C. S. Lewis on Heaven and Hell

“As there is one Face above all the worlds merely to see which is irrevocable joy, so at the bottom of all worlds rant face is waiting whose sight alone is the misery from which none who behold a it can recover. And though there seem to be, and indeed are, a thousand roads by which a man could walk through the world, there is not a single one which does not lead sooner or later either to the Beatific or the Miserific Vision” (In Perelandra, quoted by Walter Hooper in his preface to Christian Reflections).

I would add, there is only way way to the Beatific Vision – the Lord Jesus Christ. John 14:6

Some Thoughts on Home Schooling Math and Languages

Several folks have asked me about what curricula we use for our math and language subjects in our homeschooling. We’ve been using Singapore, and I’ve liked it a lot, especially because of its use of word problems, its emphasis on mental math and critical thinking skills, and its lack of mind-numbing repetition (I’ve never wanted to use Saxon because I felt like it was so tedious in its repetition). I’ve also appreciated how fast it moves. But Singapore hasn’t been as helpful for all my children, especially those who need more repetition, or need to move more slowly.

So on recommendation from my friend John Kwasny, we’ve switched to Teaching Textbooks. I really like it. My children like that they get to do it on the computer, they like the oral lecture, and they like the immediate accountability as it checks each answer. I like the latter as well, especially for my children who need more immediate encouragement and feedback. I also really like that there is a better amount of repetition than Singapore, and that they help you out with hints on the problems. It also enables them to do their lessons more on their own, rather than me having to teach them all individually. Now I can do more follow up and focus on other things. TT is a little on the simple side, and is behind a grade level from Singapore. So my kids are one year ahead nominally of where they were with Singapore.

Regarding languages, we’ve been doing Greek and Latin over the years. For Latin we’ve used Prima Latina, Latina Christiana, and First Form – all from Memoria Press. Good pacing, good coverage of the material, and very user friendly for the kids. This year we’re doing Greek and Computer Programming – Greek for Daniel, Computer Programming for all. There are three resources I recommend for Greek. The first is Greek Alphabet Code Cracker. It’s a great fun intro to the Greek alphabet, using a detective story to teach them how to write the Greek letters. The second is Greek for Children. It is a wonderful basic grammar, and has very good videos accompanying. We used it when Daniel was in 4th grade. This year (Daniel is in 6th grade), I’m jumping into Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek. It’s the book I used in seminary, but it’s so user friendly and slowly paced that I think Daniel can do it. Even if a parent doesn’t know Greek, I think they can use this book to teach their children (and even learn it themselves!). Check out http://www.teknia.com.

We’re also doing a little computer programming this year. I know Greek, but I don’t know any computer language (not do I know Latin). But with the apps and websites available today a lack of knowledge shouldn’t stop anyone. We’re using Kodable and Scratch Jr, both iPad apps that the kids love and are great introductions to things like conditional statements, loops, and functions/variables, as well as how programming works in general. Check them out on the App Store. Scratch is what older kids should use. And there are a lot of other websites out there as well. Sonlight has a computer programming curriculum as well – if you haven’t seem the video on their site talking about why learning to code is important, definitely check it out.

Hope some of this helps – if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Another prayer for the aging

“Even when I am old & gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.” Ps 71:18 (see also Ps 71:9).

Our culture despises aging, & idolizes youth. The Bible does neither. Age is an opportunity to redeem, to take advantage of, to leverage – particularly in regard to those younger, who we are called to teach and pour into as long as we have breath, for the glory of God.

This is what I want my children’s testimony to be…

“For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. By You I have been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb; my praise is continually of you. I have become a marvel to many, for You are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise and with Your glory all day long.” Ps 71:5-8

I pray that my children will be given a new heart from their earliest days, and will never know a day they didn’t love and trust Jesus as their Savior. I Pray that my sons will be as grown up plants in their youth – mature beyond their years, and that my daughters would be as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace – strong and beautiful (Ps 144:12).

Why is despair so sinful and miserable?

Despair concerning salvation by Jesus Christ is not only pitiable, it is culpable. Satan loves to see our hearts filled with despair. But precisely because it is such a Satanic fruit, it is to be feared, shunned, and repented of. There is hope for the despairing, but only as we flee our despair to Jesus Christ.

