Offering: Living & Giving for the Glory of God
Study of Leviticus
First Family Church
317 S.E. Magazine Rd.
Ankeny, IA 50021
Transcript of Message by Todd Stiles
March 13, 2011
So let’s take our Bibles and find Leviticus chapter 17. Leviticus chapter 17, it is quite an intense chapter as it unfolds for us more about the importance and value of blood in the Old Testament economy in which Israel lived. So this will be somewhat of a bloody message, ok, because, after all, it is a bloody faith, isn’t it? We cannot escape the fact that the blood of Jesus is just a core component of the gospel. We are going to see more about that as it was prophetically symbolized in Leviticus and even as it looked forward to the days of Jesus.
We will start Leviticus 17 and cover some ground today and end up in Hebrews as we talk about the blood of Jesus.
I was thinking about this whole idea of blood because it is not something we talk about a lot. There is a lot of references to it. We mention it, but we don’t sit down usually as a family and say, “Hey, kids, we are going to talk about the blood today.” It is just not something that normally happens. In fact, blood is usually a sign that things are serious, correct? You see blood, your first thought is usually something is wrong or something serious is going on.
In fact, in high school I wrestled and I got bloody noses a lot, I guess, from all the cross faces that I endured. Part of the solution from my coach was he said, “Todd, here, I want you to wear this mask.” And it was a hard plastic shell. Don’t think mask like in the wrassling arena, the fake junk stuff, you know? Ok, don’t think those kind of masks. This was more like just a protective covering and I remember the first day I put it on. I went to practice and then the first match. My teammates and even some of my family that would come and watch they were like, “Whoa, Todd. That is a serious thing you have got going it is real just white and plastic.” And I thought it made me look more intimidating, but it didn’t help a bit. It just kept my nose from bleeding, you know?
But you take serious measures when blood is involved. In fact, if you have a child and they play and you are with them and they cut themselves or you see blood, your first thought is something is wrong. What is going on? Let me figure out what is happening.
If you are dealing with an aging parent and they call you and say, “I have been spitting up blood,” you say, “Well, something is wrong. We have got to deal with this.”
Blood just says to us, “Hey, something serious is going on here.”
And Leviticus 17 says the very same thing. It says, “Hey, there is something serious going on here.” It is the blood. And we are going to see a lot about its value today and a good bit about its importance and how it plays in the overall economy of God.
Blood is mentioned 460 times in the Bible, so God does consider it a very important, valuable topic. Out of those 460 times, 362 of them are in the Old Testament. And out of those, 13 of them are found in Leviticus chapter 17.
Now that is not a lot compared to the whole Old Testament, however, consider this. Leviticus 17 only has 16 verses. So out of 16 verses you have 13 references in Jay’s world that looks just like this. Eighty-one percent of the chapter’s verses talk about blood. Jay is not here today, but I had to give that… oh, there he is. See, maybe I am a little more IT nerdy like you, who knows? I don’t know. But I thought I would throw that graph in for you. It is the same thing. It is just different charts. It makes me look smart. That is all it is, right?
No, seriously. In this chapter out of the 16 verses, though it is not one mention per verse, there is 13 references to blood. So it is a predominant theme.
What I would like to do is show you what this chapter teaches us about blood, first of all, to the audience to whom it was written. I want to be textually honest with you and just kind of show you the chapter in an overview fashion. And then I want to draw out from the text, one verse that kind of helps us understand the principle of blood, because, really, that is what is… that is what we are going to have to garner from this is the principle of blood. How does it apply to me in 2011? What is the deal here, Todd? And we will see how that just kind of… that thread runs through the Bible.
So as an overview, here is Leviticus 17 as it relates to the primary topic of blood. First of all in verses one through nine God says to the Israelites they are not to shed any blood in a sacrifice unless it is at the temple or the… excuse me, the tabernacle or the altar. There were no like mobile sacrificing units in the land of Israel, ok? And this is pre-temple days. This is pre Promised Land days.
So there is a reason in these first nine verses God says and requires the children of Israel, if you are out in the field or if you are kind of out on a family excursion one day, you can’t just stop in the field and pull out your friendly goat and slaughter it and make a sacrifice. It is not going to work. You have got to come to the tabernacle. You have got to shed the blood of the altar. Here is why. It prevented them from unnecessary temptations towards idolatry.
