Yesterday we looked at the significance of the word “uttermost” in Hebrews 7:25. There we read that Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” Today we examine the word “always”.
Jesus Christ not only saves to the uttermost, but he also always lives to make intercession for you. If the word “uttermost” has a qualitative force to it, “always” has a quantitative force. Or perhaps we should say a temporal force. It speaks of duration and extension in time. It means never-ending, never-ceasing. It points to something that is incessant, eternal, everlasting.
You and I have a hard time thinking to the end of the month, much less to the end of the year. We find it difficult to envision anything extending beyond our own lifetime. We live by the clock and the calendar. Everything is measured in terms of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. It’s hard to get our minds around something that cannot be contained or limited by time.
It may actually be the case that we struggle more to understand the implications of the word “always” than we do the implications of the word “uttermost”. The reason is that even if something given to us is perfect, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will last forever. Nothing lasts forever. Or does it?
It seems that everything we experience has a shelf life. Everything we eat or drink has an expiration date. “Good until July 14, 2015,” it says on the medicine bottle. Change your oil every 5,000 miles. Replace the filter on your air conditioning unit every six months. Be sure you install fresh batteries at least once a year in your smoke alarm in the house. “I take you to be my lawfully wedded wife/husband until death do us part.” So not even marriage lasts forever. And some don’t last more than a year or so. Nothing lasts. Or so it seems.
One thing that lasts is the heavenly intercession on your behalf of Jesus Christ our great High Priest!
“Oh, come on Sam. Don’t exaggerate. Are you saying that Jesus continues to live to make intercession for me even when I prove faithless and fickle and keep failing in committing the same sins over and over and over again? Are you saying that nothing interrupts his presence at God’s right hand on my behalf? What about the chaos in the Middle East? Doesn’t he have to take a break interceding for me so he can attend to matters of far greater importance, like trying to arrange a cease-fire that will continue for more than 24 hours? Are you asking me to believe that when hurricanes and tornadoes and financial crises befall us that he doesn’t at least take a 15-minute break to put things right?” That’s right!
Always? Really? Always? Forever? Are you sure it isn’t only for as long as I prove worthy of his attention? Are you sure it isn’t only for as long as I love him? Are you sure it isn’t only for as long as I don’t lose my temper with my spouse and don’t yell at my kids? Are you sure it isn’t only for as long as I keep my house clean? Are you sure it isn’t only for as long as I make him proud of me with my godly behavior? Yeah, I’m sure!
Ask yourself this question. Is it not the case that our bad choices and our sins and our shortcomings are most often due to the fact that we really don’t believe what these two words are saying? Or perhaps I should turn that around and state it more positively. Try to envision what kind of Christian life you would lead if you really believed what these two words are saying!
Seriously, it would be fascinating if we could pause for about ten minutes and each of us take out pen and paper or I-pad or laptop and write down how we would feel and what we would do without hesitation if we genuinely and sincerely and consistently believed that Jesus Christ has saved us to the uttermost and that he always lives to make intercession for us. I wonder how it might affect the way you and I worship? Would any of us ever feel restrained in our shouts of joy? Would we ever grow weary of singing his praises? Would we ever again be embarrassed to kneel or raise our hands or clap or dance or weep or laugh? I don’t think so.
If we grasped just a small measure of what these two words mean there is simply no way to predict what our prayer lives would be like. You would never have to be encouraged to attend a prayer meeting. You would never struggle to volunteer in some capacity at your church. You would never have to be told to be generous and sacrificial in your giving to the financial needs of your local church. Never.
If you doubt what I’m saying, I suggest you still don’t know what these two words are saying. If you honestly believe your worship and your prayers and your praise and your love and obedience would be restrained and controlled, there can only be one explanation. It must be that you still mistakenly think that “uttermost” means almost and that “always” means sometimes.
“Sam, you make it all sound so simple. But it can’t be. It must be more complicated than that. My life is too complex for it to be that simple.” Really? If that’s what you think, all I can do is to ask you to meditate deeply and for more than a minute or two on the words “uttermost” and “always”.
One final and critically important thing to note is the relationship between Christ’s ability to save to the uttermost and the unending, incessant intercession he fulfills on your behalf. Did you see that word translated “since”? He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him “since” (i.e., because, for this reason, on these grounds) he always lives to make intercession for them. Clearly, then, the fact that Jesus is always and forever on your side as he sits at the Father’s right hand is the reason why we can have confidence that the salvation he gives us is complete and comprehensive and all-inclusive.
In other words, if Jesus did not always live to make intercession for us he would not be able to save us. But “since” he “always” lives to represent us before the Father and to plead our case and to defend us against Satan’s accusations we can rest confidently in the salvation that he died and rose again to obtain. As the apostle John put it in 1 John 2:1, “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
When Jesus died and rose again on our behalf he obtained for us the very faith by which we continue to draw near to God. He promises that he will continually sustain that faith in our hearts so that we will never turn away from him (see Phil. 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5).
And just how effective and long lasting is this ministry of Jesus on our behalf? Our two words provide the answer: he fulfills his ministry to save us to the “uttermost” and “always”! Praise God from who all blessings flow!