by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles Lord's Day Morning, August 18, 2002

Before I preach this sermon I want you to know that I don't dislike Dr. John MacArthur personally. In fact I have found a great deal of help in his notes in The MacArthur Study Bible. I use it nearly every week, although I disagree with his notes on the Blood of Christ and a few less important points.

Dr. MacArthur was once wrong on another major subject: the eternal Sonship of Christ. But he recently changed to a Biblical position on that subject. We need to pray that he will restudy the Bible regarding the Blood of Christ, and change his view on this subject as well. Perhaps you could send him a xeroxed copy of this sermon and tell him you are praying for him to change his position to a more Biblical one. Please send a xerox of this sermon and a note to:

  Dr. John MacArthur
  c/o Grace Community Church
  13248 Roscoe Blvd.,
  Sun Valley, CA 91352

Now, before the sermon, Mr. Griffith will come to sing for us. (Mr. Griffith sings, "Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?"). Let us stand together. I want you to turn in the Bible to I John, chapter one, verse seven:

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

In The MacArthur Study Bible John MacArthur repeats his oft-stated belief that "Blood is a substitute word for death" (note on Hebrews 9:14). To Dr. MacArthur, "Shedding of blood refers to death" (note on Hebrews 9:22). Dr. MacArthur says that the word "blood" is simply a "metonym" for Christ's death, just another word for death. He has said: 

I believe that to speak of Christ's blood, as it was shed on the Cross, is the same as referring to his death (ref. "John MacArthur's Closing Statement," in Preaching to a Dying Nation, by R. L. Hymers, Jr. and Christopher Cagan, Hearthstone, 1999, p. 173). 

This view, that Christ's Blood is only another name for His death, leads into MacArthur's belief that the Blood of Christ was not translated into Heaven. In The MacArthur Study Bible, he tells us, 

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

Hence, to MacArthur, there is no Blood in Heaven. 

This leads logically to the position that the Bible is wrong to present two elements in the Lord's Supper, the bread and the cup (ref. Matthew 26:26-28; I Corinthians 11:24-25). MacArthur says, 

I believe that to speak of Christ's blood…is the same as referring to his death. They aren't two separate elements as some people are trying to teach ("John MacArthur's Closing Statement," ibid.). 

This can only mean that "some people" like Christ (Matthew 26:26-28) and Paul (I Corinthians 11:24-25) were wrong when they said that the death of Christ and the Blood of Christ are "two separate elements" in the Lord's Supper. The only conclusion we can draw is that MacArthur thinks Christ and the Apostle Paul were both wrong!  

Dr. MacArthur's teachings thus contain the following doctrines: 

1. The Blood is merely another word for the death of Christ. 

2. The Blood of Christ does not exist in Heaven. 

3. The Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ Himself were both wrong in telling us that the Blood of Christ and the death of Christ were to be memorialized in the Last Supper as "two separate elements." 

Yet the Bible says, 

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

This verse alone should be enough to correct MacArthur on all three points! 

Today I will speak on this subject under two points: 

1. Dr. MacArthur teaches things about the Blood not revealed in the Scriptures. 

2. Dr. MacArthur neglects things about resurrected blood that are revealed in the Scriptures. 

Someone may say, "Why bring this up at all? What difference does it make?" To answer these questions, I give this quotation from the first great Reformer, Martin Luther: 

 If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is merely flight and disgrace, if he flinches at that point (Martin Luther). 

The seemingly "little point" that MacArthur and his followers are attacking is the viability of the Blood of Christ! And the Bible tells us that this is truly no small point, because 

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

Therefore I will answer Dr. MacArthur regarding his false doctrine. 

I. Dr. MacArthur teaches things about the Blood of Christ
 which are not revealed in the Bible. 

I know where Dr. MacArthur learned his false doctrines regarding the Blood of Jesus. Back in the fall of 1961 a friend and I went to hear Colonel R. B. Thieme, Jr. Thieme was teaching on the Blood of Christ. My friend and I sat four rows behind John MacArthur. MacArthur took notes throughout Thieme's lecture. Here is what Colonel Thieme taught John MacArthur about the Blood of Christ that night: 

Thieme denied that the Blood of Christ at Calvary is to be taken literally with regard to our salvation. 

 Thieme denied that Christ literally presented His Blood to the Father in Heaven (cf. The False Teaching of R. B. Thieme, Jr. by Rev. Robert G. Walter). 

The teachings of Colonel Thieme can be studied by obtaining his book The Blood of Christ (R. B. Thieme, Jr., Houston, Texas: Berachah Publications, 1974). I am an eyewitness to the fact that John MacArthur learned these doctrines from Colonel Thieme back in 1961. Now MacArthur has spread these false teachings throughout the churches everywhere, and these twisted doctrines are now enshrined in The MacArthur Study Bible. Today many so-called fundamentalists have learned Thieme's putrid doctrines from MacArthur. This has done great harm to the cause of Christ and gospel preaching in general. I believe that it is part of the end-time apostasy. 

