December 9th, 2018
“Once for All”
Aux. Text: Exodus 24:1-8
Call to Worship: Psalm 111
Service Orientation: The salvation that the blood of Jesus obtained is not a superficial salvation. It is comprehensive, all-encompassing, complete, exhaustive, permanent, eternal, all-inclusive, and thorough: for all time, for all sins, for all people. Therefore, in Christ we can have peace with God and thus enjoy the abundant life.
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. — Hebrews 7:27
(v. 19) In the ceremony described here, Moses would sprinkle half the blood from the sacrificed animals on the altar to show that the sinner could once again approach God because something had died in his or her place. Moses then would sprinkle the other half of the blood on the people to show that the penalty for their sin had been paid and they could be reunited with God. Through this symbolic act, God’s promises to Israel were reaffirmed and lessons were taught about Christ’s future sacrificial death. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 141-2)
- (v. 24) The word used here for presence (prosōpon, literally “face”) is highly suggestive, for the idea of “the face” to express God’s presence is paralleled only in Mt 18:10 and Rv 3:12 (from Ps 34:15-16). “Face” is more personal than “presence” and contains the suggestion of communication. (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 197)
- (v. 26) The Greek word for “put away” is athetēsis, a word that in the legal realm meant “a nullification.” (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 143)
- (v. 26) The word used here, athetēsin, “put away,” “abolish” (NEB), “do away with” (NIV), literally means that Christ came “for the disannullling of sin.” It is the same word as that used in 7:18 when our writer says that the law concerning priesthood was “set aside (athetēsis) because of its weakness and uselessness.” In other words, by Christ’s death it is not only that the devil is deposed and the power of death overcome, but also that sin is vanquished. Jesus came to rob sin of its tyranny and its suffocating stranglehold on man. Obviously, sin is still at large in the world, just as death and the devil are still active, but all three have been robbed of their former hold on man. In Christ we are free from their enslaving power. (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today: Hebrews, 172)
- (v. 28) He who came in humility and shame will return in spectacular magnificence. –John R. W. Stott
- (v. 28) As mentioned several times, the people always waited expectantly on the Day of Atonement for the high priest to come out from the Holy of Holies. If he did anything wrong, if he failed to follow God’s precise instructions, he would die. So there was always a sigh of relief, for their own sakes as well as for his, when he reappeared.
That is the situation being alluded to in Heb 9:28. If the people were so eager to see the former high priests reappear from the earthly Holy of Holies, how much more should Christians look eagerly for their great High Priest to reappear from the heavenly Holy of Holies? This will occur at the Second Coming (Rv 19:11-16). (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 242)
The question to be answered is . . . Why should I care that the salvation of Jesus by His blood was comprehensive, all-encompassing, complete, exhaustive, all-inclusive, and thorough?
Answer: Jesus’ work on the cross initiated our inheritance, fulfilled the new covenant with God, sanctified believers before God, and atoned for all sins, for all time, for all people; all the while providing righteousness and peace with God for all who believe.
