This is a universally recognized truth by believers in the Christian religion. Yet while all believe it, we are satisfied but few realize its truth, of the obligation the truth lays the human family under, to Jesus.
A great many seem to think because Christ’s blood cleanses from sin, there is nothing for them to do. But it is plainly taught in the New Testament that Christ’s sacrifice only so far satisfied the demands of justice as to make God just while justifying him who would believe on Christ. Nothing in the universe has ever been done, so far as the Bible informs us, that will enable God to be just while justifying unbelievers. God must be just. Through the propitiation of Christ, he is enabled to be just in justifying him who believes in Christ. He paid so much of the demands of the law as would satisfy the justice of God in saving the believer.
If he saves the unbeliever he either tramples upon his own justice and honor or the satisfaction of the law comes through some other being than Christ. Christ made the propitiation for all who would believe in him. The propitiation is efficacious only as it is accepted through faith. Justice demands the submission of faith on the part of man, in addition to the propitiation offered by Christ. Without faith, justice will not permit God to justify man. The propitiatory offering of Christ renders it more impossible for God to justify man without the obedience of faith on his part, than would have been had Christ never been crucified.
Christ’s suffering was of this two-fold nature. While it propitiated the wrath of God, to those who would accept Christ—it laid man under additional obligation to obey and honor God. Hence the sacrifice of Christ, the blood of the Redeemer, involved the deeper condemnation of all who refused to obey. The suffering of Christ was a second opening to man of the opportunity of obeying God and being blessed in the submission. To refuse the proffered mercy, through disobedience, is to repeat under greatly aggravated circumstances the rebellion against God that brought about the first separation from, and condemnation by, Almighty God.
Man then stands doubly guilty, doubly damned, by rejecting the mission of the Son of God. The gospel reaches with saving efficacy only those who are, through it, brought into saving union with God, by submission to his will. Only through submission can man be brought into harmony with God.
In submission, man is a friend of God, and out of submission he is the enemy of God.
If a man love me he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings and the word which I speak unto you is not mine but the Father’s which sent me.” (John 14:23-24).
Christ’s blood then has cleansing efficacy only to those who believe in Christ, who keep his word, who do his commandments, who obey the truth.
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. (1 Pet. 1:22-23).
“The blood of Christ, it cleanseth us from all sins—ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth.” Then the blood must cleanse through the obedience of the truth. The efficacy, the healing virtue of the blood, is appropriated or applied to men only through that to which faith leads men. The efficacy is there, the virtue to heal is there—sufficient in quantity and power to cleanse all who will appropriate it through the obedience to which faith leads man.
The blood cleanses. How does it cleanse? It has virtue and efficacy. How can it be applied or appropriated? We have not the material blood here. If we had, we could not apply it to our immortal souls or spirits. How then can we reach its efficacy? The blood of Christ imparted its saving virtue and cleansing power to the conditions given by Christ and sealed by his blood.
Under the Jewish law the typical blood saved or cleansed only through the laws and institutions sealed by that blood. Those were purified by the blood, and those only who complied with the law were sealed by that blood.
No man under the dispensation of grace can come to the blood of Christ save as he comes through the directions, laws, ordinances sealed by that blood. Whoever seeks salvation or favor through these ordinances and laws, seeks salvation through the blood of Christ. They who seek it through the blood sealed appointments rely upon the blood of Christ.
He who seeks salvation through any other means or ways than through a humble submission to, and walk in, the ways, conditions, laws and institutions sealed by the blood, seeks salvation outside of, and without, the blood of Christ.
Whosoever denies that there is power in the institutions and laws sealed by the blood of Christ to save, denies that there is efficacy to save in the blood. Whoever teaches persons to seek salvation otherwise than through the laws sealed by the blood, teaches them to seek salvation without the blood of the Redeemer. Whoever denies or depreciates the ordinances and appointments of God decries and dishonors God himself as well as the blood that seals God’s laws to man.
Many persons talk much about the blood of Christ, and in words magnify its efficacy, yet reject the appointments sealed by the blood. Just as many persons, in word, greatly exalt the Spirit, yet reject the teachings of the Spirit, refuse to obey the commands, and neglect the appointments given by the Spirit. They “say and do not.” They “draw nigh unto me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:8-9). All praise of the blood or of the Spirit, while obedience to the laws revealed by the Spirit and sealed by the blood is withheld is vain. It is mockery.
Now we believe in the necessity of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We believe no man can live the Christian life a day save as he follows the direction of the Spirit. Therefore we insist on doing just what the Spirit commanded us. We believe that “without the shedding of blood is no remission.” We believe that “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” Because we believe this, we insist on walking humbly, trustingly in every command and ordinance that has been sealed by his blood. We believe a man ought to believe in Christ on the testimonies given by God concerning him because the Spirit said believe, because the blood of Christ sealed the command, “believe.” We insist upon repentance because the Spirit said, “repent,” (Acts 17:30-31) and the blood of Christ sealed that command to repent. We teach baptism for the remission of sins because the Spirit said, “be baptized,” (Acts 2:38) and the blood sealed the command “be baptized.” The virtue of the blood is put forth through the commands which it seals. The blood seals the commands given by the Spirit and the Spirit and the blood agree in one.