Jesus Gave His Life A Ransom for the Elect
The elect are Christ's peculiar portion as we have shown and what he must do for their redemption will be shown later. But by giving "...his life a ransom for many," and it is Jesus speaking, this was the price that He had to pay to purchase the "many", the "elect". This was to be His humiliation, His suffering as our Mediator from His incarnation to His resurrection. All of this to be fully and completely expressed by these words "...the blood of his cross,..." Col. 1:20. This encompasses all the precious fruits of his death that are by His forgiveness of our sins and our reconciliation with God. He paid the price that the elect might be saved and this salvation He bought for them and them for it. For although Satan through Adam's sin had gotten temporary possession of the elect, they are not and can never be his for Christ is still the heir and, therefore, in the year of Jubilee, they return to Him as the right of the Heir for they were given Him by the Father. Such wonderful pictures are in the old Jewish laws, feasts and celebrations.
What we want to investigate here is the body of Christ, i.e., the Church that He is building and its concern in regard to redemption. In order to investigate it properly we need to look at two other divine works which have not only a universal aspect but also a particular one; they are creation and providence.
First, let's look at creation. One God was the Creator of all mankind. But all were not made for the same use and end. God had particular scope in the making of some which was not common to the whole, yet the whole was made for the sake of some. Just as in any house there are many vessels, the Bible tells us, all provided by the master for the master's use, "some to honour, and some to dishonour." So it is in the world. Some of His creation He raised up to be monuments of His power and justice. Here is a verse where Moses is to deliver a message from God to Pharaoh in Ex. 9:16, "And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up for to shew in thee my power: and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth." And in Jude 4, "For there are certain men crept in unawares who were before of old ordained to this condemnation. Ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." And in Rom. 9:22, these people are referred to as "vessels of wrath"; "What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction." But He also speaks of His "vessels of mercy" in Romans 9:23, "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory." The Old Testament also speaks of His special people, "Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory. I have formed him: yea, I have made him." Isa. 43:7. And in verse 21 of that same chapter we have these words, "This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise."
We see then that it is obvious from the Word that He has formed some for condemnation and destruction as in the passage in Jude and Rom. 9:22. And it is, also, obvious that He has formed some for His "glory" and to show forth His praise as in the passages in Rom. 9:23 and the Isaiah - vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy. (All the emphases in the above passages are made by the author.)
Next we need to investigate and understand some things about providence. Providence is extended to all mankind: God has power over all mankind and governs them according to His plan and purpose. But when it comes to His elect, "The people of his holiness," as we read in Isa. 63:18, He rules over them with an entirely different kind of government. They are His people and the sheep of His pasture, they are His elect and the people or His kingdom. They are family. He is concerned with their concerns and His concern here far exceeds His concern with those who are not of this group. Though they live according to His plan and purpose still where benevolent Sovereignty is concerned He has never ruled over them. God back to Isaiah 63 and let's read all of verses 18 and 19, "The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. We are thine: thou never barest rule over them; they were not called by thy name." All concerns for the unsaved, those not of the elect, are made subservient to the concerns for the elect.
In Eph. 1:22 and 23, we find that God the Father has appointed Jesus Christ to be the Head of the churches, "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all thing to the church. Which is his body, the fullness of him and that filleth all in all."
In the same way that providence can be said to be general, so can redemption be said to be general. Again, though we say general, even as providence has its peculiarities so redemption has its own. It is general in 1) respect to persons, and in 2) respect to things. These two things are true separately, yet they are not true together. Redemption purchases some things for all and all things for some. As it respects persons, it obtains a general reprieve extended to all the descendants of Adam for the sin of the world was so far expiated that the price was not immediately demanded. Adam had been told that if he ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that he would die. That penalty was not immediately exacted. It would have been had not the Son of God interposed Himself. You may ask how did He interpose Himself at the time of Adam's sin. His being slain from the foundation of the world was the foundation of the world's standing and all the good things which the world in general are partakers of. All the order and usefulness which still survives among mankind and with all the remains of our primitive state was preserved or rather restored by redemption. Christ is "...the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world," John 1:9. This means that any light that any of mankind receives he receives from Jesus Christ as a Redeemer. This is told to us in Col. 1:17, "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." And here "all" is "all". Thus far redemption was general as to persons and in this sense, "For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially those that believe," 1 Tim. 4:10. It is in this verse we learn about the general aspect of redemption. He is the Saviour of all men as has been given above because the death of Jesus was interposed when Adam sinned and the wages of sin, which is death, was not immediately paid, but the last phrase of the 1 Timothy verse says that He is the Saviour especially, "...of those that believe," that is, the elect.
