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.
The Bible gives a commission to all who preach the Word in II Timothy 4:2. It says, ‘Preach the Word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, with all longsuffering (and here is that word) and doctrine.’ With all longsuffering and doctrine. Paul, when he writes to his young friend, Titus, says in Titus 2:1, ‘But speak thou the thing which become sound doctrine.’ In the 20th chapter of the book of Acts, Paul met with the elders from the church at Ephesus. He says, ‘And now behold, I know that ye all among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God shall see my face no more.’ I am never again going to have an opportunity to preach the Word of God to you, says Paul. Then he goes on and says, ‘Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.’ I am pure from the blood of any of you. You cannot point a finger at me and say that I did not preach to you, I did not teach you what you ought to know. Then he says in verse 27, ‘For (here is why I am free from the blood of all men) I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.’ Not just a few little points, but I have shared with you all the counsel of God, and because I have shared with you all the counsel of God, I am free from the blood of all of you.
Then, too, we must take into account the words of our Lord Jesus when He said, ‘Go ye into all the world and teach all nations,’ and then He tells us what we ought to teach. He says, ‘Teach them all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you alway even to the end of the world.’ Teach them all things, everything I have commanded you. That means John 6:37-44, John 6:65, and the many other passages where Jesus spoke of a definite and a certain redemption such as John 10 and John 17. So if we are going to fulfill our Scriptural commission to preach the whole counsel of God, it will involve preaching definite or certain redemption.
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
First, 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.
God has displayed His wisdom in creation. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament sheweth forth His handywork.’ God has displayed His wisdom in providence, for God is ruling and reigning and the Bible says He is going to bring all things to His consummation, to His conclusion. History is really His story. But the greatest revelation we have of the wisdom of God is to be found in redemption. Speaking of this, Jude says in verse 25, ‘To the only wise God our Saviour.’ Oh, the wisdom of God that is displayed in salvation. God’s wisdom is revealed in planning redemption. In eternity past God planned the redemption of His people and in this we see God’s wisdom. God’s wisdom is revealed in the provision of redemption?Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, coming as the lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. But, beloved, the wisdom of God is also seen in the complete success of redemption. When Jesus died, God’s plan of redemption was a complete success. Certainly God’s wisdom is revealed when we realize that God not only was able to devise the plan of redemption, God was not only able to provide redemption, He was able also to ensure that the plan of redemption, that the provision of redemption would be a complete success, that it would accomplish the purpose which He had determined it to accomplish. Isaiah 53:11 says, ‘By His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.’ God did not leave the results of His Son’s mission to blind chance. He determined from before the foundations of the world that the mission of His Son would be a success, that those for whom He died would be redeemed. The wisdom of God is seen in this. Our God is wise enough to plan redemption, to provide redemption, and then to see to it that the redemption accomplishes the purpose which He had in mind.
In Romans 10:14-17, Paul says, ‘How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?’ Verse 13 says, ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ But here is the problem, says Paul, ‘How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, how beautiful are the fee of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.’ Notice Paul says that a person cannot call upon someone he has not believed, and he cannot believe on someone of whom he has not heard, and he cannot hear without a preacher, and he cannot preach unless he is sent. Beloved, think of this. If it is God’s will that every single individual be saved, and if Christ died for every single individual in the world, why doesn’t God see to it that every single individual in the world hears about the Christ who died for him? Why doesn’t He? Isn’t He intelligent enough? Isn’t He wise enough to be able to see to it that the plan of redemption, the provision of redemption, is carried to every individual in the world? Did He have enough wisdom to plan it and provide it and then did He all of a sudden not have enough wisdom to see to it that every individual hears about the redemption which Christ accomplished on the cross? Was there a breakdown in God’s plan? The death which Christ died on the cross is of no use to a man unless he hears about it. Romans 10:14 says. He cannot believe unless he hears. And if it were the will of God. is God not intelligent enough to see to it that the message of redemption would be carried to every single individual in the world? Those going to hell without having a chance to be saved are going there because the Bible says they cannot believe on Him of whom they have not heard, and they cannot hear without a preacher. I believe that our God is all wise. He is wise enough not only to plan redemption, to provide redemption, but also to see to it that those for whom that redemption was provided are actually reached with the preaching of the Gospel. He touches men and He sends them out as preachers. ‘O the depth,’ says Paul, ‘of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God.’ And it is interesting that he says this right after he has talked about election in Romans 11. The wisdom of God is revealed in definite 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.
Oh, but some people say, men can refuse to accept that ransom that was paid. Friends, listen to me, this is to miss the point of Calvary. When Jesus Christ died on the cross on Calvary He died in fulfillment of the Father’s will. The Father made a covenant, an agreement with His Son, that His Son would die and that the people for whom He would die would be redeemed, and in the course of time actually given the gift of repentance and saving faith, and at the end of their days here on earth, be taken to heaven. This was the Father’s agreement with the Son. It was not an agreement between man and God. Men had nothing to do with it, apart from the fact that men were the sinners for whom Jesus died. This was a covenant between Almighty God, the Father, and Almighty God, the Son, and in that covenant God the Father promised to His Son a people. In the course of time Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to die for those people, and in the course of time, God the Holy Spirit comes to lay His hands on those people and to draw them to the Christ who died for them on the cross. Jesus Christ laid down His life as a ransom. Do not rob that word of its meaning. The payment was accepted by God.
