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REAL FLESH! REAL BONES! REAL BLOOD! – PART II

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, June 20, 2010

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).


Concerning part I of this sermon, someone wrote an e-mail to me. He said, “Why is it important to prove that Christ’s body had some blood in it when He died? 20% of the blood is not enough to live anyway, so whether in resurrection he obtained 100% of the blood, 95% or 80% it is still God’s miracle.” Let me give an answer to that, for it is a crucial question at this particular time in Christian history. Luther said,

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him.  Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point (Martin Luther, Luther's Works, Weimar Edition, Briefwechsel [Correspondence], vol. 3, pp. 81ff).

Why it is important to prove that "little point" (Luther) that Christ’s body had some Blood in it?

I. First, I believe it is important because it shows that Jesus’ resurrected body was a real flesh and bone body, not a spirit or “phantom.”

The Gnostics taught that His Spirit rose, but not His physical body. Dr. R. A. Torrey corrected that when he said,

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the corner-stone of Christian doctrine. It is mentioned directly one hundred and four or more times in the New Testament…The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the two fundamental truths of the Gospel, the other being His atoning death (I Corinthians 15:1, 3, 4)…Without the resurrection the death of Christ was only the heroic death of a noble martyr. With the resurrection, it is the atoning death of the Son of God…the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the corner-stone of Christian doctrine (R. A. Torrey, D.D., “The Certainty and Importance of the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ From the Dead,” The Fundamentals, Testimony Publishing Company, n.d., volume V, pp. 81-82).

I believe, since Christ’s flesh and bones actually, physically rose from the dead, that a certain amount of His Blood had to remain lodged in His flesh (sarx) and bones (osteon). On this point I disagree with Bengel who thought that every trace of His Blood was extracted from His body at death, and I agree with Dr. Norman Geisler that a misinterpretation of I Corinthians 15:50 (“flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”) “has played a disastrous role in the New Testament Theology of the last sixty years until the present day” (see Norman L. Geisler, Ph.D., The Battle for the Resurrection, Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1992, p. 123 – see pp. 122-129). Dr. Geisler said,

There is no scientific, biblical, or theological reason to forsake the historical evangelical view that Jesus was raised immortal in the same observable, material body He possessed before His death (Geisler, ibid., p. 127).

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

This being true, there must have been some Blood in His body when it rose from the dead and ascended back to Heaven,

“And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51).

II. Second, I believe it is important because modern rationalists have said that the flesh of Christ did not rise from the dead and ascend back to Heaven.

The resurrection of Christ’s flesh (sarx) and bones (osteon) demands medically that there be some Blood left in His flesh and bones. Yet the neo-Gnosticism of liberalism denies the material, bodily resurrection of Christ. For instance, the famous liberal Harry Emerson Fosdick said, “I believe in the immortality of the soul but not in the resurrection of the flesh” (Harry Emerson Fosdick, D.D., The Modern Use of the Bible, Macmillan, 1924, p. 129). The liberal scholar Emil Brunner said virtually the same thing,

Resurrection of the flesh, no! The “Resurrection of the body” does not mean the…body of flesh (see Geisler, ibid., p. 89).

Rudolf Bultmann went farther, calling the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ “a myth” (Geisler, ibid., p. 90). George Eldon Ladd, of Fuller Seminary, said that His resurrection “was not a revivification [i.e. resurrection] of a dead corpse, returning to physical life” (George Eldon Ladd, I Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus, Eerdmans, 1975, p. 94). E. Glenn Hinson, a liberal Southern Baptist scholar, said, “The risen Christ has not a physical but a spiritual body” (Faith of Our Fathers: Jesus Christ, McGrath, 1977, p. 111). Of course all of these liberal statements contradict the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

When Dr. Geisler defended the physical, bodily resurrection of Christ, one evangelical leader said, “You are mentally ill.” And one leader of that denomination said, “Geisler is a rat” (Norman L. Geisler, Ph.D., The Defense of the Resurrection, Quest Publications, 1991, p. 110). Yet all Dr. Geisler did was defend what Jesus said, and what orthodox Christians have believed for two thousand years,

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

“And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51).

