Did Christ die for the sins of the whole world, and when He rose from the dead, did God forgive the sins of the whole world apart from and prior to my personal faith in Christ? Did Christ die for the sins of the whole world, and when He rose from the dead, did God forgive the sins of the whole world apart from and prior to my personal faith in Christ? Is God's work of salvation in Christ "complete," or do I "complete" God's work of salvation in Christ by believing in Him? Is the Gospel of Christ "conditional" upon my faith in Christ? If Christ did not die for all people, and if God has not already forgiven the sins of the whole world apart from and prior to my personal faith in Christ, then what is the "contents" of the Gospel? Yes, my personal faith in Christ is a gift of God (Eph 2:8-9, ) but since that faith operates in me and not in God, is my faith a "good work" which "merits" God's forgiveness and which separates me from those who don't believe in Jesus? By believing in Christ, do I "cooperate with God" in the accomplishment of my own salvation and thus become at least in part my own savior? Am I "saved by (my) faith," or am I saved "by (God's) grace through faith"? My questions are based upon the controversy over the distinction which is made between "Objective Justification" and "Subjective Justification." In "Objective Justification" God forgave the sins of the whole world in Christ when Christ rose from the dead; God is therefore already "reconciled" to the world, but we need to be personally "reconciled to God" in order to be saved. That takes place in "Subjective Justification" when the Holy Spirit works faith in Christ in our hearts through the Gospel and we "subjectively" receive by that faith the personal forgiveness of our sins. God's forgiveness of the world in Christ prior to and apart from my personal faith in Christ is the "contents" of the Gospel of Christ to which the Holy Spirit brings me to personal faith.
For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
I think you answered your own questions, but............
How about WHEN you are saved, BELIEVE IT! Before you are saved, believe it!
Did Christ die for the sins of the whole world, and when He rose from the dead, did God forgive the sins of the whole world apart from and prior to my personal faith in Christ?
YES. We are forgiven .... He offered His free gift of salvation by grace through faith. We each accept our gift by our profession of faith. Romans 10:8-13. God is reconciled to us because of Jesus. We are, following our profession of faith, His ambassadors. His work is complete. He has done precisely what He set out to do. He has died, was resurrected, and did that for all people. How that impacts those who did not know about God or Jesus' earthly ministry is in His hands and is not ours to question.
Your faith is not "a good work." Your faith and His are synonymous since the day you were saved. You are not "cooperating" with God. You are born again, destined to live for eternity. Your salvation is a free gift based upon your acceptance of it, not based upon "cooperating."
Some people apparently not only deny that Christ died for all people, but also deny that, when Christ rose from
the dead, God forgave the sins of the whole whole world.
Some people apparently believe that God is still angry with them until they come to faith in Christ. Some people apparently believe that their faith a CAUSE of their salvation rather than simply "the hand which receives the gift" of their salvation from God. Christian faith must NEVER trust in itself, but ONLY in Christ and His completed work of our salvation.
If Jesus' death and Resurrection paid for the sins of the whole word, and then some are not saved, then He would be a weak and insufficient Savior. He came for The Elect and those he foreknew (fore-Loved) before the foundation of the word.
Before we are Saved we were dead in sin. Nothing that is dead can make a move towards life on its own. Regeneration has to take place from the outside first.
I think we have to be careful when we say God forgave the sins of the whole world; thinking that in the end it will all be alright — yes God did through Christ make provision for forgiveness through the work of the cross, but only if anyone who appropriates this, recognizes that they cannot save themselves. That they...sorry we are dirty rotten sinners, who actually deserve eternal punishment...but through trusting in Jesus, we are saying or should be saying, Lord only You can rescue us, cleanse us from all sin and forgive us.
It's all about Jesus.
I do not believe that Christ died only for "the elect" because the Bible says that God loves the whole world and wants all people to be saved (John 3:16, 1 Tim. 2.:4.) The argument that somehow God would "look bad" if Christ died for all and only some were saved is an argument from human reason and not from Scripture.
My question to those who don't believe that Christ died for all is: "If Christ did not die for ALL, how do YOU know that YOU are saved, since YOUR name isn't written in the Bible as one for whom Christ died?"
