The Blood of Christ
Ephesians Series #070
June 14, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Our Father we’re thankful for Your Word, that it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. As a psalmist said, it is in Your light that we see light and it is as we submit to Your Word and apply Your Word in our thinking and in our living, that You are the one who works in and through us.
“You produce spiritual growth, spiritual strength, we are edified, and as a result of that we grow and mature spiritually. Our lives are stabilized no matter what the external circumstances may be, and we grow to realize and experience that joy that is Christ’s, that He shares with us.
“Father, as we study today help us to understand what the Bible teaches, that our understanding of what Christ did on the cross is clarified, and that we come to a greater appreciation for all that You have done for us.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles to Ephesians 2, where we’re going to study the last part of Ephesians 2:13, which is the phrase “the blood of Christ.” We have been studying in Ephesians 2:11–13. I want to read through them again, so we catch their importance.
A reminder before I read them, that in Paul’s flow of thought following Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 2:11–13 sets the stage. They almost provide a topical paragraph or thesis paragraph for the foundation he is going to develop through the rest of Ephesians 2:1–3:21.
Ephesians 2:11–13, “Therefore, remember that you—you Gentiles—once Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in flesh by hands, that at that time …” This is prior to the beginning of the church, referring back to the Age of Israel when Gentiles did not have these privileges that God gave to Israel.
“… that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now—now is this Church Age in contrast to the time before the beginning of the Church Age—But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Ephesians 2:14–18. These five explain how we were brought near; how Gentiles are brought near and together; he uses “together” and “both,” which goes back to Ephesians 1:4–6. This is talking about the “new man” that is created, a unique word used only of God’s work here in the New Testament. God creates this “new man” out of both. It’s something entirely new, something different from anything that has preceded it.
The way in which He does this is described by this last phrase in Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
What does this phrase mean? I’ve taught on this before in summary fashion and perhaps a long time ago in more detail fashion. But I went back and started from scratch as if I’d never studied this or taught this before and worked my way through it.
One of the things that we see in not just contemporary theology, currently taught from pulpits, but this also goes back to some early misunderstandings and early heresy in the church, especially in the medieval church. I want to review three things that are problems related to how people understand this phrase “the blood of Christ.”
1. Some take this to be literal. Basically, the whole problem is that they don’t understand that this is a figure of speech. They take it to be literal, that it’s focusing on the literal blood: the red blood cells, white blood cells, the plasma, everything. They look at the blood as a physical entity—that Jesus bled to death on the cross, and that there is something mystical or miraculous about Jesus’ literal blood.
If you ever watched the film that was produced in the 1950s, Ben Hur, there was something of this at the end of the film. Ben Hur was written by Gen. Lew Wallace, who was a union general during the War Between the States, and later he was appointed as a territorial governor of New Mexico during the time of the Lincoln County Cattle Wars.
He had quite an interesting life, but in there he came to an understanding of the gospel, and he became a believer in Jesus Christ. He initially started out like a number of other people who are well known in history have, and he sought to disprove Christianity. He sought to show that it was just a bunch of stories, and that it had nothing to do with reality whatsoever.
The result was that he came to realize it was the absolute truth, that there was an incredible amount of historical evidence for the existence of Jesus, and that the evidence in the Bible was absolutely accurate.
He wrote Ben Hur as a historical novel about a fictitious Jew by the name of Judah Ben Hur, his life, and his coming to a realization of his need to trust in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.
Over the course of the film he gets crossways with the Roman authorities; he gets sold into slavery; he goes to Rome. And while he’s away, he can’t take care of his mother and sister, they become impoverished. Then they in turn get leprosy. When he returns they have been isolated in a leper colony. That’s the background.
Moving forward towards the end of the film: Jesus has been arrested, Jesus is taken to Golgotha, Jesus is put on the cross; and the darkness comes over the earth. Of course, Hollywood always assumes that nothing supernatural is going on, so the darkness must be a storm or thunderstorm, so it’s cloudy, and starts to rain while Jesus is on the cross, none of which is in the Bible.