But let us forget that all of this had a special significance for His elect: it was for them that the world was made, for Isa. 6:13 tells us that they are the substance of it, "But yet in it shall a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as in an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance there of." Were it not for the elect the world would have been destroyed already, possibly at the time of Adam's sin. What the prophet Isaiah spoke concerning Israel was true of the universe. When speaking of the elect as the "salt of the earth" we understand it to mean that God has not destroyed the world for as long as there is salt the earth can be preserved, but when the salt is gone it can be a different story. Also, in Isa. 1:9 we read, "Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like Gomorrah." If there had not been believers, and it is a very small remnant of believers when compared to the population of the world, then the world would have been destroyed and if we take it as written then it would have been destroyed by fire. So the redemption for the non-elect is simply that when sin came into the world destruction was warded off but will come one day.
But temporary things, no matter how great or good, could not purchase man's salvation. Man's works are of too short a duration and measure insufficient to buy even one drop of the divine blood. There had to be, then, some more glorious achievement, some nobler way to obtain the promise than the short lived blessings of man's works. It was not enough to bring men into the mere possibility of salvation. The life of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, was infinitely too precious to be given for men who could in the end be lost. God would not give him for an uncertainty. It would have been an unimportant thing for Christ and certainly not worthy of His sufferings to raise up the fallen seed of Adam (not that seed that was the seed of the Holy spirit and the woman) to such a degree of restoration but leave him in the realm of the possibility of failure and damnation. This would give value to the works of man and they have no intrinsic value in the price of salvation. Salvation must be a happier state than that where a man feels that God has made conditions where man can lose salvation once he has gained it. Man needs to be made upright without a bias to evil, without being fettered by unbelief and all manner of motives and that natural bent to revolt against God. For, notwithstanding all those motives and means not the majority only, but all mankind might have perished and gone to hell, which would in no wise have answered God's end in creation, much less in redeeming it.
It was therefore necessary that redemption should have a farther reach than to simply bring men into a mere savable state, and that could be no less than a state of certain salvation. And so redemption was general as to things, even all that pertains to life and godliness, and eternal life. This is the redemption that we want to study, and this is the sense of our present position and redemption thus qualified is peculiar to the elect and particularly those in His churches. Election is the pattern by which redemption is to be measured: "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself but what he seeth the Father do...", John 5:19.
To make redemption larger than election is to lay too large a foundation which I am told by builders is a grave error in building, especially when the strength is needed in the building that is to reach and carry its members to heaven. We are, therefore, constrained to see to it that we do not separate what God has joined, either by stretching it or straining the bounds He has set. He set the bounds of the heavens and the seas and we cannot alter those and we should not try to alter the bounds He has set where salvation is concerned. The Jews believe that the promise of the Messiah was only to them and that the promise excluded the Gentiles and now the religious world has stretched that promise so that it now supposedly covers all of mankind, that it is a universal promise.
The religious of today never stops to consider why the promise was made to the woman's seed and not to Adam's seed. But Jesus Himself, who knew the line of the promise and the end of His mission tells us in His Word, 1 John 5:1, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God:" 1 John 5:1 and again in Rev. 22:17c "...and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely," and so seemingly opened the promise up to every man, but the promise belongs strictly to the elect among the nations of the world for what man among the spiritually dead can "believe" or "take the water of life freely". To be able to do either of these two things one must be quickened by the spirit, the Holy Spirit, given life and this is accomplished by the Holy Spirit only on those who are the elect of God.
The promise belongs strictly to the elect among the nations of the world who are described in the Word with such names as indicate a select few, names such as "his seed", and who is He, He is the Seed of the woman. Another name used is "the travail of his soul," who is "the travail of his soul"? Those born again as a result of His death. The elect called by the Holy Spirit at their predetermined day and time. These are the people for whom He would "make his soul an offering for sin," Isa. 53:10 and 11: these He also called His "sheep" and Himself "the good Shepherd", and it was for these that he said in John 10:15b, "and lay down my life for the sheep." And so that He might not be misunderstood and only speaking of the Jewish nation He adds in verse 16, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."
We further know that the promise was not just for the Jews because in speaking of His death, John in chapter 11 verse 52 wrote, concerning the prophesy of the high priest in verses 49 and 50, this, "And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad."
His elect, though they be scattered about all over the world, are said in Eph. 2:13, to be made "...nigh by the blood of Christ." Though the Gentiles were before afar off Jesus reconciled both the Jews and the Gentiles, or the elect scattered among them both, "...that the elect of both might be reconciled to God by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." He restores the remnant, the preserved of Israel, and this we find recorded in Isa. 49:6, "And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth." This thought further appears in Isa. 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." The elect are His sheep who have gone astray and it is their iniquities that were laid on Him.
In verse 8 of Isaiah 53 we read: "He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken," (emphasis by the author). And please take particular notice that what we have read did not indicate any ethnic group of mankind. In speaking of Christ's death he did not indicate that He was stricken for the transgression of the Jews or any particular party of men termed "sheep", "the people of God," or His "children" in distinction from others, but with respect to some peculiar interest He has in those termed "my people." What that interest can be besides election is not indicated anywhere in the passage. For there were sheep who were not yet called, and so, not yet believers but still sheep and the elect of God.
