John Macarthur and the Blood of Christ by E L Bynum
The following article is being reprinted from the Plains Baptist Challenger of August, 1986. After all these years, this information about John MacArthur’s teaching, is still needed today. His teaching on the blood of Christ is dangerous, and people are still being led astray by it. There will be a follow up article on this same subject, and if there is enough demand, we shall consider putting this information in a tract or booklet. –E. L. Bynum
Macarthur Minimizes the Blood
The April 1986 edition of Faith For The Family quotes him as saying in a 1976 article entitled, “Not His Bleeding But His Dying” “It was His death that was efficacious. . not His blood. . . Christ did not bleed to death. The shedding of blood had nothing to do with bleeding. . . it simply means death. . . Nothing in His human blood saves…It is not His blood that I love. . . it is Him. It is not His bleeding that saved me, but His dying.” It is incredible to me, that a Christian minister would make such statements.
He Does Not Like Rev. 1:5 In The KJV
In “Not His Bleeding But His Dying,” MacArthur had this to say: “I may add a note on Revelation 1:5, a passage which is confusing in the King James Version. The word ‘washed’ is not correct. The Greek work is ‘delivered.’ ” With that statement, I would like to take issue. “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5). What could possibly be confusing about that? He says that ”washed” is incorrect and that it should be “delivered.” Like most “great” scholars today, MacArthur suffers from the Westcott and Hort syndrome. “Washed” is in the Textus Receptus, and is so rendered by George Ricker Berry in his Interlinear Greek-English New Testament. In his invaluable footnotes, Berry reveals those responsible for trying to change the reading of this verse. The word was changed by Lachmann, 1842- 1850, Tischendorf, Eighth Edition, 1865- 1872, and Tregelles, 1857- 1872. These are three of the men that laid the groundwork for Westcott and Hort, so that they could make the alarming changes in their Revised Version. The American Standard Version, 1901, of course went along with the change, but they did put in a significant footnote. While rendering the word as “loosed,” their footnote says, “Many authorities, some ancient, read washed.”
I do not agree with the change as found in the ASV, when it reads “Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood.” Nor do I agree with the NIV as it reads, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.” However, whether it is rendered “washed,” “loosed,” “freed,” or “delivered,” it is still “by” or “in” His blood that this is done. While the ASV, the NASV, and the NIV definitely weaken the verse, neither one of them will really let MacArthur off the hook. Whether washed from our sins, or delivered from our sins, it is still only by the blood.
MacArthur Sounds Like Bratcher On The Blood
In his commentary on Hebrews, pages 236 to 237, I find further alarming statements as he deals with Hebrews 9:16-22. While he does say some good things, he clearly is talking in circles. When he says that “blood is a symbol of death,” he sounds very much like the apostate Dr. Robert G. Bratcher, who translated the “Good News For Modern Man.” This is what Bratcher believed, so he felt free to change “blood” to “death” in Eph. 1:7, Heb. 10:19, and Rev. 1:5. He changed “blood” to “sacrifice” in I Pet. 1:19. He also managed to leave out blood, or substitute another word in Matt. 27:4,24,25; Acts 5:28; 17:26, 20:28; Rom. 3:25, 5:9 Col. 1:20; Eph. 2:13, and Rev. 5:9. Of course Bratcher’s “Good News Bible” is one of the most corrupt translations of the 20th Century. It would appear that in regard to the blood at least, that MacArthur and Bratcher are on the same wave length.
Why Pit His Blood Against His Death?
MacArthur states that, “It was not Jesus’ physical blood that saves us, but His dying on our behalf, which is symbolized by the shedding of His physical blood. If we could be saved by blood without death, the animals would have been bled, not killed, and it would have been the same with Jesus.” I have never heard of anyone teaching that Jesus only needed to bleed a little to save us, and not to die. Numerous passages of Scripture tell us that Christ died for our sins. This is found in I Cor. 15:3, as well as many other places. If anyone denied this, I would object very strenuously to their denial, but my question is, why does it have to be His “death” or His ”blood”? It is both His “death” and His “blood” that are important according to the Bible.
How can MacArthur truthfully make the following statement? “Again, however, we need to keep in mind that the blood was a symbol. If Christ’s own physical blood, in itself, does not cleanse from sin, how much less did the physical blood of animals. ” (Emphasis ours.) Many passages of Scripture reveal that he is dead wrong in his approach.
What Does The Scriptures Say?
