ATONEMENT FOR WHOM? (part 2)
What the apostle John is saying in His First letter is addressed to ‘my little children’, which means he is addressing his words to those Jews who had believed on Jesus Christ. All believe that John was here writing to believers, but most fail to realize, conveniently in some cases, the significance of one very important little detail and that is that they were JEWISH believers. Proof of this can be found in such places as Galatians 2:9 where we are told that the apostle John, amongst others, was an apostle to the circumcision (i.e. Israel). What John was teaching here, and which may be found in the Gospel of John as well, may also be seen in the Book of Hebrews and other writings which were addressed to the Jews: that the Messiah, the Christ who was to come and bring salvation for His people was not come only for those of Israel, but for the whole world, meaning people of every nation, the Gentiles, and not just the Jewish nation. Paul the apostle made this plain for all to see and understand: "And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom He hath called, NOT OF THE JEWS ONLY, BUT ALSO OF THE GENTILES" (Rom. 9:23,24). This was a constant teaching throughout the New Testament.
"When John added (in 1 Jn. 2:2) ‘and not for ours (sins) only, but also for the whole world', he signified that Christ was the propitiation for the sins of the Gentile believers too, for...‘the world’ is a term contrasted with Israel (throughout Scripture). This interpretation is unequivocally established by a careful comparison of 1 John. 2:2 with John 11:51,52, which is a strictly parallel passage: ‘And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad'. Here Caiaphas, under inspiration, made known for whom Jesus should ‘die'. Notice now the correspondency of his prophecy with this declaration of John’s: (John): 'He is the Propitiation for our (believing Israelites) sins'. 'He prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation.' (John): 'And not for ours only.' (Caiaphas): 'And not for that nation only' (John): 'But also for the whole world'–that is, Gentile believers scattered throughout the earth" (Caiaphas): "He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad." (See appendixes for more on ‘propitiation’ and ‘the whole world’.)
"The proper meaning for the word for propitiation is that of reconciling, appeasing, turning away anger, rendering propitious or favorable. The idea is, that there is anger or wrath, or that something has been done to offend, and that it is needful to turn away that wrath, or to appease." There no longer remains any wrath in God toward those for whom Jesus Christ is the Propitiation. God has been propitiated, that is, His anger has been appeased and God’s Justice is now fully satisfied in what Christ has done on behalf of all those He laid down His life for. There are many Scriptures which show quite plainly who those people were. God the Father has laid on God the Son all the sins of all His elect: "...the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6). Christ offered Himself to bear (carry away) the sins of His sheep: "So Christ was once offered to bare the sins of many..." (Heb. 9:28; see also Titus 2:14): "And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins..." (1 Jn. 3:5; see also Matt. 1:21; Lk. 1:77). All the sins of all His people have been washed away in His own blood and are now removed as far as the east is from the west (Psa. 103:12): "...Unto Him that loved US, and washed US from OUR sins in His own blood" (Rev. 1:5). The penalty for the sins of all His people has been paid IN FULL FOR ALL TIME: "...we are sanctified through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10; Col. 2:13). Christ Jesus the Lord, Who is the Good Shepherd, said: "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep" and "...I lay down My life for the sheep" (Jn. 10:11,15; see also 1 Cor. 5:7). That all of mankind are not referred to as sheep in the Bible is evident in the following Scriptures: "And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And He shall set the sheep (from all nations) on His right hand, but the goats on the left" (Matt.25:32,33). The sheep spoken of here are those whom God has elected unto salvation. The damned are those described as goats (Matt. 25:34,41) and elsewhere as tares which the Devil, not God, has sewn (Matt. 13:38,39). The elect are also described as lost sheep and God searches for all of His lost sheep until He finds them and He delivers them, one and all, from judgement (Lk. 15:4 & Ezek. 34:11,12). Christ so loved the Church that He gave Himself exclusively for it: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it" (Eph. 5:25; see also Acts 20:28) The Church, of course, is Christ’s Bride made up of all God’s elect. "Who gave Himself for US, that He might redeem US from ALL iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar (special, one’s own) people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). In illustrating the love of God for His people, the apostle John, writing to Christians, said: "...He laid down His life for US..." (1 Jn. 3:16). And Paul the apostle, speaking to Christians, said: "Christ hath redeemed US from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us..." (Gal. 3:13). Christ took the blame for the sins of His people. He took the pain of suffering for their sins, which is why there is now NO condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1), they whom He suffered, made atonement, for. The following Scripture passage is crucial to a biblical understanding of who Jesus Christ has made atonement for: "For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him THE SEED OF ABRAHAM. Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be MADE LIKE UNTO HIS BRETHREN, that He might be a merciful and faithful HIGH PRIEST in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:16,17). Who are the seed of Abraham? "And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29; see also Rom. 4:16). These are the seed of Abraham and Christ’s brethren (Matt. 12:49,50). The seed are the many whom Christ Jesus came to save (Isa. 53:10,11). The called of God are a special people, God’s own people, who will not experience the wrath of God, for the Lord Jesus laid down His life for them; He experienced God’s wrath on the behalf of God’s elect: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us..." (Gal 3:13; see also Isa. 53:10). "For God hath not appointed US to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for US..." (1 Thess. 5:9,10; see also 1 Cor. 5:17). This verse shows clearly that Christ died representing all those whom God had not appointed to receive His wrath. The ‘us’ spoken of here clearly sets this group of people apart from those who have not been appointed by the Sovereign God to obtain salvation. And these people have come to God, not by their own initiative, but because God has elected them from before the foundation of the world and predestinated them to obtain salvation made possible by the obedience and death of Jesus Christ, Who is their great High Priest. The elect have an appointment with salvation made by God Himself!
Since the Bible teaches that there is nothing that man can do by way of service or obedience to appease the anger and wrath of God which man’s sins have incurred, the only hope of salvation which any man has is if God Himself would provide an appeasement, a satisfaction for His wrath and anger toward our sin. God has done this by appointing a Representative of the people, all those people whom He has elected unto salvation. Go back to Hebrews 9 and verse 15 and you will see that by means of His own death, the offering up of His own blood, Christ has obtained eternal redemption, not for every individual, but for "they which are CALLED". How can one possibly reconcile this verse with 1 John 2:2 if in fact Jesus Christ is the Propitiation for every sin of every individual ever born? Not to mention Scriptures such as Ephesians 5:25 where we are told that Christ laid down His life, not for every individual, but for His Church which He loved to the exclusion of all others. It is interesting to note that Christ’s love for His Church is coupled with a commandment for men in Ephesians 5:25 to love their wives, to the exclusion of all others, just as Christ loved His Bride and gave Himself exclusively for her. There simply is no logic at all in the argument that Christ died for the sins of every individual ever born when one considers and is made aware of what the Bible teaches concerning the role of the high priest—what he did and for whom he did it. It is absolute nonsense to teach that Christ has atoned for the sins of every individual, that God is now satisfied, His wrath has been appeased and no more needs to be done except each individual’s acceptance of what has been done and settled on his behalf! There is no Scriptural type, shadow, figure or precedent for such an ‘atonement’. Such teaching makes salvation conditioned on the sinner, which is another gospel, and would change God from a Sovereign Being Who does whatsoever He wills, to an impudent one who can only hope that His plans will go according to His will. It is nothing short of spiritual madness to hold to such inane convictions. It changes the whole message of God’s Gospel from one of ‘this is what God has done in saving a people for Himself’ to ‘God has done His part and now we must do our part to make all that He has done effectual’. Madness such as this has led the religious world to confess that hell is a monument to God’s failure! This statement is agreed to by those of the Faith movement, right through to mainstream denominations who call themselves Protestant. Such blasphemy is unheard of in Scripture.
