Sermon:  Practicality of Impractical Teaching


Summary:  The fact that Jesus' High Priesthood is of a new order and superior to Levi can be used as a comparative test and reminder against other things we tend to invest our life in.  This will help us to refocus on Christ as be emotionally and spiritually motivated to steadfastness in our spiritual growth and maturity.


Know:  The foundation for spiritual maturity is in growing deep in biblical teaching and reflection on how it impacts yourself and life


Feel:  Motivation to go deeper in biblical and theological reflection


Do:  Discuss the ways Jesus is superior to levitical high priests and how people try to look to things other than Jesus to find redemption, renewal, meaning, joy, absolution, etc.  Discuss how understanding the deeper things of the doctrine of Christ and other basic doctrines (God, man, sin, etc.) contribute to being steadfast in the faith.  Formulate these particulars of the doctrine of Christ into a compare/contrast exercise to evaluate things that draw people away from Christ.


Text:  Hebrews 7


Scripture Reading:  2 Cor 2:6-7



1.  Question:  Which of these two classes might you be more interested in?

            a.  Class Title:  Basic biblical doctrines and theology. 

                        Topics:  The Godhead, man, sin, salvation, etc.

            b.  Class Title:  How to

                        Topics:  Find a spouse, be better spouse, be better parent, deal

                        with difficult people, manage your finances, etc.

2.  Most choose "How to."  class

            a.  Why?

                        - 1st class seems dry academic, irrelevant

                        - 2nd highly practical, readily apply things

            b.  We need useful, practical know how, not ivory tower theology

3.  Many feel this morning's text somewhat irrelevant

            a.  Don't hear lot of popular preachers preach texts like this

            b.  Seems like a lot of obscure, irrelevant teaching

            c.  This has nothing to do with me, not applicable to me

            d.  Why would God communicate what is irrelevant?

4.  If something is relevant from God, wouldn't you like to learn it? 

            a.  Context - turn to Heb 7

                        - This section began in chapter 5

                        - Introduces Jesus as High Priest after order of Melchizedek

                        - Hard to explain, they still immature in their faith, dull of hearing

                        - Exhorts them to move on to maturity, to be steadfast

            b.  (Heb 7) Main point - Jesus' priesthood is of a new order and superior

                        - Seems like beating a dead horse here

                        - Of course his priesthood is superior to Levi

                        - Not a particular danger, where is the relevance

            c.  Need to plod through the text first before seeking out relevance

                        - Kind of like learning a subject in school

                        - May be a long time before you see how parts fit together

                        - When they do, it all makes sense

            d.  Will see how Jesus is a new order and superior, and apply it


I.  Jesus' High Priesthood is of a new order

            A.  His High Priesthood has replaces the levitical priesthood

            B.  Explanation from the text as to why this his is a new order

                        1.  Jesus was not a Levite (v.13-14)

                                    a.  Law of Moses said only a Levite could be High Priest

                                    b.  Jesus was from the tribe of Judah

                                    c.  Therefore, Jesus not of the Levitical order

                                                - v.12 - Priesthood is changed

                                    d.  If not a levitical priest, then what kind is he?

                        2.  Jesus is after the "order" of Melchizedek

                                    a.  Order does not necessarily mean a succession of priests

                                                - Text says Melchizedek did not have genealogy

                                                - Clearly the idea is not a succession of priests

                                    b.  Greek for order is taxis

                                                - Fixed succession or order

                                                - Nature, quality, manner, condition

                                                - eg:  Youthful "nature/appearance" (taxis)

                                    c.  Jesus' priesthood is in the "nature" of Melchizedek's

                        3.  How is Jesus' priesthood like Melchizedek's?

                                    a.  Melchizedek was king of Salem and Righteousness

                                                - His name means "king of righteousness"

                                                - Gen 14:18 - He king of Salem, which means peace

                                                - Jesus is King of righteousness and brings peace

                                    b.  Priest of God Most High - Jesus is the priest of God

                                    c.  No genealogy, to beginning, no ending 

                                                - Melchizedek appears and disappears in Genesis

                                                - Does not mention birth, death, ancestry

                                                - Melchizedek is just . . . there, he simply exists

                                                - Jesus exists always

                                    d.  He is a perpetual priest

                                                - From Ps 110 -"You are a priest "forever"

