John Piper preached a sermon in December of 1996 titled: “Jesus: From Melchizedek to Eternal Savior.” There Piper explained the glorious ramifications of Hebrews 7:25, which reads: “Consequently, he [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.” Here’s what Piper said.
Salvation is not static, as though I did something once to get saved: I believed. And God did something once to save me: He sent Jesus to die and rise from the dead. And that is all there is to it. Now this verse is one screaming announcement: That is not all there is to it!
And what I want to try to do is to take a Sunday School understanding that is true — that simple past thinking of: I believe, he died, I am saved, period — and grow it into biblical proportions with a verse like Hebrews 7:25, which says there is not only more that Jesus did; there is more that you do as well. What Jesus does is go on praying for you, interceding for you — coming between you and the Father and making a case for you and standing up for you.
Love and Wrath
I am going to stick in a parenthesis here to try to avoid a misunderstanding: Do not conclude from my first implication that Jesus loves me and God hates me.
Let’s get this straight. The reason that would be a false conclusion is because the priesthood is God’s idea, not Jesus’s idea. And Jesus accepted the Father’s mandate to come save me from his wrath. You got that? The love of God for me, a sinner, interposes his priestly Son to save me from his wrath against me. You’ve got to handle that, or you can’t make sense out of the Bible.
The love of God for this worthless sinner interposes his most precious possession, his Son whom he loves, in order that he might save me from his wrath against me, all the while vindicating his justice and upholding his glory in the cross. That is the beauty of the cross. It is the love of God rescuing sinners from the wrath of God by vindicating the justice of God and upholding the glory of God.
You’ve got to get that; otherwise, you will sentimentalize God. And people are sentimentalizing God everywhere, because they say, “Oh, to have a God of love, you have to get rid of wrath.” You don’t. You don’t have a God of love in biblical proportions if there is no wrath from which to save and no Son to offer up to his wrath to show his love. Close parenthesis.
Keep Drawing Near
The second implication that we are working on now is that salvation is not static. Don’t just say, “I believed, and I was saved.” That is true, but say also, “Jesus is saving me. He is going to save me forever.”
That’s the first half of verse 25. I am not making this up. It is there. Read it. Jesus goes on saving me by going on praying for me. And what I do is not just look back and say, “I believe, I believe, I remember, I walked the aisle,” or “I signed the card,” or “I knelt with my mother in Fort Lauderdale, Florida when I was six years old” — which I did. You say, “I, today, and for all of my life, will draw near to God through Jesus, because that is the person and the only sort of person for whom Jesus prays and whom he saves.”
If we are born of God, we will draw near to God through Jesus. There is a tense in Greek for a single act not repeated. And there is a tense for ongoing, repeated, continuous action, and that is the verb tense here in this phrase “to draw near to God.” Those who keep on drawing near to God are the ones who enjoy the priestly work of Jesus. You are going through Jesus. And as long as you are going through Jesus, he is praying for you. He is moving on the Father. He is your advocate.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)
We have an advocate, an intercessor, a lawyer in the court who wins every case against you.