We see blood in every aspect of the atonement. The blood of Jesus is our redemption — the payment of the price for our freedom from sin.
His blood is our justification — the legal basis for the declaration of our righteousness before God. His blood is our propitiation — our protection from the wrath of God. The wonder of the atonement is that we are saved by the shedding of blood: not our own blood, but the blood that God has shed for our sins.
The primary thing for us to do with this great doctrine of the atonement is to believe it. Believe that Jesus has paid the ransom-price for your redemption. Believe that you are declared righteous before God in your justification. Believe that the blood of Jesus is the propitiation for your sins. Believe in Jesus Christ and his atoning work on the cross.
Then worship what you believe, praising Jesus for the gift of his atoning blood. It is characteristic of any healthy community of Christian faith that it is explicit in praising God for the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
Thus the blood of Jesus is a recurring theme in many great hymns of the Christian faith, including this one by William Cowper:
There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day
And there have I, as vile as he,
Washed all my sins away.
In addition to believing and worshipping, there is something more for us to do in response to Jesus and his atoning blood. We ourselves are now called to a life of costly sacrifice. What sacrifice could ever be too great for us to offer to the Saviour who has shed his own blood for our sins?
We are called, therefore, to sacrifice in every aspect of our Christian experience.
We are called to sacrifice in the stewardship of our financial resources. Whenever we are giving to kingdom work, or praying about what to give, we should remember the blood that Jesus paid for our sins.
We are called to sacrifice in our homes and neighbourhoods, setting aside our own agendas to spend more time with friends who need to know the love of Jesus. We are called to sacrifice for our families, putting others first in the life of the home.
We are called to sacrifice in marriage, especially those of us who are husbands, and who are therefore called to show the sacrifice of the cross in loving our wives (Ephesians 5:25-33).
We are also called to sacrifice in ministry. I witnessed this first-hand in the life of the late Rev. William Still, who for more than 50 years served Gilcomston South Presbyterian Church, in downtown Aberdeen. When the Scottish minister wrote his spiritual autobiography, he gave it a title that encapsulated his philosophy of ministry, Dying to live.
Mr Still wrote: ‘From the moment that you stand there dead in Christ and dead to everything you are and have and ever shall be and have, every breath you breathe thereafter, every thought you think, every word you say and deed you do, must be done over the top of your own corpse, or reaching over it in your preaching to others.
‘Then it can only be Jesus that comes over and no one else. And I believe that every preacher must bear the mark of that death. Your life must be signed by the cross, not just Christ’s cross (there is really no other), but your cross in his cross, your particular and unique cross that no one ever died — the cross that no one ever could die, but you and you alone: your death in Christ’s death’(Christian Focus Publications, 1991; p.136).
This principle is not just for ministers, but for every believer in Jesus Christ. All of us are called to bear the mark of the blood atonement of Jesus Christ. The precious blood of Jesus Christ calls us to sacrifice in every aspect of our Christian experience.
This is what a Christian is: someone who says to Jesus, in word and deed, ‘You have shed your blood for me; now I give my life to you’.
Philip Graham Ryken is Bible teacher for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ weekly radio broadcast, Every Last Word, and president of Wheaton College, Illinois. He is the author of many books. This article is used by kind permission of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (www.alliancenet.org/refsoc/atoning-blood-12).