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Now when I speak about the cross I want to make it clear to you I’m not going to be talking about a piece of metal or wood that people hang around their necks or hang on the walls of churches. I have nothing against those but I just need to explain that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about what was accomplished for us by the death of Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for sin on the cross. So I just used that simple phrase “the cross” to cover all of that. Now, last night I had the privilege of being not for the first time in Christchurch town hall. Just let me have a little check. How many of you were there last night? Well, that’s wonderful. That’s a good representation. We’re sorry for those of you who missed it. We had a wonderful time. Isn’t that true? Not so much because of the preacher but because of the Lord. Because the Lord came in and really visited us. We ended, I think it’s reverent to say, on cloud nine last night. I tell people don’t talk about the seventh heaven because that’s not scriptural. But if you want to say you’re really happy it’s alright to say you’re on cloud nine because there are lots of clouds up in heaven.
I talked about the love of God revealed in the price that He was willing to pay to redeem each one of us. The price was the precious blood of Jesus. And I showed from the Old Testament scriptures that God had foreshown the shedding of the blood of Jesus. And in the ceremony of the Day of Atonement recorded in Leviticus 16, God had foreshown that there would be a seven-fold sprinkling of the precious blood of Jesus. And last night we traced this through the Gospels and I just want to recapitulate briefly what we said. Those of you that have listened to my radio teaching will know that I am strong on recapitulation. I don’t believe in just saying a thing once and just believing everybody got it all because most times they didn’t.
For five years in east Africa I was a trainer of teachers for the schools of Africa. And one thing we used to impress upon all our teachers is that recapitulation is a part of good teaching. So I’m going to very, very briefly go through the successive seven-fold sprinkling of the blood of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels. First of all, in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prayed in agony His sweat fell down like great drops of blood on the ground. Then when they took Him to the house of the high priest and began to abuse Him they struck Him across the face with rods. Brought out the blood. At some point in their mistreatment of Him they began to pull out the hair of His beard in tufts. And, of course, the blood came out.
Then He was was handed over by Pontius Pilate to be scourged and a Roman scourge was a whip with many thongs in which were embedded pieces of bone and metal. And so as the thongs fell across a man’s back they literally tore open the flesh. And then in mockery because He claimed to be a king they planted a crown of thorns. If you go to Israel you can see the same thorns today. They’re long and extremely hard and tremendously sharp. And they put this on His head and then they beat Him on the head pressing the crown, the thorns, down into His scalp causing the blood to well up and run down His face and coagulate in His beard. And prophetically in the fifty-second chapter of Isaiah, Isaiah predicting that, said His visage was so marred, more than a man’s. And one of the modern translations says He lost even the appearance of a human being. And then they nailed Him to the cross and put the nails through His hands and His feet. And finally, after He was dead a soldier thrust a spear into His side in the area of the heart and blood and water gushed out.
So that’s the seven-fold sprinkling that was predicted in the ceremony of the Day of Atonement. And then I pointed out that in Leviticus 17 verse 11 says, “The life or the soul of all flesh, is in the blood.” And He says, “I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls.” That’s another of the amazing prophesies of the Old Testament. It wasn’t just a regulation for whether the Israelites should eat food with blood or without. But it was a prediction of the cross. The life, or the soul of all flesh is in the blood and I have given it to you upon the altar of Calvary to make an atonement for your souls. And then in Isaiah 53:12 in the great prophetic picture of the atonement Isaiah says He poured out His soul unto death. How did He do that? In His blood. The soul is in the blood. And Jesus poured out His soul as the sin offering for the whole of the human race. His soul took the place of your soul and my soul. He became the final sin offering. Now, this morning I’m going to deal with something that’s extremely practical. What I’ve described to you is true, it’s wonderful but in a certain sense you don’t necessarily know how to make it real in your life and your experience. So…
This morning I’m going to teach on how to appropriate the blood of Jesus, how to get the full effects of the blood of Jesus working in your life. And by way of introduction I want to turn to Revelation chapter twelve and verse eleven. Revelation the twelth chapter, the eleventh verse. This is speaking about what I believe to be a great end-time conflict that lies ahead at the close of the present age; a conflict in which heaven and earth are involved. The angels of God are involved. Satan and his angels are involved. And God’s believing people on earth are involved. Thank God that the victory goes to God and to His people. And this passage describes how the people of God on earth, God’s believing people on this earth play their part in obtaining that victory. It’s a statement made by the angels but it’s made about the believers on earth. And it says, we’re in Revelation 12:11:
“They overcame him...”