A lot of wilderness offerings were done in Egypt and especially involving goats. And so sometimes an Israelite might say, “Well, if I have not got to have this regulated at the temple or the tabernacle by the altar, I will just make some sacrifice out in the middle of nowhere,” and it could be done incorrectly, improperly. It could lead to idolatry. It could be something where it was done incorrectly. And God said, “Let’s just make sure that at this moment in time all blood that is shed for sacrifice is done at the tabernacle, at the altar. It is the place where it happens.
Now as you move forward in the history of Israel, you will find that as they enter the Promised Land they were given more freedom, because the land was more expansive. They were given different regions and God said in certain regions you can actually have your sacrifices in other places, too. But at this point in their history this was the regulation concerning blood that was sacrificed, only at one place, the tabernacle, at the altar.
Then in verses 10 through 12 he actually repeats an admonition he had given earlier and that is that there is not to be any eating of blood at all, period, ever. And then he continues in verses 13 and 14 talking about if you were to be out hunting and you were to kill something that you must then take that animal and then you must take its blood and you must bury it.
Now that is an odd habit or an odd requirement, isn’t it? Why would you have to bury blood? I think it may be one of the ways God kept unnecessary suspicion away. So let’s say that Doug is out hunting one day and he sees some dried blood on a stump or by a cactus bush. He knew that I was his neighbor and he knew just the other day I was out, you know, before him I was out hunting.
And he might say, “Oh, my goodness, Todd is offering an unregulated sacrifice. He is out here away from where the authority or leadership can see. He is committing idolatry.”
He might suspect that, but if he knows the blood is always buried, then even in hunting there is not unnecessary suspicion. There is not unnecessary thoughts that would bring disunity. I think that the text doesn’t say that, but it might be one of the reasons that God just said, “Hey, if you are out hunting, you kill an animal in this way, bury its blood.” It keeps the tribes and the family kind of close that way.
And then, lastly, he brings in this sense just about not eating animals that you find because their blood has not been drained properly, it has not been cleaned properly.
Now notice what he does not say in this text, verses 15 and 16. He doesn’t say you can’t eat the animal. He just says that if you choose to, here is the consequence, right? There is an unclean state that you will be in until the evening, after that point in which you will be ritually clean again.
So God is saying, “Listen. If you find an animal without any work in the hunting process, just don’t be too quick to go and grab it and say, ‘Hey, free meat.’”
You see, the blood has not been drained properly. That is called kosher meat. Most of us are aware of that. Kosher meat is simply meat that has had the proper draining of blood. And many Jews today still observe that and so they drain their meat. They clean it properly from the right… in the right way about the blood and then they can utilize it.
So these are four requirements the Israelites were given and they center around blood. But all of these are… they really hinge on verse 11. This is a verse you probably know. I is a verse that has been repeated in the New Testament and it is a verse that really stands out to us as giving us a principle about blood as opposed to specific parameters about it in the Old Testament.
Look at verse 11. We will focus on this one verses. It is really the centerpiece of this chapter. Here is what the Bible says.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood.”
Do you see that? The word “For” begins the verse saying, “Here is why I have all these parameters about blood. Here is these requirements, these boundaries. It is because of this. The life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar.” Notice the specific reference to the altar. That is where God gave it for them. He gave it for them on the altar. Very similar, of course, to verses one through nine. “I have given it for you on the altar to make an atonement for your souls.”
Blood signified, it symbolized atonement, forgiveness for their souls and he says in the last part of the verse, “For it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.”
This one singular verse really helps us understand more about the principle of bloody God’s economy. Listen very carefully. When God chose to use blood as the significant symbol and mechanism for atonement he was simply say this, that when one person or one animal or one entity dies and sheds its blood, another entity, another person lives. It is one life given for another. Does that make sense?
And that is best symbolized thought shedding of blood.
You say, “Todd, why couldn’t you just chop an arm off and say, ‘Well, I have given my arm for you. I have lost an arm. You get life.’”
