Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Brief Guide to Hebrews, 10:1-39

This chapter has two parts.  The first finishes the section (8:1-10:18) on the significance of Christ’s sacrifice which inaugurated the New Covenant.  The second works out the implications of Christ’s sacrifice for our lives (10:19-39).  The law was not able to bring spiritual transformation in a clean conscience; the sacrifices did not clean the internal stain of human sin.  Christ’s sacrifice accomplishes what the law and the sacrifices could not.  Thus, Christ’s sacrifice is unique because his offering was obedience and his own blood (10:1-18).  Obedience is what God always desired and this is what makes Jesus’ sacrifice applicable to everyone and effective for anyone.  Salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone because his sacrifice is utterly unique.  Because of this, we have the full assurance of faith to obey God in love (10:19-26).  But we must be careful not to reject it through continuing in sin (10:27-31).  This is the fourth warning of Hebrews and among the most difficult to unpack.  The warning is that to continue in sin with knowledge of the gospel is to be worthy of God’s judgment.  Unrepentant habitual disobedience reveals that one has rejected the gospel and is not a Christian.  However just like before, the writer of Hebrews trusts his readers are not those people (10:32-39).  Regardless of the positive characteristics he has seen they must continue to endure by faith.
The Implications of Christ’s unique sacrifice
Hebrews is not simply arguing for the superiority of Jesus Christ to Judaism, but to all religions and worldviews.  If salvation from the human condition and access to God can not be achieved through moral or spiritual accomplishments, then no religious devotion is good enough.  Christ’s sacrifice is “once for all,” (Heb. 10:10).  He offered his body up “for all time,” (10:12).  “By a single offering he has perfected for all time” those who are being saved (10:14).  The finality and sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice not only makes the old covenant sacrifices obsolete, it also means salvation is found in Christ alone.  The uniqueness of Christ’s sacrifice is what makes its reach so universal.  The hardest message to communicate today regarding Christianity (and the same one that got Christians martyred in the early church) is that Jesus Christ is the only savior.  He is not just the savior for Jews, but also for gentiles.  There is a plethora of reasons why people, and even Christians, do not want to believe this.  How can Jesus be the only way when he has not revealed himself to all?  God chooses whom he wills (Rom. 9).  Nevertheless, Paul argues this is why God saved us and called us to evangelism (Rom. 10).  How can all these good people who are so devoted to another faith be wrong?  Their problem is not just moral, but spiritual.  No one is righteous and no one does what is good (Rom. 3).  At the same time, God alone is the judge; he will judge people according to the light they have received (Rom. 2:12-16), and he will do this in light of who Jesus is.  Is it not arrogant to say you are saved and not any other person?  One has not understood Christian salvation if it has become a source of pride and not humility.  We are saved not by knowing more, or doing more, or by being good, but by grace alone through faith alone (Eph. 2:8-10) which enables us to do good.

No comments:

Post a Comment