Grace is a difficult pill to swallow. A dangerous doctrine. The fact that the evangelical church has bought into that thought hit me between the eyes at my men’s bible study yesterday morning.
We’re in Hebrews 9 at the moment, the most familiar verse of which was a frequent memory verse in AWANA and whatever other church things I was in growing up. It was always presented for memorization this way:
…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.
— Hebrews 9:27
This verse was frequently packaged in a set of verses designed as what we would’ve called a Gospel presentation. Inherent message: you’re gonna die, you don’t know when, and after that you’ll be judged. So, if you haven’t asked Jesus into your heart, do it today! And if you have, repent of that sin and clean your life up so you won’t have to fear judgment for your sins!
Yesterday we read the verse in context with the rest of the chapter, and here’s what we read (emphasis mine):
24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
— Hebrews 9:24 – 28
What a change of message! Now Christ is the one who died once for all, took the judgment, so that we, who accept that gift by grace, can wait eagerly for him to return and save.
Now that’s awesome news.
Then there’s this reminder from Sean Palmer guest-posting over on Scot McKnight’s blog today:
God loves you, just as you are, not as you might be some day.