Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Death that Christ Died and its Purpose

The death Christ died is either a satisfaction for the sins of some men (Limited Atonement) or a satisfaction (in one sense or another) for the sins of all men without exception. It cannot be the former because the Scriptures say it was a satisfaction for the sins of the world:

1 John 2:2 "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."

John 1:29 "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

Now this satisfaction for all must either be provisional or actual. Here it is to be noted that the 4 pt modified Dispensationalist Calvinists (those who do not believe in the L of TULIP) say that Christ's death was provisional for all men (the satisfaction contingent upon faith in Christ) and the 5 pter says that it was actual (yet limited only to the elect). I do not at all believe that his death was merely provisional, for then the passages that say it is a satisfaction must be qualified to mean it is only provisionally a satisfaction (which they DO NOT). Let us not jump too hastily into a false dilemma! There are not just these two options: provisional (for those who believe) or actual (but limited only for the elect).

The Calvinist believes that the death of Christ is an actual satisfaction but limited to the elect only.

I believe the Bible clearly teaches that the death of Christ is an actual satisfaction and this for the whole world, but it had a limited intent. The intent of Christ's death was to completely satisfy the justice of God in a limited and specific sense. Christ's death has freed God to unconditionally accept those who believe. It has completely taken sin out of the way as a barrier to His acceptance of the sinner. The purpose of Christ’s death was to remove all barriers to God's acceptance of the sinner. God's justice is now satisfied in the sense that He can now confer acceptance upon those sinners who believe.

The death of Christ was designed to satisfy the justice of God in the sense of freeing Him to unconditionally accept those who believe in Christ. God is not obligated by Christ's death to save anyone. He is freed by it to save whomever He pleases. And from what we read in 1 Cor 1:21, "it pleased God ... to save those who believe."

In John's well-known description of the Final Judgement, we do not even find a reference to sins. Instead we are told, "the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books" (Rev 20:12). To be sure the works of unsaved people contain innumerable sins, but it is still significant that sin per se is not referred to, as I intend to point out in a moment.

Yet even though unsaved people are judged on the basis of their works, they are not condemned to hell on that basis! On the contrary we read, "And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:15). People go to hell, therefore, because they do not have life!

This is precisely what we might have concluded from the theme statement of the Fourth Gospel: "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31). It is also evident in John 5:24 where our Lord states that the believer "shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life". We must conclude, therefore, that the possession of life is the critical issue between God and man in terms of eternal judgment. There is no final judgment to determine one’s eternal destiny if he already possesses life.

Sin is not the critical issue. Why not? John's own writings tell us why. Jesus is the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world". Jesus paid it all!

So marvelously complete and full is the sacrificial death of Christ for our sins that it satisfied fully God’s justice and no man is condemned to hell on the grounds of his sins. But by the same token, the cross of Christ does not automatically regenerate men and women. They still need to obtain life and this is available to them on one basis only: faith in Christ.

Thus one can see that the issue at the final judgment is not man’s sin, since Christ has atoned for that in its entirety. Instead, the issue is whether someone can make it into the kingdom of God on the basis of the works they did on earth, apart from the miracle of new birth that comes by faith alone. But as the Lord Jesus informed Nicodemus, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

It is true that men go to hell unforgiven. There is in no sense of my position that Christ’s death forgave the sins of the world. No. It took them out of the way as the barrier to God’s unconditional acceptance of the sinner. Eternal life and the reconciliation that it brings is the one and only critical issue between God and man.

This is going to be difficult for many to chew based upon 1) never hearing or thinking about it this way and 2) that my contention is that sin isn’t the reason that men are condemned to hell. You must remember. There is no double payment for sins or double jeopardy. Christ paid for the sins of the world. The person in hell is not paying for his sins! He is there because he has not been reconciled to God; he is there because he has not been accepted by God; he is there because he does not have the gift of God’s own life, whereby which he can be accepted in His presence.


--------------------

The Gospel of John is the only book in the whole biblical canon that has as its express, explicitly written purpose that of evangelism (John 20:30,31). The rest of the New Testament is written is written to believers (arguably, the synoptics were written to believers to teach them the history of their Savior and give them the principles of discipleship under Jesus). The epistles were written to the "saints" in the churches.