Not long ago I had lunch with a Baptist pastor who graduated from Dr. MacArthur's seminary. I told this young pastor that I believed the Blood of Jesus was translated into Heaven. The pastor looked at me out of the corner of his eye and said, 

You don't think an angel came down with a golden cup and scooped up the Blood and took it to Heaven, do you? That's a medieval Catholic teaching, that the Blood of Christ was carried to Heaven in a golden cup. 

Dr. MacArthur has said that so often that young pastors who attend his college and seminary come out parroting it, "You don't think an angel took Christ's Blood to Heaven in a golden cup, do you? That's a medieval Catholic teaching." 

I didn't answer the pastor. I didn't want to have an argument at lunch. But I went home and thought about it. It was only after I got home that I remembered where MacArthur got that question, which the pastor learned from him. MacArthur got that question from Colonel R. B. Thieme! I remember hearing Thieme ask in a sarcastic voice, "You don't think an angel came and took Christ's Blood to Heaven in a golden cup, do you? That's a medieval Catholic teaching." Those were the exact words of Thieme, although I'm sure that the young pastor is unaware of their true source. Now MacArthur and his followers repeat these same words from Colonel Thieme. 

Well, let's look at that question, and think about it in detail from a Biblical standpoint. Before we rush to judgment, we should remember that the medieval Catholics were not wrong on everything. After all, they believed in the Trinity. They were not wrong on that subject. They believed in the virgin birth of Christ. They were not wrong on that subject. They believed in the ascension of Christ, physically, into Heaven, after His resurrection. They were not wrong on that subject. Doesn't John MacArthur believe these doctrines himself? I believe he does. I don't think he rejects any of these doctrines just because medieval Catholics believed them. So, just because medieval Catholics believed a doctrine doesn't necessarily make it a false doctrine, does it? Then, the mere fact that they believed the Blood of Christ was taken into Heaven in a gold cup doesn't, in and of itself, make that a false doctrine, does it? So, first, the fact that some medieval Catholics believed it doesn't necessarily make it false. 

Second, what about an angel doing this? Do you really have a problem with that? If you do, may I ask why? Angels abound in the account of Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension. As these events are recorded in the four gospels, angels are present everywhere! When Jesus sweat as it were great drops of Blood, in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before He was crucified, an angel came to Him: 

"And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him" (Luke 22:43). 

Later that night, when Peter pulled out his sword to defend Jesus, the Lord said to him: 

"Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:52-53). 

John MacArthur himself tells us, "This would represent more than 72,000 angels…this many angels would make a formidable army" ( The MacArthur Study Bible, note on Matthew 26:53). 

Then, when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the sepulchre where the Body of Jesus had been put, they found that the door to the tomb was open. Then we read, 

"The angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it…And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said" (Matthew 28:2-6). 

So, very plainly, a great angel came, rolled back the stone that covered the door to the tomb, and then announced the resurrection of Christ. Doesn't Dr. MacArthur believe this? I think he does. 

Then, in Acts, chapter one, we are told that the Disciples stood gazing up into Heaven after Jesus ascended. Then we read, 

"And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?…" (Acts 1:10-11). 

So, two angels were present when Jesus ascended back to Heaven, according to the Bible. Surely Dr. MacArthur believes this! 

So, the Bible says that angels appeared all through the account of Christ's agony, death, resurrection and ascension. Therefore we should not be surprised if another one scooped up His Blood in a golden cup and took it to Heaven! 

What about that golden cup? Isn't it a weird, medieval Catholic doctrine to say that something made out of gold was taken into Heaven? Not at all! The Bible tells us a great deal about things made of gold that are in Heaven. We are told in Revelation 4:4 that the twenty-four elders in Heaven have "on their heads crowns of gold" (Revelation 4:4). In Revelation chapter twenty-one, we are told that "the city was pure gold" (Revelation 21:18). The new Jerusalem, Heaven itself, is made of gold! And later, in that same chapter, we are told, "the street of the city was pure gold" (Revelation 21:21). 

Oh, and one more thing: we are specifically told in the Bible that there are golden cups in Heaven! The Bible says: 

"And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials [cups or bowls] full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever"
 (Revelation 15:7). 

Yes, it is quite clear that there are golden cups in Heaven! Surely Dr. MacArthur must believe that! 

Then, what about the Blood of Christ being in Heaven? Well, the Bible itself quite strongly and plainly lists Christ's Blood as one of the things in Heaven. It says that Jesus and His Blood of sprinkling are now in Mount Sion, the city of the living God. Up in Heaven, you come to 

"…Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel" (Hebrews 12:24). 

Thus, the Bible plainly tells us that Jesus and His Blood are now in Heaven (Hebrews 12:24). 

So, when MacArthur asks that question, it begins to sound like a rather strange, unbelieving, we might even say "liberal" question, doesn't it? It sounds oddly unbelieving and sarcastic when he asks, 

You don't think an angel came down with a golden cup and scooped up His Blood and took it to Heaven, do you? 

What a very odd and materialistically unspiritual question! 

