Blood of the New Testament
November 29th, 1959 @ 7:30 PM
THE BLOOD OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-29-59 7:30 p.m.
Will you turn with me to the Book of Hebrews, chapter 9 – chapter 9 in the Book of Hebrews? We shall begin reading at the verse 7 and read through verse 15 – Hebrews 9:7-15 – the ninth chapter of Hebrews, 7 through 15. Now let’s all of us read it together – Hebrews 9:7-15:
But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people;
The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
Which was a figure for the time then present in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience–
Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances imposed on them until the time of reformation.
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building.
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 of goats and the ashes of an heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctified 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 the serve the living God?
And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
For these past several Sundays, I have been preaching on the tabernacle with its arrangement and with its sacrifices in order that we might come to understand the language of heaven and the deep spiritual significance of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Now the message tonight is the very heart of that gospel revelation, and I pray that the Holy Spirit will bless this tongue as it seeks to speak of these meaningful things of heaven and that God will touch your ears that you shall be able to listen to the deep revelation of what God hath wrought in the forgiveness of our sins in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
And the sermon tonight is largely an exegesis, a presentation, of this chapter – a part of which you have just read – one of the great, great chapters of the Bible. Into the Holy of Holies, beyond the veil, the high priest alone entered – alone, by himself, the representative man, just once a year and that, not without blood [Hebrews 9:7]. "The Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the presence of God was not yet made manifest" – during all of those centuries of the old dispensation – "when the tabernacle was still standing" [Hebrews 9:8].
In the old law – in the Old Testament, in the old dispensation – the Lord Jehovah hid Himself. He was beyond the veil [Exodus 25:17, 21-22, 26:31-34]. Even the light which the Shekinah glory that symbolized His presence was not seen by mortal life [Exodus 40:35; 1 Kings 8:11]. The great teaching and the great meaning was this: that sin had separated man from God, and between a man and God there hung a thick, heavy tapestry [Exodus 25:21-22, 26:31-37].
But there was a hint – there was a little indication – that that division between man and God was not forever permanent. For example, it was not a piece of brickwork that separated them. It was not even a beautiful arrangement of cedar wood overlaid with pure gold. It was a veil; and once a year, a representative man lifted up that veil and passed underneath into the very presence of God [Hebrews 9:7].
So in the old dispensation, they were taught that sin has separated between a man and his God but that someday there should be a way manifest by which a sinner man could boldly come into the presence of the great and holy God. And that is the gospel.
In the eleventh verse he says: "But Christ being come . . ." [Hebrews 9:11]. That’s the consummation of all the age whether it is the first coming in the gospel dispensation or the final and second coming of our Lord in the ultimate dispensation." But Christ being come . . ." That is the song of the angels at Bethlehem [Luke 2:8-15]; that’s the song of Simeon and Anna [Luke 2:25-38]; that is the worship of the poor shepherds [Luke 2:15-20]and the princely magi [Matthew 2:9-12]: "But Christ being come . . ." [Hebrews 9:11].
We have no longer an Aaronic priesthood standing before us [Exodus 28:1; Leviticus 16:1-34], but we have the anointed of God Himself – Jesus Christ our Lord." But Jesus being come . . ." [from Hebrews 9:11].
Then he has a little summary here of the significance of that coming of our Lord: "Not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered into the holy place," beyond the veil, ". . . having obtained eternal redemption for us" [Hebrews 9:12].
Outside of the veil, the priest stood. Did Christ ever stand there for that is the place of the sinner man – outside of the veil? Yes, Christ stood there in His manhood and in His incarnation. He stood with sinful men [Romans 8:3]. For outside of the veil, the altar and the sacrifice [Exodus 40:20-21, 26-29]; and for our Lord to be sacrificed on the altar, He had to come out of heaven and stand with sinful men.
He was crucified outside the camp [Hebrews 13:12]. The sin offering was burned outside the gate [Leviticus 16:27; Hebrews 13:11]. And after His sacrifice and after the consuming fire had consumed it before God and the fire of the judgment of our sins all fell upon Him, the veil was rent [Matthew 27:50-51]. And our Lord, having completed the purpose of redemption, entered in and sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high [Hebrews 1:3]. And that sacrifice is described in this text:
But Christ being come . . .
