WHAT THE ATONING BLOOD OF CHRIST DOES NOT DO
By G. H. LANG.
In the matter of deliverance from the Destroying Angel in
Thus for the redeemed Israelites the blood was the commencement and basis of all future relations with God, it was the doorway out of estrangement into a life of faith and communion. Moreover, all through the life thus entered there continued various sprinklings of blood, showing that it remained perpetually the basis of intercourse with God. Nor is the place and efficacy of atoning blood at all diminished by the abrogation of repeated sacrifices and sprinklings through the one complete and final sacrifice of the cross, because the virtue of that death, and of the blood of Christ there shed, is eternal and is the perpetual basis of all communion with God.
Nevertheless the door is not the road or its goal, the foundation is not the superstructure, the blood by itself serves its ends but not all ends; deliverance from the judicial penalty of sin is not the same as deliverance from the practical power of sin, freedom from servitude in Egypt must advance to conquest in Canaan, turning from idols is to develop into service to a living and true God. For the numerous phases and necessities of this developing life the blood is ever the basis but is not by itself sufficient. There are things which blood cannot do and does not do, which it is not its function to do. In particular, as all histories and types show, it does not (1) dispense with the obedience of faith, or (2) with need of bread, or (3) do the work of water, or (4) take the place of oil, or (5) act as fire and serve the ends of discipline, or (6) do the work of the sword.
1. Blood does not dispense with faith and obedience.
The sprinkling of the passover blood opened the door to escape
How many there are today who have rested their hope of safety from eternal death upon the precious blood of Christ, but have failed to break with the world, and so they continue entangled by its pleasures and enslaved by its Prince. Either they never heard the call and command to break every yoke with unbelievers, or they have lacked the energy and decision of faith to do this. Protected by the blood they yet remain enslaved by the world, the flesh, and the devil. The apostle rejoiced greatly in the continuing faith of his children in the faith (Eph. 1: 15; Col. 1: 4; 1 Thes. 1: 3), and gave thanks to God when he knew that it “grew exceedingly” (2 Thes. 1: 3). He was keenly aware of the practical dangers attendant upon a failure of faith in children of God. He stressed heavily that the disasters that overwhelmed Israel in the wilderness, though they were the redeemed of the Lord, can have counterpart in the experience of Christians, for, he says, “these things happened unto them by way of example [Greek, figure]; and they were written [put into God’s historical records] for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages are come” (1 Cor. 10: 1 -13). These disasters befell “most of them” that had been redeemed by the blood of the lamb and brought into liberty and fellowship with God. They were sufficiently spiritual to know that manna and water had spiritual counterparts and to partake of these latter: “they did all eat the same spiritual food; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that went with them: and the rock was Christ.”
In the face of these explicit assertions of Scripture as to the spiritual state of those concerned, and in the face of the direct application of their experiences to Christians in Corinth, it is wholly without warrant to say that they were not real believers and that the application here made is to mere professors of this age, not to true believers. Such treatment of Scripture would mean that all but a very small number of the Corinthian Christians were either hypocrites or self-deceived, for of those who were examples for them only three or four of the men who left Egypt did not die in the desert. Jude refers to the same ancient events and says, “I desire to put you in remembrance, though ye know all things once for all, how that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not” (verse 5). This is exactly how Paul warns us in the passage cited, saying, “Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured and perished by the destroyer” (verse 10).
Therefore there is such a thing as being saved from the
2. Blood does not take the place of food.
The same night that
3. The Blood does not dispense with discipline.
The classic instance of this is David after his lapse and recovery (2 Sam. 12: 12-14). He was pardoned, his sin put away, the capital punishment remitted, and all this because God was able to give the repentant offender the benefit of the blood Jesus would shed. But to the announcement of pardon the sentence was added that his child should die and the sword would harass his house to the end. He had sinned publicly and had given great occasion to the enemies of his God to blaspheme, and that holy God was bound to vindicate His holiness and to show publicly that He does not tolerate sin in His people. The after life of David showed that he humbly bowed to this severe chastisement and was benefited by it.
The leading passage on parental discipline by God is Hebrews 12: 1-17.
This follows the great exposition of remission through the blood and of
cleansing by the water. Can discipline,
then, add ought to these? The passage
declares that the Father “scourges every son whom He
receiveth,” and that this is a proof of His love and of their
sonship. The object of this severe
treatment is “for our profit, that we may be partakers [eis to metalabein, so that
we may partake] of His holiness” (verses 6-10).
Every one of His sons has already been reckoned righteous by faith in
Christ. But that is something imputed,
securing a clear and safe standing in law; this
holiness is the actual character and activity of God infused into and wrought
out in His sons. The only other
place of this exact word in the New Testament is 2
Cor. 1: 12, where Paul uses it of his practical conduct at
For the furthering of this needful and noble end chastisement is employed by God our Father, and neither blood, water, nor oil dispenses with it. Gold is freed from dross by neither of these but by fire (1 Pet. 1: 7). This is set in direct connexion with the believer being found unto “praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Our passage in Hebrews puts heavy emphasis upon this same connexion by exhorting us to “follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one shall see the Lord” (verses 14-17), that is, God the Father, for every eye is to see Christ and every knee to bend before Him at one or other session of His judgment seat.
In my commentary on Hebrews it was shown from many Scriptures that there is a possibility that this “scourging” of a child of God may continue after death. An indignant critic complained in a magazine that it seems that what the blood cannot do, a thousand years in purgatory is to do. I had shown that the process proposed differed radically and essentially from the Roman Catholic conception of purgatory in that the Catholic doctrine makes salvation dependent upon such purgation, which is false. The critic ignored this. His phrase was clever, well calculated to catch the unwary and mislead the uninstructed by a seeming honouring of the blood: but it revealed the common and regrettable theological error that the blood is like money and answereth for all things. Yet it is very evident that in this life at least the atoning blood does not serve the end that chastisement serves, nor, if discipline be resented, will the blood compensate by perfecting holiness in the child of God. To lead the people of God to rest on this misconception is injurious to their souls and to their prospects. It retards growth in holiness, induces unwarranted confidence, and conduces to lethargy.
4. Blood does not do the work of the sword.
Hast thou sheltered under the precious blood of Christ, then thou art secure from eternal damnation; but take not thou for granted that all the privileges and advantages of the new life in Christ, in time and eternity, are certain to become thine. Not so, not so! Thou must put on the whole armour of God, and use the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6.). Therefore challenge thy heart with the question, Am I fighting the good fight of faith? “Am I a soldier of the cross?” Thy new birth grants thy title to inherit in Christ; the atoning blood has removed the legal obstacle to thy inheriting, even thy sin; but possession will only be secured by thy sword. Therefore, my brother, say resolutely to thy soul
“Since I must fight if I would reign
Increase my courage, Lord:
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain
Supported by Thy word.”
What the blood does has been opened up in the former part of this exposition – [Atoning Blood What it Does and Does Not Do by G. H. LANG.]. The God of all grace be praised for the rich and establishing truth there set forth. Yet it is very necessary that the Christian should understand what the blood does not do, in order that he may feel his need of water and oil, may set himself to the life of detail obedience to the will of God declared in His Word, may thus enjoy the communion of the Holy Spirit and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and unto the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Pet. 3: 18. [R.V.]).