Skip to comments.Whosoever (continually) Believes in Him...John 3 pt 13
Posted on 03/07/2012 2:33:29 PM PST by pastorbillrandles
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
The third chapter of John allows us to overhear a conversation between Nicodemus, the chief rabbi of Israel, and Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was not trained in the recognized rabbinic schools, but approved of God by signs and wonders as well as by the irrefutable doctrine he taught. Nicodemus came to him, and spoke for other leading rabbis when he acknowledged that Jesus had come from God.
The topic? The New Birth, as the entry into the long-awaited Kingdom of God.
Here at this point in the discussion, at John 3:16, Jesus is teaching Nicodemus, (and us) how it is that God could righteously give we sinners a new birth. God so loved the world that He gave His monogenes,only unique Son, as a sin offering . God made a righteous way to grant new life to unrighteous men and women, Jesus paid the price for us.
John 3:16 is a much beloved verse of the Bible, perhaps the single most translated prose ever written. But its very familiarity sometimes has the effect on people that they assume that they already know it. But the Bible is alive and there is always more light, and helpful enrichment in every verse of scripture.
For example consider the phrase whosoever believes in Him. As in the story of the brass serpent lifted up on the pole, anyone who looks up in faith to the only begotten Son hanging on the tree will not perish but have everlasting life, (ie be born again). Not just a particular group, but all who hear the gospel and look believingly onto Jesus shall have life.
David Pawson, the man I mentioned earlier who wrote an insightful book about John 3:16* makes the point that the word believes is in the present continuous tense.The greek language has more tenses than the English language. (I am no greek scholar, mind you, but I can read the work of others).
The present continuous tense doesnt often translate into the English, because we dont have one. For example, in Jesus teaching on prayer, Luke 11:9-10 quotes him as saying,
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)
But those verbs are in the present continuous tense, they literally say Ask and Keep on Asking, Seek and Keep on finding, knock and keep on knocking, for every one who asks and keeps on asking recieves . knowing the tense clears up a lot of misunderstandings.
Another example is from First John 2:15, which says Love not the World nor the things of the world, if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him . But because the word Love, agape, is in the present continuous tense, it could just as easily read,
Dont go on loving the world, nor go on loving the things of the world
The word believes, is also in the present continuous tense, John 3:16 could just as well be understood to say, For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, so that whosoever goes on believing in Him, might not perish but shall have everlasting life.
Interestingly enough, Pawson points out that the love God loved the world with, is in the Aorist tense, which means that He did it once, God (once) thus loved the world , when did God love the world? When Jesus died on the cross. The cross is the only possible meeting place between a Holy God and sinful men.
God doesnt have a broad and ongoing relationship with the World, approving of this goodaspect, but disapproving of that badone, yet ever hoping for improvement. The Holy God has announced that as of the cross, the world is under judgment, the sentence is passed and his attitude towards it is utterly unrelenting, the world is doomed.
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.(John 12:31-32)
But Once and with perfect and ongoing effect, God Loved the World by giving sinful men a way out of their dilemma, through the cross of Jesus.
But the word Believes is present continuous tense. We are to go on believing in Jesus that we might ever have eternal life.
There are many who are so confused about this that they claim that a person could so backslide that they renounce Jesus entirely and die in their sins, but they suppose that they will be allowed into heaven, because at one point, somewhere along the line, they believed in Jesus unto salvation. This false doctrine flies in the face of much of scripture however, for example,
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister(Colossians 1:21-23)
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain(I Corinthians 15:1-2)
All that Jesus requires is that we believe in Him, and that we maintain faith in Jesus. But faith isnt static, it is an ongoing dependency, an abiding in Jesus, a constant feeding on his finished work, his person, eating and drinking his words.This is the only true personal relationship with God.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.(John 15:1-4)
* Terra Nova publications,IS JOHN 3:16 THE GOSPEL? David Pawson
It’s not “everlasting” if you can lose it.
We haven’t “been perfected forever” if we can become imperfect.
Paul said “Nothing in Life and nothing in death....can separate us from the love of God.”
Jesus said I will not drive them from me. And the Prophet Joel, said we would never leave.
exactly, you can choose to reject the gift of salvation, a lot of folks dont get that...
In other words, a true believer, someone who put their trust in Jesus, doesn't need to be scared that someday they will lose their faith. It can't happen.
Scripture also talks about a carnal christian whose works are burned yet he is saved though as a man running from a house on fire.
Once you've been adopted by the Father, he doesn't disown you. You can choose the gift of chastisement if you are disobedient. But there is no divorce court that you can disown your heavenly father once you have claimed His promise to you.
He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it.
Once you've been adopted by the Father, he doesn't disown you. You can choose the gift of chastisement if you are disobedient. But there is no divorce court that you can disown your heavenly father once you have claimed His promise to you.
He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it.
Perhaps we can say that that is the mark of a true believer, they will never stop believing in Him. The worst problem we have these days is people falsely converted, and given false assurance by an inadequate preaching of the gospel. That is the reason for teachings such as mine on John 3. Thanks for the comments
I agree with DannyTN on this matter...and perhaps go beyond what he agrees with on the matter you addressed. Jesus clearly sets out (John 6), if you are in God’s crosshairs, you cannot resist His rescue of your soul. Nor will you want to.
And, if we are rescued “forever”, this must mean “forever”. Those leaving were never born from above, but were “wanna bes” unknown to Jesus.
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.?????
is this insinuating that a person can stop believing?
Is this insinuating that a person can believe, receive Christ’s spirit by faith and salvation along with that, and at some later date, stop believing?
If a Person receives Christ’s spirit by faith, and they stop believing, do they lose Christ’s spirit?
Please defend your answer with Scripture
I agree with that. I grew up in a church that constantly preached grace. And when I was about 20 this 70 year old woman stood up and said "I get it now". This woman had been in the church as long as I can remember, and was a hard worker in the church. I think she had been there at least 50 years. She sat through the same sermons I sat through, but somehow it just didn't sink in that it was grace not works. I'm glad it finally got through to her.
If that can happen in a church that constantly preaches grace, how much more does it happen in churches that either through traditions or through fads, or simply unfocused preaching does not dwell on grace.
That is referring to how your life will end up - worse than you started. It does not suggest in any way that one can become unsaved.
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.(Hebrews 6:4-6)
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.(Hebrews 10:24-27)
remember though, we are Kept by the power of God, not our faith or works
we are SEALED until our redemption
It looks like your article claims that a man can lose his salvation
Is that one of your points?
Thanks Race. There is not a hint of works salvation in my article,is there? Because certainly I do not believe we can be saved or kept by anything but the power and grace of God. Salvation is His all the way through.
As for “losing” salvation, no, I don’t believe one can “lose salvation” as they lose keys or lose anything valuable.
But I do believe that there is a real warning of apostasy in scripture, that is real people, who start out with faith in the gospel, but who reject faith for whatever reason. Else why the warnings in Hebrews 6 qnd 10?
Perhpas the greaest problem in our day is that many are not even saved and yet led to think they are. Jesus wanred us this would be the case. All I am seeking to do in this series is underscore he true nature of saving faith. Thanks for your comments, Race.
Ten virgins had oil and their lamps burning. Five made sure they didn’t run out of oil. Five didn’t ‘endure to the end’.
The seven churches in Rev; ALL are told: He that overcometh.
The little word ‘if’ is all over the epistles.
The ‘saved, regardless of faithfulness’ attitude is why divorce is rampant among people claiming Christianity. And most of the mainstream denominations now have nearly empty churches on Sunday morning. At least around these parts.
God is faithful and keeps his promises; man chooses to be faithful, but does reverse his decision and walk away from God. (like Demas)
And Jesus used the term “Born Again” to make it crystal clear... you cannot be un-born.
I think there are two questions inherent in your post:
Is everyone who thinks they are saved, saved? Or can some be wrong and/or delude themselves?
Does everyone who believes always believe or do some later reject this belief?
There are obvious answers to these questions and your scriptural references and others deal with them as well.
Romans 11:20,21 "Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either."
John 15:6 "If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."
Remaining in Christ is by faith, demonstrated by bearing fruit of the Spirit, especially love (chief of the three that remain of faith, hope, love).
Keep in mind that while nothing in all creation will separate us from the love of Christ, remember that God is not created and therefore outside the scope of Romans 8:38,39. He retains the right to not spare whichever branches He determines are unbelieving. Thus Paul's admonishment "do not be arrogant but be afraid".
If we continue with the same attitude as Christ (Phil 2:5) remaining humble, we will work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
Maybe this will help...
A person is drowning in open ocean.There is no land in sight,no flotsam or jetsom to grap on to,absolutely nothing to help you stay afloat other than your own efforts and they won't continue indefinently.You are all at sea,tossed by the waves and all,and have zero hope.
Then out of the blue a helicopter hovers over you and lowers a bouyancy ring right down over the top of you.For all intents and purposes you are saved.You didn't earn it,you couldn't earn it.It came to you and was given freely.It litterally fell out of the sky and landed on you.The ONLY requirement on you is that you take hold of it.
To that end...
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life
This is the work of God,that ye believe on Him whom He has sent
work out your salvation with fear and trembling
lay hold on eternal life
we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height
be diligent to make your election and calling sure,for if ye do these things ye shall never fall
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved
paraphrasing here...if you believe and confess Jesus is Lord and you take hold of and it sinks into you the FACT that God raised Him from the dead you WILL be saved!...in fact the most marvelous promise in 2 Peter 1:10 GUARANTEES that you will NEVER FALL if you do these things.What things? making "your election and calling sure"...ie:take hold of the life preserver!
Confessing with our mouths is one thing and having it sink into our hearts is another.No doubt we would shout for joy that the helicopter has lowered our salvation right onto us but unless we take hold of it we won't 'go up' with it!
God is trying to drop a bomb into our desperately wicked hearts...."for He careth for you."
Hope this helps.
Not one of those people lost their salvation, you quoted Paul speaking about a NATION, not a single person
ASSURANCE OF SALVATION
Middletown Bible Church
reprinted with permission
347 East Street (rte 217)
Middletown Ct. 06457
Assurance of Salvation by Theodore H. Epp
This message is addressed to all who think that they are saved but are not certain. It is possible for a person to know that he is a child of God.
It is necessary that you have the assurance of your salvation before you can serve God. You cannot live for him as long as you continue to grope in darkness and wonder, “Am I really saved?” Everything that you do is done to try to bring a little peace to your own heart. You live for self—not God.
I also want to make it plain that assurance of salvation does not in any way give you license to sin. This is an extreme position that some may want to take.
I want to discuss with you five distinct points.
1. Christ’s finished work on Calvary
2. Christ provides righteousness
3. Faith is the key to salvation
4. Salvation is kept by the power of God
5. Wherefore then shall we work?
I. CHRIST’S FINISHED WORK
It is essential that you understand Christ’s finished work on Calvary if you want to have the assurance of your salvation. I emphasize the word finished. Christ finished the work which was necessary for our salvation. We do not have to add anything to Christ’s finished work on Calvary. There are many people who are struggling to finish the work that Christ has already completed. That is quite a statement to make, but it is a fact that many people cannot see that Christ has finished the work of salvation.
LAW OF SIN AND DEATH
Our physical bodies are subject to the law of sin and death, i.e., the natural law that sin brings death. But the death we are speaking of is not merely physical death, but an eternal, everlasting separation from God, i.e., a spiritual death. “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” God spoke these words to Adam and Eve in the garden. The law that sin brings death was already in existence when our first parents sinned. In fact, it was a law even before man was created. Sin brings death. That is an absolute fact.
We have then, this glorious statement in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” The last phrase does not belong in the first verse, but in the fourth. It is not in verse one in the original text. It has been put there by careless translators. (See the margin of the Scofield Bible, p. 1201) Continuing with verse two, we read, “For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” That is a plain statement of what Christ has done.
Christ, therefore, by His life, has made us free from this law of sin and death. How? “For what the law (the written law) could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh” (Romans 8:3). What did Christ do? Christ fulfilled the law of sin and death. He did not sin, but He took our sin upon Himself. He suffered the death penalty for our sins.
JESUS PAID IT ALL
Christ suffered all. I wish that we could understand that in the period of thirty-three years Christ, the Son of God, suffered all the sufferings of sin. We cannot fathom that. Nevertheless, Christ, who was God, had the capacity to suffer the consequences that sin had caused from the very day that Adam sinned until the day that the last man on this earth shall have committed the last sin.
What more did he do? He suffered once and for all. It is important that you understand this. You will not have the assurance of your salvation until you see that truly Christ paid the full penalty for sin on Calvary. He has already taken all the suffering for sin. Some people may feel they have only salvation for past sins and that future sin must be taken care of separately. We must be reasonable. How many sins had you committed When Jesus Christ died for them? You were not born, so you had not committed any sins. Then how could Jesus have died for your sins? God, in his for-knowledge, sees the whole of time—the past, the present, and the future—in one picture. He saw all the sins committed by everyone from Adam until the very last man who shall live on Earth. God placed on Christ all of these sins at one time, and Christ suffered for every last one of them once and for all. Jesus will never again suffer for sin. All the sin of your life and mine has been taken care of on the cross.
Have you accepted this Christ as your saviour, or did you accept a Christ who died for your past sins only? If you did the latter, you are not a child of God. A child of God has all his sins paid for by the Jesus Christ.
I do not want to sin, but I am just a plain human being like all the rest of you, and I am liable to fall into sin at any moment. I am trusting the Lord to keep me, however, but when I do fall into sin, that sin has already been taken care of on the cross by Jesus Christ. He has already, once and for all, suffered for sin.
I know that perhaps you are afraid of this truth. You are afraid it will give you license to sin. You think it will enable you to say,”Well, if that is the case, I can sin just as often as I please.” You do not have salvation if that is the way you feel, and therefore you do not have any right to assurance of salvation. You have no right to say, “Well, I am saved, so I can live to please myself.” You have no right to have assurance of salvation if you feel it gives you license to sin. I know that sounds like a mean thing to say, but if your going to be so selfish and rebellious as to talk to God like that, then I am going to be just as frank and hard with you. If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our saviour, then atonement has been made for all of our sins, and we have no right to go on sinning willfully.
I I CHRIST PROVIDES RIGHTEOUSNESS
When we come into the presence of God, we are going to need more than just forgiveness of sin. We must possess a righteousness which God can accept. How can we obtain it? We cannot produce it. God cannot accept our righteousness. But God provided the perfect righteousness of Christ for us, and it is Christ’s righteousness alone that is acceptable to God. We can secure this righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21,22) Christ purchased our salvation when he suffered for all of our sins once and for all. Then He provided us with His righteousness. All of this is in exchange for faith.
Suppose that somebody puts some money in the bank in my account and says, “Pay all the radio bills. I have put some money in your account.” It is not my money that is in there. It is money that someone else put there, and all I have to do is cash in on it and pay the bills. So it is that Christ has already put to your account all of his perfect righteousness, and all you have to do is accept it by faith.
We read these words in Romans 3:24: “Being justified freely by his grace.” God has given us justification. What does that mean? It leaves me just as if I have never sinned. I am free from all sin and have Christ’s righteousness put to my account. This is what Christ has done for you and me. This is the finished work of Calvary.
I I I FAITH IS THE KEY
God has finished the work of salvation, but salvation is not yours until you appropriate it by faith. You may ask,” What do you mean by ‘Appropriating salvation by faith?’ “
There are two kinds of faith, head faith and receiving faith (or appropriating faith). Let me illustrate the difference between the two. Suppose that you have a headache, and you get a headache pill. You take it and expect to have your headache relieved. Why? Because you believe that the pill will relieve the headache. If you believe this and yet leave the jar of pills sitting in the medicine chest, they will not take away your headache. You know that as well as I do. You take the pill. You receive it.
Friend, you and I are sinners by birth. There is no question about that. If you want to be released from the guilt of your sin and possess a righteousness acceptable to God, you must receive it by faith, even as you receive a pill for a headache. It is not enough to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ can save you and then leave him sitting on the shelf, so to speak. You must say, “Lord, I receive Your forgiveness and Your perfect righteousness, and I thank you for it.” That is what we call appropriating faith.
Someone may ask, “But how do I know that I will have Christ’s righteousness?” In Romans 3:22 we read, “The righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.” God says, “I will put my righteousness to your account, but you have to receive it.” You should say, “I will receive Your righteousness by faith. Thank You , Lord, that it is put to my account.” That settles the matter. God will honor your faith, and that settles your salvation.
FAITH AND GOD’S WORD
Perhaps you would like to ask, “How can I get faith?” I read a letter the other day which was typical of hundreds we receive. The writer said, “Please pray for me that my faith might increase.” You could pray from now until doomsday, but your faith would not increase. I tried it for years, until I discovered Romans 10:17, which says that faith comes by the hearing of the Word of God. You can pray for faith, but your faith will not increase until you go to the Word of God and begin to study. Then you can pray,” Now, Lord, let me believe this. Give me faith to believe.” God will then give you faith.
IV. KEPT BY GOD’S POWER
In 1 Peter 1:5 we read, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith until salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Peter is speaking of those who have been above into God’s family and have been resurrected with Christ. If you have trusted Christ for your salvation and have been born again, you are kept by the power of God through faith.
