The Blood of Christ
April 9th, 1971 @ 12:00 PM
God’s Witness to the World
THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-09-71 12:00 p.m.
This is the concluding service of the fifty-second year that our church has conducted these pre-Easter downtown noonday hours of praise and worship. This is the twenty-seventh year that I have conducted the services. The theme for this year has been "God’s Witnesses to the World": Monday, The Fire of Elijah; Tuesday, The Baptism of John; Wednesday, The Preaching of Peter; yesterday, The Tears of Paul; and today, Friday’s day, the day of the cross, The Blood of Christ. The message is an exposition of the central part of the ninth chapter of Hebrews, from verses 11 through 22.
The passage concludes, "For by the law, all things are purged with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins" [Hebrews 9:22]. There is no one of us, however taught or trained, but who is forced to pause as he looks upon the outpouring of human blood, you cannot help it. There are some people who shudder before it; there are some people who look upon it and faint. But however inured or hardened, there is no one but that when the life is poured out pauses before the crimson flood.
I can well imagine how Adam and Eve felt when God took an innocent animal and slew it, and poured out its blood on the ground in the garden of Eden, that He might make clothes to hide the nakedness of our first parents [Genesis 3:21]. I can well understand how those same parents, Adam and Eve, must have looked in horror as they saw their second son murdered by their elder son [Genesis 4:8], and the crimson of life making scarlet the ground, poured out wantonly upon the earth, and the clots of blood upon the instrument of murder. All through the Old Covenant, the Old Testament, Israel has been taught in a Levitical school that sin stabs at the heart of life – it seals up the senses, it convulses the frame, and it leaves a wreck of the beautiful creation of God – and sin is atoned for, covered over, in blood. This was the school of God through which He took, throughout the Levitical law, the people of Israel.
Have you sometimes wondered what the worship in the temple was like, or in the tabernacle in the wilderness? Sometimes you will find in the Bible a list – a long list of those victims – sacrifices that were offered; thousands of sheep, and bullock, and oxen, and goats. I could think, as I see it in memory that the priests in the outer court literally stood in gore their white garments in crimsoned, splashed over with the blood of sacrifice. Could this be the worship of God? Yes, for the Lord is teaching His people that only in the sacrificial atonement in the shedding of blood is sin covered over. It is the bath drawn from the veins of Immanuel in which we are washed and clean. The text of the Old Testament, the Levitical law, 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 to me the text of the New Testament is Matthew [26:28]: "This is My blood of the new testament, shed for the remission of sins."
And without the shedding of blood, there is no remission [Hebrews 9:22].
Then the author of this ninth chapter of Hebrews presents the Levitical typology, and finally its meaning in the cross of Christ:
For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, and sprinkled the book, the people, the tabernacle, and the vessels, the furniture of the sanctuary. He took the blood and he sprinkled the book.
Every syllable is inspired by His sufferings, and is stained by His blood. "He took the blood and he sprinkled the book. And he took the blood and he sprinkled the people" [Hebrews 9:19].
At the base of Mt. Sinai he erected an altar to God, and there he offered the sacrificial victims. Half of the blood he poured out at the base of the altar, and the other half from basins he sprinkled the people. All of them had their garments stained with blood [Exodus 24:4-8]. They were a marked people, as at the Passover the blood was sprinkled outside in the form of a cross on the lintels and either side on the doorposts, a marked house, a house under the blood that belonged to God, so the people were a marked people [Exodus 12:7,13,21-23]. Their garments were stained with blood [Exodus 24:8]. Even as in heaven, "These are they who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" [Revelation 7:14]. Sprinkled the Book, sprinkled the people, sprinkled the tabernacle, the great covering of the sanctuary, and all of the furniture, the vessels in the sanctuary. The blood was poured out at the base of the great brazen altar [Exodus 29:12]. The basis of fellowship between a man and God is blood atonement. And the blood was sprinkled inside the Holy Place, on the golden altar of prayer and intercession [Exodus 29:16]: that is, we approach God in the name of the Crucified Lord, through blood. And the blood was carried by the high priest beyond the veil, and sprinkled there upon the mercy seat [Leviticus 16:14-15]: atonement has been made, satisfaction has been offered, a life has been given, a covering, the propitiation, the atonement, the satisfaction has been offered unto God.
Now this is the background and the typology that the author uses to describe the atonement of Christ. And as he speaks he says:
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer, sanctified to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ
He does not speak of the measure:
how much more – it is infinite – how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself unto God?
In the Levitical system, the victim – the animals that were offered – knew nothing of what was done. But Christ voluntarily gave Himself for this purpose of atonement, of washing our sins away. In the Spirit of God He did it, cognizant, fully sensitive, knowing the great eternal purpose that brought Him to that sacrificial hour:
The blood of Christ,our Lord who through the eternal Spirit, with cognizant and consciousness, He offered Himself without spot to God; sinless, pure, perfect, that we might be purged in our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God.
