Life-Study of Hebrewsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to the subject of a heavenly Minister with a more excellent ministry. After the foregoing messages on Christ’s kingly priesthood and divine priesthood, we are surely prepared, equipped, and even positioned to hear this message. We have seen the two sections of Christ’s ministry: the Aaronic section on earth and the kingly and divine section in heaven. It is not a small thing for us to be clear regarding these two aspects of Christ’s ministry. With this understanding as our background, it is not difficult to understand this matter of the heavenly Minister with a more excellent ministry.
Before we come to this, however, I would like to speak further about the comparison between Hebrews and Romans. Sin and death are mentioned in both Romans 5 and 8. Romans 8:2 says that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed us from the law of sin and death, 8:3 says that God has condemned sin in the flesh, and 8:6 says that the mind set on the flesh is death. When we come to the middle and last part of Romans 8, there is no more mention of sin and death but of groaning, vanity, corruption, and bondage, which are the by-products of death. It is one thing to overcome sin and death and quite another thing, a most crucial thing, to eliminate these by-products of death.
In Romans 3 through 8 we can see three steps of God’s economical salvation: justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification is related to God’s righteousness, sanctification to God’s holiness, and glorification to God’s glory. God’s righteousness, holiness, and glory all have requirements upon us. In order for us to be thoroughly and ultimately saved, we need to meet all of these requirements. God’s justification meets the requirements of His righteousness, God’s sanctification meets the requirements of His holiness, and God’s glorification meets the requirements of His glory.
God’s economical salvation is not only to justify us or to sanctify us but also to glorify us. As we pointed out in the last message, to be glorified is to have our being completely saturated with Christ’s divine priesthood. When our whole being has been saturated and permeated with His divine priesthood, that will be our glorification, the last step of God’s salvation. At that time we shall enjoy full sonship, which will be consummated by the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23). Glorification does not save us from sins or even from death; it saves us from the by-products of death, from groaning, vanity, corruption, bondage, and decay. These by-products of death require that we be saved to the uttermost, and Christ is able to do this. Salvation to the uttermost not only rescues us from sin and death but also diminishes and swallows up all the by-products of death. When all the by-products of death are swallowed up, that will be the time of the manifestation of the sons of God in glory (Rom. 8:19). At that time not only the sons of God but also the whole creation will be freed from the bondage of vanity and corruption into the freedom of glory (Rom. 8:21). When we have been saved to the uttermost, we shall be brought into complete perfection. This is what it means to be glorified.
Romans 8:30 says, “And whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Recovery Version). We see from this verse that glorification is salvation to the uttermost. This glorification is the definition of Hebrews 7:25, which says that Christ is able to save us to the uttermost. This uttermost salvation is glorification, and glorification means to deliver us from the by-products of death. At the time of glorification, there will be no more groaning, slavery, bondage, vanity, corruption, or decay. Who is doing this work of saving us to the uttermost? Our Melchisedec, the kingly and divine High Priest.
Only two verses in the Bible, Hebrews 7:25 and Romans 8:34, tell us that Christ is interceding for us, and these two verses correspond to one another. According to Romans 8, Christ is not interceding for poor sinners to be justified— justification is in Romans 4—but He is interceding for us to be glorified. This corresponds to the interceding in Hebrews 7:25, for here Christ intercedes for us that we may be saved to the uttermost. Being saved to the uttermost is the equivalent of glorification. Hence, both of these chapters tell us the same thing. Without Hebrews 7 we would never realize that the interceding Christ is the kingly, divine High Priest. Without Hebrews 7 we might think, according to Romans 8, that the interceding Christ is only the Savior. But the interceding Christ is more than the Savior—He is the kingly and divine High Priest, the heavenly Minister. Now we know who is the heavenly Minister—it is our Melchisedec.
The ministry of Melchisedec is not to save sinners. If you are still a sinner, then you need Christ’s ministry as typified by Aaron. But we are no longer pitiful sinners; we are fighters, fighting against the by-products of death. Chedorlaomer, who was slaughtered by Abraham, does not represent sin but represents the by-products of death. When Abraham learned that Lot had been captured, that capture was a matter of the by-products of death. All of the elders in the churches must be slaughtering elders. When the elders come into the meetings and see that many of the dear brothers have been captured by Chedorlaomer, they must slaughter that king. Do not rebuke or condemn the brothers who have been captured but slaughter Chedorlaomer, the by-products of death that have captured the brothers and sisters and hold them in bondage. If you do this, our Melchisedec will come in, and you will enjoy His ministry.