In Isa. 62:12 we find the terms "holy" and "redeemed" applied to the same persons, "And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord:..." To be "holy" is to be sacred, selected, and set apart for holy use by the appointment of God, "By which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Heb. 10:10. As being set aside for the use by the Master let us look at 2 Tim. 2:21. Paul speaking of the vessels of a great house, that some are to honor and some to dishonor says, "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work."
One thing we need to remember in particular is that many believers have trouble with the idea of obedience, they do not really believe that they can be obedient to the Word of God. They set themselves an excuse that they "are only human" and humans make mistakes. But that is to think of oneself in an extremely negative sense, we spend too much time trying to excuse our lapses instead of trying to find the positive (I am not preaching the power of positive thinking) of who we are. We are "holy" and "redeemed", we are the "children of God", we are a "child of the King", we are "strangers in a strange land" and one can go on and on about who we are. We need to search the scriptures to find out who we are and what is expected of us because of who we are. Look at 1 Peter 1:2, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:...". (Emphasis the author's.)
Being holy is special. To understand this we need only look at those things in scripture that were termed "holy". In the Old Testament we find that the tabernacle was holy, the Temple was holy, the priests were holy as were the altars and then there was the "holy place" and the "most holy place." These were people, places and things that God had set aside and said that there were sacred, selected and set apart for use by the decree of God.
In Luke 1:72, God's sending Christ is said to be "To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant," which was first proclaimed in Eden to be made of the woman's seed, see Gen. 3:15, later renewed with Abraham in Gen. 12:3, and since that time it is known as the promise to Abraham and his seed. Who are Abraham's seed? Not the world, but those who believe, the elect for it is only the elect that obtain faith from God as a gift. Look at Rom. 11:17, "What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for: but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." Also, Gal. 3:29, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and the heirs according to the promise."
We also read that it was a "peculiar" people that Christ "gave himself for". What about this peculiar people? Let us read what Paul tells Titus concerning this in Titus 2:14, "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." This denotes some special proprietary interest that God has in these people above all others and that this proprietary interest is the reason He gives Himself for them.
And He professes to make good on His promise in Eden and to Abraham in John 17:19, "And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." Twice in John 10 He says that He gave Himself, His life, for the sheep, in John 10:11 and 15. We see from the above passage that those who have received the gift of faith from God, the saved, that they are the children or heirs of Abraham, and Paul in Romans 4 where he speaks of Abraham being justified by faith and its being recorded for those who believe we find that circumcision was a seal of His faith so that he could become the "father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised," verse 11, but it goes on to make a statement that is both inclusive and exclusive, "that righteousness might is imputed unto them also." This imputation of righteousness is to those who have believed, "Abraham's seed, and the heirs according to the promise."
Who is excluded? Those who have not believed God and so have nothing that is "counted unto them for righteousness," those who think that God only "imputeth righteousness" to man because of works (see Rom. 4:3 and 6). Just as exclusive is John 3:36, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." Here the world is divided up between the believers, "Abraham's seed," who will have everlasting life which is the same thing as salvation. There are the unbelievers who "shall not see life, "shall not be saved and are to suffer the wrath of God, condemnation, hell.
It also appears in Acts 20:28c, "...to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Certainly we all recognize that the world and the church are different and distinct. The church (and I use the singular here because the verse does) is like a garden enclosed from the common fields around it. That the church consists of elect persons has been discussed previously and here we see it was His church that He died for. We can see this also in Eph. 5:25, "Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." Here where Paul is inspired to speak of the love husbands are to have for their wives he shows that as the husband's love to his wife is a love that is different than that which he bears to other women, so is Christ's love to His church. His death defined His love. This is also emphasized in Rev. 5:9 where the elders sing a new song to the Lamb, because, "...thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood..." and among the reasons they can sing this is that they were chosen of old and because their names were written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.
Of these elders we read "...thou... hast redeemed us to God by the thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." This rationally implies that the bulk of those people and nations were not redeemed with them. We also read that a certain number are said to be redeemed "...from the earth." In the next verse it says that there are those who "...were redeemed from among men..." Rev. 14:3 and 4. If we have some from among others then it follows that those others were exempted, not redeemed.
There is one interesting thing that should be noted about these elders who are about the throne. They are in heaven now and are above the possibilities of misconception and prejudiced opinion and we should be able to accept their testimony without question.
I believe that if you will seriously look at what has been presented above you will have to come to the same conclusion that I have and that is that it is an undeniable fact that just as a certain number were elected unto salvation so, also, a certain number, and those the very same persons, were redeemed "to God by his blood."
Let's look at what I called the ground and truth of these assertions, First, the Levitical sacrifices, those sacrifices that were offered for the house of Israel. No other nation except Israel was included in these offerings. These offerings were a type of spiritual election and so it follows that the sacrifice of Christ, typified by theirs, was also peculiar to the Jews, or spiritual Jews. For the Word tells us that he only is reckoned a Jew that is such inwardly in the spirit, Rom. 2:29, "But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God." So when Aaron made atonement for his household, the household for whom he was priest, namely Israel, he made the sacrifice wearing his breast-plate on which were the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. This was typical of our great High Priest's bearing the names and sustaining the person of those for whom He offered Himself on the cross. Of all the legal shadows in the Bible, Christ and the church of the Firstborn are the body and substance.
