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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Derek Prince » Derek Prince - Let Us Press On To Perfection

Derek Prince - Let Us Press On To Perfection

Derek Prince - Let Us Press On To Perfection
TOPICS: Bible Study, Hebrews Bible Study

One of the things that is so important to me is that all three persons of the Godhead are in that act. The Son, through the Spirit, offered Himself to the Father. You may have heard me relate, the second time I heard the gospel preached, which was in a Pentecostal church, when the appeal was made I was already alerted because I'd been in one once before and knew what was coming, and I put my hand up. The previous time somebody else had put my hand up for me, an invisible power. I was the only person on either occasion who did put my hand up. I don't think there was a large selection of sinners there, anyhow. At the end of this second occasion the preacher came to me and he looked at me and I looked at him and I think he knew he had a problem on his hands.

He asked me two questions. The first was, "Do you believe that you're a sinner?" I'd spent seven years in philosophical study majoring on definitions so the obvious way for me to find the answer to that question was to think of all the probable definitions of a sinner. I went through them quickly in my mind and they all fitted me exactly. So, I said, "Yes, I believe I'm a sinner." Then he said, "Do you believe that Christ died for your sins?" I remember so clearly I answered him with complete honesty. I said, "To tell you the truth, I can't see what the death of Jesus Christ nineteen centuries ago could have to do with the sins that I've committed in my lifetime."

I couldn't. I mean, I couldn't see how there could be any connection. I think he was wise enough not to argue with me. Later I found the answer. It's in this verse, Hebrews 9:14. Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself without spot to God. See, the word eternal means "not subject to the limitations of time." That's become extremely real to me, that on the cross Jesus bore the guilt of all men of all ages; past, present and future. Through the eternal Holy Spirit He comprehended the guilt of all men. I don't think that any human mind can even begin to understand the awful weight of guilt that came upon Him. If He had borne only my guilt, that would have been terrible enough. If He had borne only the guilt of the people gathered in this room tonight. But to think that He bore the guilt of all men of all ages through the eternal Spirit.

It's a very interesting fact, I don't want to dwell on it, that every major crisis of redemption, all three persons of the Godhead are involved. Incarnation: the Father incarnated the Son by the Spirit. Equipment for ministry: the Father anointed the Son with the Spirit. Sacrifice of Calvary: the Son offered Himself, through the Spirit, to the Father. Resurrection: the Father raised the Son by the Spirit. Pentecost: the Father, through the Son, sent the Spirit. I say this: that there's a kind of divine jealousy in the Godhead when it comes to blessing man. No person of the Godhead is willing to be left out. It's the Father, the Son and the Spirit. I think perhaps it's least obvious here that the sacrifice of the cross was only made possible through the Holy Spirit. The Son, through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God.

Going back to our outline, that was the final qualification that He as priest could offer Himself as victim once for all. Never did it have to be done again. Let me just quickly enumerate those seven qualifications and we must move on. First, holy in nature. Second, innocent or harmless. Third, undefiled. Holy in life as well. Fourth, separated from sinners by the cross. Fifth, exalted above the heavens at God's right hand, the seat of all authority. Sixth, not needing ever to offer sacrifice for His own sin. Seventh, once for all as priest He offered Himself as victim, through the Holy Spirit. Then we come to verse 28 which sums up the comparison and the contrast.

Hebrews 7:28: For the law appoints men as high priests who have weakness. They have moral weakness, they're subject to sin. They have physical weakness, they're subject to death. but the word of the oath. Which is quoted in Psalm 110, "The LORD hath sworn, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." the word of the oath, which was after the Law, appointed a Son. It doesn't say the Son but a Son, the only priest who is a Son of God. made perfect forever. We've already looked at the fact that Jesus as priest had to be made perfect. In His sinless nature He was always perfect but as a priest He had to be made perfect. He was made perfect by fulfilling the seven qualifications listed above.

Now I want to take the rest of this session rather rapidly to go through with you what is on Page 7/4 and 7/5: the points of contrast between the Levitical priesthood and the priesthood of Melchizedek. You will see there are fourteen points of contrast. What two numbers multiplied together make fourteen? Two and seven. I did not try to make this happen, it just is there. We'll go through the outline and we'll look at the references. I'm going to use the English translation, it's quicker then looking at the Greek.

