Romans 5:9 “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”
Once again we are confronted with some mighty truths in these words. Dr. Lloyd-Jones, characteristically said, that this is the most powerful argument with respect to the finality of our salvation that can be found anywhere in the whole of the Scriptures. Well, where shall we begin? Just briefly I want us to look at one thing . . .
THE APPROACH PAUL ADOPTS AT THIS POINT.
You notice how Paul uses a certain kind of argument here. It is this, that if something is irrefutably true then how much more must something else be true. This is clearly found in our text in verse 9 and then again 10. But notice that the apostle returns to this kind of argument later on in the chapter, in fact twice more in verses 15 and 17, “how much more . . . how much more . . . how much more” he says. The structure of the argument is very simple, that if a lesser thing is true then a greater thing must be certainly true. If a man taking a penalty kicks the ball at 50 miles an hour and that is too fast for the goalkeeper to reach it – it’s a goal. How much more if the ball is super-kicked so that it travels at 70 miles an hour. Then we know that the goalie is never going to stop that ball if he couldn’t reach one that traveled at a mere 50 m.p.h.
You have an example of this kind of argument in the teaching of the Lord Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s gospel, chapter seven and verse 11 “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Our hearts are plagued by selfishness and yet we do good to those who are close to us, then God who is good through and through and through will certainly do good to his own children whom he loves. What do I make of this approach of Paul? Simpliy that if you think that presuppositional apologetics means that you need not be logical and reasonable in presenting the truths of Christianity to a doubter we see here that the apostle Paul did that very thing. He didn’t shout out repeatedly, “We are saved by the blood . . . we are saved by the blood,” and think that that was enough. I heard a Christian woman whom I know arguing with a guard at a William Tyndale exhibition in London and she was saying to him, “But the truth is the truth is the truth.” And he could well have replied, “And the error is the error is the error.” It is not against the best Christian apologetics system to be sensitive, and winsome, and reasonable in putting forward the arguments for our great salvation in Christ.
As Dr. Lloyd-Jones says; “This element of reason and of logic is particularly characteristic of the writings of this apostle. He does not seem to have been much of a poet, but he was a brilliant logician, a master debater, an acute reasoner. These were the gifts that he used constantly, we are told in the Acts of the Apostles, when he went about preaching. He would go into the synagogue and he would “reason with them out of the Scriptures, proving and alleging.” That was his method, and what a wonderful method it is ! Now that is what he is doing here – ‘how much more then’. And we must learn to do this. The Christian is not to live on his feelings; he is essentially a man who grasps truth and knows how to reason from it. Let us learn from this great master how to do so. What he is saying in effect is that this is something which should be obvious to us. It follows by a logical necessity, it follows as the night follows the dry. It does not need to be argued about, it is so obvious; it is a matter of logic. So he puts it before us. But note the type of argument he uses in both verses 9 and 10. It is the argument from the greater to the lesser. If the greater is true, then the lesser, of necessity, must be true. That is very good logic, sound logic. If the greater proposition can be established there can be no difficulty about the lesser. That is the point which he makes in both verses” (D.M. Lloyd-Jones, Romans Exposition of Chapter 5, Banner of Truth, 1971, p.130).
Do you understand why this is important? Today we are not haranguing you. We are not subjecting you to emotional pressures, telling you tall stories, softening you up by tear-jerking anecdotes, using soft lights and repetitive music so that you hardly know what you are doing or why you are doing it. There was an obituary in the Times last week of a famous novelist who had gone forward onto a football pitch at the time of a mass evangelism crusade. She had been stirred by the occasion, the vast numbers and the challenge of doing something for God, and so she got to her feet and walked to the front, but when she got there she immediately regretted what she had done and it was thirty years before she voluntarily went to church again. Rather we are urging you, “Please think about what the Scripture before us is saying. Please ask whether you believe that it is true because if it is then it has enormous consequences for your life and your relationship with God. If you believe in Jesus Christ you go to heaven. If you reject him then you go to hell. Use your brain and consider the processes of logic. They are crucially important to you. I can no more reason you into the kingdom of God by rational argument than I can draw you into it by emotional blackmail and soft lights and music, but I can plead with you to think seriously about what the apostle is saying here. So what is he saying?