Secondly, the right of redemption among the Jews, which was a type of what was to come, was founded on a family relationship and so I can infer that relationship, if taken spiritually, was both the ground and limit of Christ's office as Redeemer. Remember the teaching of the Book of Ruth concerning the kinsman/redeemer, it had to be a kinsman who redeemed the family of a Jew and bought back their inheritance for them. Consider Paul's discourse in Hebrews 2, for it seems to point at this relationship for he says to the Hebrew Christians concerning all the saved that they are brethren, sons, and children whom Christ should deliver from bondage, make reconciliation for their sins and bring them to glory.
How did they come to be God's children and brethren to Christ above all others? It was by predestination that they were entitled to redemption as we find evident in Eph. 1:5 and 7, "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,..." and "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." We should also note that by the law of redemption a stranger, one that was not of the family might not be redeemed but one that was, though not yet redeemed must yet go free in the year of the jubilee as seen in Lev. 25:46, 48-54, which shows the peculiar respect the Lord has for His peculiar people. In other words. God preserves His people even when they are in their sins looking forward to their appointed day of salvation. They are elected unto salvation and a day set; until that day the Lord preserves them though they are in their sins.
Thirdly, the saving benefits of redemption does not apply to any but the elect. Those things that are in some places ascribed to redemption as a special fruit and consequence is elsewhere ascribed to election, and election is the root of all. Redemption is the fruit of electing love Peter tells us in 1 Pet. 1:2, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." (The emphasis in this quotation has been place there by the author.) The elect are also said to be "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame in him in love." (Again the emphasis is the author's.) So, if all the spiritual blessings are dispensed according to the law of election then all the saving benefits of redemption, which are the same as those of election, must be dispensed by the same rule and so then to the same persons only.
In the fourth place, the price of redemption was of such precious and matchless value that it could not be parted with except there was a certainty of the end for which it was to be paid. No purchase price without perfect knowledge of the possession to be purchased. Now, the end of redemption was the salvation of men, below which there could not be an end worthy of the death of Christ. And nothing could make it secure or certain except election. The elect of God have always obtained and always shall for this is the rule set forth in Rom. 11:7, "What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded...." meaning that they are left to their own voluntary misunderstanding and being left alone they do not and they can not believe. And Christ knowing from the beginning who they were that believed not but would most certainly reject Him for what reason should He make His soul an offering for them? Why for the ungodly whose spirits have been imprisoned from before the foundation of the world.
Whom the Lord intends to save He appoints an atonement for them. Num. 16:46, "And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the Lord; the plague is begun." And then verse 47, "And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and behold me plague was begun among the people; and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people." But for those He intends to destroy, which is always done justly, He will not accept an offering, Judges 13:23, here speaking of the angel that came to the parents of Samson before his birth, "But his wife said unto him, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these." the Lord had showed them that He accepted their offering by sending fire from heaven to burn it.
The Lord appoints an atonement for such as He receives and those are His elect. For the others there is no atonement. Even as the elect were appointed before the foundation of the world and atonement made so were the rest left alone and for them there was no atonement made and so they must die by the law for their sins.
Fifthly, I confine redemption to elect persons because intercession, which is of equal latitude with redemption, is limited to them, exclusive of others. The priests under the Old Testament law were to pray for those whose sacrifice they offered and that they did was a pattern or type of our Savior's priestly office. For He makes sacrifice and intercedes or prays only for those for whom He made the sacrifice. He is the advocate for those whose sins He died for, 1 John 2:1, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." He is the advocate for those for whose sins He is the propitiation. It is for these, and these only, whom He intercedes.
It is for the sake of those for whom He died that he sanctified Himself and it was for them that He made solemn prayer in John 17. He prayed for them just as He was preparing to make His sacrifice for them. He also shuts out the world from having any part in it when He says, "For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine." John 17:8 and 9. And note, that as I have highlighted, He states directly the foundation reason why He could pray for these, "For they are thine." These that He prayed for were the Father's by election for in all other respects "...the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." All of creation belongs to the Creator, God, but some are His in particular, His chosen, His elect.
Another thought for particular redemption is founded on the merit of Christ's death, together with its efficacy. He was not cut off for Himself, Dan. 9:26, "And after three-score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:..." But He would be cut off for those for whom He undertook His work. It was to procure for them the right to those glorious privileges which election ordained should be theirs.
Also, one can argue that the doctrine of special and particular redemption is further confirmed by those perilous consequences which attend the doctrine of general redemption, as it is so commonly called. General redemption seems to reflect on the wisdom of God in that He contrived man's salvation in such a way that He could and would be frustrated in trying to bring it into fruition. And so, this plan of God's fails to convince the world that the crucified Christ is really the wisdom of God.
General redemption also seems to tax God with injustice for not forgiving those whose sins are answered for by their own Surety. Or else, that the sufferings of Christ was just not enough to gain them the Surety they needed and they must needs add to it.
