The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews does not definitely affirm that Christianity is the ultimate religion, but the thought flashes and shimmers between the lines. What he sets himself to prove is that Christianity is better than Judaism, which was better than any other religion of that time. It follows then that Christianity was the best religion yet to appear. I think the author of Hebrews would go further and affirm that Christianity is absolute, and that no religion superior to it can ever arise.

What is the author’s conception of religion? What end is in view, as the central idea and object of religion? Is it not that of union and communion with God, access to and fellowship with divine reality? Is not religion, every religion, meant to be a method of escape and a method of access? Escape from what? Access to what? It is an escape from sin and evil of every sort, and an access to the source of life and all blessings.

The real test of any religion is this: Does it answer the purpose of religion? Does it enable its votaries to arrive? Does it bring the worshiper to a state of rest at the seat and center of reality? Does it lead to the perfect life and establish the perfect fellowship? If so, it is the true religion, the absolute and final, the religion of truth. It can never be superseded, nor have a successor in the purpose of God or the experience of man. For it realizes the idea of religion by accomplishing fully, finally, and forever the object for which religion exists. No one will question the ultimate supremacy and finality of the perfect.

Perfect Revelation

Can it be shown, therefore, that Christianity is this perfect religion? Does it give satisfaction and rest of mind and soul by bringing the seeker into possession of the object of his quest? We believe it does.

How does it do this? 1. By a perfect revelation of the object of man’s quest. 2. By a perfect removal of the obstacle in the way of approach to that object. 3. By a perfect reconciliation and renewal of man’s soul after the image of God.

First, the object of quest in religion is God. God cannot be found out by searching on the part of man. He can be known only as He chooses to reveal himself. God has been pleased to reveal Himself. He has come out of eternity into time, has appeared in human form, and has spoken in human language.

The Epistle to the Hebrews opens with this arresting statement: “God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son.” “Hath … spoken.” How formerly? Partially, variously. How finally? At the end of these days in his Son—that is, fully and finally. The Son knoweth the Father perfectly; no one else does. What could one do or say after all that was said and done by the Son? God’s Son is God’s last word to man, because there is nothing lacking. The revelation is complete, and therefore final.

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Perfect Removal

The obstacles in the way of approach to God is sin. Jesus came to take away that obstacle. “Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Judaism did not take away sin; it could not. No other religion besides Christianity can. Why? Because the mediators and means in other religions are unsuitable, insufficient, and ineffective. For example, the agents of Judaism—the prophets, priests, psalmists, and kings—were imperfect, by their own admission were imperfect in themselves, in their offerings, and in their service. What was true in these respects of Judaism is even more true of other religions. These systems, in their total sum and service, come short of perfection. Their agents and agencies are of the earth and of time, being shadows, symbols, types, unreal, and without effect in the sphere of the spiritual.

Of every high priest (except One) it is written that he is bound by reason of infirmity, as for his people, so for himself, to offer for sins (Heb. 5:3). As to the value of such offerings, this is the writer’s testimony:

For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them that draw nigh. Else would they have not ceased to be offered? Because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins year by year. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins (Heb. 10:1–4).

Turning from these things which belong to the realm of the shadowy and unreal, let us consider the author of the Christian religion, the Apostle and High Priest of our religion, even Jesus.

According to the Book, He was and is perfect, having been made perfect (by divine appointment, by the constitution of his person, and by his experience in life) for the thing he came to do, namely to bring many sons out of sin and shame to God and glory. He was perfect in relation to God, being himself God; perfect in relation to man, being himself man; perfect in character, being sinless, holy, undefiled; separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens (Heb. 7:26); perfect therefore in his qualifications to reveal God and remove sin to reconcile God and the sinner and to renew the sinner unto the image of God.

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The perfect efficacy of his mediation, revelation, expiation, and sanctification is due to two things:

The nature of his priesthood. It was not an official one, made by law of carnal commandment, inherited, and shared with others as was Aaron’s; rather, it was personal, original, eternal, without beginning or end like that of Melchizedek. His priesthood was grounded in his only and eternal Sonship. “Thou art my son,” said God (Ps. 2:7); “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Ps. 110:4). Jesus was priest by virtue of inherent and inalienable right. His priesthood was not passed to him by a predecessor, nor passed by him to a successor. His priesthood, by virtue of its nature, was solitary in its exercise and sovereign in its effectiveness.

