John MacArthur and Grace to you, heretical teaching and doctrines of devils.
Anyone who would agree with John Macarthur and defend his position, after reading this would mean they are rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this article puts into question the serious implications of John Macarthur’s teaching on the blood of Christ.
The Bloodless Salvation of Heretic John MacArthur
The Blood of Christ.
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28)
The scriptures are very clear about what God thinks concerning those that profane that which is holy:
Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. (Ezekiel 22:26)
He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
God gives a grave warning to everyone that hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing.
In recent years, the focus has been drawn to the subject of the blood of Christ in the doctrine of the American preacher John Fullerton MacArthur Jr. concerning the blood of Jesus Christ. He published an article titled Not His Bleeding, but His Dying,” published in the May 1976 issue of the Grace to You family paper that is distributed to his church. In the article he notes his position concerning Christ’s blood and death in atonement, mentioning that the efficacy of Christ’s blood is not some particular physical property of the blood itself, but the fact that He shed blood in dying, and his affirmation that Christ’s blood in death was necessary to satisfy God’s holy requirement for atonement.
Such has been the controversy since the publication of this article that MacArthur has issued several statements in his defense. Below is an extract from one of these statements.
Later on in the book of Hebrews in September of 1972, I talked about the ratification of the Old Covenant through the blood of animals and the ratification of the New Covenant through Christ’s death. Here’s an excerpt from that message.
And then he indicates too at the end of verse 19 that he sprinkled not only the book but all the people. And then in Exodus 24 it says he sprinkled the altar and the people. So he sprinkled the altar, the book and the people. There was a bloody thing going on. I don’t think we can really understand how bloody, how messy this whole economy really was. It was a messy, messy thing and there was blood all over everywhere. And this was God by sign and symbol always showing the wages of sin is…what?…death constantly. And there’s no sense in getting teary-eyed and mystical about blood, and we sing hymns, “There’s power in the blood,” etc., and we don’t want to get preoccupied with blood. The only importance the blood of Jesus has is that it showed He died, there is no saving in that blood itself. We cannot say that the very blood of Jesus, His physical blood is what atones for sin, it is His death that atones for sin, His bloodshed was an act of death. And so we do not want to become preoccupied with fantasizing about some mystical blood that’s floating around somewhere. It is by His sacrificial offering of Himself. It is by His death that we are redeemed. Bloodshed is only the picture of His death.
(John MacArthur, Grace to You: Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time The Blood of Christ Scripture: Selected Scriptures Code: 80-44, 2016)
This doctrine has garnered criticism from a number of discernment ministries, organizations and Bible teachers:
The South African based Discerning the World ministry of Thomas Lessing and Deborah Du Rand stated:
…it’s clear John MacArthur is misguided and by denying the blood of Jesus, he denies Jesus Christ.
Baptist Pastor E.L Bynum stated:
The elders were admonished “to feed the church of God, which he bath purchased with his own blood“ (Acts 20:28). Redemption and remission of sins cannot be apart from “faith in his blood” (Rom. 3:24,25). We are “justified by his blood” (Rom. 5:9). “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. . . “ (Eph. 1:7). We “are made nigh by the blood of Christ“ (Eph. 2:13). “We have redemption through his blood“ (Col. 1: 14), and he “made peace through the blood of his cross“ (Col. 1:20).
In Hebrews we are told that “by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9: 12). We are told, “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). We have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus“ (Heb. 10:19). Jesus suffered with out the camp, “that he might sanctify the people with his own blood“ (Heb. 13:12).
John tells us clearly that ”the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin“ (I John 1:7) ”Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5). They will sing of Christ, ”thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood” (Rev. 5:9).
Even though MacArthur believes that he has dispensed with Rev. 1:5, as we previously discussed, he still must face Rev. 7:14. I think he shall find little comfort there. “These are they which came out of great tribulation. and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Even the revised texts, and their new version offspring, such as NIV, and the ASV, give MacArthur not one whit of aid and comfort. If the blood itself has no significance, then why do we have all of these Scriptures?
