Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book Review: Power in the Blood

Power in the Blood. Charles Spurgeon. 1996. Whitaker House. 190 pages.

I am just LOVING the Spurgeon I've been reading the past two weeks. Power in the Blood has six chapters. I'm not completely comfortable calling them chapters because the chapters don't necessarily depend on one another. The book does stay on topic--on task--and each of the chapters adds to the whole book. But each chapter is a little self-contained in a way.

Healing By the Stripes of Jesus (Isaiah 53:5)
The Beginning of Months (Exodus 12:1-2)
God's Watchful Care (Deuteronomy 11:12)
A Tempted Savior--Our Best Help (Hebrews 2:18)
True Unity Promoted (Ephesians 4:3)
Creation's Groans and Saints' Sighs (Romans 8:22-23)

I am not sure I can condense the whole book into a single topic sentence. I could simply say it was a book about the Christian life, about how a Christian should live, reasons to have faith and assurance, reasons to be discerning, persevering, etc. But the book isn't exactly as generic as it may sound. The book is actually interesting and informative. Spurgeon makes connections between Scriptures that I haven't made yet, that I may never have made, yet they make sense. For example, In Power of the Blood, Spurgeon talks a good deal about Passover, and how Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb, he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. I'd definitely made the connection between Jesus' blood making us right with God (justification; reckoned right with God; His blood cleansing us of our sins and purifying us with his righteousness), but I'd NOT made the connection between the unleavened bread and sanctification. How in celebrating Passover, they are to remove leaven from all their homes, they were only to eat unleavened bread for those seven days. Anyway, I'm not sure if insights and connections like that are life-changing enough to make a difference in how I live day by day, but there are plenty more insights in Power in the Blood. It's rich in Scripture, rich in truth.

My favorite quotes:

Sin is disturbing to manhood: sin unmans a man. Sin is sadly destructive to man; it takes the crown from his head, the light from his mind, and the joy from his heart. We may name many grievous diseases that are destroyers of our race, but the greatest of these is sin. (10-11)

The remedy for your sins and mine is found in the substitutionary sufferings of the Lord Jesus, and in these alone. These stripes of the Lord Jesus Christ were on our behalf. Do you ask, "Is there anything for us to do to remove the guilt of sin?" I answer: There is nothing whatsoever for you to do. By the stripes of Jesus we are healed. All those stripes He has endured, and He has not left one of them for us to bear.
"But do we not have to believe on Him?" Yes, certainly. If I claim that a certain ointment heals, I do not deny that you need a bandage with which to apply it to the wound. Faith is the bandage that binds the ointment of Christ's reconciliation to the sore of our sin. The bandage does not heal; that is the work of the ointment. Likewise, faith does not heal; that is the work of the atonement of Christ.
Do I hear someone say, "But surely I must do something or suffer something"? I answer: You must not try to add anything to Christ's atonement, or you greatly dishonor Him. For your salvation, you must rely on the wounds of Jesus Christ and nothing else. The text does not say, "His stripes help to heal us," but "With his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5).
"But we must repent," cries another. Assuredly we must, and will, for repentance is the first sign of healing; but the stripes of Jesus heal us, not our repentance. These stripes, when applied to the heart, work repentance in us: we hate sin because it made Jesus suffer.
When you believe that Jesus suffered for you, then you discover the fact that God will never punish you for the same offense for which Jesus died. His justice will not permit Him to see the debt paid first by the surety, and then again by the debtor. Justice cannot demand a recompense twice; if my bleeding Substitute has borne my guilt, then I cannot bear it. Accepting Christ Jesus as having suffered for me, I have accepted a complete discharge from judicial liability. I have been condemned in Christ, and there is, therefore, now no condemnation to me anymore (Romans 8:1). (22-23)

We hear a great deal about the beauty of Christ's moral character, and assuredly our blessed Lord deserves to be highly exalted for His character, but that is not the aspect under which He is food to a soul conscious of sin. The chief relish about our Lord Jesus to a penitent sinner is His sin-bearing and His agonies. We need the suffering Savior, the Christ of Gethsemane, the Christ of Golgotha and Calvary, Christ shedding His blood in the sinner's stead and bearing for us the fire of God's wrath. Nothing short of this will suffice to be food for a hungry heart. Withhold this, and you starve the child of God.
We are told in Exodus 12:9 that they were not to eat any of the lamb raw. Alas! There are some who try to do this with Christ, for they preach a half-atoning sacrifice. They try to make His person and His character to be food for their souls, but they have small liking for His passion. They cast His atonement into the background or represent it as an ineffective atonement that does not rescue any soul. What is this but to devour a raw Christ?
I will not touch their half-roasted lamb; I will have nothing to do with their half substitution, their half-complete redemption. No, no. Give me a Savior who has borne all my sins in His own body (1 Peter 2:24) and so has been roasted with fire to the full. "It is finished" (John 19:30) is the most charming note in all of Calvary's music. "It is finished." The fire has passed upon the Lamb. He has borne the whole of the wrath that was due to His people. This is the royal dish of the feast of love.
There are a multitude of teachers who want to have the Lamb boiled with water, though the Scripture says, "Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water" (Exodus 12:9). I have heard it said that a great number of sermons are about Christ and the Gospel yet neither Christ nor His Gospel are preached in them. If so, the preachers present the Lamb boiled in the water of their own thoughts and speculations and notions.
Now, the harm in this boiling process is that the water takes away a good deal from the meat. Likewise, philosophical discourses on the Lord Jesus take away much of the essence and virtue of His person, offices, work, and glory. The real juice and vital nutrients of His glorious Word are carried off by interpretations that do not explain, but explain away. How many boil away the soul of the Gospels by their carnal wisdom!
What is worse still, when meat is boiled not only does the meat get into the water, but the water gets into the meat. So, what truth these gospel-boilers do hand out is boiled with error, and you receive from them dishes made up partly of God's truth and partly of men's imaginings. We hear in some measure solid Gospel and in larger measure mere watery reasoning. When certain preachers preach atonement, it is not pure and simple substitution; one hardly knows what it is. Their atonement is not the vicarious sacrifice, but a performance of a long list of things. They have a theory that is like the remainders of meat after days of boiling, all strings and fibers.
People use all kinds of schemes to try to extract the marrow and fatness from the grand, soul-satisfying doctrine of substitution, which to my mind is the choicest truth that can ever be brought forth for the food of souls. (49-51)

How long should a person thank God for forgiving his sins? Is life long enough? Is time long enough? Is eternity long enough? How long should a man thank God for saving him from going down to hell? Would fifty years suffice? Oh, no, that would never do; the blessing is too great to all be sung of in a millennium. (69)

I pray that God will always preserve us from a unity in which truth is considered valueless, in which principle gives place to policy, in which the masculine virtues of the Christian hero are supplemented by an effeminate, fake love. May the Lord deliver us from indifference to His Word  and will, for this creates a cold unity--like masses of ice frozen into an iceberg, chilling the air for miles around; or like the unity of the dead as they sleep in their graves, contending for nothing because they no longer have a part in the land of the living. (138)

The unity of the Spirit never requires any support of sin. (137)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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