The elders were admonished “to feed the church of God, which he bath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Redemption and remission of sins cannot be apart from “faith in his blood” (Rom. 3:24,25). We are “justified by his blood” (Rom. 5:9). “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. . . ” (Eph. 1:7). We “are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). “We have redemption through his blood” (Col. 1: 14), and he “made peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20).
In Hebrews we are told that “by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9: 12). We are told, “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). We have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19). Jesus suffered with out the camp, “that he might sanctify the people with his own blood” (Heb. 13:12).
John tells us clearly that ”the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7) ”Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5). They will sing of Christ, ”thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood” (Rev. 5:9).
Even though MacArthur believes that he has dispensed with Rev. 1:5, as we previously discussed, he still must face Rev. 7:14. I think he shall find little comfort there. “These are they which came out of great tribulation. and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Even the revised texts, and their new version offspring, such as NIV, and the ASV, give MacArthur not one whit of aid and comfort. If the blood itself has no significance, then why do we have all of these Scriptures?
What Christ Said About The Blood
MacArthur’s belief cannot be reconciled with the words of my Saviour, when He said, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). “This cup is the new testament in my blood which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). These words were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ as He instituted the Lord’s Supper for His Church. In all honesty, it would seem to me, that MacArthur should eliminate the drink, “the fruit of the vine,” from the Lord’s Supper. He only needs the unleavened bread. Of course if he were to do so, he would be in direct disobedience to the Word of God.
The children of Israel were told to slay the Passover lamb. They were to take the blood of the lamb, and strike it upon the door posts of their houses. “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you…” (Ex. 12: 13). God did not tell them to hang the body of the lamb on the door post.
MacArthur’s doctrine is in conflict with Lev. 17:11, “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.”
It is perfectly clear that MacArthur minimizes the blood of Christ. To me, this is a terrible thing for anyone to do. While he may not go as far as R. B. Thieme, Jr., he certainly is headed in the same direction. Bible believers need to mark such men, and avoid them, according to the Scriptures. The teaching of MacArthur, on this subject, is very dangerous, and he should be exposed.
The clear and direct statements of the above Scriptures prove that John MacArthur is wrong in his teaching about the blood of Christ. He has departed from the general Biblical teaching on this subject. No matter how popular he may be, we must believe the Bible and not MacArthur.
He Is In Conflict With Writers Of The Past
I have examined a number of the writings of other men on Heb. 9:22, and I find that they are not in agreement with John MacArthur. Of this verse, John Gill says, “And without shedding of blood is no remission; that is, of sin; there was no typical remission without it; and there can be no real remission but by the blood of Christ, no instance can be given of pardon without it; if it could be otherwise, the blood of Christ had not been shed…” (Gill’s Commentary, Vol. 6, page 734, Baker Book House).
Matthew Poole says, ” . . . without the death of some living creature as a sacrifice, and the blood of it not only shed, but sprinkled, there could be neither legal pardon of guilt, nor purging of ceremonial filth. By this God signified to Israel, that without the blood of Christ his Son, and the Testator of his testament, shed as a sacrifice, to purchase and procure both remission and the Spirit, there could be neither pardon of the guilt of sin, and removal of the punishment, nor purging the filth, or renewing the nature of the sinner, his blood being the inestimable price purchasing both for them.” (A Commentary on the Holy Bible, by Matthew Poole, Vol. 3, page 851, MacDonald Publishing Company).
E. Schuyler English says of Heb. 9:22, “And now we come to a dogmatic and absolute statement: ‘and without shedding of blood is not remission.’ All men stand upon one level in respect to the sin question and as to the remission of sins. It cannot be apart from the blood that is shed. This is God’s way. This is precious truth. Not one sin can ever be remitted apart from the blood. All generations must look to the blood-the blood of Christ.” He further writes, “Sin is a serious matter. It’s only antidote is the blood of Christ. . . No, dear friend, we ourselves have no merit, nothing in which we can boast, no hope in the world or in eternity, saving in the precious blood of Christ that was shed for us and pledges to bring us into an eternal inheritance that is incorruptible and cannot fade. ‘Without shedding of blood is no remission.’ ” (Studies In The Epistle To The Hebrews, by E. Schuyler English, pages 270-271, 1955, Southern Bible Book House). While English may be placed in the new evangelical camp, his teaching on the above verse is Biblical.
