Why Jesus Died For Us

There is an abiding question that every person who reads the Bible will have: “Why did Jesus do this for me?” It is difficult to comprehend why someone as beautiful, perfect, and holy would come to earth and allow evil men to butcher Him. I have often pondered this question, and I have never moved past the place where I simply had to accept that Jesus did this because He could do nothing else.

There is a Being who is the very embodiment of what love is; in fact, love is defined by who He is. When the Lord saw us in our hopeless situation here on earth—the evil, suffering, sickness, and death that ruin our lives—He was compelled to act for us. His love was so great, that He was willing to lay aside His glory and power as God, to humble Himself and die for us. God could not bear that any one of us would have to stand at the place of judgment for our sins, so He stood there for us.

Isaiah writes that the Messiah will look forward and see those whom He shall redeem by His sacrifice: Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.[1]

The New Testament Fulfillment:

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.[2]

Jesus saw us ahead of time, each person who would believe in Him and be saved. These persons He chose for eternal life and predestined us to become just like Jesus.

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.[3]

Seeing the Results of His Sacrifice

When Jesus was contemplating the cost of the Cross and the depth of sin He would suffer, He looked ahead, and saw all those who would believe in Him and commit their lives to Him. It was this joy ahead that Jesus looked to as He moved towards the Cross. The Bible is clear that Jesus knew all these things before He spoke the universe into existence.

…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.[4]

Before time, space, or matter existed, Jesus offered His life for us. The book of Revelation describes Jesus as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”[5] This means that before God created Adam and he fell into sin and caused the whole human race to be lost, Jesus offered His life to die for us and redeem us back to the perfection God originally intended.

Why would the Lord create us knowing that we would be lost? This is a question that I have been asked many times.

The only way that anyone can enjoy genuine love from another person, is if those persons have a choice to love us or not love us.

God wanted a family of people who really love Him, and love each other. Only by giving us a choice could this happen. On earth, and in human relationships, genuine love is received from people who decide themselves to love us. If we force, coerce, or manipulated a person into loving us, this is not real love. Nothing is more wonderful than being loved by someone who does this from a willing heart.

The greatest gift the Lord has given us is the right to choose our eternal destiny. The privilege of choice permits us to decide what we will do in our life. As powerful and perfect as God is, He will not force people to love Him.

When we read the last book in the Bible we find that the book of Revelation describes people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people, who do love God, and they are seen in heaven with Him because they want to be there.[6] These persons will live together with the Lord, in a perfect world where there will be no more sin, evil, sickness, suffering, or death. This happened because these persons exercised their right of choice and chose Jesus as their Savior. They decided that it was wise to obey the Lord because He always has our best interests at heart.

The second important issue is the sins of those who reject Jesus and do not want to love God or live with Him. These persons are guilty of breaking the laws of God and are under condemnation for their sins. It’s not simply that they can go off and live together, there is a penalty to be paid for the sins they have committed.

The universe exists because of physical laws; human society exists because certain rules govern our behavior. If a person breaks the laws of the universe (gravity, electricity), they will die. If a person breaks certain laws imposed by a nation, they can also die. It should come as no surprise that if we break the moral laws of God, we will also die: “Behold, all souls are Mine (says the Lord); the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die.” [7]

Everyone who rejects the idea that they are a sinner and the laws of God have no relevance to them, are deceiving themselves. Sin and rebellion against God are serious violations of the laws He established for all human beings. God expects us to be perfect in our moral behavior. We cannot achieve this perfection, defining us as sinners and requiring our redemption.

The secular/humanist idea of sin is that it doesn’t really exist. In this concept of life, there is no God who will judge us; death is the end of life and there is nothing afterwards. The problem is that all human beings have a conscience and this is the evidence that impeaches the secular/humanist idea of no sin. We all know when we have said or done something that is wrong. God created a conscience inside us, and it convicts our heart when we are wrong.

Evolution could not produce this artifact of human emotion. It has no useful purpose in a natural world of happenstance. Only if we were created by a thinking, sentient Being, could we possess an internal guide that tells us when our behavior is wrong.

Our conscience will naturally move us to seek relief from guilt, and the intended location of this comfort should be God. We can be forgiven and rid ourselves of guilt, simply by confessing to the Lord we are wrong. The Lord is loving and kind, consistently compassionate towards us. He understands all of our weaknesses, and He is ready at any time to forgive us and take away our guilt.

This was the reason Jesus came into the world, to take away all guilt, regret, and sorrow for our failures, and give us a new and perfect life.

