The Blood By Which Christ was Sanctified

Hebrews 10:28-29, “Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the One who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which He was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace.”

I want to look at this text rather carefully,because it has the idea of making the blood unclean, or profaning the sacred. This text is also one which is often used to teach a grace which is common to both elect and non-elect.

The verse is even used to teach that the new covenant can be broken, and that the covenant is bigger than election, and that grace is for more than the elect. The idea of common grace is that God has some grace for everybody, more grace for those in the covenant, and even more grace for the elect. This idea of common grace is not biblical.

The Hebrews 10 warning is not saying that an apostate was in the new covenant. I do not think it is even saying that the apostate appeared to be in the new covenant, although this is a possible interpretation if you want to work out a visible and invisible church contrast.

The “Son of God” is the closest antecedent of the pronoun “he” in the phrase “the covenant by which he was sanctified”. Of course we need to remember that “sanctify” does not mean to get better and better, as most systematic theology would have it. “Sanctify” is to set apart before God, both in the Old Testament context of Hebrews 10, (blood of the covenant, Zechariah 9:11, Ex 24:8) and in John 17. “And for their sake I sanctify myself, that they shall also be sanctified.”

Those who profane the death of Christ teach that Christ sanctified Himself in common for every sinner so that maybe (and maybe not) these sinners will be sanctified.

Not only do they wrongly define sanctification as getting better, but they turn that getting better into the condition which can make the common death something special. But the book of Hebrews instead gives all the glory to Christ’s death.

“We see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He would taste death for every… (2:10). The verses which follow tell us every “son to glory”, every ”those who are sanctified”, every “the children God has given me”.

Those who profane the death of Christ tell us that the glory and honor of Christ is dying for many sinners who will never be glorified. They tell us that the One crowned was sanctified for more than are sanctified. They dishonor Christ by telling the children God gave Him that Christ died also for those who are not and who will never be children of God.

That Christ sanctified Himself does not mean that Christ got better and better but that Christ set Himself apart to die for a people set apart before the creation of the world. These elect people are one day sanctified by faith given by Christ’s Spirit, but before that, in both the Old and New Testaments, God’s elect are set apart by the death, by the blood of Christ.

Hebrews 5:9, “And being made perfect, He became the source of age to come salvation to those who obey Him.” All the elect will obey the gospel but it is not their doing so which is the source of their salvation.

But if Christ died in common for every sinner, and not every sinner is set apart, then it is not the blood of Christ which sanctifies. It is not special, and it does not do anything special. God forbid!

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4 Comments on “The Blood By Which Christ was Sanctified”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    O: I can’t accept common grace, because as it was defined to me it presented the Holy Spirit at work in the hearts of unbelievers. I cannot see this anywhere in Scripture.

    mark: “the external call” is not the work of the Spirit. Agreed.

    o: That being said, I have yet to read a clear Reformed definition concerning God’s providence and our responsibility to obey Christ’s command by
    loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us. As I understand it, Christ in Luke chapter 6 is speaking in particular about the reprobate.

    mark: most Reformed do not think it is their responsibility to love their enemies. They may blow smoke about God’s “ordained” (and thus they think
    legitimate) nation-state, but the reality is that they are packing guns and ready to kill, and tell you that you are tempting God if you don’t pack
    guns and kill for your family.

    I guess I think the key, both to pacifism and to the duty of Luke 6, is the distinction between God and us humans. We are not God. We have no right to
    act like God, or as if we were his agents. So we can be commanded to do “more” back to them than they would do, without this saying that God is
    going to love them more than they love God.

    I don’t think God loves them at all, at least not our non-elect enemies. God is going to get even, more than that, God is going to destroy them. So
    the “be ye perfect” (not Luke but Matthew) is a command for us to not discriminate, even though God does discriminate. So you are right to focus
    on unresolved, un-talked about issues here.

