THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
Running through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation are multiplied references to sacrifices and blood.
The New Testament references to “the blood of Christ” are so numerous and specific that they in themselves constitute a theology of redemption.
That the doctrine of the blood atonement is attacked and rejected as a “slaughter house religion” by many is a matter of deep concern. If the shed blood of Calvary has no relationship to God’s redemptive act, then men should know it. If allusions to Christ’s blood, and faith in its saving efficacy, are “offensive”, and on this assumption to be eliminated from Christian doctrine, we should know on what authority such action is being taken.
I have before me letters which deplore in the strongest terms a concept of God which requires the sacrifice of his Son for the sins of the world.
These letters speak of such beliefs as “sadistic,” “revolting,” “outrageous,” “atonement of retaliation,” “masochism,” and other vigorous terms.
Little is to be gained by engaging in polemics. To me the decision must center in the revelation which God has given us of himself and his Son through the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures.
Here we are confronted with the holiness and justice of a God who is utterly righteous, and we see the great mercy of the same God who is love.
The Bible tells us that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were types and symbols of the death of Christ on the Cross, and the New Testament affirmations about the blood shed on Calvary require us to take them in their rightful context and accept them as the inspired explanation of the central event of all history. Where we fail to understand all that is implied is our fault and not the fault of God’s plan.
The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews speaks of the tabernacle service as symbolic of Christ’s atoning work; and he further states: “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Before such a statement how can we refrain from bowing our hearts in humble thankfulness for what Christ has done?
This same writer says: “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of 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?” This to me is evidence of the overwhelming importance of God’s holy provision for my sins and also the awfulness of sin which made such provision necessary.
The blood which flowed at Calvary was real blood. The implication and effect of that blood is for all ages, and becomes real and precious to us through faith.
Our Lord, in instituting the sacrament of remembrance, says: “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
The Apostle Paul, in his meeting with the Ephesian elders, speaks of “the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood”; while to the church in Rome he writes: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.… Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
What is the significance of this blood that runs like a red line through the story of redemption?
Noah was warned against eating “flesh with the life thereof, which is the life thereof.” Equating blood with life is fully compatable with the concept of our Lord’s giving his life for the redemption of mankind.
In our own scientific age there are thousands living today who owe their lives to blood transfusions. By analogy, it can be reverently said that, in a mystical sense, the Son of God is the great universal Donor, giving new life to the sinner who trusts in His shed blood for cleansing.
The implications of his blood are inexhaustable in their effect on those who accept new life in Christ.
We have redemption through his blood, and it is this same blood which brings us near to God. Paul reminds the Ephesian Christians of their former state—“having no hope, and without God in the world”; and then he says: “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
To the Christians in Colosse he tells of God’s good pleasure that in Christ “should all fullness dwell” and immediately speaks of the work of Christ in these words: “And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself.”
The Apostle Peter is equally emphatic with reference to the blood of Christ in telling us that our redemption is not purchased by silver or gold, “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
John, the beloved apostle, in speaking of Christians walking in the light of the Lord and in the fellowship which this makes possible, says: “And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
We find this same theme in the book of Revelation where we are told: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood …”; “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation.”
In all of this we are confronted by a great mystery. This side of eternity none of us can know the full implication of God’s great act of redemption in Christ. To rationalize either the nature of sin or the cost and means of our salvation is to toy with destruction itself. It is not for man to argue with his Maker. To let one’s philosophical preconceptions separate him from God’s provision of eternal life is folly at its worst.
We live in a day of great sophistication. It is not easy to humble our hearts, minds, and wills and submit them to God; but there is great reward to those who say from a yearning heart: “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.”
“What can wash away my sins,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
Is not this a time when we might well exchange some of our theological sophistication for the simplicity of a by-gone day?
L. NELSON BELL
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