Because losing an arm doesn’t symbolize or significantly indicate that you have life. It just means I have lost a limb. But when you shed your blood guess what you give? You give your life, because the Scripture says the life of the flesh is what? In the blood.
In fact, in the original Hebrew text the word “in” there for the flesh is in the blood, it is just kind of an insertion. It is a good translation, but most literally it would say, “The life of the flesh is the blood.” And central to your life is blood. You wouldn’t be sitting here breathing and thoroughly enjoying this if you didn’t have blood running through your veins.
Are you with me? That is your life flow. It is the blood.
Now watch this. This gives us some insight into why God chose blood. Have you ever asked yourself that question? Why did God choose blood? Like, why didn’t he use dirt? Why couldn’t we just gather up some dirt and offer it and say, “Do you know what? This is an atonement for your sins.”
Why couldn’t he get fruit?
And, after all, there were some grain offerings in Leviticus, weren’t there? They were called cereal offerings. We know there were some offerings that didn’t include blood. But did you know that there is no offering that was used for the cleansing of people that did not contain blood?
There were some thanksgiving offerings, but no offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the atonement, all of those, any offering that dealt with cleansing of our souls, guess what? It had to contain blood.
So why blood, God? It seems so intense. It seems so radical. It seems really hard. Why blood?
Well, there are several reasons. We are not given these explicitly, but implicitly I think there are several reasons, one of which I think is paramount. First of all, we know blood is personal, right? It comes from you. It is a personal shedding. It is a personal sacrifice. It is sacrificial. We know blood is valuable. But I think paramount to all of those is this simple concept. Blood is central. And we draw this again from the text.
What is the life of the flesh? Blood. It is central to life.
Now watch this, guys. Listen very carefully. Don’t be distracted.
When Jesus shed his blood, i.e, gave his what? Life. Guess what we got? Life. He gave his life and that gives us life. He cuts off an arm. He cuts off a big toe. He sheds a leg. He doesn’t give his life. But when he sheds his blood, when he pours out his life it is central to who? To the sacrifice. When his life ebbed out of him in the shedding of his blood, that was one life forsaken, many lives forgiven, Romans chapter five.
His life shed, my life saved. His life sacrificed, my life spared.
You see, blood really tells us something, that it is the central issue of life. And when Jesus shed his blood, God was saying to us, “Listen. The central issue is life. I am giving my life.”
And then, watch this. “I am giving you my life.”
All that is seen in the principle and concept of what? Blood is incredibly important to Christian doctrine and biblical theology. It clearly shows us the giving of Christ’s life and then the receiving of Christ’s life on our end.
In fact, just to kind of reinforce this, can you read this verse with me? This is a great verse that speaks to the principle of blood in the Old Testament, how it is the mechanism for atonement. It is central to life, the one sacrificed as well as the one spared. Let’s read this together. Here we go. Ready?
“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 makes an atonement by the life.”
Now the writer of Leviticus, Moses, was the only one to highlight blood and its usage. Peter also did as well as the writer of Hebrews and several other New Testament writers. But can I show you a couple of instances in which this value of blood is seen?
Look at 1 Peter. Look how Peter talks about the blood of Jesus. 1 Peter chapter one. Look at this simple verse. It is verses 18 and 19 of 1 Peter one. I love the way Peter talks about the blood of Christ here. And I love the adjective he uses. It is verse 18. He clearly says in verse 18 that we were not ransomed or purchased from the old ways that come from our forefathers. We weren’t purchased from that with perishable things, as silver or gold. You were not bought back from a market of sin with a commodity like money. Amen? We didn’t walk up to God and try to appease his wrath with a new car. None of the human commodities would work to satisfy an infinitely holy God. We don’t have the ability or capacity to do so. And if we are left to pay for our sin, this is why hell is an eternal punishment. If we are left to pay for our sin to an infinitely holy God and we are simply finite, unholy men, guess what? We have got to pay forever. We will never pay it up.
So we were never ransomed with perishable, corruptible things, finite issues.
Look at verse 19.
“But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
And when Chris offered his holy, perfect blood, it satisfied holy God. Isn’t that great to know?
Peter calls that blood precious.
