Dr. S. Lewis Johnson lectures on the "golden chain" of God's salvation of humans through his only Son.
[Introduction of Dr. Johnson] Dr. Johnson has been here with us now, this is his third year in a row, for the Bunyan Conference. Dr. Johnson has been of immense help to many people. He was for many years professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary. He taught for several years also at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. He is the author of several articles, also a very helpful book on the, entitled The Old Testament in the New. But I think many people would argue that his greatest influence has probably been through Believers Chapel in Dallas, where he was one of the pastors there for a long time. They have a tape ministry and those tapes go everywhere. He told me that he’s received letters from places where he’d have to go to the atlas or the globe and look it up to see where such a place is, places in some little remote part of the world where they have no opportunity to hear the gospel preached and they get it by way of tape from Believers Chapel in Dallas.
But it’s not just people in remote part of the world, it’s people in busy parts of the world as well. I remember when I was living in the Saint Paul area, Minnesota, attending seminary. Somebody had just introduced me to the tapes from Believers Chapel while I was attending the seminary. I was a young preacher, I was twenty-one or so, something like that. And the job that I had while attending seminary was I was a bus driver for some school routes. And one of the routes was a route for deaf children. And of course they didn’t mind what I played on the tape recorder, and they didn’t make any noise to interrupt it, and we got a long great. And I listened to more tapes. I almost died of overexposure [Laughter] to Dr. Johnson in those days. I listened to tape after tape. And he’s one of those men that came along, I hadn’t met him, but he came along into my life at a very important time, a very helpful time. I appreciated then his ministry. I’ve said to some of you before that even though you had never heard him preach, you had heard him preach here many times. His influence on me really was that great. I appreciated then I appreciate now, his method of handling the Scriptures. You could always count on it that he would open the text and his message would consist of an exposition of what God had to say in that passage. I appreciated that.
What I also appreciated about him and still do is that with his scholarship was an obvious passion for the gospel. And I don’t know why that’s become a difficult thing to find these days, but it is something you have to love about Dr. Johnson if you become acquainted with him at all. He has a heart for the gospel. He has a heart for preaching the Lord Jesus Christ and his person and his work. I loved Dr. Johnson before I ever met him, and I really and honestly count it as a privilege and one of my life’s greatest privileges to have him become acquainted with him. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. He’s been a tremendous help to me, he’s been a blessing. And we’re very glad to have him back with us again, Dr. Johnson.
[Johnson Lecture] The Canadians have an expression that when a man preaches his greatest sermon that they may call it his “Royal George.” Well, if I preached my Royal George it would be a disappointment after an introduction like that. [Laughter] I appreciate that Fred, but it’s really not true. [Laughter] This church is an unusual church. I’ve never been in a church like it. I looked at the bulletin and the memory verse is Hebrews 11:1-37. [Laughter] Now that tells you this is some biblical church. [Laughter] Instead of one verse you have thirty-seven verses [Laughter] for you memory verse. You have to explain that to me later on. Hebrews 11 is difficult enough, but to memorize thirty-seven verses and call it your memory verse [Laughter] then I think I’m in the wrong church. [Laughter]
[Comment from audience member indistinct] [Laughter]
[Dr. Johnson] Not only that, but you have the temerity to criticize “And Can it Be?” [Laughter] and change the stanzas of it. And I’d like a wording of that. I’ve heard others criticize it too, but I thought maybe they were Arminians. [Laugher] But here in a Calvinistic church you’ve changed that and I’d like to know what that is, because I am dying to get back to our church in Dallas now and stand up Sunday night when we have the Lord’s Supper, and a man can stand up in the meeting and say something, I want to offer a change in “And Can it Be?” [Laughter] in case someone calls it out. I’ll trace it back to my time here.
So, what a privilege it is to speak in a church like this. Just forget what I say, but I’m delighted to be here and to have an opportunity to continue fellowship with your pastor and others that we’ve come to know in the times that we have been here.
I thought that perhaps I would do best this morning if I settle attention on something that has been significant for me, but nevertheless I do not often hear it singled out for special attention. And so I’d like to do it, but I did forget to ask you Fred, how long should I preach, until 11:00? [Laughter]
[Response from the audience member] That’s fine. [Laughter]
[Dr. Johnson] That would really make your church an unusual church. [Laughter]
[Comment from same audience member] We normally go till noon, so you’re fine.