WE HAVE NOW BEEN JUSTIFIED BY JESUS’ BLOOD.
i] We. Who is this ‘we’? Who does it refer to? The writer is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is writing to a group of fellow believers. The ‘we’ refers exclusively to them, the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ,. Now maybe you aren’t sure yet whether you belong to them. Sometimes you feel you are, and other times not. Well let’s go on to see something of the status of all those people – like Paul and the men and women of the church in Rome – and we will do that by going on to the next big word.
ii] Justified. What does that word mean? The children are told it means, “just if I’d never sinned.” In other words that God has completely forgiven me for all my bad words and actions. All my past sins, and my present sins, and my future sins have been thrown into the depths of the sea by God and he remembers them no more. My sins no longer modify or control my relationship with God. They have all been separated from me by Almighty God who has imputed them, and laid them upon his Son Jesus Christ on the cross. He has made him to be sin for me – he who was the only man without sin became the Lamb of God and he bore my sins taking them right into the judgment of God, without flinching, into the naked flame of God’s hatred of all that is trashy and cruel and hateful and disgusting and mean. The Son of God remained there in the loneliness and darkness of God’s wrath, until the blame and shame were all dealt with once and for all. Their evil was all destroyed. So God could then assure me that all my guilt, and the guilt of all these Christians, had been removed for ever.
God also does something extraordinarily positive. He declares us righteous on the basis of the perfect righteousness of Christ. Your own righteous won’t do. A feeling of well-being in a religious gathering, or you accepting a challenge to live like a Christian won’t do. Some sort of emotional aspirin that deadens the pain of living won’t do. A resolution that from now on you are going to become religious won’t do. All that is whitewash. That is a refusal to face the reality of the needy situation that you’re in- you need righteousness to enter the righteous heaven where the righteous God lives.
Don’t whitewash your own life. Don’t be trusting in your own goodness and efforts – I mean by comparing yourselves with others and concluding that you are better than the ISIS killers in Iraq, so then you’re O.K. How many whitewashed souls there are! They look nice and respectable, and probably are, but their sinful hearts remain unchanged. The Lord Christ likened them to whitewashed tombs – outside white and bright, but inside full of dead men’s bones.
What is God’s answer to whitewash? When Peter Jeffery was a boy, he lived the first ten years of his life in a decaying old terraced house. This is how he described it. “We had two rooms upstairs and two down, but we could use only one up and one down because the other two were too damp. The back yard was about three metres square, with high walls all around. The walls, like the house, were crumbling and decaying. To keep the back looking tidy, its walls had to be whitewashed every year. When it was done it looked lovely, but we knew the whitewash only covered up the decaying walls. That went on for years; then the local council condemned the house and moved us into a new house. After that, there was no need for whitewash.”
Isn’t that like many lives? They are spiritually decaying and crumbling. God says, “I condemn that life. In my eyes it is foul and polluted with sin, and no amount of moral or religious whitewash will change it.” That is true and the message of the gospel is that the God who condemns is also willing to move us out and provide a new life for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is a God who does not do whitewash, but red-wash, blood-wash.
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins
And sinner plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
There is nothing that can wash away my guilt and shame but the blood of Jesus Christ. That is how God deals with our sin, by laying it upon Jesus and allowing the Saviour to bear not only our sin and blame, but also the punishment that they justly merit. He died on the cross in our place to purchase for us a full and free salvation.
iii] Jesus’ blood. “We have now been justified by his blood” (v.9). This phrase is in no way unique to this ninth verse. In fact it is mentioned in the writings of the New Testament nearly three times as often as the words ‘the death of Christ’ and five times as frequently as ‘the cross of Christ.’ In fact it is the chief way that the New Testament speaks of the death of the Lord Jesus. So every type of Biblical Christianity speaks of salvation by the blood of Christ. I am standing in the midst of the streams of the New Testament letters, Paul’s letters, Peter’s letters, the letter to the Hebrews, the letters of John, and even letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. They are all running around me and together they speak of the blood of Christ. So to complain about the word ‘blood’, and react against it means you are resisting God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. A young man from a religious background in Aberystwyth went away to study in Swansea and he was converted there. He came back and told his church-going parents that he had become a Christian, and his mother said to him in utter disdain that she hoped they were not going to be hearing about ‘the blood’ all the time. Well, what does the Bible mean when it talks so frequently about the blood?
