In These Last Days–Part Two:The Soteriology of Hebrews

It is not difficult to discern that the writer of this epistle viewed salvation as a work of God for men, and not vice versa. It is God who has revealed Himself and His redemptive purposes to us (1:1-2). It is He who is mindful of fallen sinners and cares for them by granting them grace and assistance (2:6). Unaided by human works or will, He, by whom are all things and for whom are all things, brings many sons to glory (2:10). He, and He alone, has devised the plan according to which He saves sinners (6:17). Jesus sanctified His people according to the Father’s will (10:10). To give His people strong consolation concerning the fulfillment of His promises, He has confirmed them with an oath (6:17-19). He is the one who equips His people with everything good for doing His will and works in them what is pleasing to Him so that to Him is the glory forever and ever (13:20-21).

For the execution of His purpose, He has ordained Christ as a priest who acts as a mediator between God and His people (5:5-6,10). The basis of the believer’s salvation is the priestly work of Christ (complete sacrifice and continual intercession). It is by the once for all sacrifice of Christ that He takes away the sins of believers (10:4-12). The believer’s eschatological salvation will occur when Christ, our great Priest, appears the second time “not to bear sin but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him” (9:28).The work is God’s from start to finish (12:2).

The issue we need to examine here is the nature of God’s saving work. What does this writer mean when he refers to this “so great salvation?” Since the days of the Protestant Reformation, there has been a tendency among Protestants and Baptists to think of God’s work in the sinner’s salvation in forensic terms. It often seems that justification by faith is the ultimate end of Christ’s redeeming work. Though, this is not a wrong emphasis, neither is it broad enough to encompass God’s multifaceted, salvific activity. The concepts of justification by faith, the words “justification”, “justify”, and “justified”, do not occur in the Epistle to the Hebrews. (8:12; 10:17;11:7) and an inward change of heart (8:10;10:16), either radical or progressive’s sanctification in this epistle has reference, not to moral cleansing but to consecration or dedication to God., are not foreign to the writer of this epistle. His primary soteriological emphasis, however, lies in a different direction. He understands salvation in terms of the following four categories: 1. Access into the presence of God, 2. Inheritance, 3. Perfection, and 4. Fulfillment of covenant promises. In the pages that follow, we shall consider each of these ideas in detail. As we do so, we shall notice that, concerning each of these ideas, the emphasis in this epistle is on the discontinuity between the old and new covenants. Further, we shall see that the continuity that does exist between them is that of type to antitype. It is God who gave the typical foreshadowing. It is God who has accomplished the fulfillment.


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