Grace For The Journey
There is a song that most Christians are familiar with. The words to the chorus go like this,
“There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the blood of the Lamb;
There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r
In the precious blood of the Lamb.
Happy memories flood my mind when I hear these words. We sang them often in church when I was young. My father seemed to love “Power in the Blood” most of all. I could tell he would sing louder than normal on this one, and I’d follow suit. I think the whole congregation sang with more gusto than usual, but I couldn’t hear them well with the two of us both raising our voices.
Christians of all stripes and leaning affirm
There is indeed power in the blood of Jesus.
Bible-and Spirit-shaped souls feel that intuitively, but have you ever paused to ask how? Is there magic in the blood? If there is power in His blood, how do we explain the reality? What truths operate under the surface when we celebrate, in shorthand, this wonder-working pow’r?
What Does the Blood Do?
The New Testament epistle to the Hebrews builds the bridge from the Old Testament sacrificial system (and its blood) to the new covenant and Jesus’s once-for-all sacrifice (Hebrews 9:7,12). Throughout the Bible, blood represents life (for instance, Genesis 9:4), and the spilling or shedding of blood, in turn, depicts death (Leviticus 17:11,14; Deuteronomy 12:23;). Because the just penalty of human sin against God is death (Romans 6:23), the death of sanctioned animal sacrifices, through the presentation of their blood, stood in temporarily for the requirement of death for sinners. Yet, the high priest had to return year after year, “repeatedly” (Hebrews 9:7,25), because “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). The repeated animal sacrifices were delaying the inevitable, waiting on God’s fullness of times. One day a final reckoning for sin must come.
Christians, of course, believe and celebrate that now in Christ, and under the terms of a new covenant, the reckoning has come. Jesus willingly “offered Himself” (Hebrews 9:14) by “once for all” shedding “His own blood” (Hebrews 9:12), bringing to its intended completion the temporary covenant that came before (the old covenant) and inaugurating in its place an “eternal covenant,” (Hebrews 13:30), which we call the new covenant.
Hebrews celebrates some of the specific benefits
Christians enjoy because of Jesus’s blood
(Hebrews 10:19; 13:12),
But it’s the apostle Paul, in particular,
Who celebrates the manifold grace
That comes to us because of His blood.
In one sense, we can connect to Jesus’s blood every divine grace that comes to us, but five times Paul makes the connection explicit, with both the mention of blood and a specific aspect of what Christ has secured for us with His death.
Propitiation: To Remove God’s Righteous Wrath.
The Bible says in Romans 3:25 that Jesus is the one whom “God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Because God is just, the sins of His people are no small obstacle. In His kindness and grace, He has chosen to love us, yet in His righteousness and justice he cannot sweep our sins, which are acts of cosmic treason against Him, under the rug of the universe. So, in His love, He devises a way to satisfy justice and still triumph with mercy.
God Himself, in the person of His own Son, takes on human flesh and blood and offers himself in the place of sinful people, to receive the just wrath of God and pay our penalty in His death, all that we might live. His blood, then, signifying the sacrificial giving of His life in the place of those deserving death (and “received by faith”), propitiates His righteous wrath, upholds divine justice, and opens the floodgates of his mercy.
Justification: To Extend God’s Full Acceptance.
Romans 5:9 says “we have now been justified by his blood.” Justified is courtroom language. The prosecution and defense each present their case, and the judge or jury makes a declaration: either righteous or condemned. The defendant is either guilty as charged or declared to be in right standing with the law – justified.
The reason those who are united to Jesus by faith are justified is owing, in part, to His sacrificial and substitutionary death. He willingly shed His own blood not for His own sins (he had none), but for ours. The spilling of His blood to cover our sins made possible our sharing in His righteousness by joining us to Him through faith. Without His blood, our unrighteousness would remain unaddressed. We could not stand with Him at the final judgment and receive with Him his Father’s declaration, “Righteous.”
Redemption: To Purchase Our True Freedom.
Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.” To redeem means “to buy back or secure the freedom of someone in bondage.” Because of our sins, we all were (or continue to be) in spiritual captivity. Our violations of God’s law means we deserve His omnipotent, righteous wrath. But in Christ, by the shedding of his Blood, which forgives our sins before God, He purchases our freedom from justice and from the power of Satan. The Bible declares this in Colossians 2:13-14, “Having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.” Through His self-offering at the cross, Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame” (Colossians 2:15).
The decisive weapon the demons had against us was unforgiven sin, but when Jesus spilled His own blood in our place, to forgive our sins, He freed us from captivity. He redeemed us from Satan and the record of debt and legal demands against us.
Forgiveness: To Restore Our Best Relationship
These precious themes, of course, overlap. We’ve already seen the importance of forgiveness, but Ephesians 2:13 puts it at the forefront: “now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” At the heart of this “bringing near” is the restoration of humanity with the divine. On the individual level, it’s the redemption in Christ of personal access to and a relationship with God that we, born into sin, never could have secured. On the corporate level, it’s the restoration in Christ of the relationship with God for which we were made.
Our sin and rebellion against God has put distance between us and Him. In His old-covenant grace, He drew near to His covenant people called Israel. But now, in the new covenant, He draws near not to a particular ethnic people, but to all who receive His Son in faith, no matter who they are or how far they had gone away from Him. In fact, the phrase “brought near by the blood of Christ” gets at the heart of what each of these divine gifts in Jesus’s blood does for us: it brings us to God. There may be no better summary of what we’ve seen so far about the power of Jesus’s blood than 1 Peter 3:18, where the Bible states,“Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.”
Pacification: To Make Peace with God Himself
Finally, the God-centered aim of the effects of Jesus’s blood is confirmed in the bring of peace between God and His people. In Christ, God reconciles His people “to Himself . . . making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19-20). That He shed His blood on the cross has been implicit in each instance, but here Paul makes it plain. It is “the blood of his cross” that makes peace between God and man. He made peace with an instrument of intentional and horrific torture and execution.
Jesus did not shed His blood by accident. His was no random death. Tragic as it was, it was deliberate and voluntary. He was executed unjustly, and His blood was spilled on purpose at the cross, both by sinful men and holy God. They took His life, and He gave it. In doing so, He absorbed the righteous wrath of God, granted us His full legal acceptance, purchased our true freedom, restored our most important relationship, and made peace for us with God Himself. This is how, as the Bible says in Acts 20:28, He secured “the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
Following the trail of blood in Paul’s letters, we begin to see an ocean of grace in that last line of the familiar chorus: There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r / In the precious blood of the Lamb. Precious, indeed.
That pairing of precious with Jesus’s blood comes from the Bible, where God declares through the pen of Peter: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
It is fitting to sing of His blood and, in doing so, celebrate all the riches represented by it. When we add “precious” in that final line, the song writer is not just adding two additional syllables to make the cadence work with the tune. His blood is truly “precious” to us. Infinitely valuable. Because Christ Himself, and God Himself in Him, is precious to us. And because the blood of Christ, is more precious than any other means of salvation, it fulfills our deepest aches and longings in God, not just temporarily but finally and forever.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”