GOD GUARDS OUR SALVATION
Let us examine the word kept. It’s meaning in the original language is especially important for some of you who have not yet understood God’s keeping power. Many people believe they can take themselves out of God’s hand but that no one else is able to do so. God, knowing the working of our minds and our ignorance concerning His great and magnificent power to keep, has placed in this little verse a word which completely shatters this theory. The word in the original Greek, which was translated “kept”, literally means “guarded, lest a person take himself away from God.” We cannot even touch our salvation, much less pull it out of God’s hands.
POWER LIMITS FREEDOM
Someone may complain, “That takes away my liberty. That takes away my free will.” I agree that it does. “Well” ,you answer, “I have a free will.” You do not have the free will you think you have. If you have enough free will, why do you not just jump over the moon? You do not have a free will to do that because you are physically limited. Your free will is bound by the limitation of your power. You do not have the power to jump over the moon. God has given you a free will to choose whether or not you will be saved. When you have chosen to be saved, however, you do not have the power to change your mind. Nowhere in the Bible does it say teach us that we can say, “Now, God, I am through with my salvation. I want no more of it.”
Some of you are thinking about Adam and his use of the power of choice. Indeed, this man had sovereignty, and he used it to break his fellowship and relationship with God. When he chose to sin, he became a lost man.
What did Adam lose when he sinned? He lost the created righteousness with which God had endowed him. His was a human perfection; therefore, his perfection was not permanent.
If Adam had possessed the righteousness of Christ (imputed righteousness) , he would still have had it after he sinned. His son, Abel, “offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous” (Heb 11:4) Abel’s righteousness was of God through faith.
When you and I were saved, we received what Abel had-”the righteousness of God” (Rom 3:22). God has not given us the liberty or the power to discard this righteousness.
CHRIST, OUR ADVOCATE
What is Christ doing in the presence of God? Why is He there? To answer these questions, let us look first at Hebrews 7:25. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing that he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” In 1 John 2:1 we read, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
The Devil accuses you of sin in the presence of God. What happens then? Jesus pleads your case each time. He says, “Father, You cannot accept this accusation against this man again, because he has appropriated by faith the finished work of Calvary and My righteousness. I have already taken his punishment for that sin, and he has been saved. You cannot also, punish him.”
You see, then, it is by Christ’s intercession for us in the presence of God that our salvation is made secure.
OUR RESERVED INHERITANCE
Peter tells us that, as children of God, we are begotten unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ, “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” This means that we, in Christ Jesus, shall also be resurrected from the dead. We shall then be brought into the presence of God in heaven, where there is reserved for us a perfect inheritance, unspotted and everlasting.
Please note that the inheritance is reserved in heaven for you. The word reserved comes form the Greek word which means “to guard, lest anything take away part of it” God is taking the responsibility of guarding our inheritance.
THE UNFAITHFUL CHRISTIAN
Isn’t this a glorious truth-that we are kept by the power of God through faith? But suppose that my faith fails me? Let us turn to II Timothy , chapter 2 and read carefully, beginning in verse 11: “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him.” This verse clearly speaks of salvation by grace. It does not say anything about joining a church or living a better life It means that if we accept Christ’s death on the cross for our sins, we become children of God and also receive Christ’s eternal life. “We shall also live with him”
There is a second thought here, about which people become confused. “If we suffer (or endure), we shall also reign with him: If we deny (or disown ) him, he also deny us.” Many people are applying this verse to salvation. This cannot be done, because the sentence does not end with verse twelve. This verse refers to our works rather than faith. It concerns our faithfulness serving God. We know that this is correct, because the next statement completely explains the passage. “If we believe not (i.e. if we become unfaithful and cannot believe that God can keep us) , yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny Himself.” In other words, on the basis of our faith, God has accepted Christ’s finished work on Calvary for us. Furthermore, on the basis of our faith, God has put to our account all the righteousness of Jesus Christ, once and for all, and God is guarding it. God is keeping us, so that no man, including ourselves, will ever be able to take us out of His hands.
THE SINNING CHRISTIAN
Now let us suppose that a Christian falls back into sin. Suppose that he does not continue to walk with Christ. What will happen then? The Christian will probably lose his privilege of reigning with Christ, but his salvation will remain. God has promised to keep our salvation, and He will not go back on His Word. God may, however, deny the unfaithful Christian the privilege of reigning with Him in the Millennium and still remain true to his word.
Please note, therefore, the difference between salvation, which is the work of God, based on the covenant of grace, and rewards, which the Christian receives for his works and which depend wholly upon his faithfulness to God.
V. WHY WORK?
Now the question arises, “Wherefore then shall we work? Why should we work at all? Why not just go with the crowd, live in sin and revelry, and have a great time? We will not be here very long.”
In the first place, if you are a newborn child of God, how can you enjoy the things of the world? Your old flesh may, but that inner new person cannot continue to enjoy the things of the world. If you have eternal life, there is going to be a reaction to the things of the world. We had some fine children in our home recently, and the missionary parents were somewhat perturbed because the children were so lively. “ said, “Well, do not be so upset. You would not want them to be sickly, would you? It is good to see them so full of energy. It shows me that they are healthy and strong.” And so it is with the Christian who is healthy and strong. He shows it in his life. We work, therefore, because we live-not in order that we might live.
In II Corinthians 5:9,10 Paul says,” Wherefore we labor , that...we may be accepted of Him” (i.e., that we may please Him).
We work that we may have some trophies to lay at his feet. I can never repay Him for what he has done, but one of these days I would like to lay some souls at his feet and say, “Lord Jesus, thank you for saving my soul. In thankfulness, here are some souls that I have been able to tell about You, and You have given them the privilege of being saved through my testimony. These trophies I lay at your feet.”
WHO IS YOUR MASTER?
Who is your master now? Do you love God because He saved you? When you really understand that God has saved you once and for all, forever, for eternity, you will love him so much that you will say, “” Lord, I want to do what you want me to do. I want to be your slave.” You will give yourself to him completely. Christians who have not lived their lives for Christ will someday stand before his judgment seat and be dealt with according to their deeds. Only the Christian who yields to God’s will be truly happy.
FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE?
"What saith the Scriptures?" (Romans 4:3)
He died for ALL (1 Tim. 2:6).
He died for ALL MEN (Rom. 5:18; 1 Tim. 4:10).
He died for US ALL, for ALL OF US (Isa. 53:6).
He died for the UNGODLY (Rom. 5:6).
He died for CHRIST-DENIERS (2 Peter 2:1).
He died for SINNERS (Rom. 5:8).
He died for EVERY MAN (Heb. 2:9).
He died for MANY (Matthew 20:28).
He died for the WORLD (John 6:33,51; John 1:29 and John 3:16).
He died for the WHOLE WORLD (1 John 2:2).
He died for the WHOLE NATION of Israel (John 11:50-51).
He died for the CHURCH (Eph. 5:25).
He died for His SHEEP (John 10:11).
He died for ME (Gal. 2:20).
The Scriptures teach that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God involved the sin of the world (John 1:29) and that the Saviours work of redemption (1 Tim. 2:6; 2 Pet. 2:1), reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19), and propitiation (1 John 2:2) was accomplished on behalf of all mankind (1 Timothy 4:10a). However, the cross-work of Christ is efficient, effectual and beneficial only for those who believe (1 Tim. 4:10b; John 3:16). To say it another way, Christ died a substitutionary death and made a payment for sins which was SUFFICIENT for all men, EFFICIENT only for the elect.
It might help to begin by defining some of the terms which will be used in this paper:
The atonement: For our purposes here we are using this term to refer to the cross-work of Christ in general, with special emphasis upon Christs substitutionary death for our sins.
Unlimited atonement (general atonement, universal atonement): This is the doctrine which says that Christ died for the sins of all men, for all mankind, for every person, for the whole world. However, individuals do not benefit from the death of Christ in a saving way until they come to Christ and believe on Him. Gods gift has been purchased, offered and extended to all (1 John 5:11), but must be personally received by faith (1 John 5:12; John 1:12).
Limited atonement (definite atonement, particular atonement, limited redemption): This is the doctrine which says that Christ died only for the elect. He did not die for those who will eventually be in hell (such as Judas or Pharaoh). This is the third point of 5-point Calvinism, the letter "L" in the term TULIP.
The Elect: We use this term to refer to the saved of all ages. The term includes any or all of those who will eventually be in heaven and counted among the redeemed (compare Col. 3:12).
The Non-elect: We use this term to refer to those who will eventually perish in hell. It refers to those who persist in their unbelief and reject Christ even to the day they die. They are in hell, not because God elected them to damnation, but because "they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved" (see 2 Thess. 2:10-13). Those who go to heaven have only God to thank; those who go to hell have only themselves to blame.
Extreme Calvinism (Hyper-Calvinism, 5-point Calvinism): In this paper this term is simply another way of referring to those who believe in a limited atonement, that Christ died only for the elect.
The term "all we" or "us all" (literally "all of us") is used twice in this verse. It is most natural and normal to assume that this Hebrew term [____] refers to the same company of people each time it is used in verse 6. For whom did Christ die? He died for "all of us" who have gone astray. All men are invited to go in at the first "all" (as they acknowledge their guilt and waywardness), and to come out at the last "all" (receiving their pardon through the atoning sacrifice).
The universal extent of Isaiah 53:6 is felt even by the opponents of unlimited atonement. For example, John Murray strongly denies that Christ died for every man. Yet this is what he wrote concerning Isaiah 53:6:
It would be easy to argue that the denotation of the "all" in the last clause is just as extensive as the number of those who have gone astray and have turned everyone to his own way. If so, the conclusion would be that the Lord laid on his Son the iniquity of all men and that He was made an offering for the sin of all. --article entitled "Redemption" which appeared in the Sword and Trowel.
This is indeed our conclusion and we are sorry that Murrays theological system has forced him to understand "all of us" to mean "some of us," in spite of what the text clearly says.
Let us LIMIT Christs death in this way: The Lord Jesus died only for those people who HAVE GONE ASTRAY! He did not die for those who are not lost! We have good news for every lost person without exception: Christ died for you!
It is possible that the expression "all of us" could be limited to the nation Israel (Isaiahs immediate audience), but it is very unlikely that we should limit it even further to refer only "elect Israel." Many of the Jews that Isaiah ministered to refused to believe and were never saved (compare Isaiah 6:9-10 and 53:1). They would be included in the "all of us." On the other hand, it is probably better to understand the expression "all of us" to refer to all mankind because New Testament passages apply Isaiah 53 to all men, not just to Israel (Acts 8:30-35; 1 Peter 2:24-25).
Though John Calvin taught that the term "world" in John 3:16 included "all men without exception" (see his commentary on John 3:16), many of his followers who bear his name try to limit this word so as to include only the elect.
The word "world" [kosmos] is used in some interesting ways in Johns gospel. In John 1:10 we learn that "the world knew Him not." In 3:17 it is used to describe those who are in desperate need of salvation. In 12:31 and 16:11 it describes that dominion over which Satan is the prince and ruler. In 14:22 it is used in contrast to "us" (the elect disciples): "Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" In 15:18-19 we are told that the world hates believers (see also 17:14). In 16:8-9 the world is convicted of sin "because they (the world) believe not on Me" and thus in this passage the term "world" is nearly synonymous with "unbelievers." In 16:20 we find the world rejoicing because they have gotten rid of Christ (compare verse 19). If the term "world" is synonymous with "the elect" then John 17:6 could be re-written: "I have manifested Thy Name unto the world." But this would be the opposite of what it really says. Indeed, in 17:9 the term "world" is used in contrast to the elect ("them which Thou hast given Me") and in 17:21 the word obviously refers to the unsaved world. In 17:25 it describes those who have not known the Father in contrast to Christs own who have known. Such is the normal usage of this word.
The standard lexicons (such as Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich, Thayer, Bullinger, Vine, etc.) are unanimous in saying that kosmos (world) as used in John 3:16 refers to "mankind, the human race." This is the obvious sense of the word in this context. To say that kosmos in John 3:16 refers to "the world of the elect" is very unnatural. It is a meaning that is forced by ones theology, not by the text itself, nor by the context. This is why J.C. Ryle said, "It seems to be a violent straining of language to confine the word world to the elect...The world means the whole race of mankind...without any exception...I have long come to the conclusion that men may be more systematic in their statements than the Bible, and may be led into grave error by idolatrous veneration of a [theological] system."
This word does have some unusual usages. For example, in John 12:19: "Behold, the world is gone after Him." Is this an example where the word does not mean all men? Actually this is an example of hyperbole (extravagant exaggeration). The Pharisees could have said, "Everyone has gone after Him," and the meaning would have been the same. A universal term is used for the purpose of intentional exaggeration. The meaning of the term is similar in John 3:16--God so loved THE WORLD, that is, EVERYONE! The only difference is that in John 3:16 there is no exaggeration. It actually means everyone, every person, all mankind.
How can we be sure of the meaning of the term "world" in John 3:16? The context of this passage is often overlooked. John 3:16 cannot be fully understood apart from the account of the serpent in the wilderness as given in Numbers 21 (see John 3:14-15). The comparison is obvious. The Israelites were told to look to the bronze serpent, and those who looked lived. The world is told to look to the Saviour hanging on the pole of Calvarys cross, and those who gaze upon Him with the gaze of faith live.
Did God LIMIT the number of Israelites who could look? Definitely not. The invitation to LOOK was given to all those who had been bitten by the serpentsall those who were dying and perishing, helpless and hopeless. The serpent on the pole was Gods complete provision for every Israelite who was bitten and who was perishing. Likewise, by the death of Gods Son, God made a complete provision for every perishing sinner. No Israelite would be healed without looking at the bronze snake. Likewise, no perishing sinner will be saved without personal faith in the WORK, WORTH and WORD of Gods Son.
Who is to look upon the Saviour? The WORLD--all those who have been bitten by the serpent of sin, all those who are dying and perishing, all those who are helpless and hopeless. It is these people who are embraced and included in the word WORLD. The Lord Jesus died only for those who are lost and perishing in their sins and who are in a hopeless and helpless condition apart from the cure provided at the cross.
The term "whosoever" in John 3:16 can literally be translated "everyone who believes" or "all who believe." "Whosoever" is also an accurate rendering of the term. Imagine a generous candy man standing on the street corner passing out free candy and saying, "Boys and girls, Come! Everyone who receives a piece of candy will also receive a free balloon." Regardless of the response of the children, would not this be a universal offer to all the boys and girls? No one hearing this invitation would be excluded. He could have said, "Whosoever receives a piece of candy will also receive a free balloon" and the meaning would have been the same.
The same Greek expression for "whosoever" is found in the Septuagint (LXX) in Numbers 21:8"everyone who looks upon it (the bronze serpent) shall live." Whosoever looks shall live! God so loved the Israelites that He provided a bronze serpent, that whosoever looketh upon it should not perish, but should live. Among those who believe in limited atonement, few seem to discuss Numbers 21. Apparently its implications are far too universal. John 3:16 cannot be rightly understood apart from its immediate context, and its immediate context involves verse 14 which refers to the serpent in the wilderness.
Here [John 3:14-16] the Saviour speaks of himself as the antitype of the brazen serpent. But the brazen serpent wsa lifted up for all the serpent-bitten Israelites in the camp, and therefore unless the type was more glorious than the antitype, the Saviour must have been lifted up on the cross for all the sin-bitten sinners in the world. If so, God has loved you, and given up his Son for you.
The little word "that" is significant in this verse: "God so loved the world THAT [;ste] He gave His only begotten Son." The word "that" [;ste] with the indicative ("He gave") expresses ACTUAL RESULT rather than conceived or intended result (Dana and Mantey, page 286). God not only conceived the plan of salvation in eternity past (Rev. 13:8) but He actually carried out this plan by the giving of His Son on the cross. Not only did God love the world, but He manifested this love (Rom. 5:8) by the actual giving of His Son on the cross for the world (John 1:29; 6:51; 1 John 2:2; etc.).
Martin Luther in Table Talk commented on John 3:16:
Moreover, who knows whether I am elected to salvation? Answer: Look at the words [of John 3:16], I beseech you, to determine how and of whom He is speaking. "God so loved the world," and "that whosoever believeth in Him." Now, the "world" does not mean Peter and Paul alone but the entire human race, all together. And no one is here excluded. Gods Son was given for all. All should believe, and all who do believe should not perish, etc. Take hold of your own nose, I beseech you, to determine whether you are not a human being (that is, part of the world) and, like any other man, belong to the number of those comprised by the word "all."
The extreme Calvinist has a problem understanding how God can love those who are not elect. For example, A.W.Pink argues that the rich young ruler in Mark chapter 10 must have been one of Gods elect and he must have been saved sometime after his interview with the Lord. He concludes this because the Bible says that Jesus loved this man (Mark 10:21) and Pink cannot understand how the Lord can love one who is not elect. The Bible does not say that the rich young ruler ever got saved. Indeed, it implies that he did not. Even though this man most probably was never saved, God loved him. God so loved the world that He gave His Son to die for all men, including the rich young ruler.
