H.B. Charles extols prayer, Christ's priesthood
"These verses declare to us that Lord Jesus Christ is our great high priest who in and of Himself provides everything faith requires to live for God," said Charles, newly elected president of the SBC Pastors' Conference. "Here we find why we as believers, why we as the church, why we as a convention must stick with Jesus no matter what."
Charles, who pastors Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., explained that during Old Testament times there was a strict separation of power between the offices of prophet, priest and king. But he said Jesus alone perfectly fills each of these roles: Jesus the prophet declares the mind of God, Jesus the priest provides access to God and Jesus the King exercises the rule of God.
"Our great high priest has done more than pass through the veil of an earthly temple, He has passed through the veil of the heavenly temple," Charles said. "He is more than Mary's baby, Abraham's seed or David's son. He is the Son of the living God."
Charles pointed to two great exhortations for Christ-followers in the Hebrews passage: hold fast to the confession of faith in Jesus and draw near the throne of grace (in prayer) with confidence. Christ's identity as God's Son makes Him worthy of our faith, Charles said, while His human experience allows Him to sympathize with our weaknesses in times of need.
"Jesus was tempted in every respect as we are, yet He was without sin," Charles said. "We can find in Him the strength, hope and power we need to live for God in troubled times."
Describing verse 16 as one of the most "wonderful invitations to prayer" found in Scripture, Charles said it is the only time in the New Testament the phrase "throne of grace" is used. "But because of the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, we can find at God's throne a fountain of grace," he exclaimed.
"All who make the great confession of faith in Jesus Christ can come," he said. "We do not need an ordained priest, we do not need a guardian angel -- we do not need any other mediator. Jesus Christ is everything we need."
Christians can not only approach Christ in prayer constantly, Charles added, but with confidence.
"The good news today is that because of Jesus we do not have to pray like some desperate beggar asking a wealthy stranger for a big favor. Because of Jesus we do not have to pray like a guilty criminal standing before a stern judge asking for a lenient sentence. Because of Jesus we can pray as confident children coming before a loving Father. What a privilege.
"We need help that only God can provide, so that we might leave this place to carry out the Great Commission ... and be bold, passionate witnesses for Jesus Christ."
To hear Charles' full sermon, visit sbcannualmeeting.net, select "Program" and then "Wednesday Afternoon."