In previous posts in this series (Sep. 28; Oct. 2, 3, 5, 12), I talked about Christ’s work as the Mediator. The Lord Jesus made satisfaction to God’s justice for the sins of the elect. I began to discuss the topic of particular redemption in the last post. Now I continue that subject.
Question: Why don’t you believe that Christ died for every person?
The Bible teaches that Christ died to save “many” (Isa. 53:11; Matt. 20:28; 26:28; Heb. 2:10), but not to save each individual sinner. Christ came to save “His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). He gave His life for those given to Him by the Father (John 6:37–39; 10:14–15, 27–29). His blood purchased “the church of God” (Acts 20:28). His death expressed His special love for the church, as a husband loves his wife (Eph. 5:25). This is an exclusive love. When the Father gave His Son for His elect, He guaranteed that He would also give them all things and nothing can condemn them because Christ intercedes for them (Rom. 8:31–34). That cannot be said of those ultimately lost. Christ said that He does not intercede for the entire world, but only for those whom the Father gave to Him (John 17:9).
How does Christ’s particular redemption of His elect fit into the bigger picture of salvation?
G. H. Kersten explained it in this manner (Reformed Dogmatics, 267).
(1) Christ’s death for His people fits together with the Father’s sovereign predestination of some unworthy sinners to eternal life (Eph. 1:4; Rom. 9:10–18). If Christ were to redeem every sinner, then He would not be doing His Father’s will.
(2) Christ’s death for His people fits with the complete and perfect accomplishment of His death. If Christ died for every sinner, then either every sinner will be saved, or we must add something to Christ’s death. Did Christ really do all He could to save Judas, yet still lost him? Far from it! Christ’s death does more than make it possible for us to save ourselves. Christ’s blood makes complete satisfaction to God for the sins of His people, and in due time they shall be saved through faith.
(3) Christ’s death for His people fits with the particular work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate some sinners and make them alive towards God (John 3:5; 6:63). The Spirit applies what Christ accomplished, being poured out through Him (Titus 3:5–6). If Christ died to save a sinner, then how could the Holy Spirit not give him life?
(4) Christ’s death for His people fits with the inability of fallen man to choose God. Most people who believe in universal redemption do so because they think man’s will trumps God’s will. If this were so, then no man could be saved, for sinners are unable to trust in Christ unless God supernaturally draws them (John 6:44). Thanks be to God, God’s will rules over man’s will! God’s will is to save out of the world by the blood of Christ a vast number of sinners whom no one can count from every nation (Rev. 5:9; 7:9–10, 14). Christ knows them by name (John 10:3, 11, 14–15).
What does this mean for me personally?
It means that Christ must become everything to you. You must see Him as a full Savior for the total sinner who is so dead that He cannot even receive Christ without Christ’s grace. You must look to Him as the One who has done everything when we could do nothing. We had no legs to run to Him, no arms to embrace Him, no lips to kiss Him. He purchased all for us by His obedient suffering, and He applies all to us by His Spirit. Therefore He will receive all the praise and glory forever and ever.
Learn to pray, “Lord, let room be made for Christ in my soul. Reveal and apply Him within me by the Holy Spirit. Grant me faith to trust and embrace Him. Let me know Him more fully in His Person, benefits, natures, offices, states, and names. Grant that I may live in Him and draw life out of Him. May He become my all-in-all, and I become nothing at all. Amen.”