In the original lecture series done in 1984 at the Loma Linda University Church, Graham Maxwell spoke for about a half hour each Friday night followed by written questions and answers from Lou Venden and also from the audience. The next several posts contain questions and answers from the eighth presentation, “The Most Costly and Convincing Evidence.”
Lou: If I hear you correctly Graham, you’re saying that Jesus died primarily to say something about God, to make the truth about God clear to us. But what about the moving appeal that Jesus died for you? That Jesus died for me? Isn’t it a wonderful thought that if I had been the only one who had responded, Jesus would still have come and gone through it all just for me! How do you bring that together?
Graham: I still believe in that, and I think God would want us to rejoice in that. I think it’s understandable that as beginners, perhaps, we tend to be preoccupied with our own salvation and what God has done for me, and you, and those we love. But as one learns to read the Bible as a whole and get this larger view of the whole great controversy, one realizes that the all important thing is not what happens to me personally, but the settling of these issues in the great controversy. What counts is the establishing of the truth that confirms the peace of the universe for all eternity.
Lou: Are you saying, then, that I need to “get over” this? Is it childish for me to feel so moved about Jesus dying for me?
Graham: Fortunately, what God says about Himself is what makes it worthwhile being saved. Until God has established the fact that He is not the kind of person His enemies have made Him out to be, there will be no security. We’ll be saved, but in a universe of conflict. So first this must be settled. And, fortunately, that settlement includes you and me as well. It’s not one or the other. The good news about what Jesus has done for me comes in this larger setting. The way He has sought to win you and me is also the way in which He has won the war. It’s the same task, the same mission.
Lou: I think that’s helpful. But now listen—there are many words and terms associated with the cross that I didn’t hear in your presentation this evening.
Graham: A few score, at least.
Lou: For instance, I was just reading a book on the substitutionary atonement, the idea that Jesus died in my place. Another one is that Jesus died to satisfy the demands of the law, to “satisfy justice.” You haven’t used that kind of language. And what about paying the price of sin? And there’s this emphasis upon the blood, right in Scripture. What about that kind of language, which is familiar to all of us. What do you do with that?
Graham: The Bible is full of that kind of language. Let’s take the word “blood” first. Sometimes we, with all reverence, act as if the blood has some magical power. We sing, “There’s power in the blood.” We even sing, “There’s power in the Word,” and almost treat the Bible as if it had magical power. I remember Jesus’s words, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life” (John 5:39). But there’s no life in the Book as such. It is just ink on paper or words on a screen. The Book has power because it witnesses to the truth about the One who has the power. Only God saves. The Bible doesn’t save.
I would very reverently want to say the same thing about the blood. Blood simply represents the death of Christ. It represents His life given in death. Apart from the meaning of His death, the blood has no power. But the blood has great power in its meaning. When we come to understand why Jesus had to die, that’s going to secure the universe against apostasy and defection for eternity. In that context I can sing, “There’s power in the blood.” But as I am singing, in my mind I’m saying, “It means the following.”
Lou: All right. So you can still use the words.
Graham: Indeed. It’s very biblical to use the words.