The first point of contrast. M stands for Melchizedek, L for Levi. The priesthood of Melchizedek combines priesthood and kingship. He was both priest and king. Whereas, the Levitical priesthood was allotted to Levi, but the kingship at that time went to the tribe of Judah and no interchange was permitted. They were absolutely separated. That's found in verses 1 and 2 where it describes Melchizedek as king of Salem, priest of the Most High God. And then it points out he was king of righteousness and king of Salem as well as priest. Verse 14, it says our Lord was descended from Judah. Judah is the kingly tribe.

The second point of contrast, Genesis 14:18. I will not turn there because we've looked there in previous studies. It's very interesting. Melchizedek gave to Abraham bread and wine, the emblems of the New Covenant. He had not previously received them from Abraham. If you look at the ordinances of the Levitical priesthood, they had nothing to give the people until the people had first given them something. They only gave them back part of what they had offered. So you see, on a much higher level Melchizedek initiated the giving and what he gave has become for us the symbols of the New Covenant, the elements of the Lord's Supper: the bread and the wine.

The third point of contrast, and it's stated in verses 2, 4 and in 9, Melchizedek received tithes from Abraham. Levi gave tithes through Abraham. We need to look in verse 9. And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. So Melchizedek received tithes from Abraham. Levi gave tithes through Abraham.

The fourth point of contrast, Melchizedek's priesthood is based on an indestructible life and it is therefore a permanent priesthood, which never passes by succession to others. The Levitical priesthood, because of mortality, is only a temporary priesthood.

The fifth point of contrast, Melchizedek does not trace his genealogy from Abraham. He was without genealogy; whereas Levi had to be descended from Abraham-that was his qualification.

The sixth point of contrast, Melchizedek blessed Abraham. The writer of Hebrews points out the greater blesses the less. On the other hand, Levi and the Levitical priests owed their blessing to Abraham so that Abraham was greater than they.

The seventh point of contrast, we need to look at these verses. Verses 11, 19 and 28. Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? Then in verse 19: (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. And verse 28: For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever. So, there are two things that go together there. Perfection and direct access to God. If you don't have direct access to God, you're not perfect, the job isn't done. The priesthood of Melchizedek provided direct access to God and perfection, completeness, fulfillment, maturity. Remember all those meanings? The Levitical priesthood could not provide direct access to God and could not provide perfection.

Turning the page, the eighth point of contrast, we'd better look in verse 16. The one who follows in the likeness of Melchizedek: has become such not the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. Melchizedek was a priest by the power of an indestructible life, but Levi, on the basis of a physical requirement. The physical requirement being, first of all, descent from Levi and thus descent from Abraham. Second, having no physical imperfection.

The ninth point of contrast, verses 20–21. And inasmuch as it was not without an oath (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, "The LORD has sworn. ." And so on. The priesthood of Melchizedek was appointed with God's oath but the priesthood of Levi was appointed without an oath.

The tenth point of contrast in verse 22: So much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. So the priesthood of Melchizedek insures a superior covenant. But, the priesthood of Levi is linked to an inferior covenant.

The eleventh point of contrast, we'd better look at verses 23–24. The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers, because they were prevented by death from continuing, but He, on the other hand, because He abides forever, holds His priesthood permanently. I said it was never passed from Him to another. Melchizedek is one all-sufficient priest. Levi, because of death, there had to be many and they were never sufficient.

The twelfth point of contrast in verse 25: Hence, also, He [that is, Jesus] is able to save forever [or completely or to the uttermost] those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Melchizedek is able to save completely and forever. Levi is unable to save.

The thirteenth point of contrast in verse 27, we've just been looking at it. The Levitical priests had to offer sacrifices, first of all, for their own sins. Jesus only had to offer himself once, the all-sufficient sacrifice. The point of contrast is not needing to offer sacrifice for His own sins whereas the Levitical priests needed always to sacrifice first for their own sins.

Then the final summation of the contrast in verse 28: For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever. The priest after the order of Melchizedek is God's perfect Son. The priests of the order of Levi are men with human frailty. I think it would be good there to look for a moment in Hebrews 10:11-12. I think it's always interesting and, in a sense, entertaining to notice the human element in the Scriptures. If you're familiar with Jewish people, they are never content to make their point once. I mean, you know, there's just no way they'll ever just say it once.

I think there's something of that in the writer of Hebrews. He's determined to establish this point no matter how many times he has to say it. He's not going to leave you in any doubt of what he wants you to believe. It appeals to me because it's so very Jewish. I'm not saying because it's Jewish it's not good, you understand; but it's so characteristic. Let's look in chapter 10, verses 11–12, which again returns to this contrast between Levitical and Melchizedek. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He [Jesus], having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God. The real point of emphasis there is between standing and sitting. The Levitical priest, you'll never read anywhere that they sat down.

