Once for All
There is a finality about Christianity, and this finality has to do with our Lord fulfilling the law and the prophets—indeed, everything for which God created the world. For this reason, the New Testament speaks of Christ’s coming “in these last days” (1:1), “at the end of the ages” (9:26), and in “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4). After Jesus Christ, we expect no more Saviors, no more Lords, no more prophets in the “thus says the Lord” sense of things. Though God enlightens our minds through the Holy Spirit speaking to us through His word, that word through which God speaks is His definitive word, for the Son is the definitive word, the last word, the final word. After Christ, no more words need be spoken; everything else is proclamation of that word. Oh, it’s good proclamation, and God has commanded that His word be proclaimed for the salvation of the nations. But no one will ever improve on the word revealed in the sacred Scriptures, and any preacher who tries to is by definition a heretic.
The finality of the Christian faith also has to do with our Lord’s sacrifice. Sacrifices were not unique to the nation of Israel; pagans offered sacrifices even long before Abraham or the Mosaic Law. As a creature created in God’s image, man has always intuited his separation from God and the attendant need to offer something in atonement that might bring some kind of, if not reconciliation, at least propitiation to avert divine wrath. And ancient man knew that only blood could atone. I often wonder if we realize today how serious sin is given the fact that ours is such a bloodless worship.
But that, of course, is by design: “He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself…so Christ, having been offered once for the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” No more sacrifices are needed, no more blood be spilt; his is the definitive sacrifice, his the only blood. And all of this finality is wrapped up in who he is just as the Preacher proclaimed at the beginning of his sermon: He is the Son, “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (1:3). In other words, he is not only the last word or the final sacrifice—He is the Last Man, the Second and Final Adam, the One and Only Son, the Only-Begotten of his Father full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Thus, the Christian faith is founded on the last word, the last sacrifice, the Last Man, and hence that finality we inevitably feel when we read the Scriptures or pray. “Once for all” says it all; everything else is white noise.