When Christ died, He died not simply to make redemption a possibility, but to make redemption a certainty. He did not simply die to make man redeemable, He died to redeem. He did not simply die to make man reconcilable, He died to reconcile. There was no limit to the potential sufficiency of the blood of Jesus Christ. It was "precious blood." There was no limit to the desperate need of man for the blood of Jesus Christ, for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." There was no limit to the free offer of the gospel to all men. It is our responsibility to preach the gospel to every creature. And there is no limit to the efficacy of the blood of Jesus Christ to save all those whom God is pleased to save.
Rules for Understanding
If a passage of Scripture seems to militate against a definite or certain redemption, the arguments will usually disintegrate if you keep in mind three things. First of all, we must pay attention to the context in which the verse of Scripture is found. Many of our problems in biblical interpretation come from lifting a verse out of its context. We accuse the Jehovah's Witnesses of doing this. We accuse other cultists of doing this, yet I am afraid that sometimes we are guilty of doing this. Secondly, we must let Scripture interpret Scripture. We must never come to the Word of God and read our ideas into the Scripture. We must never come to the Word of God with our own definitions. Take the Word of God, get a good concordance and compare Scripture with Scripture. The Bible says that we should compare Spiritual things with Spiritual things. We should line up passages of Scripture alongside of other passages of Scripture and let the Bible interpret itself. Thirdly, we should interpret every passage of Scripture, every book of the New Testament or Old Testament in the light of its historical setting. We need to look at the Bible in terms of the culture, in terms of the customs, in terms of the historical setting in which it was written. One of the problems we have with some Bible passages is that we try to read the New Testament or the Old Testament in the light of the historical setting in which we live. But we need to find out what was true historically. We need to discover the specific problems with which each book was dealing. The book of Galatians was dealing with a specific problem. The book of Colossians was dealing with a specific problem. We need to understand the historical background of every book of the New Testament or Old Testament if we are to interpret them properly. If we give heed to these three rules of biblical interpretation, if we are willing to receive whatever the Holy Spirit would teach us, if we will apply ourselves to the study of the Word of God and search diligently through the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will reward our study with the knowledge of the truth.
How We Come To a Knowledge of the Truth
I suggest that you read Proverbs 2:1-5, because in this passage the Bible tells us how we come to a knowledge of the truth, how we come to the fear of God. It says in verse one that if we are going to come to a knowledge of the truth, to a knowledge of the fear of God, we must be willing to receive whatever the Word of God has to say. Please, let us never come to the Bible with our prejudices. Let us never come to the Word of God with our hearts or our minds steeled against anything the Bible has to say. Let us come with an openness, with a willingness, to receive whatever the Scriptures have to say. The same passage says that it we want to have a knowledge of God, we must cry after it. We are going to have to seek after it as we seek after silver. We are going to have to seek after it as we seek for "hid" treasures. Now silver or gold in our day does not come very easily, and it came even harder back in the time of Solomon, who wrote the book of Proverbs. He said, if we are going to know what the Bible says, what God wants us to know, we are going to have to seek just as we would for silver. We must apply ourselves. It is going to take energy, it is going to take effort, it is going to take study, it is going to take mental perspiration. And then it says that we are going to have to apply ourselves just as a man applies himself when he is seeking for "hid" treasures. The word "hid" treasures stands out. It suggests that if we are going to know what the Bible has to say, we cannot simply pick up our Bibles and casually read them and expect it to come filtering into our minds. We cannot put our Bibles under our pillows at night and expect to get a knowledge of the Word of God by the process of osmosis. It does not come that way. We need to seek after a knowledge of the Word of God just as we would after "hid" treasure. Hid treasure is not lying out there in the field in the open. You do not walk through the field and all of a sudden there it is all around you. No, hid treasure is hid treasure, and if we are going to find it we are going to have to look very diligently. And that is what God says about a study of the Word of God. If we are lazy, if we do not want to apply ourselves to the Word of God, we need not expect that God's Word is going to reveal its treasures and its truths to us. This means looking at the context. This means comparing Scripture with Scripture. This means doing a little investigation to discover what the historical background of the passage is.
Why Is It Important?
