And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment— so also Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him (Heb. 9:27-28).
In the first part of verses 27 and 28, the writer of Hebrews makes a comparison between the deaths of all people and the death of Christ. The second part of both verses includes a surprising difference. The death of all human beings is followed by judgment. As for Jesus Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time. Why will he appear a second time? Not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
The only exception to it is appointed for people to die once are those alive when Christ returns, Elijah, and Enoch. Death is a reality for all human beings because of sin. Death is the penalty for sin (Rom. 6:23), and we have all sinned (Rom. 3:23). Paul tells us that for the Christian, the sting of death is removed by the cross, When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Cor. 15:54-57). But even so, death is a reminder of sin and of God’s holy justice.
Scriptures tells that the time of our birth and death have been appointed by God. David states, Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began (Ps. 139:16). Think about that. We are all born at the appointed time, no sooner, no later. We all die at the appointed time, no sooner, no later. We are reminded of what Job said when his ten children died, The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).
All die at the appointed time and after death comes judgment. We do not die and come back as something else, which is what the doctrine of reincarnation teaches. Neither does death afford anyone with a second chance to believe and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus stated, The one who rejects me and doesn’t receive my sayings has this as his judge (John 12:48). This is precisely why Paul says that …now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).
For those who have believed the gospel and have placed their trust in Christ, they will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life (John 5:24). Paul states, Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). The judgment that Christians will appear before is a vastly different kind of judgment. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul says, For we [Christians] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil (2 Cor. 5:10).
The Lord’s second coming will to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. His second coming will have no sin reference, Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin. In the present, the Christian is being conformed into the image of Christ. He or she is being made holy. In the future, the Christian will be completely and finally saved. Just listen to John’s words, Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is (1 John 3:2). The complete fulfillment is still future, and we are earnestly waiting for him to return so that we can finally rest in him.
The ceremonies of the Day of Atonement are in mind here. The high priest entered the Most Holy Place on behalf of the people of Israel. The outcome would be uncertain until the high priest returned into view from behind the curtain to confirm that all was well.
Just so, Jesus is presented as having ascended into heaven, to the Most Holy Place. One day he too will return into public view to confirm and proclaim the promised salvation.
All people will stand before God. Those who follow Christ have hope, knowing that just as death and judgment are certain, so is their hope.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.
Dr. Miguel J. Gonzalez is the Founder and President of Reasons for Faith International Ministries. He served as a pastor for ten years in Charlotte, NC and has taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States. He currently hosts the Time in the Word and Truth To Live By podcasts and writes at KnowingChristianity.blogspot.com.
Copyright © 2006–2021 by Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D. and published by Reasons for Faith International Ministries, Inc. by permission. No part may be altered or edited in any way. Permission is granted to use in digital or printed form so long as it is circulated without charge, and in its entirety. This document may not be repackaged in any form for sale or resale. All reproductions must contain the copyright notice (i.e., Copyright © 2006-2021 Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D.) and this Copyright/Limitations notice.