From Signs of the Times - June 1, 1869
An aged and esteemed brother has, through sister C.M. Johnson, desired our views on the great atonement made by our Lord Jesus Christ for his people; and especially on the efficacious power of the blood of Christ. This subject is so exceedingly comprehensive as to take in its grasp the whole system of redemption, and salvation by grace. The atonement made by our Lord Jesus Christ for his people, is that by which the law of God is honored and fulfilled, divine justice receives a perfect, complete and everlasting satisfaction for all the sins of the people of God, and in which they are redeemed from all iniquity, cleansed, purged, purified and made accepted in the Beloved, and are reconciled to God. Atonement not only means an offering made, a ransom price paid, and eternal redemption obtained, but it signifies satisfaction, reconciliation, or as the word expresses, at-one-ment. The subject opens for our contemplation a field too broad to be elucidated in one short essay, for volumes well written would leave the half untold. To know the value of the atonement would require a full knowledge of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, in which they were involved for whom it is made, and their total depravity and just condemnation by the righteous law of God, and their utter inability and indisposition to help themselves, their alienation from, and deep and implacable enmity to him, and the impossibility of deliverance or salvation in any other way or by any other being in heaven or in earth. The atonement meets, cancels, and forever removes every impediment out of the way, pays every demand required, supplies every indispensable requisite, and so perfectly identifies him that sanctifieth with them that are sanctified, as to make him their wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. This atonement was made for all the chosen people of God, when Jesus was delivered for their offences, and raised from the dead for their justification, and each and all of them receive this atonement experimentally, and by faith, as soon as they are born of the Spirit. Not one of the millions for whom it was made can by any possibility fail to receive its effects, for with his stripes they are healed. "By one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." None can lay anything to their charge, for it is God that justifieth; it is Christ that died; yea, rather that is risen from the dead, and risen for their justification, and they are freely justified through the redemption that is in him. In all this work, the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in its efficacious power is most gloriously displayed; the efficacious power of which we are called upon now to consider.
When we speak of the blood of Christ we mean something more than the fluid that coursed through his veins when here in the flesh, or that gushed from his side when pierced with the Roman spear. It is true that this was indispensable to the salvation of his people; for without the shedding of blood, there could be no remission of sins. And the perpetual tide of blood which flowed for ages from patriarchal and Hebrew altars, pointed as types to the great sacrifice, when Jesus should not only drain his veins of all the blood which they contained, but also pour out his soul unto death, and put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself.
The blood of Christ is often referred to as meaning his life which he gave for his sheep, and as the fountain which he has opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. The saving virtue of his mediatorial work applied savingly to the hearts of his redeemed, is called the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel. By it their hearts were sprinkled from an evil conscience, and their bodies are washed in pure water. The blood which gushed from his head, and hands, and feet and side, when bleeding on the cross, is not literally sprinkled on us, but its saving virtue is applied by the Spirit to all for whom it was shed, for the remission of their sins. And the wine which was set apart for the communion of saints, being emblematic, is called his blood in the New Testament, which was shed for many. To it allusion is made in Zechariah 9:11, and in Hebrews 10:29. For the New Testament and the New Covenant mean one and the same. When it is said that he has washed us in his blood, we understand an application of the sacred and saving efficacy of his atonement has been applied experimentally, for purging us from the defilement of sin.
Having thus briefly presented some outlines of the scriptural doctrine of the atonement, and the manner in which the blood of Christ is applied to the people of God, we will now attend to the special request of our venerable brother, in regard to its efficacious power. And this we propose to do by presenting such scriptural testimony as God has furnished in the sacred volume, testifying of its design and effects.
- Its purging and cleansing power. "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God." – Hebrews 9:13, 15. "And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." – I John 1:7. "And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God." – I Corinthians 6:11. "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple," &c. – Revelation 7:14,15. "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." – Titus 2:14.
- Its efficacious power to redeem those for whom it was shed, is fully demonstrated by inspired testimony. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with such corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot, who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who by him believe in God," &c. – I Peter 1:18-20. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." – Ephesians 1:7. "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." – Revelation5:9.
"Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood,
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed church of God,
Be saved to sin no more."
- Its justifying power. "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare" [demonstrate or exemplify] "his righteousness, that he might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." – Romans 3:24,25. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." – Romans 8:33,34. The perfect and everlasting justification of all the people of God, from all things from which they could not be justified by the law, is predicated upon the virtue, power and infallible efficacy of his blood. "He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." – Romans 4:25. "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities." – Isaiah 53:11.
- It has efficient power in transforming those to whom it is applied. "Wherefore remember that ye being in time past Gentiles," &c. "That at that time ye 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, ye who sometime were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ." – Ephesians 2:11-13. Transformed by virtue of the blood of Christ, from enemies to friends, from hatred to love, from sin, condemnation and wrath, to holiness, justification and glory.
- The powerful efficacy of the blood of Christ is demonstrated in sanctification, separation from the world and consecration to God. Redeemed out of the kingdoms and tribes of mankind, and unto God, by the blood of the Lamb slain. Bought with a price, and that price is his precious blood, we are not our own; but in our consecration, set apart for our Redeemer’s service, to be priests and kings unto God, and to reign with Christ forever. As the consecrated things for the service of the tabernacle and temple were all sanctified by blood, so by the matchless power and saving virtue of the blood of Christ we are washed, cleansed, purified, and made meet to be partakers with the saints in light.
