Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 9 2013 - Hebrews 9:11-28 – Salvation in three tenses

The reading this morning continues to elaborate on the same great theme: By his death, Jesus has offered a single sacrifice which is sufficient to cover all our sins, past, present and future. The price is paid: paid in full, paid for ever.

The structure of this section parallels the great Christian affirmation, "Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again." "Christ has died" – "Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many" (Hebrews 9:28). "Christ is risen" – "Christ ... entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence" (9:24). "Christ will come again" – "he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him" (9:28).

These three affirmations reflect the past, present and future tenses of our salvation; we have been saved, we are being saved and we shall be saved. We have been saved for Christ had died for our sins and they can never again be brought up before God to condemn us. We need not fear death or judgment for God’s judgment upon us has become history with Christ’s death upon the cross. We are being saved, for Christ our Saviour is risen from the dead and lives now in the presence of God for us. He is our Advocate in the heavens and his continuing ministry of intercession ensures that his atoning work shall not prove to be in vain; nothing can separate us from the love of God. We shall be saved for the day will come when Christ shall return from heaven to complete his work of making all things new. He will return for us, and we will then reign with him in the glory of the new creation – he will “bring salvation to those who are waiting for him”

What should the present tense of our salvation look like for us? Our "waiting for him" is not to be passive – like waiting at the bus stop for the bus to arrive. We read that "Christ ... through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, [to] cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God" (9:14). By the power of the Spirit, we are to follow Christ in offering ourselves to God, body and spirit. We are to put behind us those “acts that lead to death”. We who follow Christ have died with him to a life of rebellion; we have been raised with him to a life of obedience. We are to devote our lives to the glad service of him who loved us and gave himself for us, so that we may not be ashamed on the day of his appearing. We have been "saved to serve". Ours in an active waiting, preparing ourselves for the day of his coming and busying ourselves in the work of the kingdom – calling all creation to be ready for that great and glorious day.

“Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.” Let this affirmation ring through believing hearts today. And let it shape our lives as he lives in us so that we may live as those who have died to sin, who have been raised to new life that we might serve the living God and who live towards the day of his appearing.

Crucified, risen and returning Saviour, by your Spirit enable us to follow you closely this day. Help us to live the glad and confident lives of those who have been ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven. Help us offer ourselves wholly to the living God this day and to live to the glory of the coming king.

Peter Misselbrook