"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

When Jesus Comes for You the Second Time It Is Without Reference to Sin

We are all familiar that Christ came into the world the first time to die. Christ fulfilled the Law--born during the Feast of Tabernacles, died during the Feast of Passover, rose from the grave on the Feast of Firstfruits, and sent His Spirit at Pentecost to write a new Law in the hearts of His people--and then took away (abrogated) the old Law in order to establish the New Covenant (Heb. 10:9). The promises of the New Covenant in Christ are so much superior than the conditional promises of the Law (Old Testament).  Pity the believers who have no understanding of their freedom in Christ.  When New Testament churches try to replicate what the Hebrews had-- turning the church into a Temple, the pastors into authoritative priests, and Spirit-led service and worship into obedience to commandmants--then the entire joy of New Covenant living is shattered. "You shall know the truth (notice the definite article "the" truth), and the truth (Christ) shall set you free!" One of the tools some preachers use to keep their congregation subservient and obedient to laws the preacher wishes to impose on God's people is fear. Fear of Christ coming to judge them for their disobedience. Fear of Christ's return to earth when every thought and deed of His people will be revealed for what it is--insufficient obedience to God.  It seems that many evangelical preachers know no other means to motivate God's people than through fear.

Hebrews 9:28 knocks the legs out from any preacher who tries to motivate Christians through fear of Christ's second coming. This verse states, "So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." The imagery here is powerful. The writer of Hebrews has already explained how Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law in His first coming. He came to earth as the Lamb of God to die. He shed His blood for God's people at the cross. He rose from the grave. He entered true Temple (the one not made with human hands) and presented His blood as the payment for the sins of God's people. He cleansed forever those who place their confidence in Him. He cleanses them by the one-time offering of Himself. Every command God gave the Hebrews to atone for sin--every feast, every festival, every sacrifice, every ritual, every oblation, every offering--finds fulfillment in the first coming of Jesus Christ to deal with sin.

But Christ also is coming a second time to earth for His people, and it is this second coming which is referenced in Hebrews 9:28. The second coming of Jesus Christ corresponds to what the Old Testament Hebrew high priest did after he applied the blood in the Temple to atone for the sins of the Hebrew people--the priest came out of the Temple to bless the people. This blessing brought pure joy and pure delight to the sinners for whom the blood had atoned. The priest made no reference to their sins in his blessing. To hear the actual blessing in the Hebrew language go here.

The writer of Hebrews and the other biblical authors are just as clear that our Great High Priest is coming a SECOND TIME to do the exact same thing for us that the Hebrew high priest did for the Hebrews (Hebrews 9:28). The second time Christ comes, He comes "without reference to sin." When He comes for us, either in  death or in His coming to earth to usher in eternity, He will make no reference to our sins. He will say nothing about them. Nada. Nothing. They are lost in the desert of forgetfulness. The scape-goat bears them and the goat cannot be found. Of course, the persons for whom Christ did not die--those who are not part of the many of Hebrews 9:28 --will give an account to God for their sins  against Him (see Hebrews 9:27). The judgment they will receive from God for their sins will be just, fair, and right; but this judgment comes upon those whose confidence is not in Christ's death. Christ comes for His people the second time and He will make no reference to their sins at His coming.

Just as the first coming of Christ is typified by the Old Covenant high priest in the offering of the sacrifice, the taking of the blood into the Temple, and the intercession for God's people before the mercy seat of God, so too the second coming of Christ is typified when the Old Covenant high priest came out of the Temple to bless the people. No reference to their sin is made.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!


Anonymous said...


To see again the old truths preached in print is wonderful!

Pastor Wade, thank you for this post!

One of the things you are teaching me is to trust the Word and trust Jesus, not in churches or pastors (priests) or teachers or anyone who tries to usurp His place.

The glorious truth of done deal salvation must frighten little folks afraid we might not mind them.

But unless we have that kind of salvation, we have none.


wadeburleson.org said...

Thanks, Linda. I'm in agreement with you. The Word does a really, really fine job of encouraging God's people. Psalm 119:103 says, "How sweet are thy words to my taste, O Lord." Not hearing; taste.

The Word of God nourishes and strenghthens the soul. We preachers need to learn to get out of the way and let the Word speak. The crazy stunts many celebrity preachers pull to attract a crowd are ridiculous. Thousands may show up, but they leave unchanged. You give them the Word and the Spirit changes them from the inside out

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...