In John chapter 6 the Lord Jesus is speaking to a hostile, unbelieving audience. They did not receive His teaching (verse 60) and they walked away (verses 66-67). We must conclude that these people, for the most part, would never enter heaven: "But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him" (John 6:64).
What did the Lord say to these unbelieving Jews? "My Father GIVETH YOU the true bread from heaven" (verse 32). The Lord Jesus told these Jews that the true Bread from heaven was GIVEN to them by the Father. In verse 33 the true Bread from heaven is identified as the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who "giveth life unto the world." God gave His Son, the Bread of Life, even for these who did not believe ("ye also have seen me, and believe not"--verse 36). This would even include Judas who was in the audience.
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51). This Bread has particular reference to the Lords sacrificial death on the cross (see also verses 54-56). This Bread was given for the life of the world.
"The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (John 6:52). Notice that these unbelieving Jews understood Jesus to be saying that this Bread was given to them to eat. The Lord did not correct them on this. Indeed, He affirmed it by saying (my paraphrase) "I have given my flesh for you to eat but if you do not eat it then you will have no life" (see verse 53).
Verses 53-58 show the necessity of a person personally partaking (by faith) in what Christ did for him on the cross when He gave His life and shed His blood.
Conclusion: the true bread from heaven (which is identified as the Lord Jesus Christ with special reference to His sacrificial death on the cross) was given for the world, and was given even to the unbelieving jews who heard these words (most of whom we could safely say were non-elect; one in the audience we know for sure was non-elect: Judas!). These unbelieving Jews understood that this Bread was given to them. They must have understood correctly. Jesus did not correct them. The Lord Jesus made it clear, however, that the Bread that was given to them would do them no good unless they would personally partake of it by faith. The Lords words here in John 6 clearly indicate that Christs sacrificial death was for all, but effectual only for those who believe. Unbelievers do not benefit from what was so graciously provided for them and so freely offered to them.
What was the gospel message which Paul preached to lost men? The Apostle Paul very specifically sets forth the gospel that he preached in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. In 1 Corinthians 15:3 we learn that the central part of the gospel message is that "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." In 1 Corinthians 15:1 Paul says that this is the very gospel which he preached to the Corinthians, and obviously when they first heard the gospel they were unsaved and unregenerate, and Paul did not know which ones in his audience were among the elect. He just knew that God had "much people" in this city (Acts 18:10). To these unsaved Corinthians, including some who would never be saved, Paul preached this gospel: "Christ died for OUR sins (yours and mine)!"
Here, then, you have an inspired definition of the object of saving faiththe gospel. It is not merely,"Christ is able, infinitely able, to save to the uttermost, all that come unto God by him;" but it is, Christ died for OUR sins, according to the Scriptures." Some have ventured to assert that no man is warranted, till after a long life of holiness, to say, "Christ died for me;" and preachers have been told by other preachers that they have no right to say to any man, "Christ died for you." It appears, however, that the apostle Paul was of another mind, for he had no scruples in rising up amid the Corinthians, while they were yet heathens and unbelievers, and boldly proclaiming, not merely "Christ died for MY sins," but "Christ died for OUR sins (that is, for your sins, ye heathen Corinthians, and for mine), according to the Scriptures.
"Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." The heart of the gospel message is Christs death for our sins, and this message is according to the Old Testament Scriptures. There is one passage which more than any other sets forth the death of Messiah for our sins. This is Isaiah chapter 53. It is in this chapter that we are told that the iniquities of "all of us" were laid upon Christ (verse 6). Christs death for our sins, according to the Scriptures, was not limited to the sins of the elect, but it was on behalf of every lost individual: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).
In 1 Corinthians 15:2 Paul says that some of those who heard this gospel did not believe it in a saving way. They "believed in vain." This passage indicates that there will be some people in hell who at one time personally heard Paul tell them the good news, and this good news was that Christ died for their sins!
To the believer in a limited atonement, Pauls message had a different meaning: "Christ died for our sins!" How does the limited atonement supporter understand Pauls message? "Paul preached that Christ died for the sins of all of us who are Gods elect. We have good news, but it is only for those in our audience who are elect." How contrary to the glorious gospel of the blessed God! We have a gospel message that is for all people (compare Luke 2:10), not a gospel that is just for the elect. Pauls gospel was for "all men everywhere" (Acts 17:30). The tragedy is not that most men do not have a gospel. The tragedy is that most men disobey the gospel by refusing to believe on the One who died for them (2 Thess. 1:8-9).
As ambassadors of Christ we are to go to all men with the word of reconciliation. How can we tell lost men and women to be reconciled to God if no such reconciliation has been provided? But if God has indeed reconciled the world unto Himself, then we can go to the world with a message of reconciliation. Christs act of suffering provides a righteous basis for God to welcome the rebels return. For those who are enemies of God and for all those who are enemies of God, we have a message of good news! We have a word of reconciliation! We have a message of hope because "He died for all" (2 Cor. 5:14-15). God is the Reconciler of all men (verse 19, "the world"), especially of them that believe (verse 20 where reconciliation is limited to those who respond in faith). Compare 1 Timothy 4:10.
According to 2 Corinthians 5:19 there is a reconciliation declared to be world-wide and wrought wholly of God; yet, in the verse which follows in the context, it is indicated that the individual sinner has the responsibility, in addition to the universal reconciliation wrought of God, to be reconciled himself to God. What God has accomplished has so changed the world in its relation to Himself that He, agreeable to the demands of infinite righteousness, is satisfied with Christs death as a solution of the sin question for each one. The desideratum is not reached, however, until the individual, already included in the worlds reconciliation, is himself satisfied with that same work of Christ which has satisfied God as the solution of his own sin question. Thus there is a reconciliation which of itself saves no one, but which is a basis for the reconciliation of any and all who will believe. When they believe, they are reconciled experimentally and eternally, and become the children of God through the riches of His grace.
This verse declares that Christ gave Himself a ransom for all. The term "all" must be defined by its context. In verses 1-2 we are exhorted to pray for all men. Why should we pray for all men? Because God our Saviour is concerned about all men: "God our Saviour who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (verses 3-4). How did God prove that He really desires all men to be saved? He provided a Mediator between God and man and this Mediator gave Himself a ransom for all. In effect the Apostle is here saying, "Pray for all because God desires the salvation of all as evidenced by His death for all."
James Morison brings home the force of this passage in a unique way:
It will be admitted that Nero was the principal ruler then existing, "the king," or emperor, contemplated by the apostle in the passage before us [Nero reigned from 54 to 68 A.D.]. Now Nero lived and died a disgrace to all human nature. He was the personified aggregate of all that is savage, disgusting, wicked, and base. Yet it was for this Nero that Christians were enjoined to pray; and to pray because God willed even this Nero to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth, and because for even this Nero did Christ give Himself a ransom. O how evident is it that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, to give himself a ransom for ALL!" Reader, God loved you and Nero! Jesus gave himself a ransom for Nero and for you. You are but Nero in miniature, and under restraint; see that you do not, Nero-like, despise the "riches of grace," and thus be also Nero-like in your doom!
This verse poses a problem for those who deny that Christ died for all. The verse teaches that there is a sense in which God is the Saviour of all men and there is a special sense in which God is the Saviour only of those who believe. The key to understanding this has already been set forth by Paul in chapter 2. There is a sense in which God is the Saviour of all men because He desires all men to be saved and He has provided a Saviour for all men who gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:3-6). There is a special sense in which He is the Saviour only of those who actually come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4), and come to the Father through the only Mediator which He has provided (1 Tim. 2:5). For a more detailed study of 1 Timothy 4:10 and the unsatisfying way in which extreme Calvinists explain it, see our paper The Saviour of All Men (5¢).
Limited Redemptionists raise this objection: "How can God be the Saviour of all men if He does not actually save them?" The answer is simple: They did not receive the Saviour who died for them. They rejected Him (John 1:11). To the Limited Redemptionist we must ask this: How can sinners reject the Saviour if He is not really their Saviour? How can they deny the Lord that bought them (2 Peter 2:1) if He never really bought them? How can they reject the cross-work of Christ if that work was never really for them? The reason Israel could reject Christ as their Messiah and King was because He really was their Messiah and King. The Egyptians did not reject Christ as their Messiah simply because He was not their Messiah.
To any unsaved person we can deliver this good news: "My friend, I want you to know that there is a Saviour for you (compare Luke 2:10-11). He died for you. He did everything necessary for you to be saved. He paid the full penalty for your sins. All you must do is receive Him by faith."
The translators of the Authorized Version (KJV) rendered this phrase, "that He...should taste death for every man." Other standard versions have done likewise: "for every one" (NASV); "for everyone" (NIV); "for every individual person" (Amplified); "for every man" (R.V.); "for every one" (RSV), etc. This is a case where those holding to a limited atonement are forced to re-translate. For example, in The Christian Counselors New Testament by Jay Adams, a reformed Christian, the passage is rendered: "that...He might taste death for all sorts of persons." This is a case of amending the text in order to fit ones theology. Likewise the New Geneva Study Bible says that "every man" (v.9) refers to the "many sons" of verse 10. This would mean that "every man" does not really mean "every man," but it refers only to the elect. Why do Reformed scholars insist upon this? Because their theological system demands it.
The Greek scholar, Dean Alford, explains the true significance of this term: "If it be asked, why pantos (each) rather than panton (all), we may safely say that the singular brings out, far more strongly than the plural would, the applicability of Christs death to each individual man" (New Testament for English Readers, p. 1459). Westcott agrees: "Christ tasted death not only for all but for each" (The Epistle to the Hebrews, p.46).
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that BOUGHT them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
This remarkable verse declares that the Saviour even paid redemptions price for Christ-deniers who will be destroyed in hell. The word "bought" is the same word that is found in 1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23. Thus there will be unbelievers in hell who when they were on earth denied the Christ "who bought them"! The familiar Christmas carol says it this way: "Then let us all with one accord sing praises to our heavenly Lord, that hath made heaven and earth of nought [out of nothing], and with His blood mankind hath bought" (The First Noel, Old English Carol). He paid the price for their sins even though they did not personally benefit from this payment. Because of their rejection of Christ, His cross-work was never put to their account.
Nothing, O sinner, can be clearer than this,Jesus Christ has bought you with his precious blood; he paid the price of his blood for your deliverance. But it does not necessarily follow that you shall be delivered. You may, notwithstanding, plunge the dagger of unbelief into your own soul, and "bring upon yourself swift destruction." If you perish, however, you will be a suicide,the assassin of your own spirit. The price is paid for you, the blood is shed for you, the work is finished for you, the righteousness is wrought out for you, the glory is waiting for you; but it lies with yourself whether or not you will believe all this, and Gods love infolded in it, or count it all "the baseless fabric of a vision," and forcibly effect your own murder and damnation. O see that you "deny not the Lord that bought you"!
Read this verse to a child and he will tell you that Christ died for all men. He would assume that "the whole world" means just that. Read this verse to an extreme Calvinist and he will tell you that Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the elect Jews, and not for the sins of the elect Jews only, but also for the sins of the elect Gentiles. We are reminded of Matthew 11:25.
John Murray, who denies that Christ died for all, says this about 1 John 2:2--"No text in Scripture presents more plausible support to the doctrine of universal atonement....It must be said that the language John uses here would fit in perfectly with the doctrine of universal atonement if Scripture elsewhere demonstrated that to be the biblical doctrine" (Redemption Accomplished and Applied, page 72). Because 1 John 2:2 does not fit in with Murrays theological system, he tries to make the passage mean something other than what it so obviously says.
To determine the meaning of the pronoun "our" in 1 John 2:2 we must ask who John was writing to. John Owen, strong defender of a limited atonement, believed that 1 John was written about 46 AD and was sent to Jewish Christians. However, most Bible scholars today agree that the letter was probably written towards the end of Johns life and was intended for believers living in Asia Minor, which is where John ministered toward the close of his life. Obviously the churches in Asia Minor toward the close of the first century were composed of both Jewish and Gentile believers, with the Gentiles being in the majority.
Actually John tells us who he is writing to. In 1 John 5:13 he says, "These things have I written UNTO YOU THAT BELIEVE ON THE NAME OF THE SON OF GOD." He wrote this letter to BELIEVERS. Thus, in 1 John 2:2 Christ is the propitiation for our sins (that is, believers), and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world (that is, unbelievers). That the term "world" is used elsewhere to refer to unbelievers (in contrast to believers) is clear from John 14:22; 16:8-9; 17:9,21.
When John uses the word "our" he is referring to all Christian believers, not just Jewish believers. See 1 John 1:9"our sins" (it was not just the Jewish believers who were to confess their sins). See also 1 John 1:10"we," "us," (it was not just the Jewish believers that were in danger of saying that they had not sinned). See 1 John 2:1"we have an advocate" (it was not just the Jewish Christians who had an Advocate, but all believers). There is no reason to say that John wrote this epistle strictly to Jewish believers. The terms "our" and "the whole world" are definitely contrasts between believers and those who are not.
If there is any question about this, let the Bible define its own terms. One should consider the usage of the term "world" in the book of 1 John (see 1 John 3:1; 3:13; 4:5; 4:9; 4:14; and especially 5:19). This word is certainly not used when referring to elect Gentiles. Especially significant is the usage of this term in 1 John 5:19. John used the expression "the whole world" in only two places: in 1 John 2:2 and 5:19. In 1 John 5:19 we read this: "And we [Christians] know that we [Christians] are of God, and THE WHOLE WORLD [non-Christians] lieth in wickedness [in the wicked one]." This is the same meaning that the expression has in 1 John 2:2, though certain Calvinists are forced to deny this because of their theology which tells them that Christ could not have paid the death penalty for any of the non-elect.
To summarize this point, in 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 5:19 the terms that are used both mean the same thing:
|"our" "we"||refers to Christians, those to whom John was writing (including both Jewish and Gentile believers)|
|"whole world"||refers to all the unbelievers who are part of Satans world system (this would include both the non-elect and those unsaved who would at some later time respond to the gospel, believe on Christ and be delivered from Satans world system).|
Thus, 1 John 2:2 teaches that Christ by His death on the cross satisfied the demands of divine justice not only for the sins of believers but for the sins of all the unbelievers who were part of Satans kingdom of darkness (the majority of which were non-elect). Thus, saved people are not a part of "the whole world." Some who are included in "the whole world" could eventually believe the gospel and be saved. The term "world" here in 1 John 2:2 does not mean "all humanity" as in John 3:16. Rather, it means "all humanity" in contrast to "saved humanity." This is a common usage of the word "world" (see John 17:9,21--Christ prayed for believers, not for the world; however, some who are in the world will believe through the Churchs testimony).
Those who deny the fact that Christ died for all (believers and unbelievers) sometimes try to argue on the basis of a comparison between 1 John 2:2 and John 11:51-52 (see the argument in Gary Longs book, Definite Atonement, p.95). However, John 11:51-52 is actually a strong argument that Christ died for all men and not just for the elect! In verse 50, the high priest Caiaphas (himself unregenerate) made mention of one dying for the people (the Jewish people), so that the WHOLE NATION perish not! Certainly he was thinking of all the Jewish people without exception! If the Romans were to invade Palestine they would seek to destroy all the Jews without exception! Without knowing it, the high priest actually gave a prophesy that Jesus should die for that nation (verse 51). In other words, Jesus died for the whole Jewish nation! Not only did He die for all Jews, but the death of Christ was for the sins of the whole world with the result that God would be able to gather children from the uttermost parts of the earth. John 11:51-52 teaches that Christ died for the whole Jewish nation and 1 John 2:2 teaches that Christ died for the whole world!
Dr. Charles Smith in his booklet Did Christ Die Only For the Elect? deals with this objection: "If Christ died for all men, then why must, or how can men be required to pay for their own sins in hell?....Due to the infinite value of His Person, He bore a penalty which was more than equal to the penalty that could be paid by all humans throughout all eternity. Exact equivalence of punishment was unnecessary and impossible. The infinite God paid a greater price in those moments on the cross than all men could ever pay. He did not pay the payment which we would otherwise be required to pay. He made a greater payment which may be applied to our account instead of the penalty that we would have to pay. Though an adequate payment was made on behalf of all, the payment is not credited to our account until we respond in faith to the Spirits work in our hearts in calling us to Himself" (pages 13-14). Sins awful penalty was paid by Christ completely. The death He died was so sufficient that the Scripture even says that Christ "bought" and paid the price for the Christ-denying false teachers (2 Peter 2:1). And yet, the cross-work of Christ does not benefit us personally until we personally appropriate it by faith.
Will the unbeliever have his sins paid for twice (once by Christ on the cross and once by himself in an eternal hell)? No, the payment that Christ made on his behalf never actually became his. The benefits of Christs death were never actually put to his account, and to that man the Lord will impute sin (compare Romans 4:8 and John 8:24). The careful student of Scripture must make a difference between REDEMPTION ACCOMPLISHED (by Christ at the cross) and REDEMPTION APPLIED (by the Holy Spirit to the heart of the believing sinner). The benefits of the cross-work of Christ are never put to the account of the sinner unless and until he believes.