The Word for the Day is . . . All
Why should we consider the work of Jesus comprehensive?:
1- Through Jesus’s work on the cross we inherit all that Christ owns. (Heb 9:16-19; see also: Mt 25:34; Rom 4:13-15; 8:16-17, 32; Gal 3:18-4:7; Eph 1:11-19; Col 3:24; Ti 3:7; Heb 1:2, 14; 6:12-17; 9:15-17; 10:10; 1Pt 3:3-5; 3:7-9)
Jesus has become both testator and mediator of the New Covenant–dual functions impossible for any being except one who rose from the dead. Jesus died, leaving the greatest inheritance ever. But he also lives to mediate his will. (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 236)
The fact that Jesus rose from the dead to become the MEDIATOR of His own will, makes the writer’s play on words even more remarkable. (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 196)
How absolutely essential Christ’s sacrifice was. Without it there would be no new covenant in force and no eternal inheritance for anyone. (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 100)
The person to whom the property is left may be very poor, but that does not overthrow the will; he may be very ragged, but that does not upset the will; he may have disgraced himself in some way or other, but that does not make the will void. He who made the will and put His name to the will makes the will valid, and not the legatee to whom the legacy was left. And so with you this covenant stands secure, this will of Christ stands firm. (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 247)
Whenever you read a precious promise in the Bible, you may say, “this is a clause in the Redeemer’s will.” When you come to a choice word, you may say, “This is another codicil to the will.” Recollect that these things are yours, not because you are this or that, but because the blood makes them yours. The next time Satan says to you, “You do not believe as you ought, and therefore the promise is not sure,” tell him that the sureness of the promise lies in the blood, and not in what you are or in what you are not. (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 247)
What of the quality of the inheritance? It is eternal, another important word in Hebrews. It cannot waste away or be taken away. It is not exposed to the ravages of time. Hebrews was written to Christians on the verge of persecution and suffering. But, although their opponents rob them of earthly possessions and even physical life, their heavenly inheritance and eternal life were alike imperishable. Their treasures had not been laid up in the banks and repositories of the Roman world, but in the place where Jesus had told them to deposit their true riches, in heaven itself. (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today: Hebrews, 164)
II- Through Jesus’ salvation Jesus fulfilled all the conditions of our new covenant with God. (Heb 9:20-24; see also: Gn 15; Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 11:19-20; 36:26-27; Heb 8:4-13; 12:22-24; 13:20)
The Old Covenant sailed on a sea of blood, for two vast reasons. First, to emphasize the seriousness of sin. The Bible takes sin seriously, more than any other religion. Sin alienates one from God. Sin is rooted in the hearts of humanity. Sin cannot be vindicated by any self-help program. Sin leads to death–and it will not be denied. The second reason is the costliness of forgiveness. Death is the payment. It will either be Christ’s life our ours! (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 237)
Through a play on words, the author speaks of someone who leaves a will. The word for “will” is the same word elsewhere used as “covenant.” The new covenant was inherited by God’s people at the death of Christ. In essence, he left the new covenant in his will. When he died, it was received by God’s people. When Jesus died, the will was enacted and the promised inheritance (salvation and eternal life) was received. His death also provided the blood needed to put the covenant into effect. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews, 140)
The first covenant had its sanction in God’s appointment; the new covenant could not take its place until the first had met with full satisfaction for its claims. There was no way for this, for the redemption of the transgressions it had seen and condemned, but by a death. All the writer had meant in speaking of the blood, he now includes in the expression, a death. The change of the expression reminds us how the two are one. The blood is through the death; the death is for the blood. The blood-shedding and the death are the redemption, the ransom, that by sin-bearing and atonement deliver from transgressions and their power. All the transgressions of the old covenant had been treasured up; the death of Christ gave satisfaction to all that that covenant could claim, and brought release. So the Mediator of the new covenant begins an entirely new economy with sin put away by the sacrifice of Himself, and an open path to the beginning of a new life in the favor and power of God. (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 312-3)
III- Through Jesus’ work on the cross all areas of our lives are sanctified. (Heb 9:21-23; see also: Acts 26:16; 1 Cor 1:2; 6:11; Eph 2:22; 5:25-27; Heb 2:11; 9:14; 10:10, 14; 13:12; 1 Pt 1:2)
The blood of bulls would suffice to purge the types, but the realities must have a richer sacrifice to cleanse them. (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 252)
Every time I think I can fix it (my sin) I lower the holiness of God. — Steve Brown
Delitzsch explains that the blood was “the negative (as removing impurities), the oil the positive instrument of sanctification (as symbolically imparting grace).” “That the vessels of the sanctuary, and the sanctuary itself, needed such purification,” he adds, “was the result partly of their origin, as made by human hands, and partly of their use, as visited or handled by the unclean.” (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 377-8)
What are the “heavenly things” that are purified? Nothing less than us! Just as the Tabernacle had to be anointed and purified so that God might show his presence there, even so the people of God must be cleansed and sanctified so as to become “a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Eph 2:22).