Who is they? They is people like you and me, believers in Jesus Christ. Who is him? Satan, that’s right. That’s very important. You see, that shows very clearly that there can be direct conflict between us and Satan. There’s no one else in between. They overcame him.
And then it tells us how they overcame him.
“...by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony...”
And it also adds what kind of people they were.
“...they loved not their lives unto the death.”
To say it in one word, they were committed, totally committed. And that’s the only kind of Christian that frightens Satan. Totally committed Christians. When it says they loved not their lives unto the death, what does it mean? Well, it means for them staying alive was not priority number one. Priority number one was to do the will of God, whether they stayed alive or not. Staying alive wasn’t the most important thing for them. The most important thing was to be faithful to the Lord and to do His will.
See, we talk about being soldiers in the Lord’s army, but I think a lot of us really have got a very vague and rather sentimental idea about what it is to be a soldier. I, by no choice of my own, was a soldier in the British Army in World War II for five and a half years. And let me tell you one thing. I didn’t enlist, I was conscripted. But anyhow, when I got into this situation I didn’t get a nice little certificate from the commanding officer saying “we guarantee you you’ll never have to lose your life.” No soldier has ever joined an army on the condition that he will not be killed. In fact, in a certain sense, any time a soldier joins an army, one of his commitments is I may be killed. It may cost me my life. And it’s just the same in the Lord’s army. You’ve got no guarantee that you will not have to lay down your life. The people that Satan fears are those who are not afraid to lay down their life. After all, life is comparatively brief anyhow. It’s not going to go on forever and it’s not all a bed of roses, is it?
It would be foolish to miss eternal glory for the sake of a few brief years on earth. You see, I believe this is enlightened self interest, to have a proper sense of value, what is more important. I believe that we should say for me the most important thing in life is to do the will of God. There’s a wonderful statement in 1 John 2:17:
“The world passes away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
When you unite your will with the will of God in total commitment, you become unsinkable. You’re undefeatable. You’re unshakable. You’re just as totally sure as God’s will when you identify yourself with the will of God. Whether you live or whether you die is of secondary importance but you cannot be defeated.
I want to consider what it means to overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. This is one of the precious treasures of truth that God has given me over the years. There’s no way you could put a price on this. You could offer millions of dollars but it wouldn’t be sufficient. There is no monetary value equal to the value of this truth. I want to say it very simply and I trust I’ll make it clear. Listen carefully.
“We overcome Satan when we testify personally to what the word of God says the blood of Jesus does for us.” I’m going to say that again. “We overcome Satan when we testify personally to what the word of God says the blood of Jesus does for us.”
Rather than just leave you trying to remember that, I’m going to ask you, invite you to say it after me. All right? To fix it in your minds. Don’t try to say it with me. I’ll say it phrase by phrase, you say it afterwards. All right? Are you ready? “We overcome Satan when we testify personally to what the word of God says the blood of Jesus does for us.”
Now I’m going to show you just exactly how to do that. But I want to take an example from the Old Testament first. I want to take an example from the Passover ceremonies recorded in the 12th chapter of Exodus. You’ll remember that in that ceremony God through the sacrifice of a Passover lamb provided total protection for all the people of Israel. But they had to do certain things with the lamb and with its blood to insure that protection. Before we turn to Exodus 12 let me just read a sentence from 1 Corinthians 5. I’m only going to read the last part of the verse. It says this:
“...Christ our passover was sacrificed for us.”
In other words, what Paul is saying there is the Old Testament Passover in Egypt was just a prophetic picture, a preview of what was to be accomplished by the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. Christ is the true Passover. It is His blood, not the blood of the Passover lamb, that finally assures us eternal redemption.