[Dr. Johnson] Alright, fine. I’d like for you to turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 8 and verse 32. And then I want to turn back and read a few verses from Genesis chapter 22. But in Romans chapter 8 and verse 32 the apostle writes, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Now turn back to Genesis chapter 22 and we’ll read a few verses here. You, I know are familiar with this particular passage, it’s one of the favorite Genesis passages that we all have. It’s the story of the offering up of Isaac by Abraham. And we read in verse 1,
“Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him up there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” (marvelous exhibition of faith on Abraham’s part isn’t it) So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will prepare for himself the lamb for the burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. And the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” (now the key word is the word “withheld,” in the Septuaginta the Greek translation of the Old Testament it’s the word pheidomai, or pheidomai, which means to spare, we’ll have it again here in just a moment) Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. (that’s what you call a real substitution isn’t it) And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: “By myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, (there’s the verb again) not withheld your son, your only son — blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.”
And our text is Romans 8:32, “For he who did not withhold” this is the same Greek word as found in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the translation of the Hebrew expression, “He who did not spare his Son, (he who did not withhold his son) but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Now this is a remarkable text of course, and I don’t usually preach on one verse, but this is such a different church I thought I would be different too and preach on one verse for you. But this particular text is sometimes overlooked in our debates that we have with our Arminian friends about the intent of the atonement. So, I read it again, Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son, (the greater than Abraham) who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”
Students of the Epistle to the Romans speak of the golden chain. Now the golden chain is a reference to the statements made in the immediately preceding verses, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose” his purpose. Then what is the golden chain? Well,
“For whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed the image of his Son that he might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he predestined, these he also called. Whom he called these he also justified, and whom he justified these he also glorified.”
Now notice the chain. It’s foreknown, predestined, these are all links in the chain; foreknown, predestined, called, justified, glorified. Four links in what theologians, B. B. Warfield for example, uses the expression, the golden chain. Foreknown, predestined, called, justified, glorified. Five links in the golden chain. No wonder the apostle says in verse 31, “What then shall we say to these things?” because they surely tell us that God is for us. Whoever the “us” are here, God is for them. If God is for us, who can be against us?
Thomas Watson is a well known man for those who like to read things that were written a long time ago. But with reference to the Scriptures he said these words, “Highly prize the Scriptures. Can he make a proficiency of any art who doth slight and depreciate it? Prize this book of God above other books. Gregory called the Bible the heart and soul of God. The Scripture is the library of the Holy Ghost. It is a code of divine knowledge, an exact model and platform of religion. The Scripture contains in it the credenda,” the credenda, that was, he wrote in the days when everybody took Latin, but credenda are the things that are to be believed; the credenda. You know the credenda. You may not know them by that name, but you know the things that are to be believed. “The things which we are to believe, and the agenda,” we pronounce it today often, agenda because that’s become an English word, but agenda are the things that are to be done, from the Latin word ergo. “The things which we are to practice. It is able to make us wise unto salvation. The Scripture is the standard of truth, the judge of controversy. It is the pole star to direct us to heaven. The Scripture is the compass by which the rudder of our will is to be steered.” Isn’t that an interesting expression? “It is the rudder of our will, by which our will is to be steered. It is the field in which Christ, the pearl of price, is hid. It is a rock of diamond. It is a sacred calerium or eyesouth. It mends their eyes who look upon it. It is a spiritual optic glass in which the glory of God is resplendent.” I like that expression.
So here we are, with Romans 8:32. This is Paul’s response to verse 31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” What then, that is in the light of the golden chain what can we say about individuals who have been foreknown, predestined, called, justified, glorified? What can we then say to these things? And this is what he can say. This is the unfailing destiny for everyone for whom Jesus Christ has died. I’d like to follow the apostle’s reasoning. One of the southern theologians, I know it’s bad to sight a southern theologian north of the Mason Dixon line, [Laughter] but Robert L. Dabney was a good man, and he made the statement, “Christ’s word for the elect does not merely put them in a savable state, but purchases for them a complete and assured salvation. To him who knows the depravity and bondage of his own heart, any less redemption than this would bring no comfort.”
