If Christ died for the sins of everyone who ever lived, why isn’t everyone saved?

Interesting question, yes? It should be, since that seems to be the prevailing opinion of the vast majority of Christendom. Just Google “For whom did Christ die?” and start reading. But how many of us seriously address the question? Consider this post an old man’s attempt to think it through, Writing things down helps me organize my thoughts.

First of all, some will answer the question by telling me that since Christ died for everyone, everyone WILL eventually be saved. That’s called ‘universalism’. The reasoning behind that opinion is that God is too loving to condemn anyone, that since he wants all men to be saved, they eventually will. After all, God is God and always gets what he wants. Seems logical.

Others will confidently tell me that while Christ died for everyone, It’s up to the one for whom Christ died to exercise his/her ‘free will’ and accept the ‘gift’, similar to accepting a present for your birthday or Christmas. When a person accepts the gift, he/she will be saved, unless down the road somewhere down the road another conscious free will decision is made to return the gift for whatever reason. This also seems logical.

Then there those who will tell me that  a person is saved  because of a free will decision to accept Christ, and once he/she has made that decision has been made, heaven awaits their sure arrival. If that’s true, somewhere on the highway to heaven human free will disappeared.  And that also seems like a logical conclusion.

So here have three seemingly logical, yet differing  opinions. It might also be very logical to conclude that either only one of them is correct, or all three are incorrect.  Let’s assume that one is correct.  If you had to pick one, which would you choose, and why?

Most, if not all Bible reading Christians would immediately exclude ‘universalism’ as an option right off the bat. The Bible is clear that there are those whose eternal destiny is a place of everlasting torment and punishment. That leaves us with two other options, both of which include the concept of completely autonomous  ‘free will’. Assuming once again that there is a correct answer among our three options, which one is it?

Well, one option defends ‘free will’ to the death. You can either accept the ‘free gift’ or reject it. Human free will is so powerful that it can thwart God’s desire to save everyone. If that’s the case, we have to seriously ask “Who saves whom?” Did Christ die only to make salvation ‘possible’?

The other surviving option tells us that human free will, once exercised for salvation, can somehow disappear in one’s life, or be partially lost, at least in the matter of salvation.

Questions, questions, and MORE questions! They never seem to end, do they?

One last question for this post – a hypothetical one. IF all three of the above answers to the ‘question in the title of this post (If Christ died for the sins of everyone who ever lived, why isn’t everyone saved?) are incorrect, what’s the alternative – for whom did Christ die?

So call this post a ‘thinking’ challenge.  And since it is merely a thinking challenge, share your thoughts. Recommend this post to a friend or two and ask them to share their thoughts.

Smile

Worldviews and Conversations

“In its simplest terms, a worldview is a set of beliefs about the most important issues in life. The philosophical systems of thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle were worldviews. Every mature rational human being…has his or her own worldview just as surely as Plato did.” – Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict

One’s worldview contains thoughts about God (a spiritual element), along with concepts about ultimate reality, knowledge, ethics, and humankind in general. Many deny that they are completely non-spiritual, or non-theists, but that is still a thought about spirituality, and therefore represents a ‘worldview’.

Understanding the concept of worldviews and applying that concept to the art of conversation can be very beneficial to the dialogue, whatever the subject under consideration. With certain topics (God, for instance), discussing in terms of ‘wordviews’ can take the conversation out of the personal opinion arena and place it on a completely non-personal playing field. In fact, two people with opposite worldviews can assume the other’s worldview, much like a debater being assigned a position he or she does not actually agree with.

Making a claim that all men know of the existence of God, with reference to a passage of scripture that says exactly that, is not a personal accusation that the atheist is a liar, but a statement about the knowledge of God from a Christian worldview. It’s like saying, ‘According to Richard Dawkins, religious people are stupid idiots.’ That is not necessarily a personal accusation. A Christian, who obviously wouldn’t believe that, could even make the statement!

Unfortunately, many atheists/non-theists, if not most of them, accuse Christians of proselytizing for just talking about God. Some Christians might bring up the topic of God in order to proselytize, or to try and convert someone, but we are also capable of objective conversation about God – of expressing the ‘Christian’ worldview without trying to convert anyone. Some of us even believe that we can’t actually convert anyone, but we can only present the God ‘option’ and the gospel message of the Bible and leave the rest in God’s capable hands.

