Agonizomai: Heb 9:11-14 - Christ - The Heavenly Sacrifice

Friday, February 12, 2010

Heb 9:11-14 - Christ - The Heavenly Sacrifice

Heb 9:11-14 - Christ - The Heavenly Sacrifice

Heb 9:11-14 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Previously we mentioned the summing up of all things in the finished work of Christ. Here we are reminded that Christ is the high priest of the good things that have come. In the gospel age, it is not a matter of looking forward to a reconciliation with God, but of experiencing it through faith. It is no longer future, but present. To be sure, the saints all have been saved, are being saved and will be saved - so there are temporal aspects - but it is all one salvation. Reconciliation is manifested once in regeneration and adoption, over time in sanctification and at the end as glorification.

But the common thread is faith. Our faith is in God and what God has done in Christ And we can be assured that even the things of salvation which are future to us are the outworking of God’s eternal decrees, which cannot be broken.

The Hebrews, on the other hand, had looked forward by faith, often not having a clear picture, but trusting in the God of mercy and of the promise. Their blood sacrifices had to be mixed with faith. The blood of animals had no power or persuasive effect upon God. They were symbolic of "the good things that have come". They were symbolic of what God would do to appease himself, and not of what they could to appease him.

Redemption is both now and eternal. Eternal life starts at the moment of regeneration. {John 11:25-26} It is spiritual life from God. The body is still under the sentence of death and the resurrection and glorification of the body will be the last manifestation of God’s glorious accomplishment in Christ on behalf of his people. But we are accepted now because he has offered up the eternal sacrifice by his Own blood (representing his life) and right now he is in the holy of holies in heaven - in the presence of God - representing us. He is just and righteous and therefore we are accepted as just and righteous. He is the federal head of all those who are in him through faith.

Some might be confused by verse 13, which does not say that the blood of goats and bulls actually sanctified anyone. It says if people were purified by such sacrifices, it was only outwardly - what is called "the purification of the flesh". But purification of the flesh, if there was such a thing, was of no avail in appeasing God, who is Spirit. All human flesh has corrupted itself. Our carnal bodies are the instruments of our fallen hearts and are polluted in ways that are uncountable. Even our minds do not work righteously.

Only faith apprehending truth (the Word of God) by the Spirit can please God - and it does so for Jesus’ sake. So animal blood is a shadow of the blood of the Lamb of God. The former is of the earth, but the latter is of heaven. The one was part of an outward system of symbolism and the other is the reality of eternity.

This is the continued theme of the superiority of Christ over the system of Moses - repeated and repeated so that the Hebrews will never consider giving up the real for the shadow - of returning to the lesser from the greater.

The "dead works" referred to here harken from verse 9 {Heb 9:9} because those gifts and sacrifices were imperfect, and only the perfect could purify the conscience from dead works to serve the Living God. Christ alone, rightly believed - and God alone in Christ rightly trusted - can assure the soul of eternal reconciliation and peace. Christ believed is salvation from the living death of lostness. Christ believed is sanctification in the present circumstance. Christ believed is the assurance of the ultimate redemption of our bodies and their eternal glorification.

So Christ’s work was only partly in the body. His work was also in the realm of the Spirit. He came as a man and conquered sin and death through the eternal Spirit. He vanquished the forces of death and darkness and put the devils to an open shame. Had He not been 100% human He could not have acted on our behalf and so He walked as any man ought to walk. But it all had to be accomplished through the power of God (by the Spirit, through faith). Since Christ was never regenerated, it follows that He never needed to be. He was human, but not a son of Adam. He was Son of God taking on humanity.


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