(John MacArthur and the Blood of Christ published August 1986 in the Plains Baptist Challenger)
WORLD CONGRESS OF FUNDAMENTALISTS PASSES RESOLUTION ON THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
Meeting on the campus of Bob Jones University on August 4-8, 1986, the World Congress of Fundamentalists wanting “to distance themselves from the false teaching of John Macarthur” passed a resolution on the blood of Christ which can be read below. In the assessment of Pastor Bynum, the timing of this resolution was a reaction to John Macarthur’s heretical stance.
“While MacArthur’s name is not mentioned in the Bible Study or in the Resolution, there is no doubt in my mind as to why they are speaking out at this very time. While MacArthur is trying to make out like fundamental leaders are in agreement with him on the blood, we venture to say that there are many fundamental pastors who are deeply disturbed over his stand. We believe that there are many who want to distance themselves from the false teaching of John MacArthur.”
On 22nd September, 2002 Dr. R. L. Hymers Jr. preached a sermon titled The Cults, Dr. MacArthur, and the Blood of Christ. At the very beginning he stated:
Listen to this quotation:
The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious [effective, powerful] to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon “the accursed tree” than when it was flowing in his veins.
Who said that? Was it John MacArthur? Was it his teacher, Colonel Thieme? No! No! It was Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science cult! (cf. Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 1910, p. 330). Mrs. Eddy was a neo-gnostic who believed that “Jesus, as material manhood, was not Christ” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 84).
But our text corrects her error. The Lord’s Supper shows that Jesus has a real Body. When we eat the bread we are reminded that His real Body actually died
on the Cross. It was not a “Christ-Spirit” that died on the Cross. And it was the real flesh and bone Jesus that rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven (cf. Luke 24:39; Acts 1:10-11).
But the text also reminds us that He has real, material Blood:
“After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me”
(I Corinthians 11:25).
Yes, the Blood of Jesus is real also. The cup reminds us of His real Blood. The actual physical, “material” Blood of Jesus flowed from His hands, His feet, and His thorn-crowned brow, as He hung on the Cross. And He said, “This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (I Corinthians 11:25). But Mrs. Eddy and John MacArthur deny that the “material” Blood of Jesus saves us!
When the Bible speaks of the blood of Christ is it literal or is it an allusion?
In his book, The Power of the Blood of Jesus, Andrew Murray writes:
- WHEREIN DOES THE POWER OF THAT BLOOD LIE? or what is it that gives to the blood of Jesus such power? How is it that in the blood, alone, there is power possessed by nothing else?
The answer to this question is found in Leviticus xvii. 11. “The life of the flesh is in the blood” and “I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”
It is because the soul, or life, is in the blood; and that the blood is offered to God on the altar, that it has in it redemptive power.
- The soul or life is in the blood, therefore the value of the blood corresponds to the value of the life that is in it.
The life of a sheep, or goat, is of less value than the life of an ox, and so the blood of a sheep or a goat in an offering, is of less value than the blood of an ox (Lev. iv. 3, 24, 27).
The life of man is more valuable than that of many sheep or oxen.
And now who can tell the value or the power of the blood of Jesus? In that blood, dwelt the soul of the holy Son of God.
The eternal life of the Godhead was carried in that blood (Acts xx. 28).
The power of that blood in its divers effects is nothing less than the eternal power of God Himself. What a glorious thought for everyone who desires to experience the full power of the blood
ii. But the power of the blood lies above everything else in the fact that it is offered to God on the altar for redemption.
In his book, The Scarlet Thread through the Bible, Dr. Adrian Rogers wrote:
Blood is throughout Scripture, but what does Christ’s blood mean to us?
His blood redeems us. There was a price against us that we could not pay, but the blood of Jesus redeemed us. First Peter 1:18-19 says, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
His blood brings us into fellowship with God. According to Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” Without the blood of Christ, man is a long way from God.
His blood makes peace with God. Man, by nature, is at war with God; and we can only come to God on His peace terms—the blood atonement. The Bible says in Colossians 1:20, “And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself …”
His blood cleanses. Not only does it remove the punishment of sin, it removes the pollution. I don’t care what sin you’ve committed; “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
His blood gives power over the devil. It’s the blood that Satan fears. Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb …” The devil doesn’t want you to learn about the blood. He hates it!