Those "dead works" refer not only to our trespasses and our iniquities, but they refer also to our attempt, man’s attempt to reach God. And all of these, the author says, are futile, sterile, empty, barren, dead works. No man in himself can touch God, nor come to God; our human efforts are vain and futile. The only way that a man can come to God is through atonement, through grace, through blood, through Christ.
"And the sacrifice of Christ purges our conscience from dead works," the strivings of man, "to serve the living God" [Hebrews 9:14]. Now when he speaks, "purging our conscience," he is leaving the realm of ritual and is entering the realm of human experience, our conscience. This is something then that we can verify. As someone cognizant and intelligent, I and you can judge and experience for ourselves. If it is true, we can affirm it; if it is not true, we are competent to deny it. Is there power in the blood of Christ to wash our hearts clean, to save our souls, to regenerate our spirits, to give us a new hope and a new life? Is there power in the blood to save, is there? Oh, there’s not an evangelist or a true preacher of Christ in the earth but that could note it – annotate it, substantiate it, verify it – by a thousand experiences.
One of the most moving books you could ever read is that one entitled Twice Born Men; men who’d been saved by the blood of the Crucified One. I one time, years ago when I was a youth, I went to the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago; sat at the back. I never saw such a motley crew, group, crowd in my life. And as I sat there that evening and listened to the service, it was not one like ours with song, and choir, and message, and sermon; but it was a message where seemingly everybody there wanted to say something. Sometimes the man would have written a poem, and he’d read his poem. Another one would tell some marvelous intervention of grace; another one, how wondrously God had saved him and delivered him. They were mostly foreign looking people to me, strange looking people to me. They were out of the gutter, they were out of the slums, they were out of the depths of degradation; but in their poetry that they read, and in the songs that they sung, some of them they’d written themselves, and in their testimony, all of them were glorious praises to God for saving them out of a life so sunken and so fallen and so ruined: the drunkard in honor was lifting up his head; the harlot in purity was praising the blessed name of Jesus. The youth prodigal and derelict had found a new hope and a new life. And we’re all just like that. Maybe not sinning like that; maybe not having fallen like that, but all of us saved just like that. I like that song our choir sings once in a while:
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.
Then the chorus:
Glory, I’m saved; Glory, I’m saved;
My sin is all pardoned, my guilt is all gone,
Glory, I’m saved; Glory, I’m saved;
I’m saved by the blood of the Crucified One.
["Saved By the Blood," S. J Henderson, 1902]
This is a verifiable experience; it is empirical, you can test it and see for yourself the power of the cross of Christ to convert human hearts and to lift us up to God.
Then he closes his marvelous exposition with a word that you find on the outside of your Bible. "For where a diathēkē is," a testament; then he speaks of this diathēkē – this kainē, "new"diathēkē – this new covenant, this new testament, this new compact, this new contract, this new promise; he speaks of it in two ways. And in the testament, in the New Testament, that word diathēkē is used in two ways. First, and mostly, it is used in the sense of a contract, a covenant: a diathēkē, a covenant. The blood of Christ, a covenant, how? It is a covenant between God and His Son; not between us and God. For that old covenant the sinful, fallen man broke, but the new covenant is between God and His Son. And it reads like this: God said and promised to His Son that if He would give His life as an atonement, as a ransom for sin, God would give Him precious souls who would trust Him, and believe in Him, and they should be His crown and His jewels.
And all of us who are saved God hath written our names on an eternal roll, and we are God’s reward to Jesus, His Son. And God hath given us life forever and forever. This is the compact, the diathēkē between God and His Son. And it is immutable; it is pledged first by the Word of the Lord, because He can swear by none greater; He sware by Himself, God’s Word [Hebrews 6:13-14].
And the other part of that compact is the offer of the blood and life of the Son of God. And that compact brings to those who trust in Jesus an eternal security; it never fails! As the Lord said in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, "I give unto them. My sheep hear My voice, and they follow Me, and I give unto them – My sheep – I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any one" – any power; that "one" is in italics, not in that Greek – "Neither shall any," period, any power above, any power in hell, any devil, any demon, any force in earth, height, depth, creation – "neither shall any pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one" [John 10:27-30].
There is an eternal security given to the child of God who finds a refuge in the blood of Christ. That’s why we sing that blessed old, old song:
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His blessed Word
What more could He say, than to you He hath said,
You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I’ll never, no never, desert to its foes.
That soul, though all death should endeavor to shake
I will never, no never, no never forsake.
["How Firm a Foundation"; by John Rippon, 1787]
"I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish" [John 10:28]. That is the diathēkē, that is the covenant, the contract between God and His Son: that we should be to the praise of His glory. God said that, "When My Son gives His life and pours out His blood, it shall not be in vain. But I have for Him precious jewels, saved souls, people who will look in faith and in love and in trust to the Crucified One; and they are His reward," says God, "for pouring out His life on the cross."
O Lord! How could I ever thank Thee enough that my name is in that roll? How could I ever thank Thee enough that these whom I know and love are in that roll? All praise to Jesus, to God, that His grace included me, us,you. And when we get to heaven that is the song we shall sing.
