Fishing Like a Calvinist (3)

Our intentions in sharing the gospel should have the same aim as our Lord Jesus. There should be no deviation from this purpose of God. Sharing the gospel has as its end to see sinners saved and freed from their sin. Of course, the fish, who don’t want to get caught in what they perceive as smooth talking’, will ask the logical question; saved from what? And the sharp evangelist will respond that they need to be saved from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin, and from the judgment for sin. Presenting the seriousness of sin is crucial to communicating the gospel but we must also demonstrate the means by which God deals with them as glorious. God has chosen to throw them a proverbial life preserver in the proclamation of the gospel. That gospel finds its meaning in what God determined in Christ. This means that the rescue mission will succeed! If Christ is the essence behind the gospel, then it must be proclaimed that He accomplishes the works of the Father perfectly. The salvation of a sinner is perfected in Him. The Father’s purpose in this salvific work is clearly identified in sending His Son. That principle is that laid out in Luke’s gospel: The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10) and indeed He did. The apostle Paul shared this truth in his epistle to Timothy It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). This was the intention of God for Him. He didn’t come to try to save anyone, but to actualize salvation in them.  The goal wasn’t just wishful thinking but was assured in the words He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:20). Christ does actually save his people and He does so perfectly.

While the OT sacrifices brought little long-term deliverance to the sinner, Jesus’ sacrifice accomplishes so much more. The sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ atones and there is no need for the repetitious cycle of animal blood shed. Christ does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself (Hebrews 7:27). We are told that in the offering of Himself for an intended people, He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25). An important point to notice is those for whom He offers the sacrifice, are also those for whom He intercedes. He intervenes for those who draw near, the intended recipients of the sacrifice, not people who don’t draw near and especially not those who find themselves in hell. The duration of that intercession is forever! Our Great High Priest preserves them by continuously working on our behalf. We read of the intended recipients of this intercession in John 17. He intercedes for those whom God has given Him, identified as those to whom He gives eternal life (v.1-11). This High Priestly Prayer was made on behalf of those He was leaving behind and for those who would come from their word (v.20). Notice that Christ doesn’t pray for the world (v.9), a pretty bold statement for the John 3:16 crowd. His atonement was intended for those whom He referred to as His sheep (John 10:11,14-18) but the Lord clearly argued that not all were His sheep (John 10:26). The Lord would redeem a people, without considering their ethnicity, linguistics, or sex. This was His purpose; the Kingdom of God would go outside the borders of Israel because Christ would be slain and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9). Truly, His death was intended to save the world (John 3:16)!

But what we can’t forget when sharing the gospel, is that this atonement was powerful enough to secure many other important factors for the sinners for whom it was intended. We should refrain from thinking of the atonement as only one dimensional.  Its purpose was not only to pay the penalty for sin. The atonement is so much more! The death of Christ purchases every blessing intended to bring about the salvation of an individual. The apostle Paul stressed this point in the first chapter of his letter to the Ephesians. In this lengthy sentence, he describes the blessings that are found in Christ:

…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

-Ephesians 1:3-14

The death of Christ purchased every single one of these blessings, some in the past, the present and even some for the future. All blessings flow from the beloved!

 God’s purposes will be accomplished, and the atonement will bring the effects that it was intended. It will be applied to those for whom it was made, and God will accomplish this through the Holy Spirit! Remember, the atonement is to the evangelist something powerful and sure. Sharing the gospel is offering something real and certain. It actually saves the individual for whom it was made. Rest in the fact that not only did Christ die to perfectly save sinners but that this atonement also establishes those blessings they experience in time such as their adoption, their redemption, their forgiveness, their inheritance and the seal of the Holy Spirit and the beauty of becoming God’s own possession. Never forget that you preach a powerful atonement that is able to save men.

I would rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than a universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of men be added to it.



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