Now if a man stands up in a congregation and preaches on the question of for whom Christ died, obviously there’s going to be difficulty. I don’t think we’ll have as much difficulty in this congregation, but there are many congregations in which there will immediately be some controversy. Well, one of the men of whom, I do not know this man’s position on this particular point. He was a well known man when I was a young professor. I knew of him and therefore, he was a person whom I enjoyed reading. Sometimes just to find out what he believed. But at any rate, he was at one time president of Fuller seminary, but he made a statement that has stuck with me through the years. He said, “It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error.” “It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error.” And I remember Edward John Carnell, for that statement, if for not any other. It is really true, “It is better to be divided by truth than to be united by error.” And so we look at a text like this where we know that we’re going to have differences of opinion, and we must recognize that we will have differences of opinion, but we need to be guided by that fact that it’s better to be divided by truth than united at error. The problem of course, is to be divided and still as a Christian, divided as Christians, and that is difficult for all of us, whether we stand on one side or on the other.
Anyway, that’s a lengthy introduction, I don’t, some of that’s not in my notes. I’m just kind of going along. That’s one of the benefits of being an old man. You can just kind of go along [Laughter] all the things that happen to come in your mind at a particular point you are able to say them and people then will say, even if they’re offended, “Well he’s an old man.” [Laughter] It’s great to be at the age when you can lean upon that.
Now I just want to take a few looks now at the text itself, and the first thing I want you to notice is the greatness of the Father’s gift, according to Paul’s statement, “He who did not spare his own Son.” You could not have a greater gift than that, “his own Son.” Now I don’t think that when he says, in verse 32, “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things” that that’s the full explanation of this “then” “what then shall we say to these things.” As a matter of fact, this “what then” the “then” does not only take in the golden chain, but everything the apostle has said up to this point in Romans chapter 8 it seems to me, although the thing that he’s stressing is the golden chain, the contents of foreknown and the other words that go along with that chain. “What then” then embraces verses 28 through 30, but also all of the blessings, now this may surprise you, but I think it’s really true, because he’s going to begin different topic in chapter 9. All the things that he said from about chapter 5 of Romans through the climax of the golden chain, the “what then shall we say to these things.” So, what then shall we say? Well, why shall he not with him also freely give us all things? So the things before lead up to this marvelous conclusion that he’s going to give us all things. As a matter of fact, he’s going to give us more than Abraham gave to Isaac, his life. He’s going to give us eternal life.
Now what kind of person is this person whom he describes as his own Son? Now this of course would lead us into a lengthy discussion that even I, with my small mind, could talk for a long time about his own Son, who Jesus Christ is, what he has done, what he will do, all those things that he will do for us. But just one text, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.” Now to put that in just a sentence, even a phrase, what that means is that Jesus Christ was God with God in the beginning, God with God in the beginning, the eternal God, the Son, so his own Son. What then shall we say to these things? If God be for us who can be against us? This is what he’s done for us. He has given us his only Son, his own Son. God with us, the God with God in the beginning.
Not only that, but a few chapters on in the Gospel of John in chapter 17, in the prayer that God with God in the beginning makes in verse 4, we read, “I have glorified you on the earth, I have finished the work which you have given me to do and now oh Father, glorify me together with yourself with the glory which I had with you before the world was.” So he is not only God with God, in the beginning of everything, he is the glorified one and the glorifier himself. Now, I think I understand a little more about he who did not spare his own Son what we are talking about.
And one final thing, another text, one of my favorite texts. I would love to have the opportunity to speak anywhere on Matthew chapter 11 and verse 27. Listen to what our Lord says, “All things have been delivered to me by my Father.” You know we think of the Lord Jesus Christ as the greatest giver of all. Well there’s no greater than the Father. “All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son.” And then, look at the last clause, “and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” So, the Son, he’s God with God in the beginning, he’s the one who has been glorified by the Father and who also glorifies himself, others. And he’s the soul revealer of the Father. Now, speaking of a great gift, what a gift that is, “He who spared not his own Son” what a gift. God with God in the beginning, the glorified one and the glorifier, the soul revealer of the Father, you couldn’t have a greater gift than that.