The extreme Calvinist must also distinguish between the cross-work of Christ that was accomplished and the benefits of that cross-work which are applied to the heart of the believing sinner by the Holy Spirit. Did Christ die for Saul of Tarsus who was persecuting the church of God? Every Calvinist must say YES to this question. If Christ paid the full penalty for the sins of Saul of Tarsus, then why was Saul not forgiven while he was yet persecuting the church? The answer is that he was still in unbelief and it was not until his conversion that the benefits of the cross-work of Christ were put to his account.
People are not lost because Christ did not die for them. People are lost because they reject the Christ who died for them. If Christ died only for the elect, then we would have a gospel only for the elect. However, those who are lost are not without a gospel. The problem is that they have rejected and disobeyed the gospel that they had. People are not lost because the water of life is not available to them. The springs of living water abound! People are lost because they refuse to drink! "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17)."The gospel message has nothing to do with the extent of the atonement."
J.I. Packer argues that the extent of the atonement has nothing to do with the gospel: "What has to be said about the cross when preaching the gospel is simply that Christs death is the ground on which Christs forgiveness is given. And this is all that has to be said. The question of the designed extent of the atonement does not come into the story at all....The gospel is not, believe that Christ died for everybodys sins, and therefore for yours."
Contrary to what Packer says, Paul tells us that the heart of the gospel message which he preached to unsaved Corinthians (including many non-elect Corinthians) was this: "how that Christ died for OUR SINS (yours and mine)." See 1 Corinthians 15:1-3. If this was the gospel Paul preached, should it not be the gospel we preach? We would like to ask J.I. Packer and others who limit the atonement this question: Are you able to approach an unsaved person and say from your heart sincerely, "My friend, I have good news for you. Jesus Christ died for you. He paid the penalty for your sins"?"What About Passages Which Limit Christs Death to a Select Group?"
There are certainly passages which speak of Christ dying for His church, for His sheep, for His own. "Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it" (Eph. 5:25). "Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us" (Eph. 5:2). "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Such passages cannot be used as arguments that Christ died only for the church, and only for the elect. In the same way someone could argue from Galatians 2:20 that Christ died only for the Apostle Paul. How absurd!
"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His Name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). This verse is often cited as proof that Christ died only for "His people." The verse does say that "He shall save HIS PEOPLE from their sins," but caution must be exercised before we equate "HIS PEOPLE" with the elect. According to Matthew 2:6, "HIS PEOPLE" are Israel, not just elect Israel. Christ came to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:6) and yet many of these lost sheep refused to believe (Matthew 10:14-15). Is it possible for God to call a people "HIS OWN" and have some of them be hardened unbelievers? The answer is found in John 1:11: "He came unto His own, and HIS OWN received Him not." Gods people, the Jewish people, for the most part rejected their Saviour. But we must never forget that the good news of Gods Saviour is "TO ALL PEOPLE" (Luke 2:10-11). Christ will save all people in a provisionary sense, for He died to provide salvation for all. In a special sense He will actually save only those who trust in His finished cross-work."Christ died for all men WITHOUT DISTINCTION but He did not die for all men WITHOUT EXCEPTION."
This is a clever way for those who believe in limited atonement to say that Christ died for all even though they do not really mean that He died for all. When they say that Christ died for all men WITHOUT DISTINCTION they mean that Christ died for all kinds of men. He died for (elect) males and (elect) females. He died for (elect) slaves and (elect) freemen. He died for (elect) Jews and (elect) Gentiles. But they insist that He did not die for all men without exception, because they believe He died only for the elect. Hebrews 2:9 teaches that Christ died for all men without exception. Isaiah 53:6 teaches that on Him were placed the iniquities of all of us!"Christ died for all men, but His death benefits the non-elect only in a temporal sense. He did not really pay the penalty for their sins."
This is the position of John MacArthur (see Tape GC 56-19, "Saving Grace"-Part 2, Titus 2:11, distributed by GRACE TO YOU, P.O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412) and others. It is a way to say that Christs death was for all without really meaning that He paid sins penalty for all. John MacArthur does not believe that Christ died as a Substitute for all men: "He [Christ] did not pay the penalty of sin for those who reject Him, because if He did then they would not have to pay it themselves in hell....The atonement is limited in the sense that Christ acted as a substitute only for those who believe in Him" (from a letter from Dave Swavely, personal assistant to John MacArthur, writing on John MacArthurs behalf, 3/20/96). This implies that Christ did not die as a Substitute for those who persist in rejecting Him (those who have not been chosen).
MacArthur (in the tape mentioned above) teaches that the death of Christ is for all men, but the non-elect benefit from Christs death only in a temporal sense (they are not destroyed instantly, they benefit from the rain and sun, they benefit from "common grace" etc.). However only the elect benefit from the death of Christ as far as an actual payment for their sins.
Swavely, in the same letter mentioned above, explains MacArthurs position in this way: "He did not pay the penalty of sin for those who reject Him...but the ramifications of His sacrifice extend beyond that primary purpose of securing salvation for the elect. All of Gods creatures, including those men and women who reject God, reap many benefits from the death of Christ, not the least of which is life itself. God could have justly destroyed the world immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, but He graciously allowed it to flourish and sustained it by His hand for thousands of years....So John believes that even the non-elect are affected positively as a result of the atonement of Christ....The atonement is limited in the sense that Christ acted as a substitute only for those who believe in Him. The atonement is unlimited, however, in the sense that its benefits extend to all of Gods creation." What good are these "temporal benefits" as far as the non-elect are concerned? Would not the non-elect have been better off if God had destroyed the world immediately after Adam and Eve sinned? Jesus told Judas that it would have been better if he had never been born. There is a sense in which this is true for all those who persist in unbelief. Not ever having been born is better than spending eternity in the lake of fire.
When John MacArthur teaches that Christ died for all men (using verses such as John 3:16; Hebrews 2:9; 1 Timothy 2:6 etc.), what he really means is that there are some temporal blessings that benefit the non-elect. He does not mean that Christ paid sins penalty for the non-elect. According to Tape GC 56-19 and according to Swavelys letter, John MacArthur believes and teaches that Christ died as a Substitute only for the sins of the elect. This teaching is contrary to the IFCA doctrinal statement, which MacArthur signed, which states the following: "We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for all mankind as a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice."
The Lord Jesus provided a perfect and eternal salvation for all men. He desires all men to be saved eternally, not just temporally (1 Tim. 2:4). He paid redemptions price to make this possible, even for the sins of the whole world. However, the sinner does not possess these eternal benefits until He believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. Only then does he procure that which has been provided at Calvary."If Christ died for all, then the sacrifice of Christ was futile with respect to the non-elect. It did nothing for them."
If nothing else, the death of Christ serves a condemnatory purpose for those who reject the Saviour. Men are condemned because they have rejected the Person and work of Jesus Christ (John 3:18) and have refused Gods only remedy for their sin (John 5:40). They can never say that a provision for their salvation was not made and not offered. They refused to receive the gift which God provided in His Son. Men are not lost because a Saviour was not provided. Men are lost because they have rejected the Saviour who was provided.
"In the limited view, the non-elect are not guilty of their rejection of Christ, for they have no Christ to reject; whereas in the unlimited and, we believe, the Biblical view men are guilty before God and will be condemned on the basis of their rejection of Christ" (Lightner, p. 130). "If Christ died for all, then His death for the non-elect would have been a waste. It would never have accomplished their salvation."
God has done so very much on behalf of those who ultimately reject Him, but His efforts on their behalf are not a waste. The goodness and longsuffering and forbearance of God towards unbelieving men ought to bring them to repentance (Rom. 2:3), but alas, in many cases it does not. God strove with the unbelieving men prior to the flood (Gen. 6:3), and yet they perished in a watery grave. Yet Gods striving with these men was not a waste. In the early church the apostles and disciples shouted forth a message of good news to every creature (Mark 16:15) and yet the great majority rejected their message and even reacted violently against it. Were their efforts a waste? The people in John chapter 6 all walked away from the Lord, except for 12 and one of them was a traitor! The more Jesus preached the more people abandoned Him and went no more after Him. Does this mean His preaching was a waste? Believers are a savor, not only of "life unto life" but also of "death unto death" (2 Cor. 2:14-16). The believer is to be a testimony, not only to those who will be saved, but also to those who will perish, and such a testimony is surely not in vain and is surely not a waste. It is pleasing to God.
The are numerous examples from nature of things that seem to be a waste, but in reality they part of Gods perfect plan for this world. Countless flowers grow and bloom and yet their beauty is never seen by any human eyes. "To what purpose do the fructifying showers fall on the ocean and the desert? To what purpose do a million apples rot untasted, and ten thousand million piles of grass wither unconsumed? To what purpose do innumerable medicinal herbs die unused? Are all these things in vain and to no purpose, because, forsooth, such fructifying showers do no fructify, and such nourishing vegetables do not nourish, and such healing herbs do not cure?" Likewise, the death of Christ was not in vain and was not a waste, even though it is despised and mocked and counted as foolishness by the great majority of men.
God has not obscurely made known his intention. He designs, by the death of Christ for all, and by the preaching of it, to set mankind on a new footing. He has made the way clear for all being saved, by giving his son to die for all; and now he invites all, he commands all, he threatens all, he implores all; and if all do not comply, still the glory of his boundless love is magnified and most illustriously displayed, by the very fact that none have been excluded from salvation but by their own folly."
Gods redemptive love as demonstrated on the cross was lavished upon all men, rendering all without excuse. How tragic that there will be those for whom Christ died who will perish. But the reason for this is not that no provision was made and no gift was given. Rather, the gift has been rejected and the love has been spurned. "Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching to all the lost!""If Christ bore the iniquity of everyone then universal salvation would be the result."
Boettner says it this way: "Universal redemption means universal salvation" (cited by Lightner, p. 96). The extreme Calvinist argues that Christ saves everyone that He dies for.
"If Christ died for everyone, then everyone will be saved." Lets think about the logic of this statement. This would be like saying, "If medicine is available for everyone, then everyone must be healed." This is obviously false. The medicine, though available, will not do any good unless it is taken. "There is more than enough cool, refreshing water for every thirsty person in the village." Does this mean that every person in the village will have his thirst quenched? Only if every person drinks! We need to make a difference between redemption accomplished and redemption applied."The Bible says that Christ died for MANY, not ALL."
The Bible clearly states that Christ died for ALL in 1 Timothy 2:6, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 and Isaiah 53:6. See also Hebrews 2:9 where we learn that He died for every man (each individual). It is true, however, that there are passages which teach that Christ died for MANY:
"He bore the sin of MANY" (Isaiah 53:12).
"For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom FOR MANY" (Mark 10:45).
"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed FOR MANY for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28).
The term "MANY" is most often used, not as a contrast to the word "all," but as a contrast to the word "few." The opposite of the word MANY is the word FEW, not the word ALL. This can be seen in Matthew 7:13-14 where MANY are on the broad road to destruction and FEW are on the narrow road to life. See also Matthew 20:16--"for MANY are called, but FEW chosen." In this verse the MANY includes more than the elect (the chosen ones). A contrast is made between the MANY who are called the the FEW that are chosen.
If MANY is the opposite of FEW, then instead of referring to a small number (few) it refers to a large number (many). There are some cases where this large number is equivalent to ALL. A fifth grader could give out birthday party invitations to all 35 students in his class at school. ALL the students in this class were invited. But only 7 actually show up at the party. MANY (all) were invited but only FEW actually came. A very clear example from the Bible where MANY is equivalent to ALL is found in Romans 5:12--"For as by one mans disobedience MANY were made sinners." Compare this with Romans 5:12 and it is evident that the MANY of verse 19 is the same as the ALL MEN of verse 12.
It is possible for the word MANY to refer to Gods elect. Such is the case in Acts 18:10 where the Lord assured Paul by saying, "I have MUCH (MANY) people in this city." Paul was thus encouraged that his labors were not in vain because MANY, not just a few, would come to know Christ in the city of Corinth.
What does the word MANY mean when it is used in connection with the cross-work of Christ? In Isaiah 53 the "many" of verse 12 is defined in the context as referring to ALL OF US:
"He bore the sin of many" (v.12)
"The LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all [the iniquity of all of us]" (v.6)
He died, therefore, as a Substitute, not for just a FEW, but for MANY, yea, for all of us!
We find the same to be true when we compare Mark 10:45 with 1 Timothy 2:6:
"to give his life a RANSOM FOR MANY" (Mark 10:45)
"Who gave himself a RANSOM FOR ALL" (1 Tim. 2:6 and see the "all men" of verse 4).
We conclude, therefore, that when the Bible says Christ died for MANY, the meaning is this: He did not die for just a few, He died for many, yea, for all men. Or as John states it, "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). We fully agree with Calvins comment on Mark 14:24: that when Jesus said that His blood was poured out for many, He meant "not part of the world only, but the whole human race."
For a very significant and helpful discussion about how the word MANY [Greek-polloi] is used in relationship to the atonement of Christ, see the article on polloi by J. Jeremias in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Kittle), Volume VI, pages 536-545. The author argues that the term "many" in Isaiah 53, Mark 10:45; Matthew 26:28 etc. is to be understood inclusively, following Semitic usage, the meaning being that Christ died on behalf of all."If Christ has died for you, you can never be lost" (Charles Spurgeon, cited by Lightner, p.93).
People are not lost because Christ did not die for them. They are lost because they have rejected the Christ who died for them. It is better to re-write Spurgeons quote as follows: "If you persist in rejecting the Christ who died for you, you can never be saved." Also, Spurgeon should realize that even the elect are LOST before they come to Christ by faith, though Christ died for them.
Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness. If any Israelite perished, it was not because there was no remedy. It was because he refused to look and live.
A.W. Pink said something similar to Spurgeons quote above: "Not one for whom He [Christ] died can possibly miss heaven" (cited favorably by Dr. John MacArthur in his Tape GC 80-123 on Hebrews 10:5-18). If this were true then everyone would be saved, because Christ tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9)! No one will ever stand before God and be able to say, "I will miss heaven because the Saviour did not die for me." On the contrary, every mouth will be stopped because Gods great salvation was both provided at the cross and offered to every sinner. It almost seems blasphemous to blame the doom of sinners on the supposed fact that Christ did not die for them.
Those who deny that the death of Christ was universal (for all men) must nevertheless admit that universal terms are used in passages which relate to the extent of the atonement. For example, Gary D. Long in his book Definite Atonement admits that such universal terms are used and that Christ is spoken of as dying for the "world," "all," or "every" (see page 32). Also John Murray in an article entitled "Redemption" in the Sword and Trowel admits that the Bible uses expressions which are universal in form such as "world" and "all" and "every one" and "all men."
If Christ died only for the elect, and if the Bible says that Christ died for "all," "the world," "every man," etc., then we must conclude that the elect are referred to by these universal terms. In other words, we must assume that in such cases terms such as "the world" and "all men" are synonymous with "the elect."
But this raises a problem. Concerning the doctrine of election, there is not one passage which uses universal terms to signify the elect. If such terms can indeed signify the elect, then why are they never used in key passages which set forth the doctrine of election? To give some examples, why do we never read verses such as these: "The world has not chosen me, but I have chosen the world" (compare John 15:16). "According as He has chosen all men in Him before the foundation of the world" (compare Eph. 1:4). "Who has saved every man and called every man with a holy calling...according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to all men in Christ Jesus before the world began" (compare 2 Timothy 1:9). "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen the whole world to salvation..." (compare 2 Thess. 2:13).
I would argue the universality of the propitiation from the fact, that its extent is spoken of by the inspired writers in language very different from what they employ when they speak of election, justification, sanctification, or glorification . . . They speak of Christ making propitiation for "men," for "all men," for "every man," for "the world," for "the whole world," and even for "them who deny him, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." But where do they speak of God electing "men," "all men," "every man," "the world," "the whole world," and even "them who deny Christ, and bring upon themselves swift destruction"? Where do they speak of God justifying, sanctifying, and glorifying, "men," "all men," "every man," "the world," "the whole world," and even "them who deny Christ, and bring upon themselves swift destruction"?
How then do we explain the fact that the Scriptures, in speaking of the death of Christ, frequently make use of general and universal terms, extending it to all, whereas in mentioning divine election, the Bible always uses restrictive terms, limiting it to a few (that is, to believers)? If those for whom Christ died are the same as the elect, then why are not the same terms used to describe both? Why are universal terms used to describe those for whom Christ died but not used to describe the elect if the same group is being referred to? The fact that the Bible uses universal terms to describe those for whom Christ died and never uses such terms to describe the elect is one of the strongest arguments against the doctrine of limited atonement.
Understanding the Language of the Bible in a Normal and Natural Way
How should these universal terms be understood? Those who hold to a limited atonement tell us that "world" (John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:19; John 6:51) does not really mean "world" and that "the whole world" (1 John 2:2) does not really mean "the whole world." Furthermore they insist that "all" (1 Tim. 2:6) does not really men "all" and that "all men" (1 Tim. 2:4) does not really mean "all men" and that "every man" (Heb. 2:9) does not really mean "every man" and that "us all" (Isa. 53:6) does not really mean "us all."
