Potential or Actual?

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“Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”-John 19:30


With examining the work of Christ, the question must be asked whether or not the Lord Jesus Christ truly accomplished His work or not.  Christ stated before He gave up the spirit, “It is paid.”  Did Christ mean what He stated or not?  To many, Christ died for the entire world.  In this understanding, He died for no one in particular and everyone in general.  John Girardeau states, “The words, atonement offered for all men, universal atonement, Christ died to save all men, Christ died for every soul of man-these words are very attractive.  They seem to breathe a philanthropy which is worthy of God.  But let us not be imposed upon by the beauty or pomp of mere phrases.” The sinner then, because he or she has free will to accept or reject Christ while being dead in trespasses and sin, activates the salvation of the Lord.  This is in fact what the many Christians have to embrace because of their view of the atonement of Christ.  The glory of the atonement is diminished and the work of Christ diminished because of a lack of understanding of the work of Christ.  Christ knew who He was dying for.

Having the view that Christ gave His life for the world, meaning every single individual would be that this would imply that Christ did not fully accomplish His work, but only makes salvation possible to those would choose Him. As we have discussed more fully beforehand, man needs the intervention of God before he would choose God.  Jesus says in John 6:44, 65 that none can come to Him unless the Father draws them or it is granted to them.  Jesus Himself says, “All that the Father give Me will come to Me” (Jn 6:31).  God brings to Himself those that He has chosen, that Christ has died for, who are those that the Spirit will regenerate.  This is iterated by Christ when He says, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Here are some questions to consider: Did Jesus die for everyone in general and no one in particular?  Did Jesus die a potential death or an actual death for sin?  Now, how did you answer?  Consider this, if Jesus paid in full for the sins of everyone in the world, then what is anyone doing in hell?  When Jesus was on the cross, He was enduring wrath of God in place of sinners.  The Scripture refers to Him as our propitiation; meaning, He was our substitute who took God’s wrath upon Himself and satisfied it. Again, He satisfied the justice of God.  Now, if Jesus had done that for everyone, then no one should be in hell, but as it is, there are people who are going to hell and paying the penalty of sin that Jesus supposedly already paid for.  That is double jeopardy! That’s not what the Scriptures teach.  If we say that Jesus paid their penalty, but because they chose to reject Him is why they went to hell, then we once again achnoweldge that man has the ability to choose Christ on His own, which we already know is not biblical.  If we maintain that Jesus died for everyone, even those who are going to hell, then we have to come to conclusion that He died a potential death.  Christ’s death can potentially wife away your sins if you, the sinner, activates that redemption, which again implies that man can come to God on his own.  The fact is, Jesus died a real death for sinners, not a potential one.  Jesus did not die for no one in particular.  He died for somebody; namely, those that the Father had given to Him (Jn 6:37).  If you are in Christ, Beloved, it is because He chose you and paid your penalty in full.


Writer Bio

Joshua BanksJoshua Banks is senior pastor and founder of Shepherd’s Rock Bible
Church in Kingsport, TN. He holds a Bachelors degree in Ministry from
Luther Rice University, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and a
Master of Divinity both from Liberty University. Joshua and his wife
Amanda, along with their 5 children, reside in Gate City, VA.

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