If you say He died for the whole world (Universalism)and then the whole world isn't saved, then He isn't Sovereign. Your argument is not with me, it is with the totality of Scripture.
On the doctrine of Election and Predestination you can accept it, or reject it, but you can't ignore it. Scripture on this is plentiful. It does not however relieve us of the responsibility to respond. How does God work this out? I don't know. It's one of those "hard" things like, How did he make the whole thing in six days? Or, That one God, three persons, eternally coexisting and working thing? If I could completely understand these things, that would make Him no bigger than me. And,,,,,that would be BAD.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8 ESV)
We trust him to work it out. And Stay obedient to "Preach the Gospel". It's a Supernatural thang.
28" And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 ESV)
10" And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—12 she was told, "The older will serve the younger."13 As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— As indeed he says in Hosea,
25 "Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,'
and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'" (Romans 9:10-23, 25 ESV)
16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:16 ESV)
44" No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day". (John 6:44 ESV)
65 "And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:65 ESV)
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV)
48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48 ESV
We have studied election to death at eBible. Long, laborious posts. Read Romans 5. His Amazing Grace through our faith (and even the faith comes from Him). He offers His gift, we (each of us, individually) respond, or fail to respond. Guess who understands that? The Holy Spirit. Guess to whom the Holy Spirit imparts His understanding? Me. You.
In Genesis 12 God CHOSE a people, an entire people-group, to be His, to belong to Him. Abram got the message, announced "Hey, folks .... we're chosen, follow me." And the people-group said, "Hey .... how come you changed your name?" And as they walked along, Abraham explained. And the people said, "Wow."
In the Christian scriptures God calls out to each of us to choose. An example is in John 6:44. The Holy Spirit speaks to you, draws you, and you respond, or fail to respond. In John 6:66 the grant is there in God's total forgiveness of all sin at the Cross. The grant is the gift. Each person (not nation or people-group) has the opportunity to accept or reject the grant. In Ephesians 2:1-5 He made eacj pme who accepts His grant, His free gift, alive in Him. We are saved by God's grace enabling our faith. The Holy Spirit's call, His drawing, creates the enabling. Romans 9:24-26.
Do you see what is happening here? We are involved in using scripture against scripture. One of us is right, or we are both wrong. WHO is the Great Decider of everything? Bottom line: There can only be ONE interpretation and application of scripture. And we don't have that assignment.
Look up all the other "election" debates rather than discuss it here. Do you know what "discuss" means? It means we are trying to find an answer. How many answers are there? One. Who has it? The Holy Spirit.
Speaking for myself, "Limited atonement" is blasphemy and removes those who believe it from the ranks of orthodox Christianity as surely as anyone who teaches that we are saved by our works. It is a rejection of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. I've heard the "arguments" for it and I do not believe they are the teachings of Scripture. Therefore I reject it and cannot practice fellowship with those who believe it.
Yes, "double predestination" is "another gospel" than that taught in the Bible. Its adherents have NO assurance of their salvation other than their own hopes.
Remember the story of Cromwell on his deathbed, when he had terrors of conscience over his many sins, and, instead of being pointed to the grace of God in Christ by his chaplain, he was rather asked "Did you ever in your life "FEEL that you were saved?" and when Cromwell said that he had had such an experience as a young man, the chaplain assured him that he was saved, because of "once saved, always saved." What a wresting of Scripture to one's own damnation!
Rejects Grace ???The doctrine of Grace (Predestination and Election) is the ultimate in grace. Wow !
One more thought and I'll be done.
It's funny. I've never heard a Calvinist tell someone on the other side of this debate that they were committing blasphemy or suggested they weren't saved because they didn't believe in the Doctrine of Election. I have however heard it and been the target of such accusations from the Free Will crowd towards me and Reformed Theology in general. Interesting.
Upon the basis of Rom. 16:17 I will not dispute with anyone who denies universal grace and believes in limited atonement and double predestination. Such would NOT be a discussion of the Scriptural Gospel.
I am an orthodox Lutheran and not "Free Will" or "Reformed." Orthodox Lutherans have always rejected any form of fellowship with those who denied universal grace, such as when those who fled England when "Bloody Mary" became queen; that's why they ended up in Geneva, because Lutheran Germany would have nothing to do with them. Orthodox Lutherans will not tolerate false doctrine or false teachers.
