For Whom Did Christ Die?

Introduction

Over the centuries a great theological argument has been waged over the question of for whom did Christ die. The theological issue involved is the extent of Christ’s atonement to mankind. Two positions exist, known as limited or definite atonement and unlimited atonement. Those who hold to unlimited atonement maintain Christ died for the sins of every human being. Those who hold to limited atonement teach Christ died for the sins of believers only. To determine which view is right we must go to the text: the Bible.

The Old Testament View of Christ’s Death

Introduction

The Old Testament is commonly agreed by Jews and Christians to be composed of the books of Genesis through Malachi. Jews call this the Tanach. Christians start what is known as the New Testament with Matthew. The Old Testament means the Old Covenant. Technically, the Old Covenant began in Exodus with the giving of the Mosaic Law (Exodus 20). Throughout His three years of earthly ministry, Jesus operated under this covenant. This means the gospels are Old Testament. They snap together with Malachi as neatly as two legos. Jesus inaugurated the New Covenant in the upper room just before His death (Matthew 26.26-28; Luke 22.20). This covenant, however, has yet to be realized in its prophetic fullness (Jeremiah 31.31-34; Ezekiel 36.22-32). The record of the book of Acts is that the apostles continued to operate under the Old (Mosaic) Covenant. The New Covenant’s fulfillment awaits establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom upon the earth.1

Why is this important? The Old Testament, which includes the gospels, had specific teachings with regard to the death of the Messiah. Paul wrote in Romans 15.4, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” and again in 1 Corinthians 10.11 in speaking of Israel, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” To understand the question before us, “for whom did Christ die?” requires an examination of what Old Testament Scriptures taught about Christ’s death.2

The Old Testament Texts

How did the Old Testament present the death of Christ? For whom would He die according to the prophets? In the Tanach are passages that indicated the Messiah would suffer and reign. Many passages spoke of His reign and kingdom. These passages provided details about the nature of His government and rule. His suffering and death, however, was shrouded in secrecy (cf. Daniel 9.26). Only one passage dealt with the Messiah’s death with regard to sin. Consider the following passage by Isaiah:

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him (Isaiah 53.1-6).3

Isaiah wrote to Jews. As such, the personal pronouns in the above passage referred to Jews (cf. verse 3, “we did not esteem Him,” verse 4, “our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried,” verse 5, “pierced through for our transgressions,” “crushed for our iniquities,” “chastening for our well-being,” by His scourging we are healed, verse 6, “all of us,” “each of us,” “the iniquity of us all”). Gentiles were not in view. This is true for the entire Old Testament after God called Abraham. From that time forward, the only path of Gentile blessing was through the covenant program that God established with Israel. Given this background and context, this was the program Jesus came to confirm in His earthly ministry (Romans 15.8).

The Levitical Sacrifices

The Old Testament provided pictures or types of the reality that were to come with Christ. One picture or type was conveyed through the Levitical sacrifices. God instituted these sacrifices under the Mosaic Law to teach the Jews about covering (כָּפַר) of sins. Since the Levitical sacrifices involved the death of animals, the Jews learned that sin required death (cf. Romans 6.23). Blood had to be shed. This had been revealed as early as Genesis 3.21 when God made clothing for Adam and Eve from the hides of animals. In the Mosaic Law, God reiterated this truth:

“the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement” (Leviticus 17.11 cf. Hebrews 9.22).

Once a sacrifice was offered, we find a familiar phrase with respect to a sinning Jew, “So the priest shall make atonement (cover) on his behalf for his sin which he has committed, and it will be forgiven him” (cf. Leviticus 4.20, 26, 31, 35, 5.6, 10, 13, 16, 18, 6.7, etc.). In addition to personal animal sacrifices, God instituted an annual, national Day of Atonement (יֹום הַכִּפֻּרִים). On this day, a covering of sins was made for the priests and for the entire nation (Leviticus 16).

Thus, the Day of Atonement was for all Israel, the entire nation. Was the Day of Atonement effective in covering the nation’s sins? The answer is yes and no. It was effective from God’s view for the ceremony fulfilled His typological requirement. The animal blood “covered” (כָּפַר) sin in type (Hebrews 10.4) until the Redeemer would come to remove (rather than just covering) sin by His sacrifice. The Jews had no understanding their sacrifices were types. For them, animal sacrifices were realities–just as in Plato’s cave, the observers thought the shadows were reality. God had not revealed how He was going to deal ultimately with sin. Were the sacrifices effective for individual Jews? Yes, if the individual exercised faith. If a person believed God covered his sins by the sacrifice, it became effective for the individual. If he did not, it wasn’t effective. Thus, the writer of Hebrews wrote,

For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Hebrews 4.2-3).

Again, he wrote,

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11.6).

Therefore, covering sin by animal sacrifices was effective from God’s point of view since He instituted it and knew the animal sacrifices portrayed the death of Christ. It was effective for a person if two conditions were met: 1) if the individual brought a sacrifice and 2) if the person believed God covered his sin. Therefore, both faith and works were required for salvation.

The Death of Christ in the Gospels

As noted above, the Old Testament revealed that only Jews were in view with regard to Christ’s death. What about the gospels? I have found no one who has considered the   question of the extent of the atonement as presented in the Old Testament and in the gospels. The prophetic declaration in the gospels was Jesus would “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1.21). This fit with Isaiah’s words. But how this salvation would be accomplished was unknown. We notice two important points regarding the Gospels that agree with Isaiah. The first is that the extent of the atonement included Jews only. The second is that all Jews were in view. This is consistent with God’s institution of the Day of Atonement. The Old Testament or Gospels make no mention of Christ’s work on the behalf of Gentiles. Again, while the atonement was limited to Jews, it covered all Jews. Concerning the salvific work of Christ, Matthew wrote:

21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US” (Matthew 1.21-23).

Who are “His people” of the angel’s declaration in verse 21? They were Jews. Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, of the royal line of the house of David. The wise men had inquired, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2.2)?

Luke wrote of the kingly aspect of Jesus’ birth. The angel declared that God would give Him David’s throne and rule over Jacob forever. Notice Luke made no mention of Gentiles.

30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1.30-33).

The angel told Mary that Jesus would reign over the house of Jacob. Who was Jacob? Jacob was Israel (the name God gave him after Jacob wrestled with Him, Genesis 32.27-28). Mary responded to this announcement in what has become known as the “Magnificat” and spoke of the salvific aspect of the Messiah’s birth:

46 And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, 47 and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior….

54 “He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, 55 as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever” (Luke 1.46-47, 54-55).

Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, responded to the miraculous happenings surrounding Jesus’ prophesied birth and the birth of his own son, John the Baptist, by recounting the divine promises of salvation from Gentile oppression and from sin:

67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant–70 as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old–71 Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, and FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US; 72 To show mercy toward our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, 73 the oath which He swore to Abraham our father, 74 to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. 76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; 77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, 79 TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1.67-79).

In verses 69-76, Zechariah spoke of the salvation of Israel from her enemies. This prophecy agreed with the Old Testament prophecies going back as far as Moses (Deuteronomy 28.1, 7, 13). Verses 77-79 prophesied the Messiah’s granting Israel the forgiveness of their sins.  Notice carefully that Jews alone were the subject here.

At the birth of Jesus, Luke related the angelic announcement of the Messiah to the shepherds. Again, note that the angels announced salvation of Jews only, “there has been born for you a Savior.” The “you” were Jews:

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2.8-11).

When Jesus was presented in the Temple, according to the requirement of the Mosaic Law, Simeon prophesied about the child. Luke wrote:

21 And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. 22 And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A PAIR OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS.” 25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31 which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, and the glory of Your people Israel.” 33 And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him (Luke 2.21-33).

In verse 25, Luke recorded Simeon awaited “the consolation of Israel.” This was Israel’s salvation from her enemies Zechariah (above) had prophesied. In verses 30-32, Simeon extended salvation beyond Israel, “For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, and the glory of Your people Israel.” Salvation of Gentiles would come THROUGH Israel in accordance with God’s covenant program and prophetic plan (cf. Psalm 2; Isaiah 42.1-6, 60.1-3; Zechariah 8.20-23). This was the basis of God’s declaration to Moses:

Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 4‘ You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel” (Exodus 19.3-6).

God’s plan for Israel was that every Jew would be a priest. They would become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. A priest is a go-between, a representative. Under its covenantal relationship and blessings, Israel was to be God’s representative to Gentiles. This was God’s strategic plan of blessing Gentiles.

Jesus spoke of Himself as the Good Shepherd towards Israel–never Gentiles.4 He taught the Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep. Who were the sheep? In the context of Jesus’ ministry and the Gospel accounts, we have the answer: the nation of Israel. Consider John’s account of Jesus as the Good Shepherd:

11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd (John 10.11-16).

John’s account of Jesus’ words agreed with the other gospel accounts of salvation to Jews. Again, Gentiles were not in direct view of this salvation. What did Jesus mean by verse 16? Who were the other sheep He mentioned? The “other sheep” was a prophetic statement which identified a future generation of Jews, who will believe in Him–“they will hear My voice.” Paul referred to this group in Romans 11.25-29:

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery–so that you will not be wise in your own estimation–that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.” 27 “THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.” 28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

John revealed a fascinating conversation that had occurred among the Jewish leadership and their thinking about what to do about the “Jesus” problem. He wrote:

49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad (John 11.49-52).

Caiaphas plotted Jesus’ death as an expedient political action. Caiaphas’ intent was evil but God used Caiaphas’ will to accomplish His will (cf. Genesis 50.20). To whom did John refer in his statement, “the children of God who are scattered abroad?” They were Jews of the Diaspora located in other nations (cf. Acts 2.5; 1 Peter 1.1-2; James 1.1). According to God’s prophetic promise, He will regather Jews from all nations back to their land to be one people (Ezekiel 34.12-14, 36.19-25, 37.16). They will be no longer Lo-ammi “not my people” (Hosea 1.8-11). God promised He would cleanse them: “they will be My people and I will be their God” (Deuteronomy 30.1-5; Ezekiel 37.15-23).

The Writer of Hebrews and Paul Confirmed Jesus Died for Jews

The writer of Hebrews (Paul) confirmed Christ died for the Jewish nation. He declared:

16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He 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 (Hebrews 2.16-17; 3.1).

To whom did the writer refer when he wrote, “made like His brethren?” Again, the answer is the Jewish people. He made “propitiation for the sins of the people.” Who were the people? The phrase “the people” in Scripture always refers to the Jewish people. Thus, we see again that it was the Jews who were in view of Christ’s work on the cross according to God’s prophetic plan revealed in the Old Testament.

Paul wrote the Galatians:

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Galatians 4.4-5).

Jesus ministered under the Law of Moses. Paul stated, “so that He might redeem those who were under the Law.” Who lived under the Mosaic Law? Certainly not Gentiles. Jews alone were under the Law. According to Paul, Christ came to redeem the Jewish people. Notice the next part of the verse: “that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Who is the “we” to whom Paul referred? The “we” are Gentiles. Paul was a Jew but he spoke from his office as “the apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11.13). On the authority of his office, he declared Jews were to be redeemed so Gentiles could be adopted as sons. The Old Testament plan was that God would redeem Israel and that they would be a channel of blessing to the Gentiles. This was the program Jesus had pronounced when he had commanded,

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28.19-20).

The twelve disciples were commissioned as the leaders to preach Christ to Israel and then to the Gentiles. But they never fulfilled the latter part of their commission of preaching to Gentiles.

The Post-Resurrection Message

Most seem unaware that after Christ arose from the dead, Peter continued to address Jews only (Acts 2.14, 22, 36, 3.12, 26). The vast majority of Christians think after Jesus pronounced what has become popularly known as the “great commission” (Matthew 28.19-20), the apostles went and proclaimed the gospel to all–Jews and Gentiles alike. The Bible provides no evidence of this. Luke wrote the Twelve had no contact with Gentiles–much less that they proclaimed the gospel to them. They continued to focus their message on Israel. Luke wrote that the Twelve refused to leave Jerusalem–even under great persecution (Acts 8.1). In the years that led up to the Council of Jerusalem (51 A.D.), they never went to Gentles. Following this Council, the Twelve made a formal agreement with Paul (primarily to protect Paul’s converts from meddling from the Jerusalem assembly): the Twelve would go to Jews and Paul would go to Gentiles (Galatians 2.7-9). Therefore, neither Jesus nor the Twelve ever had a ministry to Gentiles (Matthew 10.5-7).

When and how do we learn that Christ died for Gentiles and that the gospel was to go to them? Only after God saved Saul of Tarsus and commissioned him as the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.16) do we learn about the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20.24) which would go to Gentiles. Only after God saved Paul do we learn Christ died for more than Jews. Only through Paul do we find a message of salvation for Gentiles and evangelism of Gentiles. These truths came from Paul, not from the Twelve.

We would be remiss if we failed to address a passage that (on the surface) seems not to fit with the above analysis. This is John 1.29, which reads,

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

What are we to make of John the Baptist’s statement about Jesus taking away the sins of the world in light of the other gospel passages in which Israel alone was the benefactor of Jesus’ salvation? John’s thinking was consistent with what was recorded by the other gospel writers.5 John knew only of God’s promise of a Messiah to Israel. The most John could have known was that Gentiles would be blessed through the Israel, specifically, through the Messiah, as Simeon had stated (Luke 2.32). This was the program God had revealed through His covenants, prophets, and by the Lord Himself in His earthly ministry. Everything God had destined Israel to become was based upon the nation acceptance of their Messiah. The first order of business was that they repent and accept Him as Messiah. When the Jews accepted Jesus as the Messiah He would establish His kingdom. Only then would Jews evangelize Gentiles (Matthew 28.16-20, cf. Psalm 2; Isaiah 42.1-6, 60.1-3; Zechariah 8.20-23).