Peter says the same thing: You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pt 2:5). To be this “spiritual house,” it is necessary to be cleansed through “sprinkling by his blood” (1 Pt 1:2), “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (v. 19). The blood of Christ makes us acceptable to God and makes our presence and praise more acceptable than that of the angels! No angel can call God his Father. To address God as “Abba, Father” is the believer’s privilege alone. No angel was ever purchased by the blood of God’s Son either, but we were! (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 238)
IV- Through Jesus’ work on the cross and His shedding of His blood, He alone atones for and forgives all of the sins of believers. (Heb 9:22; see also: Mt 20:28; Acts 20:28; Gal 3:13; 4:4-5; Eph 1:3-12, 17-22; 2:4-10; Col 1:19-20; 1 Tm 2:6; Heb 9:12; 1 Pt 3:18; Rv 5:9; 13:8)
God does not forgive sin by looking down and saying, “It’s all right. Since I love you so much, I’ll overlook your sin.” God’s righteousness and holiness will not allow Him to overlook sin. Sin demands payment by death. And the only death great enough to pay for all of mankind’s sins is the death of His Son. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 238)
If Jesus is not divine, He cannot have offered a sacrifice of infinite value for His people of the cross. He cannot be a Savior to save to the uttermost. He cannot be a Savior to fully satisfy the wrath of God. (W. Robert Godfry; Against the World, Ligioner Conference 2014).
Human forgiveness is costly. A son or a daughter may go wrong and a father or a mother may forgive; but that forgiveness brings tears, whiteness to the hair, lines to the face, a cutting anguish and then a long dull ache to the heart. It does not cost nothing. Divine forgiveness is costly. God is love but he is also holiness. He least of all can break the great moral laws on which the universe is built. Sin must have its punishment or the very structure of life disintegrates. And God alone can pay the terrible price that is necessary before men can be forgiven. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 108)
If God had not raised Him from the grave we might draw the conclusion that our Lord was not able to bear the punishment of the guilt of our sins, that it was too much for Him, and that His death was the end. But He was raised from the dead; and in raising Him up God was proclaiming that His Son had completed the work, that full expiation has been made, that He is propitiated and completely satisfied. The resurrection declares that, and it is in that sense that He is “risen again for our justification.” It is there we see it clearly. The work was done on the Cross, but here is the proclamation that it is enough. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapters 3:20-4:25, p. 244)
There are far more references to the “blood” of Christ in the NT than to the “cross” or “death” of Christ. (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today: Hebrews, 165)
A- All sins for all time. (Heb 9:25-26; see also: Heb 7:27; 9:12; 10:10, 12)
His sacrifice, because of its superior quality, is able to reach back to the time of creation and forward to the time of consummation of the ages, fully cleansing the people of God. The Messiah’s first appearance, therefore, marks the beginning of the messianic age, the “end of the ages,” in which he effects redemption for God’s people. (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 316)
Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient and thus needed no repeating. He is our constant priest, but this in no way suggests that he is perpetually offering himself. Some have ignored the truth of Scripture and have instituted in the celebration of the Eucharist a repeated reenactment here on earth. How utterly contradictory to our text–and misleading. The sacrifice was so monumental and efficacious that it could only be once-for-all. His blood is totally sufficient. (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 239)
Repetition is the proof of imperfection: what needs doing only once is finished, is perfect, is forever. (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 323)
What is done once is done forever: all it waits for is the everlasting manifestation of what is already perfect and complete. (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 324)
The Jewish high priests went once a year into the holy of holies. Each year as it came round demanded that they should go again. Their work was never done; but “he entered once,” and only once, “into the most holy place, obtaining eternal redemption.” I love that expression, “eternal redemption”–a redemption that really does redeem, and redeems forever and ever. It you are redeemed by it, you cannot be lost. If this redemption is yours, it is not for a time, or for a season, but it is “eternal redemption.” Oh, how you ought to rejoice in the one entrance within the veil by our great High Priest who has obtained eternal redemption for us! (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 227)
To emphasize that Christ’s death is never to be repeated, our author draws a parallel between the life of man and the life of Christ. In history a man is born, lives and dies but once. All that remains after that is judgment. He cannot return to earth for a fresh start of second chance. In the same way, Jesus was born as a man. He lived and died as do all men and cannot return to live that life over again. Had He failed to atone for our sins, He would not have a second chance. But He didn’t fail, as His glorious appearing will prove. When He returns His coming will not be connected with sin in any way. He is through with sin once for all. (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 206)
B- All sins for all people. (Heb 9:28; see also: Heb 7:27; 9:26-28; 10:10)
Observe the two steps in the Israelite ritual. First the animal was slain and its blood captured. There would be no atonement if that was all that happened. A second step was needed, that of applying the blood. Until the blood was applied, the sacrifice did not avail for the offerer. How marvelously this pictures the need to RECEIVE Christ. Jesus did indeed die for the sins of the whole world (1 Jn 2:2). But that does not automatically save the world. Until a person opens his heart and receives Christ, the work of the cross if NOT APPLIED to him. But the moment he receives the Lord, his soul is cleansed of all sin. (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 199)
What are these heavenly things and what kind of purifying is meant? Heaven where God dwells is perfect as he is and needs no cleansing. But a cleansing is needed as heaven is entered by sinful man.