Now in this pamphlet, we want to consider the question, "Is it important that we believe in and preach a certain redemption, and if so, why?" There are some who tell us that it is not really important whether we believe that Christ really redeemed or just made man redeemable. They say, "What is all the fuss about anyway? Why should we be concerned about the minutiae of doctrine?" They say, "This is a tempest in a teapot. You are making something important which really is not important. What difference does it make?" Beloved, I think you need to realize that we are living in a day which is not simply neutral about doctrine, it is anti-doctrine. The moment that you say the word "doctrine" to some people, they say, "Oh, doctrine, doctrine, doctrine." But never be afraid of doctrine, because the Bible says, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine," and we ought to be concerned about doctrine. We ought to want to know what the Bible has to say about different issues and different matters. Now I am of the conviction that it is tremendously important whether Christ died a death that makes men redeemable or a death that really redeems. I do not believe that it is simply a tempest in a teapot. I believe that we ought to believe in a definite redemption and preach a certain redemption for the following reasons.
The Mandate of Scripture
First of all, we ought to believe in a definite
redemption because of the mandate of Scripture. I have already mentioned
one verse of Scripture in II Timothy 3:16. "All Scripture is
given by inspiration of God" and all Scripture "is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction. for instruction in righteousness
that the man of God may be perfect throughly furnished unto all
good works." Now if part of that "all Scripture"
is certain or definite redemption, then that "all Scripture"
that has to do with this subject is profitable. And if it is profitable,
it ought to be preached, and it ought to be believed.
It Magnifies God
Secondly, I believe that we ought to preach and believe in definite redemption because it magnifies God. This is the purpose for which everything exists. Revelation 4:11 says, "Thou art worthy to receive honour and glory and power, for thou hast created all things and for thy pleasure they are and were created." The Bible tells us in Proverbs 16:4 that God "has made all things for Himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." The Bible tells us in I Corinthians 10:31 that, "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." The Bible tells us that when the Lord Jesus was about to go to the cross, He said, "I have glorified thee on earth, I have finished the work that thou gavest me to do." The Lord Jesus came. What was His primary purpose for coming? His primary purpose for coming was to do the Father's will, and by doing the Father's will to bring glory to the Father. Jesus, when He finished His course here on earth, could say, "I have glorified thee here on earth, I have finished the work thou gavest me to do." This should be our concern as well. But how does definite redemption magnify God?
It Magnifies the Wisdom of God
preaching and believing definite redemption magnifies the Wisdom
of God. In Romans, chapters 1 through 11, we have the greatest biblical
treatise on the subject of redemption. Paul deals with the need
of redemption and then the provision of redemption, and then he
deals, in Romans, chapter 9 through chapter 11, with the sovereignty
of God in redemption. It is interesting to notice how he brings
this passage on redemption to a conclusion. As he thinks of God's
great work of redemption, his heart just wells up within him, and
he cries, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and
knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways
past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who
hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it
shall be recompensed unto him again?" One of the things that
impresses Paul as he considers God's great redemption is the wisdom
of God that is displayed in His redemption.
It Magnifies the Power of God
Secondly, definite redemption magnifies the Power of God. When I look at man and remember that he is a sinful, frail, and weak creature, I do not wonder that he plans things which he never accomplishes. He is an insect of a day. He is a drop of water in the sea of life. He is like the grass which flourishes for a day, and then withers away and is gone and the place thereof knows it no more. But the Bible says of God, "All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and He doeth according to His will among the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, what doest thou?" The Bible says, "Ah, Lord God, behold thou hast made the heavens and the earth, and by thy great power and by thy outstretched arm and there is nothing too hard for thee." The Bible tells us that "Our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He pleased." The Bible tells us "the arm of the Lord is not shortened so that it cannot save. The Bible tells us, 'Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power" (Psalm 110:3). The Bible says, "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord. He turneth it whithersoever He will, as the rivers of water." If Christ died for everyone without exception, and if it is the will of God that all should be saved, then are we not saying that God does not have the power to accomplish His will? Are we not saying that man is more powerful and mighty than Almighty God? For little man can throw his fist in the face of a God who created the universe and stymie God in His will and in His plans. I tell you the glory of God is involved in this matter, and if we preach a redemption which does less than redeem and a salvation which does less than save. we are robbing God of His power. The Bible says, "He doeth all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11). Isaiah 46, the latter part of verse 9 through verse 11, says, ."I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. My counsel shall stand and I shall do all my good pleasure." So I believe in a definite and certain redemption because it magnifies the power of God.