Conclusion to the Death of Christ in the Old Testament and Gospels

In the above examination of the Old Testament and the gospels we have seen that God had promised a Savior and salvation to Jews and that through them Gentiles would be saved (Isaiah 42.1-9, 49.5-7; 60.1-3; Zechariah 8.20-23). The gospels taught limited atonement–salvation of Jews. Jesus had no ministry to Gentiles in His three-year earthly ministry. He only addressed two Gentiles, one of whom was by proxy.6  His ministry was consistent with teachings of the prophets. Salvation of Gentiles depended on upon having an association or relationship with the favored nation, Israel (Luke 2.32; Isaiah 60.3; 42.6, 9; John 4.22). This plan had begun when He called Abram of Ur of the Chaldees and made His covenant. The other Jewish covenants (Palestinian, Mosaic, Sabbatic, David, and New) sprang from the Abrahamic Covenant. According to God’s prophetic plan, Israel was the central player and all blessing to Gentiles would come through Israel. Therefore, the Old Testament and gospels taught a limited atonement of Jews alone. While the revelation of atonement was limited to Jews, it was for all Jews. The Old Testament or the gospels gave no indication the Messiah would die for Gentiles.

The Death of Christ in Pauline Texts

No statement Paul made to believers that Christ died for them is helpful to make a case for limited atonement.7 The reason is because Paul’s audience was believers, not unbelievers. We expect him to write about God’s atonement of believers. Thus, if we discover passages from Paul or other writers who wrote to believers that declared Christ died for more than believers, then those who maintain a limited atonement position face a double-edged sword: both the Scriptures and logic are against them. This point will be examined in detail below. Paul’s purpose in writing was to teach the significance and meaning of Christ’s death to believers, not to unbelievers. Thus, we have passages such as the following:

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5.6-10).

14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. . . . 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5.14-17, 20-21).

15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am first. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life (1 Timothy 1.15-16).

Problem Texts in Paul for Limited Atonement

If Christ died for believers alone, and Paul (and the other writers) wrote only to believers, several passages present problems for those who hold a limited atonement view. Consider the following:

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. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension (1 Timothy 2.3-8).

Paul’s argument in the above passage was to declare that God is the Savior of believers, “our Savior” (verse 3). But in the next verse, Paul declared God desired all men to be saved. It makes no sense for Paul to declare God’s desire is for “all” to be saved if “all” means “all believers.” Such argument completely misses Paul’s point. In verse 5, Paul declared there was one God and one mediator between God and man: Christ Jesus. If one is to argue consistently that Paul was speaking of believers only in verse 4, one must necessarily argue Christ is the mediator only of believers (verse 5). Those who maintain limited atonement would have the passage read, “one mediator also between God and some men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for some.” This is entirely contrary to a normal reading of the passage. In verse 6, Paul wrote that Christ died for all. The “all” are those for whom He is a mediator. Does it make sense for Paul to write that it was God’s desire that all believers be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth? No, what makes sense is that Paul was writing believers that it is God’s will that the unbeliever be saved. Paul’s exhortation for prayer in verse 8 is a cooperative venture of human will and divine will for the salvation of all. Lest anyone doubt this sense, Paul confirmed the meaning of the above verse later in his letter when he wrote:

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers (1 Timothy 4.10).

In this passage, Paul compared “we” and “they” with regard to salvation. Paul declared “we” (believers) “labor and strive,” and “we” (believers) “have fixed’, “our” (believers) “hope on the living God.” In the latter part of the verse, “especially of believers” Paul noted the salvation of believers. In the earlier part of the verse “Savior of all men,” he stated Christ was the Savior of all. This verse makes no sense if Paul meant Christ was the Savior of men meaning “all believers” and then declared, “especially of believers.” If that was what he meant, the verse would read, “who is the Savior of all believers, especially of believers.” Such rendering is nonsense. The only reasonable interpretation is that Christ died for every person and that believers have appropriated Christ’s work on their behalf. This fact is confirmed by the following verses:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. 15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you (Titus 2.11-15).

What else could Paul mean in verse 11 than that God’s grace has appeared “bringing salvation to all men” except that Christ had died and risen from the dead for all men? Believers–those who have appropriated Christ’s death and resurrection by faith–are those who look for “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us.”

Lastly, let us examine one of Paul’s greatest texts, a text we can rightly call the Church’s “great commission” (as opposed to Matthew 28.16-20).8 We noted verses from this portion of Scripture above, but these verses apply particularly to the matter of Christ’s death for all. The text reads,

18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5.18-19).

Paul again compared “us” (believers) with “them” (unbelievers). He declared God reconciled “us” to Himself through Christ and had given “us” the ministry of reconciliation (the preaching of the gospel). Paul then stated, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” The term “world” can only mean the entire human race. If not, the terms “their” and “them” make no sense. God has reconciled the entire human race to Himself. Christ has removed the barrier of sin and death for all. To us, to believers, God has committed this wonderful news, the “word of reconciliation.” Christ has died and risen from the dead for the sins of all. This is the gospel!

Problem Texts in Hebrews for Limited Atonement

The writer of Hebrews wrote:9

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings (Hebrews 2.9-10).

In verse 9, the writer explicitly stated Jesus died for all. The Greek text is better rendered, “He might taste death for each person individually.” The word translated “everyone” is παντὸς and is a genitive singular noun that means “each one.” Again, we find parallelism. While Christ died for each person (every single person) only some “many sons to glory” benefit in His death. This agrees with what God taught Israel with the Levitical sacrifices.

Problem Texts in Peter for Limited Atonement

Peter also confirmed that Christ died for all. He wrote:

18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water (1 Peter 3.18-20).

And again:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep (2 Peter 2.1-3).

In the above verses, Peter declared Christ died for all. In the first passage, the “just” is Christ Himself. Who are the unjust? Are the unjust only believers? Hardly. The unjust include every human being (Romans 3.23; 1 Corinthians 15.33). All have sinned, not just some. In the second passage, Peter declared Christ “bought” (ἀγοράζω) even false teachers. Elsewhere, the word ἀγοράζω is translated “redeemed” Would those who teach limited atonement have us believe these false teachers to whom Peter referred were believers? Really?

Problem Texts in John for Limited Atonement

Lastly, we consider John’s testimony:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world (1 John 2.1-2).

We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4.14).

John too made a distinction between believers and unbelievers regarding Christ’s salvation. John stated Christ was the propitiation for “our” sins (believers). But then he declared He was the propitiation not only for “our” sins but for the sins of the “whole world.” This includes unbelievers. The passage in 1 John 2 is consistent with 1 John 4 in which John stated that Christ was the “Savior of the world” (all mankind). Believers appropriate Christ’s salvation on their behalf. Unbelievers do not. Nevertheless, despite a man’s refusal to accept it, Jesus is the Savior of all. Language could not be more plain.

The Logical Problem of the Limited Atonement Argument

From a logical point of view, those who maintain a limited atonement view have a far more difficult argument to make than those who argue for unlimited atonement. If Christ died for all then He also died for some. In other words, SOME is a subset of ALL. If Christ died only for some He did not die for all. ALL is not a subset of SOME. ALL is outside of SOME. If but one Scripture states Christ died for all a vast weight falls upon one holding a limited atonement view. He must demonstrate that “all” means “some.”

The limited atonement position falls apart if but one verse states that Christ died for all. But, as we have seen, it is not a single writer that writes that Christ died for all but several. Paul, the writer of Hebrews, Peter, and John all state Christ died for all. These facts make the task of proving that Christ died only for believers insurmountable.

As noted above, we expect the writers of Scripture to declare that Christ died for believers since they wrote to believers. We do NOT expect them to declare that Christ died for all–unless He did! If all we had were passages that Christ died for believers it would be possible to make a case for limited atonement. But we don’t. Many passages declare Christ died for “all,” “for the whole world,” etc. Since this is the case, only one kind of passage can support limited atonement. That would be a passage that stated: “Christ died for believers alone. He did not die for anyone else.” Without an explicit Scriptural declaration ALL arguments for limited atonement collapse.

The Logic of Limited Atonement

The Scriptural argument for unlimited atonement has been made. The above texts have demonstrated the definite or limited atonement position have no Scriptural support. We will now focus on the logic of limited atonement. The center of gravity for those who maintain limited atonement is their view of the nature of the atonement. Put another way, it is how they view what Christ accomplished by His death and resurrection. Several theories of the atonement exist. The mechanics of how Christ paid the penalty for man’s sin are not important to this study. What is important is to recognize that His work on the cross solved the problem of sin and death. His sacrifice on the cross satisfied God’s justice.

Those who argue for limited atonement believe when Christ died on the cross His death saved some individuals. Their syllogism is formulated in the following manner:

  1. If Christ died for all then all must be saved.
  2. All are not saved.
  3. Therefore, Christ did not die for all.

A corollary of this logic is if Christ died for all, and all are not saved, then Christ’s death was ineffective. The Scriptures do not support this logic. On the contrary, the Scriptures teach Christ died for all and that His work was effective. From God’s perspective, it was effective in that it satisfied His justice and paid the penalty for sin and death. From man’s perspective, it becomes effective if one appropriates Christ’s work on his behalf. This truth was demonstrated in the Levitical sacrifices.

A catalyst of the logic of those who hold to limited atonement is their view of God’s sovereignty. To them, God’s sovereignty means God’s will cannot be frustrated by man. They reason that if Christ’s death did not save men, then salvation is a work of man, not God. Such reasoning leads to a view that man’s will, expressed as faith, is a work. This reasoning is complete confusion. It misunderstands everything: the nature of Christ’s salvific work, the nature of God’s will, and the nature of man’s will.

The Fallacy of the Limited Atonement Argument

The Scriptures teach the work of Christ solved the problem of sin. He paid for the sins of all humanity. However, unless this work is accepted, it is of no use to an individual. Christ’s work was effective: it satisfied the justice of God. How does one receive the benefit of Christ’s work? He receives it by faith. Faith is not a work. Faith is trust in a person. Consider these examples.

  1. Person A tells Person B, “I will meet you at church at 10:00 a.m.” Person B trusts Person A and is there to meet him at 10. Is Person B’s trust a work? No, it is faith in a person’s character and integrity.
  2. Person A tells Person B, “I have a check of $1,000 for you at the bank.” Person B does not believe him and does not go to the bank. But the check was there. The check did Person B no good because he refused to trust Person A.

In 1. above, the exercise of the will, belief, is not a work. It is trust. Man’s will in trusting Christ–that he died and rose again for his sins–is not a work: it is an acceptance and a dependence upon what God has done for him. In 2. above, while payment has been made, the one who refuses to claim the money made on his behalf receives no benefit. In the same way, Christ’s death provides no benefit to the one who refuses to accept God’s gift. It remains unclaimed. Let us be clear about the work of Christ. It satisfied the righteous demands of God’s justice and solved the problem of sin and death. A person who refuses Christ’s work on his behalf does not affect God’s justice. It only affects his relationship with God and his benefit.

Consider the following: Did Christ die for Saul of Tarsus? We know He did. Was Saul saved while he was seeking to destroy those who were believing in Jesus? We know he wasn’t. When was Paul saved? He was saved when he believed in Christ on the road to Damascus–not before. People are lost not because Christ did not die for them. People are lost because they refuse to trust in Christ’s work for them.

Like the mechanics of the atonement, the mechanics of belief are unknown. Several theories exist. Theories can be useful, but in this case, they are not. We simply do not have enough information to understand fully all that was involved and how Christ’s sacrifice solved the problem of sin and death. Once the gospel is understood, a person must make a decision. Either he will believe God or he won’t. Faith is a choice. We cannot understand fully how the divine will and human wills cooperate. But both are involved. Consider just a few verses that demonstrate this truth:

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life (John 5.39-40).

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6.44).”

And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father (John 6.65).”

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16.14).

Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15.6).

Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved (Luke 18.12).

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1.12).

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3.16).

She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world” (John 11.27).

They said, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16.31).

But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness (Romans 4.5).

As seen above, the Scriptures teach God’s will is for all be saved. What meaning does this have unless God has provided for all? Consider the following from Peter, Paul, and Jesus Himself:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3.9).

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 Timothy 2.3-4).

12 “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? 13 “If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. 14 “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish (Matthew 18.12-14).

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38 “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39 “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'” (Matthew 23.37-39)

14 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3.14-16).

Those who maintain limited atonement seemingly want to help God achieve His purpose. In effect, they do not trust God because God does not need their help. They express the idea “if Christ died for all then all must be saved.” This logic has no Biblical support. For those who hold to definite atonement, God operates under a kind of divine solipsism within a framework of metaphysical determinism.

The Scriptures demonstrate human and divine wills cooperate in spiritual activity. We cannot understand the mechanics. But God, in His omnipotence and omniscience, operates within this realm without difficulty. The Scriptures declare it is God’s will all be saved. All are not saved. Does this mean that God’s will is ineffective? Does this mean that God is not sovereign? No. God is both sovereign and effective in His work. But God allows divine and human wills to work together. How can this be? We cannot know; it is beyond our capacity. The Word of God is a divine book and a human book. God the Son is wholly divine and wholly human. How is this possible? We cannot know. In philosophical language, it is in principle unknowable. Much more exists in this truth than in a discussion of limited atonement. The consequence for the logic of those who hold a limited or definite atonement necessarily affects one’s understanding of the nature of Christ, the hypostatic union, and the nature of Scripture.

Paul wrote what happened to Israel was for our benefit (Romans 15.4; 1 Corinthians 10.6). What do we learn about salvation from the Old Testament? In the Passover, a lamb’s blood had to be applied to the door posts and lintel to be saved from the destroying angel (Exodus 12.7, 12-13). This required a decision, an act of faith, an act of will. Without this act of human will, Israel’s firstborn would not have been spared. The same may be said about the brazen serpent (John 3.14-16 cf. Numbers 21.8). The brazen serpent was effective in that it intrinsically had the power to head but was ineffective (to the individual) unless one looked upon it. Looking upon it required faith, an act of will. Each of these was a picture, a type of Christ and His salvation. Could a Jew under the Law be saved if he refused to offer a sacrifice? No. The Law required him to offer a sacrifice and offer it with faith. It was not effective unless he acted upon what God had revealed for him to do.