But as the rain pours down, and as these poor people, who are at the foot of the cross, are huddled together to try to avoid getting drenched, the rain washes the blood off of Jesus’s body. It goes down, mixes with the water running down, and rivulets along the little cracks and crevices of the hill of Golgotha, which didn’t really exist, but it makes for a nice little story.
Judah Ben Hur’s mother and sister are standing there. They have come to see what has happened with Jesus. And the water that is mixed with the physical blood of Jesus runs by their feet, and they are miraculously healed from the leprosy. This is one view that many people have held, that it’s the literal, physical blood of Jesus that saves people, and this has caused some problems.
2. This is developed mostly in a Roman Catholic heresy related to the end of Hebrews 9–10 that it’s the literal, physical blood of Jesus that He takes to heaven with Him. In between the death and the resurrection, Jesus somehow collects His physical blood into a basin, ascends to heaven and uses that physical blood to cleanse the heavenly temple.
Of course, you have to ask the question, why does He have to cleanse the heavenly temple? The answer is Satan sinned in heaven, so there has to be a cleansing of sin in heaven. That may be true, but the literal blood is not what does it. We’ll see that it’s the death of Christ that provides cleansing in heaven, as well as on earth.
3. A third area that is somewhat problematic for those who don’t really understand that the Bible uses lots of figures of speech and lots of metaphors which we use in many different ways, especially in our hymns. Using that imagery and singing words related to the blood of Christ isn’t a problem. If it’s good enough for the Holy Spirit to use the phrase “the blood of Christ” or “the blood of Jesus” numerous times in Scripture, then I think it’s okay for us to use it in hymns and to sing it in hymns.
I know that there are some people who have had some hesitancy about certain hymns, and it may not be just because of the imagery that’s there, but sometimes the hymns are not the greatest. There are two hymns that come to mind that really sort of exaggerate the imagery a little bit, but there’s nothing wrong with that inherently, if you understand the imagery and what it means.
The first hymn is “There’s Power in the Blood.” This hymn was written in 1899 by a man named Lewis E. Jones, who went to Moody Bible Institute, and after that he worked for the YMCA.
You think of the YMCA is a place to go work out and a place to have physical activity, but back when it was originally founded, it was the Young Men’s Christian Association, an evangelistic organization that was designed to provide a place where when men traveled, they could stay there in a safe, clean environment.
You weren’t going to run into drunks and ne’er-do-wells and prostitutes and everything else that you might find in a typical hotel. They could stay at a YMCA and have Christian fellowship. It was a solid ministry. He worked for a YMCA in Davenport, Iowa; another one for many years in Fort Worth, Texas, and also in Santa Barbara, where he eventually died.
If you think about the words for this hymn, the first verse says, “Would you be free from the burden of sin? There’s power in the blood, power in the blood.”
If you recognize, as we’ll see in our study, that the blood of Christ is a metaphor for the death of Christ, that if you just change it to its literal meaning, “There’s power in the death, power in the death of Christ.” That makes perfect sense. There’s nothing wrong with that once you understand the imagery.
The next line, “Would you o’er evil the victory win? There’s wonderful power in the blood of the Lamb (or power in the death of Christ).” Of course, there is power! There is power for cleansing from sin, power to save us, and power to transform our lives.
When you understand biblical imagery—and the Bible uses the phrase “blood of Christ” and “blood of the Lamb” several times—there is nothing wrong with that particular image. I think we get a little hyper legalistic if we try to impose the bad theology upon that hymn.
The other hymn is “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” Especially in the opening line, I think is graphic imagery, “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”
We sang that—it was chosen by Allen Ross at the Chafer Conference this last year—to a different tune than the one we’re used to. When you look at it in terms of the metaphor that’s used, there’s nothing wrong there. It’s perfectly orthodox. I’m not sure that it is the best hymn or the best language or the best poetry, but the focus is that it’s the death of Christ that cleanses us from sin, washes all our sins away.
