Once for all

December 11, 2021 | Gretchen Stalbaum

About the author: Gretchen, and her husband Darin, have been members at ZPC ever since they moved to Zionsville 11 years ago. They have three children Luke, Kyla, and Teagan, and are adjusting to having their oldest off to college this year. As a family, they have been blessed by and served in the children’s and youth ministries, the Great Banquet, Grace Marriage, and various classes and Bible studies that have challenged them in their faith. They have spent Monday nights the past seven years doing life and building relationships with the amazing people in their Home Group.  

Today's scripture: Hebrews 10:5-10

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:10

I once had a professor who said that if we took the best moment of our life, when we were most loving and giving, most selfless, and our eternity was decided on the basis of that one moment, we would be condemned. It was a jarring statement to me at the time. Were we really that bad? Could we not manage even one moment of perfect love by our own efforts? Intellectually, I agreed with his statement, I just wasn’t living as though it were true. The fact that his words were so startling was evidence that I was failing to grasp both the holiness of God and the depth of my own sin. 

Scripture teaches us that God has never taken our sin lightly, and this passage in Hebrews makes clear the utter impossibility of fulfilling God’s holy requirements with our sacrifices and offerings. Though God commanded them under the law, he did not delight in them. They were meant only as a temporary and partial measure to deal with sin. Hebrews 10:1 tells us that the law is only a shadow of the good things to come. Then the writer of Hebrews goes on to quote a passage from Psalm 40, making it clear that what was promised long ago through the prophetic words of David, had come to pass in the person of Jesus. Jesus understood that the sacrifices and offerings commanded under the old covenant would never be enough. God’s nature requires perfect obedience, perfect holiness. Jesus alone could meet God’s requirements and he offered his body up willingly to do so. “Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, my God,”v. 7.  The shadow of the old was chased away by the light of the new.

This new way, this new covenant, doesn’t offer temporary right standing with God. It doesn’t make us sort of forgiven for a brief period of time. Hebrews tells us we have been set apart and made holy by the offering of the body of Jesus once for all. Once for all. It is a gift to be received, one we cannot earn despite our best efforts to lay our offerings at his feet. The partial and temporary forgiveness offered by animal sacrifices is no longer necessary. Neither are our best efforts at winning his approval any more effective. God’s holiness demanded perfect obedience and Jesus alone was able to meet this requirement. He offered his body up willingly.  In fact, his sole purpose was to carry out the will of God.

As followers of Jesus Christ, our action plan is this—believe. Believe that the sin you keep laying at his feet again and again, is truly forgiven.  Believe that you are helpless to earn his approval by your best efforts and instead receive the gift of his grace. Believe that you are set apart and made holy forever, not partially and conditionally, but fully and completely for all time. Once for all.

Forgive us for thinking we can add to the perfect sacrifice that Jesus offered on our behalf, for failing to believe and claim the work in us that is already done. Let our faith in Jesus delight you, as his perfect obedience delights you.  Teach us how to grasp more firmly, believe more deeply, the work that was completed on the cross.