Author: Ron Graham
What is the most precious physical thing of all? Out of every material thing that has been in this world throughout all the world's history, what has the greatest value?
Christians do not hesitate to answer this question. The most precious thing ever is blood —Christ’s blood. When Christians talk about "the precious blood of Christ" (1Peter 1:18) they are not being silly. Christianity would not exist if not for the blood that poured from Jesus's body when he was crucified.
At the beginning of every week since Christ died, Christians have gathered for a symbolic ceremony of remembrance. This is the Lord's Supper ("the communion") in which Christians meditate upon the poured-out blood of Christ.
Christians believe that Christ's body was killed, and his blood shed, as a perfect sacrifice for them. They believe in no other means by which their sins, which alienate them from God, can be forgiven and their guilt removed. They have "faith in his blood" (Romans 3:23-25a).
This wonderful belief may leave us a little puzzled however. Christ's blood was spent and it is gone; it is no more. Our sins were "washed away" and they are gone; they are no more. Is Christianity a religion of things disappeared? The answer, of course, is no.
Peter summarizes the heart of the gospel in this way:
"Jesus himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (1Peter 2:24-25).
You will notice that Christians are a people returned to the possession of Christ. We are the redeemed property of God (Ephesians 1:13-14). Christ paid his own blood as the price to remove our sin so that we could return into his possession. He did not purchase our sins. He purchased the forgiveness of our sins so that we could be restored to God's possession.
An old man was speaking in church at the communion table one Sunday. He said, "We remember that Jesus purchased our sins with his blood". He paused a moment and then he said, "I don't think I said quite what I meant to say. Jesus doesn't want our sins. He did not purchase our sins. He purchased us from our sins. Let's remember that."
Indeed, let us remember that. Christ's blood is spent. Our sins are washed away in his blood. But Christianity is not a religion of things disappeared. Rather, it is a religion of people redeemed. It is wonderful that Christ's blood was spent so that our sins might be blotted out (Acts 3:19). But what came out of that is also wonderful, namely a purchased possession for Christ —his church. Anyone who wishes may belong.
Now if you've been thinking about this, you will realize that, although Christ's blood is spent and is no longer in the world, the precious value of his blood remains in what he purchased. Some time ago a person I know received an inheritance. She spent it all on a house. When she purchased the house, all the money was gone. But its value was transferred to the house.
When Christ purchased us Christians with his blood, the value of "his precious blood" was transferred to us. His blood is spent, but he has gained us. We are worth what his blood was worth. If we are not, then Christ made a bad transaction.
Many professing Christians have a lot of trouble relating this to a neighbourhood church. They have to think of a glorious universal and heavenly church —as beautifully described in Hebrews 12:22-24. They can conceive of this grand, invisible, indivisible, invincible church as being worth the precious blood of Jesus. But they cannot conceive of a small and motley group of mere mortals worshipping in a humble chapel in some unremarkable suburb as representing such precious value. That is unfortunate.
Paul, as he was leaving the church in Ephesus, said to its elders, "Be shepherds of the church of God which he bought with his own blood" (Acts 20:28). If we ask what church that was, the answer is in the previous verse. It was the flock of which these elders had charge. They were elders of the church at Ephesus (verse 17). They were not shepherds of the "universal church". Yet they were to shepherd the church that Christ purchased with his blood —the neighbourhood church!
Of course the same is true of every true church in every locality. You can point to such a local church and say, "Behold the church purchased by the blood of Jesus!"
Sometimes people pay a lot of money and make a lot of sacrifice to get something that doesn't seem to be worth it. But they see potential in it, and are prepared to pay for that potential. It may be a rusty ancient car that they can restore, or a remote bush block where they think there is gold, or a run down restaurant they hope to make popular again. Is it so strange that Christ purchased us for our potential, knowing what he could make of us? It is not strange, but it is wonderful.
In these lessons our theme has been "Searching for the true church". I hope that this lesson has helped you to appreciate the value of what you will find if you make that search.