3. WHAT THE OLD TESTAMENT TEACHES US ABOUT THE BLOOD.
a) There has been a violent death. Remember how Joseph’s brothers, after they had sold him into slavery, took his cloak and dipped it into blood and presented it to Jacob his father. The sight of the blood made Jacob say, “An evil beast has devoured him.” So blood directly suggested death, particularly violent death. Damage had been done to his son’s life, it had been separated from his body; the life had been taken away, said the blood. So it becomes a word-symbol for death. Someone with blood on him is open to suspicion. He has taken someone’s life; he is a murderer. So the word ‘blood’ in the Old Testament is a vivid word symbol referring to someone’s violent death. It connects other people with the consequences of that death.
b) God himself is required to notice and take action when he sees blood being shed. In the Old Testament our bodies are considered to be created by God and so belonging to God. Our bodies are his by right of creation; our bodies are precious to God. Our lives are not to be taken from us by anyone – save God himself. A murderer is to be punished by forfeiting his own life. ‘Whoso sheddeth man’s blood by man shall his blood be shed.’ Human blood wrongly shed pollutes the land. That blood cries out to God for something to be done. An issue has been raised that demands settlement.
c) Redemption is obtained. Again, the blood of sacrificed animals was considered to make atonement for sin. In the Passover in Egypt the blood of an unblemished lamb sprinkled on the door posts provided shelter and protection for the first-born sleeping in the house. The lamb had no blemish. In other words, it wasn’t sick; you judge that it would live for many years, but suddenly its throat was cut; its life was taken away. It was sacrificed but its blood bought deliverance for men. There were great benefits that came from its death. The firstborn was spared, and the lamb was then eaten and it nourished and strengthened them for their long journey.
d) Purification and access to God is accomplished. You know of the ceremonial laws, many of which are found in the book of Leviticus. God has provided for them the blood of lambs and goats and heifers and pigeons for the sacrifices of men to be poured onto the altar in order to make atonement for their sins. There is something in God himself that demands this and he provides this way of forgiveness. The blood could also be sprinkled on them and that made purification for their sins. It changed the status of the person making the sacrifice. It didn’t cry out for vengeance for the death of the lamb, no, it cried out for reward and access to God. Through the blood there was a reconciled God.
e) A covenant is established. You remember that frequently when a covenant was made between God and the people an animal was sacrificed. Abraham sees the Lord in the form of a flaming fire-pot moving up and down between two lanes of sacrificed animals. Or again, Moses sprinkles the people with the blood of the covenant and they are aware how solemn their relationship with God was. Sacrifice has been made by the covenant maker.
Those are the Old Testament uses and meanings of blood. Are you with me? Has light begun to dawn on you as you see how God used blood in the Old Testament to prepare us for the coming of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world?
WHAT THE NEW TESTAMENT TEACHES US ABOUT THE BLOOD.
What is its view of blood being shed? Of course it sees it as the taking of innocent life. Judas the betrayer cried out, “I betrayed innocent blood.” Pilate protested, “I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man” and the people cried, “His blood be on us and on our children.” The high priest later said to Peter, “You intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” In other words he told the apostle, “You are holding us responsible for Jesus’ death” and this language about the blood connects people with their responsibility for killing an innocent man. They have become defiled by their wickedness; they are guilty of bloodshed, and of murder.