Listen to William Swan Plumer explain the sinfulness and sorrow of despair: “Unbelief is the only sin by which a header of the gospel will seal his own ruin, and despair is the perfection of unbelief. To refuse to rely upon Christ’s finished work is to reject the sinner’s only hope. Unbelief is a great sin. The greater its power, the greater our guilt. As despair is unbelief consummated, it is superlative wickedness. If any man fears sin, let him chiefly fear this sin. It takes hold on destruction. No man can be justified or sanctified in whose heart this principle of pride, darkness and stubbornness reigns. There may be a voluntary humility in despair, but that is only another name for pride. Despair also goes upon the ground that men are either saved by their own deservings, or because they have not greatly offended, and this it excludes the salvation of the gospel, which is for the chief of sinners. And despair is full of stubbornness. What is a greater sin than to refuse to trust God when he bids us believe him; to decline to lean upon him when he extends to us his hand? We cannot have too low and opinion of ourselves, or too high an opinion of Christ. It is the great design of the Scriptures to teach the best to despair of being self-saved; the worst not to despair of being saved by Christ, and to offer all the help they want [lack].” (From Vital Godliness, 118-119)

Parents, Do You Communicate With Your Children? Do They Communicate With You?

One of the most heart-breaking things in the world to see is Christian parents who have little or no relationship with their children in their homes. How can the gospel be communicated if there is no living, vital communication between parent and child? These words by Thomas Dwight Witherspoon, a 19th century Southern Presbyterian pastor in Oxford, MS, and Memphis, TN, are incredibly convicting and encouraging at the same time. If you are the parent of young children, take these words to heart and act on them. Note well the word “cultivate” in the first sentence!! If you are the parent of older children, do not lose heart; it is never too late to start building an open and transparent relationship with your sons and daughters, for the sake of knowing them and being known by them, and bringing the gospel of Jesus to their hearts.

  …But a third difficulty, and one far more subversive of the great end of the family relation, is found in the failure of Christian parents to cultivate perfect freedom of communication, and intimacy of relationship, with their children. Many parents never seem to win the confidence of their children at all. They never come into confidential relations with them. The most intimate thoughts of the child’s mind, the most sacredly cherished emotions of its heart, are never communicated to the parent. Between father, or mother, and child, there is an unnatural barrier of reserve—a wall of mutual separation. The few communications as to its inner life, which the natural yearnings of the child lead it to make, are treated with indifference, or, perhaps, made the occasion of severe rebuke.

          At all events, they do not meet with the proper encouragement, and its timid nature recoils upon itself. Henceforth, these deep experiences are concealed from parental view. As the nature unfolds, and the confiding spirit of early childhood begins to give place to the reserve and coyness of youth, there comes a studied habit of concealment. The parent sees only the outer life of the child. Its inner nature is a hidden mystery. And there are now long constituted and strengthened barriers to intimate and confidential intercourse, which can never be overcome, however much the parent may strive to secure the end.

          And yet, how miserably has that parent failed to secure the true end of the family relationship, whose child respects him, fears him, obeys him, and, it may be, loves him, with a kind of distant, reverential affection; but whose bosom has never become the repository of the joys and sorrows of his child; whose heart never beats in conscious accord with the deep and yearning sympathies of its nature; to whom the most tender and sacred experiences of its young life are all a sealed book! How can such a parent exert over his child the influence which God designed him to exert? How can such a house, (for home it does not deserve to be called,) witness anything else than the growth into manhood and womanhood, of children who are virtually orphans in the world, and who, like waifs of the sea, are liable to be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine”—the easy sport of circumstances, the strong anchorage in the family circle being totally wanting?

          How easy it is in early childhood to gain this intimacy and confidence to which I have referred. The little child naturally seeks to confide everything to its parent. Let but the slightest encouragement be given; let the little one only feel that there is a loving heart ready to sympathize with it ; to rejoice with it; to solve patiently its difficulties; to bear forgivingly with its wrongs, and to lead it kindly by the hand through all the perplexities of its path ; and how naturally, how unreservedly does it cast itself upon the bosom that seeks its confidence, and pour out there the very deepest and most sacred thoughts and feelings of its heart.

          And who shall say what advantage such a parent will have in the training of his child! He is like the physician who has had the full diagnosis of the disease he is to treat. He is like the lawyer to whom the client has fully unburdened his case. He knows how to direct the mind and mold the character of his child; and at the same time, as the result of this loving intimacy, he acquires an influence over it—the influence of mind over mind, and of heart over heart,—the blessed results of which it is impossible to estimate.

