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Hebrews 8:12, 610; 9:2228 comment (0)

October 19, 2006

By Dale Younce

Related Scripture: Hebrews 8:12, 610; 9:2228

Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Tell the Truth
Hebrews 8:1–2, 6–10; 9:22–28

The idea that Christianity is merely one among many good religions, all of which provide different ways to God, is prevalent in today’s world. Followers of other religions or of no religion often express this idea, and, unhappily, some Christians give voice to it.

That people outside Christianity accept this idea is not surprising. Some truly believe it and others use it as an excuse to avoid the truth of the gospel or as a way to hinder evangelistic and/or missionary efforts of believers. That Christians would accept this idea is contrary to the very heart of the gospel, the truth that the only way to salvation is through Jesus. Truthfully Christianity is superior to all other religions, which is what God wants His people to understand and communicate. We are to do this with an attitude of humility and respect, not arrogance.

Tell of Jesus’ Ministry (8:1–2)
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews points to several factors contributing to the superiority of Christ’s ministry.

(1) Jesus lived a sinless life and yet experienced our needs and temptations (Heb. 7:26–28), making Him superior to all other priests past and present. Returning to Judaism would be leaving a morally superior High Priest.

(2) Jesus is now a Seated Priest; that is He has completed all necessary priest-work. There is no seated priest in Judaism because a priest’s work was never done.

(3) Jesus is seated at the place of supreme power and authority, at the right hand of God the Father. Old Testament Judaism had no priest-king. Only a priest according to the order of Melchizedek could be both priest and king.

(4) Jesus carries on His present high priestly ministry in heaven, not on earth as did the Old Testament priesthood. The superiority of Christianity rests on the superiority of Jesus’ ministry.

Tell of Jesus’ Covenant (8:6–10)
The presence of a superior high priest in heaven requires a superior covenant. The “first,” or old, covenant is the one God made with Israel through the ministry of Moses. If the Mosaic covenant had been adequate to provide salvation, another would not be needed. But the Mosaic law (while requiring righteousness) could not provide righteousness. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, understanding the need for a “new” covenant, wrote of it in Jeremiah 31:31–34.

The night before He died on Friday, Jesus, in the upper room, established the new covenant. Taking the cup, He said, “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, which is shed for you” (Mark 14:23–24; Luke 22:20). The apostle Paul applied these words to the church (1 Cor. 11:23–24).

A distinctive feature of this new covenant is that God’s law is written in the minds and hearts of believers. It is a better covenant based on better promises. The new covenant, available through Jesus, is superior to the old covenant because it is spiritual, not physical; personal, not impersonal; powerful, not impotent.

Tell of Jesus’ Sacrifice (9:22–28)

Jesus’ priesthood is also superior because of its better sacrifice. In two ways is Jesus’ sacrifice better than Old Testament sacrifices.

(1) The Old Testament sacrifices consisted of the death of animals; the new covenant sacrifice consists of the death of Jesus, the voluntary sacrifice of Himself.

(2) The Old Testament sacrifices were repeated, temporary and never permanent. Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all, permanent and unrepeatable. The new covenant was established on the basis of a better sacrifice, applied to a better sanctuary. It was a far more costly sacrifice. The work of Christ is a completed work, final and eternal.

In these words of the writer of the Epistle, there is no hint of arrogance. Although Christianity is superior to all other religions, Christians themselves are not superior to people of other religions.

All of us are sinners. We Christians need to be marked not by arrogance but by humility and respect for others. 

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