Paul taught men and women are saved by believing his gospel. Paul’s gospel is that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). If you believe this you are saved: your sins are forgiven and you have eternal life. If you will not believe this you are lost. It is that simple.

Conclusion

In the argument above, I made the following main points:

  1. The Old Testament and the Gospels taught a limited atonement of Jews only. His death was declared for all Jews. Gentiles were not included.
  2. Any passage addressed to believers indicating that Christ died for believers is useless to make a case for limited atonement. We would not expect anything else. The only kind of passage helpful to those who hold to limited atonement is one that explicitly states Christ died for believers and no one else. Since no such passage exists a Scriptural case for limited atonement cannot be made.
  3. If Christ died for ALL this includes the category SOME. If Christ died for SOME the category ALL is excluded. Those who argue for limited atonement must, therefore, demonstrate ALL=SOME. This cannot be done: passages from Peter, John, Paul, including Hebrews state Christ died for all humankind. A logical case for limited atonement is impossible.
  4. Numerous passages testify that man is responsible to exercise his will and believe the message of salvation. The mechanics of how the divine will interacts with the human will is beyond our understanding. What we know from the Scriptures is that both wills cooperate. Several passages state God’s will is that all be saved yet all are not. In these cases, the divine will is frustrated by human will yet God remains sovereign.

The Scriptures reveal a progressive revelation of the atonement. The Old Testament and gospels revealed the Messiah would die for Jews. The prophets and the gospel writers provided no information about Christ dying for Gentiles. After God saved Paul, God revealed a new message of salvation that included the salvation of Gentiles based upon faith alone. This included the revelation that Christ died for all humankind. Thus, the revelation that Christ would die for all Jews was expanded to the teaching that Christ had died for all mankind. The ascended Christ revealed to Paul the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20.24) that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). As we have seen above, no Scriptural evidence exists to support a case for limited atonement. We have also seen logic cannot support a case for limited atonement. Therefore, the doctrine of limited or definite atonement must be viewed as a theological curiosity based upon incompetent exegesis of the Scriptures and flawed reasoning by inept theologians. It is Biblically unsound and cannot be considered orthodoxy Christianity.

The Lord Jesus Christ solved the problem of sin and death and satisfied the justice of God. While Christ died for all, His death is of benefit only to the one who believes Paul’s gospel. Divine will and human will cooperate in salvation. Exactly how, we cannot know. That is not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to declare God’s glorious gospel (our Great Commission) that Jesus Christ died for all, that God has reconciled the world to Himself, and that He has given believers a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5.14-21).

See the author’s study on Israel’s Covenants.
I have found no one who has considered Old Testament or gospel passages to determine the extent of the atonement.
The other passage that deals with the Messiah’s death to any degree is Psalm 22. But Psalm 22 makes no mention of sin.
4 The Church, the Body of Christ, is never called sheep. Sheep are always Jews in Scripture (cf. Psalm 23). The closest we come to the Church being called sheep is Paul’s quotation of Psalm 44.22 in Romans 8.36. Paul applied this verse to illustrate the security of the believer in Christ in spite of distress and persecution.
5 A couple of points are worth considering. John the Baptist’s statement is recorded in John’s gospel. John’s gospel has different emphases from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (synoptic gospels). In particular, John focused on Christ’s deity. John presented Jesus as the eternal God, creator of all things, and the source of all life. John’s Jesus is full of grace and truth (John 1). John the Baptist’s statement anticipated a larger salvation (cf. John 3.17, 12.47). We do not know when John wrote his gospel. If it was late, it could have been influenced by Paul. If so, Paul’s teaching of an expanded reconciliation to Gentiles could have influenced John’s work. Another point to consider is whether John the Baptist understood what he said. Other Scriptures demonstrate that God sometimes revealed things that were not understood at the time by His servants. For example, Daniel did not understand what the pre-incarnate Christ revealed to him (Daniel 12.9-13). The disciples did not understand that Jesus would die and be resurrected (Luke 18.31-34).
See the author’s study, Two Remarkable Healings for more information on this matter.
The same is true for Peter, James, and John. Their audience was believers. We would not expect them to declare that Christ’s work had atoned for the sins of all unless that indeed was what He had done.
The commission of Matthew 28 was the commission Christ gave to His disciples. It was the Jewish commission which was a continuation of the “repent/kingdom at hand” message, not the commission of the Church, the body of Christ. The Church’s commission is 2 Corinthians 5.18-20. See The Great Commission.
9 See the author’s study, Who Wrote Hebrews?

©2011 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.

Updated, November 24, 2011


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119 Responses to For Whom Did Christ Die?

  1. Wendell Gideon says:

    If Schweitzer was right then you are incorrect about the atonement. You said Christ died as atonement for either all of mankind or for just believers in him. Schweitzer in his last book indicated that he had changed his previous opinion about the atonement. When Jesus died he died not as an atonement at all but to spare the many (those he died for) from having to suffer in the pre-messianic affliction. In other words he died to spare them (the many) from having to other wise suffer. It was not as an atonement for sins at all. Sins can be forgiven by repenting, asking for forgiveness (as in praying the Lord’s prayer) and by forgiving others for their wrongs to you. Jesus provoked his own death because he thought that would also remove any blockage standing in the way of the coming of the kingdom of God he prophesied would come in that generation. Sad to say, it seems that he was sincerely and honestly mistaken as evidenced by the non-occurrence of the kingdom of God in the manner in which he said it was to come (with Son of Man on the clouds) and in the time frame he said it would.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      I agree. If Scwheitzer was right I am wrong. But the Bible clearly states Christ died for everyone. As for the Lord’s prayer, it was addressed to Jews under the Law. And it states that one could only be forgiven if one forgives. But Paul declared we have been forgiven and therefore we should forgive (Ephesians 4.32). Two different bodies and circumstances: 1) To Jews; to Church 2) Pre-cross; Post-cross 3) Under Law; Not under Law. Jesus stated He would not return until Israel repented (Matthew 23.37-39). They haven’t. Therefore the kingdom of God has not been established.

  2. Philip says:

    What an awesome article and wonderfully written and easily understood. I always found it amazing that people discuss atonement without ever making reference to the Levitical sacrifices. Its like discussing what you had for lunch without actually saying what you ate.

    Thanks for the time you spent in research and I look forward to reading more of your articles.

  3. Mary says:

    Dear Sir:

    I read the lesson on “For Whom Did Jesus Die”. When I came across your explanation of II Peter 2:1-3 I thought no one can misunderstand these verses. This passage seemed to me to be a confirmation of unlimited atonement. But when I used Bible Gateway’s resources from the “Reformation Study Bible” I read that these verses could be speaking of christian conduct and those spoken of were christians who were not living up to their profession.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Mary,
      Those who hold to “Reformed theology” are adament in their view of limited atonement. For most of them, no amount of Scripture will change their view because their theology is dearer than the Scriptures.

  4. linda c says:

    Hi Don,
    I am trying to understand this article but having some difficulty and was hoping you could help me sort it out. I believe everything that was stated but I also thought one would see changes in the people who believe, such as in the fruits of the Spirit. Before I recognized the truth that was presented here I believed in Gods work on the cross but lived a life of rebellion. A year and a half ago God drew me in closer and even though I still believed that He had died for me, my life began to change. So with this being said I don’t think I was saved before and now I could say that I am. Does that make sense? I know people who I have witnessed to and told the the good news and they say they believe but still have premarital sex, pray to mary using the rosary etc so how can they be saved if they don’t seem to know God? What about people who believe but don’t understand Scripture how you have laid it out and speak in tongues and preach the prosperity gospel? are they saved? what about in the future for the people who believe but take the mark of the beast because they were deceived by the antichrist? john mcarthur said they would still be saved even though scripture seems to indicate they won’t. Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks for all the information you have provided for me in the past few days. I am reading all your articles and have so many questions and I am glad that you are willing to help me. God bless you!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Linda,
      These are areas I cannot venture into. The only essential thing is to believe the gospel–Christ died for us and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.1-4). God will do His good work in those who believe this. I would not dwell on the question of when you were saved. What is important is what you believe NOW. On the matter of the mark of the beast, that will be a whole different realm than our present age. The Scripture is quite clear that anyone who takes the mark of the Beast is lost. Taking the Antichrist’s mark is a rejection of Christ and seals one’s fate to the Lake of Fire (Revelation 14.9-11).

      • linda c says:

        Thanks for your response. So one last thing, about being born again, is that something that has to be said to people when witnessing? Or is that something that the Holy Spirit takes care of once that person believes in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus?
        is there such think as hyper-grace? i know people speak against it, but if God’s grace is all we need after we believe to be saved, then hyper grace shouldn’t be an issue. Just that many people say that because someone says a prayer at the end of a service for salvation it is not good enough. This is where my confusion lies. That they have to crucify their flesh, and not love the world or the things of the world. Like Ephesians 2:2 and 4:17.

        I am learning a lot from this site. It has been extremely helpful just that I have some questions in order to understand things since I feel I have been taught different that what is being said here and I want to learn more about the truth.
        do you have or know of any good gospel tracts that can be printed and passed out? Thanks

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Linda,
          There’s no set “formula” for witnessing. The most important thing is to be sensitive to where the person is and to communicate clearly. The Holy Spirit is the One who opens the heart. There’s a lot of confusion about the gospel but Paul gave us the clearest statement of it in 1 Corinthians 15.1-4. That is where our focus should be. Paul never spoke about hyper-grace so I don’t know where this comes from. “Crucify the flesh” etc. The closest thing I can think of is Romans 6.11 which Paul wrote to believers. Check out the Berean Bible Society (https://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/) for tracts.

  5. Lou says:

    Thank you so much for this comprehensive analysis. One question please: if a born again Christian changes his/her view to ‘limited atonement’ would this affect his/her salvation?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Lou,
      No. Salvation is based wholly in believing the gospel–1 Corinthians 15.1-4. But why a believer would move to a unbiblical position is incomprehensible to me.

    • Sandy says:

      Scripture says believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Those who believe in limited atonement are saved by Gods grace just as you are. To believe in Limited atonement does not take away your salvation. In Ephesians God seals the believer with His Holy Spirit . Man can not undo that just because we believe in limited atonement.

      • doctrine doctrine says:

        Sandy,
        Indeed, one can believe in limited atonement and be saved. But why would one want to believe in something for which no Scriptural support exists? The Bible states explicitly that Christ died for the sins of everyone, not just some.

        • ron says:

          Don, you make a strong claim that Christ died for the sins of everyone. I agree in the sense that no matter what sin is committed by anyone, that is a sin that was covered under Christ’s shed blood. He died for the ‘sin’ of the world (that sin nature mankind inherited from Adam). That would of course cover all ‘sins’ which stem from that nature. Would be a bit of a leap in this text to imply ‘world’ can also mean every person. And yes, God ‘desires all men to be saved’. God is love and that ‘desire’ makes sense. I too desire that everyone I know would be saved. But ‘desire to be saved’ is entirely different than ‘can be saved’…

          • doctrine doctrine says:

            Ron,
            I do not understand how Christ could die for the sins of the world and not die for the sin of every person. Nor do not understand the objection to Christ’s having died for every person. The argument that all are not saved is meaningless. For example, God gave the promised land to Israel. It was theirs. But they had to take possession of it by faith. They refused. This is the argument Paul used in Hebrews. God can give us something but we must receive it by faith. Salvation is the same. Christ died for all but His death and resurrection only benefit those who believe.

            • Ron says:

              Don,
              Interesting that through your exegesis, you have inferred that man can play a role in his salvation. And not just any role, the final determining act. I have not seen that in scripture but I do see and know a God who has done all that I could never do. He is the One who pulled me out of the ‘miry clay’. He is the One who transformed me into a ‘new creation’. I take no credit in even the very least for salvation in His Name. All glory to Him and not one leg to stand on for me. Like all men, I was born in enmity toward God. I had no inherent capability to change that on my own. Very humbling when I think of all that He has done. He most certainly chose me. Over and over the scriptures talk of God’s will, not man’s.
              John 1:29
              The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin (this is not plural) of the world! (‘world’ was often used to distinguish God’s plan beyond the Jews)

              Heb 9:26
              He has appeared to put away sin (not plural) by the sacrifice of Himself. (Are all sins covered? Yes, because any act of sinning stems from our fallen sinful state. That fallen state is the ‘sin of the world’ which was defeated on the cross)

              John 6:37-39
              All that the Father gives Me will come to Me,(God cannot make a mistake. Those ‘chosen’ will not reject Him) and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. (Again, not one predestined soul will be lost. Man cannot circumvent his Creator’s decision)
              It has and will always be the defiant struggle of mankind; to relinquish even the appearance of his own credit, that the mighty, loving, and jealous God we serve may receive all the glory. Woe is me….

              • doctrine doctrine says:

                Ron,
                We cannot know all the mechanics of salvation. Does a man exercise his will when he believes the gospel? God has done all the work but man must exercise faith in that work. That was true with the Levitical sacrifices and it is true with the gospel today.

      • Lily says:

        I do not like the word “Limited Atonement” I know my atonement was “complete in Christ”, not “limited” If it was limited, I’d be afraid if my Salvation was Limited, it would be taken away from me. I am completely SAVED, not half saved! Jesus did not come to make a halfway atonement, He came to give Full Atonement for the Salvation of the Whole Wide World. WWW period!

  6. Kenneth says:

    Like all of your articles, this one is wonderfully written. Until recently, I was a strong 4 to 5 point Calvinist, I would jokingly call myself a 4.5 Calvinist; I have always struggled with fully accepting Limited Atonement, although I see how it works/fits within the realm of the TULIP theory. I finally came to the conclusion that Scripture simply does not support limited atonement or their understanding of election/predestination. My transition was similar to when I moved from an “Acts 2” position to a “Mid-Acts” one many years ago. I had to ask myself, is my “pet” theology more important that Scripture? If one is being honest, clearly the Bible and what it plainly teaches should take precedent. Thanks again for your hard work on this website.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Kenneth,
      Always great to hear this. I was pretty much in the same camp and this also was what was taught in seminary. About 20 years ago I came to the conclusion this was not right: the Scriptures do not support these positions. Tragically, for most of Christendom, theological understanding has improved little in the past 500 years. Most of the errors that began early in Church history (cf. 2 Timothy 1.15) remain and continue in repackaged forms.

