The Heart of The Gospel
During his life, Billy Graham preached in person to more than 100 million people and to millions more via television, satellite, and film. He proclaimed the gospel of Christ to more persons than any other preacher in history, and millions accepted his clear call to repent and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
In the process, Graham became “America’s Pastor,” participating in presidential inaugurations and speaking during national crises such as the memorial services following the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks.
In 2003, dozens of America’s prominent evangelical leaders had the privilege of having a special lunch with Billy Graham. While some had different things they wanted to ask Dr. Graham, there was one key question that kept coming up… “If you knew back then as a younger preacher what you know now after all these years, is there something specific that you would you do differently?”
Without any hesitation, he replied, “I would preach more on the cross and on the blood of Jesus, because that is where the power is.”
The heart of the gospel message is recorded for us in Romans, “Since we are now justified – acquitted, declared righteous, and brought into right relationship with God by Christ’s blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9 AMP).
As the old hymn says, “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”
Although many people may shun this topic, and most denominations have removed any mention of blood from their music, and preaching, the necessity for Christ’s blood for salvation remains. Whether or not it is applied to our lives will determine our eternal destiny.
The Saving Power of the Blood
Yes, there is awesome power in the message of the cross and the shed blood of Jesus. However, it is a message that we see often neglected today. In many churches, the cross and the blood aren’t mentioned anymore. But it is still the absolute gospel truth, and the only remedy for sin and sinners.
Matthew 1:21 (NKJV) You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
The thousands of sacrifices offered throughout Jewish history pointed to the final sacrifice, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ (John 1:29), whose blood would be shed for the forgiveness of sins once for all time. As our Savior and “Great Deliverer,” Jesus came to rescue, redeem and release humanity from their sinful state and give them eternal life (John 3:16).
Romans 5:9 (NKJV) Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
Saved is a one-word description of God’s response to the needs of humanity. It is the work of God in which He has provided a way for humans to be delivered from their sinful condition, by means of the sacrificial death of Christ and His resurrection from the dead. Because of the shed blood of Jesus we have salvation from spiritual death and the forgiveness of sin and its effects.
Saved From What?
Christians speak of “being saved,” but all too often don’t follow the phrase to its logical reply: “Saved from what?” How do we answer this question when we share the gospel with others?
The answer: God Himself! God, in His righteous and holy wrath, stands against us in our sin. The sinner stands before God guilty, condemned and lost. But the glory of the gospel is that the One from whom we need to be saved is the very One who saves us. The significance of Christ’s redeeming work means…
- We are saved from divine judgment and God’s wrath (Romans 5:9).
- We are saved from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:9, 14-15).
- We are saved from living an empty, meaningless life (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV).
- We are saved from the grip and tyranny of sin (Romans 6:14, 18, 22).
- We are saved from eternal banishment and damnation in hell (John 3:36; John 5:24).
Grace Imparting Power
Voltaire, the noted French atheist, and American President Thomas Jefferson are famous for their criticisms of Christianity because they thought it was a “bloody religion,” due to the frequent mention of blood in the Bible and the bloody death of its founder, Jesus Christ. However, on the cross when Jesus shed His blood God gave us the greatest gift that He could ever give us… His grace!
Ephesians 1:7 (NIV) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
Defining Grace – what is it?
- Grace is the free, unmerited, unearned, and undeserved favor of God showered upon sinners.
- Grace is the bedrock of our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9), paid for by the blood of Jesus.
- Grace is God loving the unlovely, pardoning the guilty and saving the lost.
- Grace is the limitless supply of God’s goodness whereby He does for us what we could never do for ourselves.
- Grace is getting what you don’t deserve, and not getting what you do deserve.
In the Old Testament, an animal was sacrificed for sin. But in the New Testament, Jesus Christ fulfilled every sacrifice that the Old Testament pointed to. He became the sinless, sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and paid the price to make the grace of God available to us.
