Thu 30 Oct 2014
WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD THERE IS NO FORGIVENESS (?)
The above passage from Hebrews 9:22 has become something of a hallmark to explain the death of Jesus.
Does that passage literally mean no blood, no forgiveness? Look at the Old Testament. Whereas blood was often used for covenants, it is under the law of Moses that the blood sacrifice develops more fully. Question: Was there forgiveness of sin under the Law without blood? Yes. There were various bloodless sacrifices that were “sin” offerings. There was also the “scapegoat” which carried the sins of the people into the wilderness, but was not killed. See also the atonement money in Exodus 30:11-16 In Ex. 32:31-35. David’s sin with Bathsheba was forgiven without a sacrifice. In Solomon’s prayer in I Kings 8:46-51, God’s forgiveness of sin is to be granted by repentance. Ps. 51:16,17 says God does not delight in sacrifices and burnt offerings, but a broken and contrite heart. In Ps. 69:30,31 says singing praise to God with thanksgiving is more pleasing to God than an ox or a bull. There are several other places in the Psalms which reflect this same thought.
There are also the two statements by Amos and Micah about the hatred of God for solemn feasts and sacrifices, but what God wants are mercy and justice. We should also consider the book of Jonah. There a whole nation repents and is forgiven without the “shedding” of blood.
So up to this point we can say the statement in Hebrews was not literally what the Law said, nor was it exclusive.
Let’s talk about grace. All of the definitions of “grace” center around the meaning of a free gift, given without having to be earned. In fact, earned grace is impossible. It is a free gift from God based on God’s love. Just for discussion’s sake, if it is a free gift, given willingly from the love of God, why do we say Jesus “paid” for our sins? If God required blood as payment for the free grace/gift, how is it free? And, if forgiveness, or the free gift of forgiveness to another, demands payment, how is that really forgiveness? Jesus forgave sins without telling the person to offer a blood sacrifice. The exceptions were lepers, who needed verification from a priest that they were clean, but it did not have to be a blood offering.
Here’s the point. No one verse about the sacrifice of Jesus should be used as a formation for a doctrine of atonement. The Hebrew writer has a reason to say to his Hebrew Christians what he said. A good guess would be that he was writing about, or after, the destruction of Jerusalem, which would mean the end of the priestly system of sacrifices, at least as long as the temple was gone. (On an interesting note, Ezekiel 40-48 describes the time when the Messiah comes and there will continue to be blood offerings in the new temple.)
The sacrifice of Jesus is a very meaningful thing, as the New Testament reveals. However, how we view it is often conditioned more on historical doctrines than the New Testament.
Did God send Jesus to the cross, or did Jesus give his life “as a ransom for many”? Paul says, “Who loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Gal 2:20). Look also at how the Hebrew writer says it. “But now he has appeared once and for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself…” (Heb. 9:27)
So, what’s the big deal? For me it is the difference between God demanding someone die and shed blood to pay for something that is from love and grace, which is free, and someone living, loving and dying to set us “free (ransom us) from the law of sin and death” When a person gives their life for their count ry, we may say they sacrificed themselves for us, meaning our freedom. Among all (and there are many) ideas about why Jesus died, I start with John 3:16 and find that Jesus lived and died as an act of God’s love in the face of a world which refused to believe him. In so doing he set those who do believe, free from the attempt to earn God’s love and mercy, which is the law of sin and death. I find real meaning in Romans 8, especially the beginning and the end.
CONCERNS: Bud McWhorter had knee replacement surgery on Monday. Stephanie Dixon’s mother is also having the same surgery soon, and Stephanie’s surgery will be next month. Keep these people in your prayers: Betty Billings, (Keith’s sister) Nathan Beach, Erma Williams’ cousin, Eleanor Bresee, Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, and Leena’s mother, Helen Nicklas. Kim Hall’s friend, Mary, Betty Foy’s sister, Sue Huels, Sandra Anderson and Gil Richardson. Rich Crites, Jim Hunter Deana McRoy, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood and Sharon. Also Jenni Cullum, Tim Elder, Mary Smith, Mrs Matara, Marie Barnett and her mother, Mildred and Todd Baumgardner, who is on the list to receive a kidney transplant.
OUR DAILY BREAD: NOV. 3-8
Monday: Joshua 24:14-28
Tuesday: Acts 9:1-9
Wednesday: James 5:1-18
Thursday: I John1:5-2:6
Friday: Hebrews 12:1-14
Saturday: Psalm 138:1-8
OUR DAILY BREAD: NOV. 10-15
Monday: Malachi 1:1-14
Tuesday: John 3:1-15
Wednesday: Psalm 65:1-13
Thursday: I Peter 2:1-10
Friday: Matthew 4:1-11
Saturday: Exodus 15:1-18
Since most of you receive the bulletin before Sunday, just a reminder to enjoy an extra hours sleep by turning your clocks back before going to bed on Saturday night.
Each year we try to set the date for the adult Christmas party early enough to accommodate as many folks as possible. The date is also reliant on those who will do the decorating, as well as some of the cooking, so the dates fluctuate each year. This year the date will be December 6. We will give more details later as to menu, gifts, talent, etc.
Thanks to Mike Branch for doing some trimming of the shrubbery and ivy around the building. Also, if you appreciate the fact that the walks are swept on Sunday mornings, thank Erma Williams.
THE DIRECTORY CARDS
If you haven’t filled out a new directory information card, please do so. There are about ten not yet filled out. We do not have a deadline because we have a few folks who are in the process of relocating soon and we want the directory to be as current as possible. However, we would like to have it within the next month or so.
After next Sunday a list of those we do not have will be placed on the foyer table in case you may have forgotten if you filled out a card or not. Thanks for your help.
For those of you who enter through the basement, pictures from the Peaks of Otter picnic are on the downstairs picture board. If any of you who took pictures at the top want to lend them to the board, feel free to put them there.
NEW SUNDAY MORNING ADULT CLASS.
Starting on December 7th, the Sunday morning adult class will begin a study which will take them through the New Testament an in 40 days. Some of you have received an email about this. For those of you who do not have email, printed information is available. See Susan Jordan or Mike Branch.