However, the way that Israel was instructed to apply the blood of the lamb is a wonderful pattern for us. Now let’s go to Exodus 12. Exodus 12, and we’ll read from verses 21–23. I’d like to point out to you also by the way that this ordinance of the Passover is one of many illustrations in the Bible of the tremendous responsibility of being a father. Because the only persons in Israel who could obtain safety and salvation for their people were the fathers of Israel. If the fathers of Israel had been delinquent, Israel would have not been protected by the Passover. And I personally think today the greatest single social problem that confronts us is delinquent fathers. I’ve said many times in counseling parents who have problem children there are no delinquent children, there are only delinquent parents. All the problems that we are concerned about: abortion, drugs, the breakup of the family, and many, many other social evils, I believe if you trace them to their source, their source is delinquent fathers. I point out to you here in this context that if the fathers had failed, Israel would never have been redeemed. God didn’t have Plan B; Plan A was His plan. And it depended on the fathers.
Now let’s look. Exodus 12:21:
“Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the Destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.’”
That’s why it’s called the Passover, because the Lord said He would pass over the door that was protected by the blood of the lamb.
Now let’s consider what they had to do. At a certain given moment each father had to choose a lamb of appropriate size for his family. And then they had to sacrifice the lamb and they had to catch its blood in a basin. It’s blood was very precious. None of it was to be spilled on the ground.
Now, the lamb was slain, the blood was in the basin, it was the means of protection but in the basin it didn’t protect a single person. They were required to transfer the blood from the basin to the doors of their homes and to smear it or sprinkle it on the lentil and on the two sideposts, but never on the threshold. No one was ever to walk over the blood. The whole destiny of Israel depended on getting the blood from the basin to the door. How were they to do it? Very simple. God said you’ll take a little bunch of hyssop. Hyssop is almost a kind of a weed that grows everywhere in the Middle East. Pluck this bunch of hyssop, dip the hyssop in the blood in the basin and sprinkle the blood over the door with the hyssop. So hyssop, which was a very humble and, in a sense, unimportant thing, nevertheless became essential to the salvation of Israel.
And then God required one more thing. He said when the blood has been sprinkled on the door you’ve got to stay inside your house. Don’t you go outside, because once you go outside the blood you’re not protected.
Keep your finger in Exodus 12 if you’re there, let’s look in 1 Peter for a moment. 1 Peter 1:1–2. This is the greeting of Peter.
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia...”
Now here’s how he describes them.
“...elect [or chosen] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”
Notice what comes before sprinkling. Obedience. The blood is not sprinkled on the disobedient. It did not avail anybody who disobeyed and went outside of his house. So bear in mind although there’s perfect protection in the blood; it is only for the obedient.
Now, let’s go back to the Passover ceremony. The blood was in the basin, it had to be transferred to the house, they plucked a little bunch of hyssop, dipped it in the blood and then sprinkled it on the door. They were safe. Now, Paul says Christ is our Passover who was sacrificed for us. In other words, Christ has been slain nineteen centuries ago. To use the terms of the analogy, the blood is in the basin. But the blood in the basin doesn’t protect anybody. We have the same situation as Israel. We’ve got to get the blood from the basin to the place where we live. Then we’re protected—provided we’re obedient. So, the question is how do we get the blood from the basin, the blood of Jesus, to the place where we live?
Now we go back to Revelation 12:11:
“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony...”
You remember what we said? We overcome Satan when we testify personally to what the word of God says the blood of Jesus does for us. What is it that gets the blood from the basin to where we live? Our testimony, that’s right. Testimony is a very simple thing, it’s just saying a few words according to the Scripture. It’s like the little hyssop but it saves us. It’s our protection. I cannot overemphasize for you here the importance of your testimony.
There’s another Scripture that we could take with it that is very closely related in Hebrews 3:1.
“Therefore holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.”
The writer of Hebrews calls Jesus the high priest of our confession. You know what confession is? Confession means literally saying the same as. So for us as believers in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, confession means we say the same with our mouth as God says in His word. We make the words of our mouth agree with the word of God. And Jesus is the high priest of our confession. Brothers and sisters, no confession, no high priest. He can only advocate on your behalf when you make the right confession. So whether you call it testimony or whether you call it confession, it is absolutely indispensable for you to receive the salvation of God. Jesus said by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned. You settle your destiny by the words you speak. James said the tongue is like the rudder on a ship, it’s a very small part of the ship but it determines exactly where the ship will go. And we determine the course of our lives by the way we use our tongues. You can say the right thing and make the words of your mouth agree with the word of God or you can say the wrong thing and cause your life to go off course. And you’ll either come safely to harbor or end in shipwreck according to the use that you’ve made of your tongue.