Sir Robert Anderson has written the following: "In the early years of my Christian life I was greatly perplexed and distressed by the supposition that the plain and simple words of such Scriptures as John 3:16; 1 John 2:2; 1 Timothy 2:6 were not true, save in a cryptic sense understood only by the initiated. For, I was told, the over-shadowing truth of Divine sovereignty in election barred our taking them literally. But half a century ago a friend of those daysthe late Dr. Horatius Bonardelivered me from this strangely prevalent error. He taught me that truths may seem to us irreconcilable only because our finite minds cannot understand the Infinite; and we must never allow our faulty apprehension of the eternal counsels of God to hinder unquestioning faith in the words of Holy Scripture."
Dispensationalists have endeavored to follow this rule of Biblical interpretation: When the plain sense makes good sense seek no other sense lest it result in nonsense! But others have abandoned a literal approach when it comes to certain areas of Scripture. Limited redemptionists, for example, seem to have followed another rule: When the plain sense contradicts our theological system seek some other sense lest we end up contradicting our particular brand of Calvinism.
Over three hundred years ago Richard Baxter wrote the following:
When God telleth us as plain as can be spoken, that Christ died for and tasted death for every man, men will deny it, and to that end subvert the plain sense of the words, merely because they cannot see how this can stand with Christs damning men, and with his special Love to his chosen. It is not hard to see the fair and harmonious consistency: But what if you cannot see how two plain Truths of the Gospel should agree? Will you therefore deny one of them when both are plain? Is not that in high pride to prefer your own understandings before the wisdom of the Spirit of God, who indicted the Scriptures? Should not a humble man rather say, doubtless both are true though I cannot reconcile them. So others will deny these plain truths, because they think that [All that Christ died for are certainly Justified and Saved: For whomsoever he died and satisfied Justice for, them he procured Faith to Believe in him: God cannot justly punish those whom Christ hath satisfied for, etc.] But doth the Scripture speak all these or any of these opinions of theirs, as plainly as it saith that Christ died for all and every man? Doth it say, as plainly any where that he died not for all? Doth it any where except any one man, and say Christ died not for him? Doth it say any where that he died only for his Sheep, or his Elect, and exclude the Non-Elect? There is no such word in all the Bible; Should not then the certain truths and the plain texts be the Standard to the uncertain points, and obscure texts?
Richard Baxter then skilfully applied these principles to the case at hand:
Now I would know of any man, would you believe that Christ died for all men if the Scripture plainly speak it? If you would, do but tell me, what words can you devise or would you wish more plain for it than are there used? Is it not enough that Christ is called the Saviour of the World? Youll say, but is it of the whole World? Yes, it saith, He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole World. Will you say, but it is not for All men in the World? Yes it saith he died for All men, as well as for all the World. But will you say, it saith not for every man? Yes it doth say, he tasted death for every man. But you may say, It means all the Elect, if it said so of any Non-Elect I would believe. Yes, it speaks of those that denied the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And yet all this seems nothing to men prejudiced.
I knew of a man who was not committed to the belief that Christ died for all men and yet he made this remarkable concession: "If Christ really did die for all men, then I dont know how the Bible could say it any clearer than it does." How true! This same man later embraced the doctrine of unlimited atonement because he could not deny the clear and plain statements of Scripture.
The issue of the extent of the atonement is more than a theological issue. It is a very practical question. The Scriptures clearly teach that we have good news for lost men. Is this good news only for the elect? Our understanding of the gospel and the atonement will greatly affect the way in which we present the gospel to lost men. It does make a difference. Dr. Jay Adams, on page 70 of Competent to Counsel, shares how he believes Reformed Christians should present the claims of Christ to the unsaved: "They must present the good news that Christ Jesus died on the cross in the place of His own, that he bore the guilt and suffered the penalty for their sins. He died that all whom the Father had given to him might come unto him and have life everlasting. As a reformed Christian, the writer believes that counselors must not tell any unsaved counselee that Christ died for him, for they cannot say that. No man knows except Christ himself who are his elect for whom he died" (emphasis mine).
Those who believe that Christ died only for the elect must be very careful, like Jay Adams, in how they present the gospel. I once asked an extreme Calvinist this question: "Who did Christ die for?" He answered in general terms: "Christ died for sinners!" But a believer in limited atonement would even need to be careful in preaching this. If he were to say to an unsaved audience, "I have good news for you! Christ died for sinners!", even this would be misleading because he might be giving a non-elect person the impression that Christ died for him. He might think, "I know I am a sinner, so the good news must be that Christ died for me!" If the doctrine of limited atonement were true, then we could accurately state the following: Christ died for sinners, but not all sinners. In fact, He did not die for the great majority of sinners, only for a very few (compare Matthew 7:13-14 where we learn that only few are saved). Such a message is good news only for a small minority of sinners!
SINCERITY IN PRESENTING THE GOSPEL
How can we sincerely offer to men what has not been provided for them? How can we offer them a free gift if the gift has not been purchased for them? How can we urge them to drink from the fountain of life if no water has been provided for them? How can we tell them to be saved if He provided not for their salvation? How can we say to a person, "Take the medicine and be cured!" if there is no medicine to take and no cure provided? W. Lindsay Alexander says it this way: On this supposition [that of a limited atonement] the general invitations and promises of the gospel are without an adequate basis, and seem like a mere mockery, an offer, in short, of what has not been provided" (A System of Biblical Theology, 2nd volume, page 111; and see Lightner pages 117-118).
Robert Lightner states the issue clearly: "Unless Christ died for all men, the message of Gods love and Christs death must be given with tongue in cheek and with some reservation, because some may hear who are really not to be numbered among those whom God loved and for whom Christ died....Therefore, to tell all men that these things are true and that salvation is available for them is to speak that which is not true if the limited view be accepted" (The Death Christ Died, p. 15).
Those who believe in a "Definite Atonement" (Gary Longs term for limited atonement), if really honest and sincere, are forced into a very indefinite presentation of the gospel:
"Perhaps Christ died for you."
"Maybe God so loved you."
"Christ shed His blood for you, perhaps."
"Salvation has been provided for you, maybe."
"Possibly God commendeth His love toward you."
"Hopefully Hes the propitiation for your sins."
"There is a possibility that Christ died as your Substitute."
"I bring you good news, maybe."
"Its possible that Christ died for you. If you get saved then we know that He did die for you, but if you continue to reject Him then He did not die for you."
"Christ died for you only if you believe that Christ died for you (thus proving you are elect), but if you do not believe this and if you continue in your unbelief until the day you die, then Christ did not die for you."
Those who hold to a definite or limited atonement do not present the gospel in this way, but would not such a presentation be consistent with their theology? Would it not be a correct and cautious and sincere way of sharing with the unsaved? An extreme Calvinist must be very careful how he presents the cross-work of Christ to an unsaved person because he never really can be sure if Christ has made provision for that person. As Robert Lightner has said, "Belief in limited atonement means that the good news of Gods saving grace in Christ cannot be personalized. Those who hold to such a position cannot tell someone to whom they are witnessing that Christ died for him because that one may, in fact, not be one for whom Christ died" (Article in Walvoord: A Tribute, p. 166).
DO WE REALLY HAVE A GOSPEL FOR EVERY CREATURE?
How can we preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15) if Christ did not die for every creature? If the good news of the cross is only for some, then how can we preach it with sincerity to all? As L.S. Chafer asks, "How can a universal gospel be preached if there is no universal provision? To say on the one hand that Christ died only for the elect and on the other hand that His death is the ground on which salvation is offered to all men is perilously near contradiction" (Bibliothecas Sacra, Oct-Dec. 1980, p. 315). As C.H. Mackintosh has said, "A disciple of the high school of doctrine will not hear of a world-wide gospelof Gods love to the worldof glad tidings to every creature under heaven. He has only gotten a gospel for the elect" (in his article, One-Sided Theology).
John Bunyan said it this way, "The offer of the Gospel cannot, with Gods allowance, be offered any further than the death of Christ did go; because if it be taken away, there is indeed no Gospel, nor grace to be extended" (Bunyans Works). In other words, how can you offer the gospel to a person if Christ did not die for that person? How can we offer the sinner what has not been provided? As Lightner has said, "No maxim appears more certain than that a salvation offered implies a salvation provided" (p. 114).
The believer in a limited atonement cannot say to an unsaved person: "My friend, the Lord Jesus died on the cross for you. He died as your Substitute, in your stead. He paid the penalty for your sins." [Read again Jay Adams quote given earlier.] The heart of the gospel message is "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3). Beware of any theology that removes the very heart of the gospel.
One way that limited atonement evangelists can handle this problem is to preach the death of Christ in very general terms: "Christ died for sinners. Christ died for the ungodly." Of course, what they mean is that Christ died for elect sinners and He died for those ungodly ones who are elect. The problem with this approach is that the message of the cross can never be personalized to the individual sinner. What is it that we know for sure about the sinner with whom we are sharing the gospel? We know for sure that he is an ungodly sinner, and we can show him this from the Scripture. Do we know for sure that Christ died for him? There is no way the limited atonement evangelist can know this at the time he presents the gospel to the sinner. "I know you have a problem, but Im not sure there is a solution to your problem. I know you have a terrible disease, but I am not sure there is a remedy for you."
SHOULD WE COMMEND UNBELIEVERS FOR THEIR UNBELIEF?
If Christ did not die for all men, then we should be commending the ungodly for their unbelief. Heres an example. A Christ-denying infidel makes this statement, "I dont believe Christ died for me!" If what the extreme Calvinists teach is true, then he is correct not to believe that Christs death was for him. "I do not believe that Christ did anything to save me." If Christ did not die for the unbeliever who made this statement, then what he is saying is accurate and we should commend him for his unbelief! Charles Smith said it this way, "One who rejects the eternal life provided for us in Christ has made God a liar. According to Gods Word he has refused to believe the truth. Yet those who teach a limited atonement would have us believe that one who goes to hell goes there because he does believe the truthnamely the "truth" that Jesus did not die for him!" (Did Christ Die Only for the Elect? p. 13). He is correct in not believing that Christ died for his salvation. How can we condemn this man for rejecting the Saviour, if Christ did nothing to save him?
ARE THE UNSAVED COMMANDED TO BELIEVE A LIE?
The Westminster Confession of Faith is a strong statement of the tenets of Reformed Theology. The Moderator of the Assembly that compiled this confession of faith, Dr. Twisse, had admitted that "every one who hears the gospel (without distinction between elect and reprobate) is bound to believe that Jesus Christ died for him." But if Jesus Christ did not die for him, is he bound to believe a lie? When we preach the gospel message, what is it that we are urging lost sinners to believe?
When every sinner that hears the gospel is commanded to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," what is it that he is to believe? He is to believe, say "the Marrow of Modern Divinity" [Chap. II, sect. ii] and "the Act of the Associate Presbytery of 1742," and "be verily persuaded in his heart that Jesus Christ is his, that he shall have life and salvation by him, and that whatsoever he did for the redemption of mankind, he did it for him." What? Is every hearer of the gospel to believe all this, if it be a fact [as limited redemptionists maintain] that for millions who hear the gospel he did absolutely nothing at all upon Calvaryshed no blood, made no atonement, gave no ransom? Is he to believe a thing that is not true? Is he to believe a LIE? He is invited to do so, he is urged to do so, he is entreated to do so, he is commanded to do so, he is threatened with eternal condemnation if he do not do so, provided it be indeed a truth that Christ did nothing on Calvary for him.
No, we are not urging sinners to believe a lie. We are beseeching them, for Christs sake, to believe the truth of the gospel, that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3).
My friend, Christ died for you.
Believe it because it is surely true!
Reject this message of His all-embracing love shown at the cross
And you will suffer eternal death, everlasting punishment and terrible loss!
Sinners do not perish for believing a lie but for rejecting Gods truth. "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (2 Thess. 2:10).
How Calvinistic was John Calvin? What did he teach concerning the extent of the atonement? Let us ponder his own words:
On Isaiah 53:12--"I approve of the ordinary reading, that He alone bore the punishment of many, because on Him was laid the guilt of the whole world. It is evident from other passages, and especially from the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, that many sometimes denotes all."
On Mark 14:24--"The word many does not mean a part of the world only, but the whole human race." In other words, Christs blood was shed for the whole human race.
On John 1:29--"And when he says the sin OF THE WORLD, He extends this favour indiscriminately to the whole human race....all men without exception are guilty of unrighteousness before God and need to be reconciled to Him....Now our duty is, to embrace the benefit which is offered to all, that each of us may be convinced that there is nothing to hinder him from obtaining reconciliation in Christ, provided that he comes to him by...faith."
On John 3:16--"He has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers....He shows Himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when He invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ."
On Romans 5:18--"He makes this favor common to all, because it is propoundable to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all (i.e. in the experience); for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through Gods benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive Him."
On 2 Corinthians 5:19--God "shows Himself to be reconciled to the whole world" and Calvin goes on to say that the "whole world" means "all men without exception."
On Galatians 5:12--"It is the will of God that we should seek the salvation of all men without exception, as Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world."
In fairness, it should be stated that some of Calvins comments seem to indicate that he held to a limited atonement (see his comments on 1 Timothy 2:4-6, for example, where he says that the "all" refers to all classes or ranks of men, and see his comments on 1 John 2:2 where he says that the word all or whole does not include the reprobate). However, in his comments on 1 John 2:2 he mentions a phrase commonly used in the schools: "Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect." He then states that he is in basic agreement with this statement and that it is true.
In conclusion, Calvin often made statements which seem to indicate he held to an unlimited atonement, but he also made statements which seem to better harmonize with a limited atonement. The best indication of where he stood on this issue, as Norman Duty suggests, should come from his final statement on the matter. Calvin made a statement in his will, drawn up when he was 54, shortly before his death. The year was 1564 and may be regarded as his final judgment concerning the extent of the atonement: "I testify also and profess that I humbly seek from God, that He may so will me to be washed and purified by the great Redeemers blood, shed for the sins of the human race, that it may be permitted me to stand before His tribunal under the covert of the Redeemer Himself."
In establishing any doctrine, it is what God says that counts. "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Rom. 3:4). Having already established from the Scriptures that upon Christ were laid the iniquities of all of us, it is of interest to consider what great and godly men of the past have said about this issue of the universal extent of the atonement.
Norman F. Douty, in his excellent book The Death of Christ, lists over 70 of the Churchs leading teachers, from the early centuries to the modern era, who stood firmly for the doctrine that Christ died on behalf of all men, not the elect only (pages 136-163). Here are some of the names on the list: Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Augustine, Martin Luther, Hugh Latimer, Myles Coverdale, Thomas Cranmer, Philip Melanchton, Archbishop Ussher, Richard Baxter, John Newton, John Bunyan, Thomas Scott, Henry Alford, Philip Schaff, Alfred Edersheim, H.C.G. Moule, W.H. Griffith Thomas, and A.T. Robertson.
The following quotes are of interest:
"Although the blood of Christ be the ransom of the whole world, yet they are excluded from its benefit, who, being delighted with their captivity, are unwilling to be redeemed by it" (Prosper, who died 463 AD).
"For Christ only, and no man else, merited remission, justification, and eternal felicity, for as many as will believe the same; they that will not believe it, shall not have it, for it is no more but believe and have. For Christ shed as much blood for Judas as He did for Peter; Peter believed it, and therefore he was saved; Judas would not believe and therefore he was condemnedthe fault being in him only, and in nobody else" (Hugh Latimer, devoted bishop and martyr, 1485-1555).
"Christ died for all, yet, notwithstanding, all do not embrace the benefit of His death...they despise the offered grace" (Benedict Aretius, 1505-1575).
"We may safely conclude that the Lamb of God offering himself a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, intended, by giving sufficient satisfaction to Gods justice, to make the nature of man, which he assumed, a fit subject for mercy, and to prepare a medicine for the sins of the whole world, which should be denied to none that intended to take the benefit of it" (Archbishop Usher, 1581-1656).
James Morison argues that the doctrine of a limited atonement was never taught in the early centuries of church history:
The doctrine of a propitiation for the elect alone is not yet above fourteen hundred years old. Such a doctrine was unheard of during the glorious first three centuries of the Christian era. Nay, it was not known for about two hundred years after that. This surely is a striking fact, and should make some men pause and ponder before they condemn. "I think," says the illustrious Bishop Davenant, a divine most intimately versed in ecclesiastical history and the writings of the Fathers, "that it may be truly affirmed, that before the dispute between Augustine and Pelagius, there was no question concerning the death of Christ, whether it was to be extended to all mankind, or to be confined only to the elect. For the Fathers, when speaking of the death of Christ, describe it to us as undertaken and endured for the redemption of the human race; and not a word (that I know of) occurs among them of the exclusion of any person by the decree of God. They agree that it is actually beneficial to those only who believe, yet they everywhere confess that Christ died in behalf of all mankind. [He then quotes from Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Primasius, Athanasius and Prosper].
Bishop Davenport goes on to give some further details respecting the opinions of Augustine: "We assert, therefore, that Augustine never attempted to impugn that proposition of the Semi-pelagians, that Christ died for the whole human race . . . For neither did Augustine ever oppose as erroneous the proposition that Christ died for the redemption of the whole human race; nor did he ever acknowledge or defend as his own, that Christ died, not for all men, but for the pre-destinate alone. "
Augustine died A.D. 429, and up to his time, at least, there is not the slightest evidence that any Christian ever dreamed of a propitiation for the elect alone. Even after him, the doctrine of a limited propitiation was but slowly propagated, and for long but partially received.