Not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into that holy place –
and opened it to view for all of us who follow after –
having obtained eternal redemption for us.
The sacrifice of Christ was unique and of superlative, transcendent value. All of the sacrifices of all of the centuries past pointed toward that one holy sacrifice of the Son of God. For that purpose, He came into a body. In the tenth chapter of this Book of Hebrews, the author says:
Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not . . . [Hebrews 10:5]
Blood of goats and calves and the ashes of the heifer could never take away sin . . . [from Hebrews 10:4, 9:13]
But a body hast Thou prepared for Me . . . [Hebrews 10:5]
Then said I, "Lo, I come–in the body of the book it is written to Me–to do Thy will, O God." [Hebrews 10:7]
And in that body of Christ, we are sanctified once for all [Hebrews 10:12, 14]. Our Lord came down from heaven and dwelt in a body that was prepared for sacrifice [Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 10:5-10]. Just like a sinner man would go among the flock or the herd and he would pick out an animal for a victim to sacrifice on the altar [Exodus 12:1-5; Deuteronomy 16:2], so our Lord’s body was prepared as a sacrifice to offer unto God for our sins. As the angel said to Mary: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; wherefore, also, that Holy Thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" [Luke 1:35]. Our Lord came into the world and was incarnate – was given a body – that He might be sacrificed on the altar in atonement, in expiation, for our sins [Philippians 2:5-8]. That’s why He became incarnate.
Pure spirit could never be offered unto God in sacrifice. There had to be a victim; there had to be a body. And the pure personality of Christ, a Lamb without spot, without blemish, holy, undefiled, separate from sinners, was offered unto God – an expiation for the sins of humanity [1 Peter 1:19]. And that sacrifice was personal. It was His own: "Not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood . . ." [Hebrews 9:12].
And that sacrifice was vicarious and substitutionary. If you take vicarious suffering out of the Bible, you have nothing left. It is in the very heart of the gospel of the Son of God. He died in our stead: "Unto Him who loved us and gave Himself for us . . ." [from Revelation 1:5]; "Not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood . . ." [Hebrews 9:12].
The pure, holy Jesus owed no debt to the justice of God, and He assumed the penalty for our sins and He died in our stead [2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:8]. And that great sacrifice has been made once, finally, and forever. It never needs to be repeated again. This author of Hebrews so emphasizes that – that the offering of our Lord was once and forever. How he repeats it. Look. In the seventh chapter of Hebrews, He says:
For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, made higher than the heavens –
the Lamb without spot and without blemish –
Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for their own sins then for the people’s, for this He did once –
one time –
when He offered up Himself –
And again in the twenty-sixth verse of this [ninth] chapter:
Nor yet that He should suffer often . . .
For then must He have often suffered since the foundation of the world; but now, once in the end of the world, hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
And again in the twenty-eighth verse: "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many . . ." [Hebrews 9:28]. And once again: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" [Hebrews 10:10].
Such a thing as a mass in which the Lord is supposed to be crucified over, and over, and over again is an impossible thing in the gospel of the Son of God and in the Revelation of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. There was one sacrifice and one only; and in that one sacrifice, an atonement was forever made for all of the sins of mankind [Hebrews 9:28, 10:10].
Jude said: deliver "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" [Jude 1:3]. In the Old Testament, if a house was found with leprosy in it, it was burned down [Leviticus 14:33-57]. When it was burned down, you couldn’t burn it down again. It was forever burned down. The judgment of God had fallen upon it and you could do it but once: one sacrifice, one time, and that forever and forever.
Out here in the great west in the day when those prairie fires raged furiously, if a man were caught in the presence of the burning fury of a sweeping fire, the way to save himself was to burn a great area around him, stand there for the fire had already passed and he stood in a place that had already been consumed in the burning. So when a man stands in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, the judgment has already fallen [John 5:24], and it never needs to be repeated again.