  7. Chuck says:

    Your arguments/conclusion are persuasive and I am sure they are correct. However I still have a hard time with unlimited atonement. In the realm of the Levitical sacrifices of animals for the forgiveness of sin, did the sacrificed animal die for all sins or the specific sin/s of one individual? If only one person were to saved by depending on Christ’s salvation work would the sins of the world be placed on Christ? If there were degrees of Christ’s sufferings would Christ be paying for the sins of those who would ultimate reject Him? Would this violate the justice of God?

    Matthew 26:28New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
    Should Jesus have said “for all for forgiveness of sins.”?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Chuck,
      We need to look at the big picture–the problem God had to solve. That problem, the fix man had gotten himself into was sin itself. All men fell when Adam sinned and were “in Adam.” Therefore, to solve the problem of man’s sin and God’s justice, all of man’s sin had to be judged. That was done at the cross. Jesus said, “it has been finished” (Τετέλεσται) John 19.30. As far as the Levitical sacrifices, I would say that on the Day of Atonement, the sacrifice was for all the people. The other sacrifices were for specific, individual violations. I would be the last person to say Jesus should have said something other than He did. On the surface, this appears to be a difficult verse for unlimited atonement. But given the context, it is not. Jesus spoke to Jews in the Gospels. He knew His death would solve the sin problem for all mankind but He did not reveal it. The Twelve had no clue and neither did anyone else. In the OT we have but one passage, Isaiah 53 that hints at how God would solve the problem of sin and the Jews did not understand this. They thought the Levitical sacrifices were sufficient. Everything Jesus spoke about in the Gospels concerned Israel. We do not learn the full significance of His death until it was revealed by Paul.

  8. Joe says:

    Good help, thank you.

    Question: Has the sin problem been settled? Do the unsaved go to hell for their sins? Is sin even an issue to the unsaved as far as salvation is concerned. I read in Rev 20 that the unsaved are judged for their deeds (good works and bad works). Were all sins past and present and future washed away at Christ’s death and resurrection for everyone lost and saved?

    Question: Since I mentioned good works are good works of any divine value if a person is not saved? Do (will)good works done while alive on earth keep the air a little cooler in hell for the unsaved dead?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      The sin problem is solved. Christ paid for all sins for all mankind (John 19.30, Τετέλεσται). His resurrection was proof God accepted His sacrifice. People go to hell because they refuse to trust Christ’s work for them. In the judgment of Revelation 20, unbelievers’ deeds are revealed to determine their punishment since their names are not in the book of life. Good works have value because Jesus used comparative words of punishment when He brought up the subject of hell and judgment (Matthew 11.21-22; Luke 12.47-48; John 19.11).

  9. Joe says:

    Thank you once again.

    How do you address the I John 1 ‘niners’ (I John 1:9) where we are told that if we confess our sin we are forgiven ?

    Chafer (Dallas Theological) is pretty much in this camp. Spiritual vs Carnal Christian.

    If this vs. is addressed to Jews under the law since it is not Paul writing where did this concept fall under Judaism (law). Wasn’t forgiveness to law keepers related to blood sacrifices and only then it wasn’t forgiveness but covering. If I Jn 1:9 is not grace is it some hybrid since it is written after Christ’s death by a believer who at least knew of Grace but promoted the Kingdom gospel?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      Paul’s language to believers of his gospel was “repent.” Repentance, according to Paul, is for believers. Paul only used repentance in relation to unbelievers once in his letters (Romans 2.4).

  10. Paul Miller says:

    What a great article. I appreciate your work very much. In the section titled “The Logic of Limited Atonement”, you need an additional word after this phrase “Put another way, it is how they _____ (perhaps view or understands).

    May God continue to bless your efforts!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Paul,
      Thank you for your encouraging words. Always appreciate readers catching errors. It shows they’re reading carefully!

  11. becky says:

    Hi Don,
    What a great study. I read this verse today and reminds me of the last paragraph of your conclusion:
    Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    Christ died for all, yet if one does not believe, he does not have the Spirit of Christ, thus he is none of his.

  12. Phillip says:

    Hey Don.
    I have enjoyed your site. Recently, I commented for the first time concerning your article, “The Two Witnesses”. Like you, I recognize the difference and distinction between the kingdom gospel and the gospel heralded by Paul.

    To me, Bullinger was so insightful regarding Paul’s gospel and the mysteries revealed by the risen and glorified Lord.

    As to the unlimited atonement:

    Not only do I believe the atonement to be unlimited in scope, I believe it will eventually see all reconciled to God through the work of Jesus Christ’s cross (Col. 1:20).

    The vast majority are not given belief in this life, however, all will come to belief when face to face with their Savior (Paul’s Damascus road conversion is was a picture of the unbeliever’s conversion.

    I do believe in ALL the judgments of God outlined in scripture but believe they are age-abiding and not without end.

    For me, the clincher is Romans 5:18. The “all” who were condemned by the disobedience of Adam is the same “all” who will receive justification by the act of obedience of Christ Jesus. The “all” are passive parties affected by both the first and second Adam with the “even so” separating them acting as a literary “equal sign” creating an undeniable parallel.

    Grace and peace,

    Phillip

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Phillip,
      Thank you. The Scriptures reveal the opportunity for salvation ends with physical death. God has provided the needed evidence, information, and opportunity for salvation for every person in this life. Salvation requires faith, an act of the will in which one turns from his rebellion to God to accept His salvation. Christ has died for all but His work has no effect for one who refuses Christ’s work. For more, see my article, Hell and Judgment.

  13. Phillip Garrison says:

    Thanks for your reply Don. Faith is important and that is where the “especially” of 1 Timothy 4:10 comes into play. “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believed.”, right?

    Most are not meant to believe in this life. But we do know that every knee shall now and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God. I think the mistake we tend to make all too easily is to make this an admission made under duress rather than a glad affirmation.

    Also, we have set an artificial deadline of death for belief/faith in Christ when scripture does not. Hebrews 9:27 for example is constantly used to teach such a thing. However, this verse (when read in context) has nothing to do with some sort of judgment of humanity immediately upon death. This passage can only be correctly understood when taken with Numbers 35. The writer of Hebrews in chapter 9, tells the Israelite believers that Jesus is the ultimate high priest. Compare the role of the high priest in Numbers 35 (regarding the innocent manslayer) with Jesus “dying once” in Hebrews 9. It gives a whole new meaning to the some of the last words of The Lord on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

    Again, I do not in any way deny God’s righteous judgments and believe all of scripture.

    Phillip

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Philip,
      I think you are misunderstanding the nature of God’s redemption. God has made salvation available to all and given every person enough light to make a choice for or against Him in this life. Why would one need “more time” or “more opportunity” when God has provided sufficient opportunity in this life? The demons believe in God but don’t believe God, i.e., they do not put their trust in Him. The Godward side of salvation is the work of Christ; the manward side is trust in that work. What kind of “trust” is involved for a person who has rejected God’s love and work and finds themselves in hell? Jesus implied a change of mind is not possible in His account of the rich man and Lazarus but even if we grant its possibility, the choice would not be based on trust. Faith is the eye of what God has revealed. Faith is bypassed if one “knows” by experience (Hebrews 11.1-2, 6). Paul wrote that now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6.2) and gave no hope of a future opportunity for salvation.

  14. Phillip Garrison says:

    Don,
    There are too many examples of where this brief “vapor” of life is clearly not enough time. God didn’t make salvation “available”. He made it a certainty. Jesus cannot fulfill His role as “the firstborn of creation” if He doesn’t reconcile His younger brothers. If you read the original, the definite article “the” is not present in Paul’s explanation of “the” day of salvation.

    The rich man and Lazarus is not teaching an afterlife. It is the satirical piece of the 5 part parable contrasting God’s attitude toward the lost with the Pharisees’ attitude toward the lost. The details NOT given about the rich man and Lazarus are just as telling as the descriptions and details which are given. You should read E.W. Bullinger’s or Otis Seller’s explanation of the rich man and Lazarus. Very eye opening.

    Christ’s work on the cross was accomplished positionally 2,000 years ago but will not be accomplished as to fact until the consummation. See 1 Corinthians 15:21-28. This is the furthest revelation into the future that scripture provides us. It looks beyond Revelation 22.

    Let me ask you to consider something:
    Re-read Romans 5:18 and ponder these questions:

    “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”

    1. Are there any who were not under the condemnation brought on “all” by Adam’s act?
    2. If so, how can the “all” of who are affected by Jesus’ work of obedience not be the same “all”?
    3. Does not the “even so” make the two groups, both the same “all”?
    4. Did the first “all” do anything to come under the condemnation?
    5. If not, are we really suggesting that Adam’s single act of partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is MORE effective and MORE far reaching than Jesus’ 6 hours of suffering on the cross?

    Phillip

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Phillip,
      If we believe the Scriptures, we must believe the Lord’s words on this subject (Matthew 7.13-14). Few will be saved. Greek does not have to have a definite article to make a noun definite. In this case, given the context of the passage, I think the translation, “the day” rather than “a day” makes better sense. I have addressed the other issues in this article and in Hell and Judgment. Paul stated all “in Adam” die but “all in Christ” will be made alive. The only way one becomes “in Christ’ is through faith and the only way one gets to hell is through no faith. All enemies under God’s feet does not mean all will be saved. It means God will have proven his case. He will have demonstrated His grace, love, and righteousness and all will acknowledge this–even the lost. He will have solved the angelic conflict and the problem of evil. Finally, Bullinger did not teach universalism. See The Berean Expositor, vol. 25, pp.55-.

  15. Phillip Garrison says:

    Don,
    I do believe Jesus’ words but we must not read Pagan concepts into His words. What is the scope and context of the gospel account of Matthew? Is it not the presentation of God’s King to Israel? What was the context of the Lord’s earthly ministry (see Matt.15:24). Was ultimate salvation the context of Jesus’ words on “the strait gate”? Of course not. The context of His words was concerning how few of Israel would enter the Kingdom when He establishes it.

    You are mixing up the actual words recorded by Paul. He did NOT say “all in Christ”. His words read “in Christ all”. Though all three words are the same, changing the order as you did, completely alters the meaning.

    I never said that Bullinger was a universalist. He (as far as I know) never came to the truth of universal reconciliation (although he got close) through the work of Christ. Bullinger was an annihilationist. His mastery of the Hebrew and Greek did guide him to the fact that the wages of sin is death; not eternal torment. He also had a biblical understanding of the state of death; that it is not another form of life but it is the absence of life. His article on the rich man and Lazarus and what it is really about is excellent.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Phillip,
      Jesus’ earthly ministry was to Jews (with a couple exceptions) but His words about salvation are general. To be in the Kingdom means one is saved. No unbelievers go into the kingdom at the end of the Tribulation (Jew or Gentile). One need only look at the history of salvation to see how few have been saved. In the days of Noah, 8 out of billions. In Elijah’s day, 7,000 out of about 7 million. As for 1 Corinthians 15, whether one reads “all in Christ” or “in Christ all” the sense is the same. The way to “in Christ” is to believe the gospel. Paul’s point was to contrast Adam and Christ. All in Adam die. All in Christ live. Those who reject the gospel remain in Adam. One cannot explain Paul’s evangelist efforts (or anyone else’s) if he believed that everyone would be saved whether or not he preached the gospel or not.

  16. Phillip says:

    Don,
    I agree that no unbelievers enter the kingdom at the end of the Tribulation. Do you believe the Body of Christ, those who believe Paul’s unique gospel, will rule and reign in Israel or in the heavens?

    Let’s stick with Romans 5:18 for a moment. There is a parallel at work here and it is the same parallel as in 1 Corinthians 15:22. Are you saying that those justified by the work of Christ were not condemned under Adam? I don’t think you are. I think you are saying that a few of the all who were condemned under Adam will be justified in Christ. Then…why the “all” in both clauses? And more importantly, why the “even so” between them? Did the “all” in Adam put anything into practice which put them under Adam? BUT, you’re saying that for Christ’s work to be effective, we must contribute to His work? Is that not making the first Adam far greater than the second Adam?
    “As by the policy of the animal control center, all of the pets will be euthanized, even so, by the emergency legislation of the Governor of the state, all of the pets will receive the gift of clemency.”

    In the above scenario, how many of the pets were euthanized?

    There are 3 types of salvation spoken of in scripture.
    1. salvation of one’s life from death or danger.
    2. salvation from the wages of sin (secured by Christ for everyone)
    3. salvation (“especially”, as seen in 1 Tim.4:10) of aionian/age-abiding life reserved ONLY for believers of the gospel (either the kingdom gospel or gospel of God’s grace).

    Phillip

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Phillip,
      Let me answer by asking two questions:
      1. Do you think Romans 5.18 teaches that Christ’s death saved everyone apart from a response of faith, i.e., believeing the gospel?
      2. How do you understand what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6.9-10 and Galatians 6.19-21?

  17. Phillip Garrison says:

    Don,
    Yes, the second Adam WILL undo what was wrought by the first Adam. Again, scripture seems to indicate that while His work was finished positionally at Calvary, it will not see its culmination as to fact until the consummation of the ages and that will be long after the millennial reign of Christ.

    Galatians 6 ends at verse 18. You may have been thinking of a different chapter. If so, shoot me over the reference.

    As to the passage in 1 Corinthians 6, there are a couple of things going on here. Primarily, Paul is dealing with the fact that their (the believers in Paul’s evangel) identity is no longer tied in to their sin. Were all of these individuals completely freed or “delivered” from their sins? I doubt it but in some cases, perhaps. That isn’t the point. The point is justification which the believer has in the eyes of God. The other point is not that a person who IS one who covets, will never be reconciled to God. The point is inheriting a position of ruling and reigning.
    Let’s take one of the “lesser” sins mentioned by Paul in the passage. Is a believer who is a career coveter (we both know the type) saved? Or, was Jesus’ work just not enough?