                                                - Ps 110 is Messianic Psalm

                                                - Of course, we know Melchizedek was not God

                                                            = He did have parents

                                                            = He did die

                                                            = But the text not mention it, he is just there

                                                - That is like Jesus, he is truly eternal priest

                        4.  Point - Jesus' priesthood is of a new and different order

                                    a.  Jesus was not like the Levites

                                                - v.14 - Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, not Levi

                                                - Could not be a priest under levitical system

                                    b.  The fact Jesus is priest show he replaced levitical system

                                    c.  Jesus' priesthood more like Melchizedek

                                                - No succession of priests, just one priest

                                                - He has no genealogy, not beginning, no end

            C.  ILL:  Would be like going from monarch to a president

                        1.  Originally, technically under the rule/authority of king of England

                        2.  Later, we had a president, not a king

                                    a.  Shows we under a completely different order

                                    b.  The new order replaced the old order

                                    c.  The law was changed as well

            D.  This is how it is with Christ

                        1.  He replaced the old levitical priesthood

                        2.  The old priesthood is no longer valid

                        3.  Why replace the old order?  The new order us superior...


II.  Jesus' priesthood is superior

            A.  Jesus is better than Levi or Aaron

            B.  Text shows Jesus is better through some contrasts

                        1.  Contrast Abraham and Melchizedek

                                    a.  v.4 - Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek

                                    b.  v.6-7 - Melchizedek blessed Abraham

                                    c.  Shows that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham

                        2.  Contrast Levi and Melchizedek

                                    a.  v.9-10 - Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek

                                                - Not directly, but indirectly

                                                - His forefather Abraham tithed to Melchizedek

                                                - Levi not greater than Abraham, and not Melchizedek

                                    b.  Shows Melchizedek is greater than Levi

                                    c.  Remember Jesus is after order of Melchizedek, not Levi

                        3.  Levi and Jesus

                                    a.  v.16 - Levitical priest became priest according to law of

                                         physical requirement - their genealogy

                                                - But Jesus priest by power of indestructible life

                                    b.  v. 21 - Levitical priest became one without an oath

                                                - But Jesus became priest by oath from God, Ps 110

                                    c.  v.23-24 - Former priests great in number due to death

                                                - Jesus is the only one because he lives forever

                                    d.  v.27-28 - Levitical priests had to offer sacrifice for self first

                                         before he could do so for the people

                                                - Jesus offered himself as perfect sacrifice once for all

                        4.  These characteristics clearly make Jesus superior

                                    a.  v.11 - Completion/perfection not through levitical priests

                                    b.  24-25 - Only Jesus could do what levitical system couldn't

                                                - Can save those who draw near to God

                                                - Always make intercession because he lives forever

                                    c.  Jesus is a permanent solution to the problem

            C.  ILL:  Levitical system was like a loan you couldn't pay off

                        1.  Could try deal with it several ways

                                    a.  Could ignore it, but then forfeit everything

                                    b.  Could make periodic payments, but it not get paid off

                                    c.  You could get extensions on the loan, but interest piles up

                        2.  Whatever you do, the debt does not go away

                        3.  What is needed is a permanent solution

            D.  Jesus is the only permanent solution

                        1.  Only he can fully pay the debt

                        2.  Only he can fully save

                        3.  He does so marvelously

                                    a.  He paid the debt himself

                                    b.  He rose from the dead and lives forever

                                    c.  He continues to live and make intercession for you

                        4.  Truly he is superior


III.  This is a very relevant message in any time

            A.  Much of this text may seem irrelevant to us

                        1.  We are not Jewish Christian tempted to turn back to Judaism

                             without Christ

                        2.  This may seem deeply academic, doctrinal, theological, dry

                        3.  Many preachers avoid texts like these for more practical ones

            B.  But remember the problem the text deals with and the solution

                        1.  Problem

                                    a.  Tired, worn out, sluggish faith

                                    b.  Abnormal immaturity, they stopped growing

                                    c.  No longer steadfast, confidence, assurance is waning

                                    d.  Danger of falling away

                        2.  Solution according to this text

                                    a.  Does not dive straight into rebuke or encouragement

                                                - Began with doctrine of Christ, moved deeper into it

                                                - Chap 5 - priest after order of Melchezidek

                                                - Rebuke for immaturity, hard to explain it

                                                - Then plows ahead with it in chapters 7-10

                                    b.  The solution involves regular doses of doctrine and

                                          theological reflection

                                                - Has to be an ongoing pattern of it

                                                - Can't just wait for problem and then take a dose

                                                            = That would be like starving unhealthy body

                                                                from pattern of neglect

                                                            = One healthy meal not change overnight

                        3.  Focus in this text is on "Christology" - The doctrine of Christ

                                    a.  Usually think of Christ's accomplished work on the cross

                                                - Came to earth, died, buried, rose again, ascended

                                                - Someday he will return

                                                - We need to repent and be baptized

                                    b.  But there is more, 6:1 calls these the elementary teaching

                                    c.  Text focus not just on his past work, but continuing work

                                                - He is "currently" our High Priest

                                                - He lives now and makes intercession for us

                                                - He is the means by which we draw near to God to

                                                  find help "now"

                        4.  Christ, his completed work AND his continuing work is the

                             foundation for all "practical" instructions and encouragement

                                    a.  Pattern in epistles - Doctrine then practical instruction

                                    b.  Same pattern here in Hebrews, doctrine and instruction

                                    c.  Why?  Have to have solid foundation for edification

                                    d.  If no solid foundation, it will crumble

            C.  ILL:  Reminded me of article I read making case for classical education

                        1.  Criticisms of classical education is that it is impractical

                                    a.  Latin, dealing with philosophical questions, study of

                                         ancient literary works, history, etc.