It is often overlooked that the Fourth Gospel is functionally silent about forgiveness. I say functionally, because there is one reference to forgiveness in John’s Gospel, and it is found in John 20:23. In the statement made there, Jesus is speaking to the apostles after His resurrection and
He says, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." Obviously, whatever this text means, it does not plainly declare that forgiveness of sins is
received by faith alone. And since John 20:23 is the only reference, we may also say that nowhere in John’s Gospel is forgiveness of sins ever offered on the basis of faith alone. But by contrast, eternal life is offered on that basis over and over again!


Let us therefore restate what is obvious from these facts: 1) John is not interested in the subject of forgiveness in his Gospel apart from the one unusual passage referred to above. Of course, he was interested in this subject as such, but not for the purpose for which he wrote his Gospel. That purpose was to bring people to faith and eternal life (John 20:30, 31). We might therefore legitimately conclude from this that in terms of man’s eternal destiny, the real issue is not forgiveness but eternal life. This inference, again, is confirmed by John’s own description of the final judgment of the lost in Revelation 20:11–14, which we have already discussed above.

This post is not meant to belittle the forgiveness of sins. The positional and eternal forgiveness of sins is attendent with the many blessings that come to us when one appropriates the absolutely free gift of eternal life through faith alone in Christ alone. It is meant to show that the forgiveness of sins, per se, is not the critical issue between God and man. This, I have labored to show, is the issue of life.

Antonio

For more on this subject see Zane Hodges "Harmony with God: a Fresh Look at Repentance" (2001, Redencion Viva)

24 Comments:

Blogger Kc said...

I will study this further but It seems the same as I have understood, that His atonement is sufficient for all but efficient for those that believe.

November 17, 2005 4:22 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

K.C.

Thank you again for your comment. Your view is the predominant view taken with people who do not believe in limited atonement and do not believe in universalism. I do not believe in universalism either, but I do believe the propitiation of Christ was actual for the whole world.

The view you take is a deduction, for no verse states that the propitiation of Christ is merely provisional. It states unequivocally that it is actual.

If you would like, please make a biblical argument for your case and we will examine it. You may examine or comment on any of my arguments as well.

Thanks again for your participation,

Antonio

November 18, 2005 1:34 PM  
Blogger Shawn L said...

How long have you been interested in Zane Hodges' theology. Are there actually alot of people who follow Zane Hodges theology?

How were you exposed to Zane Hodges?

Everytime I read his stuff I am as confused as when I read Finney.

November 18, 2005 6:27 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Shawn, I really appreciate your comment and you visiting my humble site! Please drop by periodically to see what is going on.

The condensed, shortened version would be that when I got saved I heard the "free grace" gospel, believe in Jesus alone for eternal life and you have it as an immediate, present possession. I believed in Christ for eternal life. This happened at my church, Shadow Mountain Community Church (Dr. David Jeremiah, of Turning Point Christian radio).

Within a few weeks I found their tract carousel and decided to take a few. Many of them gave so many steps to eternal life!

From very early in my Christian life I was somewhat sensitive to what I perceived to be "additions" to the essential intermediate agency of faith alone.

Within 10 months of trusting Christ for eternal life, I was living at a Bible college studying full-time. Within a year I heard of a book called Absolutely Free! I bought it and read it and it really hit me. I started buying all his books. It took me several years to buy them all and read them.

I have been corresponding with him for sometime now (I just received an email from him today). I have met him on several occasions, and even taken him out to dinner.

He is a humble, articulate, and knowledgable man, with a heart for dedicated to Jesus Christ.

His most recent book, The Six Secrets of the Christian Life, is a must read. It is so simply put, and very short (inexpensive as well).

There is a theological society called the Grace Evangelical Society, that was first born (sometime around 1988 I think) to disperse the materials of Zane Hodges. They have a Free newsletter that comes out every two months, a journal, and tons of resources. I do not know how big their mailings are, but I think that they are getting much larger.

They have conferences that have been getting bigger each year, and now they have regional conferencces as well as the conference in Dallas.

