Summary: A look at the high priesthood of Jesus and the implications that carries for our lives

1. Title: When Religion’s Not Enough

2. Text: Hebrews 7

3. Audience: Villa Heights Christian Church, AM worship crowd, August 13, 2006, in the series “Nothing Better Than The Best”

4. Type: expository

5. Objectives:

• For the people to understand the necessity of having a High Priest in our relationship with God and to understand how Jesus is the best qualified for this role

• For the people to feel grateful that we have Jesus as our high priest and to feel desirous to recognize His priesthood in our lives

• For the people to recognize the priesthood of Jesus in their prayers and in their daily choices, understanding the gratitude that we ought to be reflecting as we live under the covering of His priesthood for us

6. Dominant Thought: the priesthood of Jesus is exactly what we need in order to have a right relationship with God the Father

7. When I’m finished with my sermon, I want my audience to understand the necessity of the priesthood of Jesus and to show our constant gratitude for it by the way we live

8. Outline:

Intro: Let’s drop all the talk about “If I were God.” Let’s get a little more realistic, shall we? None of us is every going to “be God.” That position has been filled. Let’s talk instead about “making God.” Yeah, that’s a little closer to home, isn’t it? After all, there are people who in their own minds are “making God” just like they want Him all the time. The Bible describes them as people who “worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” Making God. Sounds kind of fun, doesn’t it? But right away, there’s a whole list of hazards involved – a swarm of challenges that face the person who’s going to somehow fashion God to make Him better than He is. Imagine all the mistakes you might make trying to create God. Two of those mistakes are that you might make a god who’s too simple, or a god who is too distant:

1. For those who don’t know Him at all, there’s the possibility of thinking that accessing God is no big deal. After all, He must be pretty big, so, maybe getting in touch with Him isn’t so difficult. Surely He has a cell phone, doesn’t He? If I conclude that God hears everything and pretty much sees everything, then I can pretty much assume he’s easy to get a hold of and then throw in that he’s easy to get along with, right? That fits right in with my consumer world-view. So, the prayers of this kind of person sound kind of like an anonymous note to whoever might be listening – “Yo, God, if you’re out there, I want some stuff…” After all, if god’s there, he’s probably a pretty mellow dude.

There’s another mistake, another extreme, that people make:

2. For those who do know Him just a little, there’s the possibility of thinking that there’s no way we could contact Him at all. He’s too transcendent; too separated. Like the gods in Greek mythology – way off on Mt. Olympus somewhere. After all, it says in the Psalms, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you care for him?” This is the problem for people who understand God’s transcendence – that is, that God is above us, apart from us – so much that we can’t possibly begin to reach Him or expect Him to reach us. Why even bother talking to this kind of god? Why would he listen? You’re more likely to call up the White House and have the phone answered by George Bush to just chat for a while.

Both are mistakes. Both are a reflection of man-made religion, where the rules are the ones we write for ourselves, and the only god is the one we fashion to look and act like we want him to.

Either way, throughout history, man has understood that we need some way to get close to God – whether He’s the true God or a false god. In fact, that’s what religion is – it’s man’s attempt to get close to his god – to somehow find Him, please Him, appease His anger, pay Him, even to trick Him or force His hand. Guess what. It’s not enough. No one who uses religion to get close to God will ever be sure that they’re close enough.

By now I hope you’ve already looked at yourself and asked, “Is that me? Am I either of those?” Don’t be too quick to answer. Think about it. We come up with all sorts of creative ways to try to get this done. If you’ve ever come to the conclusion that you need to draw close to God – that you need to somehow be in good standing with God - how were you planning on getting that done? Who or what is going to be the channel through which you get through? Are you counting on knowing the right people, doing the right things? What’s your game plan for right now and for Judgment Day?

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