People who deny sin is real and seek to do whatever they want with impunity, are deceiving themselves. By violating their conscience, they harm themselves. No one has ever achieved immunity from the effects of wrong behavior. People who try are filled with guilt and manifest their condition by depression, self-abuse through alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, and other destructive acts.

No one can avoid the consequences of violating human laws by simply denying they are relevant. No one can avoid the results of violating God’s laws by merely asserting these laws are not true. Rejecting God and His laws will not prevent the penalty for our sins from being enforced.

The laws which govern the universe and human society inflict penalties, but at their extreme, they can only deprive us of our freedom or our life. Violating the laws which God enacted, not only take away our eternal freedom and abundant life now on earth; violating these rules of conduct will also bring an eternal penalty to us in the prison called “The Lake of Fire.”[8]

It was for this reason that Jesus gave up His rights as God and took the body of a man so that He could die for us and take away our sins.[9] Jesus suffered the punishment we deserved so that no one would ever be sentenced to the Lake of Fire. Jesus has done everything possible to prevent us from being lost, but the final decision resides with those who have the choice. Everyone who rejects the pardon that Jesus offered, will suffer an eternal penalty for their foolish error.

Jesus looked forward from the cross, to the time when everyone who loves Him will live together with Him

As I am writing at this particular point in the book, I have drifted from my writing to thoughts of Jesus. I began this morning by having my breakfast at a popular restaurant here in Scottsdale, Arizona. As I wrote these words, I began to imagine the excitement the Lord must be feeling at this time, knowing that He is about to return to earth and remove His bride and bring to a conclusion all the events that these prophecies describe.

We all understand the anticipation that comes from knowing that a particularly enjoyable event is about to happen. As the day draws near, our joy is greatly magnified. When the moment finally arrives, we can hardly wait to rise in the morning and experience all that we are hoping for. On many occasions during this life, our anticipation is rarely met by the reality of the event. Seldom do our expectations find satisfaction. In fact, it is a plague of our life that we are seldom satisfied by this world.

Imagine knowing all things, possessing the ability to see every event that will transpire during the course of all human life here on the earth. Understanding that the creatures you are going to bring into being with the wonderful privilege of choice will, in large numbers, choose not to love you or receive you. In order for this creation to become all that you had planned, you will have to depart your home in heaven, lay aside your rights and privileges as God, and allow the very people you have created to torture, humiliate, and pierce your body on a cruel Roman cross.

When this hard work of redemption is accomplished, you must wait before you can complete the salvation you came to make possible. After more than 2,000 years, and through much patience and long-suffering, you can finally return to earth at an appointed time and take your loved ones back to heaven.

Isaiah writes, “…He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days…”

Isaiah saw the joy of the Messiah as He looked ahead to behold all those who would be saved by Him. He saw the great gap in time before His first and second appearances on earth, when He would return from heaven to complete all redemption.

The fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy is found in Hebrews 12:2: “…for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross…”

Jesus saw all the events of His suffering and death long before He came to earth to die for us. He looked past the pain, to the joy of us all together in heaven. It was this joy that was set before Jesus, that allowed Him to endure the cross.

We will all have our moments of trials that will require our endurance while we wait for the return of our Lord. There will be many difficulties, hurts, sorrows, and losses during this time. If we hold steadfast and remain immovable in our constant trust of Jesus, then when He appears, we will rise to meet Him at the Rapture. As Jesus endured the cross, He looked forward to the time when every trial would be over and our time here on earth would be at an end. Because Jesus endured, we must also endure. Because Jesus trusted in the Father to sustain Him and raise Him from the dead on the third day, we must also count on Him to sustain us until He comes again. Jesus promised to take care of all our needs and keep us, as we make our commitment to Him certain.

If we should die before Jesus returns for us at the Rapture, we must trust that the Father will also raise us from the dead when the Lord arrives, and gives to us the glorious new and eternal body He promised to all those who love Him and eagerly await His return.

Jesus saw each one of us from the cross, and He endured the suffering that was required so that we might never have to endure the wrath of God against our sins. He is waiting in heaven for the final number of those who will believe in Him. When this company is finally complete, He will come again, and take everyone who loves Him and is waiting for His return, back to heaven. On that day our redemption will be complete, and the number of those who can be saved will be accomplished. Until that time, we patiently wait for the return of our wonderful Lord.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Isaiah continues his prophecy describing the Messiah’s offering of His life for us and the fact that His plan of salvation will prosper and be successful.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.[10]

John Records The New Testament Fulfillment:

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”[11]

The Messiah Will Succeed

To those who witnessed the arrest, trial, and condemnation of Jesus Christ in dying on the Cross, His mission must have appeared to be a tremendous failure. In the eternal realm, where the plan of Salvation was conceived before the foundation of the world, the course that Jesus followed was determined from eternity. All that the Lord had planned for this great salvation was a complete success. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would prosper, and Jesus fulfilled this prophecy by completing all the work of the Messiah to the very letter.