    God is kind of the “ungrateful and the evil” elect. I am not convinced that God is being kind to the
    tares, the goats, the non-elect. Rain is not a blessing for them,

    o: He describes people who abuse us, who rob us, who persecute us, who are in just about every respect our enemy. And yet He tells us to love them and to pray for them, because God is kind to them. I mean, many of the lost knows they’re going to Hell, they’ll even tell me they know they’re going to Hell, and yet even so, knowing as much, they will still murder, rape, pillage and lord it over one another just as fast as they can. God doesn’t do that to them. He most certainly punishes them, but I don’t see that as being the same.

    mark: This is scary stuff. There’s the despair, which
    throws good money after bad: I have already stolen one car, and will be in jail for years, so why not steal another, and get more years? Romans 1:32.
    Even though they know that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
    Having exchanged the true God for a lie, their next sin becomes God’s wrath for their last sin, and God’s wrath is being revealed not only in the
    future but even now in their sin.

    So I would focus on God’s punishing them now, before God destroys them at the second death. But that only makes your concern about how we are
    imitating God more problematic….

    O: More importantly though, by praying for them, even if it’s nothing more than a request for God to destroy their wicked works, I am admitting my own helplessness. I am admitting before God that there but for His grace go I.
    I am confessing that no work of mine can ever save me – that it was in fact, all God and nothing and no one else.

    mark: Amen to that. We are not God. Even though we are to imitate Jesus in His patience, one day Jesus will judge and his enemies will perish.

  2. David Bishop Says:

    I agree, the sanctified of Hebrews 10:28-29 cannot be a progressive sanctification, but I agree for a different reason. I agree because Hebrews 10:1-2 says a righteous act performed once will perfect forever. It would make little sense for Hebrews 10 to begin by saying that, then turn right around 26 verses later and contradict so outrageously, that neither verses 1-2, nor verses 28-29 would make any sense.

    As for common grace, I am in agreement with you about the be ye perfect of Matthew and Luke. Both are about God telling us to do as He says, and not as He does. He justly discriminates. We have no basis to do so. So He loves one people and hates another, while He tells us to love both. Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord. Implication is, vengeance ain’t mine.

    The second part sounds like something I sent you back when I was still a lost Calvinist.

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Romans 2:28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.

    So Ishmael was never an outward Jew, or was cut off from being an outward Jew? When? Were Esau and Ishmael in the outward “new covenant”? Were Jacob and Isaac in the new covenant?

    Romans 9: 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

    Since Abraham is the father of those who believe the gospel, does that mean that Abraham is not the father in any sense of Esau and Ishmael? Since Christ is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that His seed would bring salvation and the “new covenant”, does this prove that Esau and Ishmael were in the new covenant? I suppose the problem here is that Paul is not using the administration/substance distinction and therefore Paul’s “not all” makes it sound like some kind of antithesis.

    Romans 9:8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.”

    But it would be too simple to flat out say that Ishmael was “not a child of God” and not a “child of promise”. Better to ignore that there are various promises to Abraham, and assume that a promise to Abraham is also a promise to Ishmael, even if that promise turns out to be conditional.

    Romans 9: 30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it….

    But this is not normal or ordinary. Usually you have to be in the covenant, and then it’s conditional on if you pursue it the right way, like we do.

    Galatians 4: 21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.

    But focus on verse 24, and see that the law is about Sinai and Moses, so this is not about Abraham, not about the two sons of Abraham, even though verse 22 talks about Ishmael also, and verse 23 sounds like there is no promise for Ishmael, but we know this is not true, because we know that the Abrahamic covenant has a promise for Ishmael also, even if it’s conditional. So the son of the slave born according to the flesh really has nothing to do with Abraham but only with Moses.

    So it comes down to what the “new” in new covenant means. Does it mean “utterly” new or a “gradually a little” new or “someday in the end” new or “different in kind” new or “conditioned only on Christ” new? Is the new covenant in ANY WAY different from the Abrahamic covenant? Not when you talking to baptists, because then you need to keep it simple so they can get it .

    Since Scott Clark has used the rhetoric of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend News already , let me do so as well. REALLY?

    We tend to come out with the same presuppositions with which we entered. This is a long debate. It will not be resolved here soon. And it’s not because one side is stupid or rebels against God’s Word. Even when we make a distinction between outer and inner, that does not mean that we need to say that the never-justified yet are in the new covenant. Waiting to see who God calls is not only about waiting for Gentiles to come in. Unless we have an over-realized eschatology, we know that some of our children have not yet been called. The promise of the gospel was never for those who never believe it.


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