How the Blood of Christ Saves Us
March 15th, 1977 @ 7:30 PM
HOW THE BLOOD OF CHRIST SAVES US
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-15-77 7:30 p.m.
And welcome the great throng of you who are listening to this service on KCBI. Now this is the pastor bringing the sermon tonight entitled How the Blood of Christ Saves Us. In the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, in the twenty-second verse, and then the twenty-seventh and the twenty-eighth, the inspired author wrote these things:
All things are by the law purged with blood; and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.
As it is appointed unto men once to die, but 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 9:22, 27-28]
And if I had a text in the passage, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins [Hebrews 9:22]; but so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” [Hebrews 9:28].
The world repudiates this gospel of blood redemption and salvation, and they state their refusal bluntly, and crudely, and rudely, and brutally. They say, “If we have tractors to move mountains, we don’t need faith. If we have penicillin, we don’t need prayer. If we have positive thinking, we don’t need salvation. If we have the state, we don’t need the church. If we have manuals on science, we don’t need the Bible. And if we have an Edison or an Einstein, we don’t need a Jesus Christ.” They define all of the values of life in material and external terms. What they do not realize is that the great fundamental basic need of mankind is redemption and regeneration. And what can tractors and machines, and manuals of science, and political agencies do with the sin that destroys the human heart and human life? [Ezekiel 18:4, 20: Romans 3:23, 6:23]. It is to that great human need that the Christian faith ever addresses itself. The faith of Christ is first and above all things redemptive; it has to do with our sins. How can I be saved from the judgment of God upon the iniquity that ever characterizes my life? [Romans 6:23].
The Christian faith is by no means an ethic, though it is ethical; it is by no means a theology, though it is theological; it is by no means reformational, though it has social, and cultural, and political overtones. The Christian faith is first, and fundamentally, and above all, a religion of redemption; it has to do with the deliverance of our souls from sin. “He was delivered for our offenses, and was raised for our justification” [Romans 4:25]; you can see this poignantly in the sign, the aegis, of the Christian faith. The sign of the Christian faith is not a burning bush or two tables of stone, it is not a seven branched lampstand or a halo above a submissive head, it is not even a golden crown; but the sign of the Christian faith is a rugged and bloody cross. It is a cross with all of its naked hideousness as the Roman would have it; it is a cross with all of its philosophical irrationality, as the Greek would have it; it is a cross with its power to redeem and to save, as Paul preached it [1 Corinthians 15:2] .
Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
[“Are You Washed in the Blood?”; Elisha Hoffman, 1878]
The greatest event and most significant and most dramatic in all of the story of human history is the descent of our Lord Christ from heaven down and down to suffer on the cross [Hebrews 10:4-14; John 12:27, Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15]. Our minds cannot enter into the immeasurable distance between the height of His glory and the ignominy of His shame and death. Down, and down, and down, and down, and down, did He come, until finally He was made out of the dust of the ground, a man [Philippians 2:5-8]; and among man, a slave [Matthew 20:28]—the poorest among the poor. And executed in the manner of a felon [Matthew 27:38], raised between the earth and the sky as though both refused Him; despised by men and rejected by God [Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 27:46], cursed and reviled [Matthew 27:39]. And as though abuse were not vile enough, they plucked out His beard [Isaiah 50:6]; and as though to pluck out His beard was not contemptuous enough, they pressed on His brow a crown of thorns [Matthew 27:29]. And as though a crown of thorns were not sharp enough, they drove in great nails through hands and feet [Matthew 27:32-35]; and as though the nails did not pierce deep enough, they thrust into His heart a Roman spear, and the crimson of His life poured out [John 19:34]. Even the sun in the heaven refused to shine or to look upon so tragic and shameful a death [Matthew 27:45-50].
Well might the sun in glory hide
And shine His glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man the creature’s sin.
[from “Alas And Did My Savior Bleed?”; Isaac Watts 1707]
What is this, the death of our Lord on the cross? What happened? Is it a dramatic play, like the Agamemnon of Aeschylus, or like Shakespeare’s Macbeth or King Lear, or like Eugene O’Neil’s Strange Interlude? What is this, the death of our Lord? Is it an historical tragedy, like Socrates drinking the hemlock, or like Julius Caesar murdered at the feet of the statue of Pompey, or like Abraham Lincoln assassinated in Ford’s Theater? What is this, the death of our Lord on the cross? Is it a sign of failure, and disappointment, and despair?
