The Blood of Jesus

Over the years I have heard many fanciful ideas about the power of the blood of Jesus, including the exhortation to ‘plead the blood of Jesus’ over situations. I suspect many of you have as well. So let’s go to the source and see what the scriptures say about the efficacy of Jesus blood and how it applies to our lives. The concept is introduced in the Old Testament where the blood of the lamb protects the Israelites from the death of their firstborn sons.

13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Exodus 12:13 (NKJV)

23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. Exodus 12:23 (NKJV)

 The blood of the Passover lamb looks forward to Jesus sacrifice as the true Lamb of God. The fulfillment is seen in what the New Testament records.

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 (NKJV)

Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 1 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll,

And to open its seals;

For You were slain,

And have redeemed us to God by Your blood

Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

10         And have made us kings and priests to our God;

And we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:8–10 (NKJV)

There are a few things here. Jesus was the fulfillment of what every Passover lamb pointed to, a final sacrifice that would take away the sins of the world by paying the price for them. We also see that Jesus was sacrificed for His people, those who would believe in His sacrifice. The result of His redemptive sacrifice is that His people have been made kings and priests and shall ultimately reign on the earth. These are things that the blood of Jesus has accomplished, and will accomplish.

Let us now look at our present day application. We know Jesus shed blood paid the price for our sins, past present and future. Jesus shedding His blood on the cross inaugurated and sealed a new covenant. We can see the benefits in how Jesus shed blood takes away our sins and in the reality of an everlasting covenant. That is, Jesus blood is eternally effective.  

20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. Luke 22:20 (NKJV)

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Hebrews 13:20 (NKJV)

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:7–10 (NKJV)

We can see that we are called to walk in fellowship, in community with others. In this context we experience the reality of the ongoing effectiveness of Jesus shed blood. We are cleansed from sin and can walk uprightly before Him. We need to confess any ongoing sin and seek His forgiveness, which He gives. John is pointing out that Jesus sacrifice is effective and that we are called to walk together. So, here is a simple prayer I have prayed for myself and others for many years that highlights what Jesus blood has accomplished. No pleading required, just simple faith.     

“Father, I thank You that we are bound to You by the covenant made in Jesus’ blood. I thank You that His blood is continually protecting us and cleansing us from all sin as we walk in the light of Your presence.”

Lessons from History

Most generations believe they are living in a unique time in history, and they are, for them. We are currently in a disruptive time in our culture. Yet as someone pointed out recently in a podcast, the unrest in the late 1960’s was more tumultuous than what happened in the US in 2020. That aside, it is important that we have a proper view of history and scripture provides an exhortation for us regarding how we are to view history. In recounting some of Israel’s history Paul draws the following conclusion.

11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV)

Paul’s exhortation is neither that we long for or seek to erase history. His focus is on us learning from what happened. History is an anchor point, not as something to long to go back to but as a foundation to move forward. Good or bad, if we learn the lessons of history they become stepping stones to make our move forward easier.

At the bottom are two pictures of paths on a trail I recently hiked in the mountains. People who went before me did a lot of work that made my hike easier. In one case trees and shrubs were removed. In the other heavy rocks were hauled. I have bushwhacked in the mountains and it is not easy hiking while trying to make a trail in heavy bush. I could have ignored these trails and tried to make my own but that would have made for a far more difficult hike.

What these trails represent is a history in the area. In our culture we have a history. I have often said over the years that we can’t change the past but we can change how we view it so that it the impact of our past, our history, has a different effect on our present and future. Whether our failures or accomplishments to walk in what He has called us to our call is to embrace the lessons and leave the past in the past as we press on following Jesus. Paul put it this way.

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12–14 (NKJV)

So, in our current culture wars we can look to history and how the church has continued to move forward in spite of the shifting attitudes of culture. We can look at how the church has continued when it has focused on Jesus calling to be the church and live lives of faith and integrity no matter what happens around us. We can continue to use the freedom we have to promote truth and righteousness while much of our culture rushes headlong into madness. We can stay on established paths and call others to join us as we walk. We can be confident that the One who has begun a good work in us will continue it if we continue to follow Him (Phil. 1:6, Col. 1:27-29).  

The Same Mind in the Lord

Currently we have a lot of conflict in our world and differing views over a lot of subjects. In the last year we have had riots, marches, protests and ongoing online battles on social media. There is a good deal of discussion of ‘polarization.’ Mores so in the US than in Canada. So, let’s take a look at how we see others.

