Last month we started series addressing current trends in the church. This month I want to address one of the fundamental truths in the Bible that has been deconstructed and re-invented to distort the very character of God.
A Growing Trend…
I have chosen to address this subject as the result of a growing trend toward an old error. This theological error paints God as a dictator in the sky who’s aloof to the needs of the people He created.
Whole books have been written on opposing sides of this doctrine. We certainly don’t have time, space or the desire to tackle and sort through it all here. I simply want to address one thing this month. The love of God in relation to limited atonement!
God is Sovereign and does as He pleases. However, He has revealed Himself to us in the Person of Jesus Christ. We see Him throughout Scripture and as Scripture declares – in His creation (Romans 1:20). In order to understand the love of God and the salvation He offers, we must understand the Lord Himself. God does nothing in contradiction to or inconsistent with His nature. Soteriology (the study of salvation) is subject to Theology (the study of God.)
About Sin…We All Deserve Death
Since the fall of Adam and Eve, mankind has been cursed and laden with sin. The sin nature is passed down from generation to generation. Every man, woman and child is responsible for their own sin and worthy of death. There is not one person who can say they deserve eternal life.
If God had chosen, He could have damned every one of us and we would have nothing to say about it. “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’” (Romans 9:20) However, He chose to provide Himself a ransom (paid the price) for the sins of the whole world. John taught, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” (1 Tim. 4:10) He did this that we might live! He is the true and living God, the God of Love. He desires to save.
For God So Loved…John 3
Jesus articulated the message of salvation in the simplest form to Nicodemus. He said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:14-15) This reminder of Moses and the Children of Israel was an illustration Jesus used to declare how men would be saved.
The Children of Israel are the chosen of God. He said, “For you are a holy people unto the LORD your God: the LORD your God has chosen you to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you…” (Deut 7:6-8)
In the wilderness, because of rebellion and sin, the people of Israel were plagued with serpents that bit them causing sickness and death. These serpents were used as God’s judgment upon them as a consequence for their sin. God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and place it on a pole in the sight of Israel and all who looked upon it would be saved. The Bronze serpent represented their sin and was symbolic of Jesus’ taking upon Himself the sin of the whole world. All the Children of Israel had to do to be saved from the plague was to trust the Lord’s command and look. None of the Children of Israel plagued by the serpents were denied salvation.
Jesus illustration was a model of the salvation provided in His work at Calvary. All sinners, sick and dying, may look to the Lord and be saved. Jesus said. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)
Many in today’s “revival” of Reformation theology say Jesus only died for those who are and will be saved – not the whole world. However, as cited above, Jesus is “the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” (1 Tim. 4:10) The Bible tells us that Jesus even died for those who reject Him. Peter said there would be, “…false teachers…who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1) Many say God has no desire to save the “world” and is therefore content with the destruction of the wicked. However, the Bible says “…grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8-9) Paul instructs, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1-4)
Before creation, time, man, et al. God knew man would rebel and be lost. So, He also, in eternity past, planned for our redemption and set in motion a plan to save. Jesus, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) In Christ, salvation is offered to all. This is the message Jesus communicated to Nicodemus in John 3. “For God…so loved…the world…that whosoever… believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) It’s really that simple!
The Love of God
The Bible declares that God is love. This is a description of His nature. “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16) God told Ezekiel to tell the people of Israel, “‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” (Eze. 33:11) These verses among many others describe the character of God and His attitude toward those who are dying.
The same God who chose Israel has made provision for you as well. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31)
Blessings upon you all,