Forgiveness

Limited Atonement, Part 2 – Limited Atonement is a manmade Limitation on the Gospel

Last time when we started a new study on the “L of the acronym that makes up Calvinism’s “TULIP” we saw that, contrary to the teachings of “Limited Atonement,” the possibility of salvation is not the same thing as enjoying the benefit of salvation; meaning that the incremental conclusion of Calvinistic theology which is demanded due to its teaching concerning “Totally Hereditary Depravity” and “Unconditional Election” is completely erroneous.

Now it is true that there are limits given by God when it comes to the benefit of salvation through Jesus, but contrary to the manmade limits that Calvinism places on the Gospel, the Bible does indeed teach that Jesus died for all, but we must be willing to believe that he died for all and for me as an individual. Let me show you what I mean.

Salvation through grace is God offering a stamp on a debt that says “Paid In Full!” That’s literally what redemption means. It means a Christian has been forgiven of a debt that we couldn’t pay. But the payment for our debt being available and the debt actually being paid off are, again, two different things. God’s redeeming grace has been made available to all to forgive all sins, but we must be willing to admit that we’re all spiritually bankrupt and then have a willingness to accept God’s mercy by faith. For example Titus 2:14 says:

[Jesus ] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.

While we’re at it, also think about when Peter asked Jesus how many times did he have to forgive his brother who sinned against him, and Jesus responded by telling a story about a servant who had all his debt forgiven simply because the master had compassion on him (Matthew 18:27). That’s redemption! And that’s why I love to sing, “Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

We can’t earn redemption because we can’t pay the price (Romans 6:23), but if a person refuses to acknowledge his or her debt and ask for God’s credit giving grace they won’t get it; but it’s not because the grace isn’t available.

Take for example John 1:29:

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

As John said, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin. But just because Jesus offered Himself as the world’s atonement, that doesn’t mean all of the world will receive the benefit of it! Why not? Because the benefit of Jesus’ atonement is only received by faith (John 3:16-17).

Just like the children of Israel the night Egypt was judged for its stiffneckedness – it was God who gave the plan paid for by the blood of the lamb!!! But they had to apply the blood, through faith, to their own door frame to receive God’s grace. The point is too clear – accept the grace, receive the benefitreject the grace, receive no benefit. The plan was made available for all, but each individual had to respond, and a person’s failure to respond had nothing to do with a plan not being made available for them!

Take for another example John 3:14-15 which says:

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Learn From the Thief – But Learn from the Rest of God’s Word Too!

Many times when the forgiveness of sins is discussed there are some who eventually use the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43) as example of what people should do to be saved today. I am glad that the conversation of Jesus and the thief is recorded because it reveals the willingness and desire that Jesus had then, and still has today, to extend His mercy to the lost. But it saddens me when one tries to teach that “all a person has to do be saved” is believe like the thief did. This is simply not true. Let me quickly explain why with the scriptures:

First – the thief lived under a different covenant than we do today:

For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.” (Hebrews 9:16-17)

Second – the thief did not have to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead like we do today:

[T]hat if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Third – the thief was not saved by faith alone; he reviled Jesus at first but then he repented:

Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.” (Matthew 27:41-44)

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”” (Luke 23:39-41)

Lastly – the thief found forgiveness because Jesus had the power to speak sins away while living on the Earth (Mark 2:10); Jesus gave the command for baptism for the remission of sins after the thief was dead:

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

If a person wants to learn about salvation today, they can learn about God’s willingness to forgive from the thief, but they must also learn from the rest of God’s word too. EA

Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.” (Acts 18:8)

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Bible Questions and Answers – Blaspheme the Holy Spirit

“Dear brother Thurman: In a moment of weakness I was tempted to curse the Holy Spirit. Now, based on Matthew 12:32 I am afraid I will lose my soul. Have I sinned in such a way I cannot be forgiven? – C.S., CO”

He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:30-32). Jesus is speaking to people who are rejecting Him as Messiah. He tells them that they can reject Him but they better not reject the Spirit. Why? Because the Spirit was giving ample evidence Who Jesus was. The miracles, the healings, the powerful demonstration of God’s presence with Jesus should convince them He is the Christ. If they reject that evidence, they have blasphemed against the Spirit and cannot be saved. They are not beyond redemption. But as long as they reject the evidence concerning Jesus they cannot be saved.

This is still true. If we reject Who Jesus is, we will not be saved. When we ignore the clear evidences of the Spirit as to the nature of the Son of God, we will not be saved by the Son of God. But, if we embrace that evidence and trust it, we can always be saved. So, a moment of weakness in which you considered saying something hateful about God or Jesus or the Spirit, is not beyond forgiveness. The only ones beyond forgiveness are those who reject the only path to forgiveness, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. – David Thurman

Excerpted from Volume 61, Number 19 of Gospel Minutes. Gospel Minutes is a publication originating from Forth Worth, Texas; Clem Thurman, Editor, David Thurman, Associate Editor.

Why did God Require Animals to be Sacrificed?

There are times in the Bible when a person can miss the blessing of something because they don’t understand the purpose or point of God’s command. This is especially true when it comes to understanding why God had people do certain things in regards to their sin. 

