If you are a person who has started to come into a deeper understanding of God’s grace and the finished work of Jesus on the cross you may still come across scriptures that seem to contradict grace. What we must remember about the Word of God is that it is not like a text book that lies out step by step, naturally formulated concepts. Instead, it is more like a puzzle that can only come together as the Holy Spirit supernaturally reveals how the pieces perfectly fit together. God, in His wisdom, knew that His Word written like a text book would not have the power to create change in a person’s heart. It would only be understood at the logical level which cannot change someone from the inside out. We have all the data in the world to prove that smoking is harmful and dangerous to our health, yet people still choose to smoke because logically received information tells us what and how something can or will take place but does not transform the heart to necessarily change.
We live at the heart level; so we do what our hearts believe. The book of Proverbs says, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” For the scripture to come alive it must be revealed at the heart level by the Holy Spirit working in us. God designed it that way so that when we uncover scripture two things will happen. We will stay connected to Him through the Holy Spirit and our heart will receive the truth as it is revealed instead of being logically understood. Because of God’s design of how truth is discovered it has the power to change us at the heart level, where all of life comes from. We are what our heart believes we are. God’s Word revealed by the Holy Spirit changes and transforms us from the inside-out causing our new supernaturally formed beliefs to produce new productive fruit in our lives! God was never trying to keep truth away from us but make it where truth had to be revealed to the heart in order to impact us and transformed us.
With this understanding we realize this is the reason we still have so many different believes, doctrines and ideas of what Scripture teaches. People’s hearts our all at various places to what they are open to receive. Unfortunately, we get stuck often in our current belief system and begin to read all Scripture through that current filter. We must learn to take off the filters to be able to allow God to reveal further truth to us; otherwise we get stuck and retard our spiritual growth.
When we study Scripture there are a few ground rules to have as boundaries. Please forgive me for a moment as I lay them out and possibly bore you, but they are important for us to fully understand in order to be able to continue this series of blogs on harmonizing difficult scriptures with grace.
- Scripture interprets scripture. God’s word does not contradict but comes together like a puzzle. Therefore, we do not have to deny certain books of the Bible or context of scripture that are written. It will all come together as we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal how it all fits together.
- Every doctrine must be built on two or three witnesses and be understood in context. We cannot form sound beliefs from one Scripture that is pulled out of context or is only mentioned one time in the Bible.
- We must understand to whom, where, when and what the writer was addressing. All things are correctly recorded but not all things apply to us even though we can still learn from it. For example, there is plenty of Scripture that was written to the Jewish nation that does not apply to us today.
- We must understand the order of times and the fulfillment of them to understand what God was trying to accomplish during those times. For example, we are no longer under the Old Covenant Law today to attempt to have right-standing with God.
- All doctrine must past the test of the cross. Jesus was the fulfillment of all God did through scripture prior to that. He is the last one to get credit and glory and the only One who gets it. If what we belief causes us to fight to take some of the credit back in our acceptance with God, God using us, or God blessing us, we have become competitors of the cross. No flesh shall glory but our glory shall be in the Lord. You have nothing to do, good or bad, with God’s favor and if what you belief causes you to think so, you have accepted a lie. Paul laid this out when he wrote, “I have determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Paul understood all beliefs had to past this test.
With all this laid out let us take on our first difficult scripture in this series of blogs.
“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for our sins. But a certain fearful expectation of Judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
On the surface, this seems to contradict the grace that the New Covenant teaches. But in reality this context of scripture further proves New Covenant grace. First, who was the book of Hebrews written too? They were Hebrews, of course, who were Jewish Christians that had accepted Jesus and came into the Christian faith. The writer of Hebrews was attempting to bring correction to something they were still practicing that no longer applied. We will cover what that was at the end of the blog.
