Christ’s Death is Necessary

Ray Stedman tells how he met with a group of men and women to whom the director of a Christian Conference Center was explaining certain of the procedures involved in securing additional property for the expansion of their ministry. He described one case where a deed had been exec … More


The author uses the illustration of a will (vv. 16-17). A will requires the death of its own maker. It can be changed many times, so long as its maker lives; but his death sets it in force. Christ’s death put into effect the will and covenant He had made for all who have fulfilled its requirements. Wills are of no value to the beneficiaries until the death of the will-maker. That is what the writer argues in this passage. Without death, it is impossible to receive the benefits of the covenant God makes.

As an illustration of how this actually happens, the Old Testament sacrifices might be compared to the writing of a check (vv 18-22). The paper upon which it is written is practically worthless. Yet it is used and accepted in the place of money. This is because it is backed by money that has been placed in the bank. Christ’s death was deposited (planned by God) from the very beginning of the world and backed the Old Testament sacrifices. With Christ’s actual death upon the cross, the deposit was released, and all the past checks were honored and paid in full.

The cross is God’s way of saying there is nothing in us worth saving, apart from Christ. These verses point out how the blood of Christ is superior to the blood of animal sacrifices. Jesus shed His blood and gave His life for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to experience spiritual death, eternal separation from God. Because of the shedding of Christ’s blood and His death, He has accomplished what the Old Covenant could not. The Old Testament sacrifices could not take away sin; they merely made covering for sin.


As long as I am still struggling to use my abilities to do something for God it will never be acceptable. I am not indispensable to Him; He is indispensable to me.

Hebrews 9:16-22 (English Standard Version)

For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, "This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you." And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

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