By Jeffrey Asher
Very few realize there exists a special relationship between the shed blood of Jesus Christ and baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus. That such a relationship exists was established by the apostle Paul in Romans chapter 6: “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not I How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”
Blood In God’s Redemption Plan
In God’s unfolding scheme or plan of redemption, blood has always had a special significance. In all dispensations, under all covenants, God has allowed blood to procure the expiation of sin, that is, release from the penalty due for sin. The Scripture says: “almost all things are by the law purged with blood: and without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). Blood has sin cleansing power because a sacrifice of blood is actually a sacrifice of life, and death is the penalty for sin; the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). Moses commanded, “Only be sure that you eat not the blood: for the blood is the life, and you may not eat the life with the flesh” (Deut. 12:23). Now, not just any blood can expiate sin. Even the blood of the bulls and goats offered in sacrifice to God lacked real sin cleansing ability, “for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). No, these animal sacrifices were types or representations of the atoning sacrifice Christ would make. Only his blood can take away sins (Heb. 10: 18). In Scripture Jesus is called “the lamb of God” (John 1:29), “our Passover” (1 Cor. 5:7,8), and “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth” (Rev. 13:8). Jesus is readily described by New Testament writers as our expiating sacrifice for sin.
Blood Must Be Applied
In order for the blood to “cleanse,” it was necessary that it be applied to the supplicant for whom the sacrifice was made. There are numerous Old Testament examples of this; however, let us consider only these three.
First, blood was applied to the house of Israel at the first Passover (Exod. 12:13). “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” Observe, that it was essential that the blood be upon the houses. Those houses which did not have blood applied to their lintels and door posts would not be protected from the plague of the death of the first born. God only passed over those houses where he saw the blood.
Second, blood was applied to the house of Israel when God made his covenant with them (Exod. 24:6-8). “And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, all that the Lord has said will we do and be obedient. And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you concerning all these words.” Here we see that before Israel could be God’s covenant people they had to be sanctified with the blood of the covenant. Their relationship to God was sealed with his blood.
Third, the priests of the Tabernacle worship were consecrated by the application of blood (Exod. 29:20). “Then you shall kill the ram, and take his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.” As before these individuals could not be set aside in the priesthood until they had the blood of the offering applied to them.
Water Baptism: When Jesus’ Blood Is Applied
These three illustrations should establish that there was always the application of the blood of the offering to those who offered the sacrifice. Even now the blood of Christ must be applied to sinners who seek the forgiveness of their sins today. “For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, . . . purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:13,14)
Unlike the examples we have given from the Old Testament the application of the blood of Jesus is not a literal application. However, the Scriptures teach that saints are washed in this blood. “[Jesus Christ] loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5). We must determine where and how the blood is applied to sinners in order to make them “clean.”
When we read the New Testament we find that just as the blood of the Passover was applied to the house of Israel, so the blood of our Passover, Christ, has been applied to God’s House, the church (1 Tim. 3:15). Paul told the Ephesian elders: “. . . shepherd the church of God which he purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Also, we read that just as Israel was sprinkled with the blood of Moses’ covenant before they were God’s people, so today, we are sprinkled with the blood of the New Covenant (Matt. 26:28). “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, . . . let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:19, 22). Finally, we noticed that priests were set aside for service by the blood. Today, Christians, God’s holy priesthood and kingdom of priests, are set aside by Jesus’ blood (1 Pet. 2:5; Rev. 1:5,6). “In as much as you know that you are not redeemed with corruptible things, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Somehow and somewhere the blood of Jesus is applied to sinners seeking salvation. I submit that the Scriptures teach the blood of Christ is applied to sinners in baptism, and that this is what the apostle Paul had in mind in Romans 6:3 when he said we are “baptized into [Christ’s] death.”
Baptism is designed to change our relationship to Christ. Baptism changes our relationship by bringing us into Christ. Before baptism we are aliens, outside of the realm of the blessings for the saved (Eph. 1:3), but after baptism we are in Christ where the blessings can be had. “For you are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26,27). Again, baptism changes our relationship by bringing us into the body of Christ from outside the body of Christ, which is the church (Col. 1:18). “For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13).
Baptism carries the believer to where remission of sins is found.
Baptism into Christ’s death enables us reach the blood of his cross (John 19:34). Baptism is God’s operation of washing us in the blood of the Lamb and cleansing us of our sins (Col. 2:12,13). “[You] were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses. . . . ” How much clearer can it be? God forgives men of their sins when they obey his command for baptism.
Let us examine one case of conversion and determine when and where God washed our sins in Jesus’ blood. In Acts chapter 9 we read of Saul’s conversion. On the road to Damascus the Lord Jesus appeared to him and said, “Go into the city and there it shall be told you what you must do. . . ” (Acts 9:6). There Saul fasted and prayed three days waiting to be told what to do. Finally, Ananias, a gospel preacher, came and asked him, “Saul, why are you waiting, get up and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Now, when was Saul washed in the blood of the lamb of God? When he got up and was baptized.
Friend, today you too can be saved from your sins. All you need do is come in faith, turning from your sins unto God, and be baptized. Christ will save you and God will add you to his church.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 15, pp. 460-461
August 6, 1987