Don, as usual, great stuff and I always appreciate that you use scripture in context. Mark, to be fair, you should read other posts on this site about Calvinism. There are plenty of examples of harshness from that side. Not that anyone should be harsh as that further flies in the face of scripture if we take Jesus at His word that we are to love one another. Myself, I don't see Jesus pre-occupied with this topic which tells me more is made out of it than should be. My observation is that animosity always seems to permeate this topic because both sides mis-characterize the other's views. It's a false argument to say non-Calvinists believe in salvation by works by default because they don't believe in Calvinism. Just as it's false for non-Calvinists to say that all Calvinists believe in double predestination, which would make the so-called "doctrines of grace" also "doctrines of damnation" since God would then author both those who are saved AND those who are damned by the way. Regarding universalism, that is also false and a "point of view" of the Calvinist, but not a scriptural statement. If God is sovereign, then He could also make the choice to make provision for ALL to be saved although many will not accept this great gift of mercy. To say otherwise is to say God is NOT sovereign as He cannot do what a certain group of people that uphold a certain philosophy about scripture say He can't do. That's a contradiction. Or to put it in Calvinist terms, it's a mystery... :)
Wow, Let's take a breather and think about this.
Jesus Christ said he came to save the unbeliever (John 12:47) This is everyone as Isaiah said in Isaiah 56:6 and as John said in I John 2:2. Jesus "job" or "work" was to defeat Satan i.e. our salvation. It IS a free gift as unconditional love that Jesus Christ the Lamb and Prince of Peace crushed Satan's head and got the keys to hell and death back for Father God (Rev 1:18.
Now in the very next verse (John 12:48) Jesus spoke of a judgment of those who reject him. This speaks of being called or elected or predestined. Remember many are called but few are chosen.
These two verses are summed up perfectly in blasphemy of the Spirit, especially since someone mentioned blasphemy. What is forgiven and what is not:
1) John 12 47 and Matthew 12:31-32. ANY word spoken against the Son of Man will be forgiven i.e Jesus is not God, Jesus did not die for me or anyone, Jesus is just one of many prophets, Mohammed is greater than Jesus, etc. You get the point. These are forgiven!
2) John 12:48 and Matthew 12:31-32. "Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit it will not be forgiven him..." This sin is NOT covered by Jesus blood and it is the one sin for which we are accountable. Who is we" Anyone who the Spirit "calls" and does not fulfill the predestined plan of God for their life (Eph 2:8-10). Verse 10 is one of the most important verses in scripture yet every sermon I have heard on grace and faith (I'm 65 in church all my life) does not mention verse 10.
Two clear example of this is:
1) Israel when they came out of Egypt. They were told if they disobeyed they would not be forgiven (Exodus 23:20-21). The spies came back (golden calf forgiven) and the people refused to "believe" or have "faith" (Numbers 14:1-10). God disinherited them! See that God forgave them (V20) but their guilt of blasphemy was not forgiven in that they did not enter the Promised Land. What is the key to blasphemy of the Spirit? Numbers 14:22 "...and have not heeded my voice..." Deuteronomy 28:1-3 says that, even TODAY, we must diligently obey His voice to be blessed.
2) The "Lord, Lord" wolves of Matthew 7:13-29. Keep in mind FEW go through the narrow gate and take the difficult path. And the brother that does not believe in salvation by works I would suggest you go back and read the judgments of God. Even at the judgment seat of Christ (Jesus Christ is NOT my lawyer He is my judge) I will receive recompense for what I do - whether good or bad. Do NOT think you can mock God by running around the body of Christ (everyone) arguing, quarrelling, gossiping, envying, creating strife and division, self ambition, etc. and there will be no repercussions. I have seen it all in my 65 years and 3 church splits to know what I speak about. These wolves that scattered God's sheep (Jeremiah 23:1-2, Matthew 7:13-29).
Both these groups are blasphemers. What does it take to get to heaven. Being born again (Abraham WAS born again or he will not see or enter heaven) and growing up into a good tree bearing good fruit (Matthew 7:16-20) and
accomplishing my destiny or God's personal predestined plan for my life (Matthew 7:21).