Now we don’t know, textually, why Peter called the blood of Christ precious, but in my spiritual imagination I have got a hint. I have got a sneaky suspicion that it may go back to his own days when in the heat of the battle he ran. Do you recall those days? As he watched the Savior being beaten and all of his blood being poured out and every whip and strike, every stroke, the hair that was pulled and then they impaled him on a cross and they nailed his wrists and his feet. He is watching this and he sees the blood of Jesus. And then somewhere in all that, the Lord looks at him with a gaze and you wonder if all of that didn’t go into the writing of this one word that Peter says, “Oh, I remember. It wasn’t anything that bought me from sin, but the precious blood of Christ.”
The writer of Hebrews gives further insight into this idea of blood. Look at Hebrews chapters nine and 10 for a moment. Just turn back to the left a few pages. Here we have in Hebrews nine and 10 a couple of chapters that really talk about blood in a quite intriguing fashion. In fact, I would encourage all the fathers and dads here. This would make some great Scriptures for family worship this week around your table, before your kids go to bed or just as you talk with them. Man, there is some good theology and doctrine here and I would encourage you to read these verses and these chapters.
Let me focus in on just a couple of them that talk about some things in regards to the blood of Chris and how precious it is.
Look at Hebrews nine verse 11. Here he is speaking of Christ as the high priest. And he says that he came in through not the physical tabernacle tent, but, no, he entered into God’s presence. In verse 12 he says he entered once and for all into the holy place and not by means of the blood of goats and calves.
In other words, Jesus Christ didn’t enter God’s presence and say, “Hey. Hey, Father. I have got the typical Day of Atonement goat’s blood. I have got the bull’s blood. Where do you want me to sprinkle this?”
No. It says here that he went in with the blood of Christ, his own blood. Again, nothing of a physical human commodity, but an eternal commodity, an eternal item, his own blood, a holy item. And guess what this item did for us, this blood did for us. I love this next verse. He secured an eternal redemption. And of anyone here who may be struggling with knowing if you are saved forever, you are wondering, like, well, does this thing last forever? The Scripture clearly teaches that the blood of Christ secures your redemption eternally.
I have said this to you before doctrinally. I will say it again. You did nothing to save yourself except respond to the revealed grace of God and you won’t do anything to unloose the chains of grace the Lord has wrapped around your heart. Amen?
God’s redemption is eternal. It is secure. Hallelujah. Why is that possible? Because it is the blood of Christ. Verse 13 goes on to explain that the blood of goats and bulls only worked for the outside. It was an external type of atonement. It kind of handled things that you committed, sins that you did. It only kind of cleansed you in the sense that it covered over them. It kept God’s wrath away from you. But it couldn’t really change the inside of you.
But look what the blood of Christ does, verse 14.
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, this will purify our conscience.
Do you see the word “conscience? Circle it. Look at the word “flesh.” Circle it. There is a contrast there, isn’t there? The old way, the old covenant. Yes, it worked to cover our sins from God’s wrath, but only in an external way. The blood of Christ reaches deep down. It changes our souls. Why? Because it is the precious blood of Christ. It purifies us internally from dead works to serve the living God.
There is nothing more powerful than the blood of Christ.
Listen very carefully, church. This is the core reason we cannot tame the gospel. Listen very carefully. Because there are churches all across Ankeny, the metro area and across this globe who want to—watch this phrase—water down the gospel. They don’t want the thick red blood of Jesus. Do you know what they want? They want to make it pink. They want to pour some water on it. They want to kind of make sure it is more diluted.
Hey, let’s make it as transparent as possible. Let’s make it to where when someone looks at the cross it might not even seem like blood. Away with that gospel. It is too tame. It is too nice. It doesn’t work. The true gospel is thick with the blood of Jesus. And it is deep red. And it is stained an old rugged cross.
Are you with me, church?
And we cannot be part and parcel to any type of taming of the gospel. And just to add a moment of transparency here, maybe a moment of more transparency. I am usually pretty open with you. I have friends who ask me consistently, “Todd, could you tame it a little bit?” They do. “Could you just kind of back off of the gore of the crucifixion? Could you just maybe just reference Golgotha or Calvary and not go into detail?”