Many Christians do not understand Hebrews 7 and 8 because they maintain the position of being pitiful sinners. Hardly any one of them is a slaughtering Abraham. We must slaughter all of the by-products of death mentioned in Romans 8; we must slaughter groaning, vanity, bondage, slavery, corruption, and decay. How can we slaughter these by-products of death? Through the intercession of our High Priest. While we are slaughtering Chedorlaomer and all of the by-products of death, He will be interceding for us. This is the ministry of our High Priest, the heavenly Minister, today.
We see a picture of this ministry in the case of the warfare between Israel and Amalek (Exo. 17:8-13). Moses was holding up his hand (that is, praying) on the top of the hill and Joshua was fighting in the midst of the battle. While Moses was praying, Joshua was slaughtering the enemy. Likewise, I believe that while Abraham was slaughtering the kings, Melchisedec was praying for him. In the same way, while we are slaughtering the by-products of death, Christ, our heavenly Minister with a more excellent ministry, is in heaven interceding for us.
What is Christ’s more excellent ministry today? It is to intercede for the fighters. Christ’s intercession is like a powerful motor which energizes a machine that it may operate. How can power be brought into the machine? By the motor. When the motor runs, the power is transmitted into the machine. In like manner, the interceding Christ in the heavens is transmitting the heavenly power into us.
Consider once again the case of Abraham’s defeating the kings. Suppose you had been Abraham hearing the news that Lot had been captured. If that had happened to us, we would have been frightened to death and would have gone into the inner part of our tent and prayed, “O Lord, have mercy on us and protect us. Don’t allow the kings to come here.” But when Abraham heard the news, he seemed to say, “They have captured my brother Lot! I don’t care how many men they have—I have the Most High God, and I am going to fight against the kings and rescue Lot.” Abraham and his three hundred eighteen men were bold because they were energized by the intercession of Melchisedec. They were empowered by a heavenly, universal motor. When Melchisedec came to bless Abraham, he blessed the Most High God for delivering Abraham’s enemies into his hands (Gen. 14:20). In other words, Melchisedec was telling Abraham that his victory was the result of his intercession to the Most High God on his behalf.
We need to have a high vision of Christ’s more excellent ministry. It is not a low ministry for pitiful sinners; it is a high ministry for victorious fighters, for God’s victors, the proper descendants of Abraham. This is not the priesthood that we find in Leviticus but the continuation of the priesthood that we see in Genesis 14.
The Lord is opening up His Word to us so that we might be fighters like Abraham and his three hundred eighteen men. We need to fight the battle, slaughtering all the by-products of death. We should no longer hold to the objective view that, after the mere passing of time, we shall be glorified and all the sons of God will be manifested and brought into the freedom of glory. In Romans 8 we see Christ’s intercession in heaven as well as the groaning throughout the whole universe. The whole creation is groaning for liberation, groaning to be released from the by-products of death. This is the situation today: we have the intercession of our Melchisedec in the heavens and the groaning throughout the whole universe. Today God must find a people on earth to be His operating machine to bring in that glorious freedom. Who are the people through whom God is operating to bring in glorification? We are.
This glorious freedom must firstly be brought into our being. This is accomplished through our interceding Melchisedec. The motor in the third heavens energizes the machine on the earth: it makes a lot of “pum, pum, pums” in our spirit. Sometimes the Lord’s transmission of energy from the motor in the heavens is so strong that I can hardly contain myself. Whenever I kneel down to pray in my bedroom, I sense the “pum, pum, pum,” the empowering, the energizing from the Lord’s intercession. Let the religious people wait and see the result of the energizing of the heavenly motor. Do not think that the Lord’s recovery is merely another type of Christian work. No, it is the work accomplished by the “pum, pum, pum” with the energy transmitted into us by the heavenly dynamo. Whenever we pray for the Lord’s recovery, we have the deep sense that the Lord’s intercession is empowering us from within. This is why we, the partners of the Lord in His recovery, are the most aggressive Christians on earth today. Christ’s heavenly ministry is not a ministry that takes care of pitiful sinners; it is the more excellent ministry operating God’s economy.
I have the full assurance that the heavenly Minister is ministering on our behalf. Many times as I was writing the notes for the Recovery Version of Hebrews, the heavenly electricity came to my pen, and I had a new vision of the things in the Bible. Although the Bible has been on earth for centuries, few Christians, if any, have seen the things that we are seeing today. Are we smarter than they are? No. What we see is the result of the intercession of the heavenly Minister. This is why what we are ministering is absolutely different from what is found in today’s religion. If I withheld what the Lord has been showing me and doing within me, I would explode. I must tell the Lord’s people of His heavenly ministry. I have seen the Lord’s kingly priesthood and I know that the Lord is interceding for us and ministering to us. We have such a heavenly Minister with a more excellent ministry.
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