More recent advocates of unlimited atonement are as follows: D.L.Moody, Albert Barnes, L.S.Chafer, John Walvoord, Robert Lightner, William Newell, R.C.H. Lenski, D.Edmond Hiebert, Robert Gromacki, E.Schuyler English, R.A. Torrey, Charles Ryrie and all the members of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America who have made unlimited atonement part and parcel of their doctrinal statement. Unlimited atonement seems also to be the position of the GARBC (Regular Baptists) because the Regular Baptist Press published the original edition of Robert Lightners book, The Death Christ Died, which presents a strong case for unlimited atonement and also David Nettletons book Chosen to Salvation. Nettleton refers to "the erroneous doctrine of limited atonement" and says that "limited atonement is not a necessary corollary of the sovereign election of God" (page 79).
Those who are defenders of a Limited Atonement would include Berkhof, Crawford, Cunningham, Eldersveld, Haldane, Hodge, Lloyd-Jones, John Murray, Owen, Packer, Pink, Smeaton, Spurgeon, Stonehouse and Warfield (see Douty, page 163). To this list can be added John Gerstner, Gary Long, David N. Steele, Custis C. Thomas, W.E. Best, John MacArthur and many others. Though we strongly disagree with such men on this issue, we do not vilify them as Charles Spurgeon seemed to do with respect to those holding to unlimited atonement:
"There may be men with minds so distorted that they can conceive it possible that Christ should die for a man who afterwards is lost: I say, there may be such. I am sorry to say that there are still to be found such persons whose brains have been so addled in their childhood, that they cannot see that what they hold is both preposterous falsehood and a blasphemous libel....I feel quite shocked in only mentioning such an awful error, and were it not so current as it is, I should certainly pass it by with the contempt that it deserves" (cited by Norman Duty, The Death of Christ, p. 163).
ATTENTION ALL UNSAVED PEOPLE! THE "ALL" INCLUDES YOU!
ALL have sinned (Romans 3:23) and ALL we like sheep have gone astray, but the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us ALL (Isaiah 53:6). The grace of God has appeared unto ALL men (Titus 2:11). A Saviour has been provided for ALL people (Luke 2:10-11). Salvation has been made possible for ALL (John 3:16-17) and Jesus Christ is the Saviour of ALL men (1 Timothy 4:10). God desires ALL to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4) and the Saviour died for ALL (1 Timothy 2:6; 1 John 2:2). Thus the gospel message is for ALL (Mark 16:15) and Gods gracious invitation is extended to ALL (Rom. 10:13; Rev. 22:17). ALL men everywhere are commanded to repent (Acts 17:30). ALL men from ALL nations are commanded to believe the gospel (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). Christians are commanded to go to ALL men and to beseech them to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:19-20). Yes, the ALL includes you. Will you personally receive or personally reject ALL that the living God has done for you?
"But as many as received Him [Christ], to them gave He power to become the sons [children] of God, even to them that believe on His Name." (John 1:12).
The following resources are recommended:
Other Literature on Related Topics: Available From the Middletown Bible Church
Available From the Middletown Bible Church
* * * * * * *
"Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made."
4th Stanza of JESUS THY BLOOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
by Nikolaus L. von Zinzendorf, 1739
* * * * * * *
Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
That hath made heaven and earth of naught,
And with His blood mankind hath bought!
4th stanza of The First Noel, Old English Carol
As far as Calvinism is concerned I can see limited atonement relevant as far as salvation by election vs. salvation by faith, in the context of the thread.
But wouldn’t Calvinism’s doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints be more closely relevant to the thread topic?
No, it is no myth, just Scriptural. The medieval myth that some became seduced by was the myth of infused righteousness. We are saved because we are found in Christ and we have HIS righteousness, the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us by the grace of God through faith. The punishment of our sins, on the other hand, will not be imputed to us BECAUSE of this grace.
“And Jesus used the term Born Again to make it crystal clear... you cannot be un-born.”
Just as you cannot cause yourself to be either born or reborn. Salvation is of the Lord.
DannyTN - "This woman had been in the church as long as I can remember, and was a hard worker in the church."
I think part of the problem is that we have been doing it backwards. The command is to GO and preach...and THEN make disciples. In modern Christianity we instead GO and invite the unregenerate into the Assembly of the Saints so our Pastors can preach, mostly a man centered/initiated gospel, while at the same time encouraging the unregenerate to be discipled by Bible Study and Sunday School, mechanisms used for the equipping of the Saints, of which the unregenerate cannot truly partake of since they are not illuminated by the Holy Spirit. Thus we have unregenerate people learning how to DO Christianity, instead of BEING found in Christ. Many of these people then become lay-leaders, and some even pastors.
Think of it this way, what fellowship can the "enemies of God", or those "who are at war with God" have with what takes place on the Lord's Day?
If you’re continually living in sin and never turn to righteousness, you never know how wretched you are. If you become saved, and then fall back into a life of sin, it’s worse because not only have you gone back to your old ways, but now you hate yourself for it, and know how wretched you are.
That was to illustrate that it is entirely possible to lose a position in Christ. Paul says therefore we should not be arrogant but rather afraid. Because why would He spare the grafted branches if He didn't even spare the natural ones?
Furthermore, I quoted John 15 wherein Jesus is not speaking about a nation or group of people but individual believers.
You are sealed by God, we are held and kept by the power of God, not our works
Our works don't save us, our works cannot keep us, it is all God's work
The True Believer is Safe and Secure in Christ Forever
Personal assurance and the enjoyment of my so-great salvation depends on my knowledge of the absolute certainty of the promises of God.
The story is told of a western traveler in the pioneer days who came one winter night to the banks of a wide river. He had to get across but there was no bridge. The river was coated with a sheet of ice but he did not know how safe it was. After much hesitation he gingerly tested it with one foot and it held. Night was coming on and he must get across. With many fears and with anxious care he crept out on hands and knees, hoping to distribute his weight evenly on the uncertain ice. When he had gone some distance painfully and slowly he suddenly heard the sound of horse hoofs and joyful singing. There in the dusk was a man happily driving a wagon load of coal across the ice, being pulled by a muscular horse. The man was cheerfully singing as he went. He knew the ice was safe and he had no fears.
Both of these men were absolutely safe on that ice. The ice was thick and solid. It could have borne twice that weight easily. One man was in fear and doubt because he did not know how safe he was and did not realize how solid and thick the ice was. The other man enjoyed his ride across the frozen river because he knew without any doubt that the ice would hold and that the foundation under him was solid and safe.
A true believer is safe and secure in Jesus Christ. No foundation could be any more safe or solid (1 Cor. 3:11). The problem is that some believers are not familiar with the statements and promises of God concerning their absolute security in Christ and therefore they are not in the place to fully enjoy their so-great salvation. It is to help such people that these pages are written. May our security in Christ cause our hearts to greatly rejoice: + "Safe am I, Safe am I, in the hollow of His hand!"+
Every believer is safe and secure and protected in Christ, but not every believer realizes and understands his safety and security as well as he should. The more I realize how safe and secure I am in Christ, the more assurance I will have and the more I will be able to enjoy my relationship with Christ.
Sadly, there is another class of people who have a sense of false security. They think that they are safe when they are not safe at all. They think they are on solid ground when they are actually on sinking sand. Their situation would be like the person who thinks the ice is thick and walks out on it, only to have it give way under his feet, plunging him into the icy waters. Some have false security because they think that their good works will earn them entrance into heaven. Others have false security because they are trusting in some religious system for their salvation. Anyone who trusts in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ and Him alone is not safe! Such a person is in great danger. Our refuge and safety must not be in SELF but in CHRIST ALONE.
In these pages we are going to see from the Bible that the true believer is safe and secure in Christ forever. The one who has come to Christ for salvation will never be cast out (John 6:37). No true believer will ever be lost. No true believer will ever lose his salvation (John 6:37-40). Will the true believer ever perish (John 10:28)? Never!
Before considering our eternal safety in Christ and Gods amazing keeping ability, let us consider the important, soul-searching question: Am I a true believer? To help you answer this question, consider the following questions given on the next page. Think about each one in an honest, personal way. Take time to look up the Bible verses that are given along with each question. Ask yourself: Who am I really trusting for my eternal salvation?
Am I A True Believer?
Do I see myself as a guilty, lost sinner who stands condemned before a holy and righteous God (Romans 3:10-19,23)? Do I recognize that my own heart is deceitful and wicked and incurably sick (Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-23)? Do I see myself as deserving of death and hell (Romans 6:23)? Do I realize that if God were to give me what I deserve and repay me for the way I have lived, then I would be totally destroyed (Psalm 130:3; compare Psalm 103:10)? Do I recognize that there is absolutely nothing I can do to save myself (Titus 3:5)? Do I understand that trying my best to perform good works will never gain me or earn me an entrance into heaven (Ephesians 2:8-9)? Do I realize that my church or my religious system cannot save my soul (Jeremiah 17:5)? Am I convinced that my own righteousness and my own goodness falls far short of the righteousness that God requires and demands (Romans 3:10-12; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10)? Do I, in and of myself, have any personal credentials that are acceptable before God (Isaiah 64:6)?
Do I believe that Jesus Christ is Gods only Solution to my sin problem (Acts 4:12)? Do I recognize Him as the only way to God (John 14:6), the only Door to salvation (John 10:9), the only Saviour for sinners (Matthew 1:21) and the only One who can give me eternal life (John 10:28; 17:3)? Do I understand that Jesus Christ is the eternal God (John 1:1-3) who came into this world and became a man to save me (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 1:15; John 3:17)? Am I convinced that He loved me even when I was a great sinner (Romans 5:8; John 3:16) and that He died and rose again to save my soul (Romans 4:25)? Am I persuaded that the Lord Jesus died on the cross for my sins and that He died in my place as my perfect Substitute, dying in my stead and paying completely the full penalty for my sins (Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21)? Am I trusting in Him and in Him alone to save me (Acts 16:31)? Have I come to Him in simple, child-like faith (John 6:35,37; Matthew 11:28)? Have I, by faith, personally received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour (John 1:12)? Am I resting my entire self on who He is (John 8:24), on what He has done (1 Cor. 15:3-4) and on what He has said (John 6:47)?
Do I believe that He is able to completely save all those who come unto God through Him, including me (Hebrews 7:25)? Do I believe the statement of Christ found in John 5:24? Is John 3:16 true of me? Have I ever shared with others that Jesus Christ is my Saviour (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 10:32)? Am I able to say from my heart: "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus Name. On Christ the solid Rock I standall other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand!" [Edward Mote]
Another helpful question that I can ask myself is this: If I were to die today and stand before God and He should ask me, "Why should I allow you to enter My holy heaven?" what would my answer be? If my answer in any way points to MYSELF (my own credentials, my own works, my own religious deeds, etc.) then I am not standing on solid ground. Here are some examples of people putting their trust in SELF:
"God should let me into His holy heaven because in my lifetime I have done more good than bad." "God should let me into His holy heaven because I try to keep the ten commandments." "God should let me into His holy heaven because Im a member of a certain church" etc. All such answers point to ME, but salvation is not of ME; salvation is of the LORD!
There is only one reason why I can enter Gods holy heaven. The appropriate response is this: "I will enter Gods holy heaven for one reason and one reason only. It is only because of Jesus Christ my Saviour. Apart from His work on the cross I could never be saved. Apart from His life which He has given to me as a free gift, I could never enter His holy heaven. He is my only hope. He is the only righteousness I have and He is all the righteousness I need. Thank You Lord for saving my soul and making me whole." Notice how this answer points away from SELF and clearly points to the Saviour and to Him alone!
In the following sections of this document, we are going to establish the fact that the true believer is safe and secure in Christ forever. This is the doctrine of eternal security. In answering the questions, please look up all of the verses that are given, even if you think you know the answer without looking up the verses. It is important to see exactly what God says and to let His Word sink deeply into your heart (Psalm 119:11; Colossians 3:16).
Is The True Believer Safe and Secure in Christ Forever?
Is The True Believer Safe and Secure in Christ Forever?
The answer to this question is an emphatic "YES" for the following reasons:
Is God a man that He should lie (see Numbers 23:19)? ______ Therefore, God cannot break His promises! In this course of study we have already studied 15 salvation promises. One of them was John 3:16. In this passage God promises the true believer that he will never ______________________. In John 3:18 God promises that the true believer will never be _____________________.
According to John 5:24, what are 3 things that are true of every believer?
In John 6:37 Christ promises to never ______________ __________ the person who comes to Him. In John 11:26 Christ promises that the true believer will never ________ [This "death" does not refer to physical death which both saved people and unsaved people experience, but it refers to "the second death" which is eternal separation from God (see Rev. 20:14-15; 21:8) which only the unsaved experience].
Answer True or False:
|________||If a believer sins, then Christ will cast him out (John 6:37).|
|________||A person who truly is trusting in Christ as Saviour will never perish (John 3:16).|
|________||John 5:24 teaches the same truth as Romans 8:1. No condemnation!|
|________||It is possible for a true believer to lose his salvation and perish.|
|________||If a true believer in Christ could perish, then this would make God a liar (see John 3:16).|
|________||God is not a liar, and therefore John 3:16 is true. The believer in Christ will not perish. God has given us His Word! God said it and that settles it!|
According to 1 Corinthians 6:11, when the Corinthian people became saved, three things happened to them:
Do you think it is possible for a believer to become unwashed? _____________ Can a person become unsanctified? _____ Do you think that a born-again person can become unjustified (condemned)? _______ Can a believer become unredeemed? ______ For a person to lose his salvation he would have to become UNWASHED, UNSANCTIFIED, UNJUSTIFIED and UNREDEEMED! Is this possible? _________ Does God "undo" the good work that He begins in a person or does He bring that good work to its ultimate completion (Phil. 1:6)? _________________________________________________
In John chapter 10 Christ describes Himself as the Good S_________________ (verse 11) and He describes those who are true believers as His ______________ (verse 27). What does Christ give to His sheep (verse 28)? ___________________________________ In verse 28 the Lord Jesus said that His sheep will never _________________ (verse 28). Note: In the Greek this is a very strong statement. It could be translated, "They shall never perish, no not ever!!!" Or literally, "Forever they will never perish!" This is eternal security!
In John 10:28 we learn that the believer is safe and secure in whose hand? ___________________ Is anyone able to pluck the believer out of His hand? _____ In John 10:29 we learn that the believer is safe and secure in whose hand? _____________________ Is anyone able to pluck the believer out of His hand? ________ In verse 30 we learn that God the Son and God the Father are _________. In order for the believer to be lost, there would have to be a person stronger and more powerful than God the Son and God the Father who could pluck him out from the safety of Gods hand! Is there such a person? _____ Is the God who lives in us (God the Holy Spirit) greater than Satan (see 1 John 4:4)? _______
True or False: ______________ According to John 6:35, the person who comes to the Lord Jesus is the person who believes in Him. What will Christ never do to the person who comes to Him and believes on Him (John 6:37)? ______________________________ Note: In the Greek, John 6:37 is also a very strong statement. It uses a double negative: "I will never ever throw him out." Read John 6:38-39 and answer True or False:
________ Christ came to this world to do His own will.
________ Christ came to this world to do His Fathers will.
________ The Fathers will was that Christ should lose only a few believers.
According to John 6:40 and 6:47, Gods will is that everyone who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ should have ____________________________. According to John 6:39,40,44,54, what future promise does the Lord give to those who are true believers? __________________________________________________ Thus, John 6 teaches us that the true believer has eternal life, he will never be cast out by Christ and he will be raised up at the last day! Is the believer in Christ eternally secure? ___________________
Note: "I will raise him (the true believer) up at the last day" (see John 6:39,40,44,54). This is a reference to the first resurrection which is for believers only. It is a bodily resurrection that is unto LIFE (John 5:29). Only those who are "blessed and holy" can take part in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:6). The second resurrection is for the unsaved only. The unsaved dead will be raised up bodily to stand before Christ at the Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15. Such persons will end up in the lake of fire which is the second death (Rev. 20:14-15; 21:8). Those who believe in Christ will never be a part of the second resurrection which is called the "resurrection of damnation" (John 5:28-29).
We learn from Hebrews 13:5 that our conversation (manner of life, conduct, the way we live) is to be without __________________________. This means we are to be free from the love of money. We are not to love money or be possessed by our possessions (see 1 Timothy 6:9-11). There is a danger that we can get so wrapped up in materialistic things that we forget the Lord.
Instead of loving money, we are to be C_______________ (Hebrews 13:5) with the things that we have. Therefore we are to be content and satisfied with what we have ("What I have is ENOUGH!"). As believers what do we have? What do we possess? We have the most precious possession that anyone could ever have because HE (Christ) has said (and He continues to say), I will never ________________ thee, nor ______________ thee (Hebrews 13:5). In the Greek this is a very strong statement. Five negatives are used and it could be translated in this way: "I will (1) never (2) ever leave thee, (3) no, I will (4) never (5) ever forsake thee." It is a negative way of saying, "I will positively be with you forever!" Christ will never abandon, desert, forsake or leave those that belong to Him!!
