Dedicated To The Men of God Who Preach the Word of God As It
Is To Men As They Are
"Preach The Word"
BLOOD, BREAD, AND FIRE
Dr. Vance Havner
THE Christian life is an experience of blood, bread, and fire.
Of all the accusations hurled at the gospel, none
is more ridiculous than that it is pale and uninteresting .
Of course, we do not expect the natural man to be
charmed by it. Unto us who believe and unto us
only, is Christ precious. But, contrary to popular
notion, the most pale and insipid experience on earth
is a life without Christ. The fact is, the unbeliever
is dead, and a dead man certainly is not a very colorful
spectacle . If sinners are dead in trespasses and
sins, and if "she that liveth in pleasure is dead while
she liveth," then every haunt of sin is a morgue and
every frolic of the devil is a funeral.
Sometimes we listen to these poor, animated corpses
all excited over their little tempests in teapots,
chattering away in a "much ado about nothing," and
we wonder how people can talk so much and say so
little. The styles, the latest movies, the races, the base -
ball scores, the latest jokes (most of them a hundred
years old)—one listens and hopes that presently they
will strike something more serious . But no, they have
struck bottom ; this is their life. Then we think of t e
heroes of faith who marched through this earth moving
mountains by the might of God, and we could laugh
were it not so pitiable—these poor souls who say that
being a Christian is such an uninteresting way to live!
But perhaps they got their idea from watching some
professing Christians who are terribly poor advertisements
of the faith. Certainly if the gospel could do
no more for us than some professing Christians have
allowed it to do for them, it would be a tame affair.
We have sat in some churches through a dreary service,
a lifeless round of uprisings and downsittings ,
and found it hard to think of that assembly following
in the train of the early "fools for Christ's sake," who
upset a world.
Yet we should not judge the faith by its worst representatives.
There are many who have proved the Christian
life to be what it really is—a mighty experience
of blood, bread, and fire. When the average man thinks
of a Christian, he thinks of churches and choirs, preachers
and prayers, perhaps blue laws and Puritanic restrictions.
Few think of a Christian as the greatest of
miracles, a sinner saved through the blood of Christ ,
sustained by the bread of Christ, aflame with the
heavenly fire .
The Christian life is, first of all, an experience of
blood, for, however unpleasant it may be to some sensitive
souls, the gospel is soaked and saturated with the
crimson flood of Calvary. "Without shedding of blood
there is no remission of sins ." The sacrifices of Cain
may please the aesthetic, but the gory lamb of Abel
found favor with God. We may scribble lovely things
on the door-posts, but it is the blood applied that wards
off the avenging angel . It is not Christ the paragon ,
but Christ the propitiation, Who saves from sin . Critics
may scorn a "bloody gospel" and "slaughter-house theology"
; the blood songs may be taken from our hymnals ,
and professors may even teach that Jesus was tied to
the cross instead of nailed there ; but for all that, He
still declares to the Greeks who would see Jesus, "And
I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men
unto me," and it is the shed blood of a Calvary Christ,
not the idealism of a crystal Christ, that makes the
sinner white as snow.
Our redemption is through His blood (Eph . 1 : 7) .
We are redeemed with His precious blood, not with
silver and gold (I Pet . 1 : 18) . He purchased the church
with His blood (Acts 20 :28) . His blood is the ground
of forgiveness, for it was shed for many for the remission
of sins (Matt . 26: 28) . It is the ground of justification(Rom . 5 : 9)
and our peace, since He made peace through the blood of His
cross (Col . 1 : 20) . By His blood we have access to God, forwe who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of
Christ (Eph. 2 : 13) and we have boldness to enter
into the holiest by the blood of Christ (Heb . 10: 19) .
By His blood we have daily cleansing, for if we walk
in the light as He is in the light . . . His blood cleanses
from all sin. (I John 1 : 7) . This, then, is the way of the cross and of course
it is foolishness to the natural man . If Christ had propounded
a clever philosophy or preached a lavenderand-
rosewater idealism, men would gladly be His disciples,
but to live through One Who died and to be
saved by One Who could not save Himself, and abov e
all to be saved through the merits of His shed bloodnothing
could be more repulsive to the wiseacres of
But whether the fastidious like it or not, there
stands the word of our God : "When I see the blood,
I will pass over you." When we come to God convicted
of sin and repentant toward Him and receive
by faith His Son into our hearts, then the provisions of
the blood become effectually ours ; we have reached
the first phase of the Christian life, the experience of
But the blood must be followed by the bread . After
the Passover blood was applied, the Passover Lamb
was eaten. Christ is not only the Passover Lamb, Whose
blood saves, but also the Passover feast, the bread of
life. The Christian life begins with Christ, the slain
Lamb of God, and the blood applied. But it continues
on the strength of Christ, the Passover feast, as we
feed upon Him by faith. The blood must be followed
by the bread, for except we eat His flesh and drink
His blood, we have no life in us (John 6 : 53) . The
Lord's Supper sets forth, among other things, the bread
of life, Christ our sustenance as well as Christ our
The Jews in Egypt ate all of the lamb; Christ in
His fulness must be appropriated by faith for every
need. They ate it then, not later ; and the time to feed
upon Christ is now. They ate it with bitter herbs ; and
Christ must be received with a humble and contrite
heart. They ate it ready to travel : the Christian is a
pilgrim and stranger and must feed upon Christ as
one whose citizenship is in heaven and who is seeking
a city and bound for another country . There was no
work connected with the Passover ; nor must the believer
mix his own works with the finished work of
grace. The lamb was eaten with unleavened bread;
and so must we purge our hearts of the leaven of sin
and wickedness if we are to feed upon Christ. How
unworthily do men partake of the Lord's Supper, which
symbolizes our feeding upon Christ! Verily, they drink
judgment to themselves and are guilty of the body and
blood of the Lord . No wonder many are weak and
sickly and many sleep !
