Sunday, October 16, 2011

Did Jesus Christ Die To Save Everyone, Or Only To Save Some Persons?

By Pastor Bruce Oyen

    Did Jesus Christ die to save everyone, or only to save some persons? One way to answer the question is to keep in mind one of the fundamentals of interpreting the Bible, which is this: IF THE PLAIN SENSE OF SCRIPTURE MAKES SENSE, SEEK NO OTHER SENSE. Those who have kept this fundamental in mind when reading through the Bible, and especially through the New Testament portion of it, have come to the conclusion that Jesus Christ did, indeed, die to save everyone. But they must believe in Him in order to be saved, just as we are told in Acts 16:3, which says: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved."
    However, I heard  a radio sermon by a well-known Christian pastor, who is also an author of many books and commentaries, say that Jesus Christ died for everyone, but not in the same way for everyone. By which he meant that Jesus Christ died for everyone, but not in order to save everyone. So, he could claim that there are benefits in the death of Christ for everyone, even if there is not a saving benefit for everyone in his death.  
    How different his view would be if he had  followed that fundamental of interpreting the Bible, which is this: IF THE PLAIN SENSE OF SCRIPTURE MAKES SENSE, SEEK NO OTHER SENSE. But his method of interpreting verses about the death of Christ leaves us in doubt about whether or not Jesus Christ died to save us, or whether He died to bless us in some other way short of salvation.
    Of course, that leaves it up to each individual to decide in what way the Lord died for him or her. This is a very subjective approach to such an important matter. What we need is objective truth from the Bible in order to answer the question in our minds.  The fact is this: if Jesus Christ did not die to SAVE EVERYONE, we have no objective method by which to determine if He died to SAVE US! We are then left to our own feelings on this matter. But feelings are not reliable. It might have been reformer Martin Luther who wisely said about feelings: "Feelings come, and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving. My warrant is the Word of God. Nothing else is worth believing."
   But, we have in the Bible the objective truth we need to determine if the Lord died to save us, for it plainly says in several verses that He died to save everyone. Praise the Lord!
   And that leads me to say, in the rest of  this article I will present to you theologian and Bible teacher H. C. Thiessen's study called, "THE EXTENT OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST." It shows conclusively that the Bible does, indeed, teach that the Lord Jesus Christ died to save every person, man or woman, boy or girl.
Dr. Thiessen's study  is taken in its entirety from chapter 26 of his out-of-print book, "LECTURES IN SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY." This original book is not the same as the revision of his book, now in print. The revision has, unfortunately been made to support what is called "Calvinism," at least about some matters.
    Dr. Thiessen's study of the subject is put in red, to easily distinguish it from the rest of this article.

By H. C. Thiessen
    "This also is a subject about which there is much difference of opinion. Did Christ die for the whole world, or only for the elect? If for the whole world, then why are not all saved? And if for the whole world, in what sense? If for the elect only, then what of the justice of God? The answer to these questions is bound up with one's conception of the order of the decrees. Those who take the Supralapsarian view naturally hold that Christ died only for the elect; those who hold the Sublapsarian view hold that Christ died, at least in some sense, also for the whole world. It is said that Calvin, 'while in his early work, the Institutes, avoided definite statements of his position with regard to the extent of the atonement, yet in his latter works, the Commentaries, acceded to the theory of universal atonement. Supralapsarianism is therefore hyper-Calvinistic, rather than Calvinistic.' Strong, Op. cit., 777.
1. Christ Died For The Elect. The Scriptures teach that Christ died primarily for the elect. 'For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of them that believe' (1 Tim. 4:10); 'even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many' (Matt. 20:28); 'I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me; for they are thine' (John 17:9); 'who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace' (2 Tim. 1:9); 'even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it' (Eph. 5:25); 'whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime' (i. e. in saving those who believed in pre-Christian times, Rom. 3:25); cf. also Rev. 13:8. He died for the elect, not only in making salvation possible for them, but also in the sense of actually saving them when they believe on Christ.
2. Christ Died For The Whole World. The Scriptures also teach that Christ died for the whole world. See again 1 Tim. 4:10 (above); and, 'behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world' (John 1:29); 'who gave himself a ransom for all' (1 Tim. 2:6);  'for the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men' (Titus 2:11); 'who privily shall bring in destructive heresies denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction' (2 Pet. 2:1); 'but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance' (2 Pet. 3:9); 'that by the grace of God he should taste death for every man' (Heb. 2:9); 'and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world' (1 John 2:2). There is a necessary order in a man's salvation; he must first believe that Christ died for him, before he can appropriate the benefits of His death to himself. Although Christ died for all in the sense of reconciling God to the world, not all are saved because their actual salvation is conditioned on their being reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18 - 20). Hodge paraphrases these verses thus: ' Seeing that God in Christ is reconciled, and that He has commissioned us to make known this great truth, it follows that we, as preachers of the Gospel, are ambassadors of Christ.' Chas. Hodge, Op. cit., p. 146."
    Dr. Thiessen has proven from numerous Biblical statements that Jesus Christ died to save everyone. But His death on the cross will do you no good at all, unless you do what the Bible says must be done to be saved. Here is what it says in Romans 10:9, 10: "If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Romans 10:13 says this: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Call on him now for salvation and forgiveness by telling him that you admit your need of these things and that you are asking him for them.
     If you need to take more time to think over the matter of being saved, please read Ford Porter's short but good article called, "God's Simple Plan Of Salvation." To do so, click on this link to it:
     If you want to read information about H. C. Thiessen, click on this link:


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