          But it is especially in reference to the subject of religion—that most important of all subjects,—that this want of intimacy between parents and children is lamentably great. In many households, where there is loving intimacy and mutual confidential communication upon every other subject, the subject of religion is entirely ignored, or if introduced at all, is reserved for stated and formal occasions, in which it assumes the form of catechetical instruction, but it is not admitted to the tender and confidential communings by the hearth-stone.

          Many parents talk intimately with their children upon every subject but this. On this they feel a reluctance to speak—a reluctance which grows more and more daily, until at length it would be easier for the parent to speak to any one else upon the subject of religion than to speak to his own child.  The writer of these lines once had a mother to call at his study, in deep anxiety of mind, saying to him, that she believed her daughter, then about fifteen years of age, to be deeply concerned upon the subject of religion, and wished him to visit her, and converse with herein reference to it. He immediately asked if the mother had conversed with her daughter upon the subject, and was told that she had not. “Then,” said the Pastor, “you had best speak with her first, and find out the true state of her mind, so that I may be able to approach her without embarrassing her too much.” The next morning the mother called again to say that she had found it impossible to hold the conversation with her daughter. It had been so long since she had before attempted to introduce the subject, that though she had now made repeated efforts, it seemed as if her words clung to her lips, and she could not utter them. She again besought the pastor to visit her daughter, but he still declined, urging her to go home, and break down the unnatural wall of separation.

In the evening the struggle was again renewed. The mother, after deep and earnest prayer, sought the chamber of her daughter, where she found her alone; but the same difficulty appeared in the way. She essayed again and again to speak, but in vain; and at length, overcome by the violence of emotion, she pressed her daughter’s hand in hers, and burst into a flood of tears.

How easy it is to trace the source of this embarrassment back through long years, to the early childhood of the daughter, and to neglected opportunities afforded, at that early period, for the cultivation of confidential intimacy upon the subject of religion. There was a time when, without the least hesitation, or embarrassment, this mother could have spoken to her child upon this, or any other subject. But she had permitted the wall of separation to grow up, and now she was realizing the bitter fruit of her neglect.

It must be so in every family, where this wall of partition is suffered to spring up; where the subject of religion is excluded from the conversations by the fireside, and at the table; where the parent, for fear of awakening unpleasant thoughts in the mind of his child, fails to deal faithfully with it in convincing it of its lost and helpless estate, of its imminent peril, and of its need of Christ, the only Deliverer from guilt and sin. When you consider to what extent the minds and hearts of our children are thus left to their own spontaneous workings, surrounded as they are by temptations, and depraved as they are by the taint of sin, is it any wonder that the children of pious parents are not converted to God in childhood?

          Reader, are you conscious of the existence of this wall of separation in your own house? Does your conscience condemn you for not having any intimate acquaintance with the spiritual condition of your children? Do you feel that their religious experiences, if they have them, are all to you a sealed book? Do you feel a strange shrinking from conversation with them upon this all important subject? Go home, like this mother of whom I have spoken, kneel before God and ask of Him the grace that you need. Let not another evening draw to a close until the strange spell is removed, though you can only, in the intensity of your struggle, press silently the hand of your child, and burst into tears. Some of you have those about your knees who are still in tender childhood, whose hearts yearn for intimate communion with you. Take them home to your bosoms, in loving and confidential intercourse. Speak to them freely. Encourage them to keep back nothing from you. Let them see that you are worthy of their confidence; that you appreciate it; that you will cherish it as a sacred thing, and keep it inviolate. Let your bosom be the willing receptacle of all that is joyous, or sad, in their daily experience. Above all, let religion be the subject of frequent and intimate conversation. In your daily walks; by the evening fireside; and in the bed chamber, as the little form is composing itself for sleep, let words of tenderest religious counsel be imparted; inquiries after religious truth be awakened and answered; let your child feel and know all the deep, yearning anxieties of your soul for its early conversion to God. Do this, and the Holy Spirit will bless, as He has so often blessed, words of tender, confidential admonition to the awakening of a new life in the soul of your child; and while the endearments of the domestic circle will be enhanced a thousand fold by the loving confidence which such intercourse will beget, you may be the honored instrument, in the hands of God, of conveying that living Word, by which the soul of your child shall be forever saved.

(Taken from Witherspoon’s book Children of the Covenant, page 198 – https://archive.org/details/childrenofcovena00with)

 

What Should We Think About Limited Atonement?