The nature of his offering. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; wherefore, it was necessary that this high priest also have somewhat to offer (Heb. 8:3). Our heavenly high priest offered the Lamb of God, which was himself, the antitype of all the lambs slain on Jewish altars. This Lamb did what all other sacrificial lambs pointed to, but could not reach, namely, the removal of sin. “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” For “once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26).

The great High Priest of Christianity, royal and righteous, holy and undefiled, of God divine, of man human, a Son perfected forevermore, hath, by one offering of himself, perfected forever them that are sanctified (Heb. 10:14). Why? Because of the nature of his offering. It was personal, not animal; rational, not irrational; free, not forced; voluntary, not compulsory as were the offerings of Judaism; therefore, it was ethical and possessed of moral worth and power.

In the Christian religion, priest and victim, offerer and offering, sacrificer and sacrifice, are one and the same, together making a complete transaction, exhausting the idea of priesthood, and filling full the whole intention of religion. This consummate sacrifice accomplished perfectly the aim of all sacrifice and so made an end of sacrificial offerings. For where remission of sins is, there is no more offering for sin (Heb. 10:18).

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It is noteworthy that within a few years after the death of Christ, the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and the sacrificial offerings of Jewish worship came to an end. Those who looked upon Christ as a sacrifice soon ceased to offer to God any bloody sacrifice at all. And wherever the Christian message penetrated, sacrificial altars were deserted and dealers in sacrificial beasts found no purchasers. If there is one thing that is certain in the history of religion, it is that the death of Christ put an end to all bloody sacrifice in the worship of God. Why? Because the aim and object of such sacrifices had been fully accomplished. To continue them would have been useless, even sinful. Here is an illustration of the truth: “When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Cor. 13:10).

What have we shown in all this? Two things, namely that the revelation of God in Christ is complete, and therefore final; and that the removal of sin by Christ is complete, therefore final. “When he had made purification of sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). He sat down because this phase of his task had been finished.

Perfect Reconciliation

A third thing follows: the reconciliation of God and of man. With sin removed, a way, a new and living way, has been opened into the presence of God where there is favor and forgiveness and fellowship forevermore. Since Christian religion accomplishes these three things, it is rightly called the perfect religion and, therefore, the final religion. Finality is equivalent to eternality. The everlastingness of Christ’s work is abundantly asserted in Hebrews. Thus: Christ’s blood is the blood of an eternal covenant; he offered himself through the eternal spirit; he obtained eternal redemption; he has become the author of eternal salvation; and he enables men to get hold of the eternal inheritance. Finality belongs only to the complete. Permanence is the property of the perfect.

In confirmation of this argument from the Epistle to the Hebrews, we should consider these questions:

Is not the incarnation of the Son of God the final step of God’s approach to man? Can you imagine a closer relation between the divine and the human?

Is not the death of the incarnate Son of God for sinners the final expression of God’s love?

Is not the resurrection of Christ the ultimate disclosure of life and immortality, the perfect proof of the power of life over death?

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Is not the sinless manhood of Christ the ultimate goal conceivable of human life? Can you conceive of a higher destiny for man than Christlikeness?

The ascension of Christ and his session at the right hand of the Majesty on high is a symbol of his finality. He ascended to the throne of God over the world. Two corollaries follow from the finality of Christianity:

It is the only true religion, the one and only way to God. If there had been a religion before Christ that brought men and God together in holy and happy relationship, there would have been no need for his coming. Had there been another way than Jesus, Peter never could have said, “There is none other name under heaven that is given among men, wherein we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The notion so common today that all religions are ways to God is thoroughly unscriptural.

The Christian religion is destined to replace all so-called religions. Since Christianity is the only true religion, it is clearly our duty to give Christianity to all mankind. And we may undertake the great enterprise in full confidence of ultimate success. The real must displace the unreal, the true must triumph over the false, the best must in the end prevail.


James Benjamin Green served 1921–50 as Professor of Theology in Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia, where the chair of theology has been endowed in his name.

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