From “The 1689 – A Faith to Confess”, Section 8 “Christ the Mediator”, paragraph 5:
By His perfect obedience to God’s law, and by a once-for-all offering up of Himself to God as a sacrifice through the eternal spirit, the Lord Jesus has fully satisfied all the claims of divine justice.
He has brought about reconciliation, and purchased on everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those given to Him by His Father.
John 17:2 – “since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.”
Romans 3:25,26 – “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Hebrews 9:14,15 – “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”
Today marks the 154th anniversary of Charles Spurgeon’s sermon No. 181, titled “Particular Redemption”, preached from Matthew 20:28 “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The following excerpts are from the closing.
“I have hurried over that, to come to the last point, which is the sweetest of all. Jesus Christ, we are told in our text, came into the world “to give his life a ransom for many.”
The greatness of Christ’s redemption may be measured by the EXTENT OF THE DESIGN OF IT. He gave his life “a ransom for many.”
I must now return to that controverted point again. We are often told (I mean those of us who are commonly nicknamed by the title of Calvinists — and we are not very much ashamed of that; we think that Calvin, after all, knew more about the gospel than almost any man who has ever lived, uninspired) — We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved.
Now, our reply to this is, that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it: we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, “No, certainly not.” We ask them the next question — Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer “ No.” They are obliged to admit this if they are consistent. They say “No, Christ has died that any man may be saved if” — and then follow certain conditions of salvation. We say, then, we will just go back to the old statement — Christ did not die so as beyond a doubt to secure the salvation of anybody, did he? You must say “No;” you are obliged to say so, for you believe that even after a man has been pardoned, he may yet fall from grace, and perish.
Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as to infallibly secure the salvation of anybody, We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ’s death; we say, “No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.
We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved.
You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it. …””
Leaving controversy, however, I will now answer a question. Tell me then, sir, who did Christ die for? Will you answer me a question or two and I will tell you whether he died for you.
Do you want a Savior? Do you feel that you need a Savior? Are you this morning conscious of sin? Has the Holy Spirit taught you that you are lost? Then Christ died for you, and you will be saved.
Are you this morning conscious that you have no hope in the world but Christ? Do you feel that you of yourself cannot offer an atonement that can satisfy God’s justice? Have you given up all confidence in yourselves? And can you say upon your bended knees “Lord, save, or I perish?” Christ died for you.
If you are saying this morning “I am as good as I ought to be; I can get to heaven by my own good works,” then, remember, the Scripture says of Jesus, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” So long as you are in that state I have no atonement to preach to you.
But if this morning you feel guilty, wretched, conscious of your guilt, and are ready to take Christ to be your only Savior, I can not only say to you that you may be saved, but what is better still, that you will be saved.
When you are stripped of everything but hope in Christ, when you are prepared to come empty-handed and take Christ to be your all and to be yourself nothing at all, then you may look up to Christ, and you may say, “Thou dear, thou bleeding Lamb of God! thy griefs were endured for me, by thy stripes I am healed and by thy sufferings I am pardoned.”
And then see what peace of mind you will have for if Christ has died for you, you cannot be lost. God will not punish twice for one thing. If God punished Christ for your sin, he will never punish you. “Payment, God’s justice cannot twice demand, first, at the bleeding surety’s hand, and then again at mine.” We can today, if we believe in Christ, march to the very throne of God, stand there, and if it is said, “Art thou guilty?” we can say, “Yes, guilty.” But if the question is put, “What have you to say why you should not be punished for your guilty” We can answer, “Great God, thy justice and thy love are both our guarantees that thou wilt not punish us for sin; for didst thou not punish Christ for sin for us? How canst thou, then, be just — how canst thou be God at all, if thou dost punish Christ the substitute, and then punish man himself afterwards?”
Your only question is, “Did Christ die for me?” And the only answer we can give is — “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ came into the world to save sinners.” Can you write your name down among the sinners — not among the complimentary sinners, but among those that feel it, bemoan it, lament it, seek mercy on account of it? Are you a sinner? That felt, that known, that professed, you are now invited to believe that Jesus Christ died for you, because you are a sinner; and you are bidden to cast yourself upon this great immovable rock, and find eternal security in the Lord Jesus Christ.
– Charles H. Spurgeon
John Gerstner was rarely subtle, but always solid when it came to Biblical soteriology.
In this excerpt from one of his essays against Dispensational theology, Gerstner summarizes the man-centered soteriology found in many Dispensational circles (among others):
“If salvation comes to the individual by virtue of his foreseen faith, then, of course, his salvation is not the same as that which comes by God’s predestinating grace.
The salvation that comes to a mortally sick person who can at least reach out and take and apply the medicine that cures him is a very different thing from the salvation that comes to a corpse.
Dispensational thought, growing out of the defection from the predestinarianism of the Bible, means that the sinner is still, though barely, alive. He can be restored to health by the exercise of his own weakened, but not destroyed, abilities. He is not saved by grace alone. He is saved by the offer of grace appropriated by his own remaining moral ability. Christ does not save him but makes salvation possible for him.