Many Christians today take for granted what God was trying to teach his people under the Old Testament. Some look at the Old Testament as old, and unworthy of study or care; but if a person misses why God had his people do certain things under the Old Covenant, they’ll never come to a fuller appreciation of what God has accomplished for us under the New Covenant of today! And there are very few places where this is more true than when it comes to the animal sacrifices found from Genesis to Malachi and right on into the gospels we read.

Let’s think about why God required what he required under the Old Testament, and how it can better help us understand the sacrifice that Jesus made on behalf of humanity when he established the New Covenant.

So the first question is, “Why did God have animals sacrificed?” If we’re not required to sacrifice them anymore, why were they ever sacrificed to begin with??? If God was going to send Jesus all along, then why didn’t he have people just say they were sorry and then forgive them when Jesus died? Why did God have people do something when it seems like it was useless in dealing with sin? Did God even care whether or not someone sacrificed an animal? If He did, then why did he say he didn’t sometimes? These are some of the issues and questions a person can have when they read about these things in the Old Testament and New Testament.
So did God really ask for, require and even command animal sacrifices? Contrary to what some try to teach, he sure did! When Adam and Eve sinned and they made fig-leaf bikinis, and God said that wouldn’t do, what did He give them? He gave them clothes to wear! Now, you don’t have to be a tanner to know that you can’t get an animal-hide outfit to wear without the animal losing its life. Right from the get go with sin, a sacrifice was made. From the garden, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses and all throughout the history of the children of Israel you will find God requiring the sacrifice of animals for sin. There’s even a book called Leviticus that deals with the intricacies of how to properly deal with the sacrificing of burnt offerings, peace offerings, guilt offerings and sin offerings that God commanded.

But if God required the sacrifice of animals then why did he at times say he didn’t want them??? I mean there are multiple places in the Old Testament where God plainly says, “NO!!!” Read them for yourselves:

  • To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats.” Isaiah 1:11
  • For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 (quoted by Jesus in Matthew 9:13, 12:7)
  • For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.” Psalm 51:16

As if that’s not enough, the New Testament says this about sacrificing animals as well:

  • But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.Hebrews 10:3-4

If this is true then what was the whole point of it all? The point has to do with the context that all these verses are given in. There was, and still is, a big lesson about sin and the human heart behind all that sacrificing that God called for! The majority of the time, God’s people in the past, like His people of today, were missing the whole point of worship, sacrifice and sin.

When blood gets spilt – God takes notice! He noticed Abel’s blood (Genesis 4:10). He warns all men to take notice (Genesis 9:6). Judgment was pronounced upon the scribes and Pharisees because of bloodshed (Matthew 23:34-35). Even when an animal dies, God takes notice (Matthew 10:29b). When an animal was killed or sacrificed, God commanded that the utmost respect be shown toward the blood (Leviticus 17).

Why does God take notice of every drop of blood that gets spilt? Because life is in the blood: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul’” (Leviticus 17:11). God called for the blood sacrifice of animals because He was teaching His people about the cost of sin. (more…)

Choose Jesus

If you have the ability to read and understand this right now, then by the time your life is over you are going to be a person who has the ability to make no less than a million choices. That’s right; I mean what I say!

Have you ever thought about how many choices you make a day? From the time you chose to get up this morning to the time that you will choose to go to bed tonight and everywhere in between you’re making choices. Some choices will only affect you, some choices will affect those closest to you like family and friends, and some choices will even affect strangers that you may never meet.

What makes us choose the choices we make? How often do we make choices because we have chosen Jesus?

On multiple occasions Jesus urged His follower’s to choose wisely (John 8:24-32). He encouraged them to choose a heavenly reward over an earthly one (Matthew 6:19-24). He encouraged them to choose the narrow way over the broad (Matthew 7:13-14). He encouraged them to choose courage over fear (Matthew 10:28-33). He encouraged them to choose faith over family (Matthew 10:34-39). He encouraged them to choose forgiveness over anger (Matthew 18:21-35). He encouraged them to choose Him (Matthew 11:28-30).

Why choose Jesus? Because there’s no other choice that makes sense – because there’s no one better to choose (Matthew 16:21-27; John 6:66-69). EA

“I’m Tempted to…”

Have you ever caught yourself saying that you are tempted to do something? Be honest! Even if you have not said it I know you have thought it. Temptation is that tug at the sensual side we have. It can be unique to each of us but it can be very general to all of us (James 1:14, 1 Corinthians 10:13).

Some temptations are obvious while some have the tendency to sneak up on us. Some we see coming and others catch us by surprise. Some we know to stay away from and some refuse to stay away from us. I cannot say for certainty what tempts you personally, but I can with reasonable certainty think of something that tempts us all to one extent or another. Something God’s word talks about.

Giving into the temptation of getting even can be easy to do. Sometimes the temptation is to get even publicly because of embarrassment or sometimes privately because of pride. Sometimes we even want to get even on the behalf of others such as friends and family members. When we think “I’ll show them” we usually end up just showing our self!

Not retaliating takes spiritual discipline. A difficult discipline! A discipline we are called to emulate after the example of Jesus (1 Peter 2:17-23). Getting even goes beyond physical or even verbal retaliation; it can extend to the withholding of something that we have from someone who is in need.

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21)

Let us all be able to say that we are tempted to let it go…and actually mean it. EA