"Jesus Loves You" signIn a recent exam in my daughter Rachel’s Bible class at her school for missionary children in the Philippines, there were these questions: “Who is redemption available to?” “Who is justification available to?” “Who is propitiation available to?” And Rachel’s answer to all of these was the same: “Those who believe that Jesus died to save us.” All three of her answers were marked wrong, because the teacher’s answers to all three were, “Everyone.” I’m proud of her.

These are questions that many evangelicals will answer, “Huh?” But, honestly, my reaction was the same, because the questions were vague at best. What does “available” mean here? If the teacher was asking who is redeemed, Rachel’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? Rachel’s answer to this is still correct—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 Rachel’s answer highlight the chasm between the Reformed and the Arminian. Arminians would always say “God loves everyone.” This is why all of their evangelism tracts open with something like this, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Near Rachel’s school, there’s a building which has a huge sign on top saying, “Jesus Loves You.” I’ve always wondered how can any Christian tell that honestly to anyone whom they meet on the street. Do we know God’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 ‘s up to the person to exercise his free will to believe in Christ. If he does not believe, then he will suffer God’s wrath. So if Christ died for this person in hell, what becomes of Christ’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. Christ’s sacrifice only made salvation possible—-“available,” according to Rachel’s teacher—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 it’s the second case, then Christ’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!”?

Jesus died for and loves even those who are weeping and gnashing their teeth in hell?
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