Thursday, February 28, 2013

How Does the Blood of Christ Come into an Explanation of the Gospel or Salvation?

Please read parts one and two of this now series.


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?


An Addendum

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.


Anonymous said...


I thought you'd find this quote interesting from M.R. DeHaan. I'll give his quote and then comment on it in a second post.

In his book, The Romance of Redemption, Dr. M. R. DeHaan includes these remarks from a sermon he had earlier published entitled, "The Chemistry of the Blood." DeHaan writes:

"But the Resurrection of Christ is proof of another great fact. It is the final proof of the fact that while Jesus received His body from the Virgin Mary, His blood was a supernatural contribution--the blood of God Himself (Acts 20:28). Had Jesus' blood been human blood, it would have perished and completely corrupted during His three days and nights in the tomb. The blood shed on Calvary was imperishable blood. It is called incorruptible (DeHaan quotes 1 Pet. 1:18,19 here].

"The blood of the Lord Jesus was sinless blood, and therefore incorruptible, for sin brought corruption, and where no sin is, there is no corruption. Every drop of blood which flowed in Jesus' body is still in existence just as fresh as it was when it flowed from His wounded brow and hands and feet and side. The blood that flowed from His unbroken skin in Gethsemane, the blood that was smeared about His back as the cruel, weighted thongs cut through His flesh as the flagellator scourged Him, the blood that oozed out under the thorny crown and flowed from His hands, His head, His feet, was never destroyed, for it was incorruptible blood. David speaks of Him in the sixteenth Psalm which Peter quotes in Acts 2:27 [DeHaan quotes that verse here]."

"Although the body of the Lord Jesus Christ lay in the tomb in death for three days and three nights, no corruption had set in, for that body contained incorruptible blood. Lazarus being dead only one day more was said by his sister to be STINKING with corruption, but this One saw no corruption because the only cause of corruption, SINFUL BLOOD, was absent from His flesh. That blood, every drop of it, is still in existence. Maybe when the Priest ascended into heaven, He went like the high priest of old in the Holy of Holies into the presence of God to sprinkle the blood upon the mercy-seat in heaven, of which the material mercy-seat and ark in the Tabernacle were merely copies. In Hebrews, 9: we read [DeHaan quotes Heb. 9:23-26 here].

"After Christ had made the Atonement, He arose from the tomb, and then as the eternal High Priest, ascended into heaven to present the blood in the Holy of Holies where God dwells, and that blood is there today pleading for us and prevailing for us. The priest in the Tabernacle never spoke a word. All he did was PRESENT THE BLOOD and that was enough. Maybe there is s golden chalice in heaven where every drop of that precious blood is still in existence, just as pure, just as potent, just as fresh as two thousand years ago. The priest in the earthly Tabernacle needed to repeat the sprinkling again and again, and it is significant that among all the pieces of the furniture of the Tabernacle there was no chair to be found. We read of the altar, the table, the candlestick, and the ark, but you will find no chair in the Tabernacle of Israel. It simply signified that he work of the earthly priest who sprinkled the blood of animal sacrifice was never done. He could not sit down. His work was never finished. But of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ, we read [DeHaan quotes Heb. 10:12,14 here].

"The blood has been shed--the incorruptible, eternal, divine, sinless overcoming, precious blood! It availed then, and it avails now and throughout all eternity it shall never lose its power . . . . Do you think that I have made too much of the blood, and have overemphasized its importance? Listen! Blood is mentioned in the Bible about SEVEN HUNDRED TIMES from Genesis to Revelation, and when we see the redeemed throng in heaven in the Book of the Revelation, we hear them singing not about their goodness, not about how they have kept the law and been faithful, but this is the song [DeHaan quotes Rev. 1:5 here]."

Anonymous said...


To me, what makes DeHaan's remarks fascinating is that he first published them in 1943 in a book of sermons put out by Zondervan. In 1958 he published his book, "The Romance of Redemption," from which I cited his quote. Interestingly, DeHaan pastored a large church in Grand Rapids, MI, the Mecca of the Reformed movement. (He himself has a Reformed background.) His books were popular and widely read. Many of them went through numerous additions, including the book of sermons, "The Chemistry of the Blood," the same title as his famous sermon on that subject.

If DeHaan's views on the blood were as heretical as J-Mac and his ilk insist, then why wasn't there an uproar over them years ago, especially from the Reformed community in Grand Rapids, where DeHaan lived and preached? Where were the shouts of "Stupid!"? Where was the outcry? At the time he was preaching this sermon, Grand Rapids was the home of Calvin College, the Presbyterian and Reformed Publishers, Eerdmans, and a zillion Dutch Reformed congregations and religious interests. Yet there was no rioting in the streets.

