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Hebrews

9:24-28


 

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.  

 (ESV)

 

Living in Baptism

Monday of Easter 4

27 April 2015

Christ cannot die again. There is no need. He paid the perfect and infinite price that pays for the sin of the whole world. He died "once for all" (Rm 6:10). Sin has been taken away by His self-sacrifice. That price is more than sufficient. One death and one baptism go together (Eph 4:5). If one could be baptized more than once it would imply that Christ had died more than once, or that there was more than one Lord. To repeat the act by which we become identified with His death and resurrection is to expect that the things given in baptism could also be repeated. He died once. All are baptized once. There is no second washing. So, we may not "play fast and loose" with baptism. It may not be trivialized, marginalized, or forgotten, any more than we could forget or trivialize the death and resurrection of Christ. Baptism is the means by which we are plunged into Christ's death. Baptism is the means by which we are raised to newness of life. As such, baptism is inseparable from Christ's work to save us from sin and give us eternal life.

 

Lutherans are famous for their potlucks. In the Midwest especially, Lutherans amaze their neighbors with hundreds of colorful and, uh shall we say, interesting dishes based on Jell-O. Each of those Jell-O delights is brought to the table in a bowl or a Tupper-ware container. No one tries to bring their Jell-O dish to the potluck without bringing it in a container. The idea is risible. While we do not eat the container, the contents are unable to be brought to the potluck and shared with others without the container.

 

Baptism contains Christ. What Christ gives us is delivered to us in our churches in the baptismal font. The container, baptism, is infinitely valuable as the instrument of delivery of what it contains, the righteousness of Christ and the forgiveness of sins. There is no access to Christ apart from that container. The point of delivery is crucial to putting us into the benefits of Christ's cross. This is why when we live in the cross of Christ, we live in baptism and when we live in baptism, we live in the cross of Christ.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"What does Paul mean when he says, 'He died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God' (Rm 6:10)? Christ was not subject even to one sin, but He died for our sin, that He might destroy it and cut its sinews and remove all its power. Do you see how he frightened them? For if He does not die again, then there is no second washing and you should keep from all inclination to sin. He says this to stand against the idea that we could 'do evil that good may come' (Rm 3:8), or could 'continue in sin that grace may abound' (Rm 6:1). To take away this idea root and branch, he writes all this.

 

Paul says, 'The life he lives he lives to God' (Rm 6:10), that is, unchangeably, so that death has no dominion over Him. For if it was not through any liability to sin that Christ died the former death, save only for the sin of others, how much less will He die again now that He has taken that sin away. The Epistle to the Hebrews says this also 'He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him' (Heb 9:26-28). He both points out the power of the life that is according to God, and also the strength of sin. For with regard to the life according to God, he shows that Christ will never die again. With regard to sin, if it brought about the death even of the sinless One, how can it do otherwise than be the ruin of those subject to it?

 

'So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus' (Rm 6:11). Paul says 'consider,' because what he is speaking of is not yet seen. We are to consider ourselves 'dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.' For he that so lives will lay hold of every virtue, because he has Jesus Himself for his ally. For if He raised them when dead, how much more, when alive, will He be able to keep them so. 

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 11
 
Prayer

Almighty, everlasting God, for our many sins we justly deserve eternal condemnation. In Your mercy You sent Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who won for us forgiveness of sins and everlasting salvation. Through baptism you have made us dead to sin, that we may be raised up by Your life-giving forgiveness. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may be ever watchful and live true and godly lives in Your service; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

For Roger Paavola, that the Lord Jesus would give him a full recovery from an attack of diverticulitis

 

For the Lord to send gentle rains to California and break the drought

 

For Lawrence Rast, the President of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, that the Lord would grant him strength of body and clarity of confession

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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