                                    b.  Biblical theology and Christian worldview formed basis

                        2.  But, what they found is classically educated students always

                             seem to excel above those with progressive education

                                    a.  Instead of simply teaching subjects they are given

                                         foundational tools

                                    b.  They learn how to think, how to learn, how to evaluate

                                    c.  They learn logic, rhetoric, and other tools for life

                        3.  Because of this, students excel

                                    a.  Can learn a new subject with ease, often independently

                                    b.  Always do better when go on to other areas of study

                                    c.  Reason - Lays a good solid foundation on which to build

                        4.  ILL:  Tempting to bypass this and go straight to the practical

                                    a.  At Harding, preacher students relish book giveaways

                                    b.  One day, box of books on preaching and sermons came

                                    c.  One student serious disappointed at sermon book

                                    d.  He exclaimed with disappointment - "It's doctrinal"

                                                - Why?  It seemed so impractical

                                                - Yet, the central doctrines lay foundation for us

                                                - In the long run, you are better off

                                                - Will be able to face new challenges as they come

            D.  The foundational message here is timeless

                        1.  Message tells us how Jesus is superior

                        2.  This text can be sued as a comparative reminder

                                    a.  It is not limited to comparing Levi to Jesus

                                    b.  Can compare anything we rely on to Jesus

                                                - Whether it is something rely on for comfort, success,

                                                  significance, meaning

                                                - Whether it is for redemption, absolution, peace

                        3.  This will help refocus and assure lives built spiritually and

                              emotionally on Christ and with Christ

                        4.  Suggestions for comparing and contrasting with Jesus

                                    a.  Can it perfect or complete you?

                                                - Lots of things in life promise to complete you

                                                - Education, financial success, relationship

                                                - But only Jesus can truly complete you

                                    b.  Is it indestructible?

                                                - Many things in life seem solid, dependable

                                                - Many people lost life savings in economic meltdown,

                                                  death take away a loved one, etc.

                                                - Only Jesus is indestructible and always there for you

                                    c.  Is it undefiled?

                                                - Many things in life appear to be true and pure

                                                - But always find some kind of depravity, impurity

                                                - Only Jesus is undefiled

                                    d.  Can it save you?

                                                - All kinds of counterfeit salvation in the world

                                                - If can work to get - prosperity, eliminate poverty,

                                                   eliminate disease, educate people, equal

                                                   opportunity, eliminate crime and oppression, etc.

                                                - These good things, but ultimately only Jesus saves



1.  Truly Jesus is superior and better

2.  What is your life truly built on?

            a.  One what/who do you expend the majority of your emotional energy?

            b.  What or who is the main focus of your life?  What actions show it?

3.  Invest your life in anything other than Jesus will fail

            a.  May seem to work for a time, but it is only temporary

            b.  Only Jesus is the permanent solution (inv)

4.  If you are a Christian, this is a call to go deeper

            a.  Don't limit yourself to the basics of Christianity, press on, go deeper

            b.  Not talking about obscure peripheral doctrines, but central ones - God,

                 Jesus, the Spirit, Sin, Man, Redemption, etc.

            c.  A pattern of moving from milk to solid food help make you strong

            d.  Even if seem impractical at first, building a solid life that can withstand

                 challenges as they come - help to be steadfast in the faith


Small Group Notes:  Practicality of Impractical Teaching


Summary:  The fact that Jesus' High Priesthood is of a new order and superior to Levi can be used as a comparative test and reminder against other things we tend to invest our life in.  This will help us to refocus on Christ as be emotionally and spiritually motivated to steadfastness in our spiritual growth and maturity.



Open:  (choose one)

- How would you describe how you learn?  Are you more like Beaver Cleaver, Barney Fife?  the Fonz, Wile E. Coyote, SpongeBob, Invader Zim, other__________?

- In a sentence or two, how would you deal with a sluggish faith?



Explore (Heb 7)


1.  In what ways is Jesus after the "order" of Melchizedek?


2.  Describe and discuss how the text shows that Jesus has replaced the levitical priesthood.


3.  Discuss the ways the text shows that Jesus is superior to Levi.


4.  Why does the author spend so much time focusing on Jesus?  What is his purpose?  What problems and challenges is he dealing with?  (see 5:10 - 6:2)


5.  Why and how is growing deeper in knowledge and understanding of the central teachings of the Christian faith practical?  What makes it impractical?  Give examples. 





6.  Take each of the points about Jesus' superiority in this text and discuss how these can be applied to your life, and how they can help you to remain strong and steadfast in your faith.


7.  How do each of these characteristics compare/contrast to other things you have tended to rely on in life for things such as meaning, contentment, happiness, absolution, etc.?  (whether consciously or unconsciously)


8.  What are some things you can you do to ensure that you move beyond the basics and have a pattern of going deeper into the meat of Christian teaching?