Well, when I read the four gospels there is some pretty good detail and I didn’t invent the message, I just deliver it. As long as their breath in these lungs and people in those chairs, we will not tame the gospel. In fact, it needs to run like a big thick river right into your life. And you need to see all of its graphic detail, the beautiful, terrible, bloody cross. You do. It is quite healthy for your spiritually.
That is what communion is about each time we observe it. It is why I encourage you month after month to live a cross centered life. There is no power apart from the gospel and its core message of the cross. And the cross, if it is anything, is bloody. The Via Della Rosa wasn’t… was an excruciating journey for our Savior. He was disfigured. He was marred and was beaten. Hair was ripped from his face and his head. Crowns were just forced into his skull. Ridicule and mockery and for hours this went on until finally they nailed his hands to this tree and they dropped it in this hole and his whole body jarred and for three hours God’s wrath was appeased as darkness settled over the earth and he paid the price of your sin and he hung there alone and exposed and naked while God judged your sin in his perfect Son.
And as his blood dripped away and his life ebbed away, you were gaining full forgiveness. I have no desire to tame that.
And, sure enough, in three hours an earthquake occurred, God spoke and said, “I am satisfied.”
And Jesus shouted from the cross, “It is finished.”
That old tabernacle that had that curtained area, that curtain just went rip right down the middle. And guess what? That blood that he shed is what gives you access into the very presence of God. And we want to tame the gospel? We want to pink the blood of Christ? We want to water down the deep, thick, red forgiving blood of our Savior? Away with that thinking. Instead, let’s cling to the old rugged cross. Amen? And without any shame or apology let us preach it and live it that only through the blood of Jesus have I found forgiveness of my sins.
If you are looking for a church with a tamer approach I am glad you are here. This isn’t it. Amen? We wan tot hit it strong and dead on.
Now we will always be kind. We will always be polite, correct? But, like I said for years, I believe in a big smile and a strong spine. And when it comes to the gospel, we need a strong spine people and a culture that loves diversity and plurality. This is not time of wavering. This is the high time to cling to the cross and its entire bloody mess, because that is where forgiveness flows. Hallelujah.
Now if that is not enough to encourage you, let me tell you what else the blood of Jesus does for us. I will just itemize this for you briefly. Honestly, I can do things briefly. Look at this.
It purchased us, Acts 20:28. Jesus says that he bought the Church with his own blood. The emphasis there in the Greek is on the idea of a personal pronoun. He bought it with his own blood. No one else bought the Church. No one else shed their blood. They martyr’s died, but it didn’t buy the Church. Guess who bought the Church singularly? Jesus Christ.
So guess who is the heads of the Church? Jesus Christ. I am not the head of this church. I am just one of many pastors slash elders. We under shepherd under the true shepherd, the chief shepherd. And one of the best marks of a church is when pastors get out of the way and let Jesus be the lead pastor, the senior pastor. And when people would be looking to men to be their real shepherd and say, “Jesus is the one who bought me.”
We want to help and shepherd. We love for you to be good kind of sheep, but let’s clear this up. There is one authority in this church, Jesus Christ. Why? He bought it. I have not shed any blood for you and I am not sure I intend to. No, I don’t know.
But Jesus bought it all, amen? His blood justifies us. His blood redeems us. His blood washes us. His blood sanctifies us. These are all Scriptures. His blood brings us near. That river that flows from Calvary to God’s presence, man, just consider yourself wading in it and when the current gets strong let it take you right to the presence of God. It cleanses us. Oh, the blood of Jesus, man, there is nothing like it.
And why does God choose blood? I think it is because blood is central. It is central to life. And when Jesus gave his life he was giving us life.
In these two chapters about blood in Hebrews which are just wonderful commentary on Leviticus, by the way, he ends them with some interesting to dos. In fact, would you look at the last part of chapter 10? Just kind of skip over there. It is about verses 19 through about 25. I just want to show you these briefly as we close because you may be saying, “Well, Todd, we would love to see what the blood does for us. We would love to see its value in God’s economy of the Old Testament. We see its value in today’s society. We know it is central to God’s redemptive plan from start to finish, but as I leave here today, I mean, what do I do with this idea of the blood? How do I take this with me in a hand’s on, you know, to do kind of way?
