Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Considerate Sequel to Hebrews, Part 6

Hebrews 10:36-39
[36] For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
[37] “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
[38] Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
[39] But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

To overview chapter 10: verses 1-4 describe the insufficiency of animal sacrifice. While animal sacrifice was established to atone or “cover” sin, it perpetuated the memory of man's sinful state before a holy God and anticipation of sin's removal. It was prophesied that the Messiah, the Christ would come and do just that. Verses 5-10 provide the framework for this, quoting Psalm 40:6-8 and applying it to the coming advent of Jesus Christ who would be born as Savior. The Jews knew that the sacrifice of an animal would atone for them; they were saved from their sins by shed blood, Leviticus 17:11. Now a man was born who would save them from their sins by abolishing the system of works in Judaism and establishing a new covenant ratified in His own blood. The offering of Christ before the Father was efficacious once for all.

Verses 11-18 declare the outcome of this change in God's dealings. Christ's work on earth was accomplished and then He ascended into heaven and sat down; a feat impossible for a priest on earth to do, since there was always an offering for sin to be made. Christ finished with sin by slaying it on the cross, and has perfected forever anyone who has faith in Him. The Holy Spirit applies Jeremiah 31:33-34. In essence He is stating “the covenant I will make with them after those days” was accomplished in Christ. When the Hebrew Christians turned from sacrifice and temple service to the living, risen Christ, their sins were finally and utterly dealt with, as God said: “Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.” The writer concludes that when there is remission of sin, there is no other offering for it. There is no need; Jesus finished our salvation on Calvary, and in God's eyes we are already seated with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:6.

Verses 19-25 remind the believer what has been accomplished on our behalf, and what we freely have access to. The writer goes on to apply this new way of approach to God in practical terms: since we have such hope let us not waver, for our hope is in Christ and His accomplishment which cannot fail; it has already been accepted. This revelation should compel us to charity and good works, and it should also supply the common bond that threads the church of Jesus Christ together. We are to gather as a church for worship, exhortation, and fellowship for comfort and edification. The organism (not the institution) of the church on earth is the visible body of the glorified and risen Christ. We have such a position due to our High Priest over the house of God.

Verses 26-31 comprise a grave warning for those who, after receiving the truth, return to their former conduct and abandon the confession and hope of their faith. It was so with the Jewish Christians who were tempted to return to the system of sacrifice as though our Lord and Savior did not have everything that we need for life and godliness. Indignation and judgment await the believer. Not a judgment of salvation, for we have been justified already by Christ's offering; rather a judgment on our works and life lived after being saved. The Law of Moses is applied to warn believers that the temporal law given on Sinai brought swift and stern consequences for its infraction. Physical death was the penalty. The writer declares to the wavering Hebrew Christians that there is a fate worse than death. Death was a punishment meted out in the Old Testament; loss of all reward is the punishment of the New Testament era. Again, to anyone who scoffs at this, consider entering Heaven stripped of reward, but entering instead by the skin of your teeth, through fire as it were, 1st Corinthians 3:15. If anyone wishes to meddle with God's words and add to them, that is their business, but on my part I have warned you.
To be Concluded.

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