I am convinced that the rationalism of David Hume (1711-1776) is behind modern attacks on the literal resurrection of Christ’s flesh. Hume taught that “no miracle in the Bible is credible, including the bodily resurrection of Christ [because] the overwhelming testimony of our senses is that people who die do not rise again” (Geisler, The Battle for the Resurrection, ibid., p. 68). That is, if you cannot see it or explain it rationally, it is impossible in the realm of reality, and must be relegated to the realm of mysticism. But we say that the Bible, not man’s intellect, is the revelation of God’s truth. Therefore we accept as literal the words of the Lord Jesus Christ,

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

It is important to say that Christ’s “flesh and bones” had some Blood (about 20%) because His body literally and physically rose from the dead according to the Scriptures – and a literal, physical body, at death, always has a certain amount of blood in the tissues and bone marrow.

III. Third, I believe it is important because rationalism denies that any of the Blood of Christ is in Heaven.

While defending the Biblical and historical resurrection of Christ’s flesh (sarx) we have discovered that the view of there being no Blood in Heaven comes directly or indirectly from the rationalistic viewpoint of David Hume, rather than the Scriptures themselves. Notice the rationalism in the liberal Harry Emerson Fosdick’s statement,

The blood of Christ [was] carried over from primitive concepts...and even yet semimagical ideas concerning the potency of the blood are woven into some Christian hymns (Harry Emerson Fosdick, D.D., A Guide to Understanding the Bible, Harper, 1938, p. 230).

Notice how closely Fosdick’s rationalism is reflected in the words of Dr. John MacArthur,

There is no sense in getting teary eyed and mystical about blood! We sing hymns, “There’s Power in the Blood,” etc. We don’t want to be preoccupied with blood. There is no saving in that blood itself! We cannot say that the very blood of Jesus is what atones for sin. So, we do not want to become preoccupied about fantasizing about some mystical blood floating around somewhere (Tape recording of Dr. MacArthur’s sermon available from Dr. D. A. Waite at bft@biblefortoday.org.)

Thus a conservative Bible teacher like Dr. MacArthur comes out downgrading the Blood of Christ like the extremely liberal Bible teacher, Fosdick, did eighty years earlier. How did this happen? Well, the answer is that liberal Protestantism and much of evangelicalism have been influenced by rationalism. It seems easier in the mind of a rationalist to think of a spirit rising than to think of a dead corpse rising. And, by the way, that is exactly what George Ladd of Fuller Seminary said! The rational human mind thinks it’s easier to believe that a spirit rose than a “dead corpse.” And the rationalism of Dr. MacArthur makes the same type of argument against what he calls the “physical blood” of Christ. Again, note what Dr. MacArthur said in his study Bible on Hebrews 9:12.

Nothing is said which would indicate that Christ carried his actual physical blood with him into the heavenly sanctuary (The MacArthur Study Bible, ibid.; note on Hebrews 9:12).

Dr. MacArthur’s rational mind does not accept “physical blood” carried into Heaven, just as George Ladd’s rational mind did not accept the resurrection of a “dead corpse.”

It is my belief that Dr. MacArthur is wrong, that his statements are based on rationalism, not the Scriptures.

“And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them” (Luke 24:41-43).

“And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51).

So, the same resurrected body of Jesus that ate before them was “carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51). Dr. John R. Rice said,

He ate before them and assured their doubting hearts. This is Jesus risen from the dead, with His flesh-and-blood body… Because Jesus here mentioned that they could feel His flesh and bones but did not mention blood, some people have thought that our [Christians’] resurrection bodies will have no blood. True, I Corinthians 15:50 says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” But the verse continues, “Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption”…That does not mean that flesh cannot enter the kingdom in the resurrected bodies…Since Jesus ate literal, physical food, there is every reason to believe that the physical processes of digestion were carried on and that the body that had flesh and bones, also had blood to carry on these natural processes…After His resurrection the body of Jesus was a flesh-and-bone body, with normal processes. It was a body that could eat and digest food, a body one could feel (John R. Rice., D.D., The Son of Man: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary on the Gospel According to Luke, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1971, pp. 556-557).

“And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them” (Luke 24:41-43).

Earlier in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said that He would eat and drink with them “in the kingdom of God.”

“With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come” (Luke 22:15-18).