What Spurgeon Said About The Blood
Charles H. Spurgeon preached a sermon entitled. “The Blood Shedding,” February 22, 1857, from Hebrews 9:22. He describes the suffering and death of Christ, and says, “Mark his brow-they have put about it a crown of thorns, and the crimson drops of gore are rushing down his cheeks! . . . But turn aside that purple robe for a moment. His back is bleeding. ..They lift up the thongs, still dripping clots of gore; they scourge and tear his flesh, and make river of blood to run down his shoulders! This is the shedding of blood without which there is no remission…They fling him to the ground; they nail his hands and feet to the transverse wood, they hoist it in the air…Blood from his head, blood from his hands, blood from his feet. . They pierce his side, and forthwith runneth out blood and water. This is the shedding of blood, sinners and saints; this is the awful shedding of blood, the terrible pouring out of blood, without which for you, and for the whole human race, there is no remission…it is not a thing which you may doubt, or which you may believe; it must be believed and received, otherwise you have denied the Scriptures and turned aside from God.” He further states, “It cuts off every other hope, bring your hopes here, and if they are not based in blood, and stamped with blood, they are as useless as castles in the air, and dreams of night. ‘There is no remission,’ says he text, in positive and plain cords. . . Except you put confidence n the shedding of our Saviour’s blood, and in the blood shedding alone, for without it there is no remission.” (The New Park Street Pulpit, Vol. 3, pages 90-92, Pilgrim Publications).
Spurgeon never changed in his preaching of the blood. On May 30, 1875, he preached again from the same text. In his sermon, he repeated over and over, “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” Without resorting to lengthy quotations, we can honestly say that his doctrine never changed. He said, “It is not possible that any sin should ever be forgiven to any man without shedding of blood.” (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 51, page 426, Pilgrim Publications).
Of course nothing is true simply because Spurgeon, Gill, or someone else said it; but it so happens that what they said on the blood is biblical and sound, while what MacArthur has said is false.
No one can deny that MacArthur is a gifted and talented speaker. He is the Senior Minister of Grace Cathedral, Panorama City, California, and the popular speaker on the widely distributed radio broadcast entitled, “Grace To You.” He has built a tremendously large church, and he has a very large radio audience. This is all the more reason why someone should expose his false teaching on the blood. No doubt we shall lose some friends over this exposure of error, but we hold truth dearer than we do friends. The cause of truth must ever be first. -From Plains Baptist Challenger 8/86
JOHN MACARTHUR AND THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
A few months ago a pastor friend and I visited a John MacArthur meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, and I purchased a copy of MacArthur’s commentary on Hebrews with the desire to see exactly what he says about the Blood of Jesus Christ. This commentary was published in 1983 by Moody Press. Moody Bible Institute holds the copyright.
There can be no mistake about MacArthur’s position that the Blood itself does not save us, that the Blood is SYMBOLIC of death. Words could not be plainer. In a mere three pages of this book MacArthur uses the term “symbolic” no less than thirteen times:
“Blood is a SYMBOL of death, and therefore follows closely the idea of a testator’s having to die in order for a will to become effective. …
“It is possible to become morbid about Christ’s sacrificial death and preoccupied with His suffering and shedding of blood. It is especially possible to become unbiblically preoccupied with the physical aspects of His death. It was not Jesus’ physical blood that saves us, but His dying on our behalf, which is SYMBOLIZED by the shedding of His physical blood. …
“The purpose of the blood was to SYMBOLIZE sacrifice for sin, which brought cleansing from sin. Therefore, without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
“Again, however, we need to keep in mind that the blood was a SYMBOL. If Christ’s own physical blood, in itself, does not cleanse from sin, how much less did the physical blood of animals. It is not surprising, then, that the Old Covenant allowed a SYMBOL for a SYMBOL. … This exception is clear proof that the old cleansing was SYMBOLIC. Just as the animal blood SYMBOLIZED Christ’s true atoning blood, so the ephah of flour SYMBOLIZED and represented the animal blood. This non-blood offering for sin was acceptable because the old sacrifice was entirely SYMBOLIC anyway.
“Yet this was the only exception. And even the exception represented a blood sacrifice. The basic SYMBOL could not be changed because what it SYMBOLIZED could not be changed. … Since the penalty for sin is death, nothing but death, SYMBOLIZED by shedding of blood, can atone for sin. … the only way we can participate in the New Covenant, is through the atoning DEATH of Jesus Christ, made effective for us when we trust in Him as saving Lord” (John MacArthur, Hebrews, pp. 236- 238).
Let me remind our readers that this book is still being published by Moody Press and is being sold by John MacArthur’s ministry. I purchased it directly from his ministry in Canada this year. This is not something that MacArthur said off the cuff many years ago and which he has since corrected. This is precisely what the man believes today.
