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BULLETIN SEVENTY SEVEN
Saved by faith through the blood of Christ
THE DEFINING AND THE DEFINED
Saved by the blood ? This phrasing is no to be found in the Bible, but many things like it are.
Romans 3:25 has "whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood through faith," is not only a figure of speech, that is synecdoche where a part is cited to mean the whole, as in "his sharp niblick won the day."
It is that, but far more. True, blood is only part of the human body, but it is used to represent the giving of the WHOLE Christ as a sacrifice. It is even defined as we shall see for such biblical contexts, in one of them.
Blood, physically, as a selection for such use, is a wonderful choice. Thus it circulates through the whole, carries nutriments, transfers waste, distributes hormones and anti-invasion gear such as white blood corpuscles, and even disperses clotting agents and adrenalin accelerators.
It is, as foreshadowed above, in the Bible, a defined agency for such settings. It is so selected and exposed in Leviticus 17:11, to depict sacrificial death, and it was so used in sprinkling on the altar (built at the base of the mountain of revelation) , and on the people gathered there likewise (Exodus 24:4-8). Exodus 24:8 has this: "This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you, according to all these words." "The life is in the blood," adds Leviticus 17:11, declaring this in terms of meaning, and it is thus both image - in particular synecdoche, and reality in substantial indeed remarkable measure, and a defined referent.
When therefore there is reference in some circles to such matters as being "saved by the blood", it is certainly not flamboyant or erratic, but the use of defined items in a divinely arranged setting where, as in Hebrews 8-9, it carries in shorthand, immense and specific meaning.
In Hebrews 7-9, there is somewhat similar usage carrying in shorthand, immense and specific meaning. In 7:27 we read that "He did not need to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself," thus showing the normal key. Pursuing this, in 9:12 we learn that His great sacrificial work was "not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place." This, then resulted in His completion of sacrifice, "having obtained eternal redemption". 9:22 tells us further that according to the law, "almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no redemption."
The blood that is mentioned is seen always in the setting of redemption, purging, purification, so that a background and basis always appears or is hinted at.
In I John 1:7, we find this: "the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin." It does not mention being "saved by the blood," but the concept is clear.
Luke 22:20 has "this cup is the New Covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" again supplying around salvation this periphery, this time, the New Covenant.
I Peter 1:18-19 has "not redeemed with corruptible things ...but with the precious blood of Christ," rather like Hebrews 9.
Speaking of those who were aliens and strangers from the covenants of promise, Ephesians 2:13 has that these, now believers, have been "brought near by the blood of Christ" in terms of fellowship.
In Colossians 1:21-22, it speaks of a group of Christians, saying this: "you, who were once alienated ... yet now, He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death."
Here alienation and reconciliation are key points, and we have "death" rather than blood, but Colossians 1:14 uses the latter term, stating of Christ, this: "in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." Again we have the 'blood' involved in various terms or regions, here redemption, forgiveness.
Romans 3:25 has: "whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith." On this occasion, it is propitiation which figures as the intimate surround, and faith which is the conveyor belt. That is, the actual cooling, or removal of wrath roused through provocation.
Romans 5:9 has this: " Much more, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him," and "saved by His life." This follows the justification context. Here the justification, salvation and blood are closely intertwined, but there is still the verbal separation of saved and blood.
Thus we find overall, that Christians are said, in the Bible, to be:
and God is said to be propitiated, in contexts
concerning the blood of Christ.
We do not find the phrase "saved by the blood": though the defined conditions implies this; the phrasing however is not found to occur.
THE ETERNAL PREMISES SUPPLIED
BY THE UNBREACHABLE PROMISES OF GOD
Why is this so ? This may well be in order to inhibit the misuse of the blood as an idolatrous substance (recall the brazen serpent in the wilderness, which became not a symbol only but an idol ?), and of course in the worship of the Host in the Mass, the concept there of actual presence of Christ in sacrifice, is leading to such ideas. Again, there could be a short-circuit of any kind, in which not the meaning, the defined meaning, of the blood is in view, but the actual substance as a present entity, is deployed as a sort of wand to wave to induce forgiveness.
This defies the definition, and for that matter, that of the command, "this do in remembrance of Me," the authorisation of the communion service. In the Mass, substituting for this, the transplant from heaven of a body, statedly reserved in heaven till the regeneration of all things (Acts 3:19ff.), vastly exceeds the divine commission, which does not embrace such alchemy.
Thus when Christ told them to ignore efforts that people would make to SPECIFY the desert or an inner room, for example, as the place where Christ is to be found, He spoke with His usual depth, foresight, knowledge and care (Matthew 24:26). What was His word concerning such things: "DO NOT believe them." Like thousands of other Protestants, perhaps millions, I follow this command and refuse to believe the imposition!
