Lesson 11

Benefits of Christ's Atoning Sacrifice

(Hebrews 7, John 16)
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Introduction: Last week we ended our study with Jesus' final words "It is finished" ( John 19:30). What was finished? Was Jesus completely through with humanity? Had He done all that was necessary to reconcile us to the Father? There is some debate among Christians about what Jesus is doing right now. Did all of the benefits of Jesus' sacrifice come into place at the cross? Are the benefits still coming? We have previously studied the idea that Jesus is now acting as our High Priest in heaven, but there are certain technical problems with that idea. Plus, there is the belief that when Jesus was "finished," the Holy Spirit took over His work in an expanded way. Let's jump right into our study of the Bible and find out what Jesus is doing, if anything, for us right now!

  1. A Better High Priest


    1. Read Hebrews 7:11-14. Could any young man in Israel who wanted to grow up to be a priest become a priest? (No. Read Deuteronomy 10:8-9 and Numbers 3:10. Only the tribe of Levi ministered in the temple. Aaron and his sons (who were Levites) were the priests.)


    2. Hebrews 7:14 points out that Jesus came from the tribe of Judah. If not everyone can just choose to be a priest, they have to have the right lineage, how can we claim that Jesus is now our High Priest? We have been studying how the Old Testament sanctuary service was a prophecy which was fulfilled in Jesus. Does this show we have a logical problem?


      1. Since Jesus had such a miraculous birth, why didn't God arrange for Him to be born of a descendant of Aaron?


    3. Read Hebrews 7:1-3. What two positions were held by Melchizedek? (He was both a priest and a king.)


    4. Read Hebrews 7:4-9. Why does the writer of Hebrews get into this discussion of Melchizedek, Abraham and the Levites? (Hebrews argues that there is precedent for Jesus being both our High Priest and our King in Melchizedek. Melchizedek can be argued to be greater than Abraham and the Levites because they paid (directly or indirectly) a tithe to Melchizedek.)


    5. If Jesus is supposed to be more like Melchizedek than like Aaron, if he is the pattern, why do we know so little about Melchizedek? Why wasn't the sanctuary system modeled around Melchizedek? (Read again Hebrews 7:3. Aaron is a person like we are. Melchizedek is a special, mysterious king. He is without a known beginning or end. He is a much better precedent for our Lord. Indeed, this is the most powerful reason why Jesus was not born from the line of the Levites and Aaron - He was much superior.)


    6. Who declared that Jesus was like Melchizedek? (Read Hebrews 5:4-6. It says this authority came straight from God.)


      1. Where did the writer of Hebrews get this statement? This seems to be a quote. What is he quoting? (Read Psalms 110:2-4. This is an Old Testament prophecy about Jesus.)


  2. The Law Change


    1. Re-read Hebrews 7:11-12. I asked previously why Jesus did not come from the line of Aaron. These verses add another reason. They say a changed priest means a changed law. How was the law changed? (Read Hebrews 7:17-19. The old system was "weak and useless" - it did not allow us to become perfect. We now have a better way to "draw near to God."


      1. Does this mean the old law was completely thrown out the window? (No. We still have the "priest/sanctuary" system, it is just much improved. Hebrews argues that Jesus' authority has a precedent in Melchizedek and His work has its precedents in the Levitical priesthood.)


    2. Read Hebrews 7:23-26. How has Jesus improved the old system?


    3. Read Hebrews 8:1-2. This gets to the heart of the question about what, if anything, Jesus is doing for us right now. What is He doing? (He is "serving" in the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf. Hebrews 7:25 says that Jesus "always lives to intercede [for us].")


    4. Read Hebrews 2:17-18 and Hebrews 4:14-16. What other advantage do we have with Jesus as our High Priest in heaven? (He understands our temptations and our weaknesses.)


      1. Wouldn't Aaron be a better choice for understanding us since he was a sinner like us? (One night this week I was at a Bible study which examined the story of Balaam (Numbers 22-24). In many ways this is a very humorous story about a prophet who struggled (unsuccessfully) with greed and pride. I'm sure that every one of us in that group struggles with these same issues, but we were shaking our heads about dopey Balaam. Being a sinner does not always make us sympathetic.)


  3. The Holy Spirit


    1. Read John 16:7-8. Jesus is speaking to His disciples. Jesus says the "Counselor" will not come unless Jesus goes, who is this Counselor? I get referred to as "counselor" from time to time. Is Jesus referring to His lawyer? (Read John 14:16-17. Jesus calls this "Counsellor" "the Spirit of Truth." This is the Holy Spirit, the third element of the Trinity.)


    2. Read John 16:8-11. What benefit do we get from having the Holy Spirit with us? (The Spirit convicts us of sin and guilt, He assures us of our righteousness through Jesus, and He reminds us that Jesus defeated Satan, and thus the world is headed towards judgment.)


      1. Some people argue that the law was done away with at the cross. Some people say that guilt is bad. Some people deny the judgment side of God. Are these people filled with the Holy Spirit? (How can they be? They deny the principal work of the Holy Spirit.)


    3. Read John 16:12-15. What link do we find between our risen Lord and the Holy Spirit? (Jesus explains that the Holy Spirit continues Jesus' work. The "baton" is passed on to another element of the Trinity.)


      1. What other work does the Holy Spirit have? (He guides us into truth, He brings glory to Jesus by making Jesus' glory known to us.)


      2. Why is this something that the disciples could not then "bear?" What is so burdensome about truth? (Recall that this statement was made before the cross. The whole new system was something that the disciples did not foresee. They thought Jesus was going to be Master of the current system - and the King of Israel.)


    4. Read Romans 8:1-4. What is the "law of the Spirit of life" and does it have anything to do with the Holy Spirit? (Yes. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law. He lived the perfect life so that the requirements of the law might be "fully met in us." But this has the condition that we live in accord with the Spirit.)


      1. Can you see now the link between the current High Priest work of Jesus in heaven and the work of the Holy Spirit on earth under the new system of law?


      2. How important is it to live with the Holy Spirit guiding us? (Read Romans 8:5-8. If we live a life controlled by our sinful nature, we cannot please God. Read Romans 8:9. If we do not have the Holy Spirit we do not belong to Jesus.)


    5. How do we know if we have the Holy Spirit? (Read Acts 1:4-5. We need baptism in the Holy Spirit. This is something more than being baptized with water. Receiving the Holy Spirit was critical for the mission of the disciples after Jesus left for His ministry in heaven. It was the way in which Jesus continued to work with them.)


    6. Read Acts 4:31. Has the Holy Spirit shaken you? Has it shaken your church? If not, are you an outsider? Are you outside Jesus' present work in heaven and earth?


    7. Friend, simply understanding what Jesus is doing in heaven for us right now is not enough. We need to be in the middle of what God is doing on earth right now through the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit is a benefit of Jesus' atonement. What is going on now is the powerful work of the Holy Spirit! If you have doubt that the Spirit is working in you in power, please invite the Spirit into your life right now.


  4. Next week: United to Christ.




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