I enjoyed your most recent sermon in which you discuss this. I'd like to encourage your readers to listen to your January 8th message. It was very encouraging!

Without Reference to Sin

Thanks for being faithful to preach God's Word.

wadeburleson.org said...

Thanks, Wanda!


Steve Mills said...

What sweet words! I am so glad I don't have to perform for God. I can simply enjoy His grace in my life which frees me to love Him and love others.

seth marshall said...

Awesome!! It is this kind of message that truly sets the captives free. The fact that Christ has fulfilled the law and we need only to believe and receive has released me from trying to live up to impossible requirements. He Christ Jesus holds nothing over or against us, Hallelujah

Kelee said...

Truly inspirational! I am a friend of your sister's (cyber stalker you could call me) but I am so thankful she posted...Amazing! Kelly thanks for bringing this to my attention and Pastor Wade, I only wish I could hear you live and in person!

Rex Ray said...

“Hallelujah” is RIGHT!

“So also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.” (NLT)

Wade—such a marvelous statement! But do you think some will argue with other Bible authors such as:

“You will be judged on whether or not you are doing what Christ wants you to …for there will be no mercy to those who have shown no mercy. But if you have been merciful, then God’s mercy toward you will win out over his judgment against you.” (James 2:12-13 Living)

Sounds like a ‘works salvation” to me.

wadeburleson.org said...


One of the reasons the Living Bible is not my favorite is because it is a paraphrase of one man, who unintentionally screws up the meaning of the Biblical writers. It's not intentional, just unfortunate.

When James or any other writers speaks of judgment based upon works, they are speaking truth--its just not truth for believers. If a man does everything he should be doing, with selfless motives, perfectly doing the right thing all the time and every time for the glory of God--he will be right with God. This is the argument of Paul in the first few chapters of Romans. THE PROBLEM WITH THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS (Pharisees) is that they think they are this way in the eyes of God. The Apostel Paul hammers them (as well as James) to show that they will be judged according to their works, and their works are NOT perfect as God requires. So, in one sense "works" salvation is true. "Be ye perfect!" Jesus says, "Even as the Father in heaven is PERFECT." But it is universally also true that there is NO ONE WHO IS PERFECT (RIGHTEOUS). So....

Our only hope is Christ the Savior.

If a person rejects Christ the Savior, he will be judged by God according to his works. He who is without mercy, will not receive mercy. He who lacks forgiveness will not be forgiven. Judgment is for those without part or portion in the person, merits and work of Jesus Christ.

The Living Bible paraphrase sometimes confuses to whom the biblical author is writing. It is not uncommon for biblical writers to address people who 'called themselves Christians' but were in reality having confidence in themselves and not Christ. All the warnings of future judgment are for those without confidence in Christ. Everyone in Christ is assured that there will be no reference to their sins when they meet Christ for eternity -- only the blessing of God.

Thanks for the comment.

P.S. For further study you might check out Knowing Therefore the Terror of the Lord We Persuade Men"

B Nettles said...

Wade, this is certainly a message we need to hear every day. So many times our fear de jour is fear of failure or having failed.

I'm amazed at how many people I know are studying or preaching Hebrews currently. I led a Wed. night study this Fall, a young pastor friend of mine is preaching it, you're preaching it, pastor at my old church in MS used Hebrews as the text for Christmas, my daughter's SS class went through it this fall. Getting the whole book in context is a powerful thing. Hold fast to the confession: Jesus, the Messiah, the Sacrifice, the Son, the Savior, the Priest, the Promise, God.

Rex Ray said...

The Living Bible copyright is 1971. I have its Third printing of 1979. Its Preface says: “It has undergone several major manuscript revisions and has been under the careful scrutiny of a team of Greek and Hebrew experts to check content, and of English critics for style…when Greek or Hebrew is not clear, then the theology of the translator is his guide…The theological lodestar in this book has been a rigid evangelical position.”

I believe the Living Bible was ‘upgraded’ to the ‘New Living Translation’ in 1996 and again in 2004.

