The comparisons that were made in the letter of Hebrews under the premise that everything related to Christ was “better” spoke to those who recognized the legitimacy of that which was connected to the old covenant. Now, if you miss the crucial distinction that Hebrews was written to Jews and not to Gentiles, you’re going to misunderstand most of what is contained in its pages. The fact that it was addressed to someone other than you doesn’t mean that it’s not applicable. Far from it. The reality is that if the basic premise of Hebrews was to be rewritten in today’s world, it would not be addressed to the Hebrews, but to some form of the modern Christian culture. And it wouldn’t be dealing with the blood of bulls and goats, but with one of a few different issues that would have many Christians either squirming in their pews or else making accusations about sacrilege or blasphemy. In the second half of this audio, Adam and I going to discuss how our modern day practice of confession may fit the bill.
I don’t think we realize how pervasive the legal mindset within the Christian religion is. There is such a blindness concerning this that many Christians think legalism is a rare thing, especially among themselves. I think that’s why many preachers and teachers only touch on the topic of grace and/or legalism once every so often — like the once-a-year “Grace” series my former pastor used to teach for a month’s worth of Sunday evenings. After all, you know how too much grace leads to sin, don’t you? He put it on the schedule just to make sure he was being Biblically responsible to teach “the whole counsel of God.”
Last week, you said the relation between ‘just penalty’ and ‘severer punishment’ should be OBVIOUS. However I am not sure that it is all that obvious! lol
Well, the obviousness I referred to had to do with the sense of justice as understood by any who are familiar with the law. The just penalty speaks of that which is deserved, and the same holds true for the severer punishment, for it alludes to a severer judgment for a severer offense — as in that popular phrase “Let the punishment fit the crime.” Are you following me there?
People are still asking both the question “what IS this SEVERER punishment?” and more importantly WHO is it directed at? You said, “Whose view does it describe?” Well it would describe the person who was convinced of God’s wrath through the agency of Law as being BIGGER than anything having to do with Christ. Thats as far as I can see it. The problem we get into is we can’t conceive just what WOULD be severer? We focus on THAT instead of the fact that Christ was being shown once again as BETTER here too.[or at least a bigger deal than the law]
Keep in mind that this speaks to those who are under the Law, which means that we’re going to understand it because most of us were raised in at least the shadow of that Law. And you know what? Most Christian teaching seeks to convince us that we are still subject to it. Anyhow, the perception of those under the Law understand and agree with the premise that the punishment should fit the crime.
Adam: If I understand it right,Those Hebrews were STILL thinking in terms of severe punishment for the breaking of the law. They were still living as if indebted to the false authority of it. For the true authority came through the Son. They were setting Him aside. They were arguing the concept of punishment. How do I know? The fact that they took this sacrifice stuff so seriously. Sacrifice has EVERYTHING to do with severe punishment.[from God] Being stoned for breaking any command is way out there scary stuff.
For sure. But let’s take this a step farther, for according to the Hebrew mind that wavered between the Law and Christ, not only would they understand the sentence of death for setting aside Moses’ Law, but they also would have recognized that according to the same principle it would have to be far worse to set aside the one who fulfilled their own Law. In other words, the writer confronted them with the Law’s demands concerning both aspects. That’s what I mean when I ask, Whose view does this describe? That’s right, the concept of a severer punishment makes sense inside the legal mind, not by the sound mind we have in Christ. The purpose of the writer in this was to destroy the delusion that there might be some added benefit in seeking after daily forgiveness through the sacrifices of the old covenant when in fact those sacrifices made a mockery of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice.
Realize that nothing of this is ours in Christ. No, it speaks to those who struggle with the sin-conscious mind so as to say, Look at the logical conclusion of their brand of forgiveness because it all leads to judgment!
Romans 4:15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.
Where else do we imagine that a just penalty might make sense other than within the framework that allows for violations, and therefore, wrath?
Romans 8:1 No condemnation for those who are in Christ
Hebrews 10:10-18 Sanctified once for all. Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. It is in Christ, in the Son. Those who have entered his rest have escaped from the prison of sin and sacrifice.