They are at www.faithalone.org

For me, Zane reads very easy. I think it all has to do with our mindset, conditioning, and background.

My absolute favorite book by him is called "Grace in Eclipse". If you do a search for him, you will find his website and there are some excerpts from some of his books.

Shawn, I really appreciate you dropping by and leaving a comment. I love the traffic!

And I love to propogate the freeness of the grace of God.

Antonio

November 18, 2005 7:16 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Shawn, by the way. We both like Keith Green.

My favorite track by him is called "Asleep in the Light" and my favorite lyrick in it is:

How can you be so dead
When you’ve been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can’t even get out of bed

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead
Come on get out of your bed

Goodnight!

Antonio

November 18, 2005 7:19 PM  
Blogger J. Wendell said...

Hi Antonio,
You have articulated a couple of my thoughts, but you have given me new things to consider.

Do you still go to Shadow Mountain Church? Dr. Jeremiah is a friend of our church...his dad was a pastor of our church years ago. James T. Jeremiah.
Rose and I love Keith Green also. My favorite song of his is "the Prodigal."

November 18, 2005 8:46 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

John,

Thank you for dropping by. I love it when I am able, by the grace of God, to get people thinking about the bible in perspectives that may be new to them. So many times we have our grid of traditional interpretations (which may or may not be accurate) that we view Scripture with. To be able to work with the Word of God and see it in a new light is a wonderful thing.

I do continue to attend Shadow Mountain. I can't remember the college, is it Cedarville university or something like that, which Dr. J's dad founded? I live in the San Diego area.

Oh. I have the tune in my head! It is about, what, 8-9 minutes long, the "Prodigal". I just love his music. When I listen to Keith Green I wish he was still around and that he was my friend. I feel we would have so much in common.

Thanks again for dropping by!

Antonio

November 19, 2005 5:39 PM  
Blogger Ryan Moore said...

"God is not obligated by Christ's death to save anyone. He is freed by it to save whomever He pleases"

Thats sort of half true isnt it? God is freed to give salvation (past, present, future) but is required to save those who have faith alone. So God must save those who have Faith. He cannot save anyone who does or did not or will not have Faith. Therefore he cannot save whomever he pleases and is obligated to save whoever did/does/will have faith.

Perhaps I'm missing something? Its kinda late here.

I think we have to remember that God is not bound by time like we are. This touches on the idea of predestination and can be very very confusing. I think Im going to write an article about it in my newBlog

I think God did elect but this does not take away our ability to make the choice of Faith and therefor are not limited to.

great post nonetheless, makes me want to read some more of Zane's stuff.

November 19, 2005 8:28 PM  
Blogger Adam Cummings said...

Ryan, I mean no offense, but I think you are missing the fact that man in his depravity cannot turn to God (John 6; Rom 8) and that faith itself is a gift from God (refer to monergistic verses synergistic teachings; Eph 2:8-9; 2 Tim 2:25). If you read Romans 9 with an open mind and heart (ready to receive God's objective, Scriptural truth), then I think you will be dissuaded from your very Americanized notion that God is obligated to people in a certain way. Granted, John 6 says that Jesus gives life to whoever comes to Him, but whoever comes comes only by God's sovereign election; they are the ones who have faith, whose eyes are opened. I hope you are not too quickly pulled into this false notion that God's election "actually" means His election by our election of (or faith in) Christ. This is turning around the clear terminology of Scripture. We choose Christ only because He chooses us first (Eph 1:3-6; John 15:16; Titus 1:1-3).

Also, in regards to the actual post I am now commenting on (I suppose by Antonio), please look at context. I don't mean this arrogantly in any way, but by saying, "The Bible says 'world'; thus, Limited Atonement is false", you are simply arguing what all Arminians have argued ad nauseam in the past. "World" (Grk. kosmos) is also used in 1 Peter 3:3 as "adornment" in reference to women. Thus, we may as well "definitely" assume that Christ died for "adornment" as much as we may assume that he died for the "whole world without exception". Context is key, and John 10 clearly shows Jesus speaking of His death FOR His sheep, just as the whole book of John presents Christ as someone who came with a purpose... to save those given Him by the Father (John 17:2, 6) before the world began (Eph 1:3-6; Tit 1:1-3).