The cleansing blood of Christ enables sinners to enter into and enjoy “the heavenly things” without defiling them. This blood ushers sinners into heaven, all the while keeping heaven free of their sin and its consequences. (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 103)
Death is always and everywhere God’s judgment on sin: The sting of death is sin. The shed blood sprinkled upon the altar, or the person, is the proof that death has been endured, that the penalty of the transgressions, for which atonement is being made, has been born. (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 316)
It is hard for us today to understand how bloody and messy the old sacrificial system was. But among other things, the great amount of blood was a continual reminder of the penalty of sin, death. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 236-7)
At the end of that eventful Passover week when Jesus was finishing His ministry, the Romans had prepared three crosses for three criminals. On two of the crosses, thieves were to hang. The third cross was for an insurrectionist named Barabbas, who had been found guilty of treason against the empire. But Barabbas never made it to the cross. He was guilty and condemned, but he was not executed–because someone took his place. On the middle cross that day hung not a violent, profane rebel, but the sinless Son of God. Barabbas went free not because he was innocent, but because Jesus took his place. Jesus was crucified not because He was guilty, but so that He could take Barabbas’s place–and the place of every other sinner. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 243)
V- Through Jesus’ work on the cross we obtain the righteousness of God and thus peace with God. (Heb 9:28; see also: Rom 1:16-17; 3:21-26;4:1-24; 5:1, 17; 8:6; 10:3-5; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 1:3; 2:21; 3:6; 5:5, 22; Eph 2:14-17; Phil 3:8-10; 4:7; Col 1:20)
Think of the benefits we enjoy because of Christ’s death: forgiveness, a clear conscience, peace (shalom–well-being, wholeness), purpose, and ultimately eternal life in Heaven! All this is impossible apart from his death. And it is all activated by his death! (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 235)
Jesus is the only one who satisfies the Father, and therefore no one comes to Him except through Jesus. The idea that God accepts us as we are is utterly unbiblical. We come to Jesus just as we are, since there is nothing worthwhile we can bring. But He does not present us to the Father just as we are. We are totally unpresentable as we are. Otherwise we could present ourselves. When Jesus presents us to His Father, He presents us in Himself, as He is. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 239)
When the tax collector said, “be merciful,” he used the same word used of Christ in Heb 2:17 (“to make propitiation”). He was asking God to be propitious to him, to look favorable on him, though he did not deserve it. He was saying, “I confess my guilt. I have broken your law. I have sinned against you, and I am putting myself under the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat. God, please be satisfied. Let your attitude be toward me as it is toward those who are covered by the blood of the sacrifice. Be satisfied with me because of the sacrifice, and forgive me in effect. He recognized his guilt and put it under the blood of the sacrifice. He offered God nothing of his own–no good works, no good habits, no good intentions, not even good excuses. He simply threw himself on God’s mercy, God’s propitiation. For this he was justified, counted righteous by God. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 240)
The blood-shedding and exaltation of him who is our fellow man and our forerunner (2:14; 6:20) have opened the way for mankind into the shrine of God’s presence (4:14-16; 9:8; 10:19ff.); and the ultimate effect of the shedding of his blood of the new covenant will be the renewal of the universe, freed at last from sin, and filled with righteousness (12:28; Isa 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pt 3:13; Rv 21:1ff.; Acts 3:21; Rom 8:21). Such is the measure by which the former sacrifices are judged to have been surpassed by that better sacrifice which was offered once and forever by our great and eternal High Priest. (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 381-2)
Come, then, let us shake off these fears. We who know that our debt is paid would be foolish to be troubled about the debt, and we who know our sin is forgiven may have, should have, ought to have, peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. God will help me, I hope, to live more and more in the atmosphere of peace with God. (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 263)