Why did they always stand? Because the job was never complete. But Jesus, having offered one sacrifice, when He arrived in heaven sat down. Why did He sit down? Because He was never going to have to do it again. It's so vivid to me. I always like to picture Jesus seated in heaven. I don't believe He's leaning over the rails of glory with white knuckles, gripping on in tension, hoping things will work out. I think He knows He's done all that ever needs to be done forever. When I speak about what Jesus has done on the cross, the phrase I use in prayer is this: A total, irreversible victory. There is no way the devil can ever undo what Jesus did. The victory is not fully worked out in all its aspects but it's total and it's irreversible.

So He sat down. He has nothing to worry about. The only one that has to worry is the devil and he's got plenty to worry about! I would like to go back to the introductory Pages 0/2 and 0/3 and try to not sum up the whole epistle because we've only been through seven chapters but make some practical applications that you can take away with you. First of all, let me say I'm sure that for quite a number of you this way of analyzing the Bible was somewhat new. Perhaps your most vivid impression is a lot of mental gymnastics. Don't worry about that.

You see, it's true in the mental, spiritual, physical. If you do the gymnastics faithfully, you'll reap the benefits. It isn't always that obvious. There can be a kind of time when your muscles feel over-exercised. But in actual fact, if you have faithfully followed the routine of exercise... how many of you know this? the results are there. The only way you don't get the results is by flunking and dropping out. This is true in the natural; it's much more true in the spiritual. If you have diligently been through these mental exercises, you'll never go back to being the same kind of person. A window has been opened to you. In due course as you pray, you'll begin to find that your prayer is different. You're praying on the basis of facts you know about the unseen realm, about your high priest, about the completeness of His sacrifice, about the authority that's vested in Him. That creates faith.

See, faith just doesn't happen. Faith has to be built up. There is an intellectual aspect to building your faith. It isn't all instantaneous inspiration. There's perspiration and inspiration. Some people want inspiration but they're not prepared to invest any perspiration. That kind of inspiration really is very superficial. I'm absolutely confident that those of you that have been with me through this will never be the same. I have done this in countless different places. I've done it in deserts, I've done it in the most strange places; conducted a Bible study. I know once I get the green light from the Lord to teach the Bible to a group of people, those people will not be the same. I don't say this boastfully, my confidence is not in myself. It's in God's Word.

Scripture says it will never return to Him void. It will accomplish what He pleases and prosper in the thing to which He sent it. It also says it effectually works in those who believe. You've only just begun to experience what the epistle to the Hebrews will do for you. Let me recommend if you are concerned that, if possible, you go back over this outline and work through it for yourself. You'll find some things you'll say, "Now why did he quote that Scripture?" Or, "Why did he say that?" Try and not stop with the why but find out. As you work through it again for yourself it'll become yours in a way that nothing and no one will ever be able to take from you.

Just by way of considering some practical application to go on with in our lives, I'd like to go back to the analysis that starts on Page 0/2. I'll begin just with the passages that contain solemn warning. There are five. It's interesting we've covered three of them, more than half. Almost all the other things we've covered less than half. The warnings come early on in part. I tell you, I don't know how it's affected you, but I have been tremendously challenged myself as I've looked at the list of things we're warned against. You see where it says "Warnings Against"? The first one seems so harmless, really. Neglect. Even unbelief most of us are quite prepared to live with. Unfortunately, most of us do.

The next one is apostasy. That's an awful word. After that, willfully continuing to sin and coming short of the grace of God. I want to tell you all in a kind and gracious way but very firmly and directly, I don't know of any place I've ministered over a period of time where there is a greater tendency to neglect than in South Florida. I would like to ask you this question: Is it easier to be a Christian here or in Russia? You don't have to answer. I'll rephrase the question. Is it easier to be a real Christian here or in Russia? I could argue that it might be easier in Russia because the issues are pretty clear. Here you can drift, you can put on a lot of the outward appearances and there's perhaps nothing immediately to test the reality of your commitment. What is the danger? I think all of us that minister here would probably pick out the word that's there, neglect.

