rome's mangling of this sacrifice figures in the most abhorrent phases of all history, in full line with the multiple mangling of bodies in the Inquisition, compounding false teaching with loveless zeal, killing the very servants of Christ (John 16:2), as Christ predicted. Thus, IN GOD's NAME! Rome has statedly a sacrifice without blood or suffering, but what alone is that of Christ has BOTH these, as the Bible declares (9:22,26). As real as the original death, conveying the actual body of Christ in mass sacrifices says Rome: yet how, without suffering or blood, itself necessary for remission!
But we by faith have ONE Saviour who is ONE Mediator who in ONE offering by ONE blood (His own which He shed, being then DEAD but ALIVE FOR EVERMORE - Revelation 1:18-19), conveys ONE justification for ever (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:8, Titus 3:7ff., Romans 3:23ff., 5:1-11). He thus brings ONE reconciliation with the ONE God who sent His OWN eternal WORD as Son to die, to live, to shed forth the Holy Spirit to those who are His, to return, to reign and thus to consummate the ONE COVENANT.
2. A BETTER COVENANT (Hebrews 7:16, 8:6)
The Mosaic covenant was served with God's own voice, power and to His people (Exodus 20); but the second is the New Covenant in Christ's blood (Matthew 26:28). This covenant is served in God's own person, by the blood of the body in which He became incarnate (Isaiah 48:16, Acts 20:28), with the word of the God-man creating it, applying it, paying for it in person, and then, alive from the dead, demonstrating its power in His own Person again, living Saviour and coming Sovereign.
This Covenant is personal, direct, without intermediary, approved in power, applied in liberty, alive in the heart of each believer where Christ lives, as in every saved soul (Romans 8:9, Colossians 1:27).
Priest internal and external, eternal, in Him the promise is perfected.
You have it thus
a) in word,
b) in work,
c) in blood,
d) in the power of an endless
e) for ever, and
f) without replacement, for
having died to sin once, He is alive for evermore;
g) confirmed in the resurrection, h) attested in the apostles who saw Him alive from the dead some 40 days, before His departure, leaving scope for the Gospel to reach ALL the world, and then only, His return to judge on that basis: Himself (John 5:19ff., 3:15-19,33-36).
3. BETTER PROMISES (Hebrews 8:6)
The priesthood in the Mosaic covenant had priests of Aaron's family, but this one has a Priest from the heart of God (Micah 5:1-3), not limited to human family; for in Deuteronomy 18, Moses told them in God's name that there would be a new PROPHET who would SUPERSEDE his own work, completing the testimony, not abrogating it (cf. Isaiah 59:21, 40:6ff.).
God does not change (Malachi 3:6, Psalm 102, 119); but He DOES complete His work. In Christ, the Messiah, there is the promise with an oath as seen in Psalm 110:4ff., from the day of the prophecy of David to this; in this, the Messiah is a priest FOREVER, and it is there confirmed in this intractable way. It is like Melchisedek (Hebrews 7:17ff.), who received tithes from Abraham, though his parentage is not noted. So Christ, not from a human source in His deity but from God direct, is sworn a priest forever, irreplaceable, intractable, unimpeachable, unbreachable, unimpugned, indefectible, eternal.
Replace the stars ? They will go (Isaiah 51:6, Revelation 20, Matthew 24:35), for they are just a night light for our present play on earth. But replace the Christ ? the High Priest founded on better promises with a better ministry in a better covenant ? "My words," said He, "shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35). Certainly the heavens and earth will go when their office is fulfilled, but His is never over (Rev. 1:18ff., 5:12-14; 21-22). It is always present, and even now (Hebrews 7:25), He is ALWAYS ALIVE to make intercession for His friends, saved sinners under the blood, over whom the word of God works like summer zephyrs of relief, of remedy and of refreshment.
Kept by the power of God (I Peter 1:5ff.), theirs is an inheritance fadeless, unsoiled, just like the Prince of Peace who has provided it, holy, harmless, undefiled, higher than the heavens (Hebrews 26). Better than any man, He is sufficient for all men: but unbelief rots (John 3:36, Daniel 12:1ff., Mark 9). It awakes not to the Lord, but to shame (Psalm 17).
Here in this Christ, in this Covenant, in this Ministry of His, there is peace and joy, holiness and help, sanctity and strength, and the delight of His presence, without which man is like a rudderless ship, a windless Summer day and a pit without resources, dug with futility, without understanding, without need (Ephesians 2, 4, Hebrews 2, 12, Psalm 32).