Once For All
Lord, I need to measure my giving by the self-giving of Christ, my sacrifice by the agony of his cross.
Read Hebrews 9:23-28
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
I cannot approach God as a consumer, seeking the offer that suits me best. I come as a fallen creature. Only one thing is offered, and that by grace.
The death of Christ was “once for all” (26). This simple phrase encapsulates the Gospel and underlines key issues for today’s reading. The Day of Atonement provides the setting. Christ offered himself as an eternally effective sacrifice just once, not year by year. Unlike the high priest, Christ had no need to sacrifice for his own sin; his offering was solely for others. All may now approach “heaven itself” (24) with him as the one mediator. “At the end of the ages” (26) his death and entry into heaven provide the vital element which the old covenant lacked, but to which it pointed.
The phrase “once for all” challenges many human assumptions and philosophies. It challenges our pride, because sin is so serious that Christ had to die for it. Forgiveness has been achieved, and there is nothing we can add! It is for all, so there is no other way. The uniqueness of Christ and the finality of his work on the cross are contested in many societies today, but they are essential to a Christian understanding. An objective salvation has been won, and there can be no multi-choice alternatives! It is for all: no church can be content with not evangelizing whole sectors of society or parts of culture. It is the basis of the most critical encounter each human being will experience–because we die once, and after that face judgment (27). There is no reincarnation; we are given the one life only and we are accountable for what we do with it.
This chapter ends with a promise, not a warning. The emphasis is that Christ has done all that is necessary to sustain those who wait for him, and then to bring them the full salvation he has secured.
“Tolerant” societies are intolerant of exclusive claims. How do you handle claims that your faith is “intolerant”? Are you confident in your faith? Why or why not?
Gracious Lord, it is so much easier to go along with the world to get along in the world. Empower me to be counter-cultural when I need to be and stand strong for You.
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