You say, "Well, neglect isn't so bad." No, but it leads to unbelief. Well, there are lots of people who don't believe very much, but what does that lead to? Apostasy. What does that lead to? Willfully continuing in sin. Believe me, this wasn't written for somebody in some other place at some other time. This was written for people in this room tonight and people like us all around us in this culture and in this situation. I doubt if there is a more timely word for people like us than the epistle to the Hebrews. You know, something else, there's the parable of the talents. Do you remember that? One man had one talent, one man had two and one man had five. The man who had five doubled, the man who had two doubled, the man who had one flunked. That is psychologically true. It's the people who don't think they have much who are the ones who are likely to flunk.

I believe I've got more than one talent, to be honest. I don't have to assess how many I have. But you see, because of that I am in this thing with all I have. There isn't any part of me or my life that isn't involved in the Lord's ministry and service and the people of God. Let's go down the page a little more. Passages indicating positive, practical applications. Interestingly, we have looked at three out of seven. It's somewhat logical that the practical application should come rather at the end because first of all, we have to fill in the picture and then see how it applies. And as I've pointed out, much of Hebrews is revelation. We wouldn't know how things go on in heaven if they weren't revealed. But out of this revelation there are very important practical applications. We'll look at the ones we've already worked through and then we'll just glance at the others. The first one is confident access to God.

One of the key words is confidence. Don't throw away your confidence. Maintain confidence. I would like to remind you that's one of the things the devil attacks. He attacks and undermines your confidence in God, in the Word, in yourself, in your destiny, in your gift. I probably strike you as a pretty confident person. I think most of the time I am. But there are times when I have real struggles to maintain my confidence. It's undermined by subtle, satanic insinuations. It's very well designed to touch me in my weak points. I say that because I don't think the majority of you would think of me in that light. I have to tell you, as a matter of fact, preachers have problems most of you don't know about. They need prayer.

The second application, go on to maturity or perfection. That's a thing that runs all through this. Don't stop, don't rest content. Perfection, maturity, fulfillment is the only legitimate stopping place. Again, I think that's very relevant to us. There's so much to bog us down, deflect us. Some things that just make us busy. When I've spent a day, and today I've been almost all day busy either preparing radio outlines or getting ready for tonight, it's been hard work. But every now and then I stop and I thank God, "God, thank You for the privilege of working on things of eternal value." Even if it is hard, I count it an unspeakable privilege. I'm not wanting to stop, I don't want to go back, it doesn't enter my mind. One thing you cannot do in the Christian life is stand still. You may think you're standing still but in actual fact God and His people are moving forward, and you're getting left behind. "The pathway of the righteous is the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." If you're in the pathway of the righteous, the light is brighter today than it was yesterday. If it isn't, you better check.

Third application, the need for zeal, faith and patience. Let me emphasize: faith and then patience. I used to have a problem with impatience. I can more or less say "used." About once a month I find it beginning to reassert itself, but I'm on my watch. I'll tell you what I said last week. In one little fit of impatience you can throw away something that will take you five years to get back. You get discouraged and you make one foolish confession and the whole spiritual atmosphere around you changes. The next one: draw near, hold fast, assemble and encourage. We haven't come to that yet. I'll just read them, we will not stop. Remember and endure. How many of you praise God for the word endure? As Charles said, "If they keep telling you to fasten your seat belt, something's going to happen!" If the Bible keeps telling you to endure, there's going to be something to endure. Press on, this is a good list here. I'm sorry we didn't get there. Press on, endure discipline, be strong, pursue peace and holiness.

The last one, which is quite lengthy: love, holiness, submissiveness and prayer. Then the passages of comparison and contrast, we have looked at three. We just finished a lengthy one. The contrast between angels and Jesus, between Moses and Jesus, and between the Levitical priesthood and the priesthood of Melchizedek. There remain a number of very important and significant comparisons still ahead of us. Then finally, in the last few minutes that are left, let's look at the "let us" passages. There are four of them in chapter 4. What was the problem of the people in chapter 4, can you tell me quickly by memory? In one word? Unbelief. They didn't get in because of unbelief.

I think every one of these "let us" can be viewed against the background of the problem of unbelief. Let us fear. Let us be diligent. Let us hold fast our confession. Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace. Oh, we have seen the fifth one, too. That's the last. Let us press on to maturity or perfection. Why don't we say those five "let us" together? We won't go beyond where we've got. So we're not cheating. If you want to go through the rest you'll have to be back next winter. Take your time, we're going to read out the five "let us" and this is not just and exercise in reading, this is a way for you to set the seal of your will and decision on all that we've studied. Number one, let us fear. Number two, let us be diligent. Number three, let us hold fast our confession. Number four, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace. Number five, let us press on to maturity, perfection.
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