If his remarks were so out of step with the general beliefs of the Reformed community and conservative Christians nationwide, then Zondervan would've removed them. But they didn't. In fact, they kept reprinting them for years. Apparently, they never received any objections worth acting on. In his day DeHaan's views were likely mainstream and perhaps that's why they found such a broad and lasting circulation. Just my thoughts.


Kent Brandenburg said...


I can't disagree. It's very interesting. I would like to hear an answer to that.

d4v34x said...

When it says that "Jesus received his physical body from Mary", what does that mean?

Unknown said...

A number of years ago, I went out evangelizing with a veteran missionary (who served in PNG and just recently had to come off the field due to his age, he is in his upper 80's). He witnessed to people in a manner that I had never heard before. He would ask them (at some point in his conversation) if they knew if their sins were washed in the blood of the Lamb. Their faces were surprised to hear that, and they would answer either "no" or "I don't know" which would lead to him giving them a clear plan of Salvation. When he was done with it, he would ask them if they understood what he was talking about and if they wanted to pray and ask the Lord to wash their sins away through the blood of Jesus. Some prayed, others said no. What really stuck out to me was the reaction of the listeners. It's as if they never heard the good news put in such terms as "sins being washed in the blood" - their reaction was almost like they were shocked. I learned something valuable that day and I improved my "witnessing" by adding that vital question. I believe it because the Bible teaches it and the Bible has so much to say about Jesus' blood. ALSO, anything to break away from the "easy-prayerism" methodology is a good thing.

Anonymous said...


Here a several more quotes from DeHaan on the blood. These come from his book, "The Tabernacle." My copy is old. It was published in 1955.

"It is called PRECIOUS BLOOD. It means that it is of tremendous and inestimable worth. It was precious because it was the blood of God, not the blood of a man. Now if the statement seems to be strange and bold, we would remind you that the Bible clearly teaches that it was the 'blood of God' which was shed on Calvary. The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ was not derived from man, but it was divine blood, and the divine contribution, the blood of God. Jesus was virgin born, without a human father. The blood in Christ was a divine contribution. Paul settles this beyond all dispute in Acts 20:28, where he says to the Ephesian elders. [DeHaan quotes Acts 20:28.]"

"That is why the blood of a mere human being could not avail, since all human blood is imperfect and sinful. For the same reason the blood of animals could not avail, for the blood of animals is also corruptible blood. The only acceptable blood was the sinless blood of the Son of God. He laid aside the form of God, and took upon Him our humanity, and became a man, and in the body of that man, Christ Jesus, there flowed divine blood, sinless, incorruptible blood, and this blood was the only blood which God could or would accept as the propitiation for sins and the basis of reconciliation."

"It was not possible for the blood of animals to take away sin, because their blood was corruptible, but the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, incorruptible because it was the blood of God, divine blood, precious blood, incorruptible blood, indestructible blood, was able to put away sin, and forever settle the question of our condemnation."

DeHaan was a very popular preacher and writer. On the fly leaf of "The Tabernacle," for instance, Zondervan says DeHaan "is heard by millions as he conducts the Radio Bible Class, which is broadcast by the full Mutual Network and a large number of independent stations as well as those in Canada, Alaska, Hawaii South America, Cuba, the West Indies and Africa."

His views on the blood have been out there for some time. We've found them in at least three separate works published by a major evangelical publisher. And his books sold thousands.

That I know of, neither Zondervan nor DeHaan has ever retracted his statements. Nor have I ever read a major rebuttal of DeHaan's views, taking him to task for cacodoxy.


d4v34x said...

"Nor have I ever read a major rebuttal of DeHaan's views, taking him to task for cacodoxy."

Perhaps not major, but takes him to task.

Kent Brandenburg said...

What I know of DeHaan's view is that babies get their blood from their Father. This dovetails with the seminal view of depravity, that people get their sin nature from their father's semen, hence the virgin birth protected Jesus from depravity.

I have read rebuttals of it, but I don't remember where. The rebuttal's weren't mainly theological in my memory, but scientific, because a lot of DeHaan on this is scientific, so they challenge whether one can scientifically prove that people get their blood from their Father. The challenges do manifest why not to take a scientific view, or at least to admit that the science is maybe speculative and doesn't add the doctrine.

An interesting point that TJP is making is that there wasn't a lot of opposition to DeHaan, it seems at the time, and that his work was very popular among reformed types. There is limited value perhaps to the observation.


