Judging Who is Righteous and Who is Not
The plight of man is universal because we have a universal sin problem. We have inherited the original sin of Adam (Ps 51:5; Rom 5:12), and we all practice sinning against God (Rom 3:23). Guilt is the universal status of humanity, before our holy and righteous God. Every man is already in a position of condemnation before the righteous Judge of all (Jn 3:18). This should be the guiding truth for all who minister God’s Word to others.
All have sinned. All are guilty. All are condemned already. All are positioned under the wrath of God (Rom 1:18). Therefore, the most relevant question one can ask is, “How can I be right with God?” Invariably, there are some who feel they are righteous because of their ethnicity. Others feel it is because God has “blessed” them with some advantage over others. Still others, who earnestly practice the regimen of their religion, feel that God must honor their faithfulness to rites and rituals.
The Bible rejects any suggestion that one’s family tree, blood line, free will, or any other notion of self-righteousness has won favor with God (Jn 1:13).
Some teach that universal sin and guilt are remedied by the death of Jesus Christ. They claim that Messiah’s redemptive work on the cross has paid for every sin of everyone ever conceived. The Universalist rejoices that everyone is saved from eternal punishment, whether everyone knows it or not. The Arminian cringes because, in her heart, she knows the Bible’s voluminous teaching on wrath and eternal hell could not be meaningless.
The Arminian invents another way, departing from her common belief in Christ’s universal redemption for all people, which she shares with Universalism. Her invention separates God’s supply of salvation from man’s need for salvation. She denies the work of the Holy Spirit in the application, or apprehension, of Christ’s redemption. In essence, she believes Christ redeemed everyone, everywhere, at all times, but she separates His redemption from His atonement.
In the Arminian view of the death of Christ, the Lamb of God could not have been more successful on the cross — redeeming absolutely everyone. Still, in her view, Christ could not have failed more fully in His work of atonement (no one is actually saved by the death of Christ).
The separation of supply and demand requires a transaction. Arminians claim that a man must determine, in himself, whether he will facilitate the transaction with Christ, or not. The failure of atonement, by Christ, is not seen as a failure at all. The failure of atonement belongs to man, who was not wise enough to choose Christ to be his Savior. The Arminian has made man, the agent of atonement.
In the Arminian view, the Holy Spirit stands by, helplessly, hoping each person will find herself, by the required work of obedience. The obedience of faith, not Jesus Christ’s atonement, is the catalyst for salvation.
In truth, Jesus Christ is a completely successful Savior in redemption and atonement. His vicarious atonement, as the substitute payer for sins, actually pays the debt of sin (Col 2:14), for those whose names were written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 13:8; 17:8), from before the foundation of the world. Christ bore our sins in His body (1 Pet 2:24), laying down His life for His own sheep (Jn 10:11, 15), giving Himself up to death on the cross for His bride, His church (Eph 5:25).
Man’s judgment of his neighbor’s sins is made irrelevant because it only makes him a hypocrite (Rom 2). The focus of those who know the truth, of every man’s guilty standing before God, must be the substitutionary atonement of the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2). What can wash away my sins? What can make me whole again? What in this dark night can make me right with God? Nothing but the precious blood of Jesus (Mt 26:28; Eph 1:7; 1 Pet 1:19)! Not my free will; not my wise decision; not my self-generated obedient faith; not my religious works of any kind…no, nothing but His sprinkled blood upon me can declare me righteous, at the bar of God’s perfect Law. You either believe that or you don’t, and it is only by His grace, if you do believe this report.
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 18, 2021