January 1, 1992 / June 1, 1997 Issue
by Ronny F. Wade

Question: Why did God require blood in his sacrifices? 

Answer: Alexander Campbell was correct when he said "the history of sacrifice is the history of atonement, reconciliation, redemption, and remission of sins." Even though the scriptures do not furnish us with an account of the origin of sacrifice, we know that it doubtless is as old as the fall of man. Abel’s offering, a sacrifice of faith, was accepted by God. Since faith cometh by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17), we can only conclude that God had communicated His wishes to man prior to this event recorded in Gen. 4. In order to understand the rite of sacrifice, one must understand the demands of justice regarding payment for sin i.e. the life of the transgressor. Sacrifice, then, is "the solemn and religious infliction of death upon an innocent and unoffending victim, usually by shedding its blood" (Campbell, The Christian System p. 21) By all rights, the transgressor should be put to death for his/her sins. However, God in his mercy allowed a sacrifice to be offered in place of the sinner, thereby granting life and forgiveness. Under the law of Moses these sacrifices were usually animals, but were ineffectual in that they could not take away sin. (Heb 10:4). They merely prefigured or pointed to the coming of Christ who would be the perfect and final atonement for sin, "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Heb 9:12) In Heb 9:22 we read "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without the shedding of blood is no remission." Why the shedding of blood? The answer, I believe lies in the fact that "The life 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." (Lev 17:11) The shedding of the blood of an innocent victim satisfied God’s demands regarding atonement for sin. Since the life was in the blood, the animal died and thus became a sacrifice for the sins of man. We have already noticed that the blood of these animals could not take away sin. The shedding of the blood (death) of Christ accomplished what the blood of animals never could — the complete forgiveness of sin. Jesus in his death became our covering (atonement) for sin I Jn 2:2, 2 Jn 4:10. Regarding this Campbell makes the following observation: "It is a curious and remarkable fact, that God covered Adam and Eve with the skins of the first victims of death, instead of their fig-leaf robes. This may have prefigured the fact, that while sin was atoned or expiated as respects God by the life of the victim, the effect as respects man was a covering for his nakedness and shame, or his sin, which divested him of his primitive innocence and beauty, and covered him with ignominy and reproach." We finite mortals may never understand why God in his infinite wisdom chose to do things the way He did. It is not ours to question. We can, however, rejoice in the fact that He has provided for our forgiveness and made reconciliation a reality.


Question: What are the scriptural considerations in the location of a church building? Could you list them in order of priority? 

Answer: It should first of all be noted that church buildings are authorized under general rather than specific authority. In Heb 10:25 we have the command to assemble, hence the necessity for a place to assemble. Church buildings are an option, not a command. We cannot expect, then, to find in the scriptures a list of considerations for the location of a meeting house. That is a matter of judgment. It would seem to this writer that when brethren consider the location of a building the following things should be taken into account: Does the church want to locate in an area where there are no members, thus providing a base from which to preach the gospel to new people? Or do we want to locate in an area convenient to existing members? Before serious consideration can be given to an exact location one of the above choices needs to be made. In every situation it seems to me that brethren should be careful to locate the building in a place accessible to all; a neighborhood that is advancing rather than deteriorating; one that offers potential for the future. It has always been the feeling of this writer that our buildings should be neat, clean (both inside and out), and modest in appearance. Extravagance is out of the question. It has always bothered me when brethren are quick and generally ready to carpet the building, pad the pews, landscape the grounds with little discussion or hesitation, but when it comes to mission work or the support of a preacher they haggle and argue for hours. Could it be that our priorities are out of order? If our object and goal is the spread of the gospel and service to God, the church building will become a means to an end. Nothing more, nothing less.

Other OPA Article Links:

Querist Column
Church Building


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