The revelation that the Messiah would die was a hard truth to accept for the men who had been following Jesus for the past three and one-half years. They had understandably grown very close to the Lord and had obviously fallen in love with Him. None of us would like to think that someone whom we love this much would be taken away from us by death. People who have had a loved one die are familiar with the biting pain and inconsolable sorrow that is felt when someone who is a big part of our life is suddenly gone.

When Jesus told the disciples that He was going to Jerusalem and while there He would be arrested and crucified, there was immediate opposition to His words:

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.

But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”[12]

Just prior to this statement by Jesus, Peter had declared that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus congratulated Him on hearing the voice of the Father who had spoken this truth to Peter by the Holy Spirit. At Jesus’ announcement that He is about to die, Peter is overwhelmed with emotion: “This will never happen to you!” The Lord informs Peter that his plans and thoughts are not those of the Father. God has a purpose for our lives, and our place is to accept whatever happens and to continue in our trust regardless of the suffering or loss.

In our life, there will be many times when we will not really understand the plans of God at a particular moment. As we experience loss, hurt, abandonment, betrayal, sickness, financial stress, or terrible conflicts in our relationships, we will ask: “How is this your plan for me, Lord?” Often we may question whether God really loves us when He allows so much pain and suffering to flood our life.

When these moments arrive, as they must for every person, we should think on Jesus and remind ourselves how much He suffered for us. Jesus resisted sin and temptation, to the point where He sweat great drops of blood. See the chapter, Crucified, for greater understanding of this event.

We should look back to the Cross, that moment when Jesus demonstrated, in real practical terms, how far the love of God will go in meeting our needs. The fact that Jesus was willing to leave heaven, live as a man, allow evil men to put Him to death, all to make our redemption possible, should remind us that God does love us. On that final day of Jesus’ life, He gave all that He had—His very life—to demonstrate once and for all that God really does love us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”[13]

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah’s plan for our salvation will prosper and be successful. Though Jesus’ crucifixion must have seemed, at that time, like a terrible failure, in reality He accomplished a tremendous victory. Jesus’ death on the cross forever defeated sin and death, and destroyed the works of the devil.

The Messiah’s future success

Paul wrote to the church at Corinth and defined when this plan of salvation will meet its ultimate fulfillment: at the return of Jesus for His church:

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.[14]

Every person who loves the Lord and is waiting for His return will receive a new and eternal body, at His return. The people who have died will receive their eternal bodies just ahead of those who are alive. Those who are alive will experience an immediate transformation of their current body into a new and eternal body. All of us will rise together and meet Jesus in the outer atmosphere of the earth, when He returns for His church. See the chapter, Coming For His Church, for a full description of this event.

Paul said that when we receive our eternal bodies, all the plans of God through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross will be fulfilled. Death will be swallowed up, and sin will no longer rule over our lives.

Difficulties will come

As you and I live out the final days of our life here on the earth, we must remember that Jesus told us we would all experience tribulation or trouble in this world. He also said that we should be encouraged because He has overcome this world.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be encouraged, I have overcome the world.”[15]

The plan of Salvation that God had determined for the Messiah was completed by Jesus, just as Isaiah predicted in his prophecy.


NOTES:

[1] Isaiah 53:10c

[2] Hebrews 12:2

[3] Romans 8:29

[4]  Titus 1:2

[5] Revelation 13:8 (NKJV) …the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

[6] Revelation 5:9-10 (NKJV) And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”

[7] Ezekiel 18:4 (NKJV)

[8] Revelation 20:15 (NKJV) And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

[9] Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT) Though Jesus was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

[10] Isaiah 53:10d

[11] John 17:1-5

[12] Matthew 16:21-23

[13] Hebrews 12:1-6 (NLT)

[14] 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 (NLT)

[15] John 16:33 (RCR)



Categories: Forgiveness of Sin, Jesus is the Messiah, Messianic Prophecies, Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus, Robert Clifton Robinson, Salvation is a free gift, Salvation through Jesus, The Prophecies of the Messiah, We must see our need, What is required for Heaven?, Why Jesus had to die

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8 replies

  1. Rob, some last comments and then you can have the final word, if you like. You fundamentally do not believe that fallen man is spiritually dead in his trespasses and sins and can not respond in saving faith in God (under the Old Covenant) and in Jesus Christ (under the New Covenant). You really believe that fallen man is only spiritually sick and not dead. I’m sure that you believe that after some presentation of God’s word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, fallen man can initiate saving faith. But then, saving faith is not a gift.

