Our All-Sufficient Saviour
May 17th, 1959 @ 10:50 AM
OUR ALL-SUFFICIENT SAVIOR
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-17-59 10:50 a.m.
You are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the 11:00 o’clock morning message entitled Our All Sufficient Savior. In our preaching through the Bible we have come to the latter part of the second chapter of the Book of Hebrews. And the reading of the text is Hebrews 2:16-18:
For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.
Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
For in that He Himself hath suffered being tried, He is able to succor them that are tried.
The eloquent preacher and author of this text speaks of Jesus as being two things: He is first our merciful and faithful High Priest, and He is our atoning sacrifice. “Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest,” and that He might “make reconciliation for the sins of the people” [Hebrews 2:17]. That word translated “to make reconciliation,” hilaskomai, is the word to make atonement. Hilasmos is an atoning sacrifice, like a lamb, the washing away of sins in the shedding of blood [Revelation 1:5], an hilaskomai, translated here to “make reconciliation,” is the word for the offering of that atoning sacrifice [Hebrews 2:17].
These two things all mankind need: a Priest to stand for us, to represent us, to plead our case and cause [Hebrews 4:14], and we need an atoning Sacrifice [1 Corinthians 5:7], the expiation, the washing away of our sins [Revelation 1:8]. And that need is universal through all the ages, whether today in the refinements and luxuries of modern civilization, or whether in the primeval forest of the ages ago, or on the banks of the rivers of antiquity—the Nile, the Indus, or the Euphrates. That irrepressible craving of the human spirit has built temples in every land, erected altars on every soil, consecrated a priesthood from the most depraved tribes, as well as from the most enlightened and advanced. Our need for an atoning sacrifice is ever present with us. How can a man who is a sinner be just before God? What shall I do? What shall I say in that awful and final day when God calls me into account for the sins of my life?
And I need a priest, an intercessor, a representative, for after sin is washed away, expiation is made, righteousness is imputed [2 Corinthians 5:21], I still live in a world of toil and trial and sorrow [Romans 5:1]. After we are justified and declared righteous, we still need somebody to plead our cause and to represent us before God, somebody who can come from the presence of the Lord Himself with succor and health and blessings; a shepherd for the timid sheep, coming forth to compass the erring, to comfort the sorrowing, to stay the proud hand of the oppressor, to represent the cause of the poor and the lowly.
We never go beyond those two great needs: an atoning sacrifice, the expiation of our guilt [1 John 2:2], and the intercession of a Mediator to plead our cause with God [Hebrews 4:14]. It is that of which the author speaks when he pleads the cause of our Savior.
For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.
Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest . . . to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
For in that He Himself had suffered being tempted, being tried, He is able to succor them that are tempted, that are tried.
“It behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren” [Hebrews 2:17]. And in the tenth verse, “For it became Him” [Hebrews 2:10]. This is something that is in the nature of God: that He thus provide all of the need of our soul and the lack in our lives. “It behooved God; it became the Lord.” What God hath wrought out is something congruous with God’s own nature. And beautifully, meticulously hath the Lord formed this gospel for our salvation. As it was in the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness, not a loop, not a tag, not a detail was left to caprice—all of it was carefully given in the pattern the Lord handed to Moses [Exodus 25:8-9, 40; Hebrews 8:4-5]. So it is in our gospel message, all of it has been carefully wrought out. God hath done it, in keeping with His nature. And what is done is the thing that God Himself would be able to do.
Thus, he presents Christ to us as our all-sufficient and our all-adequate Savior [Colossians 2:9-10]. For one thing, He is God [Titus 2:13]. Who but God could sustain the enormous weight of the sin of the whole world? Who but God could bear the weight of the iniquity of all mankind? What knowledge but omniscience could enter into the knowledge of all sin? And what power but omnipotence could undo the hold and the might and the terror and the judgment of our iniquity? [Hebrews 4:13]. He is God. He is also man. “It behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren [Hebrews 2:17]…for verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham” [Hebrews 2:16].