Christ did not go into an earthly Holy of Holies. He went into the presence of God–the heavenly, real Holy of Holies. And He did it for us. How beautiful to realize that when He went in, He took us with Him! (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 240)
Our writer obviously has in mind the Day of Atonement and that moment when the Jewish high priest emerged from the tabernacle. When he went into the most holy place to present the blood offering, he wore white linen. But before he reappeared to the waiting crowd, he changed into his ornate garments of “glory and beauty.” See how this pictures the Lord’s work? When He entered the heavenly sanctuary via the cross, He wore only the “white linen” of his personal righteousness. Yet when He reappears to the world at His second coming, He will be clothed in His ROYAL GLORY! We shall then see Him as He is, the triumphant King of Kings and Lord of Lords! (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 207)
What is the reason that so few of God’s children can testify to the joy of entering in and having their abode here in the very presence of God? There can be but one answer, There is such a difference between being the heir of a promise and actually inheriting it. Each of the great words of our Epistle, as God’s gift to each one of His children, has an infinitude of meaning and blessing and power in it. Christ a Priest forever; the power of an endless life; He is able to sympathize, able to succor, able to save completely; the true sanctuary, the new covenant, the blood cleansing the heavens, cleansing the conscience,–all these are divine realities, with a power and a glory that the heart of man cannot conceive. It is only by faith and longsuffering that we inherit the promises. (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 321)
Tomorrow’s judgment is escapable because today’s sin is forgivable. (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 144)
Those who have never handed over their weight of sin to the Savior must face the judgment alone. Frankly, their tomorrow is bleak, and they have no sure foundation for a hope-filled life today. However, those of us who have been freed from sin and guilt have reason to rejoice. We can look forward with eagerness to that great homecoming, when Christ Himself will come to bring salvation–not judgment–to those who have accepted Him as Savior and received forgiveness of sin (9:28). (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 144)
Heidelberg Catechism: Question number 60 Q. How are you right with God?
- Only by true faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:21-28; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9; Phil 3:8-11).
Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all of God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them (Rom 3:9-10), and even though I am still inclined towards all evil (Rom 7:23), nevertheless, without my deserving it at all (Ti 3:4-5), out of sheer grace (Rom 3:24; Eph 2:8), God grants and credits to me the perfect salvation, righteousness, and holiness of Christ (Rom 4:3-5; Gn 15:6; 2 Cor 5:17-19; 1 Jn 2:1-2), as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me (Rom 4:24-25; 2 Cor 5:21).
All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart (Jn 3:18; Acts 16:30-31).
Q61. Why do you say that by faith alone you are right with God?
- It is not because of any value my faith has that God is pleased with me. Only Christ’s
satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness make me right with God (1 Cor 1:30-31). And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than by faith alone (Rom 10:10; 1 Jn 5:10-12).
Q62. Why can’t the good we do make us right with God, or at least help make us right with him?
- Because the righteousness which can pass God’s scrutiny must be entirely perfect and
must in every way measure up to the divine law (Rom 3:20; Col 3:10; Dt 27:26). Even the very best we do in this life is imperfect and stained with sin (Isa 64:6).
It is in fact more important for us to know what God did to Israel, to His Son Jesus Christ, than to seek what God intends for us today. The fact that Jesus Christ died is more important than the fact that I shall die, and the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead is the sole ground of my hope that I, too, shall be raised on the Last Day. Our salvation is “external to ourselves.” I find no salvation in my life history, but only in the history of Jesus Christ. Only he who allows himself to be found in Jesus Christ, in his incarnation, his Cross, and his resurrection, is with God and God with him. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 54)
Worship Point: Worship Christ if for no other reason than He was the only One qualified to atone for all the sins, for all people, for all time. Worship Him because He was willing to offer Himself as an atoning sacrifice because He loves us.