Throughout the book of Hebrews, especially chapters eight and ten, the writer goes into detail with comparisons to the Old Covenant sacrificial system of the blood of bulls and goats that the priest would make to cover the sins of the people with the New Covenant sacrifice of Jesus. He was attempting to get the Hebrew Christians to understand the difference. In doing so, he reveals several things:
- The old system could not make people perfect, because if it could there would no longer be a sacrifice to make. (see Hebrews 10:1-3)
- God’s desire was not the Old Covenant sacrificial system because it did not have the ability to make us perfect, therefore; God was doing away with that system because Jesus’ sacrifice was the start of the New Covenant. (see Hebrews 10:8&9)
- By Jesus’ sacrifice we have been sanctified (set apart) once and for all…meaning forever! Something the old sacrificial system could not do because again, it could not make us perfect in the sight of God. It covered one’s sins, but did not change their sin nature to a righteous nature. (see Hebrews 10:10)
- Under the New Covenant God would put his laws in our hearts and minds. The word law there is not referring to the Old Covenant law but new desires that come with our new righteous nature. He also says that God does not remember are lawless deeds or sins. God does not even see them anymore. (see Hebrews. 10:16&17)
- He tells us that because of this New Covenant sacrifice we have been made perfect in the sight of God and we can now approach Him with confidence. (see Hebrews 19-23)
As you can see, the entire chapter is nothing but grace being explained through the New Covenant sacrifice of Jesus. Then how do we explain verses 26-31? Remember the writer is addressing the Hebrews. During the time this letter was written, the Hebrew believers were still going back to the temple to make sacrifices of animals, through the priest, when they would fall into sin. The book of Hebrews is addressing this to bring correction. With this understanding of what was going on, to whom it was written to and in full context, let’s look at this scripture again.
“For if we sin willfully after we have come into the knowledge of truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.”
Do you see it? The writer is not attempting to tell us that if we sin after coming to Jesus we will be forever doomed and loose our salvation. For goodness sake, that would make the Old Covenant sacrifice more powerful than the New Covenant sacrifice of Jesus. At least in the Old Covenant sacrificial system you could always get your sins covered. The writer is telling the Hebrew believers that they no longer needed to have their sins covered by going to the temple and making animal sacrifices because their sins had been forever removed in the sight of God through the sacrifice of Jesus. In God’s eyes, they and we as believers are seen in Christ, forever perfect! Therefore, the writer also says they were trampling the Son of God underfoot, counting the blood of the covenant by which we were sanctified a common thing and insulted the Spirit of grace because they still were going to the temple to make sacrifices.
So, what about the judgment that God said was coming because of those who were still practicing the Old Covenant sacrificial system? How does that fit into being under the New Covenant of grace? Remember this, when God judges in the New Covenant, He is not sending a storm, causing fire to rain down from heaven or giving people diseases. His judgment comes in two different forms. One way is by the rulers who rule over us and the other is by allowing the fruit of our desires to practice things that are sinful and harmful to us come to pass and bring us to an end of our own self-righteousness so we will begin to rely on Him. When judgment comes, it will never cause us to lose our right-standing with God, that is a gift. It is to get us to see what we are doing, even though it does not change our right-standing with Him and eternal security, it does harm and hurt us in this life. God desires that we live the best possible life, fully relying on Him.
The judgment the writer of Hebrews mentioned happened around 70 AD. The Jewish temple was destroyed by the Roman Empire, ending the Old Covenant Sacrificial system so that no one could go back to that system again. Two thousand years later the temple has still not been rebuilt with any sacrificial system for man’s sin outside of Jesus. What is left when people refuse to accept the sacrificial system of Jesus and don’t have another one to cover their sins any longer? “…a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation…” Hebrews 10:27 God has left nothing else but Jesus and His grace to rely on.
I hope you can see that this text of scripture does not contradict grace but even further proves it is only about Jesus and nothing else. We are saved by grace, we walk in Him by grace, we live by grace and our hearts are established by grace.
Changing how the World Views God,
Are you looking for a Gospel of grace church that preaches the finished work of Jesus? Do you enjoy ministries like Joseph Prince, Andrew Wommack, Lynn Hiles, Jim Richards, Ed Elliot or Andrew Farley? If so, Reveal Church might be the perfect fit for you. Come join us Sunday mornings at our new time 10:30 am. We meet at Copper Stone Executive Business Center at 3632 Land O Lakes Blvd. Land O Lakes, FL. 34639. Children’s church is provided for all ages. Pastor Brian has been ministering the gospel of grace message since 1999, with powerful truths that will continue to empower you to walk out God’s best for your life as you stay at a place of rest in Christ. Come be a part of this powerful start up gospel of grace church and help us reach the Tampa Bay area with the message of the finished work of Christ. We look forward to seeing you this Sunday!