Just thought I would throw those few thoughts out there, and I hope you won't take them offensively. But, please, words such as "world" and "all" should not cause someone to immediately assume that the teachings of Calvinism are fallacious and erroneous.

Blessings...

November 19, 2005 8:48 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Ryan,

Welcome to my blog. Your comments are cherished and appreciated.

You wrote:
----------
Thats sort of half true isnt it? God is freed to give salvation (past, present, future) but is required to save those who have faith alone. So God must save those who have Faith. He cannot save anyone who does or did not or will not have Faith. Therefore he cannot save whomever he pleases and is obligated to save whoever did/does/will have faith.
----------

By the death of Christ, God is freed to save whomever He pleases. In the wisdom and counsel of God, He has determined and is pleased to save those and only those who receive this salvation by believing in Christ for it.

1 Cor 1:21
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

I hope this clears up the confusion.

I, too, believe in a doctrine of election. It is not one and the same as the Calvinist doctrine, whereby God chose individual men and women to be saved. In a very small nutshell, I believe that election does not hinge on individual salvation, but it pertains to service, responsiblity, and office for those chosen.

I saw your new blog. I am excited for you, and glad to make a new friend. Please post your mind anytime and drop by periodically to see whats happening over here.

Your forever brother in Christ,

Antonio

November 19, 2005 9:14 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Adam,

Thank you for viewing my blog. You are welcome here. Thank you for your comments as they are welcome as well.

Please continue to visit my site. I anticipate some interesting studies coming up.

About your first paragraph:

The assertions you provide with prooftexts are up for considerable and spirited debate! (To the readers of his comment: The putting forth of them with an attached reference does not necessarily indicate that they say what he implies.)

Open minds and hearts are wonderful things when confronting the Scriptures, but these alone will not guarantee one will arrive at the proper and intended meaning. Learning, study, and stability in thought are required.

2 Peter 3:15-16
Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

To me, and no offense intended, honestly, (for this is not directed at you, but to the theologians in their ivory towers) these are just the tired and old interpretations betraying superficial thought and study.

I have to disagree with your analysis of 1 John 2:2. The words contained in the verse firmly contradict the Calvinist view that Christ died for some group of "elect" only. The tortured efforts made to defend that view in the face of this verse are futile.

The contrast here is explicitly between the believers that John is addressing and "the whole world" of mankind which John later says "lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). Johnannine thought and terminology leave absolutely no room for any such concept as "the world of the elect."

Christ's death covers the totality of human sin from the beginning of creation until the end of history when eternity begins. For the apostle John, Jesus Christ is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," just as John the Baptist announced Him at the beginning (John 1:29).

To this, the progenitor of your system, John Calvin himself, heartily agreed. John Calvin was no advocate of limited atonement (For this I refer you to the great and magnificent work of "Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649" by R.T. Kendall).

Antonio

November 19, 2005 9:47 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Good thoughts.

November 20, 2005 5:00 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
I am glad you are in the blogosphere.

November 20, 2005 11:13 AM  
Blogger Ryan Moore said...

Thanks Adam and Antonio. That definitely cleared things up for me.

be blessed!

November 20, 2005 12:43 PM  
Blogger Julianne said...

Antonio,

There are many things I would love to address in this post, however, I don't have the time to sit down and write out a formal arguement.

You said,

"Christ's death has freed God to unconditionally accept those who believe"

This statement would seem to make sense, if you threw out many biblical truths, like the effects of sin (which was not taken away from every man, this Adam addressed) for example.

What you are actually doing with this line of reasoning is placing the condition of salvation on the individual himself. What makes one man choose God and another man not choose God?

You have a thoughtful personality which I respect. Keep searching the Word for these awesome and amazing revealations of God's character.

God bless!

November 21, 2005 7:15 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Julianne,

thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog. I most definitly will be checking in on your blog.

You seem to be talking about the reforemed doctrine of total depravity, no?

1) Man was created in the image and likeness of God. Obviously this is not talking about physical features.

