How significant this phrase Once for all
stands out in the Apostolic writings. What was necessary in order that the redeeming work of Messiah may be pronounced final and complete? How often was the Lord offered to bear the sin of many? It was once. Did He appear among men with the definite purpose of putting away sin by the sacrifice of Himself? It was once in the end of the age.
As with the work, so also with the message. Does the word of salvation, the Gospel of God’s Grace come to us to-day as it did to those who first heard it two thousand years ago? Indeed so, and it comes to us as the faith once delivered to the saints
, once for all, and with the timely exhortation that we contend for it with becoming earnestness (Hebrews 9 v26-28).
What do we understand by the formula which thus underscores the saving work of Messiah, and proceeds to enforce the glad message of the Gospel? Nothing less than this, that the Salvation of God is a finished work, that it comes to us as a form of sound words to which we may make no addition, and from which we have no right to take anything away.
1. Once for all; here we have a sign and symbol of Eternal Redemption. Our Lord is not merely a compassionate comrade of men, taking them from the miry clay, and setting their feet upon a rock; He is one who, by one oblation of Himself once offered, made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of mankind. While, of course, there is a sense in which salvation is a being saved in the present, and also a sense in which salvation expresses a yet future deliverance from the body of sin and corruption; none the less, there is that one and completed work of ransom, that work of the victorious Christ, which lies behind every redemptive process and purpose. The Son of God came among men to do that which only He could perform. He made Himself an offering for sin, and finished the work which the Father gave Him to do. This He tells us Himself in terms that are explicit and admit of no qualification.
What follows? Just this; that man is not his own saviour, he cannot be. No man can redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him. It is for us men and women to accept and embrace that which has been achieved once for all; When we were without strength, Messiah, Yeshua died for the ungodly. The great word of the prophet appeals to experience, even as it accords with reason. God saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation unto Him, and His righteousness sustained Him. That was long ago, once for all. Nothing was left for man to do but to enter upon the blessing in all fullness, for time and eternity.
2. Once for all; here we have a watchword against deadly error. Not only was the offering once for all, but the same is true of the message to be promulgated. We turn our minds to the Apostolic statement that the faith was once for all delivered unto the saints. It is not something upon which man has stumbled, as it were by accident, and which he proceeds forthwith to finish. Rather, the record of the one Atoning Sacrifice, the Gospel of our Salvation, has been committed to us in a Divine completeness, for our comfort and direction throughout life’s pilgrimage. What more can we want? Yet men talk and write of our growing creed! We have no use for such language, for we recognize no such creed. What is a growing creed but a building of the human upon the Divine, with a necessary overgrowth that are wanting in authority and without saving power?
There is no need for human addition to the faith once delivered to the saints. The Gospel comes to us not for discussion, but for acceptance; not to be overlaid with our notions, but to be preached among men in simplicity, in order that those who hear may turn to God in penitence of heart, and praise Him for all that is involved in the redeeming work of Messiah.
It is readily admitted that this is not a form of teaching which panders to human pride and complacency. Sad to say, there are those who, while professing allegiance to Messiah, have a mind to place Him in a class with world teachers and benefactors. Such men and women boast that they ‘move with the times’; but they show a deplorable misunderstanding of the sublime enactments of long ago, and feed their souls upon theories that are far removed from the events which tell of the mercy and goodness of God in sending His Son, and the Son Himself in coming to give his life a ransom for many.
The preacher who would work for God and Eternity, building up His people on their most holy faith, is enabled to use terms of finality; there is now no condemnation to them who are in Messiah Yeshua, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. The Message was delivered once for all, and that is a message which suffices to meet the spiritual hunger of our day.
3. THANK GOD for the finished work of redemption, and for a form of teaching that is full and complete, set forth in His Holy Word, and such as may be made known among men with joyous confidence. An unhesitating dissemination of saving doctrine does not consist with a ‘growing creed’, every clause of which must be argued because impossible of vindication on the ground that it has been given by inspiration of God’. The thought that man has been left to grope his way to light in regard to Divine things is sadly out of harmony with a Providential order which makes for the greater glory of God through the redeeming work of Messiah.
That which was delivered we have received, and thereby we are enriched for time and eternity. The very elements of the faith stir our hearts; that Christ(Messiah) died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried; and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. The truths here affirmed admit of an ever deepening apprehension, and are a treasure from which the instructed scribe may bring forth things new and old. But ‘a growing faith’ is something alien to such a source of Divine knowledge.
The God of our life has His delights with the son of men, notwithstanding their waywardnesss of heart, and has devised means whereby His banished ones may be brought back to Himself. And as we accept with fulness of heart the sin offering of Yeshua, Jesus once for all, we are placed in a position which enables us to acquiesce in the familiar words of the Apostle, that the things which God has prepared for them that love Him are not such as have been seen with the eye, or heard with the ear, but rather are things which God has revealed by His Spirit, the Spirit which searcheth all things, even the deep things of God.