    You also fundamentally don’t believe in God’s sovereignty with respect to salvation, because you really believe in fallen Man’s sovereignty with respect to salvation. You are really saying that God is not in control of who He saves. Fallen man is ultimately in control, with the final say as to whether he will savingly believe or not. Presumably, none could savingly believe and there would be no one saved. But clearly scripture paints the picture of God sovereignly appointing the elect to eternal life (Acts 13:48). He regenerated Abram, out of idolatrous Ur of the Chaldeans, by the Holy Spirit that he might savingly believe. He regenerated Saul by the Holy Spirit on the road to Damascus that he might savingly believe. Your heretical view opens the door to Christians being able to boast that they were humble enough or wise enough to believe savingly after they heard the Word and were convicted by the Holy Spirit. That in itself proves your view is heretical.

    Your heretical view also does not explain how God saves any elect unborn who die or elect infants or elect young children who die or elect people of unsound mind. Of course He saves them by regenerating their spirits with His Holy Spirit even before they have the ability to believe savingly. John the Baptist is a great example, filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb. Was God showing partiality to him? Of course not! God doesn’t have to save any fallen human spirit by His Holy Spirit. But He chooses to save some.

    Of course, fallen human nature naturally and sinfully wants to believe that they weren’t so far gone that they couldn’t savingly believe in God or Jesus. They want to believe that they were good enough to save themselves by believing. Saving faith becomes a work that saves them. They earn their salvation by their saving faith. Of course, God doesn’t force His electagainst their wills to believe. He makes them willing to believe by the regeneration of His Holy Spirit (Phil 2:13).

    Sadly, the growth of Arminianism (Fallen Man’s sovereignty in salvation) is one of the many signs of the apostasy of the last days. “Christian” humanists go even farther than fallen man being sick spiritually, as the Arminians believe. They think man is well. They must not even believe in the Fall.

    Rob, you would do well to study this carefully at ligonier.org and monergism.com.

    Love and God bless,
    Clive

    Like

    • Rob, some last comments and then you can have the final word, if you like. You fundamentally do not believe that fallen man is spiritually dead in his trespasses and sins and can not respond in saving faith in God (under the Old Covenant) and in Jesus Christ (under the New Covenant). You really believe that fallen man is only spiritually sick and not dead. I’m sure that you believe that after some presentation of God’s word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, fallen man can initiate saving faith. But then, saving faith is not a gift.

      Clive, is is unfortunate that you seek to impute to me, doctrines which I do not, nor have ever, ascribed to. Either you have not read what I have written, you didn’t understand what I have written, or you have chosen to ignore the clear intent of all my words.

      I do believe that man is fallen, a sinner, and cannot be redeemed unless God takes the initiative. I believe that the scriptures are clear that He did this by sending Jesus to die for us. I believe, as the scriptures declare, that it is only by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus that anyone can be saved. I also believe what the scriptures say, that we must, of our own free will, chose to believe what Jesus did for us at the cross, saves us, after we have heard the Gospel.

      It is distressing to me, and I am certain to those who read your comments, that you force your false conclusions upon other Christians, simply because they don’t use the same language you ascribe to. The primary point of our salvation in Christ, and His fervent desire, is that we would “all be one, even as He, the Father, and the Spirit are one.” Love should be the emblem of all Christians, and a desire for unity, even though we may disagree about certain matters of doctrine.

      It seems to be your aim to create division, and break fellowship with other Christians, rather than focus on our common reason for existence, the love and fellowship of Christ. So far, I have not disagreed with any of your fundamental points, but you seem to search out a hidden motive for everything I have stated, and twist my words to fit an agenda you think I subscribe to.

      You also fundamentally don’t believe in God’s sovereignty with respect to salvation, because you really believe in fallen Man’s sovereignty with respect to salvation. You are really saying that God is not in control of who He saves. Fallen man is ultimately in control, with the final say as to whether he will savingly believe or not. Presumably, none could savingly believe and there would be no one saved. But clearly scripture paints the picture of God sovereignly appointing the elect to eternal life (Acts 13:48). He regenerated Abram, out of idolatrous Ur of the Chaldeans, by the Holy Spirit that he might savingly believe. He regenerated Saul by the Holy Spirit on the road to Damascus that he might savingly believe. Your heretical view opens the door to Christians being able to boast that they were humble enough or wise enough to believe savingly after they heard the Word and were convicted by the Holy Spirit. That in itself proves your view is heretical.