I have problems more with the third verse, but it seems to indicate a future time when we’re all with the Lord, “Till all the ransomed church of God be saved—that would be Phase 3—to sin no more.” That’s not talking about Phase 2 “to sin no more.”
That was written by William Cowper. It’s interesting to study the lives of some of these hymn writers. William Cowper grew up in England in the 17th century. He was a poet, as well as a writer of hymns. When he was a young man, he was institutionalized for depression, which was difficult at that time. He was always plagued with depression, as some believers are, and he struggled all through his life to apply the Word of God to his depression, but he understood that God’s grace was sufficient.
That is just a test that some people have. Other peoples’ sin natures run in different directions. Today, of course, the pagan human viewpoint is that all depression just has to do with chemistry, and you need to medicate it, not understanding that there are spiritual issues involved, and that that is how you have to solve the problem.
What in the world did Christians do for 1,900 years, or what did Old Testament believers do? For there were many that had all sorts of different, what we would call today, emotional problems which just stem from living in the fallen world in a fallen body.
William Cowper was also a close associate of John Newton, who wrote the hymn, “Amazing Grace.” Cowper wrote a number of other hymns that were quite solid theologically, so there’s nothing about his theology that would indicate that he was putting some bad theology into the language of his hymn. He was also a strong supporter of the abolitionist campaign and William Wilberforce, so he was a great man. It’s interesting to study his life.
Those are some of the issues that people bring with them when they come to passages of Scripture because they have heard or they have been mistaught in particular areas.
The means by which the Gentiles—what Paul talks about in Ephesians 2:13, “… you who were once far off.” He is not talking about every person being spiritually dead and far away, he’s talking about Gentiles who were far off because they did not have these five special privileges that God had given to Israel as His chosen people.
May I remind you that God did not choose them because they were inherently better than others or because of anything in them? In fact, in Deuteronomy He says that just the opposite was true: they were stiff-necked, rebellious and always a problem. “I didn’t choose you because you are so good,” but He chose them for His own special purposes.
By Jesus’ time, the Jews—Pharisees and others—had become so haughty and arrogant that they looked down on the Gentiles as those who were uncircumcised. They thought circumcision saved them. Paul is telling them, “No, once as Gentiles you didn’t have access to these privileges of the Jews, but now you have something better.”
There’s this contrast, “But now in Christ—not now just because you’re Gentile. But now, as a believer, as a saved Gentile—now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off—you were kept away from Israel. There was a separation there that we will talk about more next time when we get into Ephesians 2:14—you who once were far off have been brought near—how?—by the blood of Christ.”
That phrase introduced by the English preposition “by” introduces the way in which God brings the Gentiles near. Where this new entity will be developed starting in Ephesians 2:14, the body of Christ. The means is by the blood of Christ.
We have this phrase in the Greek, the preposition EN plus the dative “of the blood.” That always indicates instrumentality, so I like to translate this “by means of” because it brings out that instrument: God uses the blood of Christ.
The preposition’s important here because it’s parallel in a concept to what we see back in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”
The phrase “through faith” also expresses means, but it uses a different preposition. So, there are two different ways that you can express this in Greek. One uses the preposition EN with a dative noun; the second is DIA with a genitive noun.
I have this on-screen because DIA could also govern an accusative noun, in which case it’s translated “because.” But it’s very clear that this is not causal; it is instrumental. By the time you get into KOINE Greek, there is a tremendous overlap between EN plus the dative and DIA plus the genitive, so that they both express means and are virtually synonymous.
Those with a lot of background in classical Greek tend to go to language 500 years earlier to try to find distinctions in what’s going on in KOINE Greek. But that’s just as problematic as people who want to go back to Shakespearean or Elizabethan English and try to impose meanings of words at that time on words today.
Usage determines the meaning of a word or meaning of a phrase, and KOINE Greek was very different from classical Greek, even though some idioms and phrases continued to be used, but people knew what they meant.
When we try to understand this phrase “by the blood of Christ,” the first place we should look is immediate context. The immediate context helps us to understand.
