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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, September 20, 2015

“One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe” (John 19:34, 35).

The Apostle John was the youngest of the twelve. John was only about 18 years old. Yet he was the only Apostle who followed Jesus to the cross. The rest of them were still hiding. There is a lesson in that. The U.S. Army wants men 18 to 22 for combat. Older men get more conservative and are less daring. I think that’s one reason every major revival in history has been led by young people – every one! I have never even heard of an old-people’s revival.

I have to be careful, though. I stopped the revival emphasis last week because I saw too much confusion, and too little awakening. You still need me for advice on things like that. I’m an old soldier, I have been through many battles – some of them very great battles! The battle for the Bible in the seminary. The battle against abortion. The battle against that awful movie, “The Last Temptation of Christ.” The battle against Ruckmanism. The battle against decisionism. As well as the long battle with those who left our church in the Olivas split. Also, I have been an eye-witness to three highly unusual, God-sent revivals. So, this old soldier said, “Wait! We aren’t quite ready!” Old soldiers know stuff like that.

Douglas MacArthur was one of America’s greatest generals. President Roosevelt pulled him out of the Philippines in World War II. But as he left, General MacArthur said, “I shall return.” And he did! And we won! Thank God! Young people, we shall return – and I believe, sooner or later, we will see revival in our time!

Lord, send a revival,
Lord, send a revival,
Lord, send a revival –
And let it come down from Thee!

Back to John! What a man! He’s more courageous than Peter! He has more faith than Thomas. There he stands by the cross. He risked his life being there, you know! There he stands, protecting the mother of Christ. He’s only a teenager. But what a man! What a hero! He follows his Saviour all the way to the cross! There he is, watching His Lord and Master die on the cross! I am sure he thought it was all over. But it wasn’t. It never is. Christ said, “I shall return.” And our great Saviour, and our great general will return! He said, “I will come again” (John 14:3). And He will do exactly what He said!

They are beating us down in Iraq. They are beating us down in Iran. They are beating us down in Syria. They are beating us down in North Africa. They are even beating us down in the White House! He may even become a dictator! I heard a U.S. Senator allude to that possibility. We may be in for a reign of terror! We may have to go underground – as they were forced to do in China. But no matter what they do, our great Commander said, “I will come again!” Thank God! We have that promise! “He is Coming Again” – sing the chorus.

He is coming again, He is coming again,
The very same Jesus, rejected of men;
He is coming again, He is coming again,
With power and great glory,
He is coming again!
   (“He is Coming Again” by Mabel Johnston Camp, 1871-1937).

Back to John! What a hero! What a man! There he stands watching his Lord and Master die on the cross! I am sure he thought it was all over. But maybe, just maybe... The words of Jesus must have run through his mind,

“The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him – and the third day he shall be raised again” (Matthew 17:22, 23).

“Maybe!” “No, it couldn’t be!” “But maybe!” I am certain those thoughts ran through John’s mind. And so he watched. He steeled himself and watched every detail. John knew he was seeing something very important. In fact, it was the most important thing he had ever seen. I think John knew that. I even think he knew he was going to write about it some day! He had to get it right. He had to remember every detail. Like Ernest Hemingway, he thought that he would have to write it “absolutely truly – absolutely with no faking or cheating of any kind.” So John watched everything very carefully, and recorded it all in his mind.

Isn’t that what we do when someone we love dies? We remember where we were. We remember small details. We replay the tapes in our minds. Don’t you do that?

Every American my age can remember many details of the day President Kennedy was shot. They are recorded in our brains forever. I can remember the smallest details of the day my grandmother died – and that was 58 years ago when I was 15. I can remember the smallest details of the day my sweet mother died. I know where I was. I know what I was reading. I know how her hospital room looked. I remember what picture was on the wall. I remember how she looked. I remember what the nurse said. I remember what the doctor looked like. I even remember the clothes he had on. I remember the smell of the hospital. These details are etched in my mind forever.

And that’s the way it was with John that day. He could never forget what he saw the day Jesus died on the cross.

“One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe” (John 19:34, 35).

Dr. R. C. H. Lenski said, “This was the very truth that [the heretic Cerinthus and] those earliest Gnostics denied. In their speculation the Logos [Word] did not become flesh; the Spirit or Logos (‘the eon of Christ’ as they worded it) who descended upon Jesus left him before this passion; the ‘Christ’...could not suffer, which was a sort of Docetism. This heresy claimed a fellowship or communion without the sacrificial and cleansing blood of ‘Jesus, his (God’s) Son.’ This is the claim of all those who today scorn [despise] ‘the old blood theology.’ ‘The blood’ is more specific than ‘the death’ would be, for ‘the blood’ denotes sacrifice. It is always the blood that is shed. The Lamb of God shed his blood in expiation [atonement]...It is the blood ‘of Jesus, his Son,’ of Jesus as a man who had a human nature and thus also blood who is ‘his Son,’ the Logos of the Life, the second person of the Deity, who became flesh (John 1:14), whose blood, when shed, has the power to cleanse us from all sin” (R. C. H. Lenski, Th.D., The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. John, Augsburg Publishing House, 1966, p. 389; comments on I John 1:7).

Dr. Lenski was a Lutheran. But I don’t care what anybody (and I mean anybody) says – he was exactly right – and he was right at the very time in which “the old blood theology” was being rejected.

“For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).

“Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5).