Many, many of us as Christians are very careless and delinquent in the use of our tongues. People say, “I’m dying to see you.” Don’t ever say that. Americans say, “I was tickled to death.” Don’t say that. It’s not a laughing matter. I can understand you can laugh but never say anything about yourself that you wouldn’t want Jesus to make happen. Don’t underestimate yourself because God thinks you’re precious. He invested the blood of Jesus in you. When you are, quote, humble and criticize yourself, what you’re really doing is criticizing God’s handiwork. Because the Bible says we are His workmanship. How dare you criticize the workmanship of God. Pride is a tremendous problem with Christians but another problem that’s just as great is underestimating yourself not for what we are but for what God has made us.
So now I’m going to give you a practical demonstration of how to transfer the blood of Jesus from the basin to the place where you live, to your life. Obviously you cannot testify as to what the word of God says about the blood of Jesus unless you know what the word of God says. So one essential requirement is knowing what the Bible teaches about the blood of Jesus. I pointed out already that the New Testament indicates there was a seven-fold sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. This morning I’m going to consider with you a seven-fold application of the blood of Jesus in our lives. There are seven major ways in which the New Testament reveals the blood of Jesus works for us.
The first is redemption. We’ll turn to a couple of Scriptures. Ephesians 1:7. Ephesians 1:7:
“In Him [that’s Jesus] we have redemption through His blood.”
Redemption means being bought back. We were in the hands of the devil, Jesus bought us back with His blood.
And then in 1 Peter 1:18–19. 1 Peter 1:18–19:
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible [or perishable] things like silver or gold from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
And notice the word lamb again takes us back to the Passover. The Passover lamb. Jesus was without blemish, He was without original sin; He was without spot, He was without personal sin. And we have been redeemed by His blood.
Now in that context I’d like also to turn to Psalm 107:2. Psalm 107:2:
“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so whom He has redeemed out of the hand of the enemy.”
Who’s the enemy? Satan, that’s right. But if we are redeemed, what do we have to do about it? We have to say so. No say so, no redemption. You understand? It’s your confession, it’s your testimony that makes it work for you. Otherwise the blood remains in the basin.
Let’s think of what we can say. I’ll give you a little example. This is not the only way it could be said but my personal testimony is through the blood of Jesus I have been redeemed out of the hand of the devil. Brothers and sisters, I have no doubt about where I was when Jesus met me. I was in the hand of the devil, there is no question in my mind about that. But I’m not there today because I have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus out of the hand of the devil.
Now, I want to invite you to have the blessing of saying that with me. This is going to be a very practical message, I’m going to show you how to do a whole lot of things. And you’ll only get as much blessing as you actively cooperate with. So I’ll say it first phrase by phrase, say it after me, not with me. Okay? “Through the blood of Jesus I have been redeemed out of the hand of the devil.” Well that was good, now let’s see if we can say it together. Okay? “Through the blood of Jesus I have been redeemed out of the hand of the devil.”
Now, that’s wonderful, you’re looking so intelligent at me but it’s really very important to say it to somebody else. So I want to suggest that each of you turn to your neighbor somewhere, look them right between the eyes—don’t be embarrassed, don’t be religious—and say, “Through the blood of Jesus I have been redeemed—now don’t miss out, find somebody to say it to. That’s right. Okay. All right.
Some of you are free in a way you’ve never been before because of that. Something’s happened to you.
We’ll go on to the second provision of the blood of Jesus which is cleansing. And we’ll turn now to 1 John 1:7. 1 John 1:7:
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, [He is Jesus] we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Now, in the original language all the verbs in that verse are in the continuing present tense. It’s important to see that. If we continue walking in the light we continue to have fellowship one with another. And please note that the evidence that you’re walking in the light is that you have fellowship. And if you get out of fellowship you get out of the light. And if you get out of the light the blood doesn’t cleanse in the dark. That’s a tremendously important fact. The blood does not cleanse in the dark.
If we continue walking in the light we continue having fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His son continually cleanses us from all sin. It’s a continuing provision. No matter where we are, if we’re in the light, we may be in the most defiling circumstances, we may be amongst the most wicked people, there may be countless evil pressures against us but as long as we are walking in the light the blood is continually cleansing us from all sin.
