A Meditation on Hebrews 10:14
Hebrews 10:14, beginning with the signal word "for" offers a summary of the passage that has come before it. After Hebrews 10:14, the author of this book gives additional proof for the veracity of the conclusion reached in this verse. Therefore, when viewed in context, Hebrews 10:14 is a key verse in understanding the doctrine proclaimed in this portion of Scripture -that is- the superiority of Christ's work as the ultimate High Priest in contrast to the pre-Christian high priests of national Israel.
The Situation BC
Until the time of Christ, the priests of Israel offered sacrifices "year by year" to make atonement for sins. The same sacrifices were repeated again and again, and yet people were never cleansed from their sins by 'em, "otherwise, would they have not ceased to be offered?" But- as sound reason should dictate- "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." For what does the death of a bull have to do with a person's standing before God? If we have all broken God's commandments and are guilty before His holiness, as our own consciences and the Scriptures declare, then how can killing goats make us innocent in His sight? Surely these sacrifices that He commanded were meant to point our attention to something else- something much greater: infinitely greater- than animal sacrifices, something that actually accomplishes the purpose of saving people from their sins.
The Ultimate High Priest
The Good News of the Christian faith is that Jesus is the ultimate High Priest offering the ultimate sacrifice- that of His own body- to bring salvation from sin. Notice how the verse under consideration proclaims this Good News, directly contrasting the work of Jesus with the former, ultimately ineffectual, sacrificial system. The priests used to offer many offerings, but Jesus offered "one offering." The sacrifices that the priests made could never secure a peoples' standing with God, but Jesus "has perfected" His people.
Some False Doctrines Refuted By This Verse
Many current religious systems are proven to be unbiblical by the clear teaching of Hebrews 10:14. Consider the Roman Catholic idea that in the Mass the body of Christ is broken again and again, being "re-presented" for sacrifice. The teaching that by "one offering [Jesus] has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" annihilates this blasphemy. Or think of the teaching, present in Roman Catholicism and in many religious systems, that those who have been once sanctified can then lose their salvation. The finality of this verse- that, again, Jesus' work on the Cross "has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" utterly destroys this attack on Christian assurance, and gives us confidence in our hope found in Christ alone.
An Additional Consideration
This verse also speaks to issue of who were the intended beneficiaries of Christ's work. For some people would have us imagine that when Jesus died on the Cross, He was hoping (contrary to fact) that every person ever to live would be perfected by His work: that He was providing the potential for everyone to be saved. But this verse declares that there were very specific beneficiaries for whom the death of Jesus actually achieved pefection "for all time." These beneficiaries are named as the "sanctified:" a term meaning the "set apart ones."
Jesus provided a particular sacrifice [His body on the Cross] providing a particular benefit [eternal perfection] to a particular people [those who have been set apart]. Any teaching that tries to add to this sacrifice, to take away from this benefit, or to name different beneficiaries is an unbiblical teaching that obscures the Good News of the work of Jesus Christ.
Glory to God alone
[The above blogpost was originally published on 12/7/05.]