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THE EVER-LIVING PRIEST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, September 12, 2010

“And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:23-25).


In Old Testament times there were many priests. But none of them continued very long. Soon each one of them was dead. Christ alone continues as our High Priest forever. Christ alone “hath an unchangeable priesthood” (Hebrews 7:24). He rose physically from the dead. He ascended physically to Heaven. He is there in Heaven, at the right hand of God, doing His priestly work, praying for you tonight!

Today there is very little mention of Christ as our High Priest. The only hymn I find in modern hymnals on this subject is “Arise! My Soul, Arise!” by Charles Wesley (1707-1788). I had to take two forgotten hymns from Spurgeon’s hymnal, and set them to music, or we would have had nothing to sing in this service. And very few sermons are preached on this subject now. In fact there has been very little preaching at all on “Jesus Christ himself” (Ephesians 2:20) for several decades. In his book, Christless Christianity, Dr. Michael Horton says that this happened because of “…assuming that everybody already knows what Jesus has done (and is doing and will do)…” (Michael Horton, Ph.D., Christless Christianity, Baker Books, 2008, p. 250).

One of the few sermons in print on Christ’s intercessory work in Heaven is Spurgeon’s “The Ever-Living Priest” (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1974 reprint, volume XXXII, pp. 415-426). I am giving you a shortened and simplified version of Spurgeon’s sermon on this text,

“And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:23-25).

This text tells us four things about Christ, the ever-living priest.

I. First, Christ has an endless life.

Read verses 23 and 24 aloud,

“And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood”
       (Hebrews 7:23-24).

Christ continues forever as an “unchangeable” priest, because He has an endless life. Jesus is not like the high priest Aaron or any priests that followed him in Old Testament times. All of them finally died. Yes, I know that Jesus died on the Cross, but He rose physically from the dead. The resurrected Christ said,

“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:18).

Christ came down from Heaven and took on a human body, in which He died to pay for our sins. But He rose on the third day in that same human body, and, in that same body, He ascended back to Heaven where “he ever liveth” (Hebrews 7:25). A dying Saviour was not enough. We still need a living Saviour to take care of us and deliver us from evil. We should remember this truth whenever life seems too hard. Jesus lives. My great Redeemer lives for me – lives in all the fulness of power and glory – and devotes His life to preserve my soul from every evil. Can I not rest in Him? With such an ever-living Saviour, why should I be afraid? I am safe because He so vigorously devotes His life to my protection. What blessings must come to those for whom Jesus spends the strength of His endless life!

Awake, sweet gratitude, and sing
   The ascended Saviour’s love;
Tell how He lives to carry on
   His people’s cause above.
(“Christ’s Intercession” by Augustus Toplady, 1771;
     to the tune of “O Set Ye Open Unto Me”).

Sing it!

Awake, sweet gratitude, and sing
   The ascended Saviour’s love;
Tell how He lives to carry on
   His people’s cause above.

II. Second, Christ has an endless priesthood.

Read verse 24 aloud.

“But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood” (Hebrews 7:24).

As we have already seen, Israel had high priests that would die. They must have been very sorrowful when one of their priests died. But in the Christian dispensation we have only one priest, who continues for ever. Therefore, brethren, we have no need of an earthly priest, either in the Church of England, or in the Church of Rome, or the Eastern Orthodox churches – or in any other church! The only priest we need is Jesus!

“We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1).

“Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice…for this he did once, when he offered up himself”
       (Hebrews 7:27).

We do not need the bloodless sacrifice of the Mass, with a man-made priest “to offer up sacrifice.” “For this [Christ] did once” when He died for us on the Cross! Peter himself said, “Christ also hath once suffered for sins” (I Peter 3:18). There is no need for more sacrifices in the Mass! Christ has “once suffered for sins”!

Once for all, O sinner receive it;
   Once for all, O brother believe it;
Come unto Christ, the burden will fall,
   He hath redeemed us once for all.
(“Once For All” by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876;
     altered by the Pastor).