So why are so many atheists convinced that we are intentionally proselytizing when we talk about God?

What about my friends?

That’s a question all believers face at some point, and it comes in many forms:

  • “Now that I believe in Christ, will I lose my friends, some of whom think Christianity is a joke?”
  • “Will I make new friends if I lose the old ones?
  • “Should I tell my friends about what just happened to me?
  • “How do I tell my friends I now believe in Christ as my Savior?”
  • “What will my friends think of me?”
  • “Do I have to walk away from my ‘worldly’ friends? Will they dump me?

And the list goes on. . .

The founder of The Navigators is said to have answered the “How long should I wait before telling my friends……..” question with something like “Do you want that in minutes or seconds?”

Well. my son Dan (also and mostly known as Hauss) told me this last Father’s Day how and why he handled the situation, and probably addressed the above list and most of the other questions that could be added to the list.

Hauss had already been sharing with me over the last year or so how he had been finding out, while ‘hanging out’ with the same crowd, that he no longer felt comfortable engaging in some of the activities involved, and was even developing a distaste for what he had previously enjoyed or thought perfectly normal behavior. The changes he was experiencing were not unnoticed by his friends, and he has been sometimes asked what happened, to which he would reply “I got saved.”, after which he would talk about it. No beating around the bush there!

At some point he decided to just write a letter to everyone on his ‘close friend’ list and tell them all about it. The reason he gave me was basically that it was the right and fair thing to do. They are close friends and close friends don’t keep secrets from each other – he needed to just be up front and honest with them. There was nothing overtly ‘evangelistic’ – no motives other than honesty and integrity. What a concept!

Naturally I was pleased, but not terribly surprised, because I have listened to him share his testimony of having confronted sin, repented of it and trusting in Christ. I have no doubts concerning the genuineness of his confession of faith. What did come to mind however, was something I can’t remember ever having thought a lot about in the context of this scenario – sharing one’s faith with those who are close to us.

Hauss, with his letter, had not only answered a lot of questions faced by a ‘young’ believer, he had avoided the pain of being the one to initiate the severing of a close relationship, should that be the best course of action in the fuure. That ‘ball’ was no longer in his court! Since he had simply been open, honest, and caring, it was now on the shoulders of the receivers of the letter to respond. They would either :

  • Choose to remain friends, either dismissing Hauss’ testimony as only a temporary phase, or with a genuine interest/curiosity, possibly due to an ‘awakening’ in their own hearts, or
  • Sever the friendship at some point or other because they ‘couldn’t handle the truth’ presented, because they had not yet been awakened by the Holy Spirit to hear and receive the gospel message in Hauss’ testimony.

If they hung around hoping for a ‘phase, they would come to another decision point  whether to stick around any longer or just write Hauss off as a ‘lost cause’.

Interesting thing though. I don’t think for a second that Hauss has experienced much of the personal stress this whole scenario invites. He just did what came naturally. That’s just the way he is. Or should I say ‘new’ naturally!

If you are reading this and think writing a letter might not be for you, you could be right. Perhaps God will plant some other way to tell the ones, who are often the hardest to tell, about your salvation, The important thing is to face the question(s) head on, continue to read your Bible, pray about it and, like a famous commercial: “Just do it!”

God will take care of the results, whatever they me be, ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. Not only that, the peace you will find is beyond words, at least any words I have at my disposal – and I am a ‘wordy’ guy at times.

What ABOUT your friends?

‘Chosen’ and ‘Predestined’ Before the Foundation of the World- Ephesians 1:4-5

Blogged Bible Study

These two verses present an awesome picture of God’s sovereignty in the salvation of His people. Here are seven translations/versions including a couple of paraphrases (one good and one not so good):

“…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, …” – ESV

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—…” – NIV

“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,…” – NKJV

“For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love. He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will –…” – NET

“… just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love  He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,…” – NASB

“Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.  Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!)” – MSG

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.   God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” – NLT

Questions for the week:

  • What does it mean that God ‘chose’ us? For what were we chosen?
  • What does it mean that God ‘predestined’ us? For what were we predestined?
  • Who are ‘us’ in the above passages?
  • Why did God choose and predestinate ‘us’?
  • Would God choose and predetermine anything that He would not, in his divine sovereignty, bring to pass?

