The Blood of Jesus
March 28th, 1975 @ 12:00 PM
THE BLOOD OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Hebrews 9:11-22, 26-28
3-28-75 12:00 p.m.
As you know, the theme for this year has been “The Compassionate Christ”: on Monday, The Compassion of Jesus; on Tuesday, The Love of Jesus; on Wednesday, The Spirit of Jesus; yesterday, The Tears of Jesus; and today, The Blood of Jesus. And the message today is going to be an exposition of a passage in the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews:
But Christ being come an High Priest of good things, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands . . .
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 for us.
For if the blood of bulls and of 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?
And for this cause He is the Mediator of the new testament, that by the means of death, we who are called might be receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no avail while the testator liveth . . .
For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.
Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the furniture of the ministry.
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission . . .
Now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment:
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time apart from sin unto salvation.
[Hebrews 9:11-22, 26-28]
The Blood of Jesus Christ.
It is always an appalling sight to look upon the crimson of life. Some men in professions are somewhat accustomed to it, but by nature we are made to pause looking upon the outpouring of blood. I can easily imagine what Adam and Eve must have thought when the Lord slew an innocent animal to take skins and to cover their nakedness; and for the first time they saw the ground drink up the flow of life, the first shedding of blood [Genesis 3:21]. I can well imagine how our first parents must have bowed down in infinite, indescribable grief and sorrow, when they saw the blood of their second son poured out wantonly on the ground, how they must have stood in indescribable hurt of heart as they looked at the blood clots on the murderous instrument [Genesis 4:8]. For sin is always a murderer and a killer. It stabs at the heart of life. It convulses the physical frame, and it leaves in wreckage God’s beautiful creation. That was why the Lord God used blood to teach Israel the penalty and judgment of sin, and the necessity of atonement [Leviticus 17:11].
In the outer court of the temple area there was an altar [1 Kings 8:22], and it stood in a literal shambles, a literal slaughter house. Have you ever read the list of the victims that sometimes in one day were sacrificed there before that altar? Thousands of them upon occasions, and can you imagine the appearance of the priests, clothed in garments that were spotless and white, but now crimson, literally bathed in blood? They stood in gore. Is that the kind of a God that we worship and that we serve? Yes, it is! It was of God that the Lord ordained those sacrifices and the shedding of blood. It is God who teaches Israel, and who wrote the Book, and who teaches us that sin brings death [Romans 5:12, 6:23], and only atonement in blood is able to wash the stain away [Hebrews 9:22]. The great verse and text of the Old Testament is Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul.” And the great text of the New Testament is Matthew 26:28, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for the remission of sins.” And the great text of the Book of Hebrews is, “And without the shedding of blood, there is no remission” [Hebrews 9:22].
Looking at this chapter, Moses, when God had given him the law and the covenant with it [Exodus 24:1-7], “Do this, and thou shalt live” [Leviticus 18:5]; when Moses received the law he built an altar at the base of the mountain [Exodus 24:4]. And he took the sacrificial animal, half of its blood he poured out at the base of the altar [Exodus 24:6]; the foundation of our approach to God is the shedding of atoning blood [Hebrews 9:22]. And the other half he sprinkled upon the Book [Hebrews 9:19]. The Book: every syllable is stained with His blood, and every sentence is inspired by His sacrifice. He sprinkled the blood upon the Book and upon all the people [Exodus 24:6-8; Hebrews 9:19]. Their garments were flecked with crimson. That is, they were a separate, and sanctified, and set aside, and marked people. They are a blood-bought people. They are a redeemed people [Isaiah 43:1]. Like the Passover: this house is set aside for God, it is marked, it is distinctly separate, it is splashed with blood [Exodus 12:7]. So the people: set aside, marked, distinct, redeemed by the blood of the Crucified One [Isaiah 53:5]. And moreover, “He sprinkled the blood upon the tabernacle,” the house of communion and intercession and worship, “and upon the furniture of the ministry” [Hebrews 9:21]. At the base of the altar [Exodus 24:6], always in the sin sacrifice, the blood was poured out [Exodus 29:12]: the foundation of our faith in approaching God. And the blood was sprinkled upon the beautiful golden altar [Leviticus 16:18, 17:6]. That is, in intercession and in prayer and in worship, there is always atonement. Our prayers are never quite perfect. Our intercessions are never quite acceptable. There is always the drag of human frailty and mistake and sin in all of our faculties. And even upon the golden altar of incense, of intercession and prayer, blood of atonement was sprinkled [Leviticus 16:18]. And, of course, it was brought into the Holy of Holies, and there sprinkled upon the propitiatory, the mercy seat [Leviticus 16:14-16]. For you see, the covenant was, “Do this and thou shalt live” [Deuteronomy 4:1]; and those two tables of stone, of the Ten Commandments, were in the sacred ark [Deuteronomy 10:2]. But the man had broken the covenant. No man had kept the law, or could. And this blood of atonement was sprinkled on the lid of the ark, the top of the ark, called the mercy seat, the propitiatory of the ark [Exodus 25:19], that the suppliant, the repentant sinner might look up to God in an appeal for mercy and pity and forgiveness, having broken the law and the covenant.