Anonymous said...


Oh, I'm not saying there aren't those who've disagreed with DeHaan, even in his day. But my point is what Kent observed: Where is the major rebuttal of his views when he presented them? Where is the theological scandal that rocked his ministry and organization? Where is the outcry, the cries of "Stupid!" in his day?

Remember, DeHaan lived and pastored for many years in the heart of the Reformed community. He had a household name and built a large church and an even larger following. He was well known and loved by many. Several of his books that contain his views on the blood have been reprinted numerous times. With his views so widely disseminated, one would think his errors (if folks saw them as errors), would have been roundly condemned. But they weren't, as far as I know. Why?

You pointed to a 2004 rebuttal of his views, but that rebuttal comes 58 years after "The Tabernacle" was published, 80 years after the second printing of "The Chemistry of the Blood," and 55 years after Zondervan published his "The Romance of Redemption."

The rebuttal you point to may be correct. I don't know. I haven't read it. But I do know that if DeHaan was such an egregious heretic as those "too smart to fix" suggest, then there would have been a huge uproar over his statements, no?


Anonymous said...


I should have included in my last post that Dr. DeHaan was educated both at Hope College and at Western Theological Seminary. Both schools are in the Grand Rapids area, and both have deep roots in the Reformed Church.


d4v34x said...

I know I was warned against his views in doctrine class at MBBC. That was nearly 20 years ago. I haven't investigated it much since then.

Lance Ketchum said...

The Seminal View is that the Sin Nature is passed to children from the father. It is not that children get their blood from the father. I have never heard that before. The issue is that death is in the father's blood (Rom. 5:12).

d4v34x said...

I don't see what Romans 5:12 says about blood.

verification word: addems 1014

Kent Brandenburg said...


Didn't have time to leave a comment earlier, but will now. I'm not saying that I believe that the "chemistry of the blood" relates to the seminal view, but that I believe DeHaan attached the two, just to be sure everyone understands.

I don't think it's too farfetched though, because if Christ's blood was without spot or blemish in contrast to others, why would that be? It would seem to be at least implicit that the sin nature relates to the blood, because our blood wouldn't cut it in a sacrifice. His could because He has a Divine Father, not a human one. This wasn't a total reach by DeHaan IMO. Where we're getting into speculation is in whether semen and blood relate---that's where, I think, the chemistry aspect came in.


There is a historical discussion between seminal and federal headship. Did we sin in Adam's loins or is the sin nature passed seminally or both?

Anonymous said...

Greetings, all. This series of thoughts has been a great blessing to me personally, and I thank you for it.

I think the following passage is very relevant to the point that the blood of the Messiah is inherently powerful. I think it also hints at the incorruptiblility of the blood of Christ (as proved, I think, in I Peter 1:18, contrary arguments not withstanding), since the blood itself was the means by which God the Father raised Jesus from the dead.

Heb 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.

E. T. Chapman

d4v34x said...

My short answer is at least the first, and probably both.

Kent Brandenburg said...

The federal and seminal can be both believed. They don't contradict each other and I could explain both, so I've said I believe both. In the end, you believe man is depraved for understandable reason.

KJB1611 said...

I do not desire to interact with all that DeHaan said, but he is definitely wrong when he says:

It was precious because it was the blood of God, not the blood of a man.

If he means "fallen man," fine--but if he means Christ's blood is not human blood, his statement denies Christ's true humanity.

Also, this statement is erroneous:

That is why the blood of a mere human being could not avail, since all human blood is imperfect and sinful.

While it was unquestionably essential to salvation for Christ's human nature to be united with His Divine Person, so that "mere human blood" of some sinner named Fred or Joe, etc. could not save anyone, DeHaan's affirmation that all human blood is imperfect and sinful is fallacious (at least unless context clears up what he means). Adam before the Fall had human blood that was not sinful or imperfect, and Christ was truly the Son of Man with true human blood that was incorruptible, perfect, and entirely free from sin. "Truly human" does not mean "sinful." All men are sinners, not because sin is inherent to man--for then people in heaven are not truly people--but only because "In Adam's Fall, we sinned all."

Unknown said...

Is it "docetistic" (from docetism) to believe that the blood of the Lord Jesus is strictly divine vs. divine & human? Is that true? (I am seriously asking).

KJB1611 said...

Dear Bro Billy,

Yes, it is docetic. I think that usually those in fundamentalism who make statements like this haven’t really thought through what they are saying, though, and if pressed they would, in the large majority of situations, truly be committed in the deepest portion of their regenerate beings to the true and full humanity of Christ.