Point of Reference
by Fred Price
While blood sacrifice offends our modern sensitivities, God demanded it of his people – then and, after a fashion, now – as a means of stressing sin's dire consequences in our lives. In any number of ways, sin blocks our approach to God; in the end maiming, destroying and killing us. And since, “...the life of a creature is in the blood,...” God decreed that, “I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar..." Leviticus 17:11
In speaking of Christ's new "testament", the author of Hebrews explains the function of blood – or death – in the dispensation of a will or covenant; death activating the provisions set forth in them. Thus both the Old and New Testaments involve the shedding of blood in their respective means of dealing with sin and its consequences; as "...the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." Hebrews 9:16-22 (And even though we are not now restricted by the Law, it had to be fulfilled for us to gain our new status as those who are saved by grace and righteous through faith.) The Lord's Supper, emblematic of the New Covenant instituted in Christ's "body" and "blood", carries this theme through to completion. Jesus saying, "...this is my body..." and "...blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Matthew 26:26-28
Paul, in speaking of the universality of sin and the singular salvation from it declared, "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the law and prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ..." Romans 3:21,22; whom God had given as the ultimate sacrifice for our salvation. (See John 3:16,17 & Hebrews 10:10) As such, we are "...justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God present(ing) him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice..." and to be the justifier as well. Romans 3:21-26 (See also the, "...redemption through his blood..." of Ephesians 1:7 and the reconciliation and peace to be had,"...through his blood, shed on the cross." of Colossians 1:20; the redemption of an empty life through the "...precious blood of Christ..." in 1 Peter 1:18,19 and the purification from all sin, through "...the blood of Jesus..." in 1 John 1:7)
Equally offensive, at least by today's standards of tolerance and inclusion, are Paul's comments concerning the exclusionary aspects of Christian salvation, "Salvation (being) found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 Which was merely an echo of Jesus' own words, he himself claiming, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6 Paul's assessment of his own ministry, succinctly expressed to the church in Corinth, was firmly rooted in, "...know(ing) nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:2; which he acknowledged for some was a "stumbling block" and "foolishness". 1 Corinthians 1:23 But to those who, "...are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18
The gospel or "good news" of Jesus Christ then being, "...the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..." Romans 1:16 This all-encompassing love accomplishing its purpose, "While we were still sinners,..."! Romans 5:8 Not that everyone is automatically saved as a consequence of his sacrifice but that the provision for the salvation of everyone has been made.
The cross, sacrifice and blood has always been crucial to that provision and the Gospel. God, “...reconcil(ed) to himself all things... by making peace through (Christ's) blood, shed on the cross." Colossians 1:20; “...cancel(ing) the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us;... nailing it to the cross." Colossians 2:14 Causing Paul to exclaim, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:2,3
Paul went on to remind the Ephesians – and us through them – that, "...you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world... All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. (See 1 John 2:15,17) Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ..." Ephesians 2:1-5 Sanctifying and justifying us, "...in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Corinthians 6:11
"So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord,..." 2 Timothy 1:8, but emulate Paul; who strove to,"...never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,..." Galatians 6:14 Always responsive to people, but shunning the distractions, temptations and alternatives the world holds forth as having superior worth and value. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18 “...for the salvation of everyone who believes...” Romans 1:16
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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