It’s the same thing as in the rending of the veil. If the veil had just been lifted, it might have fallen back down again. But the veil was torn [Matthew 27:51]. It was rent from the top to the bottom. It is no longer there. The full and open entrance has been made into the presence of God by the suffering of Jesus Christ. There is nothing to be added; there is nothing to be done [Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:21]. It is a completed, once-for-all redemption and is forever and forever [Hebrews 10:14].
Now the author speaks of the great purpose of Christ in His entrance into the veil and offering His blood as an atonement for our souls. And the first reason the author says for the entrance of Christ and the spilling of the blood upon the mercy seat of heaven is this:
Almost all things are by the law purged with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.
It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heaven should be purified with these, but the heavenly things with better sacrifices than these.
What the author is saying is that in the tabernacle, all of the pieces of furniture, all of the holy places, were sanctified with the sprinkling of blood.
Last Sunday night, I preached on that in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Leviticus. They caught the blood of the sacrifice in a basin, and they sprinkled the altar on which only holy things were devoted to God [Leviticus 16:18]. And they sprinkled the tabernacle with the blood in which the holy services of God were held [Leviticus 16:16]. And they sprinkled the holy place [Leviticus 16:16]. All of the furniture and all of the parts of the tabernacle were sprinkled with blood because unclean men stood in those places [Leviticus 16:18-19]. A sinner man stood at the holy altar. A sinner man stood in the holy place and lighted the seven-branch lampstand and changed the bread on the shewbread table, and a sinner man stood at the altar of prayer, the golden altar of incense. And when the high priest entered into the holy place, it was a sinner man that entered in. Consequently, the author said that all of those things which are patterns of the things in heaven, those things had to be purged by the sprinkling of blood [Hebrews 9:19-21].
Now he says these things that were in this earth, that were sprinkled with blood of atonement, were just patterns of the great heavenly sanctuary that had to be sprinkled with something better than the blood of bulls and of goats [Hebrews 9:8-9]. And he says that the heavenly sanctuary has to be sprinkled with, has to be purged with, the blood of the Son of God Himself [Hebrews 9:11-12].
Why, that’s an amazingly startling thing. "Do you mean to say, Pastor, that the author of the Hebrews is saying that the heaven of heavens is defiled and that the blood of Christ must be sprinkled in the heavenly sanctuary for it to be clean?"
The author means this. The heaven of heavens is undefiled until we get there. Then, when we arrive, we contaminate and we defile the very home of the heavens for we are sinner people – sinner men and sinner women. And the author says, lest heaven be defiled by our entrance into the glory of glories, our Lord has entered in before us and has sprinkled the blood of atonement in the sanctuary of heaven so that when sinner men come and sinner women come, there is already an expiation made for the wrong and the sins of our lives. And when the multitudes of sinner people enter into the glory land, heaven is still as pure and undefiled as it was when only God and the celestial angels inhabited it.
The purpose of our Lord sprinkling the Holy of Holies of the sanctuary in glory with blood of expiation was that we might not defile it but that sinner men and sinner women could appear into the presence of God and the sanctuary still be as spotless and as pure, as stainless and undefiled, as it was when only the tenuous, glorious angels of heaven worshipped in the presence of the great King.
I want to show you that. One of the great, great poems of all time and of all literature is the poem of Vachel Lindsay entitled "General William Booth Enters Heaven." That is one of the pieces of great, everlastingly, abiding-in-love literature. And what Vachel Lindsay has done is this. He takes William Booth as he leads his Salvation Army – drums, and trumpets, and tambourines, and all of that motley crowd that he picked up out of the slums and gutter of the earth – and he pictures them as following General William Booth. These who have been saved out of the slums of the earth enter behind their great leader into the glories of heaven.
Now you listen to Vachel Lindsay as he writes this poem, and it could be sung to the song of "Are You Washed in The Blood of The Lamb?" And as I read it, I want you to keep in mind what this great author in the Hebrews said – that our Savior spilled His blood upon the mercy seat in the sanctuary in order that we who enter heaven might not defile it but that we might be washed and cleansed in the blood of the Lamb [Hebrews 9:12-14]. Now Vachel Lindsay writes, and he describes General Booth as he leads that Salvation Army recruiting into the glory of the above. Listen to it:
Booth led boldly with his big base drum-
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
The Saints smiled gravely and they said: "He’s come."