Now the author of the Hebrews writes, “If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sacrificed, sanctified unto the cleansing of the sinner: how much more,” and he doesn’t say how much more, he just—it is a rhetorical expression. “How much more, an infinite more, shall the blood of Christ, the cross of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” [Hebrews 9:13-14]. No bullock, no goat, no lamb could offer a spiritual sacrifice; only in type, only in picture, only in prophecy, only in harbinger had any meaning at all. But when the Lord offered Himself, He did it led by the Holy Spirit of God [Hebrews 9:14]. He was united with and joined to the Holy Spirit of God. He was God manifest in the flesh [1 Timothy 3:16]. There’s not a more significant verse from Paul than his word to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28, “Take heed unto yourselves and shepherd, care for, the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” There the statement is blatantly, flagrantly, rudely, crudely stated, according to some, that it was the blood of God that was shed on the cross [Acts 20:28]. The blood of Christ, God in the flesh, who through the eternal Spirit, the Spirit of God led Him to the sacrifice [Hebrews 9:14], and the Spirit of God in Him, united in Him, brought Him to that awesome hour of suffering and atonement.
Even so, “how much more does the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works?” What are dead works? [Hebrews 9:14]. They’re the works of a man trying to make himself acceptable unto the Lord. All of the rituals and rites by which men strive to get right with God or appear before God, all of them, says the author, are but dead works. But the blood of Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unto God, purges us, cleanses us, washes us, makes us whole [Hebrews 9:14]. Now, when the author says that, we are entering an area of human experience. We ourselves here are competent to affirm it or to deny it. Does the blood of Christ, the cross of our Lord, cleanse from sin, purge out consciences, wash us clean, and present us acceptable unto God? [Hebrews 9:14]. Does the cross of Christ make new men and new women? Is it the instrument of God for the regeneration of our souls? Are men saved in the preaching of the blood of the Crucified One, are they? Are they?
One of the most effective books I ever read in my life is entitled Twice Born Men. It is a depiction, one after another, of men who had fallen into the very depths of sin and have been raised to the very heights of God through the blood of Jesus Christ. There’s not a minister who lives in the earth, who preaches the power of the blood, but has his heart and his notebook and his messages full of glorious instances where men have found life, and hope, and liberty, and salvation, and deliverance in the blood of Jesus Christ. A drunkard who has been lifted up to honor; a harlot who has been redeemed from a life of impurity and compromise; a prodigal wastrel boy who has found himself and come back home to God; a man who is discouraged, having lost the purpose and motivation and meaning of life, found in Christ and the pity and love and forgiveness and mercy of our Lord a new day, a new vision, a new dream, and a new life.
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One,
All praise to the Father, all praise to the Son
All praise to the Spirit, the great Three-in-One,
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One.
[adapted from “Saved by the Blood,” S. J. Henderson]
And he has a word here for the blood of Christ; he calls it a diathēkē, a diathēkē. On every Greek New Testament you’ll find written right there, and right there you will find kaine diathēkē., and then here again, kaine diathēkē: the new testament, the new testament, and the author calls the blood of Christ a diathēkē, a testament [Hebrews 9:15]. “But where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is without force as long as men live; only when they die does it have force” [Hebrews 9:16-17]. For the effectiveness, the efficaciousness, the meaning of a testament is only in the event of the death of the testator. As long as he lives it is of no force or strength; but if he dies it is sealed forever.