1a) Men are able to love with agape love, even sinners and publicans! (Matt 5:46)
1b) Men reason, do moral and just things, even not having the Mosaic or any God-given written law:

Rom 2:14-15
14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
NKJV

Can you notice here that they "by nature" do the things in the law?

This is due to the moral image and likeness of God in which they were created in.

1c) Man has the constitutional ability to believe. Do you not believe things?

1d) The Bible conclusively shows that unregenerate man seeks God. I see that noone is willing to pose any arguments against the plain and normal reading of Cornelius and the Bereans.

2) God draws all men, and his drawing is resistable.

2a) God draws all men:

John 1:7-9
7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
NKJV

Witnesses do one thing: seek to persuade others of their testimony.

Jesus is the true light which gives light to everyone coming into the world. If man is in darkness Christ is the Light.

John 12:31-32
31 "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out. 32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."
NAS

Jesus has been lifted up. He is the light. Men can resist the light. Men can resist the drawing.

John 16:7-9
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

Jesus went to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is now here and is convicting the WORLD of sin, righteousness, and judgement. The Holy Spirit has a convicting ministry, Jesus is drawing all men to Himself, Jesus is the Light the True Light shining to every man in the world.

Heb 4:12
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
NKJV

The Word of God is supernatural unto conviction, persuasion, and being convinced. The word of God, in conjunction with the Spirit of God, in conjunction with the Son of God, in conjunction with the image and likeness of God, in addition to the drawing of Jesus to all men, in light of God's invititation to all men, in lieu of Christ's death for all men, in observance of God's desire that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth...

In light of the examples of Cornelius and the Bereans...

Oh. What about preaching the gospel and persuasion?

Some seem to deny that there is any soul winning or persuading men as to the gospel. Why do it when they are unable to hear and respond apart from sovereign regeneration and Irresistable Grace imposed? If one must be regenerated and then made to believe, then persuading someone as to the truth of the gospel really doesn't have a purpose in evangelism; preaching it seems pointless (men can't understand, are unable to hear and respond). There is no persuading or convincing the unregenerate sinner and it really would be a waste of time to do so.

I guess those who believe such doctrine will just be content to give a short gospel message and see if God is going to do his trick and "effectually call" his elect. If after a very brief gospel message the person does not respond, well either 1) he is elect and God is not ready to effectually call him with irresisitable grace at this time or 2) he is unelect. Either way, persuasion is MEANINGLESS for it is falling on deaf, totally inable ears. Go on to the next one to see if they are elect and if God is ready to effectually call them by irresistible grace imposed.

Yet Paul expended himself for Christ doing exactly this: disputing and persuading in the attempt to win people to Christ. As soon as he was converted, Paul "confounded the Jews...at Damascus proving that this is very Christ..."(Acts 9:22). Everywhere he went Paul "disputed...in the synagogue...and in the market daily..." (Acts 17:17). The last chapter of Acts tells us that even under house arrest in Rome, Paul was still at it: "...there came many to him, ... to whom he expounded... persuading them concerning Jesus..." (Acts 28:23).

1 Cor 9:16, 19-22
...woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!...
For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law(not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

Do you see what Paul is doing here? He is using "all means" so that he could win some to Christ!This activity so desribed as Paul engaging in, for some here who hold certain doctrine, by virtue of this doctrine, MUST be meaningless and unprofitable.

Yet Paul did not think so...

Acts 10:1-5
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius!"

4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, lord?"

So he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.
----------
Cornelius sought after God and God rewarded him. He feared God, gave to the poor, and prayed to God always. God heard his prayer and answered it. He sent Peter to him. Cornelius did this and was not even saved. How do we know he wasn't saved?
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Acts 11:13-14
13 And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, 'Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, 14 who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.'
----------
Yes. Cornelius was depraved and fallen. Yes he was separated from God. But God is moved when people seek Him! And Cornelius sincerely did so.