Again, the question is posed: ‘If salvation is conditioned on the sinner and his choice of God, how on earth could man possibly do his part, that is accepting what has been done on his behalf, if he is dead in sin and dead to God and not capable of coming to God in the prescribed manner? All those to whom God gives the power to become sons of God and to believe on His name are those "Which were born, NOT of blood, NOR of the will of the flesh, NOR of the will of man, BUT OF GOD" (Jn. 1:13). The Bible teaches that unless God draws a man to His Son, salvation is impossible (Jn. 6:44).There are some who say that God indeed does draw the man, He enables the man to come to Him, but unless this occurs, unless man does the coming, no salvation can take place. This is man-centered ‘theology’ and not what the Word of God teaches. A MAN IS SAVED NOT BECAUSE HE HAS COME TO GOD BUT BECAUSE GOD HAS COME TO THE MAN. Put simply, whenever one has salvation conditioned on the man doing something, whether his doing it is attributed to God or not, one has a gospel of works which cannot save (see Lk. 18:9-14).
Another matter which has escaped the attention of those who insist that Christ has died for all and has made satisfaction for all and their sins, is the fact that if Christ has made atonement for all the sins of every individual, would not this great atoning work also include covering the sin which causes man’s greatest impediment in coming to God, that of unbelief? It is taught that God has done His part by providing a Savior, a High Priest who has made atonement for every sin of every individual ever born, and that the only thing that now needs to be done to make all this effectual, to make it real, is man coming to God. But would not every man come to God if Jesus was the Propitiation for all, for the sin of unbelief would have been done away with! Otherwise, we would have the situation that Jesus Christ has made atonement for every sin of every individual ever born, including the sin of unbelief, but that hell would, nevertheless, be full of people who died in unbelief, a sin that, along with man’s other sins, was nailed to Christ’s cross! Surely God would not be so unjust as to have received payment for man’s sins from Christ His Son and then demand that the sinner also make payment. If all other sin has been atoned for, would it not be right in concluding that the sin of unbelief has also been taken out of the way? And, if not, then the sin of unbelief has not been done away with for ANY man and there is no atonement for it. The penalty it has incurred has not been paid and therefore no one can possibly come to God, for the sin of unbelief reigns supreme, being untouched by the blood of Christ. How ludicrous this all is in light of what God says in His Holy Word.
"The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either: 1. All the sins of all men. 2. All the sins of some men, or 3. Some of the sins of all men. In which case it may be said: a. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved. b. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth. c. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins? You answer, ‘Because of unbelief.’ I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!" If Jesus Christ has suffered the punishment for all the sins of every individual, would you think it fair for a Just and Holy God to again visit punishment upon those very same sins by sending people to hell for whom Christ has already paid the penalty? Has not Christ suffered the penalty of all sins, including the sin of unbelief? If so, how could anyone for whom Christ has suffered, possibly die in unbelief when the penalty for that very sin of unbelief has already been paid by the Lord Jesus? Those who insist that though Christ died for all the sins of all people, they will still go to hell if they do not choose Him, must live with the fact that this blind theology leaves them to conclude that a man who dies in unbelief must pay the price for his sins that Christ has already paid and appeased the wrath of Almighty God, and for which God’s justice has no demands. I am sure that you can see the utter insanity of all this.
All this shows quite clearly that Christ has not put away the sins of every individual, but those sins alone which belonged to the elect of God. The Bible abounds with Scripture after Scripture which tells us that God has elected a people from every nation, not just the Jewish nation, to be His people (Rev. 5:9). Acts 3:25 spells it out plain and simple: "Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall ALL THE KINDREDS OF THE EARTH be blessed". (see also Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; Psa. 72:17). Galatians 3:8 also points out that people of every nation shall be saved: "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall ALL NATIONS BE BLESSED". Election is not according to any man’s works but according to the grace of God alone. These elect ones from every nation have been given the Perfect Righteousness of Christ and have had their sins imputed (charged) to His account. Christ has nailed to His cross every sin of every person God the Father has given to Him and they are the ones who shall be saved: "All that the Father giveth Me SHALL come to me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out" (Jn. 6:37). "And you, (believers) being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 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 His cross" (Col. 2:13,14). The elect are the chosen bride of Christ—chosen by the Father Himself.
