Monday, June 28, 2010

A Considerate Sequel to Hebrews

After some consideration and meditation on the topic I previously addressed in “A Considerate Look Into Hebrews” I felt it was useful and necessary to speak about the second trouble passage in this epistle. Hebrews 6:4-9 has been used by many teachers to promote 'conditional salvation' or 'falling away' and its partner tends to be Hebrews 10:26-31 especially, with the latter portion of chapter 10 altogether. In that regard, I would like to begin examining carefully and prayerfully Hebrews chapter 10, beginning with verse 19 and working our way toward verse 39 in an effort to expound the true meaning of the passage, and perhaps convince otherwise Bible-believing, God-fearing Christians that their eternal salvation is in no way dependent or incumbent on our conduct; it is entirely a work of grace, entirely a gift of God. Believers are entirely kept by the power and preservation of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. God willing we will progress, and shed light I pray on some well intentioned but Scripturally inaccurate teachings regarding salvation's retention.

The first and most important point to make is this: either salvation's retention is entirely our responsibility, entirely God's responsibility, or a fusion of both parties. We can discard the third option out of hand even if it were so; the reason being is that God cannot fail and is eternally faithful: therefore His end of the bargain would always be secure. Only our end would suffer the anxiety of ignorant or willful loss. To that end, it is no different than saying salvation's retention is entirely our responsibility. Left with only one of two choices, let us proceed to see what the Bible—our only authority in faith and practice—has to tell us about the nature and condition of Jesus Christ's salvation.

Hebrews 10:19-25
[19] Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,
[20] by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,
[21] and having a High Priest over the house of God,

The Holy of Holies was the inner chamber of the temple where the Ark of the Covenant dwelt between the cherubim. Only the High Priest was allowed within during Old Testament times, and then only with sacrificial blood to offer for the sins of the people, including himself. The previous chapter explained this in detail: that entry into the true Holiest of All was not permitted while the earthly tabernacle was standing, and the efficacious blood of Christ had not yet been shed for sin. Jesus opened the way for us with the offering of Himself. His flesh, the shedding of blood for the remission of sins, allowed Old Testament saints to leave Paradise in Hades and come into the presence of God; while New Testament saints will be immediately with Christ upon death—not soul sleep or annihilation. We also, the saints still on this earth, have boldness of access to the Father through the Holiest in prayer and fellowship since we have 'put on Christ' are 'in Christ' have been 'washed by Christ's blood,' and are 'born of the Spirit.' Our boldness is not in ourselves at all, but in the One who first shed His blood to die for us and now sits as our great High Priest in heaven to intercede and plead the merit of His blood for us.

Animal sacrifice could never remove the stain of sin, but instead was a reminder of it. The worshiper nonetheless approached God through the blood of animals, foreshadowing the great event of the cross in which God would deal with sin once and eternally. The Old Testament saints were saved in anticipation of this great historical event; New Testament saints are saved by its enduring reality. Christ died for our sins, and accomplished forever what animal blood could not hope to remove, Hebrews 10:1-10. Verse 10 concludes that we have been sanctified (that is, set apart) by the will of God forever, or once for all. The repetition of the Old Testament sacrifices revealed their inability to save; the sufficiency of the salvation Jesus Christ wrought was testified to by the fact He did it once for all; the singular act reveals the perfection of the sacrifice. There is a great hymn written on this subject entitled “I Am Not Skilled to Understand,” by Dora Greenwell. One verse states: “Yes, living, dying, let me bring my strength, my solace from this spring; That He who lives to be my King once died to be my Savior.” The writer of Hebrews states, “For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,” Hebrews 2:11. We have a High Priest sympathetic with our weakness, which is both fitting and essential for us, as we are still in the flesh and susceptible to sin.
To be Continued.

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