Foundations of Faith

FIVE FOUNDATIONS OF FIRM FAITH    Hebrews 4:14-5:10

Introduction

The Law of Moses decreed that a High Priest preside over worship, both in the tabernacle and in the temple. Aaron was the first High Priest, and all members of Israel’s priesthood were required to be descended from him. (Aaronic Priesthood). Israel’s High Priest was one of many priests who offered sacrifices of various kinds on the sacred altar. But once a year, on the Day of Atonement, only the High Priest officiated at the special sacrifices. Atonement translates a word meaning “covering over”; sacrifices were made on the Day of Atonement to cover over the sins of all Israel. He first offered the sacrifice of a bull – a substitute taking the punishment in the lives of the high priest and his household for their sins. He would cast lots to determine which of two goats would be sacrificed and which would be stent away (alive) as a scapegoat. The High Priest sprinkled blood of the sacrificed bull and goat on the “atonement cover” which was the top of the ark of the covenant. This was located in the inner room, called “the most holy place” of the tabernacle or temple. Only on this one day of the year did anyone enter that room. The essence of the Day of Atonement was that of substitutionary sacrifice: the lives of the animals were given in place of the lives of the human sinners.

 

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Every high priest is a man chosen to represent other people in their dealings with God. He presents their gifts to God and offers sacrifices for their sins. And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. That is why he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as theirs. And no one can become a high priest simply because he wants such an honor. He must be called by God for this work, just as Aaron was.  That is why Christ did not honor himself by assuming he could become High Priest. No, he was chosen by God, who said to him, “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father.” And in another passage God said to him, “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 4:14-5:10, NLT

Jesus is our High Priest! He is greater than the Aaron! Aaron was a sinner who needed cleansing / Jesus never sinned! Aaron offered animal sacrifices / Jesus offered Himself as Lamb of God! Aaron was chosen by God to be a priest/ Jesus was Son of God! Aaron offered release from sin via a scapegoat / Jesus offered eternal salvation for all who believe and obey Him.  Jesus is the only way we have access to the mercy and grace of God…which gives us confidence in our salvation. Five Foundations of Firm Faith:

1. Firm Faith in Jesus who Entered Heaven. (4:14)

4:14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 

The High Priest of the OT could only enter the Holy of Holies; annually! Jesus is at the right hand of the Father reigning in His Kingdom today! Our faith is not…In ourselves – we are always in need of the gospel because we continue to struggle with sins. In others – no matter how great another person or mentor is, they will ultimately let us down. In the church – the church is made up of sinners! Only Jesus is worthy of our faith … He is perfect in every way. He loves us very deeply. He is in heaven at the right hand of the Father.  Don’t ever give up your confession – your faith- that He has saved you.

2. Firm Faith in a Savior Who Understands our Weaknesses. (4:15)

4:15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. Everyone has weakness – struggle – temptation. Jesus understands because the faced those testings also! Jesus, however, did not sin! Temptation and weakness are part of the human condition. These are things we battle with every day and always will. Our reaction to our weakness is important: Do we deny our weakness? Do we excuse away our weakness? Do we indulge in our weakness? Do we let our weakness weigh heavy on our conscience in misery? Do we admit our weakness in faith that: Jesus understands. JESUS doesn’t just pretend to know nor does he try to imagine what we are facing. He knows our weakness – our feebleness, our weaknesses, our sickness, disease, whatever we are going through, He knows.

That not one single feeble soul should be afraid to draw nigh to the great God or, in drawing nigh, should doubt as to whether God is not too great and holy fully to understand or to bear with his weakness. 

Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All

Jesus will empower us to overcome. The value of support groups of any kind is to acknowledge that another person knows how I feel and together we can find our way through. The Christian has a Savior who knows, understands, and can help. Firm Faith is in Jesus in Heaven, in a Jesus who understands…

3. Firm Faith because we are invited into the throne room (16)

4:16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

AMP: 16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

Come Boldly! The word “boldly” means “free to speak, no hesitancy on the part of the  one coming.” 