Now in the New Testament – when it speaks of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ – it is referring to his flesh and blood existence and to its violent end. Paul says it superbly in his phrase, “the blood of the cross.” Almost always it is referring to the fact of the cruel death of the Lord Christ. It was not that he began to suffer with anemia and died in weakness in bed. He was killed. They thrust a spear into his side and out flowed blood. That was his dying. You know that one third of the gospels deals with the events of the final week in the life of our Lord, the days immediately leading up to Golgotha including his crucifixion. The blood means Jesus’ earthly death, in a human body, on a cross of shame, with all its consequences. The Prince of life died! God the Son was put to death. The shorthand for all that week is “the blood.”
So you have some 92 references to blood in the New Testament, and I will quote you some, and I believe that as you hear them you will feel the power of these words. “The church of God which he purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28) “God set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood” (Roms. 3:25). “In whom we have redemption through his blood” (Ephs. 1:7). “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephs. 2:13). “Having made peace through the blood of his cross” (Cols 1:20). “He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebs. 9:12). “We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” (Hebs.10:19). “The sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Hebs 12:24). “You were redeemed . . . through the precious blood of Christ like a lamb without blemish or spot” (I Pet. 1:18&19). “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (I Jn. 1:7). “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).
If you are in any way a Christian whose faith has been formed and educated by the Bible then the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is bound to have a place of the most special significance in your thinking. It is what created your salvation, it is how forgiveness and grace came to you, it is how a holy God was reconciled to you a sinner, it is the grounds of assurance you possess that you are going to heaven and will one day meet the Saviour who gave up his life that you might have eternal life. It is the blood of Christ that has achieved all of that.
Even more than that, our Lord Jesus gave us a particular ordinance and he told us that we must repeatedly celebrate it until he comes again. It is of course the Lord’s Supper when we show forth Christ’s broken body and his shed blood. The church will always do this until the end of the world. The man leading that Supper will quote the words of the Lord, “This cup is the new covenant in Jesus’ blood which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:27&28). We are constantly reminded that we are blessed to live in new covenant times, and what has brought us into this blessing, that all our sins have been once and for all remitted? The eternal covenant of the blood of Christ! As Edward Caswall wrote in his hymn:
Abel’s blood for vengeance pleaded to the skies;
But the blood of Jesus for our pardon cries.
Oft as it is sprinkled on our guilty hearts
Satan in confusion terror-struck departs.
Lift we then our voices, swell the mighty flood;
Louder still and louder, praise the precious blood!
Let me give you four New Testament truths in four short sentences . . .
i] The greatest gift you could give to your friend is to lay down your life for him.
ii] The greatest evil you could commit against a person is to take away his life.
iii] The greatest loss you could endure would be to have your own life taken away.
iv] The greatest possible expiation or atonement the world can make is life for life, and blood for blood.
Then into this world, with those values, God had sent his prophets and established his covenants, and here finally God sent his Son. How did the Son of God measure up to those four truths?
i] The Son of Man came not to be served by hundreds of fawning flunkeys, but to serve sniveling sinners, and the climax of his service was that he shed his blood for them, for sinners. What wondrous love, to bleed and die for folks like ourselves! Jesus gave the greatest gift. He gave himself!
ii] The Lord Jesus Christ was the object of mankind’s greatest wickedness. They took a sledge-hammer and they nailed the giver of life, the preacher of the Sermon on the Mount, the man who washed the feet of his friends, the man who wept over Jerusalem, the teacher to whom mothers brought their children for him to bless – they nailed the Son of God to a cross of wood and they mocked him for hours as he shed his blood. Men like us took away a life like his in so vile a fashion.
iii] The great loss that he endured was to have his life taken from him by his blood being shed. These criminals reckoned that he was a criminal and worthy of such a dying.
iv] He as the God-man gave his human blood to make atonement. He died for our sins. He bore our judgment so that for us there is now no judgment whatsoever because Jesus has borne our guilt and condemnation in his own body on the cross. His blood has bought our peace with God. It is so powerful that one drop of his blood is enough to reconcile God to an entire groaning creation and perfect for ever all those who believe in him. Let me remind you of the wonderful achievements of the blood of Christ.