An angel could not be an expiating sacrifice for us. It would take a man. “For in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” [Genesis 2:17]. And without that cross, there is no expiation of sin. Without the sacrifice, there is no washing away of our guilt; however blameless and holy His life might have been, we are still in our sins without the expiation, without the atonement, without the cross, without the shedding of blood [Hebrews 9:22]. He took upon Him our nature [Hebrews 2:16] that He might be in our stead, that atoning sacrifice—dying our death, suffering in our place—pouring out His life for us [Hebrews 10:4-14]. In His weakness He touched us who are people. In His strength He touched God in heaven. And He is the atoning sacrifice, able to make “at-one-ment,” God and His estranged children: our all-sufficient sacrifice, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people [Hebrews 2:17].
He is also our perfect and holy, merciful and faithful High Priest [Hebrews 2:17]. And the help that He offers is a help that we can understand and know and receive. “For He Himself hath suffered being tried, He is able to succor them that are tried” [Hebrews 2:18]. The help that our High Priest offers is sovereign help. It is not even help like a king could afford or like a great representative at court or like the head of a marvelous and strong democracy, but our help is sovereign help. It is from God Himself. He looks upon His people, creatures of the dust, and though He is God and though He is sovereign of all the creation, yet somehow He is moved to compassion toward us [Matthew 9:36]. And the help that is offered is God’s help. It is sovereign help [Isaiah 41:10].
It is also human help, “For He took upon Him the seed of Abraham” [Hebrews 2:16], and “was made like unto His brethren” [Hebrews 2:17]. When a physician is baffled by a difficult and perplexing case, it is a fellow physician who is called in for consultation and direction. If, in a storm at sea, the captain was perplexed and lost, it would be a fellow seaman who knew the paths of the deep who would be able to help. So it is with us who are human. How could an angel understand us? It is our Lord who was made like unto us [Hebrews 2:17], who shed true human tears [Luke 19:41; John 11:35; Hebrews 5:7-8], who cried out in His forsakenness [Matthew 27:46], who bore our sicknesses and carried our infirmities [Matthew 8:17]. The help that he offers is human help. He understands; He took upon Him our nature [Hebrews 2:16]. And when our Lord was judged in the hall of Pontius Pilate [Matthew 27:11-31], and when He was crucified [Matthew 27:32-50], and when He was laid in the winding sheet in the sepulcher [Matthew 27:57-61], He was human. And when He was raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-7], and ascended into glory [Acts 1:9-10], and stands today in heaven at the judgment bar of God, our great Mediator and High Priest [Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25], He has not cast away the vesture of His humanity; it is still a man who pleads our cause and who understands our cares.
That’s why the author calls Him “a merciful High Priest” [Hebrews 2:17, 4:14-15]. For the help we need is merciful help. We don’t need the help, nor could we be blessed by the help of an imperious sovereign who is so much above us. He could not be touched by the feeling of our infirmity. The help we need is not the help of a bone thrown to a dog here; it is not a help that chides, that berates, that finds fault, that upbraids, but the help that we need is understanding help. It is sympathizing help, it is merciful help.
I have often thought that no small part of the being able to be well in an illness is not just the ingenuity of the doctor and the genius of his hands, but it also is the tender solicitude on the part of people who love us and pray for us and encourage us to be well. Somehow the softness of a hand that understands; somehow a voice that is moved to prayer; somehow the very presence of one who sympathizes and understands gives us strength—the kind of help that we need.
I have often thought that the most moving and beautiful story that came out of this last world war happened in a hospital in England. One of our American boys, wounded, was taken to the hospital in England. And there, in a large ward, that boy lay sick and dying. And in his delirium, the boy began to cry for his mother, “Mother, Mother, Mother.” And behold, his mother came in and stroked the hair of the boy, kissed his fevered brow, held his trembling hand, and the boy grew quiet and still in the presence of his mother and died.