    The kingdom will end. 1 Corinthians 15:21-28 goes beyond and past the kingdom to the consummation when ALL reign is over and God becomes “all in all”.

    Don, what does the “all” do in Romans 5:18, in either clause? Nothing. In terms of God’s plan, He has brought everyone to the same point through Adam, so that He can eventually get everyone to the same point in His Son.

    If your (or my) faith is what gets the ball of salvation into the end zone, how can you NOT boast (Eph.2:8-9)?

    If we are saved by faith which WE “work up”, then Jesus’ work is merely a down payment on a debt that our faith pays off in order to purchase.

    There is no way around that Don.

    Phillip

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Phillip,
      The reference was Galatians 5.21. What you have written indicates a misunderstanding of the nature of faith. You see faith as a “work.” Paul distinguished faith from work (Romans 4.5). Faith is a response by which one apprehends God’s work on our behalf. Faith is a means of perception, like reason and sensory experience. Paul’s gospel is based upon faith (Romans 1.16-17, 3.22, 26-28). Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Without faith there is no salvation and without faith no one has ever pleased God (Hebrews 11.6). I think we’ve reached an impasse and it’s time to end the discussion. You think God has saved everyone by Christ’s death on the cross whether they believe it or not. The Scriptures do not support such a view.

  18. R. W Smith says:

    Don,
    I love your website! It has blessed me over these couple of years. I think I have read every article and I continue to reread most of them.
    I need your help in clarifying your last statement. “You think God has saved everyone by Christ’s death on the cross whether they believe it or not.” My understanding is from God’s perspective salvation for the world is complete which to me means “all”. My confusion is this: If Christ paid the sin debt for “all” then salvation is complete for all. If “all” are not saved then why? My understanding is they either don’t know they are saved or they don’t care. If they don’t know they are saved then they must be told. If they don’t care (and I believe most do) then they don’t know. I believe it’s the lack of understanding scripture that churchianity has been teaching for centuries. Of all the churches I have attended requirements are placed on attendants when only one is required, that is faith +0. Faith in Paul’s gospel. I agree faith is not a work as you have said and it must be apprehended by someone who doesn’t know that they have already been justified. Once Paul’s gospel has been explained whether by someone or scripture they can either accept and apprehend it or not.
    Therein lies my confusion on your last statement. Maybe it’s the word “saved” that’s in conflict for me. Salvation is not a done deal if it’s not apprehended. The good news of Paul’s gospel is certainly good news to all of us who have been brainwashed into believing we must do something to live with God after this life.
    I don’t know if any of this makes any sense to you but I hope you can clarify that last comment of your reply to Phillip.
    Thank you for all you are doing in clearing up thousands of years of misunderstanding
    scripture in our churches.
    God bless you.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      R W Smith,
      Christ’s work on the cross solved the problem of sin. He paid for all sins. He satisfied God’s justice and removed the barrier between God and man. God has done all the work but it must be accepted by the individual. This is what faith does. Faith says to God, “I trust you. I believe Christ’s death and resurrection paid for my sins.” If a person does not do this, God’s salvation can provide no benefit for the individual. Please see the section of the article, The Fallacy of the Limited Atonement Argument. Grace and peace.

  19. Nathaniel Eli says:

    Salvation from the penalty of sin which is to perish as perishable goods, completely burnt out of existence is only by faith in the death and resurrection of Christ alone without the works of the law. But natural and fallen man has no ability in himself to believe and accept this gospel. It is only those that God chose to show mercy to that are caused to believe. For it is only those that are ordained to eternal life that believe. If is written, ‘for by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.'(ephesians. 2:8,9). All glory to God alone in Christ Jesus. For it is God and God alone that makes the difference between the lost and the saved, yet man is responsible for his sins.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Nathaniel Eli,
      The Scriptures teach both the divine and human will operate in salvation. See the many verses in The Fallacy of the Limited Atonement section that demonstrate this. We have to rely upon all the Scriptures, not just some of them.

  20. Vanessa says:

    Hello Don, I hope this finds you well. The question of the dead in Matt 27:50-54 The Dead walked the Streets, where do you think they are now. Thank you and take care.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vanessa,
      Little information about this but it seems they were part of the “firstfruits” resurrected (1 Corinthians 15.20) and are in heaven with the Lord (a preview of the resurrection of Jewish believers)–our resurrection occurs at the Rapture. Before this, believers went to Hades (Paradise, a.k.a. Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16)) which Paul’s seems to indicate Christ emptied (Ephesians 4.8-10). The article: https://www.bereanbiblesociety.org/hell-sheol-hades-paradise-and-the-grave/ is quite good on the subjects of hell, hades, sheol, etc.

  21. Vanessa says:

    Thank you for that thread. Always appreciated.

  22. Vernon says:

    Hi Don,

    What did Paul mean in Acts 17:39 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”
    Are we to repent too?

    Thanx,

    Vernon.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vernon,
      In Paul’s letters, except for Romans 2.4, repentance is language reserved for believers. So yes, when we sin, we must repent (change our mind). In the case of the Athenians, these were pagan intellectuals (think college campus). Here the appeal was to change their mind about idols, which greatly troubled him (Acts 17.16). Paul reasoned that God “overlooked” “winked at” idolatry before the appearance of Christ and His work on the cross. Once that work was finished it brought all animal sacrifices (at pagan temples as well as in Judaism) to an end. He warned that the One who had died and risen would be their judge.

  23. Vanessa says:

    Good Morning Don, For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. This verse has throw the cat amongst the pigeons with our small Bible class and we dont have an answer. 2 Cor 7 verse 10. When one reads this verse it seems so simple to understand that repentance is required for salvation. We know this is not the case as its only faith that we need. This is one of the female attendees questions and we dont know how to answer her. We had suspected she was going to be the fly in the ointment.
    In addition she has now gone and printed pages of false accusations she obtained off the net on Les Feldick. The enemy has crept in so as to speak leaving us sick to the heart. Repentance comes naturally when walking in the Spirit but as far as we have learnt it is not required for Salvation. We are not looking forward to Sunday and we both have a heavy heart. A heart that cries with pain. How so cruel. Please will you throw some light on this verse.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Vanessa,
      Look at the context of the passage. Paul was writing believers. They were saved. Despite all the Corinthian’s problems they knew the Lord. In 1 Corinthians Paul upbraided them for their sins of divisions, quarreling, immorality, abuse of the Lord’s supper, etc. Word came to Paul from Titus that they had repented and he was rejoicing in their change of attitude. The salvation he is was writing about was the whole realm of salvation, in this case, sanctification, of being made like Christ, not justification whereby God imputes His righteousness to us. It should be obvious that believing in Christ involves repentance. One cannot believe without changing one’s mind about God, sin, one’s standing before God, etc. But in Paul’s gospel the emphasis is upon faith, not repentance. The gospel of the kingdom’s emphasis was upon repentance (Matthew 3.2; Acts 2.36-38).

  24. Vanessa says:

    Hello Don, Only after sending you the message did I find the answer which is the same as what you said. I would have advised you but got side tracked. My apologies, but thank you for replying.

  25. courtney king says:

    Well said and scripturely put. Isn’t it a blessing to know we can turn to a perfect Savior and be forgiven and recieve the free gift of eternal life !

  26. Lindiwe Jele says:

    Hi, Wonderful as always!
    1. Now, It was effective for a person only if two conditions were met: 1) if the individual brought a sacrifice and 2) if the person bringing the sacrifice believed God covered his sin. Therefore, both faith and works were required for salvation. Then Jesus made it easy for everyone, he died and offered himself as a sacrifice. That’s why today we need no works (no sacrifice). Jesus is the work for us. This is the Grace Gospel = Faith + 0.
    Now but I don’t understand why it is thought that keeping the Lord’s commandments is works? For me this is just to honor our Father not to work for salvation (works refers only to bringing a sacrifice). in the olden days the Law was written in stones, today His Law is written in our hearts. and today pleasing God include not sinning anymore. after salvation we strive to please our God by being good children of His, we do our best to stay away from sins…. I believe that’s why Paul always reminded the churches about living Holy lives?
    2. i have heard teachings that one can never loose their salvation even if they go back to sin life after salvation? is this true?
    3. what does Backsliding mean? if one backslides can they still maintain their salvation?
    4. why was it important for Paul to urge and remind believers to Hold onto his teachings/gospel, otherwise their believing would be in vain or something like that?
    5. if one believed in Pauls gospel but later turn onto another gospel (that is disbelieve) would they still maintain their first salvation in that God gave them eternal life when they got saved in Pauls gospel? a.k.a. once saved always saved?

    Thanks once again for your assistance.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Lindiwe,
      1. Keeping the Law was always considered a work (Exodus 19.8; Luke 10.28; Romans 3.28). 2. Salvation is an event, not a process. Once God makes us alive in Christ it is an accomplished fact. Believers can sin and God can remove them (1 Corinthians 5.1-5, 11.27-32) but all who have believed Paul’s gospel are eternally safe. 3. Backsliding means being disobedient and unrepentant. 4. It’s difficult to know precisely what Paul had in mind in 1 Corinthians 15.2 since the Corinthians had so many problems but it appears that Paul was say, “unless you really didn’t believe.” 5. Yes. But this is unlikely.

  27. Peter Robinson says:

    Don

    Thanks very much for this article which I have read with great interest, having stumbled upon your site today. The information provided is of great assistance in a discussion I am having with a fellow brother in Christ, who is a convinced believer of Limited Atonement and seems quite happy in manipulating Scripture to defend his case.

    My question relates to your understand of the ‘other sheep’ in John 10:16, which you believe refer to “a future generation of Jews”. In the Believers Bible Commentary, William MacDonald says “The other sheep to whom the Lord referred here were the Gentiles. His coming into the world was especially in connection with the sheep of Israel, but He also had in mind the salvation of Gentiles. The Gentile sheep were not of the Jewish fold. But the great heart of compassion of the Lord Jesus went out to these sheep as well, and He was under divine compulsion to bring them to Himself. He knew that they would be more ready than the Jewish people to hear His voice.”

    If you believe Brother MacDonald was mistaken in his conclusion, could you please outline your reasons?

    In Christ
    Peter

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Peter,
      Jesus had no ministry to Gentiles (with a couple exceptions–see my article, Two Remarkable Healings). He came to present Himself as Israel’s King and Messiah. Since this is so the burden of proof rests upon those who want to make “other sheep” Gentiles. What evidence is there? There is none. See Romans 15.8 cf. Matthew 10.5-6. As I noted in the article, the testimony of Mary, Zachariah, Simeon, etc. regarded Jesus and His rule of the nation. Old Testament theology was that Gentiles would be blessed through an obedient Israel. No revelation concerned how Gentiles could be blessed through a disobedient Israel. To interpret “other sheep” as Gentiles is to read Paul into the passage. This will not do. None of that had yet been revealed. Lastly, only Israel, Jews, are referred to as sheep. Gentiles are not and the Church is not. Grace and peace.

  28. Chuck Wehrheim says:

    Not exactly on track. Was reading Hebrews 6:6 and find it difficult to reconcile with Paul’s concept of nothing being able to seperate him (us) from the love of God. If Paul was directing his comments to Jews does this modify the message. Any thoughts regarding this passage?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Chuck,
      Read Acts 13, 18, and 28. This will provide context for Hebrews 6. Paul’s statement in Romans 8 referred to those saved under his gospel.

  29. courtney king says:

    Don, thank you so much for you time and labor. I know your service has been demanding and helpful. We are very thankful the Lord has raised you up. You articles allways line up with the Bible. I have showed them to sem.students and l9ve them too ! Peace and Grace

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Courtney,
      Thanks as always. Great to know the articles are getting to seminary students. Wish I had had them! Grace and peace.

  30. Chuck says:

    Don Samdahl,
    Recently had lunch with pastor friend. Pastor believes all men WILL be saved. She believes if a person does not accept Christ within their earthly life they will embrace Christ when they meet him face to face. Decided to review your article For Whom Did Christ Die?

    At first thought the only thing I can think of in support of her position is New American Standard Bible, Romans 14:11
    For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.”

    If faith is necessary to please God, how does one have faith when he is seeing Christ, face to face?

    Help point me in the right direction knowing that this will require considerable effort, examination.

    Chuck

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Chuck,
      This is wishful thinking, by your pastor friend, not Scripture. Every knee will bow but that does not mean salvation. It means all will acknowledge Christ as God. It does not mean they accept or love Him. They will recognize that their condemnation is righteous. This is why Jesus said there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8.12, 22.13). Jesus stated few find salvation (Matthew 7.13-14). No Scripture supports the idea of salvation after death.

      • Chuck says:

        Your comments are in accord with my understanding, my interpretation of scripture. I will have to ask her for her supporting scriptures and at the same time be prepared to present scriptural support for our position.
        Wishful thinking and or denial is part of most main stream religions.
        Thanks

  31. Becky says:

    Don,

    Nice work! I agree with you but just wanted to make a comment on ‘divine will plus human will’. Like you, I don’t understand the mechanics but this is exactly why I think Ephesians 2:14-16 refers specifically to Jesus who is both wholly divine and wholly human; he removed the enmity (the veil to the holy of holies) and he destroyed the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, “Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” The resurrection packed a mighty punch!!

    Also, is there a word or words missing under ‘the Fallacy of Limited Atonement’ – the part about Abram, “This plan had begun when He called Abram of___ and made His covenant” – should it read, “…Abram of Ur of the Chaldees…”?

    Blessings

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Becky,
      Thanks for the good eyes and correction.

      • Ernie could any thing be clearer than rom 3. 22 unto all and apon all that believe.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          Ernie,
          Yes. Salvation becomes effective for all who believe. This is possible because Christ died for all. Only those who believe benefit from Christ’s work because God expects us to make a choice. God did not create us as automatons. He wants creatures who will love and obey Him because they want to.

  32. Quintin says:

    Good day, I have something very urgent to ask you so I will keep this very short.

