Scripture Queries and Answers: He Led Captivity Captive; LEV 16; HEB 10:29; 1PE 4:17

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A. Christ in ascending led captive the evil powers which held man captive previously. It had nothing to do with the O.T. saints or any others. The Lord after death went to Paradise where His Father received His Spirit. It was in Hades, not yet Gehenna, that the rich man lifted up his eyes, being in torments. The express object of the parable is to show the great and immediate change in the unseen state for the believer, no matter how wretched now, and for the unbeliever, no matter how at ease here. Resurrection or final judgment is not in question. The converted robber on dying joined the Lord in Paradise. Abraham's bosom, the blessed expression before, was not suitable for Him and His now, though both speak of bliss in heaven; and Paradise still remains for the risen and glorified by-and-by (Rev. 2:77He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)).
A.-The first text refers to the exceptional action of Aaron as representing first his own house, next the people, on Atonement-day. The second presents the normal place of Christ's priesthood on high. The third speaks of Christ's entrance there once for all, not by His personal perfection which would have been for Himself alone, but by His own blood in infinite efficacy, having found an eternal redemption. Lev. 16 figures this and more even to the restoration of Israel by-and-by as a shadow, not the very image which the N.T. alone gives. Nor indeed does the Epistle disclose the union of the body with the Head; but it fully reveals that entrance of the Lord into heaven once for all, due alike to His person and His work.
Q.-Heb. 10:2929Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29). (1) Those persons guilty of renouncing Christ's sacrifice, and objects of divine judgment to the last degree, in what way can it be said that such were sanctified by the blood of the covenant? Also (2) 1 Peter 4:1717For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17), what is meant by the time is come when judgment must begin at the house of God, and the end of those that obey not the gospel of God? R.M.
A.-(1) None can be compared for guilt with apostates; and apostates from the gospel are immeasurably worse than from the law. These are the persons in view here. If they now abandoned the infinite sacrifice of the Savior which they hitherto had confessed, there was no other that could avail for their sins. None had real and everlasting efficacy but that one; and those who gave it up, after owning it, were absolutely resourceless. Only divine judgment awaited them which must be their perdition. Their guilt was despite of grace, and of the Holy Spirit its witness and power. Of course in their case it had been mere profession, and the sanctification but outward in separating them from their Jewish fellows who made the law (that is, their own righteousness under it) their sole dependence before God. They never possessed living faith in Christ; “they only received the knowledge of the truth,” of which flesh is quite capable. And what flesh takes up it can as easily give up under trials, which only by grace lead the believer to purge himself practically as well as into a holy deepening acquaintance with God. “For the just shall live by faith,” besides receiving remission of sins by Christ's blood.
So (2) the apostle Peter refers to the broad general principle of God, and particularly to Ezek. 9:66Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. (Ezekiel 9:6). His house is the special sphere of His moral government; and if departure and disorder be allowed there, there His judgment must begin though it will extend to all mankind and the whole earth. If His people dishonor, Him, they must bear the righteous consequences, while grace knows how to save those who are His. Compare 1 Cor. 11:3232But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:32). Yet the difficulty of the salvation here spoken of is great, considering their own utter weakness, the many trials in a world of sin, and the exceeding danger from a subtle and sleepless foe. Only God's power and faithfulness could bring His own through the wilderness. Now if this be so with the righteous one who calls on Him as Father and has Him guarding by His power (1 Peter 1:55Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5)), if he is saved with a difficulty insuperable save to God; how will it fare with the impious and sinful man? The warning is solemn, the argument plain and forcible, the condition inevitable. We may assuredly apply, as a general maxim, what our Lord said to His amazed disciples of the particular peril for a rich man and his salvation: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” It is by grace only that any sinful souls are saved, through faith; and this not of themselves, but the gift of God; not of works, lest any one should boast.