The Criswell Study Bible (KJ) said of the Epistle of James: “The central theme of the epistle is practical, realistic religion which manifests itself in the behavior or the “works” of those who profess to have faith. James, writing to Jewish Christians…”

I suppose Criswell concluded that James was writing ONLY to Christians since James said in King James “brethren” 3 times in Chapter one, 3 tines in two, 3 times in three, once in four, and 5 times in Chapter five.

Wade, I agree that Paul hammered Pharisees, but how can you include James also, when the word ‘Pharisee’ is not even in the Book of James?

“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death…” (James 5:19-20 King James)

“My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death…” (NLT)

“Dear brothers, if anyone has slipped away from God [stopped doing works?] and no longer trust the Lord [lost?], and someone helps him understand the Truth again [started doing works?], that person who brings him back to God [saved twice?] will have saved a wandering soul from death [hell?]…” (Living Bible I added the [ ? ] )

No wonder Martin Luther called the Epistle of James an “Epistle of straw”.

I believe James confused ‘faith’ with ‘belief’. Belief without works is dead, but faith is works. The Bible teaches that God gives us faith, and He does not give junk.

In his Book, James mentioned God about seven times to every one time he mentioned Jesus.

James was an expert on God’s laws. I believe Christians need the Book of James to know how to behave, but not how to be saved or remain saved.

I may be in a bad mood caused by me replacing our hot water heater today, and now we have no hot water and only the refrigerator and this computer is producing heat in the house.

Oops, I forgot like Paul—thank the Lord for electric blankets.

wadeburleson.org said...


You ask a good question. There are many, many warnings in Scripture to believers, but they are warnings for them "to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, making their calling and election sure." In other words, believers are not to be presumptious that they have a portion in the death of Christ. They are to examine themselves to "see if they be in the faith."

If a person is without Christ, there is judgment. In Christ, there is none. :)



Rex Ray said...

I agree with your conclusion: “If a person is without Christ, there is judgment. In Christ, there is none.”

Your comment in your next post said your choice of translations was the NIV, which says: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12)

I don’t believe a Christian is to have “fear and trembling” working out their salvation.

I believe a Christian is to have joy in their salvation. “Working out” implies a Christian may become lost somewhere down the road just like (James 5:19-20)

For the Philippians verse, I think the NLT puts “fear and trembling” in the right place.

“Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.”

The Living Bible Preface said, “…when Greek or Hebrew is not clear, then the theology of the translator is his guide…The theological lodestar in this book has been a rigid evangelical position.”

The Living Bible: “Dearest friends, when I was there with you, you were always so careful to follow my instructions. And now that I am away you must be even more careful to do the good things that result from being saved, obeying God with deep reverence, shrinking back from all that might displease him.”

I don’t always agree with the Living, and for this verse, I believe the NLT did a better job of nailing it.

My heat problem was caused by forgetting that I’d turned a circuit breaker on, and by turning it ‘on’ again—turned it off. :) Ah, this getting old isn’t made for sissies.

Micah Martin said...


I really think you are on to something in this post but permit me to make a few comments.

1) Christ would come "to those eagerly awaiting him."

Were there first century Christians who were "eagerly awaiting" his return? Remember, Hebrews is written to a particular audience. I think it can be easily demonstrated by passages such as 1 Corinthians 1:6-8 that there were "those eagerly awaiting" the 2nd coming.

Either Christ came to them in the first century, or Christ failed to fulfill his promise, or the writer of Hebrews is a liar and a false prophet.

2) You do a great job of pointing out the priestly function of the 2nd coming but look closely at what the text says. The 2nd coming is "apart from sin" but also "for Salvation."

Salvation was not complete on the day of atonement until the HP returned out of the Holy of Holies. This is why Paul can say "our salvation is nearer than when we had first believed" Romans 13:11. (Paul and his audience, not us.) Isn't this the "salvation" that Hebrews is talking about? If it is not, where does the Bible record Paul and his audience receiving the "salvation" that they were nearer too but hadn't fully attained yet?

3) Just keep reading in Hebrews a few more verses.
Hebrews 10:37
“ For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

This is the same context as Hebrews 9 and speaks of the same "coming." How can we try to make "in a little while" 2000 years and counting? (Especially when we read it in greek.)

4) The Law was not totally fulfilled at the Cross. The very nature of "appearing" a second time like the HP is a part of "the law." In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus tells us that the law would not pass until ALL of it is fulfilled. The 2nd coming was the last part of the law to be fulfilled.