Now, we go on and we notice, and this we come right to the question that’s before us. Look at the second part of that verse, “He who did not spare his Son but delivered him up for us all” us all. Now, if you’re a reader of the Bible you’ll know immediately when you read the statement, “he delivered him up” this language strikes a bell in your mind, because it’s the language of the suffering servant of Jehovah. If you turn back to Isaiah chapter 53 you’ll find the language of delivering up the servant. He is the one who is delivered up. It comes from Isaiah chapter 53 where three times in that chapter it is used of him. In the New Testament it’s found in places like Romans 4:25, 1 Corinthians chapter 11 verse 20 through in connection with the Lord’s Supper, Galatians chapter 2 verse 20, Ephesians chapter 5 verse 2 and verse 25. All of these little hints to people who read the Bible that when you read that this person was delivered up you’re not to think simply of the person who was born at a specific time in our New Testament times, we’re to think of the person who is the eternal suffering servant of Jehovah, who’s lived and has now carried out successfully that ministry of suffering. You go back to chapters like Isaiah 42, Isaiah 49, Isaiah 50, and Isaiah 53, 52 and 53 you have the Old Testament story of the suffering servant. Not the only places, but that’s who he is. You read Isaiah 53 and you know that has to do with the Lord Jesus who is to come. Well here, right in this text, Paul lets us know, I’m talking about him. He’s the one who was delivered up. Paradidomi is the Greek expression that is used. It’s used in all of those places that I mentioned. It’s the special term of the work that the Father did in the giving up of our Lord as a sacrifice for sinners, sinners such as you are and I am.
So I guess we can say that this gift is as great a gift as we could possibly ever have. Christmas is a great time you know, and no kid ever forgets Christmas. I think about my Christmases. I can think seventy-five years past. I remember those Christmases. And then when my children came along and the things that we did, the Christmas gifts. Everybody loved to have a Christmas gift. Well we have the biggest Christmas gift of all, “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all.” Well now if I were an Arminian I might say, “Look there it is. [Laughter] He’s delivered Christ up for all, not just some like the Calvinists say, but for us all.” And so we have to learn how to read the Bible again. You know one of the easiest things to do is to pay attention to the context. That’s one of the easiest things to do. “But it’s so boring. Well you have to go back and, [Laughter] you have to go back and go over all this and look at these words and” well that’s what you expect the preacher to do, and tell you what it means. No, that’s not right. That’s what God expects you to do. You ought to be checking out your preacher. Check him out. That’s one thing you should do. So, we have to do a little biblical exercise now. It won’t hurt you, [Laughter] it won’t hurt you at all. You’ll still have your dinner shortly, but this is better than all of that.
So what are we going to do? We want to look at “us all” in the preceding context, verse 4, “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Now obviously that’s a reference to believing people, “us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” Verse 18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us,” “glory revealed in us” well we’re the redeemed. It’s the believing group. Verse 26, “likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses, (I’ll pass by hour, but that’s the same thing) our weaknesses, for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.” Us, us believers in whom the Spirit dwells. Verse 31, are you tired? Well, I’ll give you two in one verse, [Laughter] “What then shall we say to these things if God is for us who can be against us?” us, us believers, 34, “Who is he who condemns it is Christ who died and furthermore is also risen who is even at the right hand of God who also makes intercession for us.” This is the one who prays for us. Who are the “us,” the believing ones. Have I won the argument yet? [Laughter] Well I don’t have to win with you, I know where you stand. But anyway, verse 35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Us, verse 37, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Do you think these are believers? Well I do. Verse 39, “nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Now I didn’t labor the point too much. I could’ve gone back and talked about me, and you, and we, but just to take us lets us know that the context is the context of believers. Well yes that’s right, but what about “all?” Well the “all” are of us. That’s what he’s made plain, over and over again. The “all” are us, his people, all the family of God. That’s what he’s talking about, so, “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all” us all “How shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Well, this is going pretty well for us isn’t it?
So now finally, are you happy; finally. [Laughter] Some of you are, you’re smiling, “He is going to come to an end. I hope so.”