The Bible teaches us to believe in angels. The Bible teaches us that there is a great deal of gold, including golden cups, in Heaven. The Bible teaches that "the blood of sprinkling" is in Heaven (ref. Hebrews 12:24). 

Now, someone may ask if I believe that an angel took the Blood of Christ to Heaven in a golden cup. My answer - I don't know. The Bible doesn't say one way or the other. But here is where I take exception to Dr. MacArthur's view - he says he knows! He tells us he knows for sure that this didn't happen. I ask you - how does he know? He intrudes into things not revealed in the Scriptures. In this way, Dr. MacArthur is as bad as the medieval Catholics. In fact, he is worse! Those Catholics said that the Blood was taken up into Heaven in a golden cup. Dr. MacArthur says that there is no Blood in Heaven at all. Which view, I ask you, is worse? Both of them rely on extra-Biblical reasoning, but which one is worse? 

Since the Bible specifically tells us that Christ's Blood is in Heaven, in Hebrews 12:24, I say that Dr. MacArthur's view is worse than that of a medieval Catholic! MacArthur is worse than a medieval Catholic on this point because he rejects the clear revelation of Scripture (Hebrews 12:24). He is actually worse than an ancient Catholic on this all-important doctrine! It is a sad shame when a so-called "Protestant" is worse on an important doctrine like this than a Roman Catholic! 

John MacArthur teaches things about the Blood of Christ which are not revealed in the Bible. This is horrible, because there is no real salvation unless there is real Blood to wash away real sin, from real people who are really lost! 

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

I find, in preparing this sermon, that I have already done twenty handwritten pages! Therefore I can't give you point II until tonight! Please come back tonight at 6:30 for point II, "Dr. MacArthur neglects things about resurrected blood that are revealed in the Scriptures." 

 There is no more important subject than the Blood of Jesus Christ. To have your sins washed away, you must have the Blood of Christ. To get to Heaven, you must have the Blood of Christ. 

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

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).

Is the Blood of Christ still fresh and incorruptible? Yes, it is. The Bible says so: 

"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things…but with the precious blood of Christ…" (I Peter 1:18-19). 

Regardless of what Colonel Thieme and John MacArthur tell us, these two verses plainly say that the Blood of Christ is not corruptible. It takes some real twisting of the Greek for them to get around this verse! Also, the Bible plainly tells us that "the blood of sprinkling" is in Heaven (ref. Hebrews 12:24). 

The preservation of Jesus' Blood is a miracle. Dr. M. R. DeHaan correctly said that the Blood of Christ 

…is still in existence, and is just as fresh as when it flowed from His wounded brow and hands and feet and side. The blood shed on Calvary was imperishable blood. It is called "incorruptible" (M. R. DeHaan, M.D., The Chemistry of the Blood, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1943, pp. 27, 24). 

Andrew Murray said the same thing in his classical book, The Blood of the Cross:  

The Spirit lived and worked in that blood, so that when it was shed it could not decay as a dead thing, but as a living reality, it could be taken up to heaven… (Andrew Murray, The Blood of the Cross, second edition, 1935, p. 10). 

Murray correctly said that the Blood of Christ is "ever fresh" and "imperishable" (ibid., p. 12). 

The Blood of Christ was kept fresh and imperishable, just as the wounds of Christ were kept fresh by a miracle eight days after Jesus rose from the dead. When Christ met doubting Thomas, eight days after His resurrection, He said to Thomas, 

"Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing" (John 20:27). 

Luther pointed out that those wounds would normally have been clotted and healing, or corrupted and rotting. But the wounds were still fresh eight days later. God kept the wounds of Christ fresh from corruption by a miracle. 

When Lazarus died, they buried him in a tomb. Four days later Jesus came and told them to take away the stone from the door of the tomb. Then "Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days" (John 11:39). In the hot environment of the Middle East, a dead body would be rotting by the fourth day. Yet a full eight days after Jesus was crucified, the wounds in His body were not closed, rotting tissue at all. The wounds in His hands, feet, and side were as open and fresh as when He was buried! God kept the wounds of Jesus from corrupting by a miracle! Jesus told Thomas to thrust his hands into those wounds, and "be not faithless, but believing." 

Why shouldn't God be able to keep the Blood of Jesus fresh as well? God can perform miracles - and He did. God has kept the Blood of Jesus incorruptible by a miracle, just as he kept the wounds of Jesus from corruption. And Christ said to Thomas, "Be not faithless, but believing" (John 20:27). 

Where is the Blood of Jesus today? Great Spurgeon, prince of preachers, tells us: 

When we climb into heaven itself…we shall not have gone beyond the influence of the Blood of sprinkling: nay, we shall see it [the Blood] there more truly present than in 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 (C. H. Spurgeon, "The Blood of Sprinkling," Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 32, p. 121). 

Again, Spurgeon said, "The Lord has gone there [to Heaven], and has sprinkled His blood on the mercy seat" (ibid., March 17, 1889). 

The Bible tells you to have "faith in his blood" (Romans 3:25). I call on you this morning to look to Heaven and have faith in the Blood of Jesus Christ, which is fresh on the mercy seat of God. 

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