Summary: Sermon focusing on eight accomplishments of the blood of Christ and what they mean to us.
“The Blood of Christ”
Text: Ephesians 1:3-10
We just concluded a study of The Gospel According to Matthew on Sunday evenings. Of course, some of the last lessons in this series were centered on the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord. While we often talk about our Savior’s death on the cross and what it means for us, I want us to spend a few minutes this morning focused on the blood of Christ. In our reading from Ephesians 1, we learned from verse 7 that in Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. I know a lot of folks look at these verses and want to get wrapped up in predestination but I just want to concentrate on the truth of verse 7. In that verse, we learn that the blood of Christ is the means through which we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins. And, since our sins separate us from God, getting rid of our sins is necessary if we want to have a relationship with God. So I hope you’ll open your hearts and your Bibles as we study together for just a few minutes. Please be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 and search the scriptures daily this week to make sure I’ve preached the truth of God’s word.
You’ll remember that in the Old Testament, God’s people were required to make animal sacrifices. I don’t know exactly why God chose the method He did for making atonement under the old law but it involved sacrificing animals. A possible reason is found 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 souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. While God’s people lived under the old covenant with its system of priests and sacrifices, a new covenant was promised – Jeremiah 31:31-34 – “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” The writer of Hebrews 8:6 reveals that Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant – this new covenant God promised – which was established on better promises. He goes on in Hebrews 9:16-22 to explain that Christ had to die to ratify the new covenant implying it must be done with blood just as blood was necessary to dedicate the old covenant. No wonder Jesus chose similar words when He instituted the Lord’s Supper in Luke 22:20 – “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” I wish we had time to read more about what Christ did for us as our High Priest but let’s read Hebrews 9:27-10:4 – And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. All those sacrifices under the old law could not take away sins – it took the blood of Christ. No wonder John the Baptist could declare – “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” – John 1:29. Under the old law, there was a Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur – in which the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place this one time each year to make atonement for his sins and those of his house as well as the sins of the people. But, as we have already read, that didn’t take away the sins – it merely turned God’s anger aside from their sins. Now notice the difference with Christ as our High Priest who offered Himself once for our sins. Turn with me to 1 John 2:1-2 – let’s read these verses together – My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Propitiation is a big word and basically means an atoning sacrifice. From Romans 6:23 we know that the wages of sin is death. That is the punishment or penalty we deserve for our sins. I found this definition of propitiation which may be helpful: The satisfaction of the righteous demands of God in relation to human sin and its punishment through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ upon the cross, by which the penalty of sin is cancelled and the anger of God averted. [Manser, M. H. (1999). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.] One more passage on propitiation – Romans 3:25 – but let’s begin with verse 23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, I want us to pause for just a minute and summarize what we have learned about the blood of Christ so far this morning: means of redemption; forgiveness of sins; ratified a better covenant; and the means of propitiation. I really didn’t explain redemption as it was mentioned in our text but it means freedom obtained by payment of a ransom often used in reference to payment to set slaves free. That’s why Jesus could use this type of terminology in Mark 10:45 – “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” He purchased our pardon from the slavery of sin if we are obedient to the faith. One other passage which beautifully describes our redemption in the context of Old Testament terms is 1 Peter 1:18-21 – knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible 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. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Now I want to quickly move on to four other things accomplished through the blood of Christ. The first is found in Acts 20:28 as Paul talks with the elders from the church at Ephesus – Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Folks, that means us – you and me. We are the church – we are the living stones being built up a spiritual house. He promised to build His church in Matthew 16:18 but He paid for it with His life – His blood. Next, we are justified by His blood. We’ll read this in Romans 5:6-9 but justified means we are declared innocent in God’s sight even though we are guilty. Now let’s read these verses: For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. The next or seventh thing accomplished by the blood of Christ is that it brought salvation to the Gentiles – again, that’s you and me. Notice Ephesians 2:11-13 – Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh – who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands – 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 in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. I have presented these in no particular order and I have not included everything accomplished by the blood of Christ. But the final one I want to present is perhaps the most comforting one for Christians and is found in 1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. The apostle John is describing a lifestyle for Christians – walking in the light of God’s word – united in love with fellow Christians. The blood of Christ will continue to cleanse us from all sins as we penitently confess those sins.