Constraining Love

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Rippon, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. Rippon

    Rippon
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    This was a message by J.Gresham Machen ( 1881-1937 ) . His text was 2 Cor.5:14,15 : For the love of Christ constrains us ; because we thus judge , that if one died for all , then were all dead , and that he died for all , that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves , but unto him which died for them , and rose again .

    I will give some fragments from his sermon .


    Well , I suppose our Christian brethren in other churches , our Christian brethren who are opposed to the Reformed faith , might be tempted to make that word " all " mean , in this passage , " all men " , they might be tempted to make it refer to the whole human race . They might be tempted to interpret the words , " Christ died for all men everywhere , whether Christians or not . "
    But if they are tempted to make it mean that , they ought to resist the temptation , since this passage is really a very dangerous passage for them to lay stress on in support of their view .
    In the first place , the context is dead against it . It is rather strongly against the view that " Christ died for all " means here " Christ died for all men ." All through this passage Paul is speaking not of the relation of Christ to all men , but of the relation of Christ to the church .
    In the second place , the view that " Christ died for all " means " Christ died for all men " proves too much . The things that Paul says in this passage about those for whom Christ died do not fit those who merely have the gospel offered to them ; they fit only those who accept the gospel for the salvation of their souls . Can it be said of all men , including those who reject the gospel or have never heard it , that they died when Christ died on the cross ; can it be said of them that they no longer live unto themselves but unto Christ who died for them ? Surely these things cannot be said of all men , and therefore the word " all " does not mean all men .
     
  2. Rippon

    Rippon
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    Did Christ upon the cross die merely to make possible my salvation ? Did he die merely for the great mass of humanity and then leave it to the decision of individuals in that mass whether they would make any use of what Christ purchased for them at such cost ? Was I , in the thought of the Son of God when he died there on Calvary , merely one in the great mass of persons who might possibly at some future time accept the benefits of his death ?
    I tell you , my friends , if I thought that -- if , in other words , I became a consistent Arminian instead of a Calvinist -- I should feel almost as though the light had forever gone out of my soul . No , indeed , my friends , Christ did not die there on Calvary merely to make possible our salvation . He died to save us . He died not merely to provide a general benefit for the hman race from which we might at some future time draw , as from some general fund , what is needed for the salvation of our souls . No , thank God , he died there on the cross for us individually . He called us , when he died for us , by our names . He loved us not as infinitesimal particles in the mass of the human race , but he loved us every one .
     
  3. Rippon

    Rippon
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    People say that Calvinism is a dour , hard creed . How broad and comforting , they say , is the doctrine of a universal atonement , the doctrine that Christ died equally for all men there upon the cross ! How narrow and harsh ,they say , is this Calvinistic doctrine -- one of the " five points " of Calvinism -- this doctrine of the " limited atonement ," this doctrine that Christ died for the elect of God in a sense in which he did not die for the unsaved !
    But do you know , my friends , it is surprising that men say that . It is surprising that they regard the doctrine of a universal atonement as being a comforting doctrine . In reality it is a very gloomy doctrine indeed . Ah , if it were only a doctrine of a universal salvation , instead of a doctrine of a universal atonement , then it would no doubt be a very comforting doctrine ; then no doubt it would conform wonderfully well to what we in our puny wisdom might have thought the course of the world should have been . But a universal atonement without a universal salvation is a cold , gloomy doctrine indeed . To say that Christ died for all men alike and that then not all men are saved , to say that Christ died for humanity simply in the mass , and that the choice of those who out of that mass are saved depends upon the greater receptivity of some as compared with others -- that is a doctrine that takes from the gospel much of its sweetness and much of its joy . From the cold universalism of that Arminian ceed we turn ever again with a new thankfulness to the warm and tender individualism of our Reformed faith , which we believe to be in accord with God's Holy Word . Thank God we can say every one , as we contemplate Christ upon the cross , not just : " He died for the mass of humanity , and how glad I am amid that mass , " but : " He loved me and gave himself for me ; my name was written from all eternity upon his heart , and when he hung and suffered there on the cross he thought of me , even me , as one for whom in his grace he was willing to die . "
     

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