Leviticus 17:11, “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.”
1 Corinthians 15:3, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”
Isaiah 53:4-6, “Surely He has borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
Eternal truths are so simple, yet so complex as to cause argument and debate for centuries.
There exists a system of theology named for John Calvin, called “Calvinism.” It can be defined by, T-U-L-I-P: T-Total depravity; All have sinned and fall under the condemnation of God. U-Unconditional election, God chose all who would be saved. L-Limited atonement, Christ died only for the elect. I-Irresistible grace, The elect will come to Christ. P-Perseverance of the saints, once saved, saved forever.
The two points that cause the most controversy are, ”Limited Atonement” and “Irresistible Grace.” I will address those issues in this message.
If you only get one thing out of this message let it be Christ died for our sins.
The Bible's central message is atonement. From genesis to revelation God seeks to reconcile mankind to Himself. He has provided a way for all men to come back into a right relationship with Him.
The atonement can be illustrated by the following story: The Counsel of God’s Eternal Attributes met in eternity past: First, Infinite Holiness takes the stand and declares, “Mankind will be totally engulfed in sin and will not be allowed in heaven.” Then Infinite Mercy takes the stand and declares, “If Infinite Holiness demands that sin must be dealt with, then I will devise a plan whereby the sin of the guilty could be placed upon an innocent one. Then Infinite Love takes the stand and declares, “I will provide a sacrifice.” “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son…” (John 3:16).
Definition-Atonement: "to cover, to wipe out, to cleanse, to appease, and to purge". In Romans 5:11, the Greek word that is translated "atonement" is "reconciliation". Reconciliation of the guilty by a divine sacrifice. It is that which makes us at one with God. (At-one-ment), It means “a covering, Mercy Seat.” My sins are covered by the death of Jesus Christ!
On the Day of Atonement, Aaron, the High Priest would remove his priestly robes, with its ornate bells and pomegranates surrounding the hen, to enter the Sanctus Sanctorum, the Holy of Holies. There he would sprinkle the blood seven times on the Mercy Seat for his own sins, then again for the sins of the people. The people would gather outside listening for the sound of the bells as the High Priest exited the Most Holy Place and put on his robe. A great shout would go up knowing the sacrifice had been accepted and their sins were covered for one more year.
Oh, but listen to our High Priest, Jesus Christ:
“Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, (Jesus) because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” (Hebrews 7:24-27). “But this man (Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). Christ died once for all men, once for all sin and once for all time!
1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our according to the Scriptures
Christ had to die:
Calvary is a beautiful place to us but in reality it was a bloody, horrifying spectacle of suffering and torture. It is only beautiful because of what God accomplished there. Our word “excruciating” means, “Out of the cross.”
Christ willed His own death. At the exact split second of God’s divine timetable He gave up His life. Matthew 27:50, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.”
He was not a victim. He was not killed by the Jews, nor by the Romans. He gave up His life. He bowed His head, literally, He pillowed His head as if in sleep and cried out tetelestai, “It is finished.”
John 19:28-30, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!’ Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His Spirit.”
What is finished?
His suffering: Never again will He sweat great drops of blood; no more tears; never again will His soul be “exceeding sorrowful even unto death;” Jis enemies will never again plow furrows down His back with a cat-of-nine-tails; He will never be baptized in blood; or hear scoffs from governors, and derision from the crowds; He will never experience being persecuted from place to place; treated as an impostor; accused of being the devil; pour out His soul as a sacrifice; or taste the bitter ingredients of the cup of death; He will never wear another crown of thorns; or be spit upon; and nailed to a tree…“It is finished!”
His dying: “It is finished!” Never again will He taste the cup of death. He will never again be nailed to a tree to suffer and to die! Next time things are going to be different! “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2”9-11).
Why did Jesus have to die? It was a fulfillment of Scripture.
In the Old Testament:
Psalm 22:1-18, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? …But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, ‘He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” …Many bulls have surrounded Me; strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me. They gape at Me with their mouths, like a raging and roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”
Isaiah 53:4-6, “Surely He has borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all…”
In the New Testament:
John 10:11, “I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
Luke 22:19, ‘This is My body which is broken for you…”
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated His love in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
Ephesians 5:2, “Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God.”
1 Thessalonians 5:9,10, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us.”
Titus 2:13,14, “Looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us.