In Ephesians 2:13, our passage, it’s “by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:16, “and that He—God—might reconcile”—so reconciliation in Ephesians 2:16 is identical or synonymous to the idea of bringing those far off and making them near. We’re talking about the same thing, just a slightly different language.
“… that He might reconcile them both to God—‘the both’ refers to Jew and Gentile—in one body through the cross.” There’s our phrase. It uses that DIA preposition of Ephesians 2:8, but it means the same thing; it communicates means or instrumentality.
The instrument that God uses for reconciliation here is the phrase “through the cross,” whereas the idea of reconciliation in Ephesians 2:13 is by means of “the blood of Christ.” It’s expressing the same thing, so “blood of Christ” equals “the Cross.”
When talking about being reconciled through the Cross, let me ask you a question. Is that through the physical wood—of the two pieces, the two beams—that were connected together on which Jesus died? Is it talking about the literal wood of the cross? No.
Right away in English we know he’s not talking about the literal cross. We understand that because we know the language. We may not be able to tell what kind of figure speech it is, we may not say, “Oh, that’s some kind of imagery.”
We may not be able to express any of the technical aspects of an idiom or figure of speech, but we know it’s not the literal cross. We know it’s what happened on the Cross.
That’s the same thing that we understand when we see the phrase “blood of Christ.” We know it’s not the literal blood of Christ, it’s what that represents.
Ephesians 2:18, “For through Him …” We’ve seen the phrase “by the blood of Christ,” then the phrase “through the cross.” and now “through Him.” All three phrases refer to the same thing: to what happens on the cross when Jesus died, when He paid the penalty for our sins.
1. These three passages indicate that the phrase “through His blood,” “through the cross,” and “through Him” are synonymous.
“Through the blood of Christ” is not talking about the literal blood of Jesus, it’s talking about what that represents. Just as the cross is not talking about a literal cross, but what it represents; and what it represents is through Him, what He did on the cross.
2. Six key passages in the New Testament use a phrase related to the blood of Christ.
The first one we just looked at, Ephesians 2:13. The other five are listed here.
1 Corinthians 10:16, the passage I read when we were having our observance of the Lord’s Table a little while ago. This is a great passage to look at. Again, it’s something a little different in the grammar of the Greek, but it means basically the same kind of thing.
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” We can translate that “is it not the fellowship of the blood of Christ.”
The term “blood of Christ,” speaks of His death on the Cross. We will get into details about that later, but it speaks of His death on the cross. The communion, the fellowship that we have in the body of Christ is the result of, or it is sourced in, the death of Christ. That’s the idea in the grammar here. The communion, the fellowship that we have, comes from the death of Christ. The grape juice—the cup of blessing—represents that blood.
Secondly, there are a number of passages that refer to the blood in Hebrews, but in this passage it uses the phrase “the blood of Christ.” In Hebrews 9 and Hebrews 10 the writer is focusing on the value of the death of Christ—that He is a superior sacrifice. That is also one of the senses in which the phrase “the shed blood” is used when you break down various meanings, that it has this emphasis on a sacrificial kind of death.
Hebrews 9:14, “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
The key phrase is “the blood of Christ” which “cleanses your conscience from the dead works to serve the living God.” It can’t be referring to the physical blood of Christ because it cleanses something that is not physical. It’s cleansing something that is spiritual. And it’s talking about an act that occurs at the cross. The death of Christ is the basis for cleansing your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Let me ask you question. Does this happen automatically to everybody? Just because Jesus died on the Cross is their conscience cleansed? No. That happens when you trust in Christ—when that aspect of His death is applied.
We go back for imagery here to the first Passover, the 10th plague in Egypt. Approximately 2½ to 3 million Israelites are still slaves in Egypt. God has been commanding, through Moses, the Pharaoh to release His people. Each time Pharaoh says no, God sends another judgment, another plague, and each plague gets progressively worse than the one before.