Let me show you another beautiful picture. Keep your finger in 1 John, we’ll come back. Turn to Psalm 51 for a moment. Psalm 51. This is the great penitent psalm of David after he had been convicted of his two terrible sins: of adultery and murder, he turned to God with his tremendous cry of repentance and plea for mercy. We can’t go into it all but let’s just look at what he says in verse 7:
“Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”
And you notice the use of the word hyssop? What did he have in mind? The Passover. What was he thinking of? The blood, that’s right. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. What a privilege it is to know where to go when you’re guilty. I suppose every one of us in this room has that privilege. Brothers and sisters, stop for a moment and think about the billions of people who are guilty and don’t know where to go. Can you imagine what it’d be like to have a guilty conscience, to be tormented with the reality of your sin and not know where to go to find forgiveness and peace. That’s the condition of half of humanity today.
What are we going to say, we’ll go back to 1 John 1:7, and I’ll give you a little pattern. I don’t have all this worked out in advance, it’s more or less impromptu, I’ve done it several times before. But let me say it this way. “While I walk in the light the blood of Jesus cleanses me now and continually from all sin.” See why I say now? Because I want to make it very here and now. Right at this moment. But not only at this moment, from this moment on as long as I’m walking in the light. All right. Would you like to say that after me? “While I walk in the light the blood of Jesus cleanses me now and continually from all sin.” All right, let’s see if we can say that together now. “While I walk in the light the blood of Jesus cleanses me now and continually from all sin.” All right.
The next great provision is justification. Justification is a theological word which upsets some people but it’s not really that bad. The Greek word in its basic form means “to make righteous”. But it has a lot of different shades of meaning. Let’s go to the Scripture first, that’s Romans 5:9:
“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood [the blood of Jesus], we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
So we have been justified by His blood. Let me try and convey it to you this way. You’re on trial in a court of law for a capital offense. Your life is at stake. And then the verdict comes out not guilty. That’s justification. You’ve been acquitted. Okay. It means more. You’ve been reckoned righteous with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, not with your own but with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. But it also means you’ve been made righteous. It has all those meanings. Acquitted, not guilty, reckoned righteous, made righteous.
And then this is a little way that we have to fix it in your mind. I’m justified means I’m just-as-if-I’d never sinned. Why? Because I’ve been made righteous with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And He never sinned. He had no guilt. He had no past to be covered up. See, your own righteousness will never get you to heaven. Isaiah says all our righteousness are as filthy rags. But let those filthy rags go and let the blood of Jesus impart to you the righteousness of Jesus. Then the devil has no way to accuse you.
There’s a beautiful Scripture in—just keep your finger in Romans, we may come back. People tell me I expect them to have too many fingers. In Isaiah 61:10:
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord. My soul shall be joyful in my God for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”
There’s two things you get: salvation and righteousness. When you trust in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on your behalf you’ll be clothed with a garment of salvation. But it doesn’t stop there. You’ll be covered with the robe of righteousness. One of the translations says He has wrapped me around with the robe of righteousness. You’re totally covered with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The devil has got nothing he can say against you. If he tells you you’ve done a whole lot of things wrong, you know what to do? Agree with him. Say, “You’re quite right, Satan. But all that’s in the past. And I am clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. See if you can find anything wrong with that.”
Let’s go back to Romans 5:9 and let’s see. I’ll do a run through and then we’ll see where we get to. Listen to me now carefully. “Through the blood of Jesus I am justified, acquitted, not guilty, reckoned righteous, made righteous, just as if I’d never sinned.” All right? Now don’t try and say it with me the first time, say it after me. “Through the blood of Jesus I am justified, acquitted, not guilty, reckoned righteous, made righteous, just as if I’d never sinned.” Take a deep breath and say, “Thank you, God.”
All right, we’ll go on. The next is sanctification. Sanctification. We’ll turn to Hebrews 13:12. Hebrews 13:12:
“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.”
