5. The Eternal Efficacy of the Blood of Christ.
The value of the work effected by our Lord once upon the cross is everlasting. No addition can be made to it, for it is complete; no repetition can be made of it, for it is finished; no interruption of its efficacy can occur, for its value is abiding; what Christ has done upon Calvary once, has been done for ever. We gather from the Epistle to the Hebrews four facts concerning the glorious fulness of Christ's work: —
SINS ARE GONE.
THE MAJESTY OF GOD IS MAGNIFIED.
CHRIST ABIDES IN GOD'S PRESENCE FOR US.
THE QUESTION OF SIN IS NOT TO BE REOPENED.
1. Sins are FOR EVER gone, because Christ ONCE shed His blood.
“Such an high priest became us . . . who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself.” (Heb. 7:26, 27.) Under the law, there was a daily need for sacrifice, and a daily offering of the same sacrifices. The priest of Israel offered up the daily sacrifice (Lev. 8), the blood of which availed for the day upon which it was shed. It neither covered past sins, nor future sins. Fresh sins called for fresh blood. There was no abiding value in the blood shed. God required constant sacrifices, and the sins of the people required constant offerings. Daily sins had to be met by the sacrifice of the day; but the conscience of the comer to God was never at rest, he was ever remembering sins, and ever coming to God for his sins to be put away. There was divine design in this; He who gave the law declared, “the law made nothing perfect.” (Heb. 7:19.)
How different the sacrifice of Jesus! The sinless Offerer offered Himself once and for ever. “He needeth not daily . . . to offer up sacrifice” (Heb. 7:27), are the words of the Holy Ghost, for He met the need “once,” when He offered up His own peerless body upon Calvary. Once and for ever is the divine record of the sacrifice of the cross; once offered — never repeated. Faith allows no darkening thought of twice or thrice doing the same thing; no presumptuous daring that there can possibly be of any sort whatever the shadow of a repetition of this sacrifice. And the result of His work, so far as our need as sinners is concerned, is this, never repairing to Calvary for a second putting away of our sins, but constant and daily praising of God for the one offering of His Son, the efficacy of whose blood lasts for ever and ever; a continual remembrance, not of sins, but of His offering, which more than eighteen hundred years ago met our need as sinners.
Glorious as is this view of the work of our Lord meeting our need as sinners, yet there is a second view of the fulness of His work magnifying the throne of God, and meeting its requirements, to which we do well to turn our earnest gaze.
2. The majesty of the nature and character of God are FOR EVER magnified, because Christ has entered into the Holy place by His blood ONCE.
“By His own blood He entered in once into the Holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Heb. 9:12.) The Holy place, typically, is that within the veil of the tabernacle, where God dwelt, and where His throne was; the Holiest, actually, is the very presence of God. The cherubim, figurative of God's government, overshadowed the Mercy Seat upon the Ark, wherein were the tables of the law setting out His righteous requirements from man. They were represented as looking upon the Mercy Seat, whereon the blood was sprinkled. The blood of the sacrifice was the execution of the claims of divine justice, and the cherubim were so designed that their faces looked upon the blood. The blood which was carried into the Holiest was that of the yearly sacrifice of the great day of atonement, and made for the whole nation; and the blood thus carried into the Holiest had a peculiar typical value, for it was that of the sacrifice termed the Lord's lot; and was, therefore, in a special way the Lord's portion in the sacrifice. It was the sacrifice which should make atonement for the Holy place respecting the sins of the people, and the efficacy of which should enable the Holy God, morally speaking, to dwell amongst a naturally sinful people. The blood of this sacrifice was sprinkled not upon an erring people to satisfy their consciences, but upon His throne — His Mercy-seat, to satisfy His righteousness about their sins.
Here is an insight given us into the claims of the divine nature — a subject of the deepest value to us as God's creatures. We turn from the deep need of our consciences to that which is deep beyond comparison — the requirements of God Himself. Let us suppose an ordinary throne or seat of justice in our own land, upon which the judge is seated. However mercifully-minded he may be, yet so long as he occupies the throne of justice, the judge must of necessity uphold its honour and dignity. If the judge were to make light of the laws of his country, and set the prisoners free, he would dishonour the throne of justice. Should even the judge's chief friend be proved a criminal, he would be bound either to vacate his judgeship or to condemn the guilty man. When we speak of the throne of God, His holiness and His justice are present to our minds. God cannot deny Himself. He hates sin. Sin is the defiance of His holiness, therefore He cannot pass it by. But the blood of Christ has rendered full satisfaction to the holiness of God respecting sin, and the requirements of His throne of justice are perfectly met. If, then, His throne, if His righteousness, and the holiness of His being, are satisfied respecting human guilt, how surely may our consciences rest where God rests! If God, in His holiness, finds no fault in those who trust in the blood of Jesus, surely the voice of their consciences maybe still.