Perhaps the best study of the work of Jesus Christ as the High Priest of His people is found in the Letter to the Hebrews. As in the Old Testament so it is in the New. God has appointed a Mediator between Himself and man. In the Old Testament it was between God and the nation of Israel, which was the shadow of the substance found in the New Testament, wherein God has appointed His Son to be the Mediator between Himself and His chosen people, which come from every nation, tribe and language. It is important to remember that the high priest’s role as the mediatorial representative of God’s people, was to represent a specific group of people to God, and to represent God to that specific group of people. The high priest did not do what he did for an unspecified or indeterminate number of people, upon whom depended the success of what the high priest would do. Salvation is not conditioned on the sinner, for the sinner could never meet any of the conditions laid down by God. There are conditions for salvation: perfect obedience to God’s law and perfect satisfaction of God’s wrath towards our sins. No man can meet either condition. That is why, if any man was to be saved, he needed a Mediator, a Liaison, a High Priest. Not a high priest taken from among sinful men, but a high priest who was perfect and sinless, sent of God. Jesus Christ is the One Whom God appointed and whose Priesthood is forever (Heb. 7:24). Christ needs not to repeat His sacrifice for the sins of His sheep yearly, as the Old Testament high priest did for the sins of Israel, because Christ’s sacrifice was perfect (Heb. 7:26,27). The Blood of Christ satisfied all the demands of God’s Justice and paid the penalty in full for all the sins of God’s chosen ones. "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man (Jesus) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things..." (Acts. 13:38,39). "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Rom. 5:8,9; see also 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9). The Bible says we are fully reconciled to God by the death of His Son (Rom. 5:10). NO wrath remains for the sins for which Christ has suffered. "Jesus Christ has drunk damnation dry" for every sinner for whom He died.
Christ Jesus the High Priest, the Mediatorial Representative of His people, is able to save and does save all those who come to God by, or through, Him: "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25). Christ says that no man can come to the Father but by Him (Jn. 14:6) and that no man can come to Him unless the Father draws him (Jn. 6:44). The elect are made up of all those who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who in turn are: all those who have been drawn by the Father to the Son: all who come to the Father by Jesus Christ: all whom the Father has given His Son. Christ makes intercession for all those who come to God by Him and for whom He has made atonement. The Bible says that all who come to Him are all the ones whom God has given Him: "All that THE FATHER GIVETH ME shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out" (Jn. 6:37). Yes, a man must come to God to be saved, but this is not a condition that the man must meet in order to ‘get saved’, it is the evidence that he is saved, a chosen vessel made unto honor. It is God that causes the man to approach unto Him and nothing within the man. So to be biblically accurate in our definition of salvation, we should say that it is God coming to man. A man only comes to God because God came to him first. God is the Initiator. Man loves God because God loved him first etc. (1 Jn. 4:10,19).
The high priest was the only one permitted by God to enter the holy of holies. This was done only once a year on the great Day of Atonement. "But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people" (Heb. 9:7). The blood was the blood of animals which was presented to God in order to atone for the sins of the people, the nation of Israel. This was merely a shadow of what was to come. Christ offered up, not the blood of animals which could never take away sins eternally (Heb.10:11), but His very own precious blood for the sins of the people, God’s people, elect from every nation. "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Heb 9:12). Now the ‘us’ mentioned here could not possibly mean every individual in the entire world, for then all would be saved seeing that eternal redemption has been obtained for the ‘us’. The preaching of the Gospel is unto the Jews a stumblingblock and foolishness unto the Greeks (Gentiles) "but UNTO THEM WHICH ARE CALLED, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:23,24). Obviously the ‘us’ here refers immediately to the writer and his believing hearers, but also to all those whom Christ, the Great High Priest, represented: all whom God had given Him to represent, the called who make up the whole election of grace! Such is the case in John 17:20: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word" and John 10:16: "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold (the Jewish fold): them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice: and there shall be one fold, and one Shepherd". Notice that Christ says there are other sheep He HAS, not would have. Christ already considered those for whom He would die, His very sheep.