MacArthur’s position on the Blood of Christ is a great heresy. It is precisely the same heresy promoted by the translator of the Today’s English Version, who replaced the term “blood” with “death” in most key passages.
Blood is NOT merely symbolic for death when we are speaking of Christ’s Atonement. God’s law demands death AND the shedding of blood for remission of sin (Lev. 17:11; Eze. 18:4; Rom. 6:23; Heb. 9:22). The Old Testament sacrifices depicted how the Lord Jesus Christ would pay the price for sin. The blood of the O. T. sacrifices did not merely depict Christ’s death; it depicted Christ’s BLOOD. His death alone could not save us; His blood was required. In Romans 5:9-10 we see the two together. Verse 9 says we are justified “by his blood,” and verse 10 says we are reconciled “by his death.” Any view which confuses the blood of Christ with His death is heresy.
I realize that MacArthur has taken some unusual stands for an Evangelical today. He has spoken against the Charismatic movement and against Promise Keepers and against Evangelicals & Catholics Together. In fact, though, the man refuses to practice biblical separation. He claims that Charismatics are theologically wrong, for example, but he fellowships with them and stands shoulder to shoulder with them in preaching engagements. Be not deceived: John MacArthur is NOT a friend to the Fundamental, Bible-believing, New Testament church. He is a dangerous New Evangelical, and his position on the Blood of Christ is heresy.
MACARTHUR DENIES THE REALITY OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
MacArthur says the blood of Christ “could not save” and “it was not the FLUID that saved us, it was the DEATH of Christ.”
In the May 1976 issue of the Grace to You Family paper that is distributed to his church, MacArthur published an article titled “Not His Bleeding, but His Dying.” In this, MacArthur plainly stated that it is not the blood of Christ that saves.
Ten years later, in a letter to Tim Weidlich, Paul Clark, Kevin Jolliff of Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC, April 4, 1986, MacArthur made the following statement of his position:
“Obviously, it was not the blood of Jesus that saves or He could have bled for us without dying. It was His death for sin that saves. When Romans 3:25 speaks of ‘faith in His blood’ everyone understands that to be a reference to His death — not the blood running through His body. In Romans 5:9, being ‘justified by His blood’ also refers to His death, as verse 10 makes clear in saying ‘we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.’ In fact, the careful explanation of salvation in Romans 6 omits any reference to His blood at all. The point is that the shedding of blood was just the visible indication of His death, His life being poured out. … I admit that because of some traditional hymns there is an emotional attachment to the blood — but that should not pose a problem when one is dealing with theological or textual specificity. I can sing hymns about the blood and rejoice with them — but I understand that reference to be a metonym for His death.”
MacArthur was still preaching this in the 1990s. When I attended one of his conferences in British Columbia in that decade, I purchased a copy of his commentary on Hebrews to check out his teaching on the blood for myself. In this commentary, 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.
MACARTHUR TEACHES A LORDSHIP SALVATION DOCTRINE
“MacArthur’s new book, The Gospel According to Jesus, is confusing concerning salvation. Much of what he says is good. But we cannot agree with his ‘lordship salvation’ remedy to ‘easy believism’ and the loose living of some professing Christians of our day, since it requires more from the seeking sinner than the Bible does for obtaining salvation. He erects a straw man, and makes it appear that those who oppose his ‘lordship salvation’ teachings believe things they do not believe. His tone often seems reactionary. Puritan and Reformed influences are evident in this book. [MacArthur is a Calvinist.] He seems to confusingly mix justification and sanctification, salvation and discipleship, and blurs dispensational considerations. The cure for a ‘too easy’ gospel is not to complicate it. Paul warned of the danger of being ‘corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ’ (2 Cor. 11:3). Dr. J. I. Packer in the book’s foreword said ‘those who reject leadership salvation choose to keep works out of justification.’ Galatians 2:16 likewise does!” (Calvary Contender, Jan. 15, 1989).
MACARTHUR IS HYPER CALVINIST
In December 1989, the Bible Broadcasting Network terminated Dr. MacArthur’s “Grace to You” program. In explaining that step, BBN president Lowell Davey referred to MacArthur’s teachings on “Lordship Salvation,” “Hyper-Calvinism,” and the blood of Christ. He called these teachings “confusing.” In a letter dated Jan. 15, 1990 Davey cited a “drift by Dr. MacArthur to a theological position that we could not adhere to” and said his series on election “convinced us that the direction of ‘Grace to You’ was toward Hyper-Calvinism…”
In his popular study Bible, MacArthur denies that Jesus Christ died as a Substitute for all men.
