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Purposes of Christ's Death: Hebrews 26:b

This is another edited and reposted piece from an old series of posts examining the purpose statement that scripture gives us regarding the death of Christ. 

… he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

(Hebrews 9:26, ESV)

This statement from Hebrews tells us that Christ’s death (or His sacrifice) was “to put away sin.” It seems like a simple statement, but before I began this post, I could have guessed what it meant, but I wouldn’t have been sure.

One of the main points of the book of Hebrews is that the New Covenant instituted by Christ is much better than the Old Covenant. The writer of Hebrews urged his readers,who were  most likely Jewish Christians, to hold fast to Christ and his perfect covenant, and to not be drawn back to the familiar ways of the old imperfect system. He contrasts the old with the new, showing that the old system was not the real deal, but a pointer to and a picture of the true and complete covenant that had now been now instituted. 

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities … . (Hebrews 10:1a ESV)

The bottom line is that the blood sacrifices of the Old Covenant were unable to take away sins (10:4). They accomplished some kind of outward cleansing, but no inward cleansing (Hebrews 9:13—14). And they had to be repeated over and over again, showing that what they accomplished was only temporary. Consequently, the sacrificial system served as a reminder of the sin problem rather than a solution to it (10:1-3). 

But in Christ, the answer for sin arrived. He  was offered “once to bear the sins of many (9:28).” No more repetitious sacrifices needed; no more constant reminders of sin. It is a finished; sin is finally, truly, forever put away, because Christ “has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

Another of the purposes of Christ’s death is to put away sin once for all time.

1 Or his audience, if the text of was first a sermon.


Praise for the Fountain Opened

There is a fountain fill’d with blood, 
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; 
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, 
Lose all their guilty stains. 

The dying thief rejoiced to see 
That fountain in his day; 
And there have I, as vile as he, 
Wash’d all my sins away. 

Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood 
Shall never lose its power, 
Till all the ransom’d church of God 
Be saved, to sin no more. 

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream 
Thy flowing wounds supply, 
Redeeming love has been my theme, 
And shall be till I die. 

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, 
I’ll sing Thy power to save; 
When this poor lisping stammering tongue 
Lies silent in the grave. 

Lord, I believe Thou hast prepared 
(Unworthy though I be) 
For me a blood-bought free reward, 
A golden harp for me! 

‘Tis strung and tuned for endless years, 
And form’d by power divine, 
To sound in God the Father’s ears 
No other name but Thine. 

—William Cowper


Theological Term of the Week

crucifixion (of Christ)
The execution of Jesus Christ by nailing him to a cross.

  • From scripture:
  • As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

    Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. (Matthew 27:32-50, ESV)

  • From the Belgic Confession, Article 21:
  • Of the satisfaction of Christ, our only High Priest, for us.

    We believe that Jesus Christ is ordained with an oath to be an everlasting High Priest, after the order of Melchisedec; and that he hath presented himself in our behalf before the Father, to appease his wrath by his full satisfaction, by offering himself on the tree of the cross, and pouring out his precious blood to purge away our sins; as the prophets had foretold. For it is written: He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and numbered with the transgressors, and condemned by Pontius Pilate as a malefactor, though he had first declared him innocent. Therefore: he restored that which he took not away, and suffered, the just for the unjust, as well in his body as in his soul, feeling the terrible punishment which our sins had merited; insomuch that his sweat became like unto drops of blood falling on the ground. He called out, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? and hath suffered all this for the remission of our sins. Wherefore we justly say with the apostle Paul: that we know nothing, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified; we count all things but loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose wounds we find all manner of consolation. Neither is it necessary to seek or invent any other means of being reconciled to God, than this only sacrifice, once offered, by which believers are made perfect forever. This is also the reason why he was called by the angel of God, Jesus, that is to say, Savior, because he should save his people from their sins.

Learn more:
  1. The Bible: Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19
  2. Theopedia: Crucifixion
  3. Holman Bible Dictionary: Cross, Crucifixion
  4. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministy: The Crucifixion of Jesus
  5. Bob Deffinbaugh: The Crucifixion
  6. Dr. Steven J. Lawson: The Crucifixion of Jesus (audio download)
  7. R. C. Sproul: The Crucifixion (audio download)

Related term:

Filed under Person and Work of Christ

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.