We shall not sing to ourselves, "All praise to me, look what I’ve done, I’ve made it, I did it, I was so good I got here. I was so rich, I bought my way here." Or, "I was so shrewd and ingenious, I escaped the fires and damnation of hell, and here I am in heaven, all praise to me, I did it." There will be no syllable of it. When we get to heaven, our song will be "Unto Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us, and washed us in His own blood. . . unto Him be praise and glory forever and ever, amen" [Revelation 1:5-6]. Jesus did it. He did it. He washed us with His own blood, and God gave us to Him, His crowning jewels and reward and glory, for pouring out His life unto death for our sins.
Now briefly, the other use of that word here, of diathēkē – "the covenant" – just one time in the Bible is it used in the sense of a legal testament, that is a bequest, a will, and it’s here in this passage.
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 strength at all while the testator liveth.
The Lord hath bequeathed to us this marvelous gift of remission of sins, an eternal life, an inheritance in heaven. He hath bequeathed that to us in a diathēkē, in a testament. But for the testament to be valid, to be sealed, there must be the death of the testator; for as long as the one who made the testament lives, the testament is of no force. But when he dies, it is eternally secured; it is valid, it is sealed forever. And this is what the author speaks of in the death of our Lord. He hath promised us these precious gifts from heaven, and He has sealed them with His own blood in the pouring out of His own life.
That’s why he said to Simon Peter, when they – the officers – came to arrest the Master in Gethsemane, Simon Peter drew out his sword and meant to cut off the head of the first man who came to put a violent hand upon Jesus. He missed him and just cut off his ear, but when Jesus saw the violent reaction of that impetuous, impulsive apostle Peter, He said to him, "Put up the sword! Put up the sword! Why, Simon, I could ask My Father for twelve legions of angels" [Matthew 26:51-53]. Do you ever think of that? Twelve legions of angels, 72,000 angels! "I could ask My Father, and He would send Me 72,000 angels." Then do you ever multiply the inherent power of that?
When Sennacherib from Nineveh in Assyria shut up Jerusalem, and Hezekiah – on the inside, Hezekiah the good king – took his case to God, and that night one angel, one angel, one, passed over the camp of the Assyrians; and when the hasty, bitter, merciless general Sennacherib awakened the next morning, he looked out and 185,000 of his soldiers were dead corpses; one angel [Isaiah 37:36]. The Lord said to Simon, "I could ask My Father and He send Me 72,000 angels." Oh! Then He added, "But how thus would the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" [Matthew 26:54]
If there is remission of sins there must be shedding of blood [Hebrews 9:22]; and without the shedding of blood there is no atonement for our souls [Leviticus 7:11]. And our Lord willingly, voluntarily gave Himself on the cross that we might have a valid testament, a valid diathēkē, a valid covenant, one that is sealed forever.
And when I take that covenant, sealed by the blood of the Crucified One, I read here a promise that’s a clause added to His will; and I turn the page and I read yet another promise that is a codicil to the will. This is what God hath bequeathed to us: life now, life tomorrow, life in death, life in a promised resurrection, and life in that upper and better world in glory. It is sealed by the death of the Crucified One. Glory, glory!
Oh! bless God, that such gracious provision has been made for us; that in Him we might have forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. And our Master, as we come to this Friday’s day, when He was lifted up between the earth and the sky, and there made restitution, and satisfaction, and propitiation, and atonement for our sins, that someday we might stand in God’s presence pure, clean, white, forgiven, saved; O Lord! that God would give us songs to sing, and words to say, and hearts to throb in praise to the blessedness of Jesus who died for us. In His precious name, amen.
THE BLOOD OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Blood is always a terrible thing
1. Adam and Eve when they looked upon the first sacrifice in Eden
B. God used blood to teach Israel the penalty and judgment of sin, the necessity of atonement(Leviticus 17:11, Matthew 26:28, Hebrews 9:22)
II. The sprinkling of the blood(Exodus 12:21-23, 24:3-8, Revelation 7:14)
A. Upon the Book (Hebrews 9:19)
B. Upon the people (Hebrews 9:19)
C. Upon the tabernacle (Hebrews 9:21)
D. Upon the furnishings(Hebrews 9:21)
1. Poured out at base of altar – the foundation of our fellowship with God
2. Sprinkled on the golden altar of incense, prayer
3. Sprinkled on the mercy seat
III. The great mercy in Christ(Hebrews 9:13-14)
A. He volunteered
B. "Dead works" – rituals and rites by which men strive to get right with God
C. "Purge your conscience" – the power of Christ to cleanse souls
1. Book, Twice Born Men
2. Verifiable experience
IV. The name given to the blood of Christ(Hebrews 9:16-17)
A. Diatheke – "a testament, covenant"
1. First covenant was between God and us – we couldn’t keep it
2. Second covenant – in the blood of Christ between God and His Son
a. Christ committed to the cross; God promised a people(John 10:27-30, Revelation 1:5)
B. Will and testament
1. Blood of Christ gives validity to all the promises of God