This post is an excerpt from the book review of Death of Death in the Death of Christ.
There are several passages of the word of God that teach that Christ died for those that ultimately perish. These passages don’t teach that Christ died for all, because they only talk about specific groups or even one individual. Nevertheless, these are powerful arguments that Christ died for all, because they disprove substantially every Calvinist argument for limited atonement.
I plan on examining three passages starting with Hebrews 10.
26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
My plan here is to use the immediate context to shed some light on what exactly is being said here, then to provide three arguments based on this passage that Christ died for those who ultimately perish.
Examining the Passage
What does “remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” mean?
This isn’t the first time in Hebrews 10 we read an expression like this. In verse 18 we read:
18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
This will help provide some insight into what is being said in verse 26. Verses 1-17 explain that Christ made His sacrifice once, not repeatedly as the Levitical priests did. Further, we are sanctified through His offering, but the Levitical sacrifices couldn’t take away sins. So verse 18 is saying that because Christ offered once, not repeatedly, and because sins are taken away through Christ’s one offering, there is no need for further offering, either by Christ or the Levitical priests. Christ’s offering is done, no need to repeat it. The Levitical offerings never did take away sins – no need to continue them. There is no more offering for sins.
The meaning in verse 26 is the same. Neither the Levitical sacrifices nor a second sacrifice by Christ will save them. There is no more sacrifice for sins.
What is the willful sin?
A theme of the book of Hebrews is the superiority of Christ’s sacrifice to those of the Levitical priests. There are at least 11 comparison and contrasts in chapters 7-10. Each shows how Christ and the priests sacrifices were similar, and each shows how Christ’s sacrifice was better. We have another comparison and contrast here. Those that sin willfully against the Law of Moses are not as bad off as those who sin willfully by counting Christ’s blood as unholy.
Moses’ law provided God’s commands for living. They could not save, but they show God’s standards. This is not a sin against the Law of Moses. Rather, this sin is made against the blood of the new covenant. After these “received the knowledge of the truth” they counted Christ’s blood as unholy. In short, it’s rejecting Christ, not just rejecting the law.
What is “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries”?
Verses 22-25 speak of a “full assurance of faith” and holding “fast the profession of our faith without wavering” “as ye see the day approaching”. This is talking about our assurance of salvation upon Christ’s return. The judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries is what awaits those whom Christ does not save. In short, it’s hell.
What is Sanctification?
Sanctification means cleansing and in this case the passage is talking about cleansing via the blood of the covenant. The covenant is the new covenant which the 8th chapter describes in detail and verses 10:16-17:
16This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
17And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
It includes regeneration and forgiveness of sins. Christ’s offering establishes the new covenant and through His offering we are cleansed or sanctified. (verse 10 & 14) So sanctification here means cleansing of sins through Christ’s blood.
So putting all the pieces together we understand the passage to be saying that those who sin willfully by rejecting Christ’s blood that cleansed their sins have no other alternative sacrifices to turn to for forgiveness and therefore have hell to fear.
So here’s my argument that Christ died for those Who Ultimately Perish:
P1: If Christ did not bleed for someone, they cannot be sanctified by Christ’s blood
P2: These were sanctified by Christ’s blood
C1: Christ bled for them
P3: These ultimately perish
C2: Christ bled for those who ultimately perish
This argument is plain enough. The passage says they were sanctified by the blood of the covenant. Very odd if Christ didn’t die for them.
This argument is bolstered by the phrase “there remains no sacrifice for sin”. What no longer remains, once was. They used to be able to make sacrifices for sins under the old covenant. Now they cannot, because Christ’s sacrifice replaced the old covenant with the new. So it would seem odd if they were able to seek forgiveness under the old covenant, but not under the new and better covenant. The substance would be casting a shadow shaped differently than itself. The phrase “the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified” shows that these people were brought into the new covenant by Christ’s death. The phrase “remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” shows they were brought out of the old covenant by Christ’s death.
Some argue that sanctify doesn’t always mean cleanse from sin. The one passage in the NT that may teach this is 1 Corinthians 7.
If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
13And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
15But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
16For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
This might mean that the unbelieving husband is lead to faith by the wife, as verse 16 seems to indicate. If this were the case there would be no passages using sanctification in a non-salvation context. But on the other hand perhaps it means that the husband is brought into a “clean” family and has some blessings from God and perhaps even some influences which help him avoid some sins. This would mean the person is sanctified, but not forgiven.
But in Hebrews 10 we are talking about sanctification through Christ’s blood, not through a marriage. Christ’s blood has everything to do with God’s forgiveness of sins, marriage does not. The term sanctification is used in Hebrews 10 in verses 10 and 14 in relation to forgiveness as can be seen by verse 17. Why don’t those verses provide a better context to define sanctification than 1 Corinthians 7?
Further, this counter argument would have to demonstrate not just that this sanctification is one that does not save. It would have to also show that this sanctification is not done by Christ’s blood. But the passage clearly says they were sanctified by the blood of the covenant.