    I do not know as much as you about the Scriptures, wish I did. I am an ex soldier, drunkard, brawler, fornicator, popular, many friends, loved it. I did not go looking for God, had no interest. Could not care less about His Word. Until, out of all my friends and family, God started working in me specifically and mightily, to convict me, a sinner on the road to destruction, of righteousness, sin and judgment. I ran, tried to ignore it, but the Lord would not let me alone. He broke me, humbled me, and I came to Christ – nothing in my hands I bring, only to the Cross I cling. I am His and He is mine. If God did not, for reasons I still do not understand, chose to work in me to prepare the soil of my heart and to draw me to Christ, I would not be what I am today. By His continuing grace and mercy I have a wife, children, and home filled with peace, love and kindness. Serving in Church and really deeply love the brothers there. Have endured mocking, taunting, sneering and even anger – gladly. Love my Saviour more than mother and father and sister and brother and even my own life – undoubtedly. Despite pleading and begging with friends they are gone, no interest whatsoever. I am meeting more and more dear brothers who testify that God called them from the midst of many to Christ and salvation.

    I am also meeting more and more who come to Christ and make a profession of faith before witnesses, spur of the moment kind of thing. Some instant, flimsy kind of message about blessings and miracles. I believe they do come to Him, He does accept them, His blood is sufficient for the sins of all the world, they even feel a sense of forgiveness and a weight being lifted. Sadly, like the parable of the sower, most of them slowly but surely turn away and actually want nothing to do with Him. They do not care about truth, only solutions to emergencies, no care about holiness, only need the blessings promised – to help with the covetous worldliness. It is so terribly sad, seems to have fallen into the hands of false prophets, and the result looks much like 2 Peter 2 v 20-21.

    My question is this. There is a multitude of Psalms and other old Testament texts that are extremely dear and precious to me, as if they were written to me personally, like Psalms 34:18, Isaiah 66:2 and many more. Let’s take Psalm 103, one of the dearest to me, that fills my heart with thankfulness to God my Saviour. Should I now look at it and say “no, that is not meant for me”, meant only for some other group in some other time or dispensation or something? Humbly, with love and respect, submitting to your superior knowledge of the Scriptures, it would seem evil to deny God’s children the food meant for them.

    Sincerely,

    Quintin

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Quintin,
      First, praise God that you have come to know Him. It is wonderful to hear about the mighty work of God and of friends and family who loved and prayed for you. All Scripture is for us but not all Scripture is to us. Paul wrote of the things that occurred to Israel that these things were written for our learning, hope, and admonition (Romans 15.4; 1 Corinthians 10.11). The letters of Paul are written to us; they are our mail. They teach is truths for the Church, the body of Christ. But all the Scriptures benefit and comfort us and we can apply them to our lives. The Psalms speak of David’s love of the Lord and his recognition of God’s greatness and care for him and for Israel. We can apply these things to ourselves for God loves us and is faithful. Grace and peace.

  33. Quintin says:

    Thank you,

    So I would be right to teach my children that we should, as believers, be those who try to live in light of for instance Psalm 1. And can assure my family of the hope we have, that
    “it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” And that we will live in a kingdom where righteousness dwells, where there is no sin and no corruption and where God Himself will wipe away every tear?

    If this is the case, who needs more, I will be happy to live in ignorant bliss of all the technicalities you guys speak of. Honestly, I do not have the mental capacity to take it all in. I should stick to Ecclesiastes 12:12-13

    Kind regards,

    Quintin

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Quintin,
      I doubt you don’t have the mental capacity to understand all this. The basic thing to understand is that God commissioned Paul as the apostle of the Gentiles and created the Church, the body of Christ, through him. Paul’s letters are the doctrinal content for the Church. Stay with Paul with regard to doctrine and your faith will be sound.

  34. Luis says:

    Hello,

    I was wondering what would be an adequate response to the Calvinist perspective of man’s total depravity preventing man from being able to believe the gospel because he is “dead” in his transgressions. They say a “dead” man cannot believe because he is, well, dead. How can we reconcile the truth of man being dead in transgressions with his ability to believe the gospel?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Luis,
      The problem with Calvinists is they push certain passages beyond what the Scriptures teach. The Scriptures teach there is an interaction between man and God’s will. God alone can see the “heart.” We cannot understand fully how this operation works. I’ve tried to explain this in the article. Calvinists reject the Scriptures that go against the logic of their position. God opens the heart but God tells us to believe. Jesus told the Jews that He wanted to save them but they “would not” (Matthew 23.37-37). Calvinism has no answer to passages such as this except to move into the ridiculous, in which they essentially declare that God saves a man before He saves him. See my article on Predestination.

  35. Luis says:

    Thank you for the response. Your article on predestination is challenging for me to understand but I do believe you have a very strong point as far as the interaction of the divine and human wills are concerned.

    One more thing. Calvinists also say that man is restricted in his “free will” based on his sinful nature, ergo he cannot choose God. Wouldn’t this mean that Adam would not have been capable of choosing to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil because he was not yet tainted by sin?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Luis,
      This is the essential problem of Calvinists. They say man has no free will and cannot choose. But the Scriptures do not state this. If Calvinists are right, Jesus was a liar. It was He who said, “and you would not” (Matthew 23.37-39). He placed responsibility upon human will.

  36. Quintin says:

    Dear brother,

    I took your advice to heart and read Pauls Epistles. For me, the Christian faith does not amount to us sitting in ivory towers throwing around doctrines and teachings. The Word speaks of a living, vibrant, boots on the ground faith that affects our daily lives deeply and profoundly. Thankfully, when I read Paul and look past all the high doctrines and things that so many people argue so much over, Paul confirms for me that we are called to a living and active faith of love for God and our neighbour, especially towards fellow brothers and sisters, and this is exactly what Jesus and all the Apostles taught.

    What I see all through the Word is God calling a people to Himself, to a faith in Christ that causes them to live holy lives – not sinless perfection – but diferent, set apart, His own special people, zealous for good works. We live out those lives in community, fellowship with other believers, sacrificially loving, caring for and serving one another because of His love for us. We live – by His grace and His Spirit in us – lives that are filled with mercy, forgiveness, compassion and care for our fellow man. The temporary pleasures and treasures of this world – which is in constant rebellion to His rule and commands – mean very little and cannot be compared to the real riches He will one day bestow on us. So basically we are those who live in obedience to the Word – John 14:21. And we encourage each other – amidst the suffering, persecution and tribulation that He promised us, that He is faithful and true. To say that anything I mentioned here is “works added to salvation” is – sorry to say – nonsense. For instance, I continue to be utterly amased by His power in me to make me really gentle, kind and forgiving in the face of even severe taunting, where my old self would relish the chance for a fight. It is Him working in me, IT CANNOT POSSIBLY come from myself, I know my own nature too well.

    This boots on the ground, practical faith, leads me to always engage anyone who professes faith in Christ out of a love for Him and desire to encourage fellow believers, and because of this I have met and continue to meet the strangest kinds of faith. Faith that seems “robotic”. Just believe, don’t do this, avoid that, just believe. To me it looks like a kind of intelectual, spiritual aristocracy. They seem to teach that we are to actively refuse any form of good works or kindness and care because we dare not, actually refuse to weaken the might of our “believing” by even attempting to add anything to it at all. I am afraid that this looks to me more and more like mere mental ascent to the objective truth that Christ died and rose from the dead. There is know active love, no service, no depth, no joy, no fulness – and I think this is what James addressed. It sounds to me like those mentioned in Matthew 22:10-13

    I am not 100% sure of all the details but I fully believe the day is drawing near when we will suffer in the tribulation, they will probably take my home, my cars and possessions, may throw me and my family and fellow believers in prison, and kill us. By God’s mercy and grace and His Spirits work we will be able to endure, like many believers from all times. Luke 12:4 “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.” Dear brother, we can only be killed once, and after that eternal bliss and comfort in the presence of God our Saviour, who loves us and gave Himself for us. Christ saved us from the wrath to come, the day the Father appointed on which He will pour out His wrath on all who continue in sinful rebellion and refuse His gracious offer of salvation through His Son – Revelation 6:15-17. I have not found Scriptures that promise clearly and consistently and plainly, for anyone to understand, that He saves us from troubles, tribulations and the cares of this life.

    In my personal opinion, when considering salvation in light of Calvinism or Predestination or Dipensationalism or Pentecostalism or any denomination that exists, the first question to be answered is “what Biblical salvation actually is”. Is it mere mental ascent, or a mighty, life changing work of God in the hearts and lives of sinners.

    Thank you very much for taking time to read and respond to my questions, but I am convinced that I am to take all of God’s Word, everything in it, and feast on it.

    Quintin

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Quintin,
      There has never existed a more dynamic, faithful, and powerful Christian than Paul. What drove him? God’s grace and faith. Faith is power to live the Christian life. That is is the fuel. And Hebrews states that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Paul is the apostle of the Gentiles, of the Church. All Church doctrine comes from Paul. Ignore Paul and there is no Christianity. Doctrine is important as it reveals God’s will. There is nothing more practical than theology. God has revealed Himself through His word. We cannot know God apart from doctrine. As for the Tribulation, this is perfect example of how important and practical it is: Paul explicitly states Christians would not experience the Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 1.10, 5.9). There are many false teachers who teach otherwise. Why? Because they do not know the Word of God. They are false. They have rejected Paul. We ignore Paul at our own perils for he was the Lord Jesus Christ’s choice to reveal truths He did not reveal to the prophets and the Twelve. Grace and peace.

  37. Quintin says:

    Dear brother,

    Please tell me you did not infer that I even suggested ignoring Paul, sound doctrine or theology. That is why I read the articles you write and encourage others to do the same, I am trying to learn. Here I have found some things that make most of the Bible crystal clear, and I do sincerely thank you for that. You have a tremendous gift and you work hard at it.

    Being right or wrong about the Tribulation does not affect our ultimate salvation, and the Lord is not going to punish anyone for getting that doctrine wrong or right. I have friends that have the rapture as their “pet doctrine”, it’s just about all they ever talk about and the only thing that gets them excited. I just hope that many who do trust in being raptured are right, because I fear if they are wrong, many might fall away instantly.

    Sincerely,

    Quintin

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Quintin,
      I did not mean to imply your were ignoring Paul. The primary purpose of my comment was to emphasize that all Church doctrine comes from Paul. With regard to the Rapture and Tribulation, you are correct it is not something that affects one’s salvation. However, it is a subject that affects one’s obedience to the Lord. Paul commanded believers to encourage one another with the doctrine of the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 41.8). Paul wrote an entire letter–2 Thessalonians–to reiterate the fact that believers would not experience the Tribulation. If one refuses these truths, he is a disobedient Christian, and does not follow the Scriptures.

    • Vanessa says:

      Hello Quintin, I hope you dont me interfering in this debate but I do it as I love the Word of the Lord and wish to share my thoughts with others. If we are to go through the tribulation then the Cross has no place as the shedding of our Lords Blood was for naught as during the tribulation many will have to shed their blood in order to be with the Lord when they dont accept the mark of the beast. You see we are given an opportunity during the dispensation of Grace through just believing then we go through the justification and sanctification process which Paul talks about. Once the rapture happens the Grace dispensation is over and then the kingdom period is ushered in. If we go through the 7 year tribulation why did we need to have a period of over 2000 years of Grace. In addition you say and I quote, (I just hope that many who do trust in being raptured are right, because I fear if they are wrong, many might fall away instantly.) Those that fall away were never saved in the first place. One cannot fall away if one is saved. God will preserve the body on earth once a person is saved. One cannot be part of the body one day then the next day they are not. Makes no sense. The we have 2 Tim 4 verse 8. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. If we are killed during the 7 year how can we look forward to his appearing. Also we are in the period of Grace. The 7 years is called the time of Jacobs trouble. Its not called Grace and a time of Jacobs trouble. You cannot have the two lumped together. If we go through the 7 years then all of Pauls teaching about Gods Grace is also for naught. I cannot reconsile that. That is not how I see God working. I am also one of those “Rapture Freaks” and I stand guilty of longing to see my Lord and to be with him. I cannot help what I feel and maybe your friends are the same. We want out for the right reasons. We experience tribulation even now as I speak but its not the 7 year tribulation. And God does help us through the tribulation we go through. I have seen it first hand in my own personal life. I pray that God will open your eyes of your understanding on rightly divivding the Word and may you be shown His truth. Once you understand these 2 seperate events you will understand that the rapture has to come first then the 7 years. Take care.

  38. Quintin says:

    How am I missing that Paul wrote an entire letter – 2 Thessalonians to reiterate the fact that believers would not experience the Tribulation?

    2 Thessalonians 1

    v 3-4 Paul commends the believers for: their growing faith, their love for one another that abounds, He commends them for the patience and faith in all the persecutions and tribulations that they endure, and says that it is evidence of God counting them worthy of the kingdom, for which they are suffering.

    v 6-10 Paul says it is a righteous thing for God to ultimately repay those who trouble them.

    v 11 -12 Paul’s prayer for the believers that they would be counted worthy of His calling.

    2 Thessalonians 2

    v 1-12 The text that you say speak about rapture and I would say speak of falling away – a great number of professing believers turning their backs on Christ, apostasy.

    v 13-17 Wonderful exhortation by Paul

    2 Thessalonians 3

    v 1-2 Paul requests prayer for the word of the Lord to run swiftly and be glorified, and for deliverance from unreasonable and wicked men.

    v 3 “But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.” Maybe you would contend this has reference to a rapture, or tribulation?

    v 4-5 An exhortation to obey what they are commanded.

    v 6 A clear command to withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received.

    v 7-11 A reminder of how they conducted themselves among the believers.

    v 12 A command to work in quietness and eat their own bread.

    v 13 Do not grow weary in doing good

    v 14-15 Do not keep company with anyone who does not obey their word in this epistle.

    v 16-18 Wonderful exhortation.

    I am sorry but I just don’t see it at all.

