Happy Particular Redemption Day!
Christians are encouraged by the Bible — not to be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:16). The Gospel of grace is good news for believers positioned in Christ, by His doing (1 Cor 1:30; Col 1:13). The Gospel of God tells all people what the Trinitarian Godhead has done to execute salvation for the benefit of God’s chosen people (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Mt 24:14; Mk 16:15; Rev 19:1).
Most Christians place special emphasis on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus during what we call “holy week” (unbiblical holy day celebrations — see Colossians 2:16). The sufferings of Christ are central to this time of remembrance each spring, with His victory over death being the climax. On “Good Friday” a focused emphasis is placed on the trials, scourging, and crucifixion death of Jesus Messiah, at the fullness of time, some two thousand years ago.
The death of Christ is essential doctrine for understanding the doctrine of salvation. The Bible teaches us that Jesus came to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21). His beloved are people from the whole world, that is, elect from every nation, tribe, and tongue (Jn 3:16; Rev 5:9; 7:9). The Israel of God, Christ’s church, His one holy nation of royal priests, spans history, too.
Every believer throughout history and from around the world is the recipient of Gods’ Word (spoken, written, incarnate) and the recipient of His Spirit — the gift of God (Acts 2:38;10:45). It is the Spirit who has always been the catalyst for believers to believe. Without the Spirit of Christ, a man or woman remains in their natural state of sin and unbelief (Jn 10:26; Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 2:14). God’s Spirit never visits the reprobate, passed over by God the Father in eternity past. These people, the majority of the human population throughout history, were made to be vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22).
First among the spiritual gifts, given by the primary Gift (Holy Spirit), is the gift of faith. Faith is granted by the will of the Lord (Jn 1:13; Phil 1:29), the Author of faith (Heb 12:2). Faith is dispensed in the measure determined by God (Rom 12:3) and manifests as spiritual fruit in those baptized (Spirit) and born again by the Spirit of God (Mt 3:11; Jn 3:1–8; Gal 5:22; 1 Pet 1:3).
Having been born again of God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11; Gal 4:6; 2 Tim 1:14), the new creature is made spiritually alive (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:5; Col 2:13), and he displays newness of life in mind (1 Cor 2:16) and heart (Ezek 36:26) because the life of God now reigns in his or her soul (Rom 5:21; 6:4). The Spirit of Christ is the Teacher of sound doctrine and the provider of grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18). It is the Spirit and the Word who sanctify the saint (Jn 17:17), causing the child of God to know the truth about himself and about God.
At the heart of the doctrine of Christ is His Person and work, both active and passive. Jesus lived a perfect sinless life (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15). He died as the sinless substitute for His chosen bride (Eph 5:25), enduring the wrath of God justly directed at every sinner. From all over the world, the unjust, ungodly, elect recipients of mercy and grace are afforded propitiation for every sin (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10). In this, Jesus is our shield from the wrath of God. He bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet 2:24), and by this there is no condemnation nor is there wrath to come (Rom 8:1; 1 Thess 1:10), as with those for whom Christ did not die.
In His death, He redeemed those who were slaves to sin (Rom 6:6; 1 Cor 1:30), but who had been given to Him by the Father before Creation (Jn 6:37; 17:2, 6, 24). God’s chosen people were bought for a price (1 Cor 6:20; 7:23) — the currency being the precious blood of Christ (Mt 26:28; Eph 1:7; 1 Pet 1:19).
The Bible clearly teaches what is phrased, “Limited Atonement” or “Particular Redemption.” These doctrinal terms, employed by theologians to explain “for whom” Christ died, are captured in familiar Bible verses that answer the question, “For whom did Christ die on the cross, resulting in their sure salvation?”
Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep (Jn 10:11).” For whom did Christ die? His sheep (Jn 10:15), that is, the remnant people appointed to eternal life (Acts 13:48), by God’s gracious choice in predestination before the foundation of the world (Rom 8:30; 11:5; Eph 1:4–5), and according to His predetermined plan and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23). He for-loved His own (Eph 1:5).
Jesus gave Himself over to death for His bride (Eph 5:25), His church (Mt 16:18), the Israel of God (Gal 6:16). The prophet Isaiah, spoke of Jesus as the Israel of God (singular person — Isaiah 49:3), God’s Servant, who would be the light of the nations, to bring back Jacob, so that Israel would be gathered to God (Is 49:5–6). For this reason, the prophet titled Jesus Messiah, “the Redeemer of Israel (Is 49:7),” God’s chosen One sent for God’s chosen people (Is 42:1; 1 Pet 2:9).
The Good Friday Gospel is that “Christ died for our sins (1 Cor 15:3).” Remember, Jesus came to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21), which required a redemption particular to His people. The Lord knows those who are His (2 Tim 2:19), whom He chose in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4).
In His death on behalf of His elect, God was in Christ reconciling His chosen people from all over the world — not just the remnant Jews (2 Cor 5:19; Rom 9:6). In fact, Christ died for remnant Jews and remnant Gentiles who are brought together in Christ (Eph 2:13–17) to be members of His body (1 Cor 12:13), His holy nation of royal priests (1 Pet 2:9), who remember His death until He comes again (1 Cor 11:26).
Jesus Christ did not die on the cross of Calvary for all people, everywhere, head for head. Just as the Father did not choose all people everywhere and at all times for salvation, and just as the Holy Spirit is not sent to all people for regeneration, so we see the scandal of the Gospel, which is the exclusivity of Christianity — not only from other world religions, but also from the heresy of universal atonement.
As believers in Jesus Christ, chosen heirs of eternal life, let us celebrate this day of Christ’s sacrifice in our stead, on our behalf, and for our benefit — without shame — for God having mercy on us (Rom 9:15) and being gracious to us because while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8)…His beloved people, the sheep of His pasture, and recipients of His unfailing love. Happy Particular Redemption Day!
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 15, 2022