NOTE: That men are responsible to believe is not in question. ‘How’ we come to believe is also linked to God’s sovereignty, and is another worthy discussion.

How shall we know when we aim at God’s glory?

The Chief End of Man is to Glorify God – Thomas Watson

Part 6

How shall we know when we aim at God’s glory?

1. When we prefer God’s glory above all other things; above credit, estate, relations; when the glory of God coming in competition with them, we prefer his glory before them. If relations lie in our way to heaven, we must either leap over them, or tread upon them. A child must unchild himself, and forget he is a child; he must know neither father nor mother in God’s cause. Deut. 33:9, “Who said unto his father and mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren.” This is to aim at God’s glory.

2.  We aim at God’s glory, when we are content that God’s will should take place, though it may cross ours. Lord, I am content to be a loser, if thou be a gainer; to have less health, if I have more grace, and thou more glory. Let it be food or bitter medicine if thou gives it me. Lord, I desire that which may be most for thy glory. Our blessed Saviour said, “not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Matt. 26:39. If God might have more glory by his sufferings, he was content to suffer. John 12:28, “Father, glorify thy name.”

3. We aim at God’s glory when we are content to be outshined by others in gifts and esteem, so that his glory may be increased. A man that has God in his heart, and God’s glory in his eye, desires that God should be exalted. If this be effected, no matter whom the instrument, he rejoices. Phil. 1:15, “Some preach Christ of envy: notwithstanding Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice;” they preached Christ of envy, they envied Paul that concourse of people, and they preached that they might outshine him in gifts, and get away some of his hearers: well, says Paul, Christ is preached, and God is like to have the glory, therefore I rejoice; let my candle go out, if the Sun of Righteousness may but shine.

In how many ways may we glorify God? – Part A

The Chief End of Man is to Glorify God – Thomas Watson

Part 5

In how many ways may we glorify God?

1. It is glorifying God when we aim purely at his glory. It is one thing to advance God’s glory, another thing to aim at it. God must be the Terminus ad quem, the ultimate end of all actions. Thus Christ, John 8:50, “I seek not mine own glory, but the glory of him that sent me.” A hypocrite has a crooked eye, for he looks more to his own glory than God’s. Our Saviour deciphers such, and gives a caveat against them in Matthew 6:2, “when thou givest alms, do not sound a trumpet.” A stranger would ask, “What means the noise of this trumpet?” It was answered, “They are going to give to the poor.” And so they did not give alms, but sold them for honour and applause, that they might have glory of men; the breath of men was the wind that blew the sails of their charity; “verily they have their reward.” The hypocrite may make his acquittance and write, “received in full payment.” Chrysostom calls vainglory one of the devil’s great nets to catch men. And Cyprian says, “whom Satan cannot prevail against by intemperance, those he prevails against by pride and vainglory.” Oh let us take heed of self-worshipping! Aim purely at God’s glory.

2. We glorify God by a frank confession of sin. The thief on the cross had dishonoured God in his life, but at his death he brought glory to God by confession of sin. Luke 23:41, “We indeed suffer justly.” He acknowledged he deserved not only crucifixion, but damnation. Josh. 7:19, “My son, give, I, pray thee, glory to God, and make confession unto him.” A humble confession exalts God. How is God’s free grace magnified in crowning those who deserve to be condemned! The excusing and mincing of sin casts a reproach upon God. Adam denied not that he tasted the forbidden fruit, but, instead of a full confession, he taxed God. Gen. 3:12. “The woman whom thou gavest me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat;” if thou had not given me the woman to be a tempter, I would not have sinned. Confession glorifies God, because it clears him; it acknowledges that he is holy and righteous, whatever he does. Nehemiah vindicates God’s righteousness; chap. 9:33. “Thou art just in all that is brought upon us.” A confession is frank when it is free, not forced. Luke 15:18. “I have sinned against heaven and before thee.” The prodigal charged himself with sin before his Father charged him with it.