But how do we feed upon the bread of life? Ou r
Lord made it clear once for all when He said to those
who were puzzled at His teaching : "It is the spirit that
quickeneth ; the flesh profiteth nothing : the words that
I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life "
(John 6: 63) . To feed upon Him is to read and t o
heed His words, to hear and keep His commandments .
If we abide in Him and His words abide in us, we
shall ask what we will and it shall be done unto us
(John 15 :7) . If we love Him we will keep His words,
and the Father will love us, and the Father and Son
will come to us and abide with us (John 14 :23) . Heaven
and earth shall pass away, but His words shall never
pass away (Mark 13 : 31) . But whosoever shall be
ashamed of Him and His words in this adulterous and
sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be
ashamed, when He comes in the glory of His Father
with the holy angels (Mark 8 : 38) .
Christ, the bread, may seem hard doctrine. It seemed
so when He Himself preached it and some asked, "Who
can hear it?" He may have to ask some of us, as He
asked long ago, "Will ye also go away?" God grant
that we may answer as did Peter, "Lord, to whom
shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And
we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the
Son of the living God" (John 6 : 68-69) .
To feed upon the bread, then, is to read the Word
of God, to pray over it, to meditate upon it, and then
go out to observe and do it . Many Christians who know
the safety of the blood do not correspondingly know
as they ought the strength of the bread . The blood
makes safe: the bread makes strong. The Christian
begins his life by coming under the blood for salvation ;
but he continues by the blood for daily cleansing and
the bread for daily food.
But still the Christian life is not complete : there
must be the experience of fire, the fire of Pentecost ,
the fire of the Holy Spirit for power in service and
testimony. The early Christians in the upper room had
come under the blood ; they had fed upon the Word
of Christ, the bread, some of them for three years .
Yet He bade them tarry until they were fire-baptized .
The blood makes safe and the bread makes strong bu t
more is needed for witnessing . And it is just here that
thousands of believers fall short with a pre-Pentecost
experience. They have been taught that a personal
knowledge of Christ is all that one needs, which is tru e
as to salvation, but it is overlooked that these Christians
knew the Lord yet they must wait for power .
It is true that Pentecost, historically, took place once
for all. So did Calvary. But each individual must
personally appropriate the blood by faith and so must
each believer receive by faith the Spirit for power .
The promise of the Spirit is received by faith (Gal.
3 : 14) . It is an experience of spiritual thirst, then
coming to Christ, drinking of the Spirit by faith, believing
and overflowing (John 7 : 37-39) .
So the blood and bread must be accompanied by
fire. We have fundamentalism and facts ; we have
activity and earnestness and sincerity ; we even have
blood-washed and blood-nourished Christians, well -
taught in the Word, who still lack fire . Some are
prejudiced against it, identifying any definite experience
of the Spirit with fanaticism . Some see nothing but a
gradual growth in grace . Some mistake the indwelling
of the Spirit for the infilling. Some have "received "
with a cheap and easy "believism" who somehow did
not receive after all. For many reasons the church is
largely behind closed doors as before Pentecost, and
believers try to stir up a fire from their own sparks
instead of being set on fire of God .
We are not here advocating some wild and weird
emotional experience, but we do hold that he who seeks
to burn out for God will have to go deeper than sentence
prayers and occasional wishful thinking. There
must be a holy heartburn and a consuming longing for
the fulness of the Spirit . Tears and fastings and all
night prayers have no value of themselves, but God
will reward the man who forgets all else seeking the
double portion of "power with God and men ." It is
not that God is stingy and must be coaxed, for He
"giveth liberally and upbraideth not." It is that we
ourselves are so shallow and sinful that we need to
tarry before Him until our restless natures can be
stilled and the clamor of outside voices be deadened
so that we can hear His voice . Such a state is not easily
reached, and the men God uses have paid a price in
wrestlings and prevailing prayer . But it is such men
who rise from their knees confident of His power and
go forth to speak with authority and not as the scribes .
I saw a human life ablaze with God ;
I felt a power divine
As through an empty vessel of frail clay
I saw God's glory shine.
Then woke I from a dream, and cried aloud :
"My Father, give to me
The blessing of a life consumed by God,
That I may live for Thee!"
The blood, the bread, the fire—may yours be the
trinity of a full experience!
SERMON BY DR. VANCE HAVNER
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