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
Walking lepers followed, rank on rank,
Leering bravos from the ditches dank,
Drab from the alleyways and drug fiends pale –
Minds still passion-ridden, soul-powers frail: –
Vermin-eaten saints with mouldy breath
Unwashed legions with the ways of Death –
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
Every slum hath sent its half-a-score
The round world over. (And Booth had prayed for more. )
Every banner that the wide world flies
Bloomed with glory and transcendent dyes.
Big-voiced lassies made their banjoes bang,
Tranced, newborn, they shouted and sang:–
"Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?"
Hallelujah! It was queer to see
Bull-necked convicts in that land made free.
Loons with bassoons blowing blare, blare, blare
On, on upward thro’ the golden air!
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
Booth died blind but by faith he trod,
Eyes still dazzled by the ways of God.
Booth led boldly, and he looked the chief
Eagle countenance in sharp relief,
Beard a-flying, air of high command
Unabated in that holy land.
Jesus came out from the court-house door,
Stretched His hands above the passing poor . . .
The lame were straightened, withered limbs uncurled
And blind eyes opened in a sweet, new world.
Drabs and vixens in a flash made whole!
Gone was the weasel-head, the snout, the jowl!
Sages and sibyls now, and athletes clean,
Rulers of empires and fountains green!
The hosts were sandalled, and their wings were fire!
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
And their noise made havoc with the angel-choir.
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
O shout Salvation! It was good to see
Kings and Princes by the Lamb set free.
The banjoes rattled and the tambourines
Jing-jing-jangled in the hands of Queens.
And when Booth halted by the curb for prayer
He saw his Master thro’ the flag-filled air.
Christ came gently with a robe and crown
For Booth the soldier, while the throng knelt down.
He saw King Jesus. They were face to face
And he knelt a-weeping in that holy place
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
["General William Booth Enters into Heaven," by Vachel Lindsay, 1913]
That’s one of the great poems of all ages and all time, and that is a picture of what this author here is saying what Jesus has done for heaven. In that throng behind General Booth, there’s the harlot, there’s the drunkard, there’s the vixen, there’s the convict, there’s the alley rat, there’s the drunkard: all of them in that sainted band, washed in the blood of the Lamb when General William Booth enters heaven playing his big base drum.
I cannot close without a little, brief summary of so much I prepared for tonight and have not time even to mention. The great purpose of His sacrifice: first, that heaven might be undefiled. When we who are sinner people walk into the presence of God in that glory land yet to come, there our Lord, through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God and through His blood purged us from dead works to serve the living God [Hebrews 9:14]. Not what we think about the blood of Christ, but what God thinks about it: "When I see the blood, I will pass over you. When I," says God, "see the blood . . ." [from Exodus 12:13]. And it was offered unto God in expiation for our sins [1 John 1:7, 4:10].
Nobody saw it when Aaron went into the Holy of Holies. No man was in the tabernacle by command of God [Leviticus 16:17]. It was something between God and the representative man alone. So this great, atoning sacrifice was something between Jesus and God alone. The new covenant is not between God and us: "You do this, and you be that, and I’ll save you." That’s the old covenant. But the new covenant is between God and Christ. He offered Himself, and to those who will just trust in Him, God says: "For Jesus’ sake, for the blood’s sake, I’ll wash you clean, stainless and pure" [Romans 4:5-8; 1 John 1:7-9].
Why did our Lord enter beyond the veil into the holy place made without hands? To appear in the presence of God for us! [Hebrews 9:24] I am in court though I may be a thousand miles away when my attorney, my representative, is there. We are in heaven, and Christ has laid hold of a heavenly inheritance for us [Ephesians 2:6], and He keeps it for us forever and forever [1 Peter 1:3-5]. When Adam was driven out of the Garden of Eden [Genesis 3:22-24], we were driven out. You would have to drive the second Adam out of heaven for us to lose our inheritance in that glory land that He’s gone to prepare for us [John 14:3].