Thus, at the Last Supper, Christ told the Disciples that He would eat and drink with them in the coming Kingdom. Again, in Luke 22:30, Jesus told them that they would “eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.” This means that their resurrected bodies would need to have “blood to carry on these natural processes” of digestion, as Dr. Rice said (ibid.). Dr. Rice said, “There will be fluids in the bodies of resurrected Christians, as in the body of Jesus, for Jesus said, ‘I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come’” (Rice, ibid., p. 558).

Therefore at least the Blood in His bones and flesh had to be resurrected “and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51). Dr. Rice and many others go farther, as I do, and say that He took with Him the Blood that drained from His body on the Cross as well. Dr. Rice said, “He was on his way to present the sacred blood in Heaven” (John R. Rice, D.D., The Son of God: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary on the Gospel According to John, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1976, p. 393).

This much is certain if we take the Bible seriously – at the very least the Blood that remained in His flesh and in His bone marrow is now in Heaven. There should be no question of that if one believes in Christ’s literal bodily resurrection, and is not influenced by neo-Gnosticism and rationalism.

However, there are several modern teachers, like George Eldon Ladd and John MacArthur, who say that Christ’s Blood is not in Heaven. How could they be right when the Bible specifically tells us that Jesus’ Blood is in Heaven?

“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling” (Hebrews 12:22-24).

The Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:22-24 that the Blood of Jesus is one of the things that we will see in Heaven. It was borne up, translated, resurrected into Heaven, along with His flesh and bone body – as the body and blood of Enoch (Hebrews 11:5) and the body and blood of Elijah (II Kings 2:11) were “carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:51). C.H. Spurgeon said,

      When we climb into Heaven itself…we shall not have gone beyond the Blood of sprinkling; nay, we shall see it there more truly present than any other place. “What!” you say, “the blood of Jesus in Heaven?” Yes! Let those who talk lightly of the precious blood correct their view ere they be guilty of blasphemy…For me there is nothing worth thinking of or preaching about but this grand theme. The Blood of Christ is the life of the gospel (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Blood of Sprinkling,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1975 reprint, volume 32, p. 121).

It is important to realize that at least some of Christ’s Blood is in Heaven because, if His physical, bodily resurrection is a fact, there must be at least some of His Blood there. After all, the resurrected Jesus told us specifically that He is not a spirit, that He has real flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). So there had to be at least some of His Blood in those bones and in that flesh when He rose from the dead and ascended back to Heaven. It is not there to keep Christ alive, as the question in my e-mail put it. Not at all! Indeed, the whole resurrection of Christ is a miracle – from beginning to end! We don’t need to water it down and say that Christ was a “spirit,” or that God couldn’t take His Blood to Heaven! Why surrender to the rationalism and neo-Gnosticism of this age? Dr. J. Vernon McGee is still our nation's greatest Bible teacher, heard by millions on radio in America and by many people of other languages around the world (click www.thruthebible.org).  We ought to believe what Dr. McGee said about Christ's Blood,

His Blood is even now in heaven, and throughout endless ages it will be there to remind us of the awful price Christ paid to redeem us (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, vol. 5, p. 560).

That is what every lost person needs today. If you are not saved you need to come to the real, physically resurrected Christ – at the right hand of the Father. He died on the Cross to atone for your sins.  And you also need to be cleansed from all sin by His Blood because,

“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”
      (I John 1:7).

Please stand and sing the last song on your song sheet.

Are you washed in the blood,
   In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
   Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
(“Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?”
   by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 24:38-43.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Strife Is O’er” (translated by Francis Pott, 1832-1909).


THE OUTLINE OF

REAL FLESH! REAL BONES! REAL BLOOD! – PART II

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

I.   First, I believe it is important because it shows that Jesus’
resurrected body was a real flesh and bone body, not a spirit
or “phantom,” I Corinthians 15:1, 3, 4, 50; Luke 24:51.

II.  Second, I believe it is important because modern rationalists
have said that the flesh of Christ did not rise from the dead
and ascend back to Heaven, Luke 24:39, 51.

III. Third, I believe it is important because rationalism denies that
any of the Blood of Christ is in Heaven, Luke 24:41-43, 51,
I Corinthians 15:50; Luke 22:15-18, 30; Hebrews 12:22-24;
Hebrews 11:5; II Kings 2:11; I John 1:7.