Look with me at just a few verses of Scripture where you see this brought out very clearly. John 10:11, 16, 26-29. ‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.’ In verse 16, He says, ‘And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring (there is nothing questionable, there is nothing optional about this; He says all those sheep for whom I died I am going to bring, them I must bring), they shall (nothing questionable, nothing optional) hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, and one shepherd.’ Verse 27, He says, ‘My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me’ (there is nothing questionable, there is nothing optional about this. In the course of time God is powerful, God is wise enough to cause His sheep to hear His voice and to follow the Lord Jesus Christ). ‘And I give unto them eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all: and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.’
In John, the sixth chapter, verses 37 through 40, the covenant which God made with His Son is revealed. In this passage, we are told that God gave to His Son a people. Jesus says, ‘All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.’ All that the Father giveth to me, not just some of them, but ‘all that the Father giveth to me shall come to me: and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.’ Never read the second part of that verse without reading the first part of that verse. Those that come are those that have been given. And everyone that comes certainly will be received. Verse 38, ‘For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.’ Well, what is the will of the Father? Here it is in verse 39, ‘And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.’ It is the Father’s will that I should lose none of those whom He hath given to me.
This is a certain, a definite redemption. All of those whom the Father has given will come to me, and this is the will of Him that sent me. Well, how do we know that we are among those who have been given to Jesus Christ? How do we know? Here it is in verse 40, ‘And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son (with the eye of faith), and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.’ How do we know that we are among those who have been given to the Son by the Father? We know it because in the course of time God the Holy Spirit touches our spiritual eyes and enables us to see glory in Jesus Christ and to believe on Him. This is how we know we are among the elect. This is how we know we are among those who were given to the Lord Jesus and for whom Jesus died. Everyone who believes is among those for whom Jesus died, who were given to Jesus before the foundation of the world. And I say that God gave these people to Jesus Christ, God promised them to Jesus Christ on the basis of the fact that Jesus would die for them. God will not allow any of them to go to hell. God would not require two penalties for the same crime, two penalties for the same sin. So I believe in a definite and a certain redemption because I believe in a just God. I believe in a God of justice who does that which is absolutely right. He would never require two penalties for the same sin, 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?
I ask you, does it magnify the love of God to say that God did all that He could to make the salvation of everybody possible. but does not do all that He can to make the salvation of anybody a certainty? Does that magnify that love of God? Does it magnify the love of God to say that He wishes everybody to be saved and He has the power to save everybody and yet He actually saved nobody because it is all dependent on man? Does that magnify the love of God? Does it magnify the love of God to say that God sent His Son into the world to suffer and die for all men, and then does not do all that is in His power to ensure that those sufferings accomplish their purpose? What about God’s love for His Son? Would He allow His Son to suffer and pay the penalty for every man’s sin and then allow anyone for whom His beloved Son suffered to go to hell? I think not. God is jealous for the glory of His Son. Does I John 3:1 say, ‘Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that all of us should have an opportunity to be saved, that all of us should have an opportunity to become a son of God’? That is not what it says. It says, rather, ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.’ John says God loved us in a special and peculiar way; different from the way that He loves everybody else in that He actually calls us and gives us the right to be the sons of God.
If you believe in an indefinite, provisional redemption you must believe that God loved Peter no more than He loved Judas. You must believe that God loves His saints no more than He loves those who are in hell at this very moment suffering the wrath of God. This robs the love of God of its content and makes it little more than good wishes or general benevolence. The Bible says, ‘Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of the water of the Word, and that He might present it unto Himself a glorified church, not having spot or wrinkle, that we might be holy, and without blame before Him in love.’
Christ loved the church in a special way, in a peculiar way. And for whom did He give Himself? He gave Himself for the church. And who makes up the church? The church is composed of all whom God in eternity chose to bring to His Son. Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ! Have you every considered what Revelation 1:5 and 6 says? Don’t stop at a comma, go on. It says in Revelation 1:5 and 6 ‘Unto Him that loved us, washed us from our sins in His blood, and hath made us to be kings and priests unto God and His Father.’ Those whom God loves He washes, and those whom He washes, He makes to be kings and priests before our God for ever. You cannot differentiate. The ”us” is the same. You cannot say one ‘us’ refers to this group and another ‘us’ refers to another group. It is the same group of people. Whom did He love? He loved us. Who were the ‘us’ that He loved? Those whom He washed in His own blood, those whom He made kings and priests unto our God for ever. So I believe in a certain and definite redemption because it puts content into the love of God and it magnifies the love of God.