And the nurse in the ward, standing there wide-open eyed, listening when the boy expired, looked and said, “What a miracle! You, his mother!”
And the dear woman replied, “No, sweet nurse, I am not his real mother. As I was walking down the hallway, I heard him cry, ‘Mother, Mother,’ and for just a moment, I took her place and that’s all.” That’s the kind of help that we need, merciful help, understanding help, sympathizing help.
I have seen people give alms to the poor in the same way you would feed a dog. “Here.” The help that we need is understanding help. It is sympathizing help. It is help that will bow down. That’s the merciful and faithful help that we have in Jesus, “For in that He Himself hath suffered being tried” [Hebrews 2:18]. Peirazō, that word “tempt” to us always has in it just the enticement to evil. The word doesn’t refer to that particularly; it refers to the trials of life. All of us have them, even the young, even children. “For in that He Himself hath suffered being tried”; that valley you go through, He has been through that valley. That darkness that obscures the way, He has been in that darkness. That suffering that you have suffered, He understands it. Someday, if He tarries, we shall know what it is to die, He died. He understands the raging of the fever, the crying out when it seems we are forsaken, He understands; “For in that He Himself hath suffered being tried, He is able to succor them that are tried” [Hebrews 2:18].
May I point out something here in this text that in the English version you would never see? “For in that He Himself hath suffered being tried, He is able to succor them,” it is that word succor, “He is able to succor them that are tried” [Hebrews 2:18]. The Greek word for “cry,” like a man would cry in despair or like a child would cry for its mother if it were lost, the Greek word for “cry” is boē, boē. And the Greek verbal form of that word is boētheō, and it means to go to the rescue of one who cries. Now that is the word translated here “succor.” For in that He Himself have suffered being tried, He is able to succor them that are tried—boē, they will cry—boētheō, He goes to the rescue, to the help of those who cry.
Now what the author is saying here is this: if you have no need, our Lord could never be a helper. If you have no sense of being lost, He could never be a Savior. If you have no lack, He could never be an all-sufficiency and an all-adequacy. If you never cry to Him, if you never ask, if you never feel the sense of loss, if you never have the conviction of sin and of guilt, then our Lord is to you a word, a character in history. And the gospel message is something that you listen to for respectability’s sake, or you have heard of it, and like you would hear any other story or announcement, why, it takes its place in those casual unrelated categories.
But if you have felt the conviction of sins, if you have faced a trial, if there is a need in life, if there is a trembling before the judgment of God, if there is an inadequacy for all of the problems that you face in life, it is to you that the gospel can be a word of salvation and forgiveness. And it is to you that Christ can be an all-sufficient Savior and a merciful, sympathizing helper. And that’s what he means here when he says, “For in that He Himself hath suffered being tried; He is able; He is willing; He is ready to go to the help of them who cry, them also who are tried” [Hebrews 2:18].
Now when I think of our Lord like that, it comes to my heart how He was that way in the days of His flesh. If one cried, if one made appeal for help, if one prayed, if one asked, He stopped whatever he was doing, wherever He was going, He stopped, and He listened to the one who cried and the one who asked and the one who prayed. For example, when our Lord was walking along, thronged and pressed with people on every side, suddenly He stopped and said, “Who touched Me?” [Luke 8:45]. And Simon Peter, the spokesman for the group, was amazed. He was overwhelmed, “Who touched You? Why, Master,” said Simon, “they crush You and they throng You on every side, yet Thou sayest, ‘Who touched Me?’” [Luke 8:45]. But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me” [Luke 8:46]. And He turned, and there, as you know, was that woman who, for the years of her life, could not be healed of an issue of blood [Luke 8:43-44]. And when He looked upon her and she found that she was discovered, she said, “I just thought if I just touched the hem of His garment, I would be healed” [Matthew 9:21; Luke 8:47]. And He felt the touch [Luke 8:46]; that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest; for in that He Himself hath suffered, He is ready to go to the help of those who cry [Hebrews 2:17-18]. “Who touched Me?” [Luke 8:45].
