In a recent exam in my daughter Rachelâ€™s Bible class at her school for missionary children in the Philippines, there were these questions: â€œWho is redemption available to?â€ â€œWho is justification available to?â€ â€œWho is propitiation available to?â€ And Rachelâ€™s answer to all of these was the same: â€œThose who believe that Jesus died to save us.â€ All three of her answers were marked wrong, because the teacherâ€™s answers to all three were, â€œEveryone.â€ Iâ€™m proud of her.
These are questions that many evangelicals will answer, â€œHuh?â€ But, honestly, my reaction was the same, because the questions were vague at best. What does â€œavailableâ€ mean here? If the teacher was asking who is redeemed, Rachelâ€™s answer then was correct. Was the teacher asking if the offer of justification is made to everyone who hears the preaching of the true gospel? Rachelâ€™s answer to this is still correctâ€”only those who believe among all those who hear the gospel will be redeemed and justified and propitiated of their sin. If by “available” he meant that Christ’s death made salvation “possible” to everyone, then it has serious consequences to the Christian doctrine of salvation.
These questions and Rachelâ€™s answer highlight the chasm between the Reformed and the Arminian. Arminians would always say â€œGod loves everyone.â€ This is why all of their evangelism tracts open with something like this, â€œGod loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.â€ Near Rachelâ€™s school, thereâ€™s a building which has a huge sign on top saying, â€œJesus Loves You.â€ Iâ€™ve always wondered how can any Christian tell that honestly to anyone whom they meet on the street. Do we know Godâ€™s mind and eternal decree? What if that person was not elect and was going to hell? Does God love him while he weeps and gnashes his teeth in unspeakable torture in eternal hell?
Arminians would usually answer that God loves him dearly, but it â€˜s up to the person to exercise his free will to believe in Christ. If he does not believe, then he will suffer Godâ€™s wrath. So if Christ died for this person in hell, what becomes of Christâ€™s death on the cross for him: Useless! Makes no sense! Infinitely unfair to our Suffering Servant!
But this is exactly what Arminians really say. Christâ€™s sacrifice only made salvation possibleâ€”-“available,” according to Rachel’s teacherâ€”to everyone, but not actually accomplished anything. So, did Christ come into the world for the purpose of actually saving all that the Father gave him? Or did He die merely to make salvation possible for everyone? If itâ€™s the second case, then Christâ€™s death accomplished zip! Nothing!
Take a look at what the Bible says about what Jesus came to do and was able to accomplish on the cross:
- Christ was born to save his people from sin (Matt 1:21).
- Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15).
- Christ “made propitiation for sinners” (Heb 2:17).
- Christ “secured an eternal redemption” (Heb 9:12).
- God “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
If he did not accomplish his mission of saving his people from sin, was Jesus being truthful when he exclaimed as he was about to give up his spirit on the cross, “It is finished!”?