Well, the writer of Hebrews is already ahead of us. He answered that question for us and just briefly look at these four things he says that the blood of Christ can move us towards.
He says in verse 22 of chapter 10 it helps us draw near. How and why can we draw near to God? Through the blood of Jesus. It cleared the way. It paved the path. It opened the gate. The blood of Jesus did all of this.
And I think the real… the gist here is that of intimacy. And I want to say this respectfully and rightfully. Listen very carefully. There is a place to be afraid of God and in awe of him, but this text indicates that it… that we shouldn’t be afraid of God unnecessarily or we shouldn’t be afraid of God in a punitive fashion, amen? Because if you are a believer, the blood of Christ has taken all of your punishment, amen? So guess what? God is not in his throne waiting for you to approach him because he is going to act towards you punitively, not at all. God has taken all of his judgment out on Jesus and he waits for you to approach his throne in boldness Hebrews four says, asking for mercy and grace to help in time of need.
So I say this respectfully, but hey. What are you afraid of? God satisfied. Go to it. That is how powerful the blood of Jesus is. Amen?
We are also told to hold tight. This speaks of dependency. We are to cling to the blood of Jesus. It is the core of our confession, of our hope. We are to cling to it without wavering. I think in this culture there was a tendency for Jewish believers to say, well you know what? This bloody cross, this Jesus is bringing persecution. I think I will just kind of take a detour for a while. And here the writer says, “Listen. Don’t take a detour from the blood. Don’t take a detour from the cross. Hold fast to it. Be dependent upon it. It is the core element of the gospel of our confession.”
And then he says this same blood should stir us up. Do you see that in verse 24? It should stir us up to love unto good works.
Of the four things that the blood of Christ enables us to do, I think this is probably the most practical. And you have heard it like this. And I want you to hear this correctly because we are not leveraging you or manipulating you, but this is how often our weak spiritual natures hear it.
Say I approach Dusty Buyer and we are talking. I am like, “Dusty, man,” and I am asking him to help me with something or maybe get involved with something in the church or maybe just some things in his home to be a sacrificial leader or whatever. I am just kind of talking with him and he says, “I don’t know if I could do that, Todd.”
And I say to him, “Dusty, after all that Jesus did for you, with all of his sacrifice, how could you…?” And then I will ask. I will say, “ How could you not…?” And I kind of talk about that.
Now sometimes we hear that and we are like, “Hey ,back off, buddy. You know, I am not Jesus.”
We have these ways of getting around the truth that really we are being convicted. We are being, watch this, stirred up to love and good works by the blood of Christ. We see all that he gave and we realize, wow. They are not asking too much.
Let me really drive this home. Don’t walk out on me. Deal? We think 10 percent is a lot.
You want me to give 10 percent of my income?
Yeah, he gave 100 percent of his blood.
Now if you can say, “Well, that is just leveraging and using guilt…”
No. I am just saying I am trying to stir you up to love and good works.
Thanks for not walking out. Nice job. I appreciate that.
And you can take that to anything like baptism.
Well, I might be embarrassed if I have to get up there and actually advertise my faith in public.
Ok, no problem. We will just let you just hang on the cross naked and bloody while you make your decision.
Are you with me, guys? I just think this point calls us to obedience. And what I love about this is this is more motivating than any speech or message or person. In fact, people don’t make people change. I believe the blood of Christ makes people change. And the sooner I can get out of your way and let you look at the cross and gaze upon Jesus in an extended fashion, really, that is the way to bring change. That is how you want me to change. I want you to change. That is the best way. We let the blood of Christ motivate us to sacrificial actions just like he has. It is called love and good works.
Just like we don’t want to tame the gospel, I don’t think we want to tame Christians either. Let’s let the blood of Christ motivate them deep down and live radically and give radically for God.
And then lastly it says that this same blood encourages not to neglect meeting together.
