Lou: All right. Here’s another question: “If death is not the penalty for sin, how can we understand the text that says, ‘Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin’ (Heb 9:22)? Why then does Jesus say to His Father, ‘My blood, My blood,’ when our name comes up for review?”
Graham: In Hebrews, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin,” is a reference to the Old Testament ceremonial system, where blood was constantly shed and appropriately applied. But one has to read on in Hebrews (10:3): “You see, the purpose was to be a constant reminder of sin.” Hebrews is clear that all that blood did not lead to forgiveness of sin (Heb 10:4), and it didn’t handle the problem of distrust. The many sacrifices were all pointing forward to the day when Christ would come to do it once and for all (Heb 10:10-14). Without His death there would be no answer. What is the use of being forgiven if you are going to live in a chaotic universe of continual war and distrust?
Lou: What about the words of Jesus, “My blood, My blood?”
Graham: Jesus is saying, “Remember why I died. Remember the meaning. Remember the answers that I gave. Remember how I made it possible and safe to forgive and heal sinners and let them into the Kingdom.”
Lou: But the implication here, if I heard you correctly, is that Jesus isn’t trying to talk the Father into feeling differently.
Graham: We’ll take a look at that in the next chapter. We will note Jesus saying, “There is no need for me to plead with the Father, for the Father Himself loves you.”
Lou: The Bible says things like “vengeance is Mine.” It also speaks about the wrath of God and the destruction of the wicked. What do you say about those kinds of expressions when speaking about our Lord?
Graham: Those questions will fit very well into the next chapter, “There Is No Need to Be Afraid of God.” But let’s take up the idea of “vengeance” briefly right here. In a couple of places the Bible says, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay” (Deut 32:35; Rom 12:19). In the first part of Romans 12:19 Paul says, “Leave room for the wrath of God. Don’t avenge yourself. Let Him do it.” God is saying to us, “Look, let Me take vengeance on My children because I love them all. But if I take vengeance on this enemy of yours, it might win him. Would you mind?” And you say, “Wait a minute. I’m not going to let You take vengeance, if vengeance means You are going to win my enemy over.” You see, the beauty of that is God saying, “Let Me discipline My own children. I might win some of them.” No wonder many of us don’t really want God to do the avenging. When He does, there’s the hazard that I might turn up in the Kingdom and meet my worst enemy there, because God has won him through the discipline of “vengeance.”
Lou: That means God is using the word “vengeance” in a quite different way than we might be capable of doing on our own.
Graham: I see God saying, “Let Me give your enemy what I think he needs.” And for us, that is hazardous. God might win your enemy and you’ll end up neighbors in heaven.
Lou: Someone else writes: “It is wonderful to know that God is a merciful, kind, loving, fair and just God. John 17:3 says, `This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the Father, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou has sent.’ Now here’s my question: How can a person really know Him and be sure that he knows Him?”
Graham: That’s beautiful. First of all you have to know about Him. If that doesn’t happen, how would you know Whom you are knowing? Then you need to understand the Biblical meaning of the word “know,” as we have discussed before. It’s even used for the relationship between a husband and his wife. Adam knew Eve his wife, and they didn’t just become acquainted; they had a baby. In the biblical sense, to know God is to love Him, to become friends. By way of contrast, when God says, “Go away; I never knew you” (Matt 7:21-23), He means, “We never were friends.” So to claim that one knows God means that one really loves and admires God for His wise and gracious ways. It means that one would really like to be regarded as God’s friend. It means being proud to be a friend of God. When you know God, I think it will show. It will show in the friendly feelings we have toward God. It will show in the jealousy we have for God’s reputation. We will want Him to be seen as He really is.
Lou: Last question. “I have always been concerned about people who wake up in the wrong resurrection and are truly surprised to find themselves there. They had worked in God’s name or Jesus’s name and done many wonderful works (Matt 7:21-23). If I were to die tonight, how would I know which resurrection I would come up in?”
Graham: It seems to me that the people described in Matthew 7 were involved in legalism. They were serving God for the wrong reason. From our perspective today, these would be individuals who are surprised to find they are lost because they think of all the tithe they have paid, and all the Sabbaths they have endured when they could have gone to the ball game. But they have never been God’s friends. So He says, “Go away; I never knew you.” Friendship is the very essence of the relationship God desires to have with His children.
One more thing. Friends are not afraid of each other, so the next chapter is entitled, “There Is No Need To Be Afraid of God.”