Thursday, October 26, 2023

“Once for All”

By Joe Chesser
    I love the expression “once for all” as it pertains to Jesus. Five times the expression appears in the New Testament (ESV) to encourage us and to deepen our faith by what Jesus did for us through his death on the cross.
  • “For the death he died he died to sin once for all ...” (Romans 6.10)
  • “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7.27)
  • “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption”   (Hebrews 9.12)
  • “But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9.26)
  • “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ  once for all” (Hebrews 10.10)
    I’m sure all of you who are reading this are also grateful to Jesus for what he did on the cross once for all. What Jesus did once for all is rich with meaning. The cross of Jesus did away forever with the need for more sacrifices for sin (Hebrews 7.27). By what Jesus did on the cross we are comforted knowing that God will never again remember the sins of those who belong to Christ (Hebrews 8.12; 10.17-18). That wasn’t possible under the Old Law. Forgiveness of sins makes it possible for the Holy Spirit to personally live in us (Acts 2.38), which wasn’t possible before the cross. Because of what Jesus did on the cross we are confident that he will come again to take us to be with him forever (John 14.3). Once for all means all of these promises are always available.
    However, what “once for all” does not mean is that everyone has accessed these promises. This is where the other time “once for all” appears in the New Testament is important to consider. It is found in Jude 3: “Beloved although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Is Jude saying that “our common salvation” based on what Jesus did at the cross is not as common as they might have thought?
    Despite what is popular in our culture today, according to Jesus, salvation is anything but common (see Matthew 7.13-14). Jesus said the wide and easy way is the most common way, but it does not lead the masses to salvation. He went on to say that the narrow and difficult way, which only a few will travel, is what actually leads to salvation. Further, Jesus said, “”Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7.21 emphasis mine). Is that perhaps why Jude was led by the Holy Spirit to appeal to his readers (and us) to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints? Is the will of the Father to be found only in “the faith” to which Jude referred? Was Jude pointing to the faith that was taught in the 1st century when the gospel was preached (Romans 1.16-17); or the faith that is foundational to Christians unity (Galatians 4.5); or the standard of teaching to which we are to be committed (Romans 6.17)? I believe so.
    “The faith that was once for all delivered” to the 1st century saints should never be taken lightly, even today.  It is that same once for all faith that informs us how to access the salvation that the once for all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross provides. Both are to be etched on our hearts. Neither are to be altered or dismissed in any way. In fact, it would do you (and me) good to regularly “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13.5). And stand firm once and for all!

- Joe Chesser worked for years with the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. Now retired from full time preaching, he may be contacted at

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