THE blood of the everlasting covenant
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:21)
In the above passage, reference is made to the Lord Jesus Christ as being a “Great Shepherd,” who was “brought again from the dead” by, or through “the blood of the everlasting covenant”. But how is this so? This passage is a key verse utilised by those who believe that a man either cannot, or will not, be raised to judgment unless they first come into contact with the blood of Christ. Christ, it is argued, was raised by his own blood – and how can his brethren be raised upon any other basis than that upon which Christ himself was raised? And how can they be raised through his blood, unless they come into contact with it through Baptism?
The answer to this problem is presented very succinctly by Bro Ron Abel in his book, Wrested Scriptures:
1 This theory distorts the significance of the blood of Christ and the scriptural teaching on the resurrection which is a means, or an instrument to an end – the distribution of rewards and punishments. The actual rising forth out of the ground is only an incidental event. This is proved by the fact that at the appearing of Christ, saints will go into the kingdom without experiencing death at all, (1Thes 4:15-17), yet all these have been washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev 5:9; 7:14).
2 When the writer to the Hebrews declared that the Lord Jesus was brought again from the dead, he was not referring merely to the rising forth of the ground but of the whole great and glorious bestowal of immortality. To confine the meaning of this verse to a mere rising out of the ground is a narrow, mechanical, and erroneous view of the whole process.
3 The following two passages indicated the way in which resurrection is not confined to a mere emergance from the ground, but rather a means to what follows thereafter:
- a) When Paul declared, “Of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question” (Acts 23:6), he was not confining his hope to a mere emergence from the ground, but rather he was looking forward to being bestowed with the crown of life which fadeth not away (cf 2Tim 4:8; Phil 3:20-21).
- b) “In the resurrection whose wife of them is she?” (Luke 20:33).
Would any assert that the meaning here is only the rising from the ground? It is obvious that the meaning here has to do with conditions after the actual raising from the dead has been accomplished.
4 Whatever interpretation is given to explain the blood of Christ as the agent for bringing again the dead, must also be the same explanation to apply to the quick (living). On the day appointed for the appearing of the Lord two classes of saints will be gathered at the voice of the archangel and the trump of God:
- a) First – the dead.
b) Second – those who are alive and remain (1Thes 4:13-17).
Whatever efficacy the blood of Christ has, it is just as efficacious for the quick as it is for the dead.
5 Even if it could be proven (which it cannot) that this passage means that all those touched with the blood of Christ will come out of the ground, it does not necessarily follow that only those touched with the blood of Christ will rise out of the ground. The logic involved with this theory is:
- All baptized will be raised.
2. Therefore, all the raised are the baptized.
Which is like saying:
All crows are black birds Therefore all black birds are crows.
(obviously not all black birds are crows, some are pigeons)
- This legalistic theory of the blood of Christ which in fact means that God cannot (or will not – CAM) raise those not baptized must be rejected as infringing on the sovereignty of God. It allows that mortal men can decide by his own act (or failure to act I.e., to be baptized) whether or not he will make himself accountable to his Creator. What more pernicious and erroneous theory than that which teaches a teenager that it rests in his own hands whether or not he makes himself accountable to God?”