1 Corinthians 15:1-3, “This is the Gospel! Christ died for our sins.”
Result: My sins are G-O-N-E! They are hidden behind His back, forgotten, covered, buried, and sent as far as the east is from the west.
For whom did Christ die? The doctrine of the limited atonement. Did Christ die only for His elect?
Three kinds of election:
National Election: Deuteronomy 7:6, “The LORD your God has chosen you for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” And they still are God’s chosen people-but still have to look to Yeshua Hamashia, Jesus the Christ, Anointed One, the Messiah!
Vocational Election: The LORD called out the tribe of Levi to be His priests. Jesus called twelve men to be His apostles. Paul was an Apostle called out of season...People today are called for ministry.
Salvational Election: “Exelato, chosen out of.” God picked out for Himself a particular possession. He selected for Himself a people He wants to spend eternity with. How? God determined in eternity past that all who would believe in His Son would be the elect. Twenty-seven times the book of Ephesians uses the words “in Christ.” God has chosen us “in Christ.” “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).
He was slain before the foundation of the world, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).
In the plan, purpose and mind of God Christ's death did not take God by surprise. God planned the universe and all activity in it before He made it. Therefore according to God’s eternal foreknowledge those who accept Christ’s sacrifice are placed in Him and become the elect of God.
Does God elect some to heaven and some to hell? Is Hell just a ghastly monument of the failure of God to elect those who are there? No! People go to hell because of their own rejection of God’s great gift, the sacrifice of His Son. All of mankind is doomed, marching straight down a slippery slope that leads to eternal damnation! “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Does man have a choice? God decreed that man would have a free will. He is able to choose because God made that choice possible. Christ died for all the “whoevers!”
“Jesus said…I AM the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-27).
“Choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).
“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1).
“If anyone thirsts let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37).
“And the Spirit and the bride say, come And let him who hears say, come ! And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
“But you are not willing to come to Me that you might have life (John 5:40).
How cruel of Jesus to condemn someone for not coming if they can’t come! Charles Spurgeon said there is a door in heaven, on our side of the door is written, “Whoever will may come.” On Heaven’s side it says, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2).
At my ordination I was asked to explain the sovereign election of God in salvation and the free will of man and to justify the two. This is an antinomy, a contradiction between two apparently equal valid principles. Here we have two opposite and irreconcilable truths. Let’s allow God to have His mysteries. What we do understand is without Christ we are lost forever. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD” (Romans 6:23). Christ died for sinners just like us and rose again from the dead. If we accept Him, believing He is able to save us we will have eternal life.
I know I am a legitimate child of God by adoption into God’s family. How do I know? God says so! Christ died to adopt all the whoevers into His family.
Ephesians 1:5, “Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will”
John 1:12, “As many as received Him, He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
1 John 3:2, “Beloved now we are the children of God.”
Galatians 3:26, “For you are all children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.”
Galatians 4:4,5, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Every believer is adopted into God’s eternal family. One adopted child was being teased by his classmates about being adopted, his response, “Your parents had to take what they got, mine chose me!
Conclusion: So for whom did Christ die?
First, consider the doctrine of federal/seminal headship. Adam is the head of the human race, so we are all children of Adam by birth. So Adam’s sin nature has been passed on to every human being.
“For as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, so that death has passed upon all men for all have sinned” (Romans 5:8).
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
“As in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Ephesians 2:1-5, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were DEAD in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”
The teaching of Scripture is very clear. Christ died for every one who is dead! The blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient for all mankind. “And He Himself is the propitiation (covering, mercy seat) for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2). So the blood is efficient only for those who believe.
John 1:29-John the Baptist: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
1 Corinthians 5:14,15, “For the love of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus: that if one died for all then all died, and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again from the dead.”
Titus 2:11, “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.”
2 Peter 3:9, ”The Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
So for whom did Christ die? He died for me! And if you accept Him I know He died for you! “I only know once I was blind now I see” (John 9:25). Once I was lost and I’m found!
But when the crimson flow fell to the earth below it fell on me,
His arms were opened wide, I saw Him crucified,
It was for me He died on Calvary
Calvary, rugged hill of sorrow, where the Prince of Glory died for me.
Wounded, there He bore my burden. Paid the debt to set this captive free.
Glorious day, he took my sins away, on the cross of Calvary.
Permission is hereby granted to use any of Dr. John Sparks’ materials. If this message was helpful, please write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org