On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to give a speech declaring an end to major combat operations in Iraq. Over his head while he gave the speech, high up on the top of the carrier, was a banner with the words “Mission Accomplished” emblazoned on it. In his speech, President Bush said, “In the Battle of Iraq, the US and our allies have prevailed.” Unfortunately for the Bush administration, that banner became the butt of a lot of jokes and derision over the years, because the vast majority of casualties in the Iraq War came after that speech, as the Iraqi insurgency rose up and caused all sorts of problems for our troops. Recall the Battle of Fallujah in 2004, or the Iraq War “surge” in 2007 to handle the insurgents. The Bush administration obviously came to regret saying “Mission Accomplished” when the war was really just beginning.

That story highlights what really is at issue when we come to the L of TULIP, limited atonement – did Jesus accomplish salvation on the cross, or is the cross more like that George Bush banner? The question of limited atonement is the question of the extent of the atonement, “For whom did Jesus die on the cross?” Or better, we could say it’s the question of the intent of the atonement – “Whom did Jesus intend to save on the cross?” And the answer the Bible gives is that Jesus did not die a substitutionary death for every single person in the world, but He died for those whom the Father had chosen before the foundation of the world. His intention in dying was to save the elect – and that’s exactly what He did, He accomplished the mission on which His Father sent Him. The cross wasn’t Jesus trying to accomplish salvation for everyone but failing; it wasn’t Jesus just making salvation possible and really hoping that people would accept Him and be saved; it wasn’t a George Bush banner moment – He wasn’t declaring mission accomplished even though the really important work was still yet to be done by sinners who had to add their faith by the strength of their own free will. No, Jesus really did save His people from their sins, just as the angel had foretold in Matthew 1:21.

This is the hardest point of the doctrines of grace for many to accept, so hard that there are many who would call themselves “Four Point Calvinists,” because they can embrace all of the 5 points except this third one. The name of this point itself drives many people away, because it sounds so, well, limiting – and what Christian wants to think of limiting Christ’s death on the cross? But I hope to show you that if you reject universalism (the teaching that in the end, everyone is saved, that there is no such thing as hell), then there is no escaping a limited atonement – you will either limit the intent and extent of the atonement, or you will limit the nature and power of the atonement.

I want us to unpack that sentence, but not yet. First, we need to hear one of the plainest statements of this teaching in the entire Bible, from the lips of Jesus Himself. Jesus teaches the truths of the doctrines of grace more clearly than anyone in the Bible, particularly in John 10. This is the famous “Good Shepherd” discourse, and I want you to see several things from it.

First, notice that Jesus explicitly tells us for whom He lays down His life – it’s for His sheep (15); His own, those He knows (14); those who hear His voice (16, 27); those who have been given to Him by the Father (29).

Second, notice what Jesus says that He will give to His sheep: eternal life (28). John 3:14-15 tells us that He obtains eternal life for them through His cross: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” Jesus connects these dots for us in John 6:35-40 – the will of the Father is that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life; those who believe/those who will have eternal life are those who have been given to the Son by the Father (the sheep); they will necessarily come to Jesus (6:37), for the Father will draw them (6:44) and Jesus laid down His life for them and brings them to Himself (10:14, 16).

Third, notice that there is no division between the Father and the Son when it comes to the sheep: the Father is the one who has given the sheep to the Son; He is the one who has given Christ the commandment to lay down His life (18); and He and the Son are one, both holding the sheep in their hands eternally (28-30).

But fourth, notice what Jesus says to the Jews who were not believing in Him – when they ask Him if He is the Christ, He says, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in my Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep…” (25-26). He doesn’t say, “You are not of my sheep because you don’t believe,” but “You don’t believe because you are not of my sheep.” They are not of His sheep, therefore they do not believe, they don’t come, they don’t hear His voice and follow Him. Not only is this an argument for what we talked about last week, faith being a result of predestination rather than the cause, it also tells us that when Jesus says He lays down His life for His sheep, He is excluding those who are not His sheep (just as He excludes them from His great high priestly prayer in John 17) – He didn’t lay down His life for them, to give eternal life to them, to assure that they will not perish. He did not die for them, He did not intend to save them, He does not know them savingly, they will not receive eternal life, for the Father had not given them to Him, and their ongoing/persistent lack of faith is evidence of that fact. To be sure, there are some people who don’t believe right now, who will believe through the word of God preached to them; they are Jesus’ sheep, of different folds as verse 16 states. But there are others who will never believe, no matter how often the gospel is preached to them, even if it were Jesus standing here preaching the gospel – they are not of His sheep, and He did not die for them.