Now, the Lord has obtained eternal redemption — not merely redemption, for in that there might be a slipping back into servitude, Israel might return to slavery, the freed bondsman might again fall into debt and bonds — but having obtained eternal redemption the Lord entered into the Holiest by His own blood. He went into the presence of the Majesty on High as priest, having poured out His sacrificial blood upon the cross, and He went in there in the virtue of the atoning blood.
As years rolled round, the sacrifices of the great day of atonement were annually repeated, and the veil ever remained hiding the Mercy-seat and the throne of God; “The Holy Ghost thus signifying, that the way into the Holiest of all was not yet made manifest.” (Heb. 9:8.) For until there should be a sacrifice capable of magnifying divine majesty, there could be no liberty of access for man to God Himself. But when the Lord shed His blood, the veil of the temple was rent in the midst in twain from top to bottom.
The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, had magnified the nature of God about sin, and thereupon God unveiled the Holiest. The way into His presence was made manifest.
God has now revealed His righteousness to us in the gospel, and has shown us the death of Christ satisfying His righteousness, and hence the very throne of God's justice becomes the security of our salvation.
It is our great privilege to see by faith God in His righteousness, with Jesus in His presence for us, and not a veil before the Holiest. The high priests of old went yearly into Jehovah's presence about sin; took the blood there, which spoke for the year's sins, and then retired from God's presence only to return again another year, once more to raise the question of atonement, for the blood of their sacrifices could not avail to meet the majesty of His throne. Our eyes witness the glorious contrast — “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” (Heb. 9:24.) “He entered once into the Holiest.” We see Himself having gone into the presence of God upon our behalf — the accepted Offerer at the right hand of the Majesty on High. What peace there is in thus beholding Jesus! His work upon the cross has told us all our sins are gone. His entering into the Holiest by His own blood has told us that “by the blood of Jesus” we have “boldness to enter the Holiest,” whither He has gone.
3. Christ having effected the work ONCE, by which sin will be put away, abides CONTINUALLY in God's presence for us.
“Once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Heb. 9:26.) It is a glorious fact that not only are our sins gone, and the nature of God is magnified, but that Christ having put away our sins, He, and not our sins, is continually before God. Instead of looking upon our sins God looks upon Him who put our sins away. The high priests of old could not remain within the veil. They were the representatives of the people, and the blood which they brought in with them could not avail to sustain them within the Holiest. Our High Priest, bearing our names upon His Person, abides within the Holiest of All — in heaven itself, in the presence of God, for us. The blood which He shed once having put away our sins from God's presence, nothing now remains to be done. But He who did the work for His people abides upon their behalf in the Divine presence. He is always there for us.
The high priests of old stood before the Mercy-seat and sprinkled there the blood which was to atone for sins, and departed. Our High Priest sits on the right hand of God for us in continuance. Within the tabernacle of old there was no seat provided, for there was no rest obtained by its sacrifices. God has said to His Son, “Sit Thou upon My right hand,” for He has finished the work which His Father gave Him to do, and now He rests from that work. Once God in His justice forsook Him upon the cross, now God in His justice has established Him as man upon the throne.
What a scene of rest in the presence of God does this view of Christ unfold to us — His toil ended — His work completed — the sins for which He died atoned for the people for whom He died, at liberty to enter into the Holiest where He is — He Himself seated upon the throne, their Representative! Ponder these three facts, christian reader. Your need as a sinner met; the majesty of God's throne magnified about your sins by the death of His Son; God's risen Son seated upon His throne, and God looking upon Him instead of upon your sins — and gladly own that, therefore, there can be
4. No re-opening of the question of sin, since Christ has settled it ONCE and FOR EVER.
When the Lord came to the earth it was to take up and settle, once for all, the awful question of sin. He is coming a second time: “As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb. 9:27, 28.) He is coming again, but not to suffer a second time; not to go into the question of sin a second time, but “without sin — apart from sin — unto salvation.” He is coming to bring His own into the fulness of salvation, to save them from the circumstances, the sorrow, the death of this scene, even as He has already saved them from judgment.
The high priest of Israel entered within the veil on the great day of atonement, and the anxious gaze of the people fixed itself upon the door of the tabernacle. If he came not out, if he died in the presence of God, their hopes were utterly blasted; the blood was not accepted; their sins remained upon them. But the folds of the drapery of the tabernacle doors move; the eyes of ten thousands gladden; the anxious hour of suspense is over. Their high priest appears; Jehovah has accepted the blood. Because he lives they live also.
No anxious expectation “Is He accepted?” fills our hearts. Our expectations are bound up in this great word Salvation. We look for Him to come again, not as high priests of old came out from the Holiest, to take blood again into God's presence, but to take us ourselves into the Father's house in the fulness of resurrection and joy; “for unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin (i.e., apart from the settled question of sin), unto salvation.”
Some, indeed, look for Him with deeper love and more longing desire than others; but all for whom He died look for Him, and unto all such will He appear before long unto salvation. Then, christian reader, we shall know more deeply, and speak together more admiringly of the value of the precious blood of Christ.
“Unto him who loves us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever, amen.” Rev. 1:5, 6.