A] By his blood God’s righteousness was magnified. On the central cross there is no filthy rag righteousness. One hangs there and God loves his whole life and is well pleased with his every drop of blood. When I look at myself there is much throughout my life that makes me groan in shame, but when I look at Jesus I see nothing but uni-righteousness, all righteousness, pure unbounded righteousness. I am all sin but he is all righteousness. Then there was a second achievement . . .
B] By his blood God’s justice was satisfied. God looked at his shed blood and God said, “The right thing has been done.” The glory of the gospel is that our iniquities can be cleared and our sins can be forgiven. We can say that with assurance because God has shown us that he is totally satisfied with the blood of Christ. All that the law of God demands from law-breakers has been fulfilled by our Lord.
Bearing shame and scoffing rue, in my place condemned he stood.
Sealed my pardon with his blood. Hallelujah, what a Saviour!
It is not that God was given pleasure by the blood of Jesus. but that he was given satisfaction. There was no compromise with God’s justice, no fiddling of the books. God remained just and yet merciful because of the blood of Christ. Then there was a third achievement . . .
C] By his blood, God’s wrath was pacified. The wrath of God explodes from heaven against all cruelty and beheadings and rape and torture and abuse. But then once in history for his people almost 2000 years ago that wrath homed in on his beloved Son and it consumed him. That wrath cannot now be recalled. It cannot be poured out a second time. The blood of Christ has quenched the flames of the wrath of God towards favoured sinners and we can now say with Isaiah, “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me” (Isaiah 12:31). The blood of Christ has turned away the Father’s wrath. Like the lightning conductor that takes the full force of the bolt of lightning to save the church steeple. Christ is struck that I and all the people of God might be delivered and comforted. Then there is a fourth achievement of the blood . . .
D] By his blood God’s people are justified. Those are the words of our text. We still sin and mourn and feel what hypocrites we are. Our glory is only in the blood of the cross. We are not what we ought to be; we are not what we were; we are not what we will be but we are what we are by the blood of Christ, ransomed, redeemed, declared righteous and kept until glory
Dear dying Lamb Thy precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more.
But Paul has not finished. He says that we have been justified now by his blood, but he has one more thing to say.
HOW MUCH MORE SHALL WE BE SAVED FROM GOD’S WRATH THROUGH HIS LIFE.
The Saviour who loved us so much that he shed his blood for us lives! He is seated at the right hand of God with all authority in heaven and earth. He is head over all things to the church. He works all things for the good of the church. Mightier is he that is in us than he that is in the world. He ever lives to make intercession for us. He has brought you here to this meeting today to meet with him. He has been waiting for you and he has been speaking to you now – the mighty King of kings and the Lord of lords. “I will never leave you,” he says. “I won’t allow you to depart from me. I will keep you throughout your life and then when you die and appear before me I will welcome you. I shed my blood to save you, and then at the judgment I will vindicate you. I will introduce you to my Father. I’ll say to him, ‘This one loved me in the world. I bore his sin on the cross. I shed my blood for him and now I am going to take him into your presence for ever more.’”
God’s wrath fell on Christ, and how can it fall again on you for the same sins whose guilt and condemnation were washed away by the blood of the Son of God. He took your punishment long ago for your iniquity on a green hill far away. Then he cannot punish those sins twice. If he declared you righteous because of the blood of the Christ who died as the Lamb of God for you how much, much more, now that he is risen and lives and loves you with the dying rising love will he save you from the wrath of God in that great day. All of us (before it is time for us to die) fear death. What lies before us after we die? I tell you that it is the loving Jesus greeting us! Jesus taking us by the hand and leading us into the glories of heaven. Jesus feeding us in green pastures and leading us by the rivers of life. In his presence is fulness of joy. At his right hand there are treasures for ever more. Justified by his blood, and saved from wrath by his living ministry and eternal presence. Who can ask for anything more?
30th November 2014 GEOFF THOMAS