By the way, this number four here in verse 25 is where the third one in verses 24 happened. When they would meet together, that is where they would stir each other up. Meeting together was dangerous in this culture. It meant you identified with the family. It means you were part of the group. And so when you came and showed up you didn’t waste your time. You got together. You were face to face, eyeball to eyeball and you were like, “Hey, man, how was your week? How was your past few days? Are you getting persecuted? Hang in there. Don’t quit. Hold tight. Live for God. It is true. Jesus was real. He arose. This isn’t the end.”
You could hear all of this encouraging happen as they met together. All these things here, do you see them drawing near, holding tight, stirring up, staying together? They conclude these two chapters about blood. Guess what? None of those are possible without the blood of Christ. You cannot humanly manufacture that type of action. There is not enough human effort to produce that type of commitment, but oh, the blood of Christ can. Amen? And that is why central to the Church’s message and watch this, central to the Church’s motivation is the blood of Jesus Christ. He gave it all. He shed his life.
Now as we live his life through our life, watch this. Let’s give it all. That is the only way back home, the blood of Jesus. It is the only way. There is no other way. In fact, John 10:10 says, “I am come that you might have life, that you have it more abundantly.”
He gave his life so that we could have life and that is the only way back to God.
As I think about the blood and the exclusivity, its centrality, I was made aware of something quite similar in the aeronautic world. We call it Apollo 13. Do you recall the mission of 1970? Some of you might not. I was only about six years old, but I recall hearing things about it because it was the 13th lunar mission, but only the third mission that was to land on the moon. And some 50 something hours into the mission they aborted their plans to land on the moon because they had an explosion in one of the tanks and the result was no oxygen, no heat and no water. They were on a limited time frame and they said, “If you are going to get back to earth, we have got to figure out what to do.
And for a number of hours they thought and thought, researched and researched and the phrase, “Houston, we have a problem,” became the code word. And for a number of hours they were sure those astronauts, remember them, right? Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon? They were sure… they were sure those astronauts were history. They are going to be lost in space.
But reports tell us that a single researcher was able to discover that one possibility, there is one way to get these guys back home. They had to crawl into the lunar module which was a space craft really designed for two people of two days and they said, “We will need you to make it work for three people for four days. Crawl into that. Conserve all of your battery power.”
They had enough battery power to last about 10 hours. But they were way far from earth.
And so they began to put this plan to action. It involved difficult maneuvers, lots of sacrifice, but it was the only way back home. And, of course, as the story unfolds, they did pile into this lunar module. They endured cold and they had great fatigue. The entered the atmosphere. They used the earth’s rotation to establish trajectory and save even more power. And in the end they splashed down and boarded the Iwo Jima and those lives were saved because of one way home.
I wonder if in that space craft when they said, “Houston, we have a problem,” and hours later they came back and said, “Hey, guys, we have got one way home. Are you in? Are you up for this?” What if they said, “Oh, you know what? Can we talk about that? Let’s get back to you.”
I doubt it. Do you know what they said? Let’s hear it. Let’s hear it.
Can I say to you in a culture that sometimes acts like they don’t want to hear the message, the truth is there is only one way back to God? It is the blood of Jesus. And I say to you, let’s make sure that we are holding fast, clinging to it and speaking truthfully and unapologetically about the only way back to God. It is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We can say it kindly, but we need to say it clearly and unapologetically. This is not a time for wavering, amen? Our culture, the people you work with, our neighbors, there is not a lot of clarity about the gospel.
I was speaking to one guy before the first service. He has been here about a month or two. He said, “Todd, we were struggling with locating a church that had clarity about the gospel.” He said, “We have been refreshed at First Family.” He said, “Thanks for letting the river of Jesus’ blood flow clearly.”
There is just one way back to God, Jesus and his shed blood.
What do you say we stand in that river and let it take us right to God, Amen? Let’s pray, First Family.
Lord Jesus, we are going to take some time to respond to you now and we can only approach the cross and your sacrifice with this attitude. Dear Lord, just as you were broken, so we will take the same posture. We expect nothing more than to be able to sacrifice for you. Lord, teach us what it means to be motivated by the blood of Christ. And, Lord, this way back home, sure, it may require some difficult maneuvers like repentance, confession. But, Lord Jesus, it is the only way back home.
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