Before this planet was ever swung into space, God had determined in His heart that He would send His Son to die upon the cross. How wonderful it is to trace the scarlet thread of the blood of Christ woven throughout the Bible! How much more wonderful to experience its redemption personally. Praise God for the blood of His Lamb!
In his book, The Blood of Jesus, by The Rev. William Reid M.A wrote:
It is nowhere written in Scripture, “The work Of GOD’S Holy Spirit cleanseth us from sin; but it is written that “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin,” (1 John 1:7). What you are called upon, then, more especially to do, is to receive Jesus as your Redeemer, that you may “HAVE REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE,” (Eph. 1:7): for it is written, “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” (John 1:12). We are not required to be prepared as sons, and then come and be accepted of God, be justified, and have our sins pardoned through Jesus; but we are instructed to come to Jesus in order to our being justified freely by His grace, and made sons through living union with Him who is the eternal Son of God. We are justified freely as sinners, and being thus accepted in the Beloved, we become sons of God, and have the nature, experience, and walk of His children. Awakened sinner! Begin at the beginning of the alphabet of salvation, by looking upon Him who was pierced on Calvary’s cross for our sins-look to the Lamb of God, and keep continually looking unto Jesus, and not at your repentings, resolutions, reformations, praying, reading, hearing, or anything of yours as forming any reason why you should be accepted, pardoned, and saved-and you will soon find peace, and take your place among them that “worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,” (Phil. 3:3).
I do not know a more striking illustration of salvation by the blood of Jesus alone, than that which is furnished by the sprinkling of the blood of the passover lamb on the homes of the Israelites, on the eve of their redemption from the bondage of Egypt. “The blood on the lintel secured Israel’s peace.” There was nothing more required in order to enjoy settled peace, in reference to the destroying angel, than the application of “the blood of sprinkling.” God did not add anything to the blood, because nothing more was necessary to obtain salvation from the sword of judgment. He did not say, “When I see the blood and the unleavened bread or bitter herbs, I will pass over.” By no means. These things had their proper place, and their proper value; but they never could be regarded as the ground of peace in the presence of God.
It is most needful to be simple and clear as to what it is which constitutes the- groundwork of peace. So many things are mixed up with the work of Christ, that souls are plunged in darkness and uncertainty as to their acceptance. They know that there is no other way of being saved but by the blood of Christ; but the devils know this, and it avails them nought. What is needed is to know that -we are saved -absolutely, perfectly, eternally saved. There is no such thing as being partly saved and partly lost; partly justified and partly guilty; partly alive and partly dead; partly born of God and partly not. There are but the two states, and we must be in either the one or the other.
The Israelite was not partly sheltered by the blood, and partly exposed to the sword of the destroyer. He knew he was safe. He did not hope so. He was not praying to be so. He was perfectly safe. And why? Because God hath said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you,” (Exod. 12:13). He simply rested upon God’s testimony about the shed blood. He set to his seal that God was true. He believed that God meant what He said, and that gave him peace. He was able to take his place at the paschal-feast, in confidence, quietness, and assurance, knowing that the destroyer could not touch him, when a spotless victim had died in his stead.
If an Israelite had been asked as to his enjoyment of peace, what would he have said? Would he have said, “I know there is no other way of escape but by the blood of the lamb; and I know that that is a divinely perfect way; and, moreover, I know that that blood has been shed and sprinkled on my door-post; but somehow, I do not feel quite comfortable. I am not quite sure if I am, safe. I fear I do not value the blood as I ought, nor love the God of my fathers as I ought?” Would such five been his answer? Assuredly not. And yet hundreds of professing Christians speak thus, when asked if they have peace. They put their thoughts about the blood in place of the blood itself, and thus, in result, make salvation as much dependent upon themselves as if they were to be saved by works.
Now, the Israelite was saved by the blood alone, and not by his thoughts about it. His thoughts might be deep or they might be shallow; but, deep or shallow, they had nothing to do with his safety. He was not saved by his thoughts or feelings, but by the blood. God did not say, “When you see the blood, I will pass over you.” No : but ‘when I see.’ What gave an Israelite peace was the fact that Jehovah’s eye rested on the blood. This tranquillised his heart. The blood was outside, and the Israelite inside, so that he could not possibly see it; but God saw it, and that was quite enough.
