For Whom Did Jesus Die?
There's been lots of flap about this question lately, hasn't there? Hold that thought a second.
It always struck me as funny that folks would get into long discussions about why Jesus would heal one person and tell them to tell everybody about it, but heal someone else and tell them not to tell anybody. Now I realize that may strike us as odd, but I must ask why we want to know that.
Could it be that WE want to know what WE should do if anything like that happens to us? If that's the case, I have to wonder why we wouldn't just depend on God to reveal that to us, should we ever find ourselves in that position.
Same deal with the question above .. why do we want to know "Who Jesus died for"? What difference does it make?
One thing I get from the parable of the sower and the seed is that there was no criticism of the farmer for "wasting seed"! I'm sure he knew it when he was tossing the stuff onto the path, or among the rocks, but he was just slinging the stuff out there anyway. In concerning ourselves with the Big Question, aren't we wanting to know .. as in the case of Jesus and healing people .. or is it that we don't want to "waste our breath" telling someone about Jesus unless we're assured that "Jesus died for him".
I heard one seminary president say he'd never hire a professor who couldn't look anybody in the world in the eye and tell them Jesus "died for them".
As John MacArthur once said "If Jesus died for everybody, what are all those people doing in hell?"
Is that how we witness to people? I hardly think so. What I've always been trained to do is to tell folks that we're all sinners, and sin separates us from God. And that the only remedy for that, and for the condemnation it brings, is to repent (change our mind) about our sin and turn to Jesus in faith, for forgiveness of sin. If someone does turn to Jesus in repentance, for forgiveness of sins, they'll be saved ... regardless of whether they ever heard the words "Jesus died for you". Conversely, if they don't repent and turn to Him, they won't be saved even if they've heard .. and even if they accept the statement .. "Jesus died for you".
I'm a fan of what the Calvinists refer to as the "L" in TULIP ... limited atonement. I believe it was Spurgeon who said it's unthinkable that Jesus died, atoning for my sins, and then I die and spend an eternity in hell because I hadn't trusted Christ .. as punishment for sins that Jesus had already atoned for.
And while I'm at it, where on earth did Baptists ever get the idea that Calvinism is in any way contra to evangelism? Just look who came up with the Evangelism Explosion program .. it was Dr. Kennedy at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. We liked that enough that we copied it!
But I have an example that's even closer to home, for me: 30+ years ago, my family was one of the Charter Member Families at the formation of Covenant Presbyterian Church in the Birmingham area. As I was already ordained, I served as one of their first Elders, and sat on the Mission Committee. When the first budget was set, all the essential expenses for the year's operation .. salaries .. rent (we met in the Chapel at Samford University) .. materials, etc, was figured out in advance. Then, we added 50% to that figure. That extra amount .. 1/3 of the entire budget .. was designated to missions.
Care to name me some medium-sized .. we had 200+ people as I recall .. Baptist Churches that give 1/3 or their budget to missions?
From their perspective, then, missions was a commandment from God. A matter of obedience. And they were all about obedience, with no consideration of "election" or "predestination" in outreach efforts.
Come to think of it, I never even heard preaching about that, either. Despite what some Baptists seem to think.
So I repeat, why do we want to know "who Jesus died for"? And why do we throw rocks at folks who believe that Jesus died for anyone who will come to Him in faith?