And then last: "Not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption and that for us" [Hebrews 9:12]. Somebody added to the text. It’s not in the original." He having obtained for us eternal redemption." Eternal redemption: a finished sacrifice and a complete and forever salvation; and this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God [Hebrews 9:12]. The work is done. The task is finished. The assignment has been completed. Redemption, forever and eternal, has been made; and Jesus sits down, in token of a completed atonement, on the right hand of the throne of God in glory.
That word "eternal" is a long word. "Having obtained eternal redemption for us" [Hebrews 9:12] – used three times. "Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself . . . unto God . . . that we might receive the promise of an eternal inheritance" [Hebrews 9:14-15]. It’s a long, long word: "eternal redemption."
Back into the ages, uncounted and unknown, redemption was in the heart of God [1 Peter 1:20]. This creation is the platform upon which the great program of redemption is presented. The undertones and the overtones of all the voices of God reach out toward that ultimate and final righteousness. Redemption in Christ is no afterthought of God. It’s no attempt from the Lord to snatch out of an unprecedented, unlooked-for accident – an overwhelming breaking down of His purpose – but redemption is the eternal mount of revelation and the heart of the gospel message in Christ. It is eternal from the beginning, and it is eternal into the vast unknown vistas of the ages that are yet to come. It involves this life. He hath wrought for us an eternal redemption. What of this life and the life that is to come – if there’s any fear in it for us? What of death? What of the grave? What of the great ultimate beyond? It leaps to the very end. It encompasses the days of the blowing of the seven terrible trumpets [Revelation 8:1-11:19]. It encompasses the days of the awful and dreaded pouring out of the vials of wrath [Revelation 16:1-21].
Eternal damnation is an awful and unutterable and inexplicably horrible word. It includes it all. There’s no fear for the child of God [1 John 4:18]. There’s no trembling on the part of the child of God [Philippians 4:6]. However, the days may come and go; whatever the grave may hold in store; whatever the judgments that are yet to fall; whatever the vials of wrath that are yet to be poured out, the child of God is hid with Christ [Colossians 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:10]. He’s saved forever. Christ hath wrought for him an eternal redemption. Not by the blood of goats and bulls, not by the expiation of a sacrifice that is of a herd or of the flock, but He has offered Himself: the Son of God [Hebrews 9:12] – pure, holy, and spotless – who owed nothing to judgment and to justice [1 Peter 1:19]. In our stead and for our sakes, He gave His life an atonement for our souls [1 John 2:2]. And He offered into the sanctuary of heaven the blood of expiation and atonement so that we who enter in through the veil that is parted and rent might have full and unashamed access into the presence of God Himself [Hebrews 4:16, 10:19-22].
That’s why when we get to heaven our song will never be, "O Lord, praises for me. Look what I’ve done. O God, thanks be to me for my righteousness and my goodness. See how far I’ve come." But our song of everlasting glory and praise will be, "Worthy is the Lamb who redeemed us by His own blood and has made us kings and priests unto God and our Father, and we shall reign forever and ever and ever. Hallelujah, amen! All glory to the Lamb of God" [from Revelation 5:9-10].
That is the Christian message, and that is the Christian faith: not what I’ve done but what He has done; not that I am worthy but that He is worthy; not that I could make atonement and expiation for the wrong and sin of my life, but that it is washed clean in the blood of the Lamb.
We’re saved by committing our lives to the care, to the comfort, to the keeping, to the forgiveness, to the love and mercy of Jesus. "Lord, in me nothing at all, but in Him all worth and merit and glory. God be praised for His love toward us in Christ Jesus our Lord!"
While we sing our song of appeal, in this balcony round, somebody you, on this lower floor, somebody you, give his heart in faith and in trust to the Lord, would you come and stand by me? Is there a family you tonight coming by letter – by promise of letter? However God would open the door and lead in the way, would you make it tonight? Would you say "yes" and come tonight? Anywhere, somebody you. Is there a child here take Jesus as Savior? Would you come? Is there a youth here, give his heart to God? Would you come? However the Spirit of Jesus shall open the door and shall lead in the way, will you come after? I am a voice and that’s all. If it is not of God, it is nothing. If it is of Him, it is all in all. Would you make it tonight? Would you make it now while we stand and while we sing?