Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bible Truth #49 - 1 John 2:1-2

1  My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.
2  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Since I just wrote about verses from both the Old Testament and New Testament (Bible Truths #47 & #48) that CLEARLY say Jesus gave His life as a ransom for MANY, and justified MANY - verse 2 above can NOT mean what it seems to say - that He died for the sins of every human being who ever lived or will live. That would be a contradiction in God’s Word and there are none.

Some of the following is taken from The Potter’s Freedom authored by Dr. James White.

The Arminian understanding: Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all Christians, and not for Christians only, but also for every single person who ever lived or will live.

The Reformed (Calvinist) understanding: Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all the Christians to whom John was writing, and not only them, but for all the Elect throughout the world, past, present, and future.

Let me offer an explanation that clears up what seems to be a contradiction. If those who believe in decisional salvation would not see RED every time a reasonable explanation is made to passages they believe can support only their position, the means of determining which explanation is the proper one would be agreed by all: the meaning of “atoning sacrifice” would be examined resulting in the “one who speaks to the Father in our defense” from verse 1. Then all of John’s writings would be studied to see how he uses “the whole world” as well as what other similar phrases could be equally compared with it. For example, here is an equivalent passage:

And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)

This passage is relevant to my explanation because 1) it speaks of Christ’s death and His Blood; 2) it speaks of Christ purchasing men for God; 3) provides a specific description of the extent of His work of redemption, that being “men for God from every tribe, language, people, and nation. This passage sheds significant light upon 1 John 2:2 for it is obvious that this passage in Revelation is NOT saying that Christ purchased every man who ever lived. Obviously, this is the same concept to “the world” in the passage of 1 John 2:2. Here is another:

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish." Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. (John 11:49-52)

Again, please note the relevance: 1) the context is the death of Christ; 2) the object of the death of Christ is identified (children of God); 3) the generic term “people” is more closely identified as “the children of God who are scattered abroad.” The point of the passage is that Christ dies with a specific purpose in mind, so that He might gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. Nothing is said about making them “savable.” Nothing is said about providing the opportunity for them to join in the gathering. And nothing is said of any option for the children of God to reject the gathering. His death enables Him to gather them together in one (fulfilling John 6:38-39). And we also see the direct relevance to 1 John 2:2 and the meaning of “the whole world.”

Yes, 1 John 2:2 standing alone can be interpreted to support either the Arminian or Reformed understanding but in light of the rest of God's Word, it can be accurately and properly interpreted only one way - the Reformed (Calvinist) understanding.

So, regarding Jesus’ atoning death, does the man who believes in decisional salvation have an explanation for what appears to be a contradiction between the verses containing the word “many” and the ones containing “all” or “world”? Does the Arminian still believe that “many” in both the Old and New Testaments means all?

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