No matter how seemingly helpful the many psychological formulas that help you cope with life may be, no matter how transforming the practical counsel you might find in today’s world to help you with your problems may be, everything is either partial or periodic. What I mean by that is simply this: they only go so far and for so long before they lose their capacity to make a difference.
Every person, every strategy, every promise that comes your way will eventually fail you. If it’s a friend, the day will come when they won’t show up when you need them most. If it’s a formula, the day will come when it proves inadequate to meet your need or answer your question or soothe your conscience or get you over the hurdle of some obstacle in life. Everything in life ultimately fails. Everyone in life ultimately falters.
Now don’t think that I’m being a pessimist in saying this. This isn’t cynicism. This is realism. But there’s no reason why what I’ve just said should be discouraging to you. It would be discouraging, indeed depressing, if I said it and had nothing else to offer you. That is why I draw your attention to two words 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.”
These two words are life-saving. These two words are hope-giving. These two words are joy-awakening and heart-thrilling and breath-taking in their force and implication. The two words are “uttermost” and “always”.
We’ll look at the first today and the second one tomorrow.
The word “uttermost” is probably qualitative in force. It means to the utmost degree. It means that nothing in the salvation Christ provides is lacking in any way. It means that there is nothing defective in what Christ has done or in the reconciliation with God that he has obtained for us. It means that this salvation is complete and whole and pervasive and all-encompassing.
We struggle to believe that because we think that surely somewhere there must be someone who is simply too sinful to be saved. And maybe that someone is me! Surely somewhere, perhaps right here in the person of myself, there is an individual whose failures are simply too many for Christ to save. Their shortcomings are too frequent for Christ to save. Their sins are too severe, too hard-hearted for Christ to save. Maybe the selfishness of some is too deep-seated for the salvation Christ offers to overcome. Maybe the guilt people feel is too deeply entrenched in their souls that no salvation, not even that offered by Jesus Christ, can cleanse and wipe clean.
That’s how most of us at one time or another tend to think. The quality and extent and frequency and selfishness and repetitive occurrence of our sins in life are greater, so we think, than the quality and capacity of Christ’s person and work to overcome. After all, there have to be limits to what even Jesus can do. There has to be a point beyond which he cannot and will not go. I mean, no one is that patient or kind or pure or loving. No one is that good or gracious or tender or longsuffering. At least that’s how we tend to think.
Most of us at some time or other in life reach a point of complete frustration with ourselves. We’re fed up with our failures and we’re convinced that God is too. We envision God as looking up as we run to him for the umpteenth, saying, “Oh, no. Not you again! Enough already! I’ve had it up to here with your stupidity and your sin and how you always expect me to be there waiting for you with open arms, ready to start all over again. Well, that ends today. This simply can’t go on forever.” And it makes sense to us that he would react that way. As far as our own experience is concerned, we’ve learned that everything has a limit, a boundary, a point beyond which not even God can go.
But the point here in Hebrews 7:25 is that our thinking is bad and off-base and skewed. The point of v. 25 is that we have sold God short. We have horribly misjudged what he’s like and have terribly underestimated what he has done and will continue to do.
That’s the point of the word “uttermost”! If I haven’t made my point yet, listen again. This word is saying that there are no lengths to which God in Christ won’t go to save you. This word is saying that there are no sins you’ve committed, are committing, or will in the future commit that are beyond the power of Christ’s atoning death to forgive. This word is saying that Jesus Christ has accomplished for you what no one else ever has, can, or will. He has left nothing undone. He has not failed to make provision for every need.
When you begin to think that God missed a step, I remind you that he saves to the “uttermost”.
When you begin to wonder if there are limits to his love, I remind you that he saves to the “uttermost”.
When you struggle to believe that an infinitely holy and righteous God would ever allow someone as vile and sinful and wretched as you and me into his presence, I remind you that he saves to the “uttermost”.
And when you simply throw up your hands in frustration and confusion, declaring that nothing this good could possibly be literally true, I remind you that he saves to the “uttermost”.
And what he saves he saves utterly and exhaustively and comprehensively. He doesn’t save your soul and leave your body to rot and decay. He doesn’t save your spirit but leave your mind to deteriorate. One day your salvation will be consummated when you are raised in glory and made to conform not only in your mind and spirit and heart but in your body also to the glorious resurrection body of Jesus himself. The apostle Paul had this in view when he wrote these words to the Philippian church:
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).
That is simply another way of saying that God saves you to the “uttermost”!
But it gets better! You may wonder how anything could possibly get better or how anything more could possibly be said. And then you run headlong into our second word: “always”!
To be continued . . .