      Once again, you are stating facts I do not ascribe to. I do believe that God is sovereign in all matters of salvation. It is He who created us, and gave us the same fundamental attribute He has, choice. We have the right to determine our own destiny. We do this by hearing the Gospel, believing what God said, and obtaining the salvation that His sovereignty intended.

      I do not, ascribe to the idea that God’s sovereignty forces us to be saved or lost, and our decision to trust Christ, is all God’s doing, and we have no say in the matter. If God forces people to accept Christ, or forces people to reject Christ, this would define God as an imperfect monster who does not love us. The Bible no place presents God in this manner, and we never see any evidence that God has ever forced anyone to be saved or lost. The idea that this is true, is a distortion of the love and grace of God.

      We are elect, chosen, predestined by God because of His foreknowledge in our choice to believe in Christ and be saved. These terms do not define God as electing, choosing, or predestining anyone against their will. God’s choices are sovereign, and this sovereignty defines that He gave us all a choice to believe or reject Christ. The entire Bible makes this clear. I am not sure why you choose to believe the comments of men who created the doctrine of Calvinism, rather than what the scriptures say. Calvinism is extreme in that it places all of the salvation of man, completely in the hands of God, and removes all of man’s responsibility to hear the Gospel of Christ and believe. Arminianism is just the opposite in extreme; all of salvation is strictly man’s decision, and God has nothing to do with our salvation.

      I reject both of these extremes, and I believe the Bible teaches a balance between these two positions: God is sovereign in salvation and He decides who is saved, based upon those who are obedient to hear the Gospel that Jesus died for our sins, and without Jesus’ death we have no hope of salvation. When we obey God’s command to repent from our sins and believe the Gospel that Jesus’ death paid for our sins, God counts us righteous, just as He did Abraham.

      Your heretical view also does not explain how God saves any elect unborn who die or elect infants or elect young children who die or elect people of unsound mind. Of course He saves them by regenerating their spirits with His Holy Spirit even before they have the ability to believe savingly. John the Baptist is a great example, filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb. Was God showing partiality to him? Of course not! God doesn’t have to save any fallen human spirit by His Holy Spirit. But He chooses to save some.

      I have written extensively on the matter of those who are incapable of understanding the Gospel; infants, mentally disabled, etc. Jesus’ death on the cross paid for the sins of the whole world. Those who are capable of understanding their sins are an offense to God and they must repent and trust Jesus for their salvation, are accountable to do this. If they do not, they will be lost. Infants, the mentally disabled, do not have this ability. Accountability to the Gospel is based upon knowledge of the law, and that one is culpable for their sins. Paul made this clear in Romans and Galatians. In these situations, the grace of God covers the sins of those incapable of understanding the Gospel, and God saves them, by His sovereignty.

      The Mercy of God covers these individuals and they are all saved.

      It is at the age of twelve that a young Hebrew boy enters adulthood. Many believe that the age of accountability is twelve, when God holds an individual responsible for his action or inaction in receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior. At twelve, a young boy or girl is no longer covered by the clause in the Law of God which protects them from judgment based on innocence or lack of knowledge. A baby or young adolescent may have the benefit of being covered exclusively by the Grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus for all sins, up until the age of twelve. No one knows this for certain, but it is postulated that this is the age of accountability for all human beings.

      Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:19-20

      Because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. Romans 4:15

      The principle of innocence is best understood when we consider a person who has a diminished mental capacity, or is completely incapable of understanding sin or the requirements of God to repent and receive Jesus Christ. What happens to those who die as infants or in the womb? What of those who are mentally retarded, mentally ill, or have no capability to understand the Gospel by their lack of mental ability?

      Because the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross has paid for the sins of all people for all time, God can cover with His Grace, any of those who cannot, of their own, understand the gospel and be saved. It would be inconsistent for God to send a baby, a young child or a mentally incapacitated person to hell. God wants to save people, and He will save those who cannot act to save themselves—through confession and repentance, because they cannot understand sin and the need for salvation. In these cases, where there is no law, there is no transgression. The clause in Romans 3:20 states that when a person comes to the knowledge that he is a sinner, the law is then applied to him. The age of accountability may vary from person to person depending on their individual ability to understand the gospel. According to God’s word, all adults are aware that they are sinners and that God has required everyone to repent and receive Jesus as their Savior.

      because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse… Romans 1:19-20

      How Much Knowledge Is Required For Salvation?