Some of you may recognize that the title is a quote from a portion of Philippians 4:2. We know from what Paul wrote that there was some disagreement between Euodia and Syntyche (any of you have friends or children with these names?). We also know from 4:3 that these two women were co-labourers with Paul in spreading the gospel.

We learn from these two verses that people who are serious about the gospel can have conflict. We also have a record in Acts of conflict between Paul and Barnabas that led to their separation after they had been friends who journeyed together and taught together (Acts 15:36-40). What I want to address here is what we do with conflict. Howver, I am not going over the process Jesus presented to us in Matthew 18. Instead I want to look at our perceptions.

Our first impulse in addressing conflict seems to be determining who was right and who was wrong. However, that is not the most important piece. In fact, there may not be a right and wrong on some issues. We don’t know what the disagreement was between Euodia and Syntyche or whether it was resolved. We know that while Paul and Barnabas had a significant disagreement over John Mark, later Paul was working with the one he rejected.   

10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), Colossians 4:10 (NKJV)

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers. Philemon 1:23-24 (NKJV)

In addition to traveling with Barnabas and Paul, is believed to have also spent time with Peter in Rome where he wrote down the Gospel of Mark. A record of what was passed on to him by Peter.

Paul being reconciled to Mark does not however tell us whether Paul or Barnabas was right. It does tell us that the Lord brought something good out of the conflict and there was a later reconciliation. What we need to do in our relationships is draw on His grace to walk in wisdom. We may understand scripture passages differently. We may be Calvinists and have friends who are Arminians – two conflicting theological positions. Yet if we embrace something else Paul taught, we can walk in love and fruitfulness in the midst of differing theological positions. After all, scripture exhorts us to a unity of faith and Jesus prayed for this unity. Not a unity of dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s of our theological positions, but a unity of the Spirit.

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:20-23 (NKJV)

1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Ephesians 4:1-6 (NKJV)

We do well to consider that many conflicts may be less a matter of right and wrong and more the inevitable outcome of fallen people living in a fallen world. People have different perceptions of the same event. At times someone is clearly wrong in their behaviour but having been involved in doing mediations for decades I could tell many stories. I have seen people who didn’t want to be in the same room together suddenly have their conflict evaporate when I got them to listen to one another. I have seen people suing one another riding home in the same vehicle after a mediation. I have seen someone who was the aggrieved party offering to help organize the wedding of the person they were suing.

My point, instead of looking through a lens of right and wrong I recommend we put on our 1 Corinthians 13 glasses and take our first look through the eyes of grace filled love that,

7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7 (NKJV)   

We may find that we simply see things differently and can learn from one another – through grace filled love.

This World is not my Home

This is a line from an old hymn and it was a popular idea in the church for a long time. A related popular expression is that we are to be ‘in the world but not of it.’ Regardless of what we think it is important to see what the scriptures have to say regarding the issue so we can respond with a right heart.

Jesus did say clearly that His kingdom was not of this world

36  Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” John 18:36 (NKJV)

Note that Jesus spoke this prior to His crucifixion and resurrection. After His resurrection in The Great Commission, He spoke differently.

18  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

Here Jesus directs us to go under His authority to extend His kingdom in the earth. He wants us to contend for what He achieved through His sacrifice for us. I raise this issue because for much of the 20th Century the dominant theology in much of the evangelical community was the idea that things would get worse and worse for the church. Jesus would then come and rescue a weakened persecuted church from the ravages of the world |(the pretribulation rapture) and punish the evildoers while the church watched from heaven.

Aside from the above seeming to be a rather ‘unkind’ theology, I personally have never been able to find it in scripture and it seems to be at odds with The Great Commission. In fact, Jesus told us something else as well, a sign of His return.

14  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 (NKJV)

Whatever our ideas are, Jesus seems to have the idea that the gospel is to spread to all nations all over the earth. While His kingdom is not ‘of’ this world it is designed to spread in the world and influence culture prior to His return. I do not have all of my end time theology settled. What I do have settled is that I need to heed Jesus over popular theology and do my part to live in and out of His kingdom while I am here and able. After all, when the end does come He is not taking us out of the world, He is bringing the fullness of His kingdom to this world, a renewed earth. The world will be our home.

1  Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2  Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:1-2 (NKJV)