I remember when one of our members was heading up the effort on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention to witness to Jewish people. But there had been a firestorm of protest, both from the Jews and even Christians. The chairman of the religion department of a Christian university said, “To target Jews for proselytizing makes no sense unless you assume their religion is bankrupt.” To which this member wisely replied, “I wish I could say it doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. The problem is that people like Adolf Hitler were sincere, but sincerely misguided. Today’s society values tolerance more than truth. If Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the father except through me,’ do I have the right to say, ‘Jesus you made a mistake’? To change what God has said is the height of arrogance.”
The religion department chairman was right in one way. The only reason to witness and to proselytize people of other faiths is if their religion is bankrupt. And Hebrews 9:15 tells us that Judaism and every other religion in the world is bankrupt in its ability to pay for my sin.
That is why the death of Christ was necessary. No matter what you have done, Christ’s blood is sufficient to cleanse you from your sin.
There are three timeless principles we can learn from Hebrews 9:15-28.
1. Our forgiveness is costly.
One of the greatest lies being taught today is that God accepts you just as you are. That even though we are not perfect, God overlooks our imperfection. No, He doesn’t. God cannot accept you and me like we are. 1 John 1:5 tells us that God is a holy God who can have no fellowship with sin.
Our sin could not just be overlooked. God’s holiness and justice demanded that someone pay for our sin. Our sin is so serious that it necessitated the death of God’s own Son.
That is why no one who is truly saved can ever treat sin lightly. To profess to receive God’s grace and then sin without thought indicates a misunderstanding of grace.
2. God’s redemption is complete.
As someone has said, “For 2,000 years people have being trying to nail a sign to the cross of Jesus Christ saying ‘Necessary, but Not Enough.’” They are trying to add to what Christ did for our salvation. It’s faith in Christ plus baptism, good works, church membership, and so on. But Hebrews 9:26 says Christ has “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” PERIOD! There is nothing else to be added.
3. Our salvation is incomplete.
That may seem like a contradiction of what I just said, but it isn’t. Although we have been completely forgiven, we have not yet been completely saved. The best is yet to come. Hebrews 9:28 says, “So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
When the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to sacrifice for the people’s sin, the people would anxiously wait outside the holy place for his return. When he appeared, they breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that his sacrifice had been accepted. That is the allusion here.
Christ is in the true Holy of Holies now—in the presence of God Himself. But one day He is going leave the Holy Place and return to earth again. Why? He has some unfinished business. When He comes the second time it won’t be to save us from our sin. He did that the first time. When He comes again, it will be to save us, to deliver us from the problems, the conflicts, the sickness, and the sadness of this life.
It is that future salvation that Peter writes about in his first epistle when he describes our salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. “In this you greatly rejoice even though now for a little while you have been distressed by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6).
I think about that verse when I listen to families discuss the problems that are tearing their homes apart; as I pray with those in our hospitals; as I wrote to a young man who was paralyzed in a freak accident, never to walk again; as I stood by the open grave of some of our godliest members. Peter knew what he was talking about—in this world you will be distressed by various trials.
But the Word of God promises there is a better day coming. And it is the promise Jesus had in mind when He said, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. For I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and take you unto myself, that where I am, you may be also.”