      As we examine the moments of Jesus’ crucifixion, we remember that one of the thieves on a cross next to the Lord was also dying for his sins. He looked up at Jesus on the cross and said to Him, Lord, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

      When we read the New Testament description of this event, we find that there were two thieves that were also condemned to die by crucifixion along with Jesus. They are placed on either side of the Lord. At first, it seems that both condemned men ridicule Jesus for also being crucified along with them. After one of these men witnesses the grace and the love with which Jesus endures His suffering, praying for those who placed Him on the Cross, this dying criminal has a change of heart. He cries out to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” A subtle statement of salvation in the final moments of life from a man condemned to die. Though his confession is short and subdued, it is sufficient to move Jesus to pronounce him— forgiven and worthy of eternal life.

      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.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43

      This encounter by a repentant, dying, criminal, it is forever a testament to anyone who comes to the end of his life with the belief that it is too late for him to change his life. Anyone can come to God at any time and find salvation. This thief had so thoroughly destroyed his life that he was dying for his many sins. In a single declaration, Remember me, Jesus pronounces that he would be with Him, on that day, in paradise.

      As Jesus will Himself die in just a short time, the Prophecies state that He will descend into the lower parts of the earth where Abraham’s Bosom, also called Paradise, is located.

      This criminal was saved by Jesus with no altar call, no opportunity to be baptized in a particular style, no church membership, or speaking in tongues; only his sincere request of Jesus: Remember me. Immediately, and without hesitation, the Lord declared that today his sins are forgiven and he will be with Jesus in paradise.

      Even the slightest movement towards Jesus in sincere repentance, will be enough for Him to grant a person forgiveness and eternal life.

      When the book of Romans describes God knowing who would be saved in advance and Him choosing these persons for eternal life, it does not say that we have no choice. The entire point of the New Testament is to declare that we do have a choice. What we do with this choice will determined where we remain for eternity.

      Of course, fallen human nature naturally and sinfully wants to believe that they weren’t so far gone that they couldn’t savingly believe in God or Jesus. They want to believe that they were good enough to save themselves by believing. Saving faith becomes a work that saves them. They earn their salvation by their saving faith. Of course, God doesn’t force His electagainst their wills to believe. He makes them willing to believe by the regeneration of His Holy Spirit (Phil 2:13).

      I reject these ideas. The Bible is clear that “no one is righteous, not one.” Jesus said “Unless you all repent, you will all be lost.”

      I don’t know where you got the notion that I subscribe to the ideas you described here in this post. It is likely an assumption, but not any resemblance of the truth in what I believe, have taught at university, or have published in my 33 books and 3,000 essays. Perhaps you should get to know a fellow Christian and understand what they believe, before you condemn them with false statements?

      Sadly, the growth of Arminianism (Fallen Man’s sovereignty in salvation) is one of the many signs of the apostasy of the last days. “Christian” humanists go even farther than fallen man being sick spiritually, as the Arminians believe. They think man is well. They must not even believe in the Fall.

      Clive, I have made it clear that I do not believe in the Arminian or Calvinist doctrines. They are extremes created by the traditions of churches and men, but not at all a representation of what the Bible teaches. Kindly cease from accusing me of believing these doctrines, and read what I have written. I am a fundamentalist, originalist, Bible only, believer and teacher of God’s word.

      The Westminster Confession’s chapter “On God’s Eternal Decree,” states: “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

      The theologians who were a part of framing that doctrinal statement were careful to say that even though we believe in a sovereign God who governs all things and ordains everything that happens, His sovereign, providential government is not exercised in such a way as to destroy what we call human freedom or human volition.

      Rather, human choices and human actions are a part of the overall providential scheme of things, and God brings His will to pass by way of the free decisions of moral agents. The fact that our free decisions fit into this overall plan of God, in no way lessens the reality of that freedom.

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  2. I should add that there are differences in regeneration by the Holy Spirit, filling by the Holy Spirit and gifting by the Holy Spirit. Abel was clearly regenerated, but Cain was not. Joshua and Caleb had the Spirit and perhaps were filled with Him, but probably that was not the case for the other 10 spies. The Holy Spirit gave supernatural gifts to Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, the Apostles and some in the early Church. The operation of the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant appears to be more full and gracious than under the Old Covenant. He actually puts God’s moral law in our spirits. Christians are encouraged “to be filled with the Spirit.”