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:
When we come to preach the Gospel, we want rightly to proclaim Christ as Saviour, yet we end up saying Christ, having made salvation possible, has left us to become our own saviour. It comes about in this way. We want to magnify the saving grace of God and the saving power of Christ, so we declare that God’s redeeming love extends to every man, and that Christ has died to save every man, and we proclaim that the glory of divine mercy is to be measured by these facts. And then in order to avoid universalism, we have to depreciate all that we were previously extolling; and to explain that after all nothing that God and Christ have done can save us unless we add something to it. The decisive factor which actually saves us is our own believing. When we say this, what we say comes to this: Christ saves us with our help, and what that means when one thinks it out is this?we save ourselves with Christ’s help. This is a hollow anticlimax. But if we start by affirming that God has a saving love for all and universalists, there is nothing else we can say. And let us be clear on what we have done when we have put the matter in this fashion. We have not exalted grace and the cross, we have cheapened them. We have denied that Jesus Christ’s death, as such, is sufficient to save any of them.
And so I believe and preach a certain redemption because I believe that it exalts the person and work of Jesus Christ.
I ask you, which exalts Jesus Christ more: to say that He died to make redemption possible or to say that He actually accomplished redemption? Which exalts Jesus Christ more: to say that He perfectly paid the penalty and thus secured our redemption or to say that He potentially satisfied the wrath of God but it all depends upon the choice of the sinner as to whether or not His mission will be successful? The Bible says, ‘He shall see the travail of His soul and He shall be satisfied.’ The Bible says, ‘All that the Father hath given me shall come to me.’
Christ has for sin atonement made,
What a wonderful Saviour!
He cleansed my heart from all its sin,
What a wonderful Saviour!
And now He reigns and rules therein;
What a wonderful Saviour!
He gives me overcoming power,
What a wonderful Saviour!
And triumph in each trying hour;
What a wonderful Saviour!
What a wonderful Saviour is Jesus, my Jesus!
What a wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord!
It Is a Strong Motivating Force
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
And, 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.
And I will tell you something else, the great missionaries of church history, for the most part, until the last one hundred years have been men who believed this doctrine. It did not make them cold, it did not make them indifferent. It did not make them callous. Listen to Paul, ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved (everybody?) me and gave Himself for (everyone?) me.’ What was it that appealed to and drove Paul on? It was the sense that God loved me in a particular, in a special and peculiar way. Paul says in II Corinthians 5:14, ‘The love of Christ constrains me.’ To think that Christ loved me in a particular, special, peculiar way stirs me up and drives me on. It puts zeal in me. And when I understand that God loves me, and God loves you as a child of God in a special way, it will not make us slothful or lazy, or indifferent. We will say, ‘If God loves us, then we have to please Him, we have to serve Him, we have to carry the Gospel, we have to obey His commands.’ And one of His commands is, ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’ I want to please my God, so I am going to carry the Gospel to every creature that I can because God has loved me so much.
I often hear the Puritans being criticized, but I find that most of the people who criticize the Puritans know very little about them. When people begin to talk about the Puritans and criticize them and run them down, I like to say, ‘Well, tell me what you know about the Puritans.’ ‘Oh well, they were harsh and stern and austere, and witchhunters.’ My friend, if that is your opinion, you have never read the lives of some of the Puritans. Matthew Henry was of the Puritan strain, and he gave us one of the greatest devotional commentaries that our world has every had. It is still a classic today. It is still one of the best-selling commentaries. John Bunyan was a Puritan. He gave us Pilgrim’s Progress, The Holy War and many other books. John Bunyan went to jail and almost gave his life. He sat in that jail year after year. Do you know why he was in that jail? He was there because he had a compassion and a compulsion to preach the gospel. It was ‘woe is me if I preach not the gospel.’ If he had signed his name and said, ‘I will never preach again.’ they would have released him from jail. But John Bunyan said, ‘I cannot do that, if I am free I must preach, I must reach people for Jesus Christ.’ Did it make him cold? Did it rob him of his zeal? Did it make him indifferent? No. We could go on and mention other people such as Joseph Alleine, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Adams, Thomas Goodwin, on and on we could go. We would find that this belief did not make them cold or dead or lazy or slothful. On the contrary, they testified that this warmed their hearts, and gave them zeal and fervour to exalt their great God and their great Saviour. So I believe in a definite and certain redemption because it motivates the Christian to service and obedience. One of the reasons we have so many lazy, indifferent, slothful Christians in our own generation is because this doctrine has not been preached. Men think, ‘Well, God loves me just the way that He loves everybody else. Why should I serve Him any more than the man who is on his way to hell, because God loves him just as much as He does me?’ An, this doctrine stirs the zeal and the fervour in a man’s heart!
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 hereafter do,
hath God decreed on sinful men salvation to bestow.
The glory, Lord, from first to last, is due to Thee alone;
aught to ourselves we dare not take, or rob Thee of Thy crown.
Our glorious Surety undertook to satisfy for men,
and grace was given us in Him before the world began.
This is Thy will, that in Thy love we ever should abide;
that earth and hell should not prevail to turn Thy Word aside.
Not one of all the chosen race but shall to heaven attain,
partake on earth the purposed grace, and then will Jesus reign.
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.