Now, to sanctify in the original is directly related to the word for holiness. Actually, sanct is the same word we have in English, saint. So to sanctify is to make saintly or to make holy. It’s got two aspects. One is negative. We’re set apart from sin and from everything that defiles. And then we’re made holy with God’s own holiness. In the 12th chapter of Hebrews, talking about God’s chastisement it says in Hebrews 12:10 our human fathers chastised us for a short period of our lives according to their best judgment. But God does it in a different way. Hebrews 12:10:
“For they indeed [that’s human parents] for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
Notice not our holiness anymore than our righteousness, but His holiness. How do we partake of His holiness? Through the blood of Jesus. So Jesus that He might sanctify the people with His own blood suffered without the gate.
Let me try to show you how you apply that operation of the blood. “Through the blood of Jesus I am sanctified, separated from sin, set apart to God, made holy with God’s holiness.” I’m not sure if I can remember that but I’ll try. This time you follow me. “Through the blood of Jesus I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God, separated from sin, made holy with God’s holiness.” Understand, you can change the words a little as long as you get the facts. That’s what matters, all right?
Now, what we’ve been doing every time so far is dipping the hyssop in the basin and sprinkling it over us, you understand. Now we’re going to go on. We’ve so far dealt with redemption, cleansing, justification and sanctification. Now we’re going to go to life. I once heard a preacher say that all the provisions of the blood of Jesus were only negative, they only saved us from something. I think that’s a very dangerous statement and I can’t think of anything more positive than life. Let’s look for a moment in Leviticus 17:11 which is the passage I quoted earlier. 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 souls.”
It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. So the life of God is in the blood of Jesus. God’s own life, the life of the Creator. Our human minds have no way to calculate the potential of that statement because the Creator is infinitely greater than all that He’s created. The entire created universe is just a snap of His fingers. You see, if we could grasp what’s in the blood of Jesus. I’ve said there’s more power in one drop of the blood of Jesus than there is in the whole kingdom of Satan. Because we’ve got the eternal, uncreated, measureless life of God Himself, a life that existed before anything was ever created, in the blood of Jesus.
With that in mind let’s turn to John 6 and we’re going to read from verse 53 through verse 57.
“Then Jesus said to them most assuredly, I say to you...”
There are two levels of emphasis in the teaching of Jesus. If you have the old authorized version, sometimes He said verily and sometimes He said verily, verily. Verily means it’s important; verily, verily means it’s super important. Now in this translation they say assuredly and most assuredly. So this is one of the super important statements. I think I’ll go back to verily, verily.
“Verily, verily, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on me will live because of me.”
Now, I’m sure there are various ways to apply that but I began my Christian ministry in l946 in an Arab town called Ramallah just north of Jerusalem. It’s no longer a town, it’s a much bigger city today. And at that time my first wife and the children, the language of our home was Arabic. And there are certain things that you get into you that you never get out of you. Whenever I think of the communion service or taking the Lord’s supper or the Eucharist, or whatever you want to say, I always think of what the Arabs said: Let us drink the blood of Jesus. That was not some strange super-spiritual phrase, that was their way of talking about the communion. And there may be many ways to apply this but for me, when I take the communion I eat His flesh and I drink His blood. Now that’s a stumbling block for some people, how can I help that?
We have been taught, some of us, that we do it just as a memorial. That’s not what Jesus said. He said, “You’re eating my flesh and you’re drinking my blood.” We do it in memorial too, sure we do but that’s not all. We are actually partaking of the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s no reason to change it. There are a lot of different opinions as to how it becomes the body and the blood. The Catholics and the liturgical churches believe it’s through consecration by a priest. Frankly, that’s not what I believe. I believe it comes through faith. When I receive it in faith believing what Jesus said in His word, it becomes to me precisely what He said it would be. Please don’t argue with me because I’m happy.
Let’s look for a moment in 1 Corinthians 10. I believe we have here both Baptists and Brethren. That’s probably divine providence. Well, brothers, I remember a Brethren preacher saying once to some of his fellow Christians, he said, “Jesus said as often as you do it, but you do it as seldom.” Let’s look in 1 Corinthians 10 for a moment, verse 16:
“The cup of blessing which we bless is it not the communion of the blood of Christ...”
Communion, sharing in the blood of Christ.
“...the bread which we break is it not the communion [or the sharing] in the body of Christ?”
And then he goes on in chapter 11 and he reminds them of the way the Lord’s supper was instituted in verses 23 and following. He says:
“For I received from the Lord that which also I delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which he was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks He broke it and said, Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you [or which is for you]. Do this in remembrance of me.”