The application of this to the question of a sinner’s peace is very plain. Christ, having shed His blood as a perfect atonement for sin, has taken it into the presence of God and sprinkled it there; and God’s testimony assures the believer that everything is settled on his behalf. All the claims of justice have been fully answered, sin has been perfectly put away, so that the full tide of redeeming love may roll down from the heart of God, along the channel which the sacrifice of Christ has opened for it.
H.A. Maxwell Whyte in his article, The Power of the Blood of Jesus, wrote:
Jesus Christ has no sin in His body, but He allowed Himself to die for the sins of a sinful humanity. He gave the perfect life that was in His perfect Blood to redeem poor mankind who carried death in their bodies -pure Blood for imperfect, contaminated blood. Life for life, for the life is in the blood. This is why Jesus is described as the last Adam. God sent Him to earth in the likeness of sinful Adam, but with pure uncontaminated Blood in his veins. God sent Him so that He might shed that pure Blood of His for the life of humanity. It is highly important for us to understand that the category of Jesus’ Blood was different. Peter rightly describes it as “precious blood” (1 Peter 1:19). It is not possible to evaluate the Blood of Jesus by human values. It is priceless. It is God’s price for the redemption of the whole human race.
A great miracle takes place when a man trusts in Jesus and accepts Him as his personal Savior. Immediately, a great cleansing takes place, and the sin that is in the blood stream is purged. “For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the Lord dwells in Zion” (Joel 3:21). When we receive Jesus, the Bible declares that the heart is cleansed by the Blood of Jesus. This may be more literal than some would dare to believe. If the sin which is in our blood stream is purged and spiritual filth is washed out, then certainly the very heart which pumps the blood may be spoken of as being cleansed. By the miracle of salvation, we receive both eternal life and the divine health of the Son of God. The greatest disinfectant in the world is the Blood of Jesus Christ. It carries the eternal life of God in it.
In this connection it is interesting to note that Satan’s nickname Beelzebub means “Lord of the Flies,” or “Prince of the flies.” Dead blood will quickly attract to itself flies, which will breed corruption in the coagulation blood; but the Blood of Jesus has exactly the opposite effect: it repulses Beelzebub and all his demons. When you put the Blood of Jesus on something, or place someone or something under the Blood by faith, Satan will flee because the Blood of Jesus is alive. The life is in the Blood. So, do not underestimate the power of the Blood of Jesus. In Leviticus 17, we read, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the BLOOD THAT MAKETH AN ATONEMENT FOR THE SOUL.” The Apostle, therefore, made no mistake when he wrote, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).
Some people say that it is enough to have just the name of Jesus. But this is not so. We need the Name and the Blood, for the life is in the Blood. There is power in the name of Jesus only because He shed His own Blood and offered it to His Father, who thereupon gave His power and His authority to His Son (Matthew 28:18). This same power and authority is given to all believers (Luke 10:19), but it only becomes operative as we honor His blood.
Mike Oppenheimer wrote:
What does it mean that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin?