Here again is one of the most significant verses in all of Scripture pertaining to what Jesus Christ has done and for whom He has done it: "And for this cause He (Christ Jesus) is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by MEANS OF DEATH, for the REDEMPTION of the transgressions that were under the first testament, THEY WHICH ARE CALLED might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:15). We see here that it is by means of the atoning death, sacrifice or offering of Jesus Christ which was made for a specific purpose which this verse tells us was for the redemption of a particular people: the called of God. There is nothing here which speaks of redemption for the whole world, but the Scripture explicitly teaches REDEMPTION THROUGH THE MEANS OF CHRIST’S DEATH FOR THE CALLED OF GOD ALONE! That THEY, not every individual in the whole world, but THEY, THE CALLED OF GOD, might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
The following verses in Hebrews 9 talk about the death of the testator, the one who has made a last will and testament, which puts the will into effect. It is by means of his death that one receives what has been bequeathed or promised. The will has no strength while the testator lives. If you have made a will or are thinking of making one, what you will to a person does not become theirs until your death, which is what puts into effect the promises made in your will. Who will you leave your belongings to? Would it not be an act of an unsound mind to leave one’s belongings to anyone who will accept them and not to those who are one’s very own children? A will, in normal circumstances, is made out to the nearest kin, usually a son or daughter. No sane person would comment that the person who died was unfair to leave his fortune to his son or daughter and not to as many people as he could have. I will bequeath my belongings to my son and God has promised all that He has, in fact His very Self, to His own children, the children of election: "The Lord is the Portion of mine inheritance..." (Psa. 16:5; see also Ezek. 44:28). This is a perfectly just and right thing to do and anyone who would argue against what God has done is a lost man. God may do with us as the potter with the clay (Rom. 9:18-21 & Jer.18:6). If I may use such course terminology, God has not prostituted Himself by making Himself available to anyone who will accept Him as long as they agree to His terms. God has PROMISED Himself in covenant love to all His elect, His inheritance.
"...but now once in the end of the world hath He (Christ) appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many (not all); and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Heb. 9:26,28). Again, we see that Christ, by His sacrifice, has put away sin. This includes the sin of unbelief. If all this means that what Christ has done is to merely remove the sin problem and gotten it out of the way so as to make possible the salvation of all men as long as they believe, then all would come to salvation for the ultimate sin blocking man’s way to God, that of unbelief, has been dealt with! To subscribe to such a teaching is to reveal one’s status of spiritual lostness. Christ has done away with every sin of all whom God has given Him to represent. Christ has borne, carried away, the sins of many—His seed— not all (Isa. 53:10, 11). The ‘many’ here referred to are the many whom God has elected to be saved. Those who look for Christ are those whose sins He has borne, those whom the Father has drawn to His beloved Son. In reality, they are the ones for whom God is searching and whom He will deliver from darkness to Light (Acts 26:17,18): "For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out. As the shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them..." (Ezek. 34:11,12; see also Lk. 15:4,5); "For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Heb.10:14). All that Christ has done in His Office of High Priest, has been done for those who are sanctified. The word ‘sanctified’ here, as in the rest of the New Testament, means ‘to make holy, purify or consecrate’. Christ has perfected eternally all those whom God has chosen to make holy (vessels unto honor), and whom He has purified.
The Letter to the Hebrews is written to believers. Throughout it, and many other books in the New Testament, you will see the words ‘us’, ‘we’ and other such references. So it is here, in Hebrews 10, that the writer refers to Christians. Words such as ‘we’, ‘us’ or ‘ourselves’ etc., never include unbelievers. Saved people are never grouped in with the unbelievers of the world, but are always spoken of separately and distinctly from the lost, after salvation, for God deals in a special way with those whom He has chosen. It is called GRACE. We—Christians—are an eternally separated people unto God, chosen before the foundation of the world to be separate from the world of unbelievers and predestinated to become His children, whose sins were atoned for by His only Begotten Son in the sacrifice of His precious Blood upon the tree. In the Old Testament the high priest made atonement, that is, brought a sacrifice unto God, to cover the sins of all Israel, not all the world. All for whom this was done gained forgiveness from God. So, too, the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, has made atonement for all His people elected from every nation before the foundation of the world. ALL FOR WHOM THIS WAS DONE SHALL BE SAVED, AND THAT ETERNALLY (Heb. 9:12-14).