It Magnifies the Justice of God
Thirdly, the doctrine of definite redemption
magnifies the Justice of God. The Bible says in Galatians three,
verse 13, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law,
being made a curse for us." The Bible says in I Peter 2:24,
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,
that we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose
stripes ye were healed." The Bible says that Christ Jesus "came
not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give His life a
ransom for many." Listen to these three verses: "Christ
was made a curse for us. Christ bare our sins in His own body on
the tree (this does not say that He went to the tree to make it
possible for our sins to be borne away. It says that He bare them
on the tree), Christ was the ransom for our sins." The very
word "ransom" conveys with it the idea that a price has
been paid and that price has been accepted. It is not a ransom unless
it has been accepted. Jesus did give a ransom on the cross and that
ransom was accepted by Almighty God. Therefore those for whom He
gave that ransom must be released, or God is requiring two penalties
for the same sin, two penalties for the same crime.
It Magnifies the Love of God
Now, fourthly, definite redemption magnifies
the Love of God. There are some people who have the idea that to
say that God loves everybody really magnifies God's love. They say,
"It makes me feel so good to think that God loves everybody
just the same, and that Christ died for everybody just the same."
And at first glance, there is something tremendously appealing about
an indefinite, universal, provisional atonement for every man on
the condition of this believing. But upon closer investigation we
discover that this does not magnify the love of God. It really depreciates
the love of God. It makes God's love little more than good wishes,
good intentions, or general benevolence. Suppose my children were
being held by a cruel villain in bondage and I know that their
lives were in danger. And suppose I had the power to rescue these
children from the bondage in which they were being held, and yet,
instead of actually going to them, taking hold of them and personally
bringing them out from the place of bondage, and actually securing
their deliverance, I sent a note or I sent a provision and said
now if you'll do thus and such and the other thing, if you'll follow
these instructions and accept this advice and accept these things
which I am about to give to you, you can deliver yourself. In which
way would I be showing more love to my children? By allowing them
to fight their way out of that villain's grip, or by actually going
and releasing and bringing them out personally?
It Magnifies the Person and Work of Jesus Christ
Thus far, we have seen that we should believe in definite redemption because of the mandate of Scripture; secondly, we should believe it because it glorifies God, and we listed four different ways that it glorifies God. Thirdly, we should believe in a definite and certain redemption because it magnifies and glorifies the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. We often sing "Jesus Never Fails, Heaven and earth may pass away, but Jesus never fails." But if indefinite redemption is true, then we should never sing this song again. Isaiah 53:10, 11 says that His soul was made an offering for sin, the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand, by my righteous servant He shall justify many. It says that He shall see the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied. The pleasure of the Lord is going to be accomplished or fulfilled by His hand. Now if Jesus died for every single individual in the world, this means that if any of these for whom He died go to hell, as far as they are concerned, His mission was a failure. Then we should never sing "Jesus Never Fails," because as far as they are concerned He failed. If when Jesus Christ died on the cross He died for all men without exception, then He died for those who were already in hell when He came, and at least for these, His mission was in vain. If Jesus died for all men without exception, He died for those men who were slain in the fire and brimstone which God rained upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. If Jesus died for all men without exception, then Jesus died for those men who were killed in the flood of the Old Testament, and for them His mission was in vain because their eternal destiny was sealed and settled when they were cast into hell. No one ever leaves hell once they are in it. And if Jesus Christ died for all men, then this means that He died in vain for millions of people who either have hated and rejected the gospel message or have never heard. Some time ago in a religious magazine, one man who believes in an indefinite redemption made this statement, "The triune God has done, is doing, always will do all that triune God can do to save every man, woman, and child on this earth. What is hell? It is an infinite negation, it is infinite chaos and it is more than that, I tell you, and I say it with profound reverence, hell is a ghastly monument to the failure of the triune God to save the multitudes who are there. I say it reverently, I say it with every nerve in my body tense, sinners go to hell because God Almighty Himself cannot save them. He did all He could. He failed!" Now most people who believe in an indefinite provisional redemption would never make a statement like that, but if they are logical, that is what they must say. God has done all that He can. He failed. J. I. Packer, in his Introduction to the book, Death of Death in the Death of Christ, says this:
And so I believe and preach a certain redemption
because I believe that it exalts the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Christ has for sin atonement made,
And fourthly, I believe and preach a definite and certain redemption because it is a strong motivating force for the Christian.