  39. Quintin says:

    Dear Don,

    I did read the commentary, thank you. Vanessa, thank you for your kind words, I really do appreciate it. Having never been exposed to this level of intense study of the scriptures – to the extent that I have no idea what Jacobs trouble means – I also appreciate your patience. So please allow me to be totally straight forward and just “put it out there”. I will consider any answer carefully and with an open mind.

    Is the Rapture essential to salvation? No. Is a diferent program for Israel essential to salvation? No. Whatever the final outcome is, all glory to God, He knows better and His will is always good and perfect. We are finite and limited in knowledge and understanding and He does not call us to perfect doctrine.

    I have found one very precious gem on this site, “Gift of God: Charles Chiniquy”. What a wonderful testimony of God using His word to reveal His truth to Mr. Chiniquy. It also opened my eyes to the evil of keeping God’s word out of the hands of believers, as the Roman Catholics do.

    The first concern I have is not that you believe in “a different program for Israel” and everything associated with it and all the technical issues discussed on this site. My concern is that it massively degrades the value of the Church, the body of Christ. It makes the Church into a second hand entity, Israel is the real issue. I do not think Paul had this view.

    Acts 20
    26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
    27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
    28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

    The second problem is that, as the Roman Catholics, it devalues and degrades the Word for believers to the extent that it could rip the Word out of their hands. I looked at a lot of your teachings as carefully as I could, and the end result is that I have to look at the wealth and beauty of the Old Testament, Christ’s own words, and all Apostles except Paul, and cut it out, skim over it, read it out of a general interest rather than personal, life giving assurance, hope and joy.

    I could be entirely wrong, maybe I see it from the wrong angle or something, but if I fully consent to all your teachings, my whole salvation is turned upside down, emptied of joy and life, and probably fake. I came to see Christ Himself – His own words in the Bible – inviting sinners, even wicked men like I was, to come to Him and find mercy and grace, forgiveness, new life, eternal happiness. All the blessings promised to those who would turn from their sin and put their faith and hope and trust in Him is not entirely meant for me. If Christ’s words is not for me but for others, where is my comfort, my strength? I see Him differently, like a Lord who does not really care for me and does not call me to personal, intimate fellowship, those things are reserved for others. When Christ said “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” He did not mean me personally, that invitation was for others. I love the fellowship and joy promised in 1 John 1:3-4, but now I cannot even rejoice in the letters of John anymore, they are meant for someone else.

    As I see things now – unless you correct me and the penny drops or something – telling believers that only Paul is really meant for them, is too much like what the Roman Catholics do, keeping believers from delighting in all the Bible, especially the words of Jesus Himself, it cannot be good. I now feel like a stranger and foreigner to the “real” plan of God, which is for Israel. While Paul himself said:

    Ephesians 2
    19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
    20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
    21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
    22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

    I think verse 20 means all the apostles, the prophets (old Testament) and especially Christ Himself, His actual words in the Bible.

    Look at what Paul himself said in 1 Cor 1:12-13 and 1 Cor 3:3-4.

    I thought the Church is where all God’s actual people, those who are of the faith and not the law, Jews and gentiles, are united in Christ. Don’t laugh at me but I thought I was part of the true Israelites in a spiritual sense. Rom 9:6-7 and Rom 4:9-16. I thought that we were all called together, in the Church, to have the ultimate glory bestowed on us as children of the living God. But now suddenly I am an outsider again, a foreigner.

    I hope you can dissuade me from my understanding that ultimately, amidst all the debating, you have a very low, second-hand view of the Church, and that your teachings ultimately rips the word of God out of believers hands.

    Sincerely,

    Quintin

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Quintin,
      You have misread and misunderstood several things. Paul wrote, “all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable” (2 Timothy 3.16). All Scripture is FOR us but not all Scripture is TO us. Have you ever picked up a stick on Saturday? According to the Mosaic Law, the penalty was death. Do you think that Scripture is to us? If not, why not? Unless we have a Scriptural standard by which to discern these things, we are left to accepting Scriptures we like and rejecting those we don’t like. You wrote that what I have written, “massively degrades the value of the Church, the body of Christ. It makes the Church into a second hand entity, Israel is the real issue. I do not think Paul had this view.” On the contrary, apart from Paul, there is no Church, there is no Christianity. Paul was the apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11.13). As far as joy and rejoicing, no one wrote more about these than Paul–even though he suffered more than the 12 combined. See Roman 5.2, 12.15,15.10; 1 Corinthians 7.30, 12.26; 2 Corinthians 2.3, 7.9, 16; Galatians 4.27; Philippians 1.18, 2.16-18, 28, 3.1, 3, 4.4; Colossians 1.24; 1 Thessalonians 5.16. As for being an outsider, how can one with heavenly citizenship, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, identified with Christ in His death and resurrection, a joint-heir of Christ be an outsider? These are Pauline truths. Grace and peace.

    • Vanessa says:

      Hello Quintin, Thank you for your response. I often wish that people would/could get together over many cups of coffee to debate these issues. I pray that God will reveal to you His truth, not meaning that I am better or more wise than you. I now understand and believe in my eternal security and only wish that for so many people. Keep asking questions but do it for your growth and always check your motives. Take care.

  40. Quintin says:

    Dear brother,

    None of the Law is for us, so I can pick up as many sticks as I need this Saturday, and I probably will do so for my fireplace. Christ fulfilled the Law perfectly on behalf of all who put their faith in Him. He lived a sinless life of perfect obedience, which you and I should live but don’t, and that obedience is imputed to us who believe.

    He did however say in John 14
    21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.”
    23 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
    24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words”

    Which commands did He refer to, the Mosaic Law? No, absolutely not, trying to keep the Law is a burden that no-one can bare, like Peter said in Acts 15

    8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,
    9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
    10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
    11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

    The Lord Jesus said:

    Matthew 11
    29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
    30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

    Look at John 15
    9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
    10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
    11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
    12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

    So in essence, Christ commands are based on love for one another, Christians loving those they come into contact with (not perfectly) but especially loving other Christians. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” We practice this sacrificial, loving care for one another in community – like we see in Acts 2:42-47 where we have fellowship with God and other believers. 1 John 1:3-4.

    That’s why Paul said in Romans 13

    8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
    9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
    10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    And John said in 1 John 5:
    1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.
    2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.
    3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

    These are just a few, there are a multitude of commands and encouragements from Jesus and all the disciple, Paul too, to love one another.

    Can we do this without being born again? Impossible, without being born again, I don’t think a person would even realise that Christ calls His people to obedience. Un-regenerate man can only really love himself, his relatives and his friends – as long as it suits him. “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” As we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we grow in sanctification and it becomes easier and easier to love, and we end up knowing that it is more blessed to give than to receive. For example, before my conversion it meant nothing to get into a physical fight and beat someone up, today, especially as I understand that my fellow man was created in the image of God with inherent dignity and worth, I cannot for the life of me even imagine fighting ever again. Slowly but surely, with struggling and wrestling sin, our nature is changed into the image of Christ – sanctification.

    We do want to obey the commands of our Lord and Saviour, we do not want to be those who practice lawlessness. I think people can sometimes get so stuck in arguments over specific issues and doctrines, and so vehemently defend them, that they can easily look past all the wealth of loving commands that the New Testament is filled with. Like all the beautiful texts of joy and rejoicing you put in your reply, I find it sad that much more of your articles do not focus on these truths too.

    Sincerely,

    Quintin

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Quintin,
      Christ did fulfill the Law. But the Twelve continued to live under the Mosaic Law, even after Christ’s resurrection. They told Paul his converts were not saved unless they were circumcised and kept the commandments (Acts 15.1,5). That included picking up a stick on Saturday. This wasn’t some rogue outfit. This was the assembly at Jerusalem composed of the Twelve and other believers in the Lord. So how do you know you are not under the authority of the Mosaic Law? How do you know you can pick up a stick on Saturday? The 12 apostles continued to keep the Law. Read what James said to Paul the next time he met him in Jerusalem (Acts 21.20). Do you believe James and the Twelve had no understanding of Christ’s commands, His work on the cross, and keeping the Law of Moses?

  41. Quintin says:

    Dear Don,

    It is nearly midnight where I am, will respond in the morning. Just one question please, someone asked me who you were, is it right for me to say mainline or mainstream dispensationalist? Is that the right term?

    Kind regards,

    Quintin

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Quintin,
      There are 3 basic kinds of dispensationism: Acts 2, 9 or 13, 28. I am in the middle. There is also a new one called progressive dispensationalism but it is dispensationalism in name only. It has abandoned much of what has been taught in dispensationalism. But, really, I’m just someone who believes the Scriptures as God has progressively revealed them.

  42. Quintin says:

    Dear Don

    I had it like this. All through the New Testament we see Jews trying to pervert the faith, telling even gentiles to come under the Law. All through Acts I see the mighty, sovereign hand of God working in the Apostles and believers to establish His Church “against all odds” and in the face of violent opposition, to the point that Paul said the Gospel was preached to every creature under heaven Col 1:23. In Acts 32:12-13 we even see some of them taking a vow not to eat or drink until they have killed Paul.

    I had it that the “some men” in Acts 15:1 were of these, it says nowhere that they were of the Apostles, or even believers. Those of the sect of the Pharisees who believed were not necessarily true converts. In any case, In Acts 21:21, the very next verse, it is affirmed what Paul taught them, “21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.”

    James and Paul then try and appease the Jewish leaders, which fails as they again try to kill him, which leads again, by the mighty providential hand of God to the Gospel being proclaimed and spread wonderfully, i.e he ended up before Felix and Agrippa.

    This is just the way I understood it, again, I could be wrong. We also see many false converts throughout the New Testament, In Acts we see Simon the magician in Acts 8:9-25, who I think is almost the father of some Pentecostals and Charismatics we have today. Paul himself said in Phil 3:17-21

    17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
    18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
    19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things.
    20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
    21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

    Sincerely,

    Quintin

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Quintin,
      The text states that those at the Council who wished to bring Gentiles under the Law were believers (Acts 15.5). If you’re going to try and make the case those whom Luke wrote were believers were not “true converts” then I think you might as well throw away the Bible. The Twelve had no dealings with Gentiles. There had no evangelistic ministry to Gentiles. The deal with Paul was that since his Gentiles had put their trust in the Messiah they must come under the Law. That was all they knew. They knew nothing about salvation by faith alone. Nothing! They had been taught salvation was through the Law for 1,500 years. Read the Lord’s words in Matthew 19.16-17. With the Lord’s commission of Paul an entirely new program began: the Church, the Body of Christ. It had new doctrines, rules, etc. It had nothing to do with Judaism. This is why Paul wrote what you quoted, “follow my example.” Paul was the “pattern” or blueprint for Christian doctrine and behavior.

  43. Quintin says:

    Dear Don,

    Thank you again for taking time to discuss these things, I think we have arrived at my actual question. That is, as a Christian, what should my faith “look” like as I live it out, or how does conversion look like in daily life. You did say Paul was the “pattern” or blueprint for Christian doctrine and behavior. And Paul did emphasize that we were called to obedience, like I think I remember you said in some of your articles “faith is obedience”. For me the opposite of obedience is lawlessness, or rebellion.

    First off, in Galatians 5:1-6 Paul warns me very clearly not to even go close to the Law, stay far away. I do not want to become circumsized, I don’t want to know anything about the “picking up sticks on a Saturday thing” or any of those things. Me and the Law, no thanks. And in any case, in v 14 he says “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” and further on in v 22-25 he says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…….And against such there is no law! And in v 13 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

    Does this mean I should go out and be like a “universal love hippie”, spreading peace and love wherever I go? No it doesn’t. Does it mean I should be a floor matt for anyone to take advantage of? Definitely not. Paul never even insinuated anything like that, in fact, he said in 2 Cor 6: 14 “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” So I meet someone, get to know them, speak to them about the gospel, even invite them to Church, but if they have no interest in the gospel I avoid them, they will have a negative influence on me and my family if I spend too much time with them, guaranteed – I have experienced it. So Paul does not tell us to live “hippie” lives.

    Paul did however, and this is the crux of what I want to ask, speak very much of Christians living out their faith in the local Church, a community of believers, where they love and serve one another. And where they can also BE LOVED and served by other believers. Romans 12:5, 10, 16 Romans 13:8 Romans 14:13 Romans 15:5, 7, 14 1 Corinthians 6:7 Galatians 6:2 Ephesians 4:2, 25, 32 Ephesians 5:19-21 Collosians 3: 9, 13, 16 1 Thessalonians 3:12 1 Thessalonians 4:9, 18 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Titus 3:8, 14 Now these texts calling Christians to love one another are only from Paul, the list would be too long if we included those from the other Apostles and Jesus Himself, but we will stick only with Paul.

    Now, for me personally, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – these are beautiful, life giving things, very precious. And it should be for every converted sinner, shouldn’t it? A life that used to all be about me, myself and I, doing whatever it took to protect and promote my own interest at all cost. A life that goes from all kinds of evil in the form of tension, uncertainty, strife, conflict and unhappiness, to a life – and family – filled with Grace. There are struggles with sin, there are difficulties, hardship, general cares of this life, even persecution, but life is infinitely better than before. Years ago I was afraid of the Police knocking on my door, now I never have any fear of that anymore, what a difference! Like a weight lifted, freedom, peace. Psalms 103: 1-4. Obviously the first and by far most valuable peace is peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ – Romans 5:1, and out of that all other peace and change flows.

    Now none of us will ever perfectly love even fellow believers, but we should try according to Paul. But I can not understand why, when I discuss the above with professing believers, I am called a legalist, that I am trying to be justified by the Law. What on earth does the two have to do with each other? It is almost as if I should just close my eyes, clench my teeth and believe, and if I even dare think of a good deed or simple, sacrificial act of love towards a brother in Christ, I have “fallen from grace”. Paul himself said in Ephesians 6: 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” If I teach my children this, some say that I practice “dead religion”, or I don’t know freedom in Christ? Or I don’t REALLY believe?

    Am I missing something?