The whole idea that aren't people willing or seeking God is thus falsified. When Cornelius heard that Peter could tell him and his household how they could be saved, he jumped at the chance and sent his servants right away. He was WILLING and SEEKING and God met him and showed him the Way, the Truth and the Life.
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Acts 17:10-12

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed
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The Bereans! They were open-minded. They were willing and ready. They diligently sought the truth. Look at the cause and effect: they willingly sought and THEREFORE many of them believed.
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Acts 17:26-27
6 And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him.
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God has granted to all men that they should "seek God".
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Heb 11:6
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
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When men and women respond to the drawing of God, God will send more light. God will reward those who seek Him.
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Luke 13:23-24

And He said to them, 24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
NKJV
----------

Bob Wilkin of the Grace Evangelical Society says it this way:

----------
Clearly the struggle involved here concerns finding the right gate to enter. The Lord's point is that those who don't know the way to eternal life should exert every effort to find out. It's as simple as that.

In John 6:27 the Lord told unbelieving Jews who were seeking more miraculous signs like the feeding of the 5,000 which had just occurred, "Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." They then asked, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" (v 28). Jesus' response has nothing do with change of lifestyle. It is a simple call to faith. He said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (v29)!

Those who do not know the way to heaven are to strive to find out. They are to seek the truth.

Strive to enter by the narrow gate? You bet! (Of course, once you've entered, you no longer need to seek the gate anymore! You've found it!) That doesn't contradict the freeness of the Gospel at all. Indeed, that is what GES is all about. We aim to make the way to eternal life clear as a bell for all our readers, believers and unbelievers. We hope to lead many unbelievers to faith in Christ and many believers to share the Gospel clearly and boldly.

When sharing your faith, don't be afraid to challenge unbelievers who doubt the truth of the Gospel to strive to enter by the narrow gate. Challenge them to seek God. Invite them to read and study the Bible, particularly the Gospel of John. Encourage them to go to church and Bible studies with you. For God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Antonio

November 21, 2005 9:35 AM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Antonio,
You wrote:
“It is true that men go to hell unforgiven. There is in no sense of my position that Christ’s death forgave the sins of the world. No. It took them out of the way as the barrier to God’s unconditional acceptance of the sinner. Eternal life and the reconciliation that it brings is the one and only critical issue between God and man.”

I’m a little perplexed. If Christ effectively paid for an unregenerate person’s sins, why aren’t his sins forgiven? Thanks in advance.

November 23, 2005 10:51 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Andy,

Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting, they both are appreciated.

Christ's death had a limited intent, and forgiveness for every man he died for was not one of his intents.

Christ's death had as an intent to take away sin as the barrier to the unconditional acceptance of God.

Sin has been taken completely out of the way as an issue between God and man with regards to God's acceptance of the sinner.

But the death of Christ automatically saves, or forgives, or imparts eternal life to noone.

It was the removal of a barrier. The barrier is now removed. The issue now becomes one of life. The negative has been done away with. Now there is a need for the positive reception of the absolutely free gift of eternal life.

For the person who has life, there is no condemnation. Forgiveness of sins is a personal issue between God and man. Eternal life is the necessary impartation of God's kind of life to those who would live with Christ forever.

Forgiveness of sins is not the issue between God and man. Sin has been done away with as a barrier. Jesus Christ IS the propitiation for the sins of the world.

Jesus has taken them all away in the limited aspect of it being the barrier between God and man.

The death of Christ did not satisfy the justice of God in every respect concerning sin. It had a much narrower intent. It was to satisfy God perfectly for sin being the barrier between God and man.

I hope this didn't muddy the water. Thank you for your question.

Antonio

November 25, 2005 7:14 PM  
Anonymous andy said...

Antonio,

Thanks for your helpful reply. Also, I noticed that professor Hodges addressed my question on p.70ff of Harmony With God. This portion of the book is available online (p.46ff) at http://www.chafer.edu/journal/back_issues/v8n4_3.pdf.

November 28, 2005 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Legume said...

Yes, I know I am commenting on a dialog that happened almost a year ago. Typically, I refrain from doing so, because not many people will interact with such comments. Nevertheless, as I was reading this discussion, one of my favorite verses came to mind, which I think is germane. I share it for the benefit of those who read the archives.

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:10-11)

November 01, 2006 6:50 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

"The Death that Christ Died and its Purpose," 11:46 AM Nov 17, 2005.

