Thursday, 23 August 2018
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9
The order of this verse in most Bibles doesn’t follow the Greek. There is an emphasis that is thus lacking. A few translations get it right though, such as the YLT –
“and him who was made some little less than messengers we see — Jesus — because of the suffering of the death, with glory and honour having been crowned, that by the grace of God for every one he might taste of death.”
The thought of verse 2:7 is repeated here. There it said, “You have made him a little lower than the angels.” As noted, this is speaking of the time-frame of being born under the law; a law ministered by angels (messengers). He was placed in this position under the law and the purpose of that was “for the suffering of death.” Christ came to live out the law, perfectly fulfilling its every precept. As Leviticus 18:5 says –
“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.”
No person had, or has, met the standards of the law, and thus no man can “live by them.” With the giving of the law, all stood condemned before God, except for His gracious offering of a Day of Atonement which temporarily – year by year – covered over their sins. This will be explained as Hebrews continues. However, Christ was initially capable of taking away sin fully and forever because He was born without original sin. Being born under the law meant that if He could also live out the law perfectly, He would be qualified to do so. The gospels bear out that He was both born and lived without sin, and was thus capable and qualified. That left only one remaining element. Was He willing to do so? The gospels bear witness that He was –
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:17, 18
Christ’s suffering of death was for the sin of the world. This is the doctrine of substitution, a doctrine given under the Law of Moses. The life of a perfect, pure, and innocent animal could be substituted in the place of the sinner. Each of these animals only looked forward to Christ. Their deaths were anticipatory of the final Sacrifice of Christ Jesus (see Hebrews 10:4). Christ came in fulfillment of these types and shadows, gave His life to take away sin, and then rose again because He had no sin of His own. In His completed work, validated by the resurrection, He was “crowned with glory and honor.”
This is the return of Christ to the position He had left. He was exalted to the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33), meaning the position of all power and authority. The message of the Bible is that only God can take away sin. That message is fulfilled in Christ, who is God, coming for a little while and placing Himself under His perfect standard. In fulfilling that, He (meaning the Man Jesus who is also God) took away our sin. In this, it was “by the grace of God.”
Grace is unmerited favor. We did not deserve what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. He destroyed the whole world by flood, consigning all but eight people on earth to their fate. Though He promised to never destroy the world by flood again, He was (and is) under no obligation to save a single person from their inevitable doom. And yet He, through Jesus, did just that. Jesus is the grace of God spoken of here. It is He who “might taste death for everyone.”
This does not say that He did taste death for everyone, but that He might do so. These words clearly show the folly of the Calvinist doctrine of “limited atonement.” The Greek words huper pantos signify “on behalf of the whole (everyone).” The scope of Christ’s substitutionary death is unlimited. No person is excepted from what He has done. He has potentially died for all. But there is still the issue of free will.
There are those who will accept what God has done in Christ, and there are those who will reject it. There are also those who simply never heard the gospel and who are left unsaved. All are potentially saved by Christ, but not all actually are. Though His atonement is unlimited in scope, it is limited in actuality. In essence, “God chose everyone in Christ, but not everyone will choose God’s offering of Christ.”
The argument that asks, “What about the person who has never heard of Jesus?” is an invalid argument. They neither deserve God’s grace (grace is unmerited favor), nor do they deserve His mercy. Christ tasted death for everyone, but it is up to those who hear the saving message of Christ to receive it, and it is up to those who have received it to tell others about it.
Christ “tasted” death, as if He drank its bitterness from a cup. We can be freed from this because of the work of Christ. We can instead drink from the Fount of life, Christ. In this, we are given the guarantee of eternal life. If He has tasted death for His elect, then they can never die (be spiritually separated from the Father) again. This then touches on the folly of the Arminian doctrine of salvation. Their claim is that a person who is saved can then lose that salvation. That is also seen to be false. Christ’s work restores life, once and forever, to the person who comes to Jesus.
Life application: Jesus did not die for some, but for all. The choice is up to each who hears as to whether they will receive Him or not. The responsibility is up to each who receives Him to continue telling others about what He has done. Further, Jesus did not come to grant us eternal insecurity. Rather, we have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, and we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. Doctrine actually matters. Don’t be swayed by those who teach erroneous messages which deny the full, final, and finished work of Jesus Christ. When you call on Christ, you are saved – once and forever.
Lord God, You have granted people the right to choose the gift of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice or to reject it. Let us be wise and accept the gift. And Lord God, for those who have received Jesus, the deal is done. The salvation He provides is not one of eternal insecurity. Instead, we are saved forever by the Author of eternal salvation. Thank You for the surety we possess in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.