Now, I want you to notice the third thing; the unlimitedness of the Father’s gift, “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all. How shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” If he did this, he’d surely give us all, because there’s no greater gift than the one that’s mentioned. Now he likes this kind of argument, this man who wrote this book, you know who he is. [Laughter] You laugh at this, but it’s true. I am at the age in life where I may remember something one moment and then later, maybe thirty minutes, I will have forgotten it. That is really fun. And one of the best things you can have is have a wife like Martha. Her memory is excellent, and so just say, “Martha, what did I say?” [Laughter] and she will let me know. Now, there’s more truth to that then you think. [Laughter] But this man likes this argument. It’s an argument, aminori ad mentus, from the greater to the less.
Now chapter 5 verse 10, take a look at that. See he likes this kind of argument. So, from the less, from the greater to the less, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved from his life.” You notice, from the greater to the less. If when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more having been reconciled, we will be saved by his life.” If he did that great thing, he’ll surely do this lesser thing. That’s the point. Now that’s what he says in chapter 8 and verse 32. It’s that kind of argument. For he says, “He who did not spare his Son” what could be greater than that? What greater gift could Abraham have given than Isaac, the beloved son in whom all the promises were incidentally, for all of those Abrahamic promises were bound up in the life of that young man, everything, everything Abraham hoped for, “There, Abraham, offer him up on the alter.” Nothing greater could Abraham have done. So, “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all. How shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” If he accomplished the greatest gift of all, all the other gifts are less. So if he did that, he’ll surely do all the rest.
What are the “all things” then? We know he’s got to give them to us, because that’s the point of his argument; he who did not spare. You can see one thing about Paul; he read Genesis chapter 22. He may have even used that for his memory verse [Laughter] for that day, I don’t know. But anyway, the point is he had read it and he was thinking about it, he’s using the language of it. Pheidomai, there it is, spared, taken from the Septuagint text of Genesis chapter 22. So, “How shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” If God has done the unspeakably great and costly thing, we may be fully confident he will do what is by comparison, far less. What are the “all things?” Well they are all things that are necessary for salvation, all things necessary for salvation. So, “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all” us all believers, “How shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” that are necessary for eternal salvation. See the point? Having given the greatest of gifts, everything else flows naturally, logically, wonderfully, following it. So, this argument is everything requisite to eternal life and blessedness.
Now I have friends, and you have friends, who say Jesus Christ died for all, but that all is a reference to everyone. He died for all, elect and non-elect. I do not think the Bible teaches that. But when I read a text like this, I see it cannot mean that. It just does not mean that, “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all. How shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” yes, but the “us all” are us all who are believers, is what he’s referring to.
So, the Father’s gift is an unlimited gift. Everything requisite to eternal life is given if he’s given the Son for us. Now what’s requisite for eternal life? Well, I don’t want to argue some of these points, because I don’t really touch the point I’m trying to get over. Let’s just say something like this; repentance, I’m willing to grant that every believer must repent. The school in which I grew up did not like to use the term repent. They much preferred the positive, believe. I like the positive too. In fact that’s what I preach, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” John Calvin said that’s ample as an invitation. He used the term ample. So I don’t have to say repent, but I don’t mind saying repent and I do think that repent is part of the message involved in belief. That’s what you do. You do change your mind when you believe. And all the other things, I don’t want to get into them, but the point is, if I need repentance in order to be saved, then this text tells me “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all. How shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” He is sure to give me, if he died for me, he’s sure to give me repentance. But not only repentance, faith, all the other things, all flow, if he really gave himself for me. These all of the small things, they’re the wrappings of the gift, we might say. Now that just came to me on the spur of the moment, if there’s something wrong with that theologically tell me afterwards. [Laughter] But it’s just obvious that Jesus Christ’s death is intended for a certain group of people. We are very anxious of course as believers, that as many as possible be in that company. We could never, never think about turning anyone away from the gospel of Jesus Christ. We’d give them the gospel. But we have to recognize that the Scriptures are as they are, they read as they are, they mean the things that are found in them.