This is very helpful to me to hear this, Antonio, although I don't think this formulation is original with you, as I've heard it from others who were great lights to me as a new Christian.

As long as we don't get mixed up in a time-element, as if there was a "time" in which God was 'not free' (?) to accept whomever He wishes to. Abraham, after all, was accepted, before Christ died.

Amen also to these words of yours:

"He is freed by it to save whomever He pleases. And from what we read in 1 Cor 1:21, "it pleased God ... to save those who believe."

God is free because of the cross to save whomever He pleases. There's that "pleases" word again meaning whomever He chooses to. He chooses to save those who believe, yes.

Lots of people might listen to the arguments here and consign it to the "fine distinctions" idea, that people are arguing about what God intends to do, intended to do, by His acts.

God also chooses to save those who go to heaven. That is true, of course, but this is not saying that the reason God chooses them to be saved is that they will be in heaven. Similarly, when the Scripture says it pleased God to save those who believe, 1 Cor 1:21, let's not change the meaning of the verse to take God out of the position of doing the saving. God saves those who believe. We should not put God out of the business of saving, and ourselves, using some means, in the business of saving ourselves while God is passive. God is not passive. We do not save ourselves.

In a way, both limited atonement and your articulation in this post can be subject to misuse, although I don't see that you're saying so here: the misuse is to give the sinner the idea in evangelism that in saving his or her soul, all the work that God could do, He has already done, so the determinative work is left to be done -- by them!

Do you notice the error of that? If we are talking to unbelievers, and if we tell them that all the work that God could possibly do to save them, He has already done, and if we give them the impression that there is some work left to be done by them that makes the difference about their salvation or not, we have left them with the impression that this "little" work (compared to Christ's "big work") is what actually saves them. That would be horrible.

The gospel has been denied if we say that Jesus is the way almost to the very door of heaven, but that last part of the road is our own to pave. He is the way, not "most of" the way.

Let's call for faith in Christ as actually faith in Christ , not partially in Him, plus partially in some last little work that we must do.

The gospel has been preached when the news of what God has done is presented as sufficient for Him to save our hearers. We invite them to rely on Christ's work as sufficient for their own salvation. We are not, hopefully, inviting them to rely on Christ's work as almost sufficient.

December 21, 2006 1:05 AM  
Blogger DONALD FAHRENKRUG said...

"Christ's death has freed God to unconditionally accept those who believe."
This is a long standing dispute about whether Christ's Atonement actually Atoned for something, or whether His death merely provided a way for salvation to those that make a "choice" to accept what was done for them.
I'm not sure I would explain the effects of Christ's death as it "freed God" up to unconditionally accept..." Since God is absolutely Sovereign I can't see Him as in bondage to fallen man UNTIL Christ's death.

I struggle with those whole concept. I go from Limited Atonement of the 5-Point Calvinist, to Unlimited Atonement of everyone else. I've been leaning toward Unlimited Atonement, but saying God is "freed" up gives me pause to reconsider. As a conservative Lutheran I am suppose to believe in Unlimited Atonement, that Christ died for ALL without exception. That knocked down the barrier between man and God. Then each individual, by the grace of God, and by God using His means of the preaching of the Word and correct administering of the sacraments, DRAWS men to Him. Each individual has to RECEIVE or appropriate what has been done for him.
The Calvinist point, tho, as stated by John Gerstner in his "Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth," that the Atonement OBTAINED the results, not just make tham OBTAINABLE. His point is, I believe, that if the Atonement just make salvation OBTAINABLE, then you are right back to man helping God in his salvation, with of course, is repulsive to a Calvinists. And I believe they have a point.
I have some good articles on Unlimited Atonement on my blog, also.

Christ's death has freed God to unconditionally accept those who believe.

DONALD FAHRENKRUG

November 27, 2007 11:49 AM  
Blogger DONALD FAHRENKRUG said...

So what does Antonio say?

I have definitely swing over to the Unlimited Atonement side. There are too many universal verses (whosoever, all, world) that have to be twisted beyond recognition to maintain the Limited Atonement false doctrine.

December 19, 2007 9:52 AM  
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