False Assumptions and Promotions
The sign reads, “Jesus can free you from sin!” In days gone by, I would have rejoiced in a billboard with Jesus’ name on it. I would have cheered that someone mentioned “sin” in their marketing of salvation.
Today, I am asking why we are using billboards to market salvation? Why are Christians marketing salvation at all? The question that haunts most of what I see the church communicating sadly implores, “Is it true?”
Sin is the slave master of fallen humanity (Rom 6:6). Sin reigns in the world and in the flesh of the sons of Adam (Rom 1:18–3:20). Man’s sin nature is in him from conception (Ps 51:5; Eph 2:3); and until his bodily death, man is subject to the power and influence of sin (Rom 3:23), which is the cause of every death (Rom 6:23).
Considering this short biography of sin, the claim that Jesus can free you from sin is quite a claim. Jesus is God (2nd person of the Trinity), so God can do everything except that which is not in His nature or His will. For example, God cannot lie because He is true (Rom 3:4) and truth (Jn 14:6). Truth is His nature.
God also cannot oppose Himself. In other words, if God has decreed that He will save some from sin, but not all people, then He has limited Himself to His own will. A double-minded God would be terrifyingly unstable. God will do all His holy will (Eph 1:11), and He alone has the wisdom and the power to accomplish it.
This, of course, brings our scrutiny and criticism to the false assumption of the 855-FIND-TRUTH promotion. Jesus can free from sin, but it is not His will to do so. Therefore, the first word we must remove is “you.” It is utterly misleading to say, “Jesus can free “you,” if “you” are not one He wills to save (Rom 9:22).
A second error from this billboard is found in the words, “Jesus can…” When it comes to salvation, “Jesus did and does…” not “Jesus can…” This error is from the Arminian heresy, which teaches that God makes salvation possible, not that God actually saves. Jesus died to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21), and they are saved (Titus 3:5); not, Jesus died to make atonement a possibility, but uncertain because salvation is controlled by some alien condition put upon totally depraved men.
The Bible passage referenced on the billboard tells us that the truth will set you free (Jn 8:32). Jesus is truth (Jn 14:6). Jesus told His hearers the truth (Jn 8:40), but they did not understand what He was saying (Jn 8:43). They did not understand Him because they were children of the devil (Jn 8:44; 1 Jn 3:10), who did not believe Him (Jn 8:45). They were not of God (Jn 8:47) and did not belong to Jesus (Jn 10:26). The truth did not set them free.
Imagine if we rushed the scene in John 8, with our billboard slogan, “Jesus can free you from sin!” Clearly, Jesus would disagree with us for these reasons. Simply put, if one is created by God as a vessel of wrath prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22), obviously, it is not God’s will to save that one. Yet, the ones He elected to salvation are all saved to the very last one of them (Jn 10:28; Rom 8:35–39).
As a Christian, I know I am justified before God because the blood of Christ has been shed for the forgiveness of my sins (Mt 26:28; Eph 1:7). I am reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:19), who has given me a token of my adoption (2 Cor 5:5), in giving me His indwelling Spirit (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11). I am born again of God (Jn 3:1–8) by His Spirit (1 Pet 1:3), but am I free from sin? Let me be the first to confess my sin problem remains. I have not been freed from sin.
The final protest and criticism of this brief claim is that Jesus does not free the Christian from sin (Rom 7). Ironically, death does that. So, what does Jesus free His people from?
The Bible teaches that Jesus frees His elect, redeemed people from slavery to sin. Every Christian must confess that the sin nature in him is still operational after conversion to Christ. Every Christian must confess he still sins daily against God. The apostle Paul, reflecting on the sin operating in his flesh, causing him to sin and sin, again, says, “O wretched man that I am (Rom 7:24)!” It is the condemnation from sin that has been removed (Rom 8:1), along with God’s wrath directed against me (Heb 2:17). Grace now reigns, where sin once did.
In conclusion, this billboard message, “Jesus can free you from sin,” is wrong in at least four respects stated here. When Arminians try to allure people with their marketing plans, they end up lying to them. Instead of spending millions on church marketing, we should invest the mammon of unrighteousness in men of God who rightly divide the Word of truth (Lk 16:9; 2 Tim 2:15). It is the Spirit-filled preacher of God’s Word (Lk 4:18; 1 Cor 2:4), which ever remains the only means ordained by God to bring hearers to faith in Christ Jesus (Rom 10:17). It is Christ who tells His people the truth and frees them from lies promoted by the devil. In other words, the Bible can free you from this billboard.
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 23, 2022