The last plague is going to be that God will bring death on the firstborn in every household. That would apply to Pharaoh’s household because he had a firstborn son. This threatens everyone. It threatens the order and the succession of the throne of Egypt. Yet God is going to give a solution. That solution is going to be to select the lamb on the 10th day of the month.
This didn’t happen real fast. They had time to do all of this. They will select the lamb on the 10th day of Nisan. They’re going to observe that lamb for four days to make sure it is without spot or blemish. Then they will sacrifice the lamb. They will take the blood of the lamb and apply it to the door posts and the cross piece at the top, which is called the lintel. If you connect the dots you have a cross.
The point I’m making here is, it’s not just having the blood of the lamb present in the house. It has to be applied the way God said to apply it. There’s another element that is inherent within the meaning of the blood of Christ, and that is that it’s applied in the way God says that it has to be applied. The way we apply today is we trust in Christ’s death on the cross as the means of our salvation.
Thirdly we find this phrase in 1 Peter 1:2, “That we are choice according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience—first we’re saved for the purpose of obedience. That is good works, the same as in Ephesians 2:10—for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.”
Where do we get this language, sprinkling of the blood of Jesus? That was the language used in the sacrifices.
- There is a literal meaning of the blood in some passages.
- There is a figurative meaning where it refers to the death of Christ.
- Then this other meaning where it refers to not just the death of Christ, but it emphasizes the sacrificial aspect.
In the Old Testament when an animal was sacrificed, the priest would take his finger and dip it in the blood, then sprinkle or splatter the blood onto the altar. That’s the imagery here. Again, it’s the application of the death in the way the God said to apply it.
1 Peter 1:19, we are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ.” It is the death of Christ that pays the penalty. That’s the understanding of the imagery there.
The fifth one is 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.” Let me remind you what this means.
Walking is typically the metaphor for living the Christian life: walking by the Spirit, walking in the light. In 1 John 1 there is a contrast between the believer who walks in the light and the believer who walks in darkness. Here we have the connection of the phrase “walking in the light.” That is, the believer who is walking by the Spirit, walking with the Lord, has fellowship; that is, you’re engaged in a spiritual partnership with one another.
It’s more than just getting together having a potluck dinner at the church. It is more than Christian friends going out and having a good time together. It is focused on where Christ is at the center of the discussion, the activity of what they are engaged in.
Ephesians 2:13b, “… and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
It’s the death of Christ that is the basis for ongoing cleansing from sin. Some say, “Well, that means that I don’t need to confess sin because the blood of Christ, the death of Christ, continually cleanses me.”
Well, let’s just assume that that’s true. Then why would John two sentences later in 1 John 1:9 say, “If we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness?”
Here we have the basis for the cleansing. In 1 John 1:9 we have the means for the cleansing, which is confession. We’re forgiven of the sins we confess, and we’re cleansed from all other sins.
3. Word meaning always relates to word usage. The basic meaning of the Greek word for blood or bloodshed is the word HAIMA.
HAIMA is where we get the English word “hemo,” a prefix. Hemoglobin, which refers to part of the blood; hematoma, when you have a bruise, bleeding under the skin. A bleeder, someone who doesn’t have clotting properties in his blood which is inherited, is a hemophiliac. The study of blood is hematology. This all comes from the Greek word.
4. Old Testament usage:
It’s used in a number of key places in the New Testament, but it’s basically a translation of the Hebrew word dam, which is the word for blood in the Old Testament. So, we will first look at the background there. There are 426 uses of the Hebrew word dam in the Old Testament, so I won’t go through them all.
The core verse, I think, for understanding this is Leviticus 17:11 in describing why the Israelites were not to drink blood or to have blood in the food. That doesn’t mean eating a rare steak; it had to do with drinking blood. This was what the pagans did in order to participate in the “life force” of the animal. It was a very pagan religious concept.
The Law prohibited Jews from that practice, explained in 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 atonement for your soul—so when blood goes against the altar, it’s representing the loss of a life—for it is the blood that is life that makes atonement for the soul.”