So Jesus’ words here pose some hard realities to those who would argue for an unlimited or universal atonement: not everyone is given to Jesus by the Father, not everyone is one of Jesus’ sheep for whom He lays down His life. But it’s very possible that this flies in the face of everything you’ve ever thought your entire Christian life, and blows lots of circuits in your mind. Maybe you’re thinking, this is a horrible teaching! How in the world could you ever say that Jesus didn’t die for everyone, how could you ever believe in a limited atonement? And so I don’t want to just look at a couple passages from John, as powerful and sufficient as I think they are – I want you to see this question from the perspective of the cross work of Jesus as a whole. I want to unpack the statement I made earlier: everyone limits the atonement: you either limit its intent and extent, or you limit its nature and power.

We need to define some terms. When we speak of the atonement, we are referring to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that covers our sins before God so that we might be forgiven and accepted. The Bible uses several different words to describe what Jesus did for sinners on the cross. One is redemption. In Galatians 3:13, Paul says that “Christ Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’” To redeem something is to free it, to buy it back, by the payment of a price. Jesus gave His life on the cross as a ransom for many, and freed us from the condemnation of the law, from sin’s guilt and power, from death and Satan’s slavery.

Another word the Bible uses to describe Jesus’ cross work is propitiation. Hebrews 2:17 says that Jesus “had to be made like His brethren in all things so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” To propitiate someone means to appease them, to placate or pacify them. To make propitiation is to turn someone’s anger away; Jesus turned the wrath of God away from us by enduring it Himself in our place. On the cross God the Father was judging His Son, pouring out His just wrath on His Son in the place of sinners, punishing His Son for our sins.

One more word the Bible uses a lot to describe what Jesus did on the cross: reconciliation. To understand this word you have to remember that by nature sinners are God’s enemies. Romans 5:10 says, “…while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” To say that God reconciled us to Himself through the cross is to say that God has accomplished our peace with Himself by making war on His Son, through Jesus’ death.

So here’s the question: for whom did Jesus make atonement – that is, whom did He redeem, and make propitiation for, and reconcile to God? If you believe in universal or unlimited atonement, then your answer is, for everyone. But in response I would ask you, then why is not everyone saved? Some people would answer, “Everyone is saved! There is no such thing as hell.” And so evangelism is just telling people they’re already saved, because Jesus died for them. But most Christians aren’t universalists; they believe in hell, they believe not all are redeemed. So then, if Jesus died for everyone’s sins, and made atonement for everyone, and redeemed everyone, and made propitiation to God for everyone, and reconciled everyone, then why is everyone not saved? And the answer usually comes back, “Because they don’t believe.” But wait, you just told me that Jesus died for everyone’s sins – did He not die for the sin of unbelief? If He did die for their unbelief, why does the presence of it keep them from eternal life? But if He didn’t die for the sin of unbelief, then how can we sing hymns like, “Jesus Paid It All!” We would have to sing, “Jesus Paid 95%”, because the rest of the payment was due to my faith, exercised by my free will. So then the cross doesn’t become “Mission Accomplished,” but “Mission Partly Accomplished” – Jesus just dies to make salvation possible, but the really important contribution, the real difference maker, is whether the sinner of His own free will contributes faith.

Rather than an atonement that actually atones for all sin, you have an atonement that only partially atones. And on the basis of an unlimited atonement, salvation is ultimately in the hands of man, and man gets some of the glory for believing. Charles Spurgeon was a 19th century Baptist who preached the doctrines of grace; his opponents accused him of preaching a “narrow” atonement, a narrow bridge to heaven; they claimed theirs was as wide as the whole world. Spurgeon responded, “I grant that my atonement, or bridge to heaven, is more narrow than yours. However, your bridge only goes halfway across the chasm, and mine goes all the way. In your scheme, the sinner’s will must furnish the other half of the bridge.” See, if you say that Jesus dies for everyone but not everyone is saved because some people don’t use their free will to believe, what you’ve just done is limit the nature of the atonement.

But there’s another way you limit the atonement; namely, you limit the power of God. If the cross is unlimited in extent, then it must be limited in power. God is trying to save people by Jesus’ death, but the free will of man keeps Him from accomplishing His purpose. Man’s free will is stronger than God’s power, because God can only save those who are willing to be saved. Jesus died for everyone, but it’s possible for no one actually to be saved at all; Jesus’ death is in vain for everyone who goes to hell. As one preacher put it, “Hell is a ghastly monument to the failure of God to save the multitudes that are there…sinners go to hell because God cannot save them. He did all He could. He failed” (quoted in Reisinger, 308).