It Motivates the Christian to Worship and Praise
First, it motivates the Christian to worship and praise. If I know that my redemption is all of God and I did not have any part in it, that I cannot pat myself on the back and say, "Well, He died to remove the penalty of my sin, but I at least have a little part in it because I believed and I repented and I get the credit for that part." But if I know that all is the gift of my Sovereign and loving Lord, it drives me to my knees and it causes me to cry out in amazement, wonder and praise for the greatness of God's wonderful gift to me; one who does not deserve it, one who deserves to go to hell. Listen to the multitudes in heaven in Revelation 5 and verse 9 saying, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive honour and glory and dominion and power (why?) for Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, out of every tribe, out of every tongue and out of every nation." It does not say that Thou hast made redemption possible by Thy blood if we accept it. It says, 'Thou hast redeemed us by Thy blood out of every kindred, out of every tribe, out of every tongue and out of every nation." Notice that tremendous passage in Ephesians 1, verses 3 through 6, where Paul in an exclamation of praise says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus in that He chose us in Him from before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace." What does Paul say? Does Paul say that it is going to make us sad to know this? Does he say it is going to rob us of our joy? Does he say that if we know that we have been chosen, that we have been predestinated, and that Christ died a death that redeems it is going to give us a long face? oh no, Paul says this is going to make us want to bless God, and he says it is all to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:6). We have been made acceptable in the Beloved. This motivates the Christian to worship and praise.
It Motivates the Christian to Humility
Secondly, this motivates the Christian to humility. If I recognize that all my salvation is a gift of God, that if God had not touched me, if God had not done something in my life, I would have certainly gone to hell; it doesn't puff me up. It drives me down on my face before God. It strips me of my pride because I realize that I don't deserve salvation any more than anyone else does. I don't know why God has allowed the people in China to go without hearing the Gospel. I don't know that. I know that I don't deserve it any more than they do, and yet God for some reason unknown to me has chosen that I should hear the Gospel and in His providence be drawn to Jesus Christ. I tell you that humbles me, and it puts me on my face before God.
It Motivates to Service and Obedience
thirdly, it also motivates the Christian to service and obedience.
There are some who say that this doctrine will make a man cold and
callous and indifferent?it will rob him of his evangelistic zeal,
of his interest in missions. This can't be proved by the facts.
Don't you ever listen to anyone who says that it is so. All that
person is doing is proving that he has never read church history.
All he is doing is displaying his ignorance, because church history
proves that the great revivals in church history were started by
men who believed these doctrines. And furthermore, the greatest
theologians in the history of the church have believed this doctrine.
You won't find a man in the other camp who can stand on a par with
Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, John Calvin, or Benjamin Warfield.
There are not any.
It Motivates To Boldness and Confidence
And furthermore, it motivates the Christian to boldness and confidence. The Christian that believes in a definite redemption believes that God is able to accomplish His purposes. He believes that though men fight and rebel and resist God, "In the day of God's power, His people shall be willing." He believes that as he preaches the Gospel, God the Holy Spirit does work in the hearts of men and women, and God the Holy Spirit does draw them to repentance and faith and leads them to Jesus Christ. Thus he goes forward.. It is this that keeps him from discouragement. It is this that keeps him bold and confident in the face of men who are persecuting and criticizing and ridiculing. Friend, it is because I know that Jesus Christ's mission was successful that I declare to you today, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." It is because I believe that Jesus Christ's mission was successful that I can tell you that if you will confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. If you will do that, my friend, sincerely – and truly in your heart, you will be saved, because Jesus died a death that redeems, a death that saves, a death that atones. There is full and free atonement and redemption for you, and you can know that it belongs to you as you repent and as you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. "How vast the benefits divine which we in Christ possess! We are redeemed from guilt and shame and called to holiness.
But not for works that we have done, and shall
The glory, Lord, from first to last, is due
to Thee alone;
Our glorious Surety undertook to satisfy for
This is Thy will, that in Thy love we ever
Not one of all the chosen race but shall to
Jesus Christ is a wonderful Saviour. In Him we have redemption through His blood. We have through His blood the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
© 1973 by Mack Publishing Company