By Tom M. Roberts
Twisted passages and perverted Scriptures are nothing new, indeed they are essential to every position of error. Scarcely a passage of Scripture has avoided a re-definition by proponents of false doctrine. But true exposition of Scripture is the answer to every perversion. “Preaching another gospel” (Gal. 1:6-9) must always be met by the “true gospel” (Gal. 2:5). Faithful exegesis of Scripture is a most ennobling and rewarding occupation of time and will put to rest the gainsaying of the boldest adversary. I fear that we preachers do not spend enough time in exegesis because of the demands it makes on our time, opting too many times for topical subjects in our preaching because it provides a handy short-cut for pulpit work. However, reserving the discussion of hermeneutics for another time, let us consider now the effect of twisting Scripture as it relates to our text, Hebrews 10:7. Remembering the warning of Peter concerning damnation to those who “wrest the scriptures” (2 Pet. 3:16), let us learn what is meant of Jesus when He came to do the will of God.
Text and Context
Our text states: “Then said I, Lo, I am come (In the roll of the book it is written of me) To do thy will, O God.”
This is set in the context of the entire Hebrew letter of comparing the Old Covenant with the New, the New being built on better promises, with a better mediator, etc. The immediate context deals with the fact that the new Covenant is built upon a better sacrifice, namely, the sacrifice of Jesus. In fact, if you will notice, the word is sacrifice” is found in 10:1, “they” refers to the sacrifices in v. 2, 40sacrifice” in v. 3, “blood of bulls and goats” in v. 4, “sacrifice” in v. 5 (tied directly to the prophecy of the body of Christ being prepared), “sacrifices” in vv. 8, 11, 12, and “offering” in v. 14. Thus, any position which ignores this context and leaps outside of it to teach something else is truly guilty of “wresting” the Scriptures. So we need to consider carefully what this verse is saying that Jesus was doing when He “came to do thy will, O God.”
A Body Prepared for Sacrifice
The Hebrew writer began chapter 8 by asserting that we have “such a high priest” (holy, guileless, undefiled, 7:26) who “needeth not daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people, for this he did once for all, when he offered up himself” (7:27). Rather, our high priest is sitting on the right hand of the throne of God, a “minister of the true tabernacle” (8:2). As a high priest, He must have something to offer, but Jesus could not serve on earth under the Old Covenant, so the covenant was changed (8:8-13) to permit Jesus to minister. But what is He to offer as a sacrifice for the sins of the people? Not the “blood of goats and bulls, but through his own blood, entered (he) in once for all into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption” (9:11-12). This blood also became the basis for the new covenant, showing the death of the testator (9:15-22). But while the blood of animals served well under the old covenant, it was necessary that the “heavenly things themselves” (9:23) be cleansed with “better sacrifices.” It was for this reason that Christ entered into the holy place (heaven), “having been once offered to bear the sins of many” (9:28).
It is with this background that we now approach chapter 10 which considers the sacrifice that Jesus ministered in the “true tabernacle.” To prove to his original readers (who had a Jewish perception regarding sacrifices) that the sacrifice of Jesus’ body was not some new and strange doctrine, the writer now quotes from the Old Testament, accepted Jewish Scriptures, to show that God had intended this from the first. No less an authority than David had stated by inspiration that God “had no pleasure” in “whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin” (10:5-6; confer Psa. 40-6ff). From this, the writer concludes that God took away the first covenant that He might establish the second (10:9), in order that Jesus might sacrifice something better than animals, namely, Himself. “To do thy will, O God,” quite obviously, in keeping with the context, was that Jesus offered His body instead of animals as this new sacrifice. God had no pleasure in animals, i.e., they did not satisfy the divine will for full redemption. As Isaiah foretold it: “Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied (emp. mine, tr): by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities” (53: 10-11). Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself did something which no animal could have done: provide reconciliation on the basis of atonement. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (10:14). In this instance, in verse 7, “doing thy will” refers to Jesus submitting to death (Phil. 2:5-8) and becoming the sacrifice for sin. This is the text in agreement with its context.
Some Twist This Verse
“To do thy will, O God,” is taught by some to mean that Jesus lived a. perfect life, honoring the law which sinful man could not do, and providing perfect obedience for (and instead of) man, this moral perfection being transferred to the account of man. That Jesus lived a perfect life and that this sinlessness honored God and His law, none will deny. But this verse does not teach it, nor does any verse teach that Jesus lived perfectly in my stead and that His obedience is transferred to my account. All of this fanciful doctrine is but an extension of the Calvinist’s belief that man is corrupted in nature, unable to think or do any good. Since man cannot do any good, God must do it all for him. It is with this view of man that the error affirms that Jesus came to fulfill law-keeping for man and uses this verse as a proof-text. Their faulty conclusion is that “doing thy will” refers to perfect law-keeping instead of offering Himself as a sacrifice. But, I ask you, in the light of the context, what is the Scripture teaching?
|“TO DO THY WILL, O GOD”|
|Perfect Obedience||Perfect Obedience|
|For (instead of )Man’s Faulty Obedience||As God’s Son (servant) Which “Perfected” The Sacrifice On The Cross|
|Law-keeping As That “Offering”||His Body: The Offering|
|No SCRIPTURE||Perfect Obedience:
Heb. 5:14-16; Heb. 7:26-27
Heb. 9:11-14; 9:23-26; 10:12-20
So that all might realize that these faulty concepts are not a figment of someone’s imagination, I offer the following quotations in evidence to prove that people have the wrong concept of the life of Christ.
“By our sins we became God’s enemies rather than his friends, and this broken relationship left us with a double burden. We had not given God His demanded perfection as creatures; we had brought on ourselves the death penalty for our sins. And we could not remedy either situation ourselves. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, came as our Savior to do both” (A Certain Salvation, Edward Fudge, p. 38).
“The sinner can be justified on no other basis than perfect obedience to the law (Rom. 2:13). The Law Giver Himself came to this world to render that perfect obedience in man’s behalf. By His own perfect living in human flesh He magnified the law and made it honorable (Isa. 42:21)” (Present Truth, Special Issue, “Justification by Faith,” p. 27).
” . . . man is guilty before God – legally. That problem had to be solved before man could be free of his moral pollution. One had to come and magnify the law and make it honorable” (Persuader, 11/8/76, p. 1).
Many more quotations, with much greater detail, could be given to illustrate how Scriptures are twisted with regard to this matter. Many passages of Scriptures are used by Calvinists as proof-texts for their contentions, but each is twisted rather than exegeted. I heartily recommend Bill Reeves’s work in Neo-Calvinism in the Church of Christ, “Proof texts Examined” (pp. 206ff), as he takes passage after passage and shows its true meaning, especially as it ,regards this subject.
Just Accept the Truth
Brethren, there is no need to make more, less, or something else of any Scripture than what God intended. We have a full salvation provided by God through Jesus Christ. We can accept the gift of God’s grace without pushing and pulling it out of shape to try to conform to the creeds of men. Why not just accept the fact that Jesus offered His body on the cross as a sacrifice for sin. Jehovah could accept the sacrifice because it was without spot. When we accept Jesus, we receive the benefits of that sacrifice and are redeemed. Our sins are not transferred, but forgiven, through the precious blood (1 Pet. 1:19). A “certified gospel” (Gal. 1:11) needs no improvement.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 7, pp. 195-196
April 2, 1987