The physical death is a picture of a spiritual death. Spiritual death is that which occurred because of Adam’s original sin. So, there’s a need for a sacrifice, but, of course, the writer of Hebrews tells us that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin.
The first time this phrase is used in the Old Testament, it’s figurative: Cain has killed Abel, and it is described as the shedding of his blood.
In Genesis 4:10 God confronts Cain and says, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”
Is that literal? Does blood speak? Not in a literal sense; it’s evidence of something. God is using this phrase “the blood of his brother” in a non-literal sense to refer to the life of the brother.
Interestingly, when you break down the various categories of meaning of the word “blood” figuratively, one is that blood represents life, and it also can represent the loss of life. Sometimes in some of the passages it’s a little bit ambiguous as to which it is because those concepts are very close to one another.
God then penalizes Cain for his murder, Genesis 4:11, “So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood.”
“Opening its mouth.” There’s another imagery, and it has the idea that the blood has been shed. Literally, the Hebrew word that is translated “shed blood,” comes up later, a word that means to pour out. It’s absorbed into the soil; that’s the imagery: that the earth “has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood—his life.” He lost his life.
Leviticus shows us a second meaning of the word, emphasizing its sacrificial nuance. Leviticus 3:2 and Leviticus 3:8 use the phrase “sprinkling the blood all around the altar,” “and Aaron’s sons shall sprinkle its blood all around the altar.”
This is a picture of the sacrificial use of the word “blood” in terms of its substitutionary impact on these animal sacrifices.
A key phrase is in Genesis 9:6 where God tells Noah, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.”
This is the foundation for the human judicial use of capital punishment. It’s a brief verse, doesn’t go into a lot of detail at this point. But it explains that capital punishment is necessary because the one who’s been murdered is in the image of God. At some level, murdering somebody is a blasphemous act toward God.
The language “to shed man’s blood” speaks of a violent act. It is not limited to actual literal bloodletting, for you can commit murder any number of ways: through strangulation; through poisoning; through a blunt force trauma, where there is very little bloodshed. This is a phrase that is used to describe a violent form of death.
Interestingly, in Genesis 37:22 Reuben, the firstborn of Jacob’s sons, gets involved in a discussion with his brothers about what they’re going to do with Joseph. They had all been jealous of Joseph, they wanted to get rid of him. They have thrown them in a pit, and now they’re arguing about whether or not to kill him. Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood—don’t kill him—but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness.”
Genesis 42:22, later when they’re coming to Egypt, and Joseph is putting them in a tough spot, Reuben tells the brothers, “Did I not speak to you, saying, ‘Don’t sin against that boy’ and you would not listen? Therefore, behold, his blood—because they still think Joseph is dead—his blood is now required of us.’ ”
There “blood” has more of the sense of life. “His life is required of us” because they think “we took his life.” That shapes the language and the options for understanding it in the New Testament.
5. New Testament usage:
a. For physical, literal blood in phrases like “flesh and blood,” speaking of humanity.
Jesus used that phrase in Matthew 16:17, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”
He asked Peter, “Well, who do you say that I am?” Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus responded this way, “You did not learn this from men, from flesh and blood, from humanity, some human being. This was revealed to you by your Father.”
b. Most of the other uses are figures of speech for death in general.
Matthew 23:30, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.”
“Blood of the prophets” refers to the death of the prophets, that the Jews consistently killed the prophets that God sent to them.
c. As a figure of speech for the death of a sacrifice.
When Jesus initiates the Lord’s Table, “For this is the blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.”
It’s used again and again in this lengthy passage in Hebrews 9:12, talking about the better sacrifice of Jesus, “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered into the most holy place.”
This is where you get the [Roman] Catholic heresy that Jesus took His literal blood with Him to enter into the Holy Place in Heaven. But if you look at how the phrase is used throughout Scripture, it means it’s on the basis of His death on the Cross that He is able to enter into the Holy Place in Heaven. He has fulfilled the Father’s plan.