G. R. A. C. E. = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense
Now the only way that we can know God is through the shed blood of Christ. Grace is the unmerited favor of God in giving His Son and all the benefits that result from receiving Him (Romans 3:24-25).
The Overcoming Power of the Blood
The devil hates the message of the cross and the shed blood of Jesus and doesn’t want it to go out, because there is so much power in it.
Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.
The Bible tells us in Luke 1:74 that as Christians we are to serve the Lord without fear. The following true story, although it happened many years ago in the jungles of Borneo, is still a potent and relevant reminder of the believer’s power and protection today through the blood of Jesus Christ…
Missionary Wassell stopped paddling his canoe as he heard a strange sound. It was the weird rhythmic beating of tom-tom drums echoing through the dark Borneo jungle. He turned and said to his native helper, “We must take the gospel to that village.”
“But that is the music of the skull dance,” the native protested fearfully. “No one will listen to you as long as the tom-toms beat. And they may go on for weeks until the Chief calls a demon to himself.”
But Brother Wassell insisted on pulling into the shore. Fastening their canoe they made their way through the dense jungle. Louder and louder grew the noise of the drumbeats.
Finally they entered a clearing where about a hundred or more men, with their nearly naked bodies painted with wild pig’s blood, weaved about in a frenzied dance. Their weird heathen chanting rose and fell above the steady beat of the tom-toms. On top of a nearby pole was the human skull of a Dyak who had recently been sacrificed.
Horror and fear attacked the missionary. Taking authority over every spirit of fear Wassell declared: In Jesus Name fear get out of here!! Filled with boldness and the compassion of Christ to set the demon-possessed villagers free, he sat down to watch and wait. Constantly he claimed the overcoming power of the blood of Jesus, as the screaming, devil-inspired Dyaks spun and whirled about him.
Days went by, and still the tom-toms, never stopped beating. Three weeks passed, when one night Brother Wassell noticed a new drumbeat with a faster tempo. Suddenly the Chief of the Dyaks flung out his arms, “Djwo,” calling out to demons he screamed, “Why don’t you come to me?”
The missionary prayed aggressively, and with authority against the powers of darkness. “The blood, the blood of Jesus prevails and protects us,” he declared over and over again in prayer. Then he spoke. “Djwo cannot come,” Wassell said. The Dyak Chief turned and for the first time noticed him. “Because a STRONGER ONE than he is here, One Who has already fought and conquered him,” the missionary continued.
“Tell me about this Stronger One,” commanded the Chief, as he dropped wearily to the ground. Other tribesmen soon gathered to listen intently as Wassell began teaching them about Jesus, and how He shed His blood for them, died on the cross, and rose victorious from the dead to bring them salvation. When the sun rose, he was still talking. When it set that day, his strange congregation still remained, listening, asking questions.
At dawn the next day they were still there. Then as the evening shadows fell, the Chief gathered all his fetishes and demonic idols and said to Wassell, “Burn them. Your God is the ONLY true living God.” That day every single person in the village was set free and born again, as they received Jesus Christ as Lord. “Who the Son of God sets free, is free indeed” (John 8:36).
A week later there was a baptismal service for the entire village. There was never another skull dance in that village. But today there is a strong church where praises to God ring out from those who have been redeemed by the all-powerful blood of Jesus.
The precious blood of Jesus is where the power is. The blood of Jesus is one of the most effective and potent weapons we can use to overcome the enemy on the spiritual battlefield. In his sermons about the power of the precious blood of Christ, D. L. Moody said this, “I do not believe there is a word in the Bible that Satan fears and hates more than the word BLOOD.”
Meditate today on what the Savior accomplished for you at Calvary. As the sacrificial Lamb, Jesus exchanged His life for ours and gave it up to pay the sin-debt we owed. The blood is where the power is! His blood redeemed us, saved us, secured our forgiveness, set us free and gave us a permanent place in God’s family. Thank You Jesus, for the awesome, wonder-working power of Your precious blood!