It’s perfectly true we do it in remembrance of Him but what do we do in remembrance of Him? We take His body.
“In the same manner also He took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do as oft as you drink it in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
Now, I want to say very emphatically that I don’t recommend everybody to be like Ruth and me. There’s wonderful liberty in the Body of Christ, we can do within certain limits what God leads us to do. But this has become so important to me and I so tremendously feel my need of the life of God. Let me say, I think I can say it with humility, I think I’m something of an advertisement for the life of God. Most of you wouldn’t guess I’m 71 years old. And I think part of that is living on the body and the blood of Jesus. For me this is no doctrine, theory; this is a living reality.
So, this is the way we do it. And please, I’m not suggesting that anybody should do what we do. But we take communion together as husband and wife every morning. And every morning I say the same things. “Lord Jesus,—now what do I say? Remind me. Yes, that’s right, I break the bread. I break the bread and I say, “Lord Jesus, we receive this bread as your flesh.” And we eat it. And then we share a tiny little cup and I say, “Lord Jesus, we receive this cup as your blood.” And I say, “As we do this we proclaim your death until you come.” You see, we do it mainly maybe in Jerusalem where Christians are less than one percent of the nation. What a privilege to proclaim the Lord’s death every day in the city where He died.
A great Bible expositor of the last century commented on this. You do show or proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. He said when we come to this ordinance, whatever you want to call it, he said we’re out of the whole context of immediate time. We have no past but the cross, no future but the coming. We proclaim His death until He comes. And every time we do that we remind ourselves He’s coming again.
Now, let’s just—how are we going to confess this? Let’s just do it by faith. We’re not going to take any communion service and I’m not ever recommending that to any of you, let’s just say, “Lord Jesus, when we receive your blood, in it we receive your life—the life of God—divine, eternal, endless life.” All right. If I can remember that, say it after me. “Lord Jesus, when we receive your blood, in it we receive your life—the life of God—divine, eternal, endless life. Thank you, Lord.”
Let’s take a moment to worship Him, shall we? Just receive Him right now. Let the sense of divine life fill you—your heart, your mind, even your physical body. Paul said in due course death will be swallowed up by life. But I think there’s a process of ongoing death in our bodies, sickness, decay, and so on, which can be swallowed up by the life of God day by day. Paul said though our outward man perishes, our inward man is renewed day by day. And there’s enough life in the inward man to keep the outward man going until our task is finished. Amen.
We want to talk about just two more effects of the blood of Jesus. The sixth one is intercession. We’ll turn to Hebrews 12 and we’ll read verses 22–24. Hebrews 12:22. I want you to notice the tense. It begins with the words we have come. We’re not going to come in the Spirit, not in the flesh but in the Spirit we have come. Eight things are listed to which we have come.
We have come to Mount Zion, that’s number one.
Number two, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. Not the earthly Jerusalem but the heavenly Jerusalem.
Number three, an innumerable company of angels. And I prefer the translation which says in festal array. I can’t go into all the reasons why you can translate it either way. But I think the NIV says an innumerable company of angels in festal array. They’ve put on their best clothes for our benefit. I mean, seeing an innumerable company of angels in any guise would be wonderful but in festal array!
Ruth and I were in Belfast three years ago now and we were in a little group of leaders meeting in an home. And the presence of God moved in amongst us as we humbled ourselves before the Lord before one another. And for about ten minutes Ruth saw an innumerable company of angels just passing, passing, passing all the time. Then one of them came into the room and after that she closed her eyes. This is not, you know, this is all within the bounds of our possible experience today. We’re no different from the people in the New Testament, they were no different from us.
We have come to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, an innumerable company of angels in festal array. The church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, those who’ve been born again, whose names are written in heaven. Number five, God, the Judge of all. Thank God there’s more than God the Judge there, brothers and sisters. Otherwise we’d never make it.
Number six, to the spirits of just men made perfect. I believe that’s the Old Testament saints who through a lifetime walk of faith achieved what we achieve through the new birth. And what we don’t achieve through the new birth, what is given to us through the new birth.
Number seven, to Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant. That’s why we can be there. If it were only God the Judge we’d never get there. But with God the Judge there is also Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant.