3. We glorify God by believing. Rom. 4:20. “Abraham was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” Unbelief affronts God, it gives him the lie; “he that believeth not, maketh God a liar.” I John 5:10. But faith brings glory to God; it sets to its seal that God is true. John 3:33. He that believes flies to God’s mercy and truth, as to an altar of refuge, he engarrisons himself in the promises, and trusts all he has with God. Psalm 31:5, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit.” This is a great way of bringing glory to God, and God honours faith because faith honours him. It is a great honour we do to a man when we trust him with all we have, when we put our lives and estates into his hand; it is a sign we have a good opinion of him. The three children glorified God by believing. “The God whom we serve is able to deliver us, and will deliver us,” Dan. 3:17. Faith knows there are no impossibilities with God, and will trust him where it cannot see him.

4. We glorify God, by being tender of his glory. God’s glory is dear to him as the apple of his eye. An innocent child weeps to see a disgrace done to his father. Psalm 69:9, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.” When we hear God reproached, it is as if we were reproached; when God’s glory suffers, it is as if we suffered. This is to be tender of God’s glory.

5. We glorify God by fruitfulness. John 15:8. “Hereby is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” As it is dishonouring God to be barren, so fruitfulness honours him. Phil. 1:11. “Filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are to the praise of his glory.” We must not be like the fig tree in the gospel, which had nothing but leaves, but like the pomecitron, that is continually either mellowing or blossoming, and is never without fruit. It is not profession, but fruit that glorifies God. God expects to have his glory from us in this way. 1 Cor. 9:7, “Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit of it?” Trees in the forest may be barren, but trees in the garden are fruitful. We must bring forth the fruits of love and good works. Matt. 5:16.”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Faith sanctifies our works, and works testify our faith; to be doing good to others, to be eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, much glorifies God. Thus Christ glorified his Father; “he went about doing good.” Acts 10:38. By being fruitful, we are fair in God’s eyes. Jer. 11:16. “The Lord called thy name a green olive-tree, fair and of goodly fruit.” And we must bear much fruit; it is muchness of fruit that glorifies God: “if ye bear much fruit.” The spouse’s breasts are compared to clusters of grapes, to show how fertile she was, Cant. 7:7. Though the lowest degree of grace may bring salvation to you, yet it will not bring much glory to God. It was not a spark of love Christ commended in Mary, but much love; “she loved much,” Luke 7:47.

6. We glorify God by being contented in that state in which Providence has placed us. We give God the glory of his wisdom, when we rest satisfied with what he carves out to us. Thus Paul glorified God. The Lord cast him into as great variety of conditions as any man, “in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft,” 2 Cor. 11:23, yet he had learned to be content. Paul could sail either in a storm or a calm; he could be anything that God would have him; he could either want or abound, Phil. 4:13. A good Christian argues thus: It is God that has put me in this condition; he could have raised me higher, if he pleased, but that might have been a snare to me: he has done it in wisdom and love; therefore I will sit down satisfied with my condition. Surely this glorifies God much; God counts himself much honoured by such a Christian. Here says God, is one after mine own heart; let me do what I will with him, I hear no murmuring, he is content. This shows abundance of grace. When grace is crowning, it is not so much to be content; but when grace is conflicting with inconveniences, then to be content is a glorious thing indeed. For one to be content when he is in heaven is no wonder; but to be content under the cross is like a Christian. This man must needs bring glory to God; for he shows to all the world, that though he has little meal in his barrel, yet he has enough in God to make him content: he says, as David, Psalm 16:5, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance; the lines are fallen to me in pleasant places.”

7. We glorify God by working out our own salvation. God has bound together his glory and our good. We glorify him by promoting our own salvation. It is a glory to God to have multitudes of converts; now, his design of free grace takes, and God has the glory of his mercy; so that, while we are endeavouring our salvation, we are honouring God. What an encouragement is this to the service of God to think, while I am hearing and praying, I am glorifying God; while I am furthering my own glory in heaven, I am increasing God’s glory. Would it not be an encouragement to a subject, to hear his prince say to him, You will honour and please me very much, if you will go to yonder mine of gold, and dig as much gold for yourself as you can carry away? So, for God to say, Go to the ordinances, get as much grace as you can, dig out as much salvation as you can; and the more happiness you have, the more I shall count myself glorified.

