In that sermon, I introduced some thoughts of John Owen from his classic, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. In a single statement, that book could be summarized in this manner: It seeks to answer the question of what Christ actually accomplished when He died on the cross.
This issue, what God purposed and Christ accomplished in His death, has been an area of great debate, and sometimes even fights and splits within churches. It is sad when Christians disagree to the point of fighting and splitting. There are times where a split would be justified, but even during those times, it could and should be done in such a way that is reflective of God’s glory, goodness, love, and compassion.
I would dare say, however, that an issue, such as the one we are now considering, calls for patience, gentleness, care, and precision. We must seek to have a good, clear, and proper understanding of biblical theology and doctrine. However, not everyone learns at the same pace, comes from the same background, and is mature as a believer. Therefore, instead of seeking to be arrogant, argumentative, divisive, etc., we should be patient and gentle with each other as we seek to have an accurate understanding of Scripture. However, we cannot and must not sacrifice truth on the altar of a false sense of peace and tranquility.
This is a doctrinal issue that calls for us to have precision in our thinking and minds that are teachable. Too often we hold and defend positions that are familiar to us because that is what we have always thought, heard, or believed. These dear doctrines may be correct, but they may not necessarily be correct. Just because we have always held and defended a position doesn’t guarantee by nature it is right. As I shared yesterday, the person raised as an Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, etc., has always had a belief system or worldview propounded to him or her. However, that doesn’t mean it is correct. If so, it destroys the nature of objective truth because these views are in conflict with one another, as well as in conflict with the Bible.
Now, with all of that said today, I want to offer a few passages from Scripture for you to consider. These have been chosen for a reason. Read the passages below and look for a word or phrase that ties them all together.
Romans 3:23-25 - All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
Romans 5:8-10 - God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Ephesians 1:7 - In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
Ephesians 2:13 - Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ
Colossians 1:19-20 - In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Hebrews 2:14-15 - Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
Hebrews 9:12-14 - He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Hebrews 10:19-20 - Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh.
Hebrews 13:12 - Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
Hebrews 13:20-21 - Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 1:1-2 - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.
1 Peter 1:18-19 - You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
1 John 1:7 - If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Revelation 1:5-6 - To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.
I certainly hope you saw that word and or phrase that was included in every passage quoted. The blood or blood of Christ was the linking key for all of these texts. The blood of Christ is shorthand for His life and death. It isn’t simply a drop or more of blood gleaned from a cut. It is the sacrificial working of Jesus as a Substitute whereby His life was laid down to the point of death.
Paul, Peter, John, and the writer of Hebrews all specifically speak of the blood of Christ. Within the epistles other phrases are also used to refer to His work but were not included here because, again, I chose only the ones that specifically mentioned the word “blood.”
Even Jesus spoke of eating His body and drinking His blood. Eating His body and drinking His blood are the means of receiving eternal life. The ones who do this will live forever and be raised on the last day. The way to have union with Christ and have eternal fellowship with the Father and Son is through the body and blood of Jesus (John 6:41-59).
To summarize all these texts: God redeems us, justifies us, accepts us, saves us, cleanses us, equips us, feeds us (spiritually), reconciles us, brings us near, keeps us, and frees us from sin because of the blood of Christ. It is the work of Christ, and His work alone; that is the reason! It is the blood of the Son of God that secures these glorious, God-given blessings.
Nowhere does it teach in Scripture that our faith is the reason we are saved ultimately. There is no doubt that faith is necessary. Faith lays hold of and rests upon what Christ has done. Faith is the means or link that unites the work of Christ to His people. However, the faith that we have and exercise is a gift from God to us.
Ephesians 2:8-9 - By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
The Hebrews 13:20-21 text above says that the blood of Christ has purchased all we need and has equipped us to do that which is pleasing to God.
As we draw this post to a close, answer the question: How are we saved, reconciled to God, redeemed from the penalty, power, and presence of sin, justified, sanctified, and glorified, cleansed, brought near to God, etc?
Is it because Jesus performed an act that didn’t really save anyone in particular but made salvation a possibility? Is it because He now stands begging and pleading for us to exercise our own natural ability and save ourselves by making the right choice? Is the real and definitive difference-maker in our lives an act that we do?
I would strongly argue that as popular as that scenario in the previous paragraph may be, it is flawed. The Bible nowhere teaches that concept. What it does teach, as I have overwhelmingly shown by numerous quotations, is that all of the salvation blessings come to us by and because of the blood of Christ. Even my ability to believe and accept Christ’s work is a purchased possession by Jesus on the cross. I have no reason and cause to boast. I say with the Apostle Paul:
God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:27-31)