Medicine Man (Sean Connery): Which is worse?
1) Living under the fear of cancer with the possibility that a cure might be found (Cursed, but with an illusion of hope)
2) Discovering the cure for cancer only to discard it before being able to use it (Cursed, knowing you discarded the only possibility of hope)
Consider a modern-day version of Hebrews written to the professing Christian church in view of one of its most revered offerings for sin: CONFESSION. You see, it’s easy for us to look back, and maybe even look down upon those stupid believers among the Hebrews who would fall for something that should have been so obvious as imagining that animal sacrifices might provide some extra measure of forgiveness for their daily lives. Tell me if you can’t see how different it sounds to even consider that your confession ritual might be comparable to their animal sacrifices.
Those who are pulled into this sin-conscious ritual are forced into a fear based sin-cycle that seems to offer a measure of hope through this add-on forgiveness. What do you suppose makes our modern-day ritual any different than what the continuing animal sacrifices were for the Hebrews?
The Bible verse — 1 John 1:9 — seems to legitimize our confession ritual. Did the Hebrews not also fall for the same sense of Biblical authority in pursuing something more with the ongoing animal sacrifices?
Even among “grace teachers” who hold to the 1 John 1:9 approach, a non-Biblical distinction must be enforced between the forgiveness for salvation, that which is often referred to as positional or judicial forgiveness and a forgiveness which concerns fellowship, often referred to as relational or familial forgiveness. Consider the following statements taken from an answer to the question: “Why do we need to confess our sins if they have already been forgiven (1 John 1:9)?”
“Positional” forgiveness, or judicial forgiveness, is that which is obtained by every believer in Christ. In our position as members of the body of Christ, we have been forgiven of every sin we have ever committed or ever will commit. The price paid by Christ on the cross has satisfied God’s wrath against sin, and no further sacrifice or payment is necessary. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it. Our positional forgiveness was obtained then and there.
Confession of sin will help to keep us from the discipline of the Lord. If we fail to confess sin, the discipline of the Lord is sure to come until we do confess it. As stated previously, our sins are forgiven at salvation (positional forgiveness), but our daily fellowship with God needs to stay in good standing (relational forgiveness). Proper fellowship with God cannot happen with unconfessed sin in our lives. Therefore, we need to confess our sins to God as soon as we are aware that we have sinned, in order to maintain close fellowship with God. (http://www.gotquestions.org/confession-forgiveness.html)
God has already judged the old creation in Christ, revealing that there is no hope for it. God judged those who are not believing as condemned to the prison of their own making.
John 3:16-21 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only born Son, that every one believing in him perish not, but have eternal life. For God sent not his Son into the world that he judge the world; but that the world might be saved through him. He believing in him is not judged: and he not believing has been already judged, because he has not believed in the name of the only born Son of God. And this is the judgment, that light has come into the world, and men rather loved darkness than light, for their works were evil. For every one doing bad things hates the light, and he comes not to the light, lest his works should be rebuked. But he doing the truth comes to the light, that his works might be manifested, that they are wrought in God. (SLT)
Of course, we’ve terribly misconstrued this passage — like most others — to make it fit into our fleshly religious framework. The judgment remains upon the mind of flesh, it is gone in Christ. What is the judgment? That men loved darkness rather than the light. It is only within the fleshly or natural mind that esteems such a judgment as insufficient, and it is this mind of darkness that demands an ultimate judgment of everlasting hellfire.
Consider how this might tie into what Paul wrote to the Romans:
Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
First, recognize the placement of this passage in relation to the whole letter, which is after all the heavy duty foundation of our true reality in Christ, our having died to sin and made alive in Christ. Here, Paul starts this passage by calling his audience to regard this matter of vengeance in view of the wisdom into which he has made us alive. This is the meaning of “be of the same mind toward one another.”
Taking one’s own revenge is understood according to fleshly reason, aka the mind of man. It is only within this mind, this perception that men think they understand God’s vengeance, God’s judgment … but it is not according to this reason that we can see anything of God’s judgment. We may think it makes sense to pay back evil for evil, but the mind of Christ totally throws that reason out the window.