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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Examining a Popular and Beloved Hymn - Saved By the Blood

The intent of this post is not to condemn the hymn "Saved By The Blood," but rather to simply examine it in light of scripture. It's not a horrible song, but it does perpetuate a biblical error. It feeds the lie that we have life by the sacrifice of Christ. It feeds the "saved/lost" interpretation of scripture which we have covered before.

To be sure, the work of Christ on the cross is fully sufficient to pay for all of our sins (past, present, and future), and it has. We dare not offer the works of our own hands as payment. However, we must find resurrection life by grace through faith in that sacrifice. That is, we must believe that without the Lord's resurrection, the forgiveness of sins (on its own) would not give us life.

Ironically, I took the words below from the site "Timeless Truths."

  1. Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
    Now ransomed from sin and a new work begun,
    Sing praise to the Father and praise to the Son,
    Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
    • Refrain:
      Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
      My sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone!
      Glory, I’m saved! Glory, I’m saved!
      I’m saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
  2. Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
    The angels rejoicing because it is done;
    A child of the Father, joint-heir with the Son,
    Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
  3. Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
    The Father He spake, and His will it was done;
    Great price of my pardon, His own precious Son;
    Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
  4. Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
    All hail to the Father, all hail to the Son,
    All hail to the Spirit, the great Three in One!
    Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!

First, let me take a line which is not in error. We can find some good truth in this hymn along with the error.
My sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone!
This is true, because it is true of all men. It is certainly a glorious truth and it is built on the fact that the Lord shed his blood for the sins of the whole world. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We again look to 2 Cor 5. There we are given our charge, our ministry. We have a ministry of reconciliation as we call men to be reconciled to God, for he has already been reconciled to them in Christ. Their sins are already forgiven.

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. -vs 18-19

So, yes, my sins are all pardoned, my guilt is all gone! But is that truth the same as having life? No. To have life, men must believe. They must believe in the sacrifice and the resurrection. This is what we call men to do. We call them to be reconciled  to God.

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. -vs 20-21

We call men to be reconciled to God by believing on the Son of God and by believing they will have life (John 3:16; 3:36; 5:24; 8:12; 20:31; etc.). When men believe on the Son and profess faith (his death, burial, and resurrection), they are "saved" [they have life] by his resurrection.

But for us also, to whom [righteousness] shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. -Rom 4:24-25

The Lord was delivered to the cross and to his death because of our sins, but it is in his resurrection that we find our hope of resurrection life. "He who has the Son has life, he who has not the Son has not life" (John 5). Men have life through faith. We confess faith in his sacrifice and in his resurrection.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. -Rom 10:9-11

We might be tempted to slough off these differences as semantic, but they are central to rightly dividing the Word of Truth and central to correctly applying the stewardship of the reconciliation which have been called to minister. Our message to the world is that God has already been reconciled to you through the Son's sacrifice, you must now be reconciled to him.

This truth cannot be understood if we persist in the "saved/lost" or "heaven/hell" error. All those in Adam will die. One must be found in Christ to be made alive again (resurrection). One is mortal unless he is clothed in immortality in resurrection. (1 Cor 15).

We covered those two erroneous dichotomies (drawn from mythology and false teachings), but in short: the problem men have is death which is the result of being born in sin and our own sinful acts and thoughts. Those who have life through Christ have life made possible because of his sacrifice, but it is secured through resurrection (his and ours). 

So, when we separate the "saved" from the "lost" it is not "those going to heaven by the blood" against "those who will be tortured." The blood of Christ paid for ALL sin, but one cannot enter blessing apart from faith. This has always been true in scripture. And the blessing to which will enter depends on the hope that is before him. Israel has no hope of "heaven." Their hope is the millennial kingdom and the New Jerusalem which comes down from heaven. Those in the Body for which Christ is the Head have a hope in the "far above the heavens where Christ dwells" (Eph).  

The blood of the crucified one is necessary for resurrection to be possible, but if you believe it does not pay for the sin of the whole world, you have accepted the lie of limited atonement and you have called John (and the Holy Spirit) a liar.

It is a beautiful hymn, but nothing is above scriptural scrutiny. It is one of the most popular hymns and still appears in hymnals across the English-speaking world. But neither popularity, solemnity, nor antiquity make something true. 

Lots of truth in this hymn (lots of wonderful praise), unfortunately, it is overshadowed by a doctrine which falls short and perpetuates an error.
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world [Gk: k√≥smos]. -John 1:29
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. -1 John 2:2
But men must believe and be reconciled to God to have life, but their sins are not imputed to them.
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life... -John 3:36a


Addendum in regard to Justification:

A favorite passage among Christians is found in Romans chapter 5:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. -Rom 5:8-10

 Verse 10 is a summation. We were enemies of God when Christ shed his blood on our behalf. It was while were still enemies that were reconciled to God. But that did not save us. It is through his resurrection that we are saved. No one is saved because of the Lord's ministry to Israel as he walked the earth. The "life" in verse 10 is resurrection life.

We see that clearly in the passage we quoted from Romans 4. He was raised for our justification.

We must be careful with the word "justification." It is to be understood according to its context. The Lord Jesus Christ is said have been "justified in the Spirit" in 1 Timothy. This refers back to the testimony of the Father who declared him his "beloved Son" in whom he was "well pleased" as the Holy Spirit descended at his baptism by John.

Paul speaks of justification by faith as James speaks of justification by works. The context in each is a declaration and recognition by God. Abraham believed and his faith was reckoned as righteousness by God (Rom 4:3; Gal 3:6). James draws from the same truth in Genesis in his argument for "justification by works." He also points us to Rahab hiding the spies in Jericho. Since Paul makes it clear in Romans 11 that the free gift of grace and our works are mutually exclusive, we must conclude that "justification" is not the same as the free gift. It is that by which God is able to declare something.

When we apply this to the passage in Romans 5, it becomes more clear.  We are DECLARED reconciled to God "by His Blood," but we are DELIVERED from the penalty of sin (death) "by His life (resurrection)."

In Romans 11, Paul also refers to the "remnant according to the election of grace." This, according to the context, is in regard to Israel in God's plan. They are an elect people, but the individual Jew can only be declared a member of the "elect" by faith, no matter his works. James wrote his epistle to "the twelve tribed scattered abroad," that is, to Jews.

When we put all of these truths together in their place, we can start to understand the Plan of God in the Acts (with application beyond). Israel was chosen by God as a nation. The individual Jew, however, could only be declared righteous by believing God (regardless of works). The evidence of that declaration, then, is found in the resulting works. Rahab is given to us to show there is also an application to the Gentile.

  • Abraham was chosen by God through no action of his own.
  • Abraham chose to believe God and in that alone he was declared righteous.
  • Abraham demonstrated that declaration in full in the sacrifice of Isaac.

Surely we would not argue that the decades of Abraham walking with God before that day on Mount Moriah with Isaac found him wtill under the wrath of God and without hope! No. He was decalred righteous the moment he believed, remained so even through his failings and sin and unbelief in the years that followed. That saving faith then reached full maturity in his obedience on Mount Moriah.

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? [mature] And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. -James 2
It is folly to believe that Abraham did not have life or did not have a relationship with God for decades before his day with Isaac. When it comes to grace, works are excluded. All things in context.