In this consecration we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh. – Hebrews 10:19,20. "Through sanctification of the spirit, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." – I Peter 1:2.
- His blood is efficacious and omnipotent in making peace for, and in speaking peace to those for whom it was shed. "Therefore being justified by faith, [in his blood, in distinction from works] we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into the grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." - Romans 5:1,2. "And he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight." – Col.1:18-22. "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh." – Ephesians 2:14-17. But the language of his precious blood to those who have received an application, differs from that of the blood even of righteous Abel; for the voice of the blood of Abel cried to God from the ground, for vengeance; but those who are come to the heavenly Jerusalem are come to the blood of sprinkling, or consecration, which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel; for it speaketh peace. It has hushed all the thunders of mount Sinai, quenched all the wrath of the divine law, abolished death, and destroyed him that had the power of death; having removed every impediment that stood in the way of our salvation, washed away all our pollutions, cleansed us from the guilt, as well as from the penalty, or punishment due to our transgressions; slain the enmity that rankled in us against God, and has made us white and pure and clean, and acceptable to God in the Beloved.
- We may also speak of the triumphing power and infallible efficacy of our Redeemer’s blood. It has triumphed over sin, death and hell; it has led captivity captive, has become the destruction of death, and the plague of the grave. And it has secured a perfect and complete victory to all the people of God over all their enemies, and enabled them to say, with the apostle, "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." – I Corinthians 15:56,57. The mighty conflict described by John, in Revelation 12:1-11, between Michael and his angels, and the Dragon and his angels, the former overcame the latter, "By the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony." – Verse 11. By his all powerful blood the bars of death are broken, the doors of the grave are opened, the prisoners are released, and liberty is proclaimed to the captives. A voice from the eternal throne bids the daughter of Zion to "rejoice greatly," and the daughter of Jerusalem to shout, for her King cometh unto her. He is just, and having salvation. And, "as for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant, I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water." – Zechariah 9:9 &11. The daughter of Zion, and of Jerusalem are one and the same, and mean the gospel church, unto whom Christ is given for a Covenant, and in whom all the promises of God are, Yea, and Amen. The blood of the covenant is therefore the blood of Christ; as defined by our Lord himself in the cup of the communion of saints, of which he said to his disciples, "Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins." – Matthew 26:27,28. Observe, the words covenant and testament, mean the same. "For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force, after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first was dedicated without blood." – Hebrews 9:16-18. The first testament, which was called a covenant, was dedicated by blood, but it was by the blood of beasts, and typical of the covenant of the daughter of Jerusalem, by the blood of which her prisoners are sent forth out of the pit; and by the blood of which all the blessings and promises of the new testament, or covenant are dedicated, secured and made certain to all the redeemed of the Lord, and by which Christ is consecrated as the High Priest unto his people.
What would all the mediatorial work of Christ have availed us, if there had not been power and efficacy enough in the blood of Christ to redeem his people and secure their salvation?
The efficacious power of his blood may be inferred from his peculiar Priesthood. He was made a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec, by the oath of God who sware and will not repent. Not by the law of a carnal commandment; but by the power of an endless life. The High Priest of a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a peculiar people." No other blood but his could avail; or if offered by any other priest, it would not suffice. The Word, which was with God, was made flesh; and dressed in all his priestly garments, bearing the names of all for whom he officiated, in his breastplate, equally related to his Father and to his church, a Daysman who could lay his hands on both; identifying in his mediatorial person, the Son of God, and the Son of man; David’s son, and David’s Lord.
"Descended from the eternal God,
He bears the name of his own Son;
And dressed in human flesh and blood,
He puts his priestly garments on.
The mitred crown, the embroidered vest,
With graceful dignity he wears,
And, in full splendor, on his breast,
The sacred oracle appears.
So he presents his sacrifice,
And offering most divinely sweet;
While clouds of fragrant incense rise,
And cover o’er the mercy seat."
To deny or doubt the sovereign efficacy of the blood of Christ, in the complete salvation of all for whom it was shed, is most presumptuously to call the blood of the Covenant, or testament, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and to do despite to the spirit of grace; from which presumption may the Lord keep us by his grace.
Our guilty world swarms with those who preach that Christ’s blood was shed alike for everybody; but that it has not power to save anybody. That it can only be made efficacious by the will and works of men.
We have in this short article presented the testimony of God’s holy word in plain and pointed declarations from the mouth of God, which cannot be successfully controverted, proving that the blood of Christ cleanseth all for whom it was shed, from all sin.
That it redeems them from all iniquity, that it redeems them from all condemnation and wrath, and redeems them to God, and makes them kings and priests to God, and they shall reign with Christ forever.
That it secures their justification from all things from which they could not be justified by the law, or in any other way.
That it transforms them, and translates them, from aliens, strangers and enemies, to fellow citizens with the saints, and makes them meet to be partakers with the saints in light.
That it sanctifies, or separates them from the kindreds of the earth out of which it redeems them, and consecrates them to God, as living members of the body of Christ.
That it makes and secures to them peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
That by it they have the victory over sin, death and hell, and shall triumph over all their enemies through the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.
If this array of scripture be admitted, then we ask what is deficient, to be supplied by men, or means, by human will or works?
"Go, ye that rest upon the law,
And toil and seek salvation there;
Look to the flame that Moses saw,
And shrink, and tremble in despair.
But I’ll retire beneath the cross;
Savior, at thy dear feet I’ll lie.
And the keen sword that justice draws,
Flaming red, shall pass me by."