The Bloody Price of Our Redemption

by J. D. Watson

Ephesians 1:7–"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins," makes a controversial statement: Redemption is by blood.

Many in our day advocate Jesus as "a good example to follow," or speak of Him as "a good moral compass." They tell us that Adam was the bad example and Jesus was the good example and then conclude that by following Jesus' good example we can be "rescued" from sin. "If we just follow Jesus' moral example and live a good life," they say, "we will be delivered from our shortcomings, frailties, and low self-esteem."

To demonstrate how long this trend has been developing, I read an incident that Martyn Lloyd-Jones recounted back in 1954, as he was preaching on this subject. He tells of reading an article in an evangelical magazine several years before titled "The Message of the Gospel." "The death of the Lord Jesus Christ was literally not mentioned at all," he observed. "He was depicted as Savior, but only as the risen, resurrected Lordthe cross was not mentioned, [nor was there any] mention of our Lord's death, still less of His blood." Lloyd-Jones added: "The atoning, sacrificial, substitutionary death was absent from the article. But that is not the truth taught in Scripture. I will go further: that is not salvation."

In contrast, Paul specifically speaks of the blood of Christ—that is, it is not His life but His death that redeems us. It was His blood that paid the purchase price. Here, indeed, is the epicenter of our salvation.

Granted, no one likes to talk about blood. It truly is a sticky, messy, graphic thing. Most people abhor the picture of a bloody Savior. Occasionally they are willing to speak of His death but never His blood. They do not want to think of a Savior hanging on a cross with blood pouring out of His body and dripping into puddles on the ground.

Many decades ago a stately widow came up to the late G. Campbell Morgan. Holding a lorgnette to her eyes, she looked at Morgan and said, "Dr. Morgan, I don't like to hear about the blood. It is repulsive to me and offends my esthetic nature." Dr. Morgan replied, "I agree with you that it is repulsive, but the only thing repulsive about it is your sin and mine." Indeed, sin is the thing that is repulsive about the blood redemption.

Some hymnbooks even remove the hymns that speak of His blood. Some modern Bible translations do the same. Good News for Modern Man (Today's English Version), for example, mistranslates hama (or hamatos) as "death" when it means "blood." This Greek word, in fact, forms the basis for several English medical terms, such as, hemoglobin, hemorrhage, hemostat, and others, all of which relate to blood.

In contrast, Paul specifically speaks of the Savior's blood as the redemptive price, and does so quite often. "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God" (Rom. 3:25). "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:13). Peter also reminds us: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Pet. 1:18-19).

Why emphasize the blood of Christ so often? Why not speak more of His life than His graphic death? Because, as Hebrews 9:22 declares: "Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." That is a dogmatic statement, indeed. The Greek for "remission" is the same word translated "forgiveness" in our text. Because of sin and guilt, blood must be shed for forgiveness. In the words of our Savior Himself: "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28). As in the Old Testament sacrifices, blood must be shed for sin.

Dr. Watson is pastor-teacher of Grace Bible Church, Meeker, Colorado

His full exposition of Ephesians and other resources are available on-line at www.TheScriptureAlone.com

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