There was a great philanthropist and musician and theologian by the name of Albert Schweitzer; a doctor who spent the rest of his life in the French Cameroon in West Africa, one of the greatest men of all time, Albert Schweitzer. He wrote a book entitled The Quest for the Historical Jesus, and the thrust and the summary of that volume is this: that the Lord Christ expected the kingdom of heaven to descend apocalyptically, apocalyptically and when it didn’t come—when it didn’t descend—that He died heartbroken; in frustration, in disappointment, and in despair. Is that true? Is that the meaning of the death of our Lord, a brokenhearted man who dies in frustration and defeat? What is the meaning of the crucifixion, and the suffering, and the sacrifice of the Son of God?
It is this: when we look upon the cross, we see the result and the fruit of human sin. Who did that? Who is guilty of that? Who nailed Christ the Son of God to the tree? Whose fault is that? There are those who say it is God’s fault; and they blame God for the providences of life; like the wife of Job who said to her husband, “Curse God, and commit suicide” [Job 2:9]. There are those who would say, “It’s His own fault, He should have been a better manager; He made His own bed, let Him lie in it.” There are those who say, “It’s Judas’ fault; he sold Him for thirty pieces of silver” [Matthew 26:14-16]. There are those who would say, “That’s the fault of Pontius Pilate, that weak and vacillating Roman procurator” [Matthew 27:22-26; John 18:38-40; Mark 15:6-16]. There are those who would say, “It’s the Jews’ fault; they delivered Him to be crucified” [Matthew 27:1-2; Mark 15:1]. And there are those who would say, “It was the soldiers’ fault, the Romans’ fault; they nailed Him to the tree, they hammered those great spikes into His hands and His feet” [Matthew 27:27-35].
The Jews rise to cry to this modern day, “Would you bring upon our heads the blood of this Man? [Acts 5:28]. We did it not. It is not our fault.” Pontius Pilate called for a basin of water and washed his hands, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Man” [Matthew 27:24]. And every Roman soldier under authority would say, “What we did, we were but carrying out the commands of the imperial government; it is not our fault.” Whose fault is it? Who drove in those nails? [Matthew 27:27, 32-35]. Who pressed on His brow that crown of thorns? [Matthew 27:29]. Who crucified the Son of glory? It must have been that we all had a part; our sins pressed upon His brow that crown of thorns. Our sins drove into His hands and His feet those great heavy nails. It was our sins who pierced His side [John 19:34].
Was it for crimes that I have done,
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing [pity], [grace] unknown,
And [love] beyond degree.
[“At the Cross,” Isaac Watts]
What is this, the death of the Son of God on the cross? This is God’s redemption for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3; John 12:27; Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:18-19]. This is the answer to the cry of Job, “O God, I have sinned; what shall I do?” [Job 7:20]. This is the answer to the cry of Macbeth, “Will all Neptune’s ocean wash this blood from my hands? No, rather this my hand will the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.”
What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! Precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
[“Nothing But the Blood,” Robert Lowry 1876]
“This is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the earth” [Revelation 13:8]; this is the blood of the Passover Lamb [1 Corinthians 5:7]; this is the suffering Servant of Jehovah by whose stripes we are healed [Isaiah 53:5]. This is the great redemption of God, purposed from before the creation of the world [1 Peter 1:20]. This is the great climactic moment toward which all time and history did move: when the Lord bowed His head on the cross, and cried, “It is finished” [John 19:30]. And the blood drops in the dust around the cross whispered to the grass, “It is finished.” And the grass whispered to the herbs, “It is finished.” And the herbs whispered to the trees, “It is finished.” And the trees whispered to the birds in the branches, “It is finished.” And the birds spiraling upward to the clouds whispered, “It is finished.” And the clouds whispered to the stars, “It is finished.” And the stars whispered to the angels in heaven, “It is finished.” And the angels in heaven thronged the streets of the New Jerusalem, crying to one another, “It is finished. It is finished,” God’s great redemptive purpose: that we might be saved from our sins [John 19:16-30]. This is the sign of our salvation: wide as the world is wide, just are the arms of the cross—extended eastward as far as the east goes east, and westward as far as the west goes west—to include all mankind [1 John 2:2], who would pause, who would look [John 3:14-15; Numbers 21:8-9], who would trust, who would believe, who would be saved [Acts 16:30-31; 2 Timothy 1:12].
And this is the sign of our hope in God and in the world to come: if there is someone loved who is laid in the heart of this earth, there will be at the head of the grave a cross.
If In Flanders’s fields the poppies blow,
It will be between the crosses, row on row.
[“In Flanders Fields,” Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD]
“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” [Galatians 6:14]; before that great sacrifice, and hope, and forgiveness, everything else in this life pales and passes away.
