There is a very prominent teacher within the ranks of the organized Christendom that teaches that the blood of Jesus had no intrinsic value in and of itself, that the term “the blood of Christ” is only a metaphor, or figure of speech, for the death of Christ on the Cross. He claims that Christ’s blood was merely the fluid that flowed through His veins, although it had to be shed, but that it was only His resulting death, by asphyxiation/suffocation, that the term, “the blood of Christ” points to. Is this an important issue? I think so, since “blood” is given such an elevated place in Scriptures. Dr. John MacArthur said,
"It was His death that was efficacious. . not His blood. . . Christ did not bleed to death. The shedding of blood had nothing to do with bleeding. . . it simply means death. . . Nothing in His human blood saves…It is not His blood that I love. . . it is Him. It is not His bleeding that saved me, but His dying."
John, in his book, The Truth War, make this accurate statement:
The war against truth is nothing new, of course. It began in the garden when the serpent said to the woman, “Has God indeed said . . . ?” (Genesis 3:1). A relentless battle has raged ever since between truth and falsehood, good and evil, light and darkness, assurance and doubt, belief and scepticism, righteousness and sin. It is a savage spiritual conflict that literally spans all of human history. But the ferocity and irrationality of this present onslaught seems quite unprecedented. ‘The Truth War,’ John MacArthur
The Bible says, Lev. 17:11, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul."
John, God has not said what you are claiming.
All men have holes in their theology. Some of these holes make little difference to the overall integrity of an otherwise safe vessel. But, other holes are of such consequence that if they are not addressed harbor great and serious results.
John has more than a few leaking seals in his theology, that have gotten the attention of quite a number of people. I do not bother myself with these that I call noncritical controversies. But, when the integrity of a weight bearing seam or wall is discovered to be faulty and dangerous by those whose job it is to look for such things, a warning needs to be sounded, even though the problem has lain dormant for three decades. Regardless of how much dust this issue has gathered, it is still alive, and is just one more gaping hole allowing the Church to take on water.
To call into question the very foundation of our forgiveness by reducing that foundation, the blood of Jesus, to a mere symbol is serious heresy. He has not retracted this belief, and in my opinion, stands in a very precarious position as a teacher, as do his followers. Can we have faith in a symbol or a metaphor? If so, maybe there is a Santa Clause; I'm just being silly here. Is reducing the very thing that God requires to a metaphor equate to having faith in the blood of Jesus?
In times past this question may not have gotten the attention that it deserves, and only barely appears on the radar at this late hour, and then only by those who thirst for truth and not the acceptance of men. Today a few are beginning to examine the statements of all the self appointed leaders who profess great wisdom by way of their institutionalized learning. This particular individual even mocks those kitchen table theologians who do not render the proper respect to schooled doctors of religion, “There is a vast difference, by the way, between the whimsical ‘kitchen table’ interpretations of laymen, and the teaching of skilled men who work very hard to rightly divide the Word.” It is primarily by way of these “gifted” teachers that we have now a dissected Body of Christ. The Church has been torn into a thousand sects and every doctrine reduced to gossamer shavings, and now, at the end of the age, is faced with this great apostasy. The revelation of Scripture is not enough for these highly educated types, they must have their opinions too. It is my guess that it is at least as much the fault of academia as it is the ignorant layman, but scholarship always trumps the un-schooled layman, who must rely on mere “revelation.” The pride of education doesn’t stop at the pulpit.
If the blood is as important as the Bible seems to make it, then to trivialize it may spell disaster worse than the Gulf oil spill; the consequences may be eternal.
I think his error is that he has confused the blood with the Cross and made them into a single thing; it is to combine forgiveness of sins with deliverance from sin, the atonement with sanctification, and propitiation and the purging of a guilty conscience with emancipation from the sin nature. The purpose of Christ’s death had a dual result. The blood of Jesus, the perfect blood of Jesus, was the atonement for our sins. It was that perfect blood, offered to God, of which, He was wholly and completely satisfied. It is this blood that is on the door post of our hearts, that when God sees the blood, He passes over. The blood was for God.
But, something else is needed. Although the blood of Jesus achieves the entrance into the throne room of God by faith in the power of the blood, and washes away all the sins, past and present, God still has to deal with His sinner children. The death of Christ accomplished two things. His death not only atoned for our sins through the shedding of blood, it provided us with the solution to deliver us from the power of sin in our present lives, our sinful nature. We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. We were born with a sin nature, and it is our nature to sin, we cannot not sin, unless and until we change our nature, but we will never be completely free from sin as long as we are clothed with this flesh. We have gotten forgiveness for our sins through the blood, but how can we get deliverance from our predisposition to want to sin? Rom. 3:25,26 "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. The cross is the answer. Rom. 5:9 "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" The blood was for God, but the Cross is for us, Rom 6:6,7 "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.." Jesus did not go just half way. His death satisfied God’s need for absolute justice, and it provided us with the tool to defeat Satan’s goal to keep us sinning.
So, do you see why the blood is more than just fluid and why it is important? The blood of bulls and goats would not do, it had to be the perfect, untainted blood of a sinless person, Jesus.
The “blood” was not just a metaphor for the death of Jesus, it had intrinsic value that no other fluid possessed, and it was that very fluid, flowing in the veins of Jesus, His life blood, that alone would be adequate to satisfy His Father and atone for the sins of the whole world. He not only opened the way into the presence of the Father through His blood, but He opened the way to freedom from sin through the Cross.
The big question at present is not, “how does the Cross help us to overcome the sin nature,” (that is a subject for another time), but rather, if we trivialize the blood of Jesus, that God has put such high value on, by the application of our scholarship, and reduce it to just the fluid in the veins of Jesus, of which the only value was to point to His death, can we still appropriate the efficacious qualities of what that blood accomplished? Can we reduce the blood from its atoning value, through the misapplication of words, and still claim to have faith in the blood of Christ? And again, will those who uphold this teacher in this belief and follow him share in the effects of his error?
If the blood is just a metaphor for something else, then maybe we shouldn’t trust anything we read in Scripture, and we should just join the liberal camp of creative, personal interpretations.
Any novice coming to the Bible for the first time, without a doubt, would conclude that “blood” plays an important part of our understanding of the Bible, and our relationship to God. Also, this same novice would not conclude that “blood” and “death” were synonymous. It is only through critical analysis and scholarship that intelligent doctors of theology have come up with a new view, by way of there fallen ability to “reason” there way to a proper understanding of the mind of God. 1Corinthians 1:20, 2:13: “Where is the wise man (the philosopher)? Where is the scribe (the scholar)? Where is the investigator (the logician, the debater) of this present time and age? Has not God shown up the nonsense and the folly of this world's wisdom?”. . . “And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit].”
I do not question John MacArthur’s sincerity in wanting to deliver truth to those who follow him, but on this point of the blood of Jesus he is wrong, and it is a serious error. I have no personal axe to grind with JM, only that he has trivialized the very thing that effects our forgiveness, and I cannot be a part of that. It is the duty of the watchman to expose error wherever it presents itself, even if it comes from the camp of the watchman himself. We are to be seekers of truth, not followers of men.