Each time you pray, exercise this boldness. Let the measure of Jesus’ merit – yea more! – let the measure of Jesus’ power to work in you and lead you on to God’ be the measure of your boldness. 

Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All

Throne of Grace! This is a throne of grace, not judgment. At God’s “throne of grace” there is “mercy” to be “obtained.”  We receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it most! “Mercy” is something we do not deserve but God freely gives it to us. “Grace” is God’s unmerited favor. “Grace” is given to “help.”

For centuries the Jewish people knew what it was to be unable to approach God. But the hour that Jesus died, Matthew records, “When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Matthew 27:50-51). From that moment on there was no longer a barrier between God and his people. 

Nancy Guthrie, The Hope for Something Better

Mohler: If we could not draw near to God with confidence on account of Christ’s work, then the Christian life would be futile and hopeless.

4. Firm Faith in the God who Rescues from Death (7)

5:7 While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a  loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.

Jesus demonstrates faith by being a prayerful Savior! Jesus prayers…Were characterized by “pleadings” – what did Jesus desire? Were characterized “loud cry and tears” passionate prayers of meaning. Were characterized by a deep reverence for God. When did Jesus pray and plead with tears? Gethsemane seems to be a natural thought here. When you are in your Gethsemane – the time when all you can do is offer up tears to God – have faith in Him. He rescues in His own ways and manners. Primarily he rescues us from the power of death. Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest who prayed on our behalf.

Romans 8:34b Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 

As you pray, pause and consider what it means that Jesus is your high priest.  He doesn’t have to guess about your feelings and needs. He knows by His perfect knowledge and He knows by His own experience.  When you recognize these truths, you are appreciating Him as your High Priest!

5. Firm Faith in the Source of Eternal Salvation for all who obey him (9)

5:9b  …he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him

Everything Jesus did showed that he was the Source of Eternal Life. Jesus brought salvation into being. He is the cause of salvation. This “salvation” that is in Christ is “eternal.” That means forever.  After Jesus completed the work of eternal salvation, died, was buried, 

It is “for all who obey him”. This does not nullify Grace and Mercy – it does, however, tell us that God is looking for those who are willing to follow Him – not just take what he has to offer. Lightfoot: Christ as Son had to obey the Father, and all who expect salvation must first learn obedience as He did. It is His Love for us that calls us to obey Him in every way. 

Conclusion: Five Foundations of Firm Faith

Jesus is in Heaven, He Understands, He Invites You in, He gives victory over death, He is able to save us for eternity! 

These are foundations of faith. How do we build our lives on these foundations? 

*Build Your Faith by Reading Your Bible for insights for living.

*Build Your Faith by exercising faith! Allow Jesus to direct your: Decisions, Attitudes, Service, Love, Involvement, Family, Life in the Church!

*Build your Faith by fighting against temptations and leaning on Christ for the victory!

*Build your Faith by praying, knowing God offers mercy and grace for each day.

*Build your Faith by putting all of your fears and anxieties into His arms – including the ultimate fear of death – He is Risen!

*Build Your Faith by trusting Him to give you eternal life. Obey the gospel and let the Good News be your guiding principle. 

LifeGroup Questions

1. We talked about Faith in the sermon today. What song/hymn about faith can you name? – or – What is your favorite song/hymn of faith?

2. How does one go about “holding firmly” to their beliefs when there seems to be a lot of pressure in our world to not believe?

3. Why is it so important that we understand that Jesus can sympathize with sinners? How does that fact affect your outlook on the Christian life? How does it equip you to win your fight against sin? 

4. How do mercy and grace “help us when we need it the most”?

5. What can cause us to be apprehensive in approaching the throne of God?

6. Jesus pleaded with God – a seeming reference to the Garden of Gethsemane. Hebrews 5:7 says “God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.” How would you describe that reverence? How can we develop it in our own hearts?

7. Verse 9 talks about eternal salvation… why would that be a relief to the Jews /  OT High Priests? In what way should it be a relief to us?

8. What else did you see that you wanted to talk about?