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
1 John 1:7 “And the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin kai (NT:2498) to (NT:3543) haima (NT:127) Ieesou (NT:2389) tou (NT:3543) huiou (NT:5148) autou (NT:839) katharizei (NT:2477) heemas (NT:2214) apo (NT:569) pasees (NT:3909) hamartias (NT:263). This clause with kai (NT:2498) in true Johannine style is coordinate with the preceding one. Walking in the light with God makes possible fellowship with one another and is made possible also by the blood of Jesus (real blood and no mere phantom, atoning blood of the sinless Son of God for our sins). John is not ashamed to use this word. It is not the mere “example” of Jesus that “cleanses” us from sin. It does cleanse the conscience and life and nothing else does (Hebrews 9:13 f; Titus 2:14). See in 1 John 1:9 both forgiveness and cleansing. Compare 1 John 3:3. (from Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament)
1 John 1:7 Cleanseth katharizei (NT:2477). See the note at Mark 7:19. Not only forgives but removes. Compare Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:13 ff; Hebrews 9:22 ff; Ephesians 5:26 ff; Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:3. Compare also 1 John 1:9, where forgive afee (NT:858) and cleanse katharisee (NT:2477) occur, with an obvious difference of meaning. Note the present tense cleanseth. The cleansing is present and continuous. (from Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament)
1 John 1:7 [The blood of Jesus … cleanseth us from all sin]-daily contracted through the weakness of the flesh, and the power of Satan and the world. He is speaking, not of justification through His blood once for all, but of present sanctification (“cleanseth”), which the believer, walking in the light, and having fellowship with God and the saints, enjoys as his privilege. Compare John 13:10, `He that has been bathed [leloumenos (NT:3026)] needeth not save to wash [nipsasthai (NT:3494)] his feet, but is clean every whit.’ Compare 1 John 1:9, “cleanse us from all unrighteousness:” a further step besides `forgiving us our sins.’ Christ’s blood is the mean whereby, being already justified, and in fellowship with God, we become gradually clean from all sin which would mar fellowship with God. Faith applies the cleansing, purifying blood. (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary)
1 John 1:7 heemas (NT:2214), continues to cleanse us, i.e., to keep clean what it has made clean” (from Adam Clarke’s Commentary)
“All sin” pasees means sin in all its forms and activities. John refutes the error that we have no sin nature, by using the word sin in the singular. It is not just the committal of sin but the principle of sin, sin in a general sense, sin of every description. The basic definition of sin is the transgression of the law. The Greek word for sin means “missing the mark,” God’s law, and His commands which come from his nature are the mark or standard that we aim at and miss. 1 Jn.5:17 “All unrighteousness is sin,” and anything not done in faith is sin.
God’s means of cleansing the sinner is by the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, which cleanses us completely and brought us into fellowship with God; this same blood of Jesus keeps us clean from all sin that would sever that fellowship. This is a continual cleansing from daily sins that are present from our fallen nature. The believer still struggles against his sinful nature, the confession of sin brings our trespasses to the light. The Scripture tells us To “walk in the light, as he is in the light” to have fellowship (koinonia) with the brethren and God.
This means lives of holiness and purity; characteristic of being a light in the world, an example of Christ. We are to walk in the truth; that is, embracing the truth in opposition to error. John 3:19- those who are darkness like it, and do not want to come to the light. God is light and Christianity is about those who come to light to know the depth of their darkness.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession of sins, Greek- homologeia – “to say the same things as” God does about our sins. To agree with God is the only prerequisite for our complete forgiveness and cleansing. If we agree with God about our sins, confess them, we are forgiven and cleansed by our faithful and righteous High Priest!
To practice righteousness is to confess your sin (I Jn. 2:1 we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.) When a Christian does sin, he confesses it (1 John 1:9) and preserves his purification that he has received by the blood of Christ (3:3) and maintains to keep his right standing before God.
It is apparent that John MacArthur believes that mainstream Evangelical Protestant theologians and teachers have, for several centuries, got their understanding wrong and that he (John MacArthur) has the correct understanding on this important issue. Of course this, logically, brings into question the very nature of Christ and the incarnation.
The 1st century Church Fathers, who wrote shortly after the time of the Apostles, and are accepted as being the disciples of the Apostles.
In a letter written by Clement to the church at Corinth in about 95 A.D., Clement speaks of Jesus in the same manner that He is referred to by the apostles,
On account of the Love he bore us, Jesus Christ our Lord gave His blood for us by the will of God; His flesh for our flesh, and His soul for our souls
(Clement of Rome, 1st Clement, 49).
The Epistle of Barnabas is attributed to Paul’s early companion. In it we find the following:
For to this end the Lord endured to deliver up His flesh to corruption, that we might be sanctified through the remission of sins, which is effected by His blood of sprinkling.
God spoke clearly to the people of Israel:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)
It is clear from this that it was NOT, as taught by John MacArthur, simply the death of the animal that atoned, but it was the actual blood! Now let us consider the scriptures:
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
John MacArthur may consider the shed blood of Christ a mere detail and an irrelevance but this is to profane the Holy blood of the Holy one of God.
John Hayworth, 2016