Why, verily, I believe that God stops the wheels of the whole universe when somebody cries; and He listens and He looks for somebody that called His name. Somebody has lifted up hands of appeal; somebody has prayed. And the Book says that’s the way we are saved, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13]. Did somebody cry? “Did somebody touch Me?” Did somebody lift up his hands in appeal? Did somebody ask? For in that He Himself have suffered being tried, He is able to help them who cry, who call, who pray, who lift up hands for help, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest [Hebrews 2:17-18].
If you have a problem, take it to Jesus. Make it a matter of prayer. If the road seems long and weary, take it to Jesus; make it a matter of prayer [Philippians 4:6]. If you are weak and discouraged, broken in heart and spirit, take it to Jesus; make it a matter of prayer. “For He took upon Him not the nature of angels who would never be able to understand; but He took upon Him the seed of Abraham [Hebrews 2:16], He was made like unto His brethren” [Hebrews 2:17]. Suffered, being tried that He might be in all things to us a merciful and faithful High Priest, our Representative, our Intercessor to speak for us unto God [Hebrews 2:18].
Oh, I don’t understand anything, I suppose. But least of all do I understand how a man can live without the Lord; I don’t see it. What do you do when decisions, difficult, come and you don’t have Jesus? What do you do when trial comes and you don’t have the Lord? And what do you do when trouble and sorrow comes, and inevitably death, and there is nobody to pray to, and there is nobody to go to, and there is nobody to cry to, and there is nobody to ask of? O Lord, how do we do without Jesus? That’s the preaching of the gospel. That’s the glad tidings; that’s the good news.
Listen, man, listen. There is Somebody who has made atonement for our sins and reconciled us to God [Romans 5:10]. There is Somebody who intercedes for us at the throne of grace in heaven itself [Romans 8:34; Hebrews 12:2]. There is Somebody who can see us through. There is Somebody whose ear is attuned to our heart’s cry. And that Somebody is the blessed Lord Jesus, our all-sufficient and our all-adequate Savior [Hebrews 2:10].
We offer in the Spirit of Jesus, we offer Him for yours today, for the having, for the asking. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13]. Just look to Him, “there’s a life for a look at the crucified One.” Just look to Him [John 3:14-16; Numbers 21:6-9]. Just lift up your hand to Him; just ask [Matthew 7:7]. Just touch the hem of His garment [Matthew 9:20-21]. Just to pray and He is yours [Romans 10:8-13]—in your heart, by your side, with you out the door, in that house and home where you live—He is yours for the asking, for the taking, for the receiving [Romans 10:13].
Would you do it this morning, you? In this balcony round, somebody you today in His grace, “Here I come, and here I am.” Down this stairwell, at the front, at the back, on this lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front. God, give us a gracious harvest at this early service this morning. Does He bid you come today? Would you make it now? A family you, “Here we are, pastor. Here we come.” Or, one somebody you coming by letter, coming on confession of faith, coming by statement, coming by baptism, coming by reconsecration of life. However the Spirit shall bid, would you make it now?
On this radio, a host who listen each Lord’s Day, have you given your heart to Jesus? Have you looked to Him in faith? [Ephesians 2:8]. Would you kneel by your bed? Would you kneel by the chair? Would you say, “Lord, today, I give my heart and life in faith and in trust to Thee.” If you are an invalid, call a neighbor. Call a preacher, say, “Today, I have given my heart in trust to Jesus.” If you are sick, we pray you would be well. And at the first opportunity, go to church.
Down the aisle, tell the pastor, “I’ve given my heart to Jesus.” Will you do it, somebody you on the radio? And would you do it in this great throng in God’s house this morning? From the balcony, from side to side, into the aisle, down to the front, “Here I am, pastor, and here I come.” While we stand and while we sing.