Gospel Application: Jesus’ blood is sufficient. Our salvation is secured by having faith in Jesus plus nothing else. PERIOD! There is no other name by which you may be saved. (Jn 14:6; Acts 4:12)
Since the penalty for sin is death, nothing but death, symbolized by shedding of blood, can atone for sin. We cannot enter into God’s presence by self-effort to be righteous. If we, on our own, could be good, we would not need atonement. Nor can we enter His presence by being model citizens or even by being religious. We cannot enter His presence by reading the Bible, by going to church, by giving generously to the Lord’s work, or even by praying. We cannot enter His presence by thinking good thoughts about Him. The only way we can enter into God’s presence, the only way we can participate in the New Covenant, is through the atoning death of Jesus Christ, made effective for us when we trust in Him as saving Lord. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 237-8)
God does not save us because of what we’ve done. Only a puny god could be bought with tithes. Only an egotistical god would be impressed with our pain. Only a temperamental god could be satisfied by sacrifices. Only a heartless god would sell salvation to the highest bidders.
And only a great God does for his children what they can’t do for themselves.
That is the message of Paul: “For what the law was powerless to do…God did.” (Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven, 29)
For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone. God accepts penalties which belong to man alone. (John Stott, The Cross of Christ) (Kenneth J. Collins, The Evangelical Moment, 50)
Two critical points of theology rest on Heb 9:22. First, sin is shown to be a terrible offense. It’s not simply a faux pas, an indiscretion, or a lapse of judgment. Sin is a heinous transgression against a holy God who deserves our absolute obedience. Second, atonement for sin is costly. God doesn’t wink at sin. To do so would be to compromise His perfect, holy character. When we commit an offense, He doesn’t simply shake his head and say, “Oh well, to err is human.” Because sin is a horrible offense against a holy God, atonement for sin is costly. The costliest thing in God’s creation is life. And an animal’s life is in the blood (Lv 17:11). Therefore, it necessarily follows that “without shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Heb 9:22). (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 142)
It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self: to Jesus: but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.” All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But, the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.” Remember, therefore, it is not your hold of Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope; look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “Looking unto Jesus.” Keep your eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon your mind; when you wake in the morning look to him; when you lie down at night look to him. Do not let your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail you. (Alistair Begg quoting Charles. H. Spurgeon in Pathway to Freedom, 228-9)
If you have any conditions then Jesus is not your King and you are not in the Kingdom. Because the thing that is the basis of your “if or when” of your salvation is your real salvation and King. You cannot say “Jesus I’ll follow you if . . . or “Jesus I’ll follow you when . . .” because the thing that is the if or when is your king and Lord . . . not Jesus. (Keith Porter after listening to Tim Keller)
The author emphasizes the singularity of this offering in contrast to the continual offering of the earthly priests. ONCE, never before, never again, ONCE, at the completion of the age Christ offered His own blood in an act of eternal and sensitive love. That is how much He and the One who sent Him loved us. No price was too much, so He paid the maximum; never could there be any doubt or question about the sufficiency of the payment. (Louis H. Evans, Jr., The Communicator’s Commentary: Hebrews, 162)
Forgiveness is a costly, costly thing. But I often think to myself how lightly we can take the forgiveness of God. (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 238)
Heidelberg Catechism questions 13-19
Q12. According to God’s righteous judgment we deserve punishment both in this world and forever after: how then can we escape this punishment and return to God’s favor?
- God requires that his justice be satisfied (Ex 23:7; Rom 2:1-22). Therefore the claims of his justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or another (Isa 53:11; Rom 8:3-4).
Q13. Can we pay this debt ourselves?
- Certainly not. Actually, we increase our guilt every day (Mat 6:12; Rom 2:4-5).
14Q. Can another creature—any at all—pay this debt for us?
- No. To begin with, God will not punish another creature for what a human is guilty of (Ezek 18:4, 20; Heb 2:14-18). Besides, no mere creature can bear the weight of God’s eternal anger against sin and release others from it (Ps 49:7-9; 130:3).
Q15. What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?
- One who is truly human (Rom 1:3; 1 Cor 15:21; Heb 2:17) and truly righteous (Isa 53:9; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26), yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God (Isa 7:14; 9:6; Jer 23:6; John 1:1).
