Just for Catholics

The Mass and the Book of Hebrews

Question: I was wondering if you could explain Hebrews 10:26 in light of your statement, "In Biblical Christianity there are no more sacrifices for sin because Christians are assured that all their sins are forgiven forever." In Hebrews 10:26 we read, "For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins." What sacrifice is the letter of the Hebrews talking about here? Wasn't Hebrews written after the death and resurrection of our Lord? Sounds like there is a sacrifice for sin. I suggest it is the Mass. Remember, Hebrews was written to Jews who converted to Christianity and who were being challenged by Jews to come back to Judaism. The Epistle to the Hebrews was providing these converts with support and telling them not to go back to the Old Testament sacrifices.

Answer: Let us follow the argument of the tenth chapter of Hebrews. (I suggest that you read the entire chapter). The author first said that the Old Testament sacrifices could not take away sins. God has done away with the old sacrificial system and established the sacrifice of His Son as the only basis for forgiveness of His people. Christ offered one perfect sacrifice, and having finished His glorious work, He is now sitting down at the right hand of God. Since His sacrifice has truly accomplished its purpose, God declares that their sins are forgiven.

Furthermore, since the believer's sins are forgiven, there is no need for any more offerings for sin. "Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer any offering for sin" (10:17).

Now what happens to someone who received this knowledge of the Gospel, but continues to sin willfully, without repentance and without faith in Christ? The Bible warns him that "there is no longer remains a sacrifice for sins." The Old Testament sacrifices have been taken away and this obstinate person had rejected the sacrifice of Christ. What will happen to him? Since THERE REMAINS NO OTHER SACRIFICE FOR SIN, all he can expect is God's dreadful judgment and indignation.

You asked: What sacrifice is the letter of the Hebrews talking about here? The answer is clear: a sacrifice that DOES NOT EXIST, for there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin!

There is no alternative to Christ's unique and finished sacrifice. Either you approach God through that one and perfect sacrifice, or else there is no hope for you, or me, or anyone else.

Interestingly you mention the Mass, which according to Roman Catholic theology is a sacrifice for sin, a re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary in an unbloody manner. The problem with the Jewish converts was that they were used to daily and yearly sacrifices, but now in Christianity, there were no similar sacrifices. If the theology of the Mass was true, the author could have argued that in the Church there is a daily sacrifice of the Mass. But instead he argues that the daily, inefficient sacrifices of the old system were superseded by the once for all sacrifice of Christ. "Who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself" (7:27).

I urge you to consider your position before God. Are you resting for forgiveness on the once for all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross; or are you resting, at least in part, on some other sacrifice (whether it's the Mass or your own sufferings in the world or in purgatory?). Remember God's Word: "There is no longer an offering for sin" (10:17).

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A