It, also, insinuates a deficiency of power, or a want of goodwill, to prosecute His design to perfection. And above all it makes men boasters, suspending the virtue and success of all Christ has done for them upon something to be done by themselves, where He is not the one doing it. That men are principals in procuring their own salvation so that Christ shall have His thousands, in truth, His nothing, while freedom of will shall have its ten thousands to shout out the praise of men. General redemption does not believe that the Lord alone should be exalted.
It would seem to me then that all those who are saved and gone to heaven have nothing more of Christ's to glory in and praise Him for than those who have perished and gone to Hell. According to the principles of general redemption He did and does for all alike and no more for one than for another.
Such thinking makes men presumptuous and carnally secure. How many have soothed themselves in their impenitent hearts and the hardness of their hearts and so fenced themselves against the Word of God based upon the supposition — that Christ died for all.
If they believe this why should not they look to be saved as well as any other? And so, pretending to lean on the Lord they sin. They certainly never considered the fact that when Christ died for His own He purchased for them a freedom from sin and not a liberty to sin, nor impunity, but purchased these upon the terms of faith and repentance.
Perhaps men love to rest in their idea of general redemption because with such a foundation as this the tempter never disturbs them for why should he for they are wholly in his power already. Those who live by this general principle are seldom troubled with terrors of conscience.
There is one final reason why Christ died particularly for the elect and that is because among these elect is His designated bride. This being so it was His particular duty to die for her since that was the only way to save her for Himself.
Since He is Himself the designated spouse of those designated to be His bride He was charged with their debts: those debts were made under the law and He assumed them unto Himself in His spousal relationship.
He made Himself one with them, and answerable for them. He made Himself their Surety, and consequently, in the case of forfeiture His life must go for theirs. He is therefore said to be "made under the law," Gal 4:4 and in verse 5 "to redeem them that were under the law,...". He was to be as they were and then to be made sin for them, 2 Cor. 5:21, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." And having been made sin for us it "behooved Christ to suffer "Luke 24:46b, and this could not be avoided for this we read in Acts 17:2 and 3, "And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered,...". The law being just and holy, its violation must be answered for, either by principals or by Surety. And it is here that mercy and truth, grace and justice, met together, making the only possible adjustment which answered the ends of both, the death of Christ.
Grace takes hold of Him as Surety, that the sinner might go free and justice takes hold as the most responsible party for there was absolutely none other who could answer the law's demands. And having been seized He readily yields so that He can satisfy the demands of the law and when seized and on the point of suffering for his bride He said, "...If therefore ye seek me, let these go their way." John 18:8b. And so with His payment He has said of His elect, "I am the one who will pay the price, let these go their way."
He was not only the designated spouse but He loved His chosen bride. Even had it been possible for Him to quit His Suretyship, His love for His chosen bride would have held Him to it. He could not bear to see His beloved enslaved to Satan and forced to serve against the Lord who had chosen them. There was no way to save His beloved and so He must purchase them with His most precious blood. He must die to conqueror death and hell and so be victorious over him who held His bride as a bond-slave. Hebrews 2:14 reads, Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." And as His love constrains us to love Him, so His love constrained Him to love His own as we read in Eph. 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ love the church, and gave himself for it."
He died for love. He died for those whom He loved. He loved them individually and collectively. They were His given Him by the Father. He died for love, "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 me, and gave himself for me."
In the East of that time a contract of this kind could not be dissolved, and besides, from studying the Scripture we know that He hates divorce or putting away, nor could He change and love another for we are told that He "changes not". But it also stood to reason that He could not marry and dwell with creatures who were defiled by their slavery to Satan and so could not be a proper consort for the Lord of Glory, nor could they be brought to proper perfection except they be washed in His blood as He said once to Peter in John 13:8, "...If I wash thee not, thou has no part with me." His bride must be sanctified and cleansed, "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish," Eph. 5:26 and 27. It was the only way that His elect could be made fit for heaven and the presence of the Christ of glory. His death must be if the Marriage of the Lamb was to be and this was the way determined by the Father in Acts 2:23, "Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God...". And the elders that John saw in heaven sang concerning this very thing in Rev. 5:9, "...for thou was slain, and has redeemed us to God by thy blood...".
Whether the elect might possibly have been saved in some other way is something that is ridiculous to even speculate on for the Bible speaks of no other possibility. Jesus is the Way, He is the Door, He is the Good Shepherd, He is the Light of the World, etc.; what other way could there be.
Had He not have accomplished the redemption of His chosen ones in the way that He did He would have been in heaven alone for He said of Himself in John 12:24, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
It is recognized that this doctrine is just as much opposed as the doctrine of election and noting that men are prone to embrace the notion of general or conditional redemption, which comes from nature's inability to discern a reason why one person should be redeemed and not another. And, of course, it is pleasing to the unsaved to fancy that they themselves are the ones to choose or not choose God as their Savior. They believe that all salvation is conditional upon both the decision or the creature and then the works of the creature to retain it once they have it. Knowing these things we need to weigh some of the objections people have and answer them as best we can from the Word of God.