Q16. Why must he be truly human and truly righteous?
- God’s justice demands that human nature, which has sinned, must pay for its sin (Rom 5:12, 15; 1 Cor 15:21; Heb 2:14-16); but a sinner could never pay for others (Heb 7:26-27; 1 Pt 3:18).
Q17. Why must he also be true God?
- So that, by the power of his divinity, he might bear the weight of God’s anger in his humanity and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life (Isa 53; Jn 3:16; 2 Cor 5:21).
Q18. And who is this mediator—true God and at the same time truly human and truly righteous?
- Our Lord Jesus Christ (Mt 1:21-23; Lk 2:11; 1 Tm 2:5), who was given us to set us completely free and to make us right with God (1 Cor 1:30).
Q19. How do you come to know this?
- The holy gospel tells me. God himself began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise (Gn 3:15); later, he proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs (Gn 22:18; 49:10) and prophets (Isa 53; Jer 23:5-6; Mic 7:18-20; Acts 10:43; Heb 1:1-2), and portrayed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law (Lv 1-7; Jn 5:46; Heb 10:1-10); finally, he fulfilled it through his own dear Son (Rom 10:4; Gal 4:4-5; Col 2:17).
A major part of the witness that we make to the world is the witness of no longer having anything left to protect. (Steve Brown; “The Vulnerability of Our Witness”, Gal 2:11-21)
Spiritual Challenge: Beware the sin of self-righteousness. It is opposed to faith in Jesus. Looking to Jesus as the Author and Perfecter of your faith will both empower and assure you in your faith.
The gift we give the world is our lack of self-righteousness. — Steve Brown
Self-righteousness repels the world from the gospel. — Steve Brown
Self-righteousness is the one sin if you have it you don’t know it. — Steve Brown
The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egoist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrill-seeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship.” The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.
The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.
The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-bye to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more. (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 43-44)
Lay your deadly doing down. Down at Jesus’ feet. Stand in Him alone. Gloriously complete. (Hymn “Nothing Either Great or Small”)
The sign of the Fall is our attraction to self-righteousness. (Steve Brown; “The Vulnerability of Our Witness”, Gal 2:11-21)
The main barrier between Pharisees and God is “not their sins, but their damnable good works.” (Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God, 77)
So What?: Your ability to live the Christian life with power, security, love and peace is in direct proportion to your basing your salvation on the work of Christ on the cross alone and not on self, man or things. Cheer up!
We need to ask ourselves if we have received a changed heart by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This sort of self-examination is a spiritually healthy thing to do. In fact, this is what the apostles often exhorted their readers to do (2 Cor 13:5; Phil 2:12; 2 Pt 1:5-11). The first order of business is to know our own souls. Are we trusting in the finished work of Christ alone for our salvation? Is there evidence of God’s grace in our lives? Are we growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-24), and in the virtues mentioned in Christ’s beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12)? (Thabiti M. Anyabwile, What is a Healthy Church Member?, 50-1)
The good news of the Gospel is founded upon Who Christ is and what He has done. Not upon who we are and what we have done. If you find yourself depressed or discouraged because you do not feel you can keep up this Christian life, then this is an indication that you are a slave to self-righteousness and you are counting on what you are and what you have done instead of Christ. Cheer up! You are a whole lot more sinful than you think. But cheer up! God is much more forgiving, gracious, merciful, and loving than we ever dreamed or imagined. — Pastor Keith
This implicit warning is leveled at those who might foolishly put off a decision to trust Christ as Savior or ignore the gospel in order to indulge in the pleasures of this world. The author ends this chapter, however, with a word of encouragement and hope for those who are believers in Christ. Our Savior “will appear a second time for salvation” (9:28). In the same vein, Paul notes that we “wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess 1:10). (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 143)
Service Orientation Reprise: Jesus’s work on the cross and the shedding of His blood set in motion an all-encompassing salvation that is incomprehensibly comprehensive.
If Jesus is not divine, He cannot have offered a sacrifice of infinite value for His people of the cross. He cannot be a Savior to save to the uttermost. He cannot be a Savior to fully satisfy the wrath of God. — W. Robert Godfrey
SAVES to the UTTERMOST