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DR. JOHN R. RICE ON THE BLOOD IN HEAVEN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Saturday Evening, July 30, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood" (Hebrews 9:7).


Dr. John R. Rice was an intelligent and well-educated man. He studied at Decatur Baptist College, Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the University of Chicago. He was granted an Litt.D. degree by Bob Jones University. Dr. Rice was a school teacher before he went into the ministry. He was, with the exception of Dr. R. A. Torrey, probably the most educated evangelist of the twentieth century. He was the author of more than two hundred books.

I did not agree with Dr. Rice on some points, such as storehouse tithing, but he was a towering figure, and he was correct on many important subjects. It was my privilege to meet with him in his office and discuss the question of Biblical inerrancy in a video interview shortly before his death in 1980.

Some people have asked me what Dr. Rice's opinion was on the issue of Christ's Blood. While I do not know whether he wrote a whole sermon or article on this subject, I do have his commentary on the Gospel of John and his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. On pages 392 and 393 of his commentary on John, Dr. Rice took the position of The Scofield Study Bible, and quoted the first point of the Scofield note on John 20:17, "He was on His way to present the sacred blood in heaven" (John R. Rice, D.D., Litt.D., The Son of God: A Verse-by-verse Commentary on the Gospel According to John, Sword of the Lord, 1976, pp. 392-393).

In his commentary on Matthew, Dr. Rice, speaking of the rending of the veil in the temple (Matthew 27:51), gave the following comments on Hebrews 9:1-7,

The symbolism of these two places, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, is the same as those of the tabernacle in the wilderness which preceded Solomon's temple. Those with their furniture are described in Hebrews 9:1-7, and the rest of the chapter makes clear the symbolic meaning. They picture the temple in Heaven. The high priest was a type of Christ, and the blood carried into the Most Holy Place by the high priest was a type of the blood of Christ. The Holy of Holies represents a sanctuary in Heaven where Jesus entered with His own blood to make atonement for the sins of the world. The fact that the high priest went once a year alone with blood into the Holy of Holies, under the separating veil, was meant to signify that the way into the true Holy of Holies was not yet made known. When Christ died on the cross, therefore, "the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom" (vs. 51). When Christ died, the way into the Holiest of All was made manifest (John R. Rice, D.D., Litt.D., The King of the Jews: A Verse-by-verse Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew, Sword of the Lord, 1980 reprint, pages 479-480).

That makes it clear what Dr. Rice believed: "The Holy of Holies represents a sanctuary in Heaven where Jesus entered with His own blood."

As I have shown in my book, Preaching to a Dying Nation (pp. 175-181), this was also the belief of most leading preachers and commentators across the centuries:

Chrysostom (AD 347-407)
  (The Golden-mouthed preacher of the early church)
John Calvin (1509-1564)
   (The Great Reformer)
Matthew Poole (1624-1679)
   (The great Puritan Bible commentator)
Stephen Charnock (1628-1680)
   (The great Puritan writer and theologian)
Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
   (The most widely read commentator of all time)
Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
   (The great hymn writer and preacher)
John Bengel (1687-1752)
   (The great German commentator)
Nicholas von Zinzendorf (1700-1760)
   (The hymn writer and leader of the Moravians)
John Wesley (1703-1791)
   (The founder of Methodism)
Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
   (The great hymn writer and preacher of the First Great Awakening)
James A. Haldane (1768-1851)
   (The Scottish Baptist evangelist, pastor and Bible commentator)
Patrick Fairbairn (1805-1874)
   (The author of The Typology of Scripture)
Andrew Murray (1828-1917)
   (The beloved author and teacher)
C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
   (The greatest modern preacher)
R. A. Torrey (1856-1928)
   (The Dean of the Moody Bible Institute and Biola, renowned evangelist)
The Pulpit Commentary (19th century)
The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary (19th century)
The Expositor's Bible (1909)
The Scofield Study Bible (1917)
   (The most widely used study Bible of all time)
Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871-1952)
   (The founder and president of Dallas Theological Seminary)
M. R. DeHaan (1891-1965)
   (The beloved Bible teacher and author)
J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988)
   (The most widely heard Bible teacher of all time)
W. A. Criswell (1909-2002)
   (The pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas;  
     twice president of the Southern Baptist Convention)
Bob Jones, Jr. (1911-1997)
   (The courageous president of Bob Jones University)
Oliver B. Greene (1915-1976)
   (The great evangelist)
Ian R. K. Paisley (1926 - )
   (The fearless champion of Protestant Christianity).

and countless others. These are just a few we could cite from across the ages.

Thus, a great cloud of witnesses over the centuries agreed with Dr. Rice. In my research I have discovered that the view of Dr. Rice is by far the majority view throughout history. These men say, with him,

The Holy of Holies represents a sanctuary in Heaven where Jesus entered with His own blood (John R. Rice, ibid.).

Some modern follower of Thieme or MacArthur may say, "That doesn't prove anything." Wrong! It proves that these men saw the incorruptible, glorified Blood of Christ when they read the Bible - and so do I!

Let us stand and sing that great old hymn, "There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood."

There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Emmanuel's veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains;
Lose all their guilty stains, Lose all their guilty stains,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains.
   ("There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood" by William Cowper, 1731-1800).

You may be seated.

You may hear someone say, "Who cares what that old man, Dr. Rice, said? He's been dead for twenty-five years! Forget him." You may forget Dr. Rice, but not me. I will never forget him to the end of my life. For, you see, it was the writings of Dr. Rice that saved me from the confusion of studying at two extremely liberal seminaries in the 1970's. Battered, broken and confused by the boiling mudpots of apostasy into which I had been thrown, Dr. Rice appeared as though an angel from Heaven to pull me out of the boiling mud and lead me to safety. I devoured every book of his I could get my hands on. At times, I literally read his books and sermons all day - and into the night. He, more than anyone else at that time, was used to save me as a preacher of the gospel!

How I wish that men even younger than myself would get his commentaries, books, and booklets of sermons. They will feed your soul and set you right. They will help make the preacher out of you that God wants you to be.

And, oh, sinful soul, if you are still lost tonight, turn fully to Jesus Christ, whom Dr. Rice loved so well. Turn to Christ and find that the Saviour loves you, and that He will save you. Mr. Griffith, please come and sing "Oh, What a Fountain," one of the songs written by my faithful mentor, Dr. John R. Rice.

We have a story of love past all measure, We tell how sinners forgiven can be.
There is free pardon for Jesus has suffered, And made atonement on Calvary's tree.
Oh, what a fountain of mercy is flowing, Down from the crucified Saviour of men,
Precious the blood that He shed to redeem us, Grace and forgiveness for all of our sins.

There all the sins of the world were upon Him, Hung there to die as an offering for sin.
God turned His face away, Left Him to suffer, Paying man's debt his redemption to win.
Oh, what a fountain of mercy is flowing, Down from the crucified Saviour of men,
Precious the blood that He shed to redeem us, Grace and forgiveness for all of our sins.
   ("Oh, What a Fountain" by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

(END OF SERMON)

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