Sometimes the Blood is not the Blood

Hyper Fundamentalist, Bob Jones accuses John MacArthur of “minimizing the blood.” So do some of his followers like E.L. Bynum (see the article at  By “minimizing the blood” Jones means MacArthur denies that it was the fluid itself which saved God’s elect.  Yes, I said fluid itself.  Bynum writes —

“MacArthur repeatedly says the blood is merely ‘symbolic’ of death.  This is the false position taken by Robert Bratcher, editor of the Today’s English Version. In that perverted translation the word ‘death’ is almost always substituted for the word ‘blood’ when the Scriptures are referring to Christ’s atonement.  This is a damnable heresy, because the atonement requires both the death and the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:22). The blood is not merely symbolic for death. It itself is a crucial part of our salvation.”

Notice what Bynum argues.   He says, “Atonement requires both the death and the blood . . . the blood is not merely symbolic for death.”

Not merely symbolic for death?  What exactly is Bynum saying?

It takes some time for Bynum to finally explain himself, but if you consult his article (link posted above) you will find his explanation near the end.  This is what Bob Jones and E.L Bynum tell us the Bible reveals about the blood of Christ:

  1. That it was incorruptible. It cannot have been anything else because of its intrinsic purity. I Peter 1:18,19: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…But with the precious blood of Christ..”
  1. That it was indestructible and is now eternally preserved in heaven. It cannot have been anything else because of its permanence.   Hebrews 12:24: “And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”
  1. That it was invaluable. It cannot have been anything else because of its parentage. It is the Blood of God incarnate. Leviticus 17:11: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood…” Acts 20:28: “…the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
  2. That it was indispensable. It cannot have been anything else because of its power. No sinner can be saved without washing in the Blood of the Lamb. Revelations 7:14: “..these are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Bynum argues that it was the blood itself, and not instead the Christ Jesus who shed the blood, that redeemed God’s elect.  Notice how he gives the blood the very attributes of Christ Himself in order to accomplish this.  Incorruptibility, intrinsic purity, indestructibility, eternal, invaluable and salvific.  We might ask, just how many Persons are in Jones’ Godhead?  It would seem there are four!  The Father, the Son, the Spirit and the Blood.

Consider what Deified blood coursing through Christ’s veins would mean for His human nature.  Long have Christians recognized what Scripture teaches us; that two distinct natures (divine and human) co-exist substantively and in reality in the single person of Jesus Christ, BUT WITHOUT MIXTURE.   This means He is both fully God and also fully a man.  Yet if His blood is divine, then how could He be fully a man?

In addition, not to be too indelicate here, but don’t we have blood cells dying every few months and new one being regenerated to replace them?   How was Christ’s blood to do this if it were incorruptible, indestructible and eternal?

What Jones and those like him have done is fall into the trap of hyper-literalism.  That is, every time they read the word “blood” in Scripture they take it to literally mean the fluid.

Leviticus 17:1 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul

Note, the life of the flesh is in the blood. If the blood is removed then what happens to the life of the flesh? It dies. In fact, it dies even before all the blood is removed. That’s the point.  Not only would a hyper literal view of this verse deny reason and common sense, but it would also deny the humanity of Christ’s human nature, as well as God’s justice.  Case in point, Genesis 2:16-17.

Genesis 2:16-17
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Notice, the text does not say in the day you eat of it you shall bleed.  If God demanded death at the outset for disobedience and then later changed His mind to say bloodshed is enough, then God’s demand for justice is mutable.  What He demands by way of satisfaction yesterday might not be what He demands tomorrow.

However, had the text read that it is the death which maketh an atonement for the soul, then a priest could dig up any old corpse and throw it on the altar. No, the point of bloodshed is that it is the death of a living being that makes atonement, because death is the punishment for disobeying the law. Blood symbolizes this.  The New Testament often uses the word blood this way. Consider, for instance Hebrews 12:22-24.

Hebrews 12:22-24
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,  and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

The author is using the word blood figuratively here. After all, blood does not speak.  But note who he says the blood speaks a better word than.  Abel.  Did Abel merely bleed or was he murdered? He was murdered, of course.

Recall what God said to Cain concerning this murder.

Genesis 4:10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.

Your brother’s blood. What was Cain’s crime? That he had made Abel bleed or that he had killed him?

1 John 3:12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

Cain’s crime was that he had murdered his brother, and now it was this same brother’s blood that was crying to the Lord from the ground.

We know this does not literally mean Abel’s blood was crying from the ground. We know this is a figure of speech instead.  We know it means God took note of the fact that Abel’s death was an unjust death.  Abel’s murder cried out for justice.

This is the point the author of Hebrews is trying to make; that the death of Jesus is a better testimony than the death of Abel, because the death of Jesus has satisfied justice.  Abel’s death demanded justice, but Jesus’ death had satisfied it.

Hebrews 9-10
15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, SINCE A DEATH HAS OCCURRED THAT REDEEMS THEM from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

16 For where a will is involved, THE DEATH OF THE ONE WHO MADE IT MUST BE ESTABLISHED.

17 For a will takes effect ONLY AT DEATH, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.


1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins?

3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.

4 For it is impossible for THE BLOOD of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
BUT A BODY have you prepared for me;

6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.

7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law),

9 then He added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” HE DOES AWAY WITH THE FIRST IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH THE SECOND.
(***exactly what the author just finished saying in chapter 9. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.)

There it is, plain as day. When Scripture speaks of the blood that redeemed, it means the death.


About David Bishop

Gospel of Grace Church
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s