Hebrews 10:19, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.” We have boldness to enter into Heaven to the throne of God because of the death of Christ on the Cross.
d. It is the basis for fellowship.
e. To represent life.
In Matthew 27:4, when Jesus is before Pilate, He says, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood—an innocent life.”
It’s used to describe the field of blood which is where Judas was buried.
In Matthew 27:24 Pilate says, “I’m innocent of the blood—I’m innocent of the life—of this just person.” It has more of the idea of death. Death and life, though, are very close.
In these other passages we learn about the blood of Christ: that the blood of Christ is that which provides us with redemption.
1 Peter 1:18–19 we are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
The blood of Christ is that which pays the penalty. That’s what redemption means, to pay the price. So it is Christ’s death on the cross that pays the price, pays the penalty for sin.
It’s not His physical death; it’s His spiritual death. How do we know that? Because between 12 noon and 3 PM, when God brought darkness on Golgotha, that is when Jesus finally cries out and says, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
It is during that time of darkness that He is screaming out because He’s bearing the penalty for sin. John tells us, “When it had been completed,” using a perfect tense of TETELESTAI, “when that had been completed, then Jesus said, ‘TETELESTAI.’ ” It had been completed.
He uses that word twice to show that this is now paid in full, and it is paid in full before Jesus dies physically. It’s His spiritual separation from the Father judicially that pays the penalty for sin.
Romans 3:25, referring to Jesus—whom God set forth as a propitiation—as a satisfaction—by His blood.”
The idea there is Jesus satisfies the judicial demands of the Father on the cross. God’s justice is satisfied by Christ’s death on the cross, and through faith it is applied to us. Again, we bring out the idea that “blood of Christ” has as an implicit meaning, the application of the blood as God has described.
Not only are we redeemed, 1 Peter; we are propitiated, Romans 3; we are justified by His blood in Romans 5:9. His death provides the basis for justification as our sins are imputed to Him. When we trust in His death on the Cross, His righteousness is imputed to us, and we are declared justified.
In 1 Corinthians 10:16, we have the fellowship that is ours from the source of His death; we have this new fellowship with God and with one another.
Ephesians 1:7 connects His blood to redemption and forgiveness, “In Him we have redemption through His death, the forgiveness of sins.”
I’m translating it that way to get the literal sense of the imagery.
Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near—by means of—the blood of Christ.”
That shows this huge difference between what we have today and what preceded the death of Christ on the Cross. There is now propitiation; there’s justification; there’s redemption and the forgiveness of sins. And there is this new entity, the body of Christ, where Jew and Gentile are together both in the body of Christ as a new entity.
Then we have boldness to enter into Heaven. Hebrews 10:19, we can go to the throne of God in prayer because Christ is our High Priest, because His death opened the way.
Colossians 1:20, “and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth are things in heaven, having made peace—that is reconciliation—through the blood of His cross—through the death of the Cross.”
We have reconciliation, redemption, propitiation, justification and forgiveness. All are ascribed to the death of Christ, and now are being put together into the body of Christ.
This opens a door to a huge teaching of Scripture: the importance of that death of Christ. It is a substitutionary spiritual death. It is not the physical death, although that is very important for other reasons, but it is His spiritual separation from the Father that pays the penalty for sin.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to come together this morning to study Your Word to have our understanding of Christ’s death on the cross expanded, helping us to understand some of the errors that are present in the world and in theology today, as well as understanding better the truth of Your Word.
“Father, we pray that if there’s anyone listening today to this message or in the future that they would come to understand that every person needs to trust in Christ as Savior for eternal life. That is how we apply the death of Christ to our lives. That’s how we apply the blood of Christ, is by trusting Him.
“As Jesus said, we eat His flesh and drink His blood—not literally—but we are accepting Him. We are applying His person and His work to our own experience, to our own lives. We’re trusting in Him and Him alone for our salvation.
“Father, we pray that You will help us to further understand this and remember it and apply it. In Christ’s name, amen.”