Now, that word diathēkē, translated here “testament” [Hebrews 9:15], is practically everywhere else in the Bible translated “covenant.” There are two meanings of that word diathēkē. One is “covenant,” or “contract,” or “promise kept.” What is the new diathēkē, the kaine diathēkē? What is the new covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ? [Luke 22:20]. What is it? The old covenant was, “Do this and thou shalt live” [Deuteronomy 4:1], which covenant we all broke; no man perfectly keeps the Ten Commandments or the law of God [Exodus 20:1-17]. The first covenant we broke, for the first covenant was between God and us, and we couldn’t keep it. We broke it, and because guilty we stand condemned before the Lord; that’s the first covenant. The second covenant, the kaine diathēkē, the second covenant is in the blood of Christ between God and His Son. And that covenant is this: “My Son,” says God the Father to the Prince of Glory, “My Son, if You lay down Your life, if You sacrifice Your body, if You pour out Your blood, I promise You I will give You a people who will love You, and follow You, and glorify You, and they will be My gift to You forever and ever because of Your sacrifice for them.” The covenant in the blood of Christ is between God and His Son [Hebrews 10:9]. I have nothing to do with it. God just gave to Jesus a list of those He said, “I will give to You, they are Yours forever. And here is the role. If You lay down Your life, if You shed Your blood, if You die on the cross, I promise,” says God, “to give You these. They are Yours forever to love You and accept You and trust You, and believe in You, and to be with You in heaven world without end” [Romans 8:29].
My sweet Presbyterian preacher over there will surely not object to that revelation in God’s Book. Before the foundation of the world, every name that God was going to give to Christ, if He shed His blood and suffered on the cross, before the foundation of the world every one of those names is in the Book of Life [Revelation 13:8]. “They are My sheep,” said the Lord, “and they know Me, and I know them; and they follow Me” [John 10:27]. They belong to Jesus. That is a covenant God made with His Son. God’s part of the covenant is, “I promise,” and because He could swear by none greater He swear by Himself! [Hebrews 6:13]. This is the immutable word of God, “I will give You these,” says God. And the other part of the covenant is in Christ: “I will die, I will go to the cross, I will pour out My life” [Hebrews 10:4-14]; and in the blood of Christ the covenant was sealed.
Oh, bless God that in that Book of Life my name is there, my name is there. I was saved, God called me. Bless His name. Your name was there. He wrote it down before the world was made. And you are a gift to the blessed Son, a promise of God, His part; and the blood of Christ, His part; we are God’s redeemed saints.
“Pastor, just what do you mean by we had nothing to do with that?” I mean just that! When the high priest went into the Holy of Holies, there to offer blood of expiation and propitiation, and atonement, at-one-ment with God, when the high priest went into the Holy of Holies, he went by himself [Hebrews 9:7]; no sinner brought blood to offer atonement unto God. The high priest went into that holy sanctuary by himself. The appointed servant of God stood before God making expiation for the sins of the people [1 John 2:2]. That is exactly what Christ does for us. Not anything I do, not any price I can bring, not any work that I can do; Christ just appears in the great heavenly sanctuary for me, and He makes atonement for my soul [1 John 2:2]. And my part is just to praise His name. Oh, bless God that He did it for me, that He included me.
There’s one other meaning of the word “diathēkē.” Not only is it a covenant, a contract between God and His Son, it is also our word “testament.” And this is the only place in the Bible that it is so translated “testament,” a testator making a will [Hebrews 9:15-16]. All other places in the Bible it means “contract, covenant.” But in this one place it means the will of a testator [Hebrews 9:15-16]. Christ has made a will. He is the great Testator. And when He died [1 Corinthians 15:3], that will was forever sealed [Hebrews 10:4-14]. What is the will of our Lord? It is the will of our Lord that, and oh, there are more than three thousand promises written in that will here in the Bible, and they’re all mine. Every time you come across a codicil, every time you come across a promise, it is something added to the will of our Lord. That’s probated for us in heaven. In Christ’s death He wills for us, and just name it: peace, love, joy, victory, deliverance, liberty, gladness, a hallelujah life. He wills that we be with Him where He is, that’s heaven [John 14:3], that’s the beautiful city; those are the golden streets and the pearly gates [Revelation 21:20], that’s the mansion in the sky [John 14:2]. All God has willed for us in a testament that has been sealed by the death of our Lord [Hebrews 10:4-14], and it can never be revoked, for He is already dead. It can never be changed for He has already died. It is forever and forever ours; the devil can’t get us, sin can’t destroy us, and all the hosts of hell cannot deny us that inheritance, for it is sealed and probated in the courts of heaven by the death of our Lord [Hebrews 10:4-14].
How firm a foundation
Ye saints of the faith,
Is laid for your souls
In His eternal [word]!
What more could He say
Than to you He hath said,
You who unto Jesus
For refuge have fled?
[adapted from “How Firm a Foundation,” John Rippon, 1787]
Our eternal gift from the hands of Jesus: a thousand wonderful enrichments now, and a home in glory then [John 10:10, 14:3].