    Sincerely,

    Quintin

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Quintin,
      I think you’ve made a fine summary. Paul is the blueprint. He is the apostle of the Gentiles and he wrote we are to follow him as he followed Christ. He has given us the doctrines by which we are to live, as Moses gave the Jews the doctrines by which they were to live. The more we follow Paul’s teachings, the more godly we can become. As you stated, we fail and have setbacks, but to know what is the right path is more than half the battle. If we live by grace and allow the Holy Spirit to control us we can experience victory. Grace and peace.

  44. Quintin says:

    Dear Don,

    I cannot tell you how pleased I am that you used that beautiful, Biblical word “godly”.

    If you should ever use your talent to write an article that explains and clarifies beautiful teachings like godliness, thankfulness, contentment, and holiness (not sinless perfection, but different, set apart, His own special people) I will read it intently, and I am sure it will impart grace to all the hearers.

    All the best to you,

    Quintin

  45. Quintin says:

    Dear Don,

    I have read a massive amount of your articles, and also the replies from different people. I must say it is disturbing to see how many openly reject and even violently oppose the Apostle Paul, it is terrible.

    After all my reading there is one thing I do not understand. Many people seem to say that taking the words of Jesus, Paul and the other Apostles together as one unity, one Gospel, confuses Christianity, why is this? Is there a simple way for you to explain to me what this confusion is please?

    Sincerely,

    Quintin

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Quintin,
      Thank you. I’m not quite sure I understand your question. I have pointed out in articles such as Jesus vs. Paul the differences in God’s program for Israel and His program for the Church. What most of Christendom does is maintain that Jesus, the Twelve, and Paul all proclaimed the same thing, that there is and always has been but one gospel, and that the Church is under the Mosaic Law. This is the “unity” of tradition. It is not found in the Bible. Paul’s message was completely different from that of the OT prophets, Jesus in His earthly ministry, and the Twelve. Paul taught that the gospel he proclaimed was unknown before the risen Lord revealed it to him. He taught the Church is under grace, not Law. The “unity” proclaimed by the vast majority in Christendom is a creation of the imagination. It is not found in the Scriptures. Most of Christendom spends 90+% of its time in the Gospels. Go to most any church on Sunday and it is likely the minister will be teaching from the Gospels. Paul’s letters are almost wholly neglected. But the Gospels are Old Testament. What is found in them was addressed to Jews under the Law, not to Gentiles, and certainly not to the Church. Only the letters of Paul are addressed to the Church, the body of Christ. The letters of Paul provide 100% of doctrine to the Church. Apart from Paul, Christianity does not exist.

    • Bobbi says:

      Quentin, I think I understand your question, for the same question I’ve had many days. I think some problems or most come from not reading the Bible enough. Also traditions ( being raised to read the Bible one way) and believing the preacher’s words over reading it for ourselves, in prayer and quiet time with God. Acts 17:11 Holy Spirit will guide us if we are seeking truth, and reading our Bibles. Some are stuck on traditions they have been taught. I say that sorrowful for sure, for I’ve seen it, lived in that life. But most are truly starving and will not get full, and hopefully they will find the way. I got a questionable mind (lead by Holy Spirit) about the two different teachings just daily reading, devotional times and started researching why Paul’s gospel looked different than Jesus when He walked the earth. However when one realises Paul’s gospel is the resurrected Lord Jesus preaching Romans 16:25-27 ,and ordained by God it’s a new part of the process. It is sad and it is why there are so many divisions in the church. I know when we seek God and His Truth we will find it. Hebrews 11:6. Grace and peace to you.

      • Faith says:

        Bobbi nice comment. I did read the Bible a lot on my own but was around preachers/churches who taught all the Gospels and Peter, James, and John were a part of Christianity. So there was a double life I was living; 2+2 did not quite add up and I was always in a confused state spiritually. What I did notice is that the more I had alone time with God the more certain things the pastor was teaching did not make sense to me. I did go through a period of time where I was in a state of spiritual emergency- depression, doubt, anger, not reading the Bible at all for a year until I separated myself from what I had been taught to now really getting Paul’s gospel. THIS GOSPEL makes total sense to me and the puzzle pieces fit beautifully. I now have total peace about my standing with Christ- before I knew I was saved because I did believe in Christs sacrifice to me and it was only faith + 0, but as the Galatians I fell to faith + works sneaking in because of the churches I was involved in.

        • Bobbi says:

          Faith, I agree with you. For how do we live by faith completely in God’s wonderful grace, and fit works teachings etc… what happened is I had no idea of the simple nature , ( submitting to God, and trusting in his promise) of salvation in Jesus. I’m know I was in deep as I was a preacher’s kid and had been taught all my life this doctrine., but by the awesome Grace of God and mighty working of the Holy Spirit we will find the truth! Praise God in the highest!

  46. Quintin says:

    Dear Don,

    I must say I have never in my life even heard of believers who ignore or reject or even question Paul, I have also never believed – or heard of believers who believe – that the Church is under the Mosaic Law. Honestly, the things I read here are totally foreign to me.

    So to put it plainly, is it presumed that Paul preached and taught a “simple” or “easy” gospel of “just believe”, and in the gospels and the other apostles we read things like “be holy for I am holy” – “without holiness no-one will see the Lord” – “unless you are converted and become like little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Things that will make no sense to any un-regenerate man.

    So, when you realise that the “difficult” things, the commands, the call to holiness, the extremely high standards that Christ calls His people to, are only for the Jews and not us, that is when the confusion ends?

    Am I on the right track here?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Quintin,
      The call to personal holiness does not change in God’s various programs. God does not change. Christians are to be holy, just as Jews were to be holy. The whole purpose of salvation is to restore us to a right relationship with God. This means that we must become free of sin. Paul wrote God is conforming us to the image of Christ (Romans 8.29). Once the Adamic nature is removed it will impossible to sin, to think a single impure thought, to do any wrong. What has changed with Paul is that the means of holiness has changed. We are under the administration of the Holy Spirit, not Law, as were the Jews.

  47. Quintin says:

    Dear Don,

    Yes, that is how I had it, God is holy and has always called His people to renounce this world – which rejects and rebels against His rule – and, as indwelt by His Spirit, live holy lives, separate lives, lives that glorify Him. Exactly and precisely the kind of lives that Christ, Paul and all the Apostles called all believers in the Church to. He gave us gifts to love and serve one another with, commands us to love and take care of each other. As we seek to obey Him He gives us the grace to overcome sin and to live lives pleasing to Him. In Mat 18:15-17 Jesus even told us how to practice Church discipline. Our congregation is not perfect, and there are some who have not been converted, but He has given us the fruits of the Spirit to exercise especially in the Church.

    In the New Testament we see Christ Jesus dying for the Church, and we see believers and the apostles, especially Paul, throwing their full weight into building the Church, they did indeed lay down their lives in service to Christ and His body and told us to follow them as we have them as a pattern.

    So in short, what Peter said in 1Peter 1
    22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
    23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,

    Sadly, the more I read on this site, the more I get the idea that I am to get into arguments with others, leave my congregation because they get this and that wrong, and I am to take any gifts I received to serve in the Church and dig a hole and bury it, and I must go all over the internet and read this guy and that book and sort through all the technical difficulties and arguments that are never ever going to end. And I am convinced my end would be Matthew 25:24-30.

    The more I read on this site, especially the replies from some, the more serious this warning from Paul becomes. 1 Tim 6:3-5
    3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,
    4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,
    5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.

    Sincerely,

    Quintin

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Quintin,
      Matthew 18.15-17 is not Church discipline. Jesus said if the one sinning would not listen he should be treated like a Gentile. The Church, the body of Christ, is 99% Gentile! Jesus was speaking about a sinning Jew. His entire ministry focused upon the Jewish people. We can make application from Matthew 18 for the Church, but interpretively, it is about Jews. Sadly, anyone who presents truth will face opposition. Look at the Lord Himself! He was God Almighty, and performed thousands of miracles to prove He was the Messiah. But men crucified Him. At the end of His ministry, Jesus only had 120 Jews in Jerusalem who believed in Him according to Acts. The Biblical record is that Paul constantly had to defend his apostleship, even with believers, e.g., Acts 15. And today, many who consider themselves Christians want nothing to do with Paul, or even believe he should not be in the Bible. So, it’s a tough road. But God is faithful and good. Grace and peace.

    • Vanessa says:

      Hello Quintin, May I say and encourage you that my Beloved Husband and I were/are where you are and since leaving the doctrines of the Charasmatic church and beginning our new search by following Pauls Gospel (only) we have such joy, peace, deep love and understand grace but during this time we have lost all but 1 friend. We are lonely and alone on earth. We once had so many friends but they will not accept the truth. We found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and we rejoice daily. We would never exchange what we have found. I pray you will come to understand the meaning of Pauls Gospel and dont walk away. Study, fight and ask yourself common sence questions when studying the word. We have both cried out of frustration in the past when studying and now the “Eureka” moments are so rewarding and so many. Take care.

  48. John Higgins says:

    Doctrine:

    Almighty YHWH, His precious Son, and the Twelve…all preached the same thing, while Saul of Tarsus is way out on a limb all by himself. With good conscience, I cannot place my trust in this man’s new gospel or take a stand on his new foundation.

    When I see God face to face, how am I going to explain to Him that I put my trust in a man named Saul, who was NEVER introduced by our Heavenly Father, NEVER recruited or mentored by His victorious Son, and was NEVER previously known by the Twelve? This man came with his own gospel, built upon his own foundation, claimed to receive secret revelations from the risen Christ (like Joseph Smith, Jr.) and wanted to “father” his own religious movement (like Joseph Smith, Jr.).

    Truth be known, Christ Yeshua never told His disciples that a Super-Apostle was going to arise after His departure and never told the Twelve about a drastic change in direction, including a new gospel message. In fact, Yeshua never told the Twelve that they could expect to receive further instructions from Him through ghostly voices or secret revelations. When you think about it…it just sounds retarded.

    What Christ did give to the Twelve, however, was a stern warning:

    22 “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance.” Mark 13:22-23

    So, if it is true that Christ told His disciples everything in advance, why didn’t He tell them about Saul? Why didn’t He tell them about a new gospel, a new foundation and a new direction? It doesn’t make sense when you think about it. Christ did, however, warn them about the coming of wolves in sheep’s clothing, false prophets and false messiahs. And, at the end of the day, wasn’t that what Saul was proclaiming to be: the messiah (“anointed one”) of the Gentiles?

    There are two kinds of “Christians”: Those who are indoctrinated and brainwashed by Pauline doctrine, and those who are coming out of the fog.

    Be well – John

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      John,
      The problem with your logic is that if what you write is true, most of what we call the New Testament has to be discarded. If you don’t accept that the risen, glorified Lord saved Paul, commissioned him as the apostle of the Gentiles, and gave him the revelations of the grace of God, you have to get rid of Luke, Acts, 1 and 2 Peter, and James. Probably, you have to get rid of the rest also because if Paul were as false as you think, the Lord would have been remiss in not warning of him by name in the other books. God is not going to pose a question about trusting Paul. The question is whether one trusts Christ. He will judge the world according to the gospel He gave Paul (Romans 2.16). How do you get the idea Christ told His disciples everything in advance? He told them about Israel’s prophetic plan but the Church did not exist. Jesus ministered to Jews, not Gentiles. He had not revealed the Church, the body of Christ. A Christian is one who has believed Paul’s gospel. If you do not believe Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead, you are not a Christian. That is Paul’s gospel. I urge you to trust in the work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection for you.

    • Faith says:

      If it was primarily only the Jews that the disciples and Jesus went to then where does that leave you a non-Jew? Jesus even told the disciples not to minister to the Gentiles but to the Jews. Where does this leave Gentiles past, present and future? You could not at any time associate yourself a Jew.
      Paul was the only one who stated that both Jews and Gentiles were now one through faith not by law. If you feel that you must keep law then you will always come up short, for no one could do this. Would you require then that Gentiles must all be circumcised to be saved? For this is what the disciples believed until Paul chastised them and they changed their minds. Would you require then that Gentiles most keep the feast days and seasons? Where does the law stop or begin? Feel free to explain what laws we must obey?

    • Bobbi says:

      Romans 16:25-27 “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and THE PREACHING of JESUS CHRIST, according to the REVELATION of the MYSTERY, which was kept secret since the world began,
      But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets,
      ACCORDING to the COMMANDMENT of the EVERLASTING GOD, made known to ALL NATIONS for the obedience of faith:
      To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.

      Extra capitals mine for emphasis. Notice is actually Jesus preaching , commanded by God our Father to us, the nations aka gentiles.

  49. Aaron says:

    Hi Doctrine,

    Just seeking some clarification on something: If the Old Testament taught a limited atonement of Jews only (with Gentiles not being included), how is it that Paul could declare in 1 Cor. 15:3 that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures?” If (as we both would agree) Paul’s “our” here includes both Jews and Gentiles, then how could this fact be “according to” what had been prophesied in the Hebrew scriptures? Thank you for your website and for all the hard work you put into your articles. I’ve found every one I’ve read to be helpful.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Aaron,
      It’s a good question and a difficult one. I think the closest we can get Scripturally of His death for all is Genesis 3.15. No passage God gave the Jews by the prophets revealed Christ would die for everyone. Paul also wrote He was raised after 3 days according to the Scriptures. Psalm 16 gave a veiled prophecy of this and Jesus used Jonah as a sign for 3 days but no one understood that. Jesus revealed what would happen in Luke 18.31-34. That’s the best I can do. Maybe I need to revise my article a bit after this reflection.

  50. Bobbi says:

    Hello Don and fellow believers,
    I ran into a scripture while studying Paul and the Law …

    I just read Jeremiah and Lamentation so am a little down lol.

    Col.3:25… But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

    I believe we are saved securely. So my question is not about salvation.
    I also am aware of the reward verses and the wood, hay, stubble verse.
    This verse sounds like discipline. What do you think of this?
    Thank you, as always:)

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Bobbi,
      Christ paid for all sins and no one who has believed the gospel will face judgment because of sin. However, sin has consequences in this life. For example, if you steal, you may go to jail. Paul wrote about judgment for rewards for works in 1 Corinthians 3.

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