by Dr. Randy Hedlun
Hebrews 10:14 reads, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
There are truth statements in the Bible that, when we first really encounter them, seem too good to be true. While this is not actually the case, some truth is too good for the human mind to fully comprehend its full breadth and depth of power. This verse in Hebrews, within its supporting context, is just such a statement—it seems way too good for the mind to fully grasp its implications.
Perfection generally means achievement of an intended state; that which is transitioning from one stage to another, completing the transition to fully occupy the new status, form, or position. Examples include a child’s becoming an adult, a damaged body part’s becoming whole, produce’s developing and becoming ripe, something incomplete’s becoming complete, a new recruit’s becoming a full member of a group, an apprentice’s becoming a journeyman, etc.
In our helplessness and hopelessness, God initiated a means whereby our condition is perfected once and for all, forever. This qualifies us to transition from profane people to sacred people, fit to serve in the presence of God himself, compatible with holiness as proven on the day of Pentecost.
What does this mean? The offering of Christ’s body has perfected us forever. Sinfulness has been removed, and there are no requirements to put us in mind of our sinfulness. The application is not only to past and present but also to future sinfulness. The condition of being sinful has been dealt a permanent, fatal blow now and forever. And this is our condition, our status before God, while we are being transitioned from common to sacred, from profane to holy.
Perhaps a fanciful story will help illumine this truth to us:
A man of inestimable wealth, prestige, and sophistication, possessing an insatiable capacity for love and benevolence, takes to the streets searching for a willing object of his attention.
He discovers a child, a street urchin living in the alleys and slums of the city, surviving by performing petty crimes and scavenging. The child is illiterate, filthy, and vulgar in every aspect of his humanness, completely ignorant of social etiquette and ethical or moral excellence. The child is nameless, having early in life lost any connection to family, thus having no real legal status in society. He was disqualified from participating in society by his own criminal bent, his vulgar and offensive demeanor and physical condition.
The man confronts the child with an invitation to become his legal heir and live out his days in unimaginable refinement, safety, and limitless potential for learning and achievement. The boy agrees and is promptly taken before legal authorities to satisfy any judgments against him and to legally bestow on him the name of the benefactor. All legal provisions and requirements satisfied, the man takes the boy to live with him in his fine estate, which is complete with every conceivable refinement: personal staff to see to every need, the finest food, libraries, social events, and never-ending opportunities for affection and affirmation.
But the boy has no clue how to behave in this environment, what is expected of him, or how he could possibly ever live up to the opportunity and potential now afforded him through no initiative of his own. Transitioning from social illiteracy to knowledge commensurate to his new state will take time and will be marked by many failures, slips, self-disappointments, and frustrations.
But there is never a danger of him being expelled from his home or status. He has been perfected forever when his benefactor made him a legal heir, cleansed him of the physical, emotional, and legal residue of the slums, and installed him as his own heir. But the perfection (completeness) of his status is only the opportunity to reside in an environment that will, over time, transition him from ignorance to knowledge, vulgarity to refinement, commonness to sophistication. His perfected condition brought him permanently near to the benefactor. This nearness changes him into an heir who is qualified to represent with accuracy and authenticity the affairs of his new estate.
And so it is with us! We are perfected forever in Christ, while our faithful service to God enables us to grow in grace and knowledge, ever improving our reflection of His righteousness.
Randy Hedlun, D.Th., is the Dean of Berean School of the Bible at Global University. For more information about Global University, visit http://think.globaluniversity.edu.