God is very wise, and helps His people, if only they will look,
seek, be zealous and not disregard the depths and wonders of His word; and
likewise, not continue to disobey it.
"The entrance of Thy words gives
light," (Psalm 119:130), and "light is
sown for the righteous," (Psalm 97:11). Enjoy it and follow Him, knowing
this word is His own, and that His mouth is not excepted from the
attention to Him, which one who believes, will show.
Christ declared this, "If anyone LOVES Me, he will keep My words." (capitals added).
We are not free to expand or contradict: that is part of the very just and awesome fear of God (I Peter 2:17. It is not a craven but a delighted and enthralled spirit which so loves, like the tolling of a faithful bell, in rich depth, over the countryside. THAT is a testimony.
In fact, God has granted to faith through grace, salvation without works or idolatry, whether these false objects be personally chosen or by a misled group (Romans 3:21-31, Ephesians 2:1-12): this raises the question, Whose works then are relevant to salvation ?
If - as is the case - it is not our own works that count for salvation, then whose are those which do ? It is the works of the Lord. As in the creation, so in salvation, His and His alone count for this (Romans 3:25-31, 4:5-6,21-5:1, 5:9, 10:3, Galatians 2:20-21, Ephesians 1:19-20, II Timothy 1:9, Hebrews 4:3, Isaiah 45). Since our works are worse than irrelevant, and His are already perfect then what ? Then, since further our own works are cordially doomed and cursed if placed as if they were or could be an entry ground to the kingdom of heaven, there is a glorious result. What we do cannot count; what He has done is counted already and is adequate (Romans 5:12-21). No wonder John (I John 5:11-12) wants us who believe to KNOW that we have eternal life!
It is the work of God in the crucifixion and resurrection which is the work on account of which we are justified, covered, given entry, so that there is no way the Christian believer can fall. Might his works fail ? yes, they may; but they were not even relevant in this issue.
Could Christ's works fail ? they were so secure that they were said to be finished from the foundation of the world, and wait on nothing. Moreover He has now already done them, the purchase complete and eternal (Hebrews 9:12). It was He who on the way was declaring "I must work the works of Him who sent Me," John 9:4, until in death declaring, "It is finished."
Since only what cannot fail and is finished, is exposed, the Christian therefore has sound ground for assurance through grace, to share with Paul. What did he say, "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to commit what I have committed to Him against that day," II Timothy 1:12, and this, "in whom also we have obtained an inheritance," (Ephesians 1:11), and this, "whom He justified, those also He glorified" (Romans 8:29). Once enter that circuit from foreknowledge to glorification set there in Romans 8, and you are kept to the end of it, being glorified. If you are not justified through His blood by faith, what interest do you have in Christ ? If you are, then the rest follows in the circuit from first to last, as the apostle there states.
If you trust even in part in your own works to save your soul, to open the door, then of course you may discontinue what puts you and Christ in some sort of a partnership, and so the duo fail. But that is to toy; to believe is to believe that your STANDING is by the righteousness of God which you must receive as a gift (Romans 5:17-18, 6:23, 8:8-11, 10:1-10, Galatians 2:20-21, 3:28, Psalm 40:10, 71:15, 106:31, Isaiah 61:10) which being perfect, CANNOT fail, be inadequate or run dry.
God is very wise, and helps His people, if only they will look, seek, be zealous and not disregard the depths and wonders of His word; and likewise, not continue to disobey it. "The entrance of Thy words gives light," (Psalm 119:130), and "light is sown for the righteous," (Psalm 97:11). Enjoy it and follow Him, knowing this word is His own, and that His mouth is not excepted from the attention to Him, which one who believes, will show. Be zealous for good works, but do not put them where they do not belong!
If you enter by Him as your Shepherd gate for His flock (John 10:9), then two things happen: you WILL be saved, is number one promise; you will go in and out and find pasture, is the second one. In all your peregrinations, you find what is needed, kept and accompanied. Accompanied ? yes, for "My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me" (John 10:27-28) and will not perish, and NO ONE can snatch them from the Father's hand. That is a comprehensive set of promises. Use these as premises by faith, and just as you follow Him, as a saved sheep, so He follows you as a faithful and effectual Shepherd, the good Shepherd whose ways are predicted and shown by contrast from those of false shepherds, in Ezekiel 34. Thank God for the Good Shepherd.
Thank God as in Ezekiel, that He there speaking and promising to come is the LORD Himself, the eternal word come to earth as a man, putting on direct display the nature and work of God!