Everyone limits the atonement; you either limit the nature and power of the atonement, or you limit its intent and extent. And it’s in large part because as I read Scripture I see it talking about a cross that saves, a cross that is effectual and efficacious, that I believe in an atonement limited to the elect. That vast multitude from every tribe, tongue, people and nation, whom the Father gave to the Son before the foundation of the world, is without any question saved by the Son on the cross. He saves His people from their sins. When Jesus uttered on the cross His great “tetelestai” in John 19:30, “It is finished!”, He truly had accomplished the redemption of His people, and in time the Holy Spirit would apply it to all those chosen before the foundation of the world, working in their hearts the faith Christ had purchased for them on the cross, so that they might believe and know eternal life.

I love the way Spurgeon puts it, “Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, [those who say that Christ did not die so as to secure the salvation of anybody]. We say Christ so died that He infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it… I would rather believe a limited atonement, that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than a universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of man be added to it.”

There are four reasons why this doctrine of limited, or effectual, atonement, is so important:

1. Because it ensures the Trinity is not working against itself.

Those who say that Jesus dies for everyone usually have some doctrine of election/predestination. That is, the Father has chosen this group over here (usually, as we saw last week, it’s those He has foreseen will chose Him); but the Son is dying for everyone. So you have the Father and the Son working at cross purposes to one another. But what did we see in John 10? The Father and the Son are one; one in essence, and one in purpose and intention. The Son has come to secure and accomplish the salvation of all those the Father has given Him.

2. Because it preserves the righteousness of God.

If we say that Jesus died for everyone then we must say that Jesus died for the people from the Old Testament who were already in hell: Cain, Esau, Pharaoh, Ahab, Jezebel, Manasseh; we must say He died for Judas. But if God punished Jesus for the sins of these and others already suffering in hell, or for anyone who ends up in hell, then God is unjust. Even in our fallen legal system we cry foul if a man is subject to double jeopardy. Those in hell would be right to cry out, “Hey wait a minute, Jesus died for us! You’ve already punished Him in our place. To punish us is to punish the same sin twice!” But no, God is just. Either Jesus will bear God’s wrath in our place on the cross, or we will bear God’s wrath for eternity in hell.

3. Because it gives great assurance to the believer.

The same principle we just talked about is our great hope as Christians. Listen to this hymn by Augustus Toplady: “From whence this fear and unbelief, Hath not the Savior put to grief His spotless Son for me? And will the righteous judge of men Condemn me for that load of sin Which Lord, was charged to Thee? Complete atonement Thou hast made, And to the utmost farthing paid, Whate’er Thy people owed. Nor can God’s wrath on me take place When sheltered by Thy righteousness And covered by Thy blood. If Thou my pardon hast secured, And freely in my room endured The whole of wrath divine, Payment God cannot twice demand, First from my bleeding surety’s hand And then again from mine. Return my soul unto thy rest; The sorrows of thy Great High Priest Have bought thy liberty. Trust in His efficacious blood Nor fear thy banishment from God Since Jesus died for thee.” Toplady nails it – because Jesus died in my place, to actually save me, I need not fear that I will be punished for my sins at any point!

4. Because it gives us something to actually offer the unbeliever.

This is perhaps one of the most non-intuitive applications I could make, because most of us have grown up saying things in like, “Jesus died for your sins, so accept Him into your heart and you’ll be saved.” But I don’t know God’s decree, I don’t know if Jesus died for you. What I do know is that Jesus died for a multitude that no man can number, and that His death is sufficient to save any sinner who calls on His name in faith. What I do know is that I don’t have the mere possibility of salvation to offer to you, contingent upon you using your free will to believe and repent, but I have salvation full and free to offer to you. More specifically, I have Christ Himself in the glory of His person and in all the perfection of His finished work to offer to you. He has done everything necessary for sinners to freely approach God without fear. He has purchased redemption for all those who come to God through Him; He has propitiated the Father’s wrath for lost sinners; through Christ God has reconciled the world to Himself. Because of His atoning death, He is able to forgive and save all those who put their trust in Him. So what are you waiting for? Christ is an all sufficient Savior! Come to Him, just as you are, unsaved, lost, helpless, and undone, that you might be saved! Be reconciled to God. And as you come to Him, as you commit yourselves to Him, you will know that you have been loved of God, that He has chosen you, that Jesus has loved you and given Himself up for you. The assurance of salvation will be yours as well.

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