A couple of nights ago, after work, I hung out with one my buddies who used to work at Starbucks with me. Andrew is his name and being a security guard, is now his game. He is a fellow believer. We’ve definitely built up a friendship, that I hope will continue to grow, even though we no longer work together.
The reason why I think we’ve clicked in such a way is for many reasons, actually.
1. (The obvious one) He’s Christian; so we have a common devotion to knowing Christ more, and seeing His name be proclaimed “great.”
2. We both are “jokesters” from time to time.
3. We both like to just kick it, with no agenda in mind.
..And the list goes on.
With all other reasons as to why we get along so well, there’s one reason, at least with our friendship, that keeps us growing together.
What do I mean by this?
Do I mean that I agree to disagree with him on the matter of adultery, or stealing, or lying?
Of course not. If those were the continual patterns of his lifestyle (adultery, stealing, etc) with no remorse, nor a longing to be like Christ more and more, I would
1. lovingly come up to him and tell him that his lifestyle is wrong (speaking to him about the glorious gospel), and if he continued to live in that way, I would not be around Him as much as close friend. and
2. He probably would not be a Christian – which would be going against one of the reasons as to why I love to hang out with him in the first place.
No No No.. When I say that we both agree to disagree, I’m saying that we both have a common agreement to not get angry with our differences in
what we believe about God.
You see, among other things, Andrew is an arminian.
How shocking right?
The majority of the the church holds to the doctrine of “I have a free will to choose God; He didn’t make robots.”
What makes this person different?
Well, He listens to my point of view (or actually the Bible’s point of view) – and I, to his.
And, I so desperately long to see Him grow more in the fullness of who God is – with Christ’s gospel, His sovereign grace, being central.
Anyways, I got done with work and we finally had a chance to sit in his car, with the heater on, and talk life. It did not take long before the things of Christ were mentioned.
I made a point that Andrew questioned. Or actually, it was a point that He had never heard before that interested Him; for it made sense.
The point was this:
We do not repent in order to get salvation. We repent because God has so moved in our heart, that the sins we once loved we now hate – for we long to be more like Christ.
So pretty much, repentance is not needed for aide in salvation. To say this is to say that Christ’s death is not sufficient. Christ finished salvation for His people.
In a sense there has been 3 different points that “salvation” was finished; based off of your perspective.
1. He finished it before the foundation of the world.
2. He finished it at the cross.
3. And finally, and the most accurate answer to when we are saved is:
He will finish it – save us – when He takes all of His children home for eternity.
Long story short:
Repentance is evidence of salvation; evidence of God removing a stone heart and giving a heart of flesh. Yes, if there is no repentance, there is no salvation, but, we repent not in order to receive salvation. Instead, because we are saved – because Christ bore the wrath of God in our place – we repent.
At this point, Andrew knew that I believed something different from the mainstream American church..and I was more than happy to share that with him.
I went to the heart of the matter. It is the doctrine of the reformed faith that arminians have the hardest time accepting. It was the hardest for me to grasp at first, but now it’s the doctrine I most embrace.
Looking into his eyes, with the street light glaring in, I posed this question:
“If Christ died for every single sin of every single human being who has, or who ever will live, then why isn’t everyone going to be spending an eternity in Heaven with Him?”
A mumbled word came out of his mouth.
“Well, it’s because God gave man a choice. Because of the cross, everyone has the ability to choose Him. He did die for everyone, but man has to believe in Him, and trust Him in order to be saved.”
(And this started the conversation of the Doctrines of Grace with Andrew.)
Notice His response. Right before I posed the question, I was speaking about repentance, and how men and women, who are already saved, repent. This made sense to Andrew. But not when I posed a question that implies that Christ’s death ransomed, not all people, but only an elected group of people.
Andrew and I had a long night of talking, and some resolution came, but for the most part, we agreed to disagree. But here, I want to describe the importance of The doctrine of Limited Atonement (or particular redemption)
First, what are the Doctrines of Grace?
A simple acronym may help:
Total Depravity (man is so sinful, he cannot save himself)
Unconditional Election (God chooses man unconditionally)
Limited Atonement (God died only for His elect)
Irresistible Grace (His grace is irresistible to His elect)
Perseverance of the Saints (His elect will endure to the end)
Limited atonement is the doctrine I now most embrace because it is making a point about our God. The point is this:
God is successful in saving His people.
The words of Jesus state
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10)
Let me ask you this, if God was a substitute – a propitiation – for all men, and we know men are in hell and will be in hell, then was Jesus just joking? Was He lying?
Maybe He didn’t mean that He was truly going to SEEK and SAVE the lost (his sheep that have gone astray – his elect).
Or maybe, and this is the worst yet, Christ did not succeed in what he promised, and there are men in Hell, covered with the perfect blood of the Son of God himself, suffering the eternal wrath of the Almighty Father, even though they had a substitute (Christ) who bore God’s wrath on the cross.
So I worship a God that couldn’t succeed on the cross?
That’s what you are telling me?
“Oooh.. no, that’s not what I mean”
..Then what do you mean?
That is not the King of all Kings that I worship.
I worship the one who promised salvation for His people.
The one who succeeded on the cross 2000 years ago.
The one who bore the holy and righteous wrath of the Father, as a propitiation, for my sins.
The one who said it is by grace, that I am SAVED.
Because of His death, I am not “savable.”
To say I’m “savable” is declaring many wrong things.
But two pop out clear in my head.
1. God is a weak begger who could not fully save people and is ringing His fingers in heaven – worried – for people to make a choice for Him – and if they don’t He’ll be weeping for all of eternity because man’s will superseded God’s will of having an eternity with Him.
2. I am not saved fully by grace, but it is the work of my repenting and believing in Him that I am saved.
And we go in a circle with point 2. Remember Andrew?
I stated that repentance is and only can be after salvation. Why?
If you believe in salvation by grace, then this has to be so.
Grace, to be grace, is absolutely free. There is nothing that you can do at all to obtain it. It has to be sovereignly given to you.
Who is salvific grace given to?
Ah, only those Christ has died for.
He did seek and save the lost, but the lost arent the ones people normally think of. The lost he died for, are the elect. The ones that were supposed to be lost from the foundation of the world; so ultimately, they would be found by Christ.
The amazing thing about His grace is that, I, a God hating sinner who deserved His eternal wrath, can now walk away free. Why wouldn’t I repent? Why wouldn’t I want to know this God more? Why wouldn’t I want to have the very thing which accomplished salvation for me (Christ on the cross), be the very central thing in my life that keeps me going? I love Jesus, and thank Him for His death on the cross for all of those who would believe, and long to be with Him for eternity.
So, for whom did Christ die?
His people, those who would believe, the elect. However you want to put it, this is what’s true.
May God sovereignly grace you with joy for Him in all aspects of life!