MACARTHUR IS A NEW EVANGELICAL ECUMENIST
MacArthur frequently speaks at ecumenical forums, such as the Moody Bible Institute Founder’s Week. For example, at the February 1986 Moody Bible Institute conference, MacArthur joined hands with two of the chief ecumenists of our day, Billy Graham and Luis Palau. Both Graham and Palau regularly join together in ecumenical relations with Roman Catholics. Graham has turned thousands of his converts over to the hands of the wolves in sheep’s clothing in the various Catholic parishes that have participated in his crusades. (We have documented this extensively in our 371-page book Evangelicals and Rome.)
In July 1988, MacArthur spoke at the Congress on the Church and the Disabled at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, which featured Roman Catholic and New Evangelical speakers (Moody Monthly, Oct. 1988).
MacArthur participates in the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) and speaks at their conferences. The NRB is extremely ecumenical. The 1997 conference featured Seventh-day Adventists, “laughing revival” Pentecostals, the Worldwide Church of God, and an entire slate of New Evangelicals, such as Joseph Stowell, Franklin Graham, Max Lucado, and David Jeremiah.
In 1987, MacArthur participated in Jerry Falwell’s Super Conference VIII, which featured E. V. Hill. The late Dr. Hill pastored a church affiliated with the modernistic National Council of Churches in America and he was an ecumenist of the ecumenists. I heard Hill speak at New Orleans ’87 to a mixed crowd of some 40,000 Catholics, Protestants, Baptists, and Pentecostals. Fifty percent of the attendees were Roman Catholic, and a Catholic priest brought the final message. Hill said, “And to see all of our Catholic friends here. Wow. We are almost there!” He accepted them as brethren in Christ and did not have one word of warning to them about Rome’s false gospel. This was a pattern in Hill’s ministry. He often joined hands with Roman Catholics. Other examples are the Washington for Jesus Rally in 1980, Graham’s Amsterdam conference in 1983, and the Congress on the Bible II in 1987.
In these various ecumenical forums, MacArthur also puts stamp of approval upon every sort of Contemporary Christian Music and Christian rock music by making his appearance and not speaking out against the worldliness and compromise that is present.
For more about MacArthur’s New Evangelical philosophy and practice, see our article “John MacArthur and New Evangelical Ecumenism,”
Another Look At Macarthur And The Blood of Christ
By E. L. Bynum
Is is possible that John MacArthur, the popular pastor and radio speaker, is not sound in doctrine on the blood of Christ? It is not only possible, but it is certain that his views are at variance with the Word of God. In the August 1986 issue of the Plains Baptist Challenger we published an article examining those views. Other publications have also exposed his unscriptural views on the blood of Christ.
Since that time, MacArthur has written a number of letters trying to justify his doctrine. Several copies of these letters have been mailed to us by our readers. I have also received a letter from MacArthur, addressed directly to me. After reading these letters a number of times, I am more convinced than ever that his views are contrary to Scripture.
MacArthur’s Teaching On The Blood
In the August article, I quoted from the April 1986 issue of Faith For The Family published by Bob Jones University. For the benefit of new readers, I shall quote the entire article from Faith For The Family.
“John MacArthur’s, in 1976, said in an article entitled, ‘Not His Bleeding But His Dying:’ “It was His death that was efficacious…not His blood…Christ did not bleed to death. The shedding of blood has nothing to do with bleeding…it simply means death…violent sacrificial death…Nothing in His human blood saves…it is not His blood that I love…it is Him. It is not His bleeding that saved me, but His dying.’ I wonder what MacArthur does with Hebrews 9:22, ‘without the shedding of blood is no remission.’ and I John 1:7, ‘the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin’? MacArthur’s position is heresy. – Editor”
That issue of Faith For The Family list Bob Jones as Editor. We are indebted to Bob Jones for bringing MacArthur’s doctrine to light. I agree with him when he said “MacArthur’s position is heresy.”
Has MacArthur Been Misrepresented?
In a letter dated August 29, 1986, MacArthur said, “I am convinced that most of the confusion could have been avoided had the magazine (Faith For The Family) used my comments in their full context.” I would imagine that Bob Jones did indeed have his comments in full, when he wrote the above statement. I know for certain that I did have his full comments before I wrote the article for the August PBC. His full comments in no way clear him of the false doctrine that he expounds.
Some pastors and editors now say that they are convinced that MacArthur is sound on the blood of Christ. Frankly, I wonder if these people have examined his doctrine, or if they have been by his rhetoric. After reading his letters, in spite of his rewording and rephrasing some of his doctrine, it still adds up to the same thing. The man simply has peculiar and unscriptural views concerning the blood of Christ. Undoubtedly, he is an expressive writer and speaker, with great powers of persuasion.