In Rom. 5:18 we read, "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." It appears here that the restoration by Christ is made as large and extensive as Adam's sin. But the reader needs to note that the comparison stated is not put extensively, as respecting the objects of sin and grace, but intensively as respecting the different efficacy of the means by which the contrary effects were produced. If the "free gift" affected all meaning the whole of mankind, as the offence did, then there would have had to be a universal salvation for we are told that grace abounded more than the offence. If the "free gift" went so far as to justify "life", and if all mankind's life is justified then must all mankind be saved. Let us also note that the word "all" in the Bible or in real life is rarely to be taken universally and if you read the context before and after you will find that the word "all" is varied to "many" as in verse 19, "For by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
Another objection that I have come across is the fact that redemption is often set forth in terms that suggest universality for instance, that Christ gave Himself a ransom for all or that He takes away the sin of the world, and in another place that He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. These ideas can be found in 1 Tim. 2:6, John 1:29 and 1 John 2:2, which we are told we must take literally.
But if we give sufficient thought to the matter we find that the Bible and common discourse frequently speak in general terms when that is the last thing intended. In John 4:29 we read, "Come see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" All Jesus told her was how many husbands she had had and that the man she was currently living with was not her husband. "All" was not "all" in this instance but a manner of speech. In 1 Cor. 10:33 concerning Paul we find, "Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of man, that they may be saved." We can be sure that he pleased very few men in anything and certainly few in "all things". Another of this type of reference is in Col. 1:6, where Paul is speaking of the gospel, "Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth."
Was the gospel known in all the world of that time? No, Jesus and His teachings, the travel of His disciples and apostles was still restricted to just a small comer of the Roman world and so there could certainly not yet have been "fruit" anywhere but those small pockets of the then known world where believers had traveled.
It is, therefore, to be noted, that where these general and rather indefinite terms are used about redemption it is mostly to show to the people of God that those Christ was to gather in was neither confined to the offspring of any particular head, nor consisted of any separate sort of rank or persons. No people or nation was excluded. The elect of God takes in persons from all walks of life and ever kindred and nation and if the election of God covers all of these, then the redemption of God does, also.
The use of "all" in 1 Tim. 2:6, "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, "does not support this objection, i.e. universal salvation, for in context it must mean the same as the "all" in verse 1 which the text and grammatical markings in verse 2 tells us is referring to "kings, and for all that are in authority...".
As for the use of the words "the world" or "the whole world" it has simply too many possibilities even in scripture. It does not always refer to men and when man is meant it rarely extends itself to universality; indeed, it is usually used to mean a few in comparison to the whole. And so one would have to be rash indeed to apply one meaning to all the references. In Nahum 1:5, it refers to the place of a man's habitation; in Luke 20:35, it refers to the time and state of things, after the dissolution of the present time; and in Luke 2:1, it refers to the complete extent of the Roman Empire; in Acts 17:6, the reference is to the religion and manners of the world; in John 16:33, there is reference to the troubles of this world that befall His disciples and apostles; and in Gal. 6:14, the term is concerning the splendor, wealth, honor, or whatever else is taking the hearts of men away from glorying in God and Him only. Concerning the many miracles and the many teaching of Christ that were so many that they could not be written down as expressed in John 21:25, the word is used to show the greatness of something that cannot really be expressed; in Rom. 11:12, the word "world" is used to indicate the Gentiles in distinction from the Jews and finally in John 12:19, the word is used to show the great increase of some particular party, here the followers of Jesus.
With the above there are yet two others that I want to include that are important in looking at this word "world". The first occurs in 1 Cor. 6:2, and the word "world" is used to take in all the wicked who have ever lived, those and those alone, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?...". Here it must certainly mean the world of the ungodly for the saints certainly will not judge one another. So we can see that this interpretation is near to the subject at hand for if there is a world of the ungodly then there must be a world of the godly.
The second reference that we want to look at also uses the word "world" to indicate the people who are unbelievers and exempts those who follow after the Lamb. Rev. 13:3 and 4. "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" (Emphasis added.) And in opposition to this we have those who follow after the Lamb mentioned in Rev. 14:4, "...These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and unto the Lamb." So there is a world of unbelievers who follow after the devil and his minions and there is a world of believers, a world made up of the righteous and the redeemed.
And so if we find that the "world" as mentioned here in these two references has a limited sense then why shouldn't the word "world", when it is used saying that Jesus died for the sins of the world and was to be a propitiation for the sins of the whole world, also be in a limited sense?