Note: The word "leave" in Hebrews 13:5 is the same word as the word "loosed" in Acts 16:26 (Pauls chains "left" him). The chain that binds the believer to Christ will never be loosed. We are chained to Him forever. He will never leave us! Nothing shall separate us (Rom. 8:38-39).
Christ was forsaken by God (Matthew 27:46) so that the believer will never be forsaken by God (Heb. 13:5). Because of this we may boldly say, "The _____________ is my _________________ and I will not F_________" (Hebrews 13:6). "The ______________ is my ___________________ I shall not _____________ (Psalm 23:1, "want" means to lack or be in need). We have Christ! Do we need anything or anyone else? ______ Will He always be with us (Matthew 28:20)? ______ Do we need to fear (Heb. 13:6)? ______ Was this same promise given to Old Testament believers (see Deuteronomy 31:6,8)? _______ If it were possible for a believer to be lost, then Christ would have to leave him and forsake him. Is this possible? _____ God will not abandon His own! No not ever!
John 1:12 declares that the moment you received the Lord Jesus Christ and believed on His Name you became a _________________ of God (Note: the word "sons" in John 1:12 means "children"). "Behold, what manner of love the _________________ hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the _________ (children) of _______" (see 1 John 3:1). "Beloved, ______ are we the _________ (children) of _______" (1 John 3:2). According to 1 John 3:10, what are the two groups of people in the world today?
1) _________________________________ 2) ______________________________________ If a person is truly saved, then to what group does he belong? ________________________________ Thus, in order for a saved person to become "UN-SAVED" God would have to say to him: "I now DISOWN you as My child. You are no longer My child and you are no longer a part of My family." Do you think that our Heavenly Father would ever say this to His child? ____
Lets think about an earthly, human father. Suppose Mr. Smith has a 9 year old son named Joey. One day Joey disobeys his father by messing around with his fathers expensive computer and breaking it. He had been told to not even touch it without permission. How do you think Mr. Smith would respond to Joeys act of disobedience (circle the sentences below that that best describe how you think this father might handle this situation)?
Lets assume that Mr. Smith is a loving father and really cares about his son. How would Mr. Smith respond to Joeys act of disobedience? (Circle the correct answers)
Read Matthew 7:9-11 carefully. Can we expect our Heavenly Father to be "much more" fair and loving towards His children than an "evil" earthly father? _______ Would an earthly father give his son a rattlesnake for lunch? ______ Would he feed his son rocks? _____ Would a human father disown his son? ______ Would God disown His child? ______
As Gods children (sons) we are not to despise the ____________________ (discipline, training, correction, "spanking") of the Lord (Hebrews 12:5). Whom does the Lord chasten (Hebrews 12:6)? ________________________________________ True or False: ___________ Every son is chastened by his father and the person who is not chastened is not really his son (Heb. 12:7-8). Thus, the fact that Mr. Smith chastens Joey proves that Joey is his _______. Would Mr. Smith dare spank or discipline his neighbors child? _______ The fact that he does not discipline his neighbors child proves that his neighbors child is not his ___________. Is it enjoyable to be chastened by the Lord (Hebrews 12:11)? ______ And yet we can endure (Hebrews 12:7) the chastening of the Lord because it produces the peaceable ____________ of _________________________ in our lives (Hebrews 12:11).
In 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 we find two important words (both beginning with the letter "C"): 1) Chastened 2) Condemned. Which of these words describes Gods way of dealing with His children? ________________________ Which of these words describes Gods way of dealing with the world? ________________________ Answer the following True or False:
________ Gods children are chastened by the Lord.
________ Gods children will be condemned by the Lord.
________ The unsaved world is chastened by the Lord.
________ The unsaved world shall be condemned by the Lord.
________ The believer is not under condemnation (Romans 8:1).
________ God is the Father of all men (John 8:44).
|________||God corrects and chastens His children but will never disown them.|
|________||I thank the Lord that I am a member of Gods family (John 1:12; Eph. 2:19) and I know that He will never cast me out (John 6:37).|
|________||Because God will never disown me, I can live as a disobedient child (1 Peter 1:14).|
|________||Because I am Gods child, I never want to displease or dishonor (Malachi 1:6) or grieve my Heavenly Father.|
|________||The parent who spanks and firmly disciplines his child is showing his hatred for that child (Proverbs 13:24).|
|________||God chastens those whom He hates (Revelation 3:19).|
Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and answer these questions: Paul describes the believers body as ___________________________________________ Did Paul expect the Corinthian believers to know this truth? _______ Where is the Holy Spirit (verse 19)? ___________ Now that we are saved, are we our own? _____ Who do we now belong to? ______ Are we free to live for ourselves (2 Cor. 5:15)? _____ Why are we not our own (1 Cor. 6:20)? _______________________________________ Who paid this awful price (1 Peter 1:18-19)? ___________________ Salvation is free, but it is certainly not cheap! Circle the one sentence that is false:
Romans 8:9 teaches us that if any man does not have the _____________ of Christ he is ____________________________. This means that if a person does not have the Holy ____________ then he does not belong to ________________. Therefore, everyone who truly belongs to Christ has the _________ _______________ dwelling within.
________ Every person who belongs to Christ has the Holy Spirit.
________ Every true believer has the Holy Spirit.
________ It is possible that a true Christian may not have the Holy Spirit dwelling within.
________ If a person does not have the Holy Spirit, then He is not a true Christian.
In Ephesians 1:13 we learn three things that have happened to every person who is truly saved: "In whom ye also trusted, (1) after ye heard the ____________ of ____________, the __________________ of your salvation; in whom also (2) after ye _____________________, (3) ye were _________________________ with that __________ _______________ of promise." We shall now study these three ingredients of salvation:
|Suppose Cowboy Sam were to brand his cattle with this mark:|
|Suppose Cowboy Hank were to brand his cattle with this mark:||
|If you were riding on your horse and you came across a stray steer with|
branded on its hide, then you would know that the steer belongs to whom? ___________________________
A little further down the trail you come across another steer and as you examine this animal you discover that it is branded with , and therefore it must belong to Cowboy Hank. Every steer that is branded with must belong to _____________________. If you were a steer with branded on your hide, then you could proudly say, "I know that I belong to Cowboy Hank. He has branded me with his own personal mark of ownership!"
The believer in Christ has been "branded" or sealed with what (or WHO)(Ephesians 1:13)? ______________________________________ Who has sealed the believer (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)? _______ Therefore the believer can say, "I know that I belong to _______ because He has S_________________ me with His Holy _______________." In 2 Timothy 2:19 we read: "Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure (solid), having this _________, the ______________ knows them that are __________." He knows those who truly belong to Him! Does the Lord know who His true believers are? ________ Does the Lord know which people He has sealed with the Holy Spirit and which people He has not sealed? _______ As you watch and observe other people, is it possible for you to actually see the Holy Spirit in them? _____ Is the Holy Spirit visible or invisible? ______________ Therefore, is Gods seal visible or invisible? ____________________ The first time you looked in the mirror after you were saved, did you see any great difference in your appearance? _____ Did you see the Holy Spirit living in you? ______ Did you find Gods name written on your forehead as the people described in Revelation 14:1? _______
________ The believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit, but no one can see this seal except the Lord.
________ When a sinner is saved his physical appearance changes drastically.
________ The Lord knows which people have the Holy Spirit in their hearts (compare 1 Samuel 16:7 with 2 Corinthians 1:22).
Certainly God knows that we belong to Him, but how can other people know that we belong to the Lord? The answer to this question is found in the last part of 2 Timothy 2:19: "Let every one who names the name of Christ depart from ________________________ (unrighteousness)." According to this verse, explain how other people can know that we are truly Christians: _________________________________________________________________________________
Although people cannot see the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, are they able to see the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 5:9)? _______ How can the world know that we belong to Christ (John 13:35)? _________________________________________________
________ The world can actually see the Holy Spirit in the believer.
________ The world can see the way we live and conduct ourselves and they can see the evidence of the Spirit at work in our lives.
________ The person who truly has the Holy Spirit will want to depart from iniquity and unrighteousness. His desire is to please and obey the Lord.
________ If a person is consistently living in sin and unrighteousness then he is giving evidence that he does not belong to the Lord (compare 1 John 2:29; 3:10).
________ If a person claims to be a Christian then he must be a true believer. If you say you are saved then this means that you really are saved.
Ephesians 1:14 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the "_______________ (down payment, pledge) of our inheritance until the _____________________ of the purchased possession." This verse is talking about the believers final redemption when the believer will be with the Lord forever and will never again sin. Christ has promised us that someday He will return for His believers (see John 14:2-3; Romans 8:23). As a guarantee that Christs promise is true, God the Father has given us His Holy Spirit as an earnest or pledge that someday our salvation will be completed (compare Phil. 1:6). "God has also ______________ us, and given the ________________ (pledge) of the ____________ in our hearts" (2 Cor. 1:22). "God also has _______________ unto us the __________________ (pledge) of the ________________" (2 Cor. 5:5). To understand the word "earnest" just think of an engagement ring. When a young man gives his sweetheart an engagement ring, the ring serves as a pledge or a guarantee that someday he will come to marry the girl who has the ring. He will receive his bride and enter into a wonderful relationship with her. Therefore, the fact that we have the H__________ S_____________ is a guarantee that someday Christ will come to receive His bride (John 14:1-3) and we will be with Him face to face (1 Thess. 4:16-18) in a far greater and closer relationship than we enjoy even now (Phil. 1:21-23; 2 Cor. 5:8; 1 John 3:1-3).
________ The fact that we have the Holy Spirit now proves that someday our salvation will be complete and we will be with the Lord. All who are sealed will be saved forever!
________ We are sealed with the Holy Spirit until we sin (Eph. 4:30).
________ It is possible for the believer to grieve and sadden the Holy Spirit because of sin in his life (Eph. 4:30).
________ When the believer sins, it is then that the Holy Spirit leaves him and abandons him (Eph. 4:30; John 14:16-17).
________ God the Father has given us the Holy Spirit so that He might abide and live with us forever (John 14:16).
________ A saved person can lose the Holy Spirit and become UN-SEALED.
________ The Holy Spirit sometimes leaves a believer (John 14:16; Hebrews 13:5).
________ It is possible for a true believer to become un-sealed.
________ If a person claims to be a Christian, then he should show that he is really saved and really sealed by the way he lives (2 Timothy 2:19).
In Ephesians 1:22-23 the true church is said to be His (Christs) B__________. Paul said to the Corinthian believers: "Now ye are the __________ ____ _______________" (1 Corinthians 12:27). Those of us who are truly born-again (John 3:3-7, 14-16) can say, "We are ____________ of His (Christs) _______________, of His ______________, and of His _______________________" (Ephesians 5:30).
Who is the Head of this body (see Colossians 1:18 and compare Col. 1:13-14; see also Ephesians 1:22-23)? ______________________________ Think of your own body. Does your head tell your hands what to do or do your hands tell your head what to do? ____________________________________________________ Who then should be the One that gives orders to the church? _______________ Where do we find these orders (2 Timothy 3:16-17)? ________________________ Who should have the pre-eminence (first place) in all things in the church (Colossians 1:18)? ___________________________________
How many bodies does Christ have (Ephesians 4:4)? _________ [Note: We know that Christ is in heaven today in a literal, physical, resurrection body Philippians 3:21; compare John 20:26-27; Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 1:7. And yet, it is also true that Christ has a body of believers on the earth whose purpose is to manifest the resurrected life of the Lord Jesus who is now in heaven Romans 6:4-10; Galatians 2:20. This is the "one body" spoken of in Ephesians 4:4].
How many LORDS do we have over the church (Eph. 4:5)? _______ What is His Name (Eph. 3:11)? __________________________________ Therefore, the church has how many Heads? ________ In Matthew 16:18 Christ said, "I will build _____ church." In Ephesians 1:23 we learn that the church is ______ body. Is the Pastor speaking the truth if he says: "This is my church!" ? ______ Should the elders or deacons say this? _____ Those who really understand Gods Word will say, "This is _____________ church!"
How does a person become a part of the true church? How does a person become a member of the body of Christ? The answer to these questions is found in the two words "one baptism" in Ephesians 4:5. This is not talking about water baptism. Ephesians 4:3-6 is speaking about things that are true of all believers. Thus the "one baptism" must be a baptism that is common to all believers. Have all believers been baptized in water? ______ Was there a time in your life when you were a believer in Christ but you were not yet baptized in water? _______ Were you baptized in water the moment you were saved or some time later? ________________________________ Suppose that you received Christ as your personal Saviour and then before you had a chance to be baptized (immersed) in water, you had a heart attack and died. Would you still go to heaven (see 1 John 5:11-12; John 3:16; Acts 16:31)? _________ Does water baptism save a person or does Christ save a person (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; and see also page 21)? ___________________________ Therefore, the baptism spoken of in Ephesians 4:5 cannot be water baptism, but it must be a baptism that has happened to every believer.
As we study the Scriptures we discover that the "one baptism" of Ephesians 4:5 must refer to "Spirit baptism." Spirit baptism is most clearly described and defined in 1 Corinthians 12:13 "For by one _______________ were we all ____________________ into one __________." According to this verse, how many believers have been baptized into the body of Christ? ________ Therefore, this baptism must have taken place when (circle the correct answer)?
The following diagram might be of help in understanding the truth of 1 Corinthians 12:13:
________ The church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23).
________ Every believer is a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27).
________ Every believer is a member of Christs Church.
________ Water baptism is the same as Spirit baptism (see the previous two pages).
________ 1 Corinthians 12:13 describes water baptism.
________ Acts 8:38 describes Spirit Baptism.
________ Ephesians 4:5 is talking about Spirit Baptism.
________ Every believer has been baptized in water.
________ Every believer should be baptized in water (Acts 10:48; Matthew 28:19-20).
________ All believers have been Spirit-baptized (1 Cor. 12:13).
________ Spirit baptism is that experience that results in a person speaking in tongues.
________ Spirit baptism is that work of God whereby a person is immersed and placed into the body of Christ the moment he believes on the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).
________ Water baptism saves us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).
________ When a saved person becomes a member of Christ's church (a member of Christ's body), his membership is permanent. He can never stop being a member of the body of Christ.
________ If a believer were to lose his salvation (which is impossible), God would have to cast him out of the body of Christ (which is impossible).
________ We know that God has placed the true believer into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13) and we can be sure that Christ will never remove him from this body (compare John 6:37).
________ Sometimes Christ must say to His disobedient believers, "You are no longer members of My body! I hereby excommunicate you from My church!"
________ It is impossible for a person who has been baptized into the body of Christ to be baptized out of that body!!
________ The true believer is eternally safe in Christ because he is a member of the body of Christ!!
What shall separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35)? _________________ Shall tribulation? _____ Shall distress? _____ Shall persecution? _____ Shall famine? _____ Shall nakedness? _____ Shall peril? _____ Shall sword? _____
According to Romans 8:36, does God tell us that we would expect an easy life? _____ Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. Did Paul experience the very things mentioned in Romans 8:35? _______
Can a believer live a victorious life even in the midst of trouble and trial and suffering (Romans 8:37)? _________ Did Paul have ASSURANCE that nothing could separate him from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39)? ______ What one word in verse 38 is a word of ASSURANCE? ______________________ Can an unbeliever claim the wonderful promise of Romans 8:38-39 (compare 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)? _______ For a saved person to be lost he would have to be separated from the love of God. Is this possible? _______
What is the answer to this Biblical question: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)? _____________________ Verses 32-34 of Romans 8 prove that God is for us and not against us. Match the following statements with the correct verse in which they are found:
|1 ________||Christ died for us.||A.||Romans 8:32|
|2 ________||God the Father delivered up His own Son for all of us.|
|3 ________||Christ makes intercession for us.||B.||Romans 8:33|
|4 ________||God declares us to be righteous.|
|5 ________||Christ rose again for us.||C.||Romans 8:34|
If the LORD is our light and our salvation, do we need to fear (Psalm 27:1)? _____ If the LORD is the strength of our life then we do not need to be __________________ (Psalm 27:1). The Lord is our refuge and strength and a very present help in trouble and therefore we will not ___________ (Psalm 46:1-2). Because the Lord is on our ______________, we will not _______________ (Psalm 118:6). Who is our HELPER (Isaiah 50:7-9)? ___________________________________ If God is our Helper, do we need to fear men (Hebrews 13:6)? _______ If the Lord is IN US, do we need to fear Satan (1 John 4:4)? ______
For a believer to lose his salvation, it would be necessary for God to be against him. Is this possible? ______
In 1 Peter 1:5 we are told that believers are __________ by the ____________ of God through __________ unto S__________________. The word "kept" comes from a verb which means "to keep, to guard, to protect" and it is in the present tense which means that we are constantly and continually being K_________ by the P______________ of God. The verb is also in the passive voice which means that we are not the ones doing the keeping, but it is _______ who does the keeping! Does 1 Peter 1:5 say that we are kept by our own faithful living and good works? _______ We are constantly being _________ in Gods power.