The original comments under discussion were published by MacArthur in 1976. He entitled it “Not His Bleeding But His Dying.” It begins with a letter which said, “Dear John, I would like to ask you about your recent statements concerning the ‘blood of Christ.’ Could you take a moment to explain to me what you meant more clearly? Thank you, A Learning Member.” Apparently, the “Learning Member” was troubled by some of the things MacArthur had said. The rest of the page contains MacArthur’s answer in fairly small print, and among other things, it contains the quotes that were printed in Faith For The Family. I do not find that those remarks were taken out of context, nor do they misrepresent what MacArthur said.
MacArthur’s Recent Letter
In his Sept. 25th letter to me, he begins by saying, “Dear Pastor Bynum: Recently, I became aware of the syllabus being distributed by Rev. D.A. Waite regarding what he believes to be my position on the precious blood of my Saviour.
” I have to tell you that I have been misrepresented, slandered, falsely accused, and lied about in regard to this issue. Of course I believe Jesus Christ shed His blood in sacrificial death for the sins of the world – no one could read the Scripture and believe otherwise. I have preached and written on the virtues of Christ’s ‘shed blood’ for years”
I am just wondering who “misrepresented, slandered, falsely accused, and lied” about this man’s views. I certainly cannot find where Bob Jones did this. I certainly did not do so in my August article. After reading what I wrote, I wouldn’t change any of it, if anything I would make it stronger. I did not have Waite’s syllabus at the time I wrote my article, but since then I have examined a copy, and I do not find where D.A. Waite misrepresented him either. MacArthur’s whole problem is that his unscriptural views have been put into print, and he has not found any way to extricate himself. His problem could be easily solved if he would only admit his error, repent of it, and simply state what the Bible says about the blood of Christ and affirm his belief of the same.
In his letter he refutes some of the heretical doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church on the blood. He also denounces several other heretical views, that personally I have never heard of in over 30 years in the ministry. He leaves the impression that someone is teaching that Christ only needed to bleed a little, and not to die, in order to save sinners. Just who is teaching such heresy, MacArthur never does say. Most likely this is a straw man erected in the brain of MacArthur.
He asks,”How could the red and white corpuscles be literally applied to believers in salvation? To our physical bodies? Could it be otherwise with literal blood? Will MacArthur ever tell us just who is teaching such nonsense? I doubt if he ever will. His third question seems to imply that those who believe that the literal blood of Christ saves, are teaching that the red and white corpuscles are applied to believers. Surely he can do better than that. He vainly tries to smear those who believe in the power of the blood with the Catholic heresy of transubstantiation.
Some Good Things He SEEMS To Say
“Of course I believe Jesus Christ shed His blood in sacrificial death for the sins of the world..” “I affirm that the New Covenant was ratified by Christ’s blood; that the blood of Christ is precious; and that Christ shed His blood in dying for our sins.” This may sound well and good, but what MacArthur giveth in one place, he taketh away in another. One should be extremely careful in examining any statement he makes in regard to the shedding of blood. Why is that? It is simply because MacArthur by his other statements, has already revealed that he means something else when he speaks of the shedding of blood.
1. HIS STRANGE VIEWS ON THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD
In his 1976 article he said, “The shedding of blood has nothing to do with bleeding…it simply means death…violent sacrificial death.” John 19:34 gives some interesting insights. The reference is literally to ‘blood-clots and serum.’ The soldier piercing His chest cavity with a spear demonstrated that Jesus had not bled to death. His blood was still in His veins and arteries after physical death.”
No one that I know claims that Jesus bled to death. This is a smokescreen without a doubt. We maintain that Christ did indeed shed his blood and that He also died. According to MacArthur’s own words, he does not believe that Christ literally shed His blood, but that the Scriptures which speak of such a thing, are merely referring to His death. The Bible says, “one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34). According to MacArthur this is not so, but rather ‘blood-clots and serum’ came out. This may be the idea of MacArthur and some modern medical man, but I will just believe what the Bible says. All this is suppose to be a part of his evidence that Christ did not shed His blood.
He repeats this error in his Sept. 25th letter, where he says, “The shedding of His blood was the visible manifestation of His life being poured out in sacrifice, and Scripture consistently uses the term ‘shedding of blood’ as a metonym for atoning death.” (Emphasis ours). It is incredible that he continues to rephrase the same error. Webster says that a “metonym” is, “a word used in metonymy, as a substitute for another.” So there you have it, when MacArthur speaks of the “shedding of blood,” he is really speaking about the death of Christ. Shades of Karl Barth – for this is the method of neo-orthodoxy.