And finally the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. The sprinkled blood of Jesus that speaks on our behalf in heaven contrasted with the blood of Abel. There are three main points of contrast. Abel’s blood was shed against his will. Jesus willingly gave His blood. Abel’s blood was sprinkled on earth. Jesus’ blood is sprinkled in the holiest of all. Abel’s blood called out for vengeance. Jesus’ blood pleads for mercy. This is such a beautiful revelation, I wouldn’t want any of you to be deprived of it.
There are times when we are weak, when we’re under pressure, we just can’t pray, we just wonder if we’re going to be able to draw the next breath. It’s good to know at those times that the blood of Jesus sprinkled in the immediate presence of God is always speaking on our behalf calling out for mercy.
Let’s make a little confession just to appropriate this truth. I’ll do it, I haven’t thought this out in advance, but “Thank you, Lord, that even when I cannot pray, the blood of Jesus is pleading for me in heaven.” All right, are you ready to say that? “Thank you, Lord, that even when I cannot pray, the blood of Jesus is pleading for me in heaven.” We’ll say it together then. “Thank you, Lord, that even when I cannot pray, the blood of Jesus is pleading for me in heaven.” Let’s say that once again, we weren’t very certain, I was the one that wasn’t. “Thank you, Lord, that even when I cannot pray, the blood of Jesus is pleading for me in heaven.” Amen.
And finally we have access through the blood of Jesus. These last two provisions of the blood take us out of the realm of time and into the heavenly and eternal realms which is where we want to end up anyhow. Turn back to Hebrews 10, verse 19 and following. Significantly, this verse has already been quoted in the worship here this morning. I think that was part of God’s provision. Hebrews 10, beginning at verse 19:
“Therefore brethren, having boldness...”
Or confidence. The Greek word means freedom of speech. It’s very important that our boldness gives us freedom of speech. In other words, let’s remember it’s our testimony. If we don’t testify we don’t have it.
“Therefore brethren, having boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near [that’s into the holiest of all] with a true heart and full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
And note the next words:
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.”
Hebrews 3:1 says Jesus is the high priest of our confession. Hebrews 4:14 says hold fast your confession, but Hebrews 10:23 says hold it fast without wavering. What does that tell you? When you’re in an airplane and they say buckle your seatbelts, what do you expect? Turbulence, that’s right. When the word of God says make the confession, hold fast the confession and hold it fast without wavering, that’s like God saying buckle your seatbelts because there will be turbulence. But don’t let the turbulence cause you to unbuckle your seatbelt. Keep on making the right confession. Even when it seems totally contrary to everything around you, God’s word is true.
You’ll notice that we have access into the holiest by a new and living way. Go back for a moment to the scene in Leviticus 16 where the high priest entered once every year and what did he do? He entered with a censer full of incense that cast a fragrant cloud and covered the mercy seat—that’s worship. But he also entered with the blood of the sacrifice, and he sprinkled it seven times between the veil and the mercy seat. Once, twice, three times, four times, five times, six times, seven times, and then he smeared it on the east side, the front side of the mercy seat. And when the writer of Hebrews says we have boldness through the blood of Jesus by a new and living way, he’s thinking about that seven-fold sprinkling of the blood and the blood on the mercy seat. We can approach the throne of Almighty God and the holiest place in the universe with boldness because of the blood of Jesus. We have access.
What are we going to say about ourselves? Let’s say this. “Thank you, Lord—I’ll say it first because I don’t even know what I’m going to say yet. “Thank you, Lord, that through the sprinkled blood of Jesus, I have access into your presence, into the presence of Almighty God, into the holiest place in the universe.” Do you think I can say that again? Let’s try. “Thank you, God, that through the sprinkled blood of Jesus, I have access into your presence, into the holiest place of in the universe.”
Let me just close by recapitulating the seven provisions. It could be possible to give them in a different order, although I think this is a logical order. Redemption, cleansing, justification, sanctification, life, intercession and access. Sprinkled seven times, works in us in seven different ways. But remember, we overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by what? The word of our testimony. Let’s say that together and we’ll close. But don’t forget to add and we love not our lives unto the death. All right, are you with me? “We overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, and we love not our lives unto the death.”
Now, there’s only one logical thing we can do now. In the light of all that is to praise God. If we don’t praise Him we just don’t believe it.