8. We glorify God by living to God 2 Cor. 5:15, “That they which live should not live to themselves, but unto him who died for them.” Rom. 14:8, “Whether we live, we live unto the Lord.” The Mammonist lives to his money, the Epicure lives to his belly; the design of a sinner’s life is to gratify lust, but we glorify God when we live to God.

Why must we glorify God?

The Chief End of Man is to Glorify God – Thomas Watson

Part 4

Why must we glorify God?

1. Because he gives us our being.

Psalm 100:3, “It is he that made us.” We think it a great kindness in a man to spare our life, but what kindness is it in God to give us our life! We draw our breath from him; and as life, so all the comforts of life are from him. He gives us health, which is the sauce to sweeten our life; and food, which is the oil that nourishes the lamp of life. If all we receive is from his bounty, is it not reasonable we should glorify him? Should we not live to him, seeing we live by him? Rom. 11:36, “For of him, and through him, are all things.” All we have is of his fulness, all we have is through his free grace; and therefore to him should be all. It follows, therefore, “To him be glory for ever.” God is not our benefactor only, but our founder, as rivers that come from the sea empty their silver streams into the sea again.

2. Because God has made all things for his own glory.

Prov. 16:4. “The Lord hath made all things for himself:” that is, “for his glory.” As a king has excise out of commodities, so God will have glory out of everything. He will have glory out of the wicked. If they will not give him glory, he will get glory upon them. Exod. 14:17. “I will get me honour upon Pharaoh.” But especially has he made the godly for his glory; they are the lively organs of his praise. Isa. 43:21, “This people have I formed for myself, and they shall shew forth my praise.” It is true, they cannot add to his glory, but they may exalt it; they cannot raise him in heaven, but they may raise him in the esteem of others here. God has adopted the saints into his family, and made them a royal priesthood, that they should show forth the praise of him who hath called them, I Pet. 2:9.

3. Because the glory of God has intrinsic value and excellence.

It transcends the thoughts of men, and the tongues of angels. His glory is his treasure, all his riches lie here; as Micah said. Judges 18:24, “What have I more?” So, what has God more? God’s glory is worth more than heaven, and worth more than the salvation of all men’s souls. Better kingdoms be thrown down, better men and angels be annihilated, than God should lose one jewel of his crown, one beam of his glory.

4. Creatures below us, and above us, bring glory to God.

Do we think to sit rent free? Shall everything glorify God but man? It would be a pity then that man was ever made.

    (1.) Creatures below us glorify God, the inanimate creatures and the heavens glorify God. “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Psalm 19:1. The curious workmanship of heaven sets forth the glory of its Maker; the firmament is beautified and pencilled out in blue and azure colours, where the power and wisdom of God may be clearly seen. “The heavens declare his glory:” we may see the glory of God blazing in the sun, and twinkling in the stars. Look into the air, the birds, with their chirping music, sing hymns of praise to God. Every beast in its kind glorifies God. Isa. 43:20, “The beasts of the field shall honour me.”

    (2.) Creatures above us glorify God: “the angels are ministering spirits.” Heb. 1:14. They are still waiting on God’s throne, and bring some revenues of glory into the exchequer of heaven. Surely man should be much more studious of God’s glory than the angels; for God has honoured him more than the angels, in that Christ took man’s nature upon him, and not the angels. Though, in regard of creation, God made man “a little lower than the angels,” Heb. 2:7, yet, in regard of redemption, God has set him higher than the angels. He has married mankind to himself; the angels are Christ’s friends, not his spouse. He has covered us with the purple robe of righteousness, which is a better righteousness than the angels have, 2 Cor. 5:20. If then the angels bring glory to God, much more should we, being dignified with honour above angelic spirits.

5. We must bring glory to God, because all our hopes hang upon him.

Psalm 39:7. “My hope is in thee.” And Psalm 62:5. “My expectation is from him;” I expect a kingdom from him. A child that is good-natured will honour his parent, by expecting all he needs from him. Psalm 87:7. “All my springs are in thee.” The silver springs of grace, and the golden springs of glory are in him.