If by "world" we sometimes mean the world of the ungodly, as separated from the saints, by like reasoning it can also mean the world of the saints as separated from the wicked, especially when nothing in the scope or context contradicts it. So, what should hinder this use of the world "world" in places that speak of His dying for the world and becoming a propitiation for the sins of the world, and other such references, from meaning the world of the elect and to them exclusively? Consider the fact that in one place the Lord Jesus Christ in the garden before His arrest was praying, John 17:9, and He says, "I pray for them." He is praying for His church, but following that immediately, He says, "I pray not for the world, but for them that thou hast given me; for they are thine." It seems to me that the whole discussion is ended for the Lord Himself lets us know what He means when He says "world" here and He is not praying for the world of the wicked, He is praying for those that the Father has given to Him for they belong to the Father. So He must be praying for His elect, His people. If He had died for the whole world would He not have prayed for them? I can only believe that He would. I can only believe that He would pray for those with whom He has some spiritual connection. Remember the priest was bound to pray for those for whom he offered a sacrifice.
But because so great a stress is laid upon this literal sense of this word let's take a closer look at this world whose sins have been taken away. I think that it cannot be that the Scripture intends the universality of mankind when the word "world" is used. Though the world in general be concerned in redemption the general concerns are too light to balance the weight of the texts. Temporary things can not answer the end and absolute worth of eternal redemption for that is the most tremendous act that has ever been done on the face of the earth and the greatest that will ever be done. The effects of that act must be above all others and not only be great but the most glorious act ever. It must have been done for a particular people and that people God's elect, for there are no other people that could have any claim on God through His promises.
To understand this let us first inquire what that "sin of the world" is and what the importance of taking it away would be. Psalm 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
In the first instance as to what the "sin of the world" is, it is either some one great transgression or else it must be the whole body of all the sins of everyone who has lived and ever will live taken together. If it is a particular sin then it must be unbelief for that was the first sin and the parent of all sin, and so it is marked out as "the sin of the world": because it was the sin of the whole world, both Jew and Gentile and it gave entrance to all other sins; that is, they sprang from its roots, and that it is the condemning sin for no man perishes except for unbelief. Where the Gospel is not heard they perish for not believing in God and where the Gospel is heard they perish for not believing in Christ.
Or the term means all sins universally, the text then considers them as put together and taken away all at once and all together as though it was but one.
But be it unbelief as a single sin or all the sins of the whole world past, present and future taken together both then are but one, the single sin and the universal sins for unbelief has to be the first and it has to be part of the second, and in both instances it is a capital sin. If unbelief were taken away then there would be no condemnation, the world would be safe. It is Christ that saves from unbelief. He also saves from all sin for as faith is a complex of graces so unbelief is a complex of sins. If unbelief is removed all other sins must also be removed and there would be an end of sin and guilt for the Word says in Acts 16:31, "...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...".
Now considering the second part, is it the whole body of sins of the peoples of the world past, present and future? If we put the Acts text in the present tense, then it has to be a constant continuous act and always pursuing the same end. It also indicates a perfect act and in no way a partial taking away of sin or some effort that can in any way be frustrated, but a complete and certain act. It must be in our Acts text that Christ alone performs the work and that He takes away sin as a Lamb slain, not for Himself because He was without spot or blemish, but slain for those for whom He was standing surety, a particular people. And as the Lamb of God, the lamb provided by God, He is there to save His Isaacs. The taking away is no less than a total removal of sin, and Psalms 103:12 tells us He sets it at the utmost distance and places it in the "land of forgetfulness." In Psa. 88:12b and in Jeremiah 31:34 we have this promise, "And they shall teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother saying. Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." And furthermore to assure us of its absolute abolition the removal is termed "destruction" in Rom. 6:6, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Not only "destroyed" but "destroyed by the crucifixion of the "old man," that is, the death of the "old man" to make room for the new.
Note Eph. 2:16 concerning this, "And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil and He has done just that by "...nailing it to the cross." Col. 2:14 notes, "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross."
The blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, is of such power that we need no other sacrifice for sin and absolutely no work on our part to make its redemption eternal. And works are not a sacrifice and can do nothing to save nor retain what He has done. To think that sin could be taken away universally this way would mean that when all sin is removed, there would be no sin left to charge them with. Nothing is more apparent than that men are generally plunged deep in sin and are, indeed, its bondslaves and live corrupt to the end. It must therefore be another world that is being spoken of when the word "world" is used in such texts as John 1:29 where John the Baptist speaks of Jesus as follows: "...Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." For this great blessing is not given to all but only to those who were chosen from before the foundation of the world. Nor can a man take it of his own free will. Men who are dead in their trespasses and sins cannot so much as reach out for any gift for they are dead. And that leaves only God's elect. I must conclude that they are the ones spoken of in the John 1 text and others that mention that He came to save the world from their sins. Remember what 1 John 5:19 says concerning the elect and the rest of the world, "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness."
These are but a few of the possibilities but enough for us to understand that the word "world" has many more meanings than the absolute literal one.
Now some will certainly object with what I have had to say by telling us that if it is only some who are redeemed and those only a few by comparison, then the possibility of believing is taken away from most of mankind.
The fact that Christ did not die for all does not hinder anyone from believing any more than if I said that many of those He did die for were never saved. Or if I said that because only one can win the gold medal at the Olympics, that hinders others from competing. To teach as the Arminians, and others that Christ died for all and that yet the greatest portion of mankind shall die in their sins and perish forever, is, I believe, a greater impediment to believing than the teaching of election, that He died for some and that all of that "some" will certainly be saved.
