From last week’s post: It is the Arminian who really places the limitation on the work of Christ when he limits the power of Christ’s blood and the power of God to save those whom He intended to save! The Calvinist confesses that God has limited the atonement quantitatively (with regard to the number), while the Arminian limits the atonement qualitatively (with regard to power and effectiveness). In this way they place a much more serious limitation on the work of Christ than they accuse the Calvinist of.
When we look at the work of Christ we must see it in terms of reality and not possibility. The atoning death of Christ actually accomplishes the only perfect fulfillment of the just demands of God — that the wages for sin be paid with death. The death of Christ blotted out both the curse which we have from Adam as well as our actual sins.
Just as the sin of Adam did not make the condemnation of men just a possibility, but it actually condemned us to eternal death, so the atonement of Christ did not just make salvation a possibility, but He actually secured salvation for those for whom He died.
To believe that God intended to bring salvation to all men, and in fact some are lost, is to say that God is not able to carry out His own will, or else He has later changed His mind. God is all-powerful and unchangeable. What He has determined to do He is both willing and able to perform. Listen to the powerful words of God through Isaiah, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Is. 55:11).
Mere man cannot overpower the will of the almighty, sovereign God, or foul up His plan by refusing to accept what God from eternity has willed! It is extreme arrogance to hold such a view. If some are lost, then this is the decree of God. It is not against His will, as if God had no control over that situation (see II Cor. 4:3, 4; II Thess. 2:11, 12).
The Arminian doctrine that attempts to vindicate God’s “fairness” has made God a weakling whose hands are tied and only finite man can make the decision to untie them. Likewise it makes God a liar. God claims to be almighty, but if He is unable to perform what He wills (ie. saving all men, according to Arminianism), then God is, in fact, impotent.
The Lamb of God Died for His Sheep
Whom did Christ die for according to the Bible? He laid down his life for “His sheep” (Jn. 10:15,26-29). The Arminian would have to say that all men are Christ’s “sheep” if He died for all. But are they?
In Matthew 25:31-46 we read an account of the judgment day. What takes place there is important to understand. Before anything is said about the faith or the works of those judged, they are separated. The goats are on the left and the sheep are placed on the right. This “left” and “right” position is often used in Scripture to indicate who are lost and who are saved.
It is obvious that God knows from eternity who the goats are and who the sheep are. Those who are the sheep, and they alone, are saved. It was not by their works. Nothing is mentioned about works (including the “work of faith” which the Arminian assumes is man’s gift to God) until after the separation. This was because the blood of Christ was shed for His sheep and the Holy Spirit had worked faith in their hearts. Not one sheep is lost in this process.
Jesus says in John 10:11 and 15 that He gave his life for the sheep. Now, if Arminianism is right and Christ died for all men, then all would have to be “sheep” according to John 10. And, if all men are “sheep,” we would surely expect that there would only be sheep and no goats on the judgment day. That is, all men would be saved if all men are seen to be His sheep.
John 10 also speaks of those who are not Christ’s sheep and, therefore, are not able to follow the Good Shepherd for they do not recognize the voice of Jesus. “Jesus answered them, I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you” (Jn. 10:25, 26).
The sheep are clearly given eternal life, not just a possibility of it — a possibility contingent upon how good their spiritual hearing is. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (Jn. 10:27-28a). Could it be any clearer?
How does Christ “know” his sheep? John tells us that Jesus is very much aware that these were the ones “given” to Him by His Father. He knows those who were given to Him. See John 10:29 and 17:2, 6, 9, 11, 12, and 24. Those “given to him” He actually redeemed from sin and death.
The love which Christ showed in His death was not a general or indiscriminate love, but a very particular love. It was the love of Christ for His Church — His bride. If we say that Christ has a saving love and desire for all men, then Christ would be guilty of some sort of spiritual adultery – loving and marrying those who are not His bride. God’s grace and love are never manifested as an indiscriminate shot-in-the-dark like Cupid’s arrow, with the hope it will strike someone just right.
Blog post content is taken from Rev. Paul Treick’s book, Faith of Our Fathers, Living Still: A Study of the Five Points of Calvinism, available for purchase. It is posted with the gracious permission of the author.
If you’d like to read the blog series from the beginning, start here.