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  3. You should choose your words more carefully

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  4. Rob, I haven’t read your entire article, but the beginning of it clearly suggests that you are an Arminian. This is a heresy that came in about 100 years after God brought the Reformation with the likes of Luther and Calvin. I believe that God purposefully did not give Adam and Eve His Holy Spirit and this is why they fell. From that capital crime on, the whole human race is on death row, heading toward death and hell. Children and adults of sound mind are spiritually dead in their sins with no ability for saving faith in God unless God gives their spirits rebirth through His Holy Spirit (John 3). In fact, God can give a fallen human spirit rebirth in the womb, as He did with John the Baptist. The Reformers got back to the truth that God regenerates a human spirit by His Holy Spirit before saving faith is exercised. This applies to children and adults of sound mind. Jesus clearly said, “You did not choose Me but I chose you,” and “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” Romans says, “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” Remember, faith is a gift, which comes through regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Were it otherwise, which it couldn’t be, we could boast. Salvation is 100% God’s work, not 99% God’s work and 1% man’s. I encourage you to study this at ligonier.org and monergism.com.

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    • Rob, I haven’t read your entire article, but the beginning of it clearly suggests that you are an Arminian. This is a heresy that came in about 100 years after God brought the Reformation with the likes of Luther and Calvin.

      Clive, No this is not correct. I am not an Arminian, nor a Calvinist. I believe that the scriptures are clear that neither of these extreme positions are correct. The Bible teaches that God is sovereign in all matters of human salvation, but we humans also have a responsibility to make the right choice in choosing Christ. Both of these work together in our salvation.

      An example of the sovereignty of God, working together with the choices of men, is seen in Acts 2:23:

      Acts 2:23 (NKJV) “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death…”

      Here we see that Jesus’ crucifixion was by the “determined purpose and foreknowledge of God,” but also that evil men chose to “take by lawless hands and crucify Him…”

      God knew before He made the world, who would choose Christ and be saved, and He chose us for salvation ahead of time, based on His advanced knowledge of our choice.This is both the sovereignty of God in action, working with our own choice. The Calvinist and Arminian views, are in my view, extremes that are not observed in the Bible.

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      • Rob, God sovereignly brought the Reformation in the “fourth watch” of the 2,000-year “night” since 30 AD. He did that to get back to true doctrine in the Church. But it only took 100 years for heresy to creep back in. Your view of foreknowledge is incorrect. God foreknew those that were His before creation, because He chose to save them before creation. For example, He did this for Jacob, but not for Esau:

        11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

        God hated Esau in the sense of salvation. Certainly, the gospel call goes out to all it reaches, but only those whom the Holy Spirit regenerates can receive it by faith. And, of course, the elect will exercise faith once regenerated by the Holy Spirit, but they do not initiate that faith. God does by His Holy Spirit. Their wills are captive to Satan with respect to salvation (Romans 1), until they are freed by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8). Fallen man will have no excuse for the simple reason that they are fallen and sinful. God is not obligated to save anyone. Mercifully, He saves a remnant by giving them His Spirit. In my view, this is why Satan and the demons also fell. God did not give those angels His Holy Spirit, so they became unholy.

        Yes, fallen man has some responsibility to God, to believe savingly in Him if they are able, which they can only do if the Holy Spirit regenerates their spirits. Even if they can’t, they are still called to acknowledge His existence, honor Him and obey Him as best they can.

        Rob, if you believe that fallen man can initiate saving faith in God, then you are an Arminian whether you know it or not. If that were the truth, how fair would God be saving mainly Jews for 2,000 years and then mainly Gentiles for the last 2,000 years and in a very slowly expanding way?

        If the elect can take credit for their salvation one iota, because they initiated saving faith, then they can boast. But God will not allow that. This is not an extreme message. It is biblical truth.

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      • In Romans 8:29 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren,” the subject of predestination arises.

        Jesus said to His disciples. “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.” Jesus also said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him…”

        The Bible states through Joshua: “Chose this day, whom we will serve.”

        For many, these two facts of scripture are difficult to reconcile. How can God choose, and we also choose?

        We have the infinite mind of God and His purposes, and our human intellect, which is always lacking. It seems to many that the idea that God predestined some to be saved and others to be lost, is proven by certain scriptures. For others, it is completely the responsibility of human beings to hear the Gospel of Christ and decide to believe and be saved.

        So, in the Bible, we see both the sovereignty of God, and the responsibility of men to choose. The Bible states that we must respond to God’s Grace, but it also says that “whom He foreknew, He also predestined.”

        These seemingly conflicting ideas are why many people have difficulty in understanding predestination and choice. In our current human condition it is not possible for us to fully understand all that God knows regarding our salvation. What we can know, is what the Bible states.