How powerful is God (compare Genesis 17:1 and Revelation 19:6)? _________________________________ Is God able to save sinful men (read Matthew 19:23-26)? ______ If God is able to save us, is He also able to keep us saved (1 Peter 1:5)? _______ Whose responsibility is it to keep and guard and protect believers (1 Peter 1:5)? ___________ Is the Shepherd supposed to guard and keep the sheep or are the sheep supposed to guard and keep themselves? _____________________________________________ Is the Lord Jesus able to keep and protect His sheep (John 10:27-28)? _______ Now that we are saved, the Lord Jesus is the _____________________ and ______________________ of our ____________ (1 Peter 2:25). The word "Bishop" means "overseer," one who watches over us and protects us and keeps us from eternal harm. Christ is the Guardian of our souls!
According to Hebrews 7:25, the Lord Jesus is _________ to __________ them to the __________________ that come unto ________ through ________. He is able to keep on saving them to the uttermost. The word "uttermost" means "completely, perfectly, fully, wholly." Therefore, because of the work of Christ on our behalf, we have a perfect, complete and full salvation! And this complete salvation is forever because "He _________
______________ to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25)."
Jude tells us (in Jude 24) that God is ___________ to ____________ us from ________________, and to present us ________________________ before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy! Who was another great man of God who had assurance of Gods keeping power (read 2 Timothy 1:12)? ___________ As Paul wrote the book of 2 Timothy, did he believe that his death was close at hand (2 Timothy 4:6-8)? ______ In light of this fact, it is amazing to read 2 Timothy 4:18 and to discover that Paul had full ASSURANCE of the keeping power of God: "And the _______________ shall deliver me from ________________ evil work, and He will _______________________ me unto His ___________________________ ________________________." The verb "preserve" means "to save" and thus Paul knew that the Lord would save him unto His heavenly kingdom! Because of Gods keeping ability, our full and complete salvation is guaranteed!
________ It is the responsibility of sheep to keep themselves safe.
________ We are the Guardians of our own souls.
________ God is able to keep and protect His saved ones to the very end. This is why His believers do not need to worry about losing their salvation.
________ The Almighty God is fully able to keep His own and to preserve them unto His heavenly kingdom.
________ God must save us, but it is our responsibility to keep ourselves saved by living a faithful life and by doing good works that please the Lord.
________ I know that I am constantly being kept in and by Gods power and therefore I am thankful to the Lord and I desire to live a faithful life and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. I thank God for my full and complete salvation.
________ God has saved me by His grace and He is now keeping me by His grace and someday Ill be in heaven by the grace of God!
________ God has saved me by His grace but Im keeping myself saved by my good works and by my righteous deeds.
________ Because God has saved me and is keeping me, I can live anyway I want and I can do whatever I please. Since Im SAFE, it no longer matters if I SIN.
________ Gods sheep are safe in the hand of God forever (John 10:28-29).
________ Gods sheep follow the Shepherd (John 10:27).
Where is the Lord Jesus Christ today (Rom. 8:34)? __________________________ What is He doing there (Romans 8:34)? _____________________________ Who is He doing this for? ___________ Read Hebrews 7:25. Not only does Christ save completely all those who come to God through Him, but He also is always living in order to make __________________ for them! In both Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25 the verb "intercede" is in the present tense, indicating that Christ keeps on making _____________________ for us. "To intercede" means "to pray for someone, to plead on someones behalf." Did Christ intercede on behalf of Simon Peter (Luke 22:31-32)? _____ Peter certainly had a lapse of faith when he denied his Lord, but Jesus prayed that his F____________ would not F___________. Do you think this prayer was answered? ______
In John 17:1-26 we find a wonderful example of an intercessory prayer. Who prayed this prayer (John 17:1)? __________________ Therefore, who is our Intercessor? _______________________ To Whom did Christ pray (John 17:1,5,11,21,24,25)? ____________________________________ In this prayer, did Christ intercede for believers or for unbelievers (John 17:9)? ____________________________ In what verse does Christ ask the Father to keep (guard, protect) those believers that belong to Him? _______________ In what verse does Christ ask the Father to keep them from the evil? _________ [Literally, "...keep them from the evil one (Satan)"] In what verse does Christ pray for His believers that they might be with Him and that they might be where He is? ________ Will this prayer be answered (John 14:3)? ________
If we could lose our salvation, then Christ would have to stop interceding for us! But the Bible tells us that He keeps on making ____________________________ for _______ (Romans 8:34). Therefore, is it possible for the believer to lose His salvation? ______
What can you say about the believer who says, "I have no sin" (1 John 1:8)? _____________________________________________________ What can you say about the believer who says, "I have not sinned" (1 John 1:10)? ___________________________________________________________________ Is it true, according to 1 John 1:9, that when we sin we need to ask Christ to save us all over again? ______ When the child of God sins, what must he do (1 John 1:9)? _____________________________________ The word "confess" means "to say the same thing, to agree, to acknowledge." Therefore we must say the same thing about sin that God says. We must see our sin as God sees it. We must agree with God and with Gods Word that what we have done is sinful: "Yes Lord, I have sinned and done this wickedness in Your sight" (compare Davids prayer of confession in Psalm 51:3-4). When we confess our sins, what two things does God promise to do (1 John 1:9)? 1)____________________________________ 2)________________________________________
Did John write these things to us so that we would sin and live a defeated life (1 John 2:1)? ______ True or False: ________________ "If any man sin, then he has lost his salvation" (1 John 2:1). But if we do sin, then we know that we have an ___________________ (1 John 2:1). The verb "we have" is in the present tense and means, "We keep on having an Advocate." That is, He never stops being our Advocate. The word "advocate" means "one who is called to our side to help us, a helper in court, a defense attorney." Who is our Advocate and Helper and Defense Attorney (1 John 2:1)? _______________________________________________
When we sin, who is it that accuses us before the Father (Revelation 12:9-10)? _______________________________ Satan comes before God and says, "______________________ (write your own name) has sinned and done this evil deed, and because You are a holy God You ought to punish this believer and send him/her into the lake of fire to be under Your wrath forever." But we have an A______________________ (Helper) with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One (1 John 2:1) and He pleads with the Father on our behalf: "O righteous Father, I know that ______________________ (your own name) has sinned and disobeyed the Word of God, but I died for that sin and Your wrath has already been poured out upon Me when I died on Calvarys cross as his/her Substitute and My blood cleanses from all sin (1 John 1:7). My Father, You do not need to punish this believer because I was punished in his/her place!" Blessed Saviour! Perfect Substitute! Wonderful Advocate!
If we could lose our salvation, then Christ would have to stop being our Advocate. But the Bible says that "if any man ________, we keep on having an ____________________ with the ______________" (1 John 2:1). Will Christ stop being our Advocate and Helper? _____ Is it possible then for us to lose our salvation? _______
Read carefully 2 Samuel chapter 11 where we are given the account of Davids great sin. Read 2 Samuel 12:1-14 also. What two wicked deeds did David do (2 Samuel 12:9)?
1) __________________________________________________ 2)___________________________________________________
In 2 Samuel 12:1-14 find the verse where David confesses his sin: Verse _______________. In Psalm 51 we have Davids prayer of confession following his great sin. Find the two verses in which David confesses his sin: Verses ______________Did David pray, "Restore unto me Thy salvation" (verse 12)? _______ Did David lose his salvation because of this great sin? ______ What did David lose (verse 12)? _________________________________________
Note: Are you experiencing the JOY of your salvation? If not, then perhaps there is sin in your life that needs to be confessed. Read Psalm 139 and pray the same prayer that David prayed in verses 23 and 24. Psalm 51 and Psalm 32 would also be good to read. Another helpful passage is 1 John chapter 1 and the first two verses in chapter 2. Notice especially 1 John 1:4that your JOY may be full!
In Philippians 1:6 what word is a word of assurance? ________________________ Paul was fully persuaded that the One who had _____________ a good work in these Philippian believers would also ______________________ it (finish it, complete it) until the _______ of ________________ ____________________. Who was the One who began this good work in the lives of these believers? ________ Who is the One who keeps on working in them (Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 13:20-21)? __________ Will He finish this work (Philippians 1:6)? _______ Is God able to finish what He begins (Jude 24; 2 Tim. 1:12; Hebrews 7:25)? _______
What great event are believers waiting for (1 Corinthians 1:7)? ____________________________________ What great event are believers looking for (Titus 2:13)? ________________________________________________________ How do we know that this great event will take place (John 14:1-3)? _______________________________________
Were the believers in Corinth mature and healthy and growing (1 Corinthians 3:1-2)? ___________ Was the Corinthian church a united church or a divided church (1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:3-4)? ___________________________________ Did all of the members of the Corinthian church live holy and pure lives (1 Cor. 5:1,13; 11:29-30)? ______ And yet, in spite of all their failures and sins and problems, we are amazed to discover that in 1 Corinthians 1:8 Paul tells these believers that the Lord Jesus shall _______________ them unto the ________ so that they would be _______________________ in the _________ of our Lord Jesus Christ! Is God able to finish the good work that He has begun even in Corinthian believers? _______ Even in you? _______
Philippians 1:6 and 1 Corinthians 1:8 both mention a certain day. What is this day called? _________________________________ We learn in 1 Corinthians 1:7 that this "day" will come to pass when what great event takes place? _______________________________________________________
Please MATCH the following:
|1. _______||God began His work in me when I was first saved.||A.||Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 13:21.|
|2. _______||God is working in me right now.||B.||1 Corinthians 1:7-8; Phil. 3:20-21.|
|3. _______||God will finish and will complete this great work.||C.||Acts 16:31; John 6:29; Ephesians 1:12-13; 1 Corinthians 6:11|
|4. _______||God delivered me, He is delivering me right now, and He will deliver me! (This speaks of our great salvation past, present and future!)||D.||2 Corinthians 1:10|
Gods eternal purpose is to conform us to what (Rom. 8:28-29)? ___________________________________________ When will Gods purpose for us be fulfilled (1 John 3:2)? ________________________________________________ According to 1 John 3:2, why will we be like Christ on that day? _______________________________________________ Does God want us to see and behold the Lord Jesus even now (2 Cor. 3:18)? ________ How can we see Christ today (Luke 24:27, 44-45; John 5:39)? _______________________________
If it were possible for a true believer to lose his salvation, then Gods eternal purpose to conform him to the image of Christ would have failed! Is this possible? _____ When God purposes to do something, will that purpose be fulfilled (Isaiah 14:27; 46:10-11)? _______
* * * * * * * *
We have now studied 13 reasons why the true believer is eternally safe and secure in Christ forever! Does the Bible teach that a true believer can lose his salvation and be lost (John 6:37-40)? ______ If you are a true believer in Christ, are you really safe and secure in Christ forever (John 10:28)? ______
Are you thankful for your so-great salvation? Are you thankful that you are eternally safe in Christ and kept by His power? Are you thankful that no man can pluck you out of His hand and that no one can separate you from His love? May our THANKSGIVING result in THANKSLIVING (living a life pleasing to the Lord in great gratitude for all that He has done for us through Christ).
These studies can also be done through our Bible Correspondence ministry. The advantage of this is that your lessons would be corrected and returned to you. See How To Enroll in a Correspondence Bible Study Course.
HELD BY OMNIPOTENCE!
Monkeys carry their young by having the little ones hold onto the mothers tail. If the baby monkey is healthy and well, there is little danger, but if the little one, through sickness or weakness loses his hold when his mother makes a sudden leap from one branch to another, then its "good-by" as far as the tiny unfortunate creature is concerned. With a mother cat, the story is entirely different. She takes hold of her baby kitten with her teeth. The babys safety depends upon the hold of the mother cat, not upon the ability of the weak kitten. This is much better. So, too, it is not our hold upon Christ that makes us safe, but His hold upon us!
CERTAIN THINGS THAT GOD WILL NEVER DO!
The following are examples of the Greek use of the double negative (ou me), which is a strong way of conveying the idea of "NEVER!" Take your Bible and look up the following verses:
God will NEVER allow His Word to be broken or to pass away unfulfilled (Matthew 24:35).
God will NEVER cast out the person who comes to Christ (John 6:37).
God will NEVER allow an "overcomer" (a true believer) to experience the second death, which is the lake of fire (Rev. 2:11) and he will NEVER allow such a persons name to be blotted out of His Book (Rev. 3:5).
God will NEVER ever allow one of His sheep to perish or be plucked out of His protective hand (John 10:28).
God will NEVER allow a true believer to experience spiritual death which is separation from God (John 11:26; John 8:51).
God will NEVER remember the sins and iniquities of the person whom He has pardoned (Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17) and he will never impute sin unto the person who has been justified and a recipient of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 4:8).
God will NEVER allow any defiling thing into His holy heaven (Revelation 21:27).
THE GREATER LOSS! There was once a young minister who visited an aged Christian woman whose state of health made it evident that she was soon to pass from this earthly scene. The minister, who had some doubts about the total reliability of the Scriptures, said to her, "Just suppose that after all your praying and despite your faith your soul should be lost! What then?" To this tactless remark the old lady replied, "Dear man, should such be the case, Gods would be the greater loss. I could only lose my soul. God would lose His honor. If God would be untrue to His Word He would cease to be God. The Lord Jesus promised that him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. I rest my soul in His Word, which never fails." E. S. English SHE WAS INCREDULOUS An old Welsh lady when she lay dying was visited by her Pastor. He said to her, "Sister, are you sinking?" She answered him not a word, but looked at him with an incredulous eye. He repeated the question, "Sister, are you sinking?" She looked at him again as if she couldnt believe he would ask such a question. At last, rising a little in her bed, she said, "Sinking! Sinking! Did you ever know a sinner to sink through a rock? If I had been standing on the sand, I might sink; but, thank God, I am on the Rock of Ages and there is no sinking there." C.H. Spurgeon
There was once a young minister who visited an aged Christian woman whose state of health made it evident that she was soon to pass from this earthly scene. The minister, who had some doubts about the total reliability of the Scriptures, said to her, "Just suppose that after all your praying and despite your faith your soul should be lost! What then?" To this tactless remark the old lady replied, "Dear man, should such be the case, Gods would be the greater loss. I could only lose my soul. God would lose His honor. If God would be untrue to His Word He would cease to be God. The Lord Jesus promised that him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out. I rest my soul in His Word, which never fails." E. S. English
SHE WAS INCREDULOUS
An old Welsh lady when she lay dying was visited by her Pastor. He said to her, "Sister, are you sinking?" She answered him not a word, but looked at him with an incredulous eye. He repeated the question, "Sister, are you sinking?" She looked at him again as if she couldnt believe he would ask such a question. At last, rising a little in her bed, she said, "Sinking! Sinking! Did you ever know a sinner to sink through a rock? If I had been standing on the sand, I might sink; but, thank God, I am on the Rock of Ages and there is no sinking there." C.H. Spurgeon
"A Wise man...built his house upon a rock...and it fell not" (Matt. 7:24-25) Theres an old saying of Samuel Rutherford: "Believe in Gods love and power more than you believe in your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock that ebbs and flows, but your sea of feelings." If we build our faith upon the certain Word and finished work of Christ, rather than upon our fickle feelings, we shall have the blessed assurance and sense of security we need. Then let the rains of sorrow, the floods of adversity, and the winds of doubt and difficulty come; they shall not be able to destroy the house of our salvation. Our spiritual life is eternally secure, founded upon the Rock of Christs promises (John 10:28-29) and the firm foundation of His immutable Word (Eph. 1:3-11). "I believe hundreds of Christians have not got the assurance of salvation just because they are not willing to take God at His Word" D.L.Moody. The Bible is my "Strong Box" filled with my valuable documents: First Document: My Great Gift (John 3:16). Second Document: My Present Possession (John 5:24). Third Document: My Life Insurance (John 11:25-26). Fourth Document: My Accident Policy (Romans 8:28). Fifth Document: My Fire Insurance (2 Peter 3:10-13). Sixth Document: My Identification Papers (1 John 3:1-2). Riches of inestimable worth!
"A Wise man...built his house upon a rock...and it fell not" (Matt. 7:24-25)
Theres an old saying of Samuel Rutherford: "Believe in Gods love and power more than you believe in your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock that ebbs and flows, but your sea of feelings." If we build our faith upon the certain Word and finished work of Christ, rather than upon our fickle feelings, we shall have the blessed assurance and sense of security we need. Then let the rains of sorrow, the floods of adversity, and the winds of doubt and difficulty come; they shall not be able to destroy the house of our salvation. Our spiritual life is eternally secure, founded upon the Rock of Christs promises (John 10:28-29) and the firm foundation of His immutable Word (Eph. 1:3-11).
"I believe hundreds of Christians have not got the assurance of salvation just because they are not willing to take God at His Word" D.L.Moody.
The Bible is my "Strong Box" filled with my valuable documents: First Document: My Great Gift (John 3:16). Second Document: My Present Possession (John 5:24). Third Document: My Life Insurance (John 11:25-26). Fourth Document: My Accident Policy (Romans 8:28). Fifth Document: My Fire Insurance (2 Peter 3:10-13). Sixth Document: My Identification Papers (1 John 3:1-2). Riches of inestimable worth!
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Precisely what Paul and John said in the verses I pointed out. Thus the usage of "For if God did not spare the natural branches..." and "He cuts off every branch in me..."
The message is God can cut anyone out of the vine just as He can graft anyone into the vine.
No, Paul never said that, You did