At the dinner table and in family devotions this week, I talked about what the blood of Christ does for us at salvation. I have a wife and three kids at that table now. One daughter is a freshman in college, but she's at home for dinner usually. My son is away at college. I asked the kids and my wife what they thought about the blood of Christ. They say it washes away sin. They have read the Bible on their own, but that view comes also from my teaching the kids about salvation as they grew up in our home. It's something my wife has heard again and again, and then talked about.
When I evangelized my own children in family devotions, and when I talk to people outside of the home, I don't leave out the blood of Christ. My outline in presenting the gospel usually has four points to it. The third part is "Jesus died for us." When I talk about that, I will say that there are two parts to that, not one. I say Jesus died as a substitute for the penalty of our sin and that He shed His blood to cleanse us of our sins, two separate aspects to what Jesus did. He died as a substitute. He shed His blood as a sacrifice. Both were necessary and both did different things. Certainly there is overlap, but they both are necessary. If He only died, that wouldn't have been enough. If He only bled, that wouldn't have been enough. And I say it wouldn't have been enough, because both are presented that way in Scripture.
Jesus' blood cleanses us of our sin. Jesus' blood washes away our sin. Atonement itself is an Old Testament concept. The word "atonement" is found 69 times in the Old Testament of the KJV and only once in the NT (Romans 5:11). The Greek word translated "atonement" is elsewhere translated "reconciliation." It means "reconciliation." Atonement in the OT was a covering. Jesus' blood does more than cover. It washes away. It cleanses. It does more than atonement. You could say that Jesus' blood is an atonement for our sin, but it is actually more than atonement (Here's a book that I bought and read a long time ago, that is very good on this).
I tell someone in explaining the plan of salvation that Jesus didn't just die. He also shed His blood. I say that the shedding of the blood meant that His death was a sacrifice for us. But that's not all, the blood itself has a quality that results in a spiritual washing of sin, not like soap and water, because sin isn't like dirt. However, God can see sin. Sin is spiritual and God is a Spirit. So God sees our sin. The blood of Jesus effectively washes away our sin. I use 1 John 1:7, Revelation 1:5, 7:14, or Hebrews 10:22. The blood of Christ spiritually washes away our sin. I talk about the blood doing something separate from the death of Christ when I present the plan of salvation.
Would modern evangelicals and fundamentalists (is this MacArthur, Harding, Doran, and Don Johnson, etc.?) include this in their plan of salvation, or would they assume that the blood does nothing and leave it out? What do you think of a plan of salvation that explains that all that was necessary was death, a bloody one, but only death?
I'm going to write how I think a modern evangelical and fundamentalist would have to explain the blood part of the plan of salvation. The first option is to say nothing about it, because it doesn't mean anything except death, so just say death. It doesn't do anything itself, so nothing would need to be said about the blood. I'm not trying to be funny here or make some kind of backhanded attack. This is what they've said, so it's not a necessity in a gospel presentation, because the blood itself doesn't save. No one's getting injected with Jesus' blood, you know. But if you were to attempt to bring it in, how would you do it? I can see leaving it out merely because of how hard it is to explain as doing nothing itself, but if you were going to do that, what would you say? Here goes.
So Jesus died for us. He died in our place. When Jesus died, He bled a lot. It was a very violent death. He needed to bleed because blood has a part in the remission of your sins, that is, the canceling of your sin debt. How does it cancel your sin debt? The blood itself doesn't do anything itself to cancel the sin debt. The death is the actual payment, but when Jesus died, He had to bleed a lot or the death itself wouldn't be enough to cancel the debt. It had to be a death with a lot of bleeding. Blood means life. The penalty of sin is the loss of life. Jesus as a sacrifice lost His life and when God the Father saw sufficient enough blood shed that would indicate a loss of life, He knew that a life was given for a life, so that the penalty was canceled for the recipient of the sacrifice. Scripture says that blood cleanses sin. When it says that, it means that the sin is canceled by the offering of a sufficient sacrifice for sin. Jesus' death was enough for someone to have his sin debt canceled, and the canceling of it is akin to cleansing. Cleansing and canceling are the same thing. In the way that the death cancels the sin debt, it is like having your sinful soul cleansed of its sin by that canceling.
Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how I guess it would be done. It doesn't read like I see Scripture read, but something like it is what seems to be what one would need to say to be honest with his position. Again, maybe he leaves it out or just says that sin is cleansed by the blood without telling the person that it isn't the blood that actually does do the cleansing, since it doesn't do anything. Mind you, that all this is important to keep the doctrine of the humanity of Christ intact, not to be Eutychian. A human had to die, and if the blood does anything, that would make it divine, and then the person dying wouldn't be human---kind of like that, I guess. I always have a hard time working out the details of doctrine that I don't believe. Maybe it doesn't work out for me because it isn't true.