Pristine Grace

Was the Sin Question Settled at the Cross?
by Mike Krall

Did the death of Jesus Christ secure the salvation of anyone? or did it merely make the salvation of everyone possible?

It is clear from many Bible passages that the Father punished Jesus Christ for the sins of His people. For example "God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2Cor. 5:21). It can be said that Christ suffered and died in the stead of sinners. That being so, isn't it a strange idea that Christ should suffer for those who will also suffer for their own sins in hell? Will God, in fact, punish sin twice?

We can put it this way, Christ suffered for either:

1) Some of the sins of all men, or

2) All of the sins of all men, or

3) All of the sins of some men. 

If the first statement is true, some sins of all men, then all men are still left with some sins to pay for. In that case, no one can be redeemed until they pay the debt for their remaining sin. If this is the case, then the unbiblical doctrine of Purgatory would be necessary to get to heaven.

If the second one is true- all the sins of all men- then why are not all men saved? Some will say, "because of unbelief". But...is unbelief a sin or not? If it is not, then why are men punished for it? But if it is a sin, which the Bible says it is, then it must be among the sins for which Christ died. If He didn't die for that sin, then He didn't die for all the sins of all men. The only ones who then can be saved are those that believed the gospel the first time they heard it because any unbelief would be a sin that would still need to be atoned for. Then we are back to choice number one or number three.

Isn't it clear that the only possibility remaining is number three: that Christ had laid upon Him all the sins of some- that is the elect of God. It is this that is the teaching of Holy Scripture.

Another way to look at this is regarding the priesthood of Christ. The Scriptures teach that the Old Testament priesthood consisted of two duties- that of offering sacrifice and that of making intercession. You cannot separate these two offices. The people for whom the sacrifices were offered, were the same group the priest interceded for.

How does this relate to the priesthood of Christ which was what the Old Testament high priest foreshadowed? Jesus, in His high priestly prayer, said in John 17:9 that He did not pray for the world but only those the Father gave Him out of the world. Since this is the case, then if Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for the whole world but only intercedes for the believers, then we have separated the office of the priest. This would have no biblical basis so, therefore, must be rejected. 

On the other hand, one may say that Christ is, in fact, interceding for the world. Well if that is the case, then we must expect the world to be saved else Christ has failed in His office as high priest which borders on blasphemy. We are told that He is a faithful (Heb 2:17) and great high priest (Heb. 4:14). Could we imagine that such a priest could fail in His efforts? Perish the thought!

What does this mean to you dear Christian? If you, in fact, are a believer, do you see that you believed because Christ has been interceding on your behalf at the throne of grace? It was His intercession coupled with what He accomplished on the cross that was the cause of your faith. We are told that Jesus is the "author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2) and that He is the "author (greek- "cause") of eternal salvation to all that obey Him" Heb. 5:9. Remember when you realize you were a sinner in need of salvation? This was all part of His intercession. Why do we have security in Christ? Because of our merit? No! In Romans 8:29-39 we are told that it is all because of the intercession of Christ. Why does the Bible say that there is no grounds for boasting in salvation? If Christ did as much for the lost sinner in hell as He did for the redeemed in heaven- the only difference being their co-operating with God- then what makes the difference? It would not be the grace of God since Jesus would have did the same for both.

But, if the difference is that God sovereignly chose to save some and pass by others, leaving them to have the sinful desires of their hearts, then it leaves no room for boasting. Scripture states it this way "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy" (Rom. 9:15). Jesus did not die to make all men merely redeemable. What He did was to die in order to "obtain eternal redemption" for His people. (Heb. 9:14)

Oh dear Christian, instead of scorning this doctrine, bathe in the wonder of God's electing love. Understand that the difference between you and the lost sinner in hell is not your "free will" but God's free and sovereign electing love manifested in your heart through the finished work of Christ.

To my friends that are not yet in a saving relationship with Christ, cry to God to show you your desperate condition. This doctrine should not keep you from Christ but it will shut you up to Him as your only hope. The doctrine of God's free grace is meant to cast down pride and cause sinners to despair of themselves and to advance and exalt the glory of God's free and sovereign grace from beginning to end in man's salvation.

"Of Him through Him and unto Him are all things to whom be glory forever and ever Amen." Romans 11:36.