What Does “Shedding Of Blood” Mean?
It is not too difficult to discover what shed and shedding means in the Bible. The word translated shed in the O. T. is also translated many times as “pour out” or “poured out.” See Lev. 17:11,13. It is used of the pouring out of the blood. “The priest…shall pour all the blood of the bulllock at the bottom of the altar..” (Lev. 4:7) See Lev. 4:18,25,30,34; Deut. 12:16,24; 15:23, and many other O. T. scriptures. William Wilson in his O. T. Word Studies says that it means “to pour out.” In I Kings 18:28 the same word is used where it reads “till the blood gushed out.”
The Lord tells us, “without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb. 9:22) “Shedding of blood” is translated from one word, and Strong says that word comes from two Greek words. One is “haima” which is the Greek word for blood, and the other is “ekcheo” which is the Greek word for shed or to pour out. Strong says of “haimatekchusia,” the word found in Heb. 9:22, that it means “an effusion of blood – shedding of blood.” Now as for the word that is translated “shed,” “pour out,” “gush out,” etc., how can anyone deny that it means simply that. Strong says that it means “to pour,” or to “gush (pour) out.” Berry and Thayer says that it means “to pour out.” On the basis of that, how in the word could John MacArthur say, “The shedding of blood has nothing to do with bleeding..it simply means death…violent sacrificial death?” (Emphasis ours). This writer is completely mystified as to where he gets his information. It is not to be found in the Bible, nor in the lexicons and word studies, so where does it come from?
In his 1976 article, MacArthur said, “His shed blood represents His sacrificial physical and spiritual death for us.” No, his shed blood represents His shed blood. It is wrong to try to teach that blood means death. A careful reading of his statements makes it clear that he does not really believe that Christ shed His blood.
II. MACARTHUR’S ERROR ON THE SAVING POWER OF CHRIST’S BLOOD
In our view, the most grievous and deadly part of MacArthur’s false doctrine is his outright denial of the saving power of the blood of Christ.
We must remember that MacArthur’s 1976 article was not written to a Catholic, or a cult member, but to a “Dear Learning Member.” Whether it was to a member of his own church we do not know, but it was to someone who signed their name, “A Learning Member.” Now let us see what he writes to that learning member.
MacArthur Vs. The Word Of God “It was His death that was efficacious..not His blood.” (Emphasis ours throughout article. The three dots were placed there by MacArthur’s and does not represent something that we have left out.) “Nothing in His human blood saves.” Not only has MacArthur not repudiated his 1976 statement, but he repeats something very similar to it, in his August 29, 1986 letter, when he said, “The blood of Christ is precious – but as precious as it is, His physical blood could not save.”
It is incredible that a veteran pastor and Bible teacher would make such unbelievable statements. To cleverly cloud the issue, he brings in “His human blood,” and “His physical blood.” Why bring in such words as “human” and “physical”? Why not just use the terminology of the Bible.
Contrary to what MacArthur’s says, the Bible does place strong emphasis on the saving cleansing power of the blood of Christ.
His blood was shed for the remission of sins. When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He took the cup which contained the fruit or juice of the vine and said, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt. 26:28). Of course, the fruit of the vine did not turn into the blood of Christ, but it symbolized something that was real, and that was the blood of Christ. Christ’s blood was shed for the remission of sins.
We have been purchased by His blood. When Paul was speaking to the elders of the Church at Ephesus, he told them “to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28).
Redemption and remission of sins cannot be apart from FAITH IN HIS BLOOD.” (Rom. 3:24,25).
We are justified by His blood. “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Rom. 5:9). We gladly affirm that “Christ died for us” as we are told in v.8, but by so doing we will never, never play down the value of His blood. The Bible places great emphasis on both the death of Christ, and the shed blood of Christ. Why should anyone try to play down either His death, or His shed blood??
We have redemption through His blood. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of his grace.” (Eph. 1:7) “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:14). There is no redemption for the sinner, and there is no forgiveness of sins apart from the shed blood of Christ.
We have peace through His blood. “And having made peace through the blood of his cross.” (Col. 1:20)
We are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (See Eph. 2:12).
By His own blood He entered into the holy place. “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Heb. 9:12) On the day of atonement, the high priest took the blood of a bullock into the holy place and sprinkled it on the mercy seat for his own sins. Then he took the blood of a goat into that same place and sprinkled it on the mercy seat for the sins of the people. (See Lev. 16). Jesus did not do that. He entered into the holy place in heaven, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood. It was done once, not every year, or perpetually!