"Heaven and Earth" would pass away also when the law was fulfilled.

In conclusion, I think it is high time that we reconsider what the "nature" of the "2nd coming" and "the heavens and earth" are.

Why are we completely ignoring the clear time statements in passages like Hebrews 9:28 and 10:37, not to mention the rest of the New Testament?

Why is it so easy to apply simple audience relevance to passages regarding women but then absolutely ignore that principle when it comes to times statements regarding the second coming?

If we hold on to the traditions that we have been taught regarding the NATURE of the roles of women in Christianity, or the NATURE of the second coming, we will never open our eyes to the truth of Scripture regarding those topics.

Your blog was good but I think it could be even better. Christ was faithful. He did appear a 2nd time and brought SALVATION to the body. We are children of God. We don't have to wait for anything. Christ is here with us right now! There is no longer any male or female, Jew or Gentile! Those in Christ are a New Creation! A New Heaven and Earth! A New Jerusalem that came down from heaven with the chief cornerstone of Christ, wherein God dwells with man!


Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed your blog for several years. I was really enjoying this article, until near the end:.." Of course, the persons for whom Christ did not die--those who are not part of the many of Hebrews 9:28".
Am I misunderstanding? How do you square this with 1Peter 3:18?

wadeburleson.org said...


Great question. If I were in your shoes, I honestly would not get too worked up about it. For example, exchange "those for whom Christ did not die" for "those who reject Christ," or "those who refuse to surrender to the Lordship of Christ," or "those who spit in the face of the only Savior given to sinners."

In other words, the emphasis in Scripture is on the responsiblity of every man to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and trust His shed blood. If they don't, they are damned.

Whether you believe faith is a work of man or, as I do, that "faith is a gift of God," the truth of Scripture is clear--Christ actually redeemed His people and did not redeem those who are not His people. The fact that you and I are His people is a work of grace. The fact that some sinners are not His people is a judicial and righteous sentence for sin.

My point is, Christ's death actually secures the salvation of those for whom He died (believers, the church, the Bride of Christ, etc...) and DID NOT SECURE THE SALVATION OF THOSE FOR WHOM HE DID NOT DIE (the reprobrate, sinners who reject Christ, etc...)

wadeburleson.org said...

One final point Joe;

The Bible is the book using the word "many for whom Christ died" not me. Many means many. It doesn't mean every.

Rex Ray said...

You wrote: “DID NOT SECURE THE SALVATION OF THOSE FOR WHOM HE DID NOT DIE (the reprobate, sinners who reject Christ, etc...)”

I built a 40 slide. It’s free for anyone that wants to go down. There have been 1,263 trips, over 500 people from 2 to 79, 300#, 8 months pregnant, and 9 countries.

Question: Did I build it for whosoever, or just for those that went down?

If you want to debate the question, I think we might as well throw in ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?’

Rex Ray said...

If I’m not clear, God built a ‘slide’ to heaven by Calvary. If anyone gets on that slide by John 3:16 will go to the end.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wade:
Joe again; sorry for the "anonymous" status. I am not a blogger, but I do exist. I was born around the same time as you and grew up under quite a bit of guilt preaching, so I appreciated the post, and I appreciate your response
As you suggested, I will not get worked up about the issue. God has it figured and I am thankful for my eternal destiny. Whether that destiny was pre-ordained, etc., I see the point both ways. What I thought was interesting is the question of faith being a gift from God. I am sure you refer to a saving-faith and not the everday type, such as faith your brakes will work. I would be interested in your suggestions for references to faith as a gift. best.
Joe, Atlanta GA

Anonymous said...

Hello Wade.
This is an excellent article. Thank you. I do get concerned, especially in this age of easy believism, that we forget repentance all together in our zeal to bring people to Christ. Repentance is the first part of that very first answer to the question, "What must we do to be saved." We offer accepting Jesus like accepting the keys to a new car. All we need to do is take it and it's ours.But God say: Luke 24:47
And that repentance and release from bondage of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Jesus himself said: : Unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:3,5. There are so many more. Believe and receive just doesn't cut it! There are too many scriptures that say otherwise. And sorry for the anonymous but I don't and won't have a google account. My name is Deborah. :)