It is Settled

When we lived in Calgary, our home was located in one of the city’s most coveted neighbourhoods. People drove nice cars and many lived in massive homes. The sad part of living in a community like that is when people would come home, they would drive into their garages and you would never see them again.

Most of us like to live a settled life. We like to have a place that we can call home and to which we can safely retreat at the end of a long day. We like to know that we will receive a paycheck on a particular day, and we do not like to guess how much it will be worth. We want to drive a dependable car, and we can become frustrated if the computer network or our Internet goes down.

While some might think that this quest for settledness makes life boring, the truth is, who wants everything to be unpredictable? Even more important than settledness in this life is the matter of having our eternal destiny settled. Some of the upsets of this life may be consequential, but the worst of them cannot compare to the dangers of an unsettled eternal future.

But we do not need to live in this kind of fear. If we receive the truth of the all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ, which He accomplished on the Cross, we can have security. This truth is put forward in Hebrews 10. It stresses the finality of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. The context of the book of Hebrews treats the supremacy of Jesus Christ over the ways of the Old Covenant.

The author shows how Jesus fulfilled the law, particularly those ceremonial aspects of it. In Hebrews 10, the writer argues that the effectiveness of animal sacrifices for removing sin contrasted with the effectiveness of Christ’s offering for sin shows how ineffective the old system was. In verses 11-18, he argues for the finality of Christ’s offering, the all-sufficient sacrifice that provides, for the believer in Christ, a settled confidence that his or her sin is forgiven.

The finality of Christ’s sacrifice is seen in many contrasts with the sacrifices offered under the Levitical law. First, His work is finished. The Old Testament priest stood continuously offering sacrifices. When you read Leviticus, you get a picture of just how complicated the work of the priest was. There are twenty-two different Hebrew terms for sacrifices to be offered, and they each had particular procedures to be observed and significance to be understood. These sacrifices were repeated periodically for both individuals and the nation of Israel. And so each day brought its share of ongoing work for the priest. It is interesting to see the imagery the writer presents with having Jesus seated. To me, this shows the work Jesus set out to do is finished. There is nothing more for him to do in terms of sacrifice.

Secondly, His work stands forever. In other words, nothing ever needs to be added. The Levitical priest’s work had to be repeated because it did not have a final effect on sin. Jesus’ one sacrifice stands forever, the final word on the matter of sin. The Day of Atonement was an annual event but Jesus’ atoning death was effective for all time.

Thirdly, His work was final in that it achieved its intended outcome: the forgiving of our sin. The sacrifices of the Old Covenant were not capable of taking away sin. Though established by God as part of the ceremonial law, they were ineffectual in themselves. But the sacrifice of Jesus takes away sin once and for all. His work produces a permanent effect. Our sin has been cleansed. The past, present and future… all dealt with on the Cross!

So what effect did Jesus’ actions have on sin? Because the sacrifice of Christ is final and permanent in its character, those who have faith in Him experience three effects of his work. Firstly, the salvation we receive is eternal. The author speaks of this as being sanctified or set apart to God. Although sanctification usually speaks of our growth as Christians, here the term speaks of a past action with an enduring result, namely, the whole of our salvation in Christ. This salvation is according to God’s will, which relates to the purpose of Jesus’ taking on human flesh. As I mentioned earlier, this salvation is complete and there is nothing that we can add to it.

Secondly, that He will see ultimate victory over His foes. Seated in the place of honour at the right hand of God the Father, Jesus awaits the day for the finality of Satan’s and his minions’ eternal incarceration. This expectation is in fulfillment of Psalm 110. When that comes, every knee will bow and every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord. Satan was defeated at the Cross and his existence will only continue until all of God’s plan comes to fruition.

Thirdly, that we may experience forgiveness of our sins. In abbreviated fashion, the author here quotes the New Covenant announced by the prophet Jeremiah. Particularly emphasized here is Jeremiah 31:34, a promise that God would forgive the sins of His people. Jeremiah writes: “And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” This forgiveness is not the oversight of a doting, weak-willed grandparent. Rather, it is grounded in the one final offering of Christ. Because the sacrificial death of Christ is sufficient to cleanse sin, there is no need for further sacrifice. There is no need to “try harder” because the work has been done!

To say that our sins are remembered no more is to say that they are no longer held against us. The dismissal of charges is possible only because the perfect, final sacrifice for sin was offered in our place, the righteous in the place of the unrighteous so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Although we still go through challenges in this life, we can have the assurance that our standing with God is settled. Jesus did it, I accept it, now live it!

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