I love to sing it, without fear. I’d like to sing it in John MacArthur’s church! He downgrades the Blood. I’d like to sing it to John MacArthur himself!

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
   Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
   Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
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?” by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).

By the way, what exactly was wrong with “the old blood theology”? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, ‘People hate this ‘theology of blood,’ but there is no theology worthy of the name apart from the shed blood of Christ” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Assurance (Romans 5), Banner of Truth Trust, 1971, p. 148).

There are really only two theologies – the theology of good works, and the theology of Christ’s Blood. The theology of Finney and the theology of Luther. The theology of decisionism and the theology of the Reformation - just two theologies, take your pick.  I hope you pick the right one, because "without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). Cain came with an offering of vegetables (works, prayers, decisions). His brother Abel came to God with an offering of blood. Cain was rejected. Abel was saved. That is the seminal illustration of the two ways - salvation by works or salvation by blood. It’s right there in the Bible, clear and plain! People either think they are saved by being good – or they realize they can never be good enough, and therefore they must have their sins cleansed by the Blood of Christ. Dr. Lenski said, “The holy and precious blood of Christ alone brings us poor sinners into fellowship with God and keeps us there” (ibid., p. 390). Luther said, “Christ’s blood was God’s blood. The person is eternal and infinite, and even one drop of His blood would have been enough to save the entire world” (comment on Isaiah 53:5). Again, Luther said, “Christ would have been able to render satisfaction for the sins of the world with one drop of His blood” (remark on Galatians 2:16). And a third time the great Reformer Luther said, “He it is who redeems us through His blood. His blood is the blood of God, the Almighty Creator, the blood of the Lord of glory, the blood of the Son of God. So the Apostles speak of it, and to this they forcefully testify” (comments on I John 1:7; Revelation 1:5).

The Apostle John said,

“One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34).

He was not simply giving the facts of what happened to Christ on the cross. He knew the great importance of the Blood of Christ. In his first epistle John said, “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). Again, in his first epistle John said, “there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one” (I John 5:8).

“One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34).

Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) was one of the great Christians of history. He was converted while thinking about Jesus bleeding on the cross to cleanse him from his sin. The words of the crucified Christ, on the top of a painting he saw, gripped his heart, “This I have done for thee; What doest thou for me?” This young nobleman was filled with conviction of sin; and then he knew his sins were cleansed by the Blood of Jesus. He began a work that sent Moravian missionaries to the ends of the earth. He actually started the modern missionary movement. One of his missionaries led John Wesley to Christ, thus he had a seminal influence on the First Great Awakening and the entire Methodist movement. He so influenced William Carey (1761-1834) that Carey went out as the first Baptist missionary to India. Then hundreds of Baptist missionaries followed him.

Zinzendorf’s preaching and theology were completely Christ-centered. And Zinzendorf said, “The blood of Christ is not only the sovereign remedy for sin: it is also the chief [main] nourishment of the Christian life.” He preached constantly on the wounds of Christ, and on the Blood of Christ. He said, “The Spirit comes to us by way of the blood for full salvation.” He said, “I thirst, Thou wounded Lamb of God, To wash me in Thy cleansing blood.” He wrote this hymn in German, and John Wesley translated it into English,

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness,
   My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
   With joy shall I lift up my head.

Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
   Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
   For me, e’en for my soul, was shed.

Augustus Toplady (1740-1778) was no fool. He was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He was converted at the age of 15. He was ordained in the Church of England at the age of 24. Elgin S. Moyer said, “The great champion of Calvinism in the Church of England, argued and wrote with great earnestness” (Who Was Who in Church History, Moody Press, 1968, p. 408). This great and scholarly man wrote the hymn we sang before I preached this sermon. In the hymn Toplady called Jesus the Rock of Ages. I heard this hymn for the first time at my grandmother’s funeral, when I was fifteen. It made such an impression on my young mind that I got a hymn book and read the words over and over. It’s number one on your song sheet. Sing it.

Rock of Ages, Cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the Water and the Blood, From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure, Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
   (“Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” by Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778).

It is a prayer to Jesus, who was cleft (torn asunder) on the Cross. It is a prayer to Jesus, asking Him to cleanse us from sin by the water and the Blood that flowed from His wounded side. John saw the Blood and water come out of Jesus’ side. It must mean that the soldier’s spear penetrated the sack of water around the heart of Jesus – and watery Blood sprang forth. It is that watery Blood that is still fresh and available to cleanse you from all sin and save your soul for all time, and for all eternity. When you come to Jesus by faith you are immediately washed clean by His Blood from all sin in the sight of God. Do not look for an emotion or a feeling. Look to Jesus. Trust Him in your heart. You will never forget the day that you were cleansed in the sight of God by the holy and precious Blood of Jesus.

John wrote our text in the third person, but I will put our text in the first person for emphasis.

“One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith [suddenly] came there out blood and water. And [I] saw it [and] gave testimony, and [my] testimony is true. [I know] that [I] tell the truth, and [I] testify so that you may believe” (John 19:34, 35).

John wrote that so you would believe and be saved from sin and judgment by the Blood and water that flowed from the side of Jesus, the Son of God. Don’t try to understand it all. It is too deep for you to fully understand. John wrote it so you would believe it in your heart. When you trust the Lord Jesus, you are washed clean, and you are saved. Amen. Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: John 19:31-37.
Solo Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“A Crown of Thorns” (by Ira F. Stanphill, 1914-1993).