Our sins are purged, and remitted by the blood of Christ. “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb. 9:22).
We are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. Peter, by divine inspiration tells us that we are “redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (I Pet. 1:18,19) .
Our sins are cleansed by the blood of Christ. “The blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin.” (I John 1:7).
We are washed from our sins by His blood. “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (Rev. 1:15). MacArthur says that “washed” should be “delivered.” We don’t buy that, but even if it were so, we would still be “delivered from our sins in this own blood.”
We are redeemed to God by His blood. (See Rev. 5:9)
Tribulation saints will wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. (See Rev. 7:14).
Will You Believe MacArthur, Or The Bible?
In light of the above Scriptures, as well as many others, I am amazed that any man would have the audacity to say, “It was His death that was efficacious…not His blood.” Who is he to say, “Nothing in His human blood saves?”
III. MACARTHUR AND THE O. T. SACRIFICES
In our view, he makes some misleading statements about the O. T. sacrifices. While much that he says is true, there is a deadly danger in the implications of some of his remarks. He writes the following in his Sept. 25th, 1986 letter. “Bloodshed was God’s design for all Old Testament sacrifices. They were bled to death rather than clubbed or burnt. God designed that sacrificial death was to occur with blood loss as a vivid manifestation of life. (‘the life of the flesh is in the blood’) being poured out. Nevertheless, those who were too poor to bring animals for sacrifices were allowed to bring one-tenth of an ephah (about two quarts) of fine flour instead (Lev. 5:11). Their sins were covered just as surely as the sins of those who could afford to offer a lamb, goat, turtledove, or pigeon (Lev. 5:6-7). That is because the sacrifice was entirely symbolic anyway.”
In this paragraph MacArthur has chosen a passage of Scripture that he believes will help his cause. The offerings that were required in the first six chapters of Leviticus varied. Of course all of these offerings pointed to Christ and typified His life and work. The offerings of Leviticus 2 were made of flour, oil, and frankincense. The fine flour typifies the evenness, balance, and purity of His person. No blood sacrifice is required in this chapter. An animal for a blood sacrifice was required in chapters 1,3,4 and 6. MacArthur is correct in saying that in chapter 5, the poor could bring an offering of fine flour. We venture to say that the fine flour did not typify the blood of Christ, but it did symbolize other aspects of His life and death.
How Does This Affect The Other Sacrifices?
It affects them not at all. Cain could bring nothing but a lamb. Nothing else would be acceptable to God. Not the fruit of the field, and not fine flour would suffice. (See Gen. 4). Could Noah offer fine flour on the altar? No! He had to offer the clean beasts and clean fowls. (See Gen.8:20). On the Passover night down in Egypt, could the Israelites have offered fine flour instead of a lamb? Could they have dusted fine flour on the door posts? No, they could not! It had to be a lamb. If death was the only issue, then they could have hung the head or the hooves of the lamb on the door posts. Yes, the lamb must die, but the shed blood had to be sprinkled on the door posts in order to save the firstborn. (See Ex. 12)
On the day of atonement, could the high priest have taken fine flour and sprinkled it on the mercy seat? No, he had to take the blood of the bullock for his own sins, and the blood of the goat for the sins of the people, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat. So for MacArthur to take the one instance from the Old Testament where the poor could take an offering of fine flour rather than a blood sacrifice, is in my view, very misleading. In all other instances it did make a difference whether there was a blood sacrifice made or not.
Beating Around The Mulberry Bush
MacArthur is a very, very articulate man. He knows the English language well, and is able to express himself as well as anyone we have ever heard. It is very strange that he has to be beat around and around the mulberry bush in page after page, and still be unable to make himself perfectly clear. Why is this? It is because he has peculiar and unscriptural views of the blood of Christ. After reading his letters on the blood, I have the distinct impression that they are blurred by fog and smog. If he ever decides to come out from behind his smokescreen, none of us will have any difficulty in understanding what he believes about the blood. He could settle this problem very easily, by simply repudiating his heretical statements about the blood of Christ. He could then simply take the fundamental approach of accepting what the Bible says about the saving power of the blood of Christ. It is clear, it is simple, and only someone who has something to hide, will fog the issue by using strange terms about the precious blood of Christ.
We will probably make more enemies than friends over this issue, because most people do not like controversy. But regardless of the cost, we have no intentions of backing up on this fundamental doctrine of the Word of God.