Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ONCE FOR ALL (Hebrews Chapter 9)

Hebrews 9:27-28, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

The sacrifice of Jesus was of a much better nature than the sacrifices offered by the Old Testament priests.  In this chapter the author of Hebrews speaks to this matter.  The Old Testament priest entered into the “holy places every year with blood not his own” (Hebrews 9:25).  Jesus “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood” (Hebrews 9:12).  The Old Testament priest offered sacrifices that were able only to “sanctify for the purification of the flesh” (Hebrews 9:13).  The blood of Jesus, on the other hand, is able to “purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14).  The Old Testament priests entered only into a holy place made with hands (Cf. Hebrews 9:24).  Jesus entered “into heaven itself” and now resides “in the presence of God on our behalf” (Cf. Hebrews 9:24; 4:14).  The Old Testament made repeated sacrifices (Cf. Hebrews 9:25; 7:27).  Jesus “appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Cf. Hebrews 26).  Jesus’ death represents a final “once-for-all” sacrifice for sin.  This phrase is used repeatedly by the author to describe its nature (Cf. Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 9:26; 10:10).  The “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” died on the cross for sins (Cf. John 1:29).  He “who knew no sin” was “made…to be sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He said, “It is finished” and “bowed up his spirit” (John 19:30).  “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:50).  In suffering “once for sins” Jesus has worked to bring us to God (Cf. 1 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:13).

William Vine has commented on this, “Man’s life and work on earth end with death. The results only remain, as determined by divine judgment. So also the death of Christ is final. There was nothing further to be done by sacrifice for sin. The finality of His one offering for sin is corroborated by the analogy of human life. He will return, but to salvation and quite apart from sin. Christ having taken upon Himself human nature, without sin, was offered voluntarily in sacrifice, once, and once only, and now all who believe are delivered from judgment. He will instead bring salvation to them at His appearing. Accordingly, the appearing of Christ for the salvation of His people is set in contrast to the judgment of the unregenerate. That He will appear a second time is the main statement of the last verse.”  (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson).

The believer in Christ is one who has experienced “eternal redemption” on the basis of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice (Cf. Hebrews 9:12).  Religions suppose that it is somehow possible to earn salvation.  Charles Spurgeon once spoke of the need to trust explicitly in Christ’s finished work, “Great care must be taken that this faith is exercised upon Christ for a complete salvation, and not for a part of it. Numbers of persons think that the Lord Jesus is available for the pardon of past sin, but they cannot trust Him for their preservation in the future. They trust for years past, but not for years to come; whereas no such sub-division of salvation is ever spoken of in Scripture as the work of Christ. Either He bore all our sins, or none; and He either saves us once for all, or not at all. His death can never be repeated, and it must have made expiation for the future sin of believers, or they are lost, since no further atonement can be supposed, and future sin is certain to be committed. Blessed be His name, ‘by Him all that believe are justified from all things.’ Salvation by grace is eternal salvation. Sinners must commit their souls to the keeping of Christ to all eternity; how else are they saved men? Alas! According to the teaching of some, believers are only saved in part, and for the rest must depend upon their future endeavors. Is this the gospel? I trow not. Genuine faith trusts a whole Christ for the whole of salvation.”

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