You know, once in a while, I will think back over the years and the years of my life as a minister of Christ, numbering fifty now, fifty years as a preacher and a pastor, and I go back in memory to the first funeral I ever conducted. In a poor, poor community, a tenant couple, poorer than the poor, their little baby boy sickened and died. And I was asked to conduct the memorial service. After the service, in the little white framed church house, the casket was placed on a truck; poor people—on a truck. And in my little car sat next to me the mother, and next to her on the other side her young husband. And as the truck moved down the country road, and I following it, the mother began to cry, just inconsolably. And the young husband put his arm around her and said, “There, there, don’t cry. Jesus will take care of our little boy, and He will do it better than we could. And we’ll see him someday in heaven.” And after we came to the country cemetery, and buried the little form in that casket, and as country people do, heaped up the clods and the dirt and made a little mound; and before we left, at the head of the grave we placed a little cross, a sign of our faith and a sign of our hope. There is no other hope. There is no other way [John 14:6; Acts 4:12]. This is God’s provision for our salvation and for our redemption; in the cross of Christ our Lord [John 3:16; Acts 4:12; 1 John 2:2].
Together, could we pray?
Our Lord, our hearts smite us when we think how oft times we lightly and slightly receive from Thy hands the gift of our salvation. It costs our Lord so much. Coming down from heaven into this sinful world—which is a vast illimitable cemetery—to live our life, suffer our suffering, die our dying, buried in our grave [Hebrews 10:5-14]. O Lord! That the Prince of Glory should thus be good to us, pity us, have compassion upon us, come to die for our sins [John 12:27; Luke 19:10; 1 Corinthians 15:3], that we might not pay the penalty of our iniquity and wrongdoing [2 Corinthians 5:21]. O God! How could we ever thank Thee enough for what Jesus hath done for us? Precious Savior may our lives in return be dedicated to Thee. Lord, Lord, come into our souls, live in our hearts; may every day flow heavenward and God-ward and Christ-ward in praise and thanksgiving for what Thou hast done for us. And our Master, may it be that tonight the appeal of our Savior dying for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3], living for our justification [Romans 4:25, 5:9], coming again for us in glory [John 14:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], O Lord, may there be those tonight that the Savior draws to Himself in faith [Ephesians 2:8], in love, in commitment. Please Lord, do it again; do it now.
With our heads bowed and in prayer, some tonight, you, giving your life in faith and trust to the Lord who died that we might be saved [1 Corinthians 15:3]—come. Come, “Tonight, I accept Jesus as my Savior [Romans 10:9-13], and I’m coming.” A family you to put your life with us in the church; a couple you, walking down that aisle or down that stairway together, “I’m coming tonight.” Or, one somebody you, make the decision now in your heart and in a moment when we stand to sing, stand walking down that stairway or coming down this aisle. Is it a child to whom God speaks? Come. Is it a youth standing at the threshold of manhood or womanhood? Come. Is it a couple, building their home together? Do it in the Lord. Come, as the Spirit shall press the appeal, make the decision now in your heart, and in a moment, gladly, gloriously, “Here I am, Lord, here I come.”
And our Savior, honor the message of the cross, and the invitation of the Spirit, and the singing now of our people, with a sweet and precious harvest. May this be a glad night of salvation and rejoicing, in Thy dear name, amen.
Now in a moment, we shall stand and sing our hymn of appeal. In the balcony round, you; in the throng on this lower floor, you; into the aisle and down to the front, “Here I come, pastor, I have decided for God and here I am.” “My life shall be joined with these dear people in the service of our Christ as long as He gives me breath, and I’m coming.” Do it now. Come now, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.
HOW THE BLOOD OF CHRIST SAVES US
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Modern denial for the need of such a gospel
1. Define the world in terms of materialistic and secular values
B. Message of the gospel address itself to a far deeper human need
C. Christian faith is essentially a message of redemption(Romans 4:25)
1. Fundamental purpose to deliver us from the bondage of sin
D. The descent from heaven and the sufferings of Christ(Matthew 27:28-37, John 19:34)
E. What is the meaning of the death of Christ?
1. A dramatic play?Historical tragedy?Abysmal failure?II. The display of the result and fruit of our sin
A. Who killed Jesus?(Job 2:9, Matthew 27:24)
B. We all had a partIII. The atonement of God for our sin
A. The answer to Job’s agonizing cry (Job 7:20)
1. The answer to Macbeth’s tragic queries
2. The answer to the hymn, “Nothing But the Blood”
B. The Lamb of God slain from before the foundation of the world(Revelation 13:8, Exodus 12:13, Isaiah 53:5, 11, Matthew 26:28, John 19:30)IV. The message of hope and salvation to the world(Galatians 6:14)
A. For all mankind – as far as the east goes east and the west goes west, so wide are the arms of the cross
B. The emblem of our hope
1. My first funeral