Surely there is a vast difference between Christ as an aid to a person’s salvation and Christ as the person’s salvation.
It is true that the dispensationalist will consistently say that a sinner cannot be saved without Christ, but that remnant of the gospel in their message is not the whole gospel.
The gospel is NOT that Christ makes salvation possible but that He makes it actual.
Christ is not a potential but a real Savior of His people from their sins.”
– John H. Gerstner, A Primer on Dispensationalism, p.19
From Roger Nicole’s “Our Sovereign Saviour – The Essence of the Reformed Faith”:
- Obligatory (that is, indispensable)
- Sovereign (in choice)
- Particular (in redemption)
- Effectual (in operation)
- Lasting (that is secure)
“Our election is in Christ. We are saved by him, in him, and for him.
The motive for our salvation is not merely the love God has for us. It is especially grounded in the love the Father has for the Son.
God insists that his Son will see the travail of his soul and be satisfied.
There never has been the slightest possibility that Christ could have died in vain.
If man is truly dead in sin and in bondage to sin, a mere potential or conditional atonement not only may have ended in failure but most certainly would have ended in failure.
Arminians have no sound reason to believe that Jesus did not die in vain. They are left with a Christ who tried to save everybody but actually saved nobody.”
Sproul, R. C. (1986). Chosen by God (207–208). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Excerpts from Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray:
“Did Christ come to make the salvation of all men possible, to remove obstacles that stood in the way of salvation, and merely to make provision for salvation?
Or did he come to save his people?
Did he come to put all men in a savable state?
Or did he come to secure the salvation of all those who are ordained to eternal life?
Did he come to make men redeemable?
Or did he come effectually and infallibly to redeem?
The doctrine of the atonement must be radically revised if, as atonement, it applies to those who finally perish as well as to those who are the heirs of eternal life. In that event we should have to dilute the grand categories in terms of which the Scripture defines the atonement and deprive them of their most precious import and glory. This we cannot do.”
“Whether the expression “limited atonement” is good or not we must reckon with the fact that unless we believe in the final restoration of all men we cannot have an unlimited atonement. If we universalize the extent we limit the efficacy.
If some of those for whom atonement was made and redemption wrought perish eternally, then the atonement is not itself efficacious. It is this alternative that the proponents of universal atonement must face. They have a “limited” atonement and limited in respect of that which impinges upon its essential character.
We shall have none of it. The doctrine of “limited atonement” which we maintain is the doctrine which limits the atonement to those who are heirs of eternal life, to the elect. That limitation insures its efficacy and conserves its essential character as efficient and effective redemption.”
“The truth really is that it is only on the basis of such a doctrine that we can have a free and full offer of Christ to lost men. What is offered to men in the gospel? It is not the possibility of salvation, not simply the opportunity of salvation.
What is offered is salvation. To be more specific, it is Christ himself in all the glory of his person and in all the perfection of his finished work who is offered. And he is offered as the one who made expiation for sin and wrought redemption. But he could not be offered in this capacity or character if he had not secured salvation and accomplished redemption….
It is the very doctrine that Christ procured and secured redemption that invests the free offer of the gospel with richness and power. It is that doctrine alone that allows for a presentation of Christ that will be worthy of the glory of his accomplishment and of his person. It is because Christ procured and secured redemption that he is an all-sufficient and suitable Saviour”
John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, pp.63-65
From the close of a John Piper sermon on Hebrews 2:9:
Now I will stop here in our text, even though we could keep right on going through the rest of this chapter showing that the aim of God in the sending and death of Jesus was to accomplish something definite for his brothers, his children, those whom God has given him out of the world. But I will stop and make a closing application.
I am not the least bit interested in withholding the infinite value of the death of Jesus from anyone. Let it be known and heard very clearly: God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that whoever believes on him—I say it again: whoever believes in him—should not perish but have eternal life. Christ died so that whoever (in this room this morning) believes might not perish but live.
And when you believe as you ought to believe, you will discover that your belief—like all other spiritual blessings—was purchased by the death of Christ. The sin of unbelief was covered by the blood in your case, and therefore the power of God’s mercy was released through the cross to subdue your rebellion and bring you to the Son. You did not make the cross effective in your life by faith. The cross became effective in your life by purchasing your faith.
So glory in this, Christian. Glory that your sins really were covered when Jesus tasted death for you. Glory that your guilt really was removed when Jesus tasted death for you. Glory that the curse of the law really was lifted and that the wrath of God really was removed, and that the precious faith that unites you to all this treasure in Christ was a gift purchased by the blood of Christ.
Christ tasted death for everyone who has faith. Because the faith of everyone who believes was purchased by the death of Christ.
– John Piper
Any Gospel invitation should be Christ-honoring, first and foremost.
Soli Deo Gloria.