Summary: Christ’s sacrifice was a once for all event, dealing with His people’s sin past, present and future.
We have already seen from chapters 9 and 10 of Hebrews, quite a few reasons why Christ’s sacrifice was infinitely better than those of OT times. Now let me read 5 verses from these two chapters to you and see if you notice anything.
9:12 He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
9:26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
9:28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
10:10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
10:12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God
Five times in these two chapters the words one and once are used to describe Christ’s sacrifice and for further emphasis, in verses 24 to 26 of Ch 9 we are told that the sacrifice of Christ was not to be repeated often, as with the yearly sacrifices on Yom Kippur. So how many times was Christ to be sacrificed then? Have you got it? Christ was to be sacrificed … ONCE and only ONCE!
THERE is a word here which recurs, like a note on an organ beneath the tumult of majestic sound. Five times, at least, it rolls forth its thunder, pealing through all ages, echoing through all worlds, announcing the finality of an accomplished redemption to the whole universe of God "ONCE!"
Although this point is emphasised so strongly and clearly in these two chapters, it is also confirmed elsewhere in Scripture. For example Peter said: Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit 1Pe 3:18. And in Romans 6 Paul declared: 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God
Why then does the Roman Catholic church teach that Christ’s sacrifice is repeated every time they celebrate mass? They obviously have a problem with the maths of Hebrews, but worse they impugn the effectiveness of His sacrifice. The reason that the OT sacrifices needed to be repeated was because they were not effective – they could never truly take away sin 10v1. In contrast Christ’s one sacrifice is eternally effective and so doesn’t ever need to be repeated. (More numerate RCs agree that Jesus was only sacrificed once, but it is not the official, historical teaching.)
What the high-priest acted out every year, Christ did once for real. "He died unto sin once." By virtue of his own shed blood, he went once for all into the real Holy of Holies, appearing in the presence of God for us as our great High-Priest, and forever leaving the way open to those who dare to follow. As Israel’s sin for the previous year was carried away into the desert by the scapegoat, to be put away, so sin, past present and future, rested on Jesus on the cross. He was made sin in my place and bore the judgement of God that I deserved that I might go free.
9:24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another–– 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
10: 1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. … 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.