We judge trees by the fruit they bear and if we do the same of mankind and look at all of those who seem to have any interest in religious things, they will always hold to the general view. And in so doing we prove our point that the generally "religious" people have no interest in faith. It is also interesting to note that those of man who live carnal lives are the most vocal against particular redemption and election.
With the idea of faith being an evidence of redemption we do away with the claim by unbelievers that it is a condition. The old man, who is dead in trespasses and sins, is given new life and the new man can then understand spiritual things and believe through faith. That faith then becomes an evidence of our redemption through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Anyone who tries to know that he is redeemed before he believes begins at the wrong end of God's work and can not come to any knowledge from there. The first act is not that Christ died for all, or for you in particular. The first is not true and the second is not certain until after you have believed. Any one who would be saved must first submit to His mercy.
Any man who knows that he is a sinner and knows that he can in no way save himself, this man has a good ground for his faith as any other man in the world who has not yet believed. Nor may any man exclude himself from redemption. For there is no sinner that is so great that God cannot save him or her. Consider the people of Ninevah, King David, Paul and even Peter who was always in trouble. And I always have to include myself.
Let us consider a few Biblical References: Matt 20:28, "Even as the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (All emphases are the author's.) And you must remember you may be of that number as well as any other. Also, that those He died for shall be justified upon their believing, "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." Not only that but shall have faith also, given on your behalf as a part of his purchase as stated in Phil. 1:29, "For unto you it is given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake."
For men to believe on His son is the will and commandment of the everlasting God; Rom. 16:26, "But now is made manifest, by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith," and 1 John 3:23, "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment." It is God whom we ought to obey even if salvation were not concerned in it.
And never forget the many faithful promises that assure salvation to them that believe; John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And verse 36, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." And there are others. Then there are those that show the danger that lies in unbelief and we will quote but one, Mark 16:16, "...but he that believeth not shall be damned." There is no stronger language but you can check John 8:24 where Christ says that if a man will not believe he will die in his sins and if a man dies in his sins he shall be condemned.
Redemption is not a generalized offer to mankind. The sins of all mankind have not been paid for only the sins of His elect For them He has paid the price and redeemed them from the bondage of Satan.
There are those who say that extending redemption to the whole of mankind magnifies the grace of God, and that the confining of it to a remnant lessens that grace.
The thought of specific redemption does not lessen the grace of God anymore than His choosing a single nation that He says was fewest in number to be His special people and give His laws that signaled the way to life and allowed the rest of mankind to run wild and die in their sins.
General redemption with conditions does not and cannot in anyway magnify the grace of God for it contradicts itself. Grace is either free or it has conditions — we can't have it both ways, There must either be universal redemption or particular redemption — we cannot have it both ways. If Christ died for the sins of all mankind then all mankind must (a divine imperative) be saved for He paid for their sins. It is not required that sins be paid for twice, once by Christ and then again by the man or woman who goes to hell for that same sin. In particular redemption Christ died for those that were given Him by the Father and for them only. He paid their sin debt and they then do not have to pay that debt. So redemption is either universal or it is particular.
And so the argument goes that this then leaves most of mankind without a remedy. The fallen angels were certainly higher than we and they have no remedy, nor do they have a cause to complain. They have no mediator appointed for them but some of mankind does. If God is just then what He has planned and executed is just. And if He is not just then He is not God. Man falls back on free will, that man must be the one to decide if he will believe or not believe. If this decision had been left wholly to mankind then God should not have given us His Word for surely if we based our decision on His Word we could not be said to have a completely free will for the Word would have biased our will one way or another.
Man left completely on his own would never choose God. Man's desire is for himself, his loves, his pleasure, his fame, his wealth, and you can go on ad infinitum for man is completely self-centered. It is only when God gives us that "new man", that "new heart" that we can turn to Him and hear Him and His Word and believe. His grace gives life to those who are dead in trespasses and sins and then we are saved "...through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God." What is the gift of God? The faith that we have at the beginning and it is not a faith that we found in ourselves or that we built in ourselves. Any faith that we have is faith that He has given to us. His chosen people. His elect.
I do believe that if saved men and women would really open their minds to these controverted texts and begin to weigh them properly and compare spiritual things with spiritual things, setting aside the things of the flesh, and preconceived ideas, and with prayer and study, they might be surprised. If mankind would stop trying to tell God what is right and just and remember that He has never been anything but right and just, if men would stop using the word "fair" to try and force God to think as they do, they might be more than surprised by what they find in the Word. But it takes too much time and so it is easier to blame God with what they call "unfairness" than it is to study to "show themselves approved unto God." To be approved by God is to be acceptable to God.
We are not to take everything we are told by pastors and preachers to be the absolute truth, it is truth as the pastor or preacher understands it. But we are to be like the Bereans and "search the scriptures to see if these things be true.”