        In this regard, the Bible teaches both God’s sovereignty, and human responsibility. It does not say anywhere that salvation is all God, or salvation is all human decision. The scriptures state both of these truths together at the same time. For this reason, all that we can know is that both are true. God decides who is saved, but we must also decide.

        If salvation was all God and our decisions don’t matter, then God would be a monster, forcing people against their will to be saved. If God forced some people to spend eternity in hell, and didn’t regard their decision to trust Christ, He would also be a monster.

        We never find in scripture that God forces people to believe, or that He ignores those who want to believe and decides Himself.

        When Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler, He told him what he needed to do to be saved, and let the young man decide. The young ruler could not make the choice Jesus stated, and he walked away without salvation. This was his choice. Jesus did not pursue him, He let this young man decide. Jesus also knew before He made the world, that this young man would make this choice.

        When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, He told her that salvation was in Him, the Messiah, and she believed. She went to her village and told her friends and family, and many of them also believed. The Samaritan woman and those she told, made their choice to believe. There is no evidence that they were forced, but that each made their own choice without pressure. As a result of their choice to believe, the texts states that many were saved on that day.

        Jesus also knew before He made the world, that this would happen. The young ruler was not chosen for salvation, because He did not choose Christ. The Samaritan woman was chosen for salvation, because she chose Christ.

        God is love, grace, and kindness, and He is perfect in every way. There is nothing He needs to learn, He knows everything. God knew who would be saved because they would choose Jesus as their Savior. He knew this before He made anything. Because He knows who will choose Christ, He predestines these persons to salvation and all of the benefits this choice entails. Predestination is not a statement of action inflicted upon a person, but the reaction of God because He knows a person will believe. We have the choice, God knows the outcome, these are predestined to eternal life.

        Predestination is a statement of God’s observation of all things that will happen on earth concerning salvation. Because He knows the outcome, He decides ahead of the actual events, these person are saved, but His decision is based upon the faith of those whom He knew beforehand would believe.

        God knows who will trust Christ for their salvation, and they will be saved; God also knows who will never trust Christ for their salvation, and they will be lost.

        Its not that God forced these two groups to act as they did; these persons individually made their choice. Because God knows all things, He can describe the saved as “always His,” as in Jesus prayer to the Father in John 17.

        Because we see both the choices of people and the sovereignty of God, we must conclude that both are true. To state emphatically that salvation is one hundred percent God and we have nothing to do with it (Calvinism), or that God has nothing to do with, only our choices cause us to be saved (Arminianism), these extremes are not taught in the scriptures. We see in the Bible that both God’s choice and our choice, work together.

        A final word for thought:

        If it is true that either Calvinism; salvation only depends on God, or Arminianism is true; salvation only depends on human decision, then why did the Father send Jesus to earth to die for us and then call disciples to tell the world about Jesus? The New Testament calls everyone of us to make a decision for or against Jesus.

        If God will decide who is saved and He has already decided before the universe was created, irrespective of our choice, God could have accomplished this without sending Jesus and giving us a choice to either receive or reject Jesus. Jesus paid for our sins, but this payment is not credited to our account until we believe.

        It is clear that both God’s sovereignty and our choice, are necessary in the salvation of all people.

        God foreknew those that were His before creation, because He chose to save them before creation. For example, He did this for Jacob, but not for Esau:

        I completely agree with you, Clive. God knew everyone who would be saved, before He created the universe, but He did not force anyone to be saved, He also knew who would choose Christ, and these persons He predestined to eternal life…

        God’s choice of Jacob and His rejection of Esau, was due to His foreknowledge that Jacob would believe God and act accordingly, but Esau would not believe God. God’s choice was based upon His knowledge of the choices of Jacob and Esau.

        Rob, if you believe that fallen man can initiate saving faith in God, then you are an Arminian whether you know it or not. If that were the truth, how fair would God be saving mainly Jews for 2,000 years and then mainly Gentiles for the last 2,000 years and in a very slowly expanding way?

        No, Clive, I do not believe that man can initiate faith. God initiates faith by presenting us His word (faith comes by hearing the word), and we act by believing what He said, as Abraham, or we refuse to believe. God knows ahead of time who will react in faith to His presentation of His word, and who will not.

        If the elect can take credit for their salvation one iota, because they initiated saving faith, then they can boast. But God will not allow that. This is not an extreme message. It is biblical truth.

        No, Clive, the saved cannot take credit for their salvation. God give us the faith to believe, by presenting His word to us, we decide to believe or not believe. The work of salvation is God’s responsibility, the belief in what God said is our responsibility. Salvation is all of God, believing it is all ours. Both the sovereignty of God and human responsibility to believe what God said, are what we find throughout the Bible.

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