III. Third, Christ makes endless intercession.

Note the words at the end of verse twenty-five, “…he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (John 17:20). The Apostle Paul said,

“It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us”
      (Romans 8:34).

“He ever liveth to make intercession for [us]” (Hebrews 7:25).

Christ prays for us continually. Spurgeon said, “We are pardoned by the death of Christ, but we are justified by his resurrection. We are saved because he died; but that salvation is brought home and secured to us because he sitteth at the right hand of God, and continually maketh intercession for us” (ibid.).

“Where would our hope be of continual preservation from the weakness and sins of our nature did not Jesus constantly plead for us? The way is rough, the world is sinful, our wanderings are many, our wants are incessant, and therefore we need the eternal intercession. We are never out of danger, and therefore always need [His] prayer; we are never above weakness and folly, and therefore require [His] perpetual [prayer]… Brethren, we are daily pressed, either with conflict with inbred sin or suffering in the body…and for all of these we need help [from] out of the holy place…We need an [intercessor], at whose feet we may lay down our burdens, into whose ears we may tell our sorrows: therefore Jesus ever liveth to make intercession for us” (ibid.).

Hence, then, our dark despairing thoughts;
   Above our fears, above our faults,
His powerful intercessions rise;
   And guilt recedes, and terror dies.
(“His Powerful Intercessions” by Anne Steele, 1760;
     to the tune of “Just As I Am”).

Sing it with me!

Hence, then, our dark despairing thoughts;
   Above our fears, above our faults,
His powerful intercessions rise;
   And guilt recedes, and terror dies.

“He ever lives above, for me to intercede.” Sing Wesley’s stanza!

He ever lives above,
   For me to intercede;
His all-redeeming love,
   His precious blood to plead;
His blood atoned for all our race,
   And sprinkles now the throne of grace,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.
    (“Arise! My Soul, Arise!” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

IV. Fourth, Christ provides endless salvation.

Read verse 25 aloud.

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

“He is able to save to the uttermost, them that come unto God by him.” Spurgeon said, “He is able to save without end [for] that word ‘uttermost’ includes within it a reference to time. Because our Lord Jesus never dies, he is endlessly able to save. At all times his power to save remains. He was able to save some of you…years ago, but you would not come to him that you might have life; he is able to save you now though you have passed…years in impenitence. If you come unto God by him, he will save you however multiplied your sins” (ibid.).

Everyone who comes to Jesus has this promise from the Saviour’s own lips,

“I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand” (John 10:28-29).

Everyone who comes to God through Jesus has eternal life, and can never perish, because the Son of God “ever liveth to make intercession for them”!

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

How we pray that you will come to Jesus! When you come to Him, He will save you forever – “to the uttermost” – for all time, and for all eternity! Please stand and sing hymn number six on your song sheet.

Awake, sweet gratitude, and sing
   The ascended Saviour’s love;
Tell how He lives to carry on
   His people’s cause above.

With pleading tears He offered up
   His humble cries below;
But with authority He prays
   Enthroned in glory now.

For all that come to God by Him
   Salvation He demands;
Points to their names in God’s own book,
   And spreads His wounded hands.

Eternal life, at His request,
   To every saint is given;
Strength on this earth, and after death
   The ecstasies of Heaven.
(“Christ’s Intercession” by Augustus Toplady, 1771;
     altered by the Pastor; to the tune of “O Set Ye Open Unto Me”).

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Hebrews 7:23-28.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
      “His Powerful Intercessions” (by Anne Steele, 1760; to the tune of “Just As I Am”).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE EVER-LIVING PRIEST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:23-25).

(Ephesians 2:20)

I.   First, Christ has an endless life, Hebrews 7:23-24; Revelation 1:18.

II.  Second, Christ has an endless priesthood, Hebrews 7:24; 8:1; 7:27;
I Peter 3:18.

III. Third, Christ makes endless intercession, Hebrews 7:25; John 17:20;
Romans 8:34.

IV. Fourth, Christ provides endless salvation, Hebrews 7:25;
John 10:28-29; Romans 8:38-39.