So, how shall he not then give us all the things requisite to eternal life and blessedness? Those are terms taken from William G. T. Shedd, one of the better theologians of the past century. But all of the good theologians that I read, almost all of them, would agree with essentially that. All things, what are they then, the things that have to do with salvation in its whole expanse, all that’s necessary. You see, the kind of God we have is not a God who by his work on the Christ makes all men savable, but he actually accomplishes a specific work.
Now we don’t know who those are, and so we look at men as, preaching I look at men when I stand behind the pulpit, this audience is an audience of believers probably primarily, but there may be some here who are not yet within the family of God and so I can look at them as possibilities. But as far as the atoning work of Jesus Christ is concerned, it was a definite work for a specific group of people. We just don’t know who they are.
No wonder then Paul explains in verse 37 of this chapter that we are more than conquerors through him who loved us, him who loved us. And we notice the “us” and compare verse 37 and its “us” he’s surely a compassionate seeking and saving God.
Arminians, many of whom are our friends, because some of them are in the same family we’re in, maybe many of them. We don’t know who is and who isn’t. And if you look back on your life, you held a lot of errors at one time in your life. That is, you think now were errors, and yet through those experiences the Lord who had chosen you, held you firm and kept you. So, our friends who believe, say they believe the Bible, accuse us often of limiting the atonement because we do not say that Christ made a satisfaction for all men. We don’t say that because if Christ made a satisfaction for all men there wouldn’t be anything with which that person could be judged. And so we do not say that he died equally, in the same way, for all men. We cannot say that.
So, I just frequently as a preacher, I know in my congregation, my congregation with me passed from, one of my congregations, I’m the first preacher of three churches in Dallas. But in the last of the churches, when I came to an understanding in just this aspect of the preaching of the word, they changed with me. We moved along together. It was a…
[Audio begins]…like the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea I guess. [Laughter] But, that’s not in my notes [Laughter] I may regret that later, but the congregation kind of went with me. And I just recently have been in a church in Oregon in which the same thing has happened up there. The congregation as a whole has moved from an Arminian position to a Calvinistic position. It can happen. It doesn’t have to happen here of course, you’re already on the other side.
But nevertheless, here we have then these final words for you. The Arminians accuse us of limiting the atonement because we don’t say that Christ made a satisfaction for all men. We say it because all men would then be saved, if he has made a satisfaction for them. Actually, it is Arminians who limit the atonement. I was interested in a point some time back, and looked in the new dictionary of theology to read the Arminian view of the atonement, a modern Arminian speaking, and professor Kenneth Grider writes the article on the atonement, on Arminianism. And he denies that Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for all sins. And he uses the argument of the Calvinists. He says, “He did not pay the penalty for everyone’s sins, because if he did then everybody would go to heaven.” Well that’s right, and so he has to rest his case in a governmental theory of the atonement; that Jesus Christ suffered, and on the ground of that suffering, as that atonement is usually presented, on the grounds of that suffering God lets us know that men do suffer for their sins if they have not come to believe in Christ. There are other ways in which we can look at that. We don’t have time to look at that.
But what then we conclude is that Romans 8:32 is one of the texts that we who do believe in a God who saves a definite group of people should always keep in our minds. What has been denominated, the golden chain of salvation, reaches its climax in that verse, “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all. How shall he not with him also freely give us” repentance, faith, all the other things that have to do with the Christian doctrine of salvation.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who I know you like in this congregation, he has spoken of Christ’s death failing to secure the salvation beyond a doubt of anybody for, with reference to Arminians, because he said Arminians believe that after a man has been pardoned he may still fall from grace and perish. And so, if I may say this in conclusion, we do not limit the atonement. The Arminians limit the atonement. And I say this to you, that in Christian love you might find it useful when you’re talking with your friends who are undecided to remember that, and to bring them, just like someone brought me a long time ago, to the questions that we must answer about the atoning work of Jesus Christ.
Well I’ll tell you, I was thinking I would preach on until 12:00, but I’m giving out. Aren’t you happy? [Laughter] It’s a pleasure to be here, it really is. And I’ve had a good time. I’m just really glad you’ve let me talk today. And I hope that you will remember Romans chapter 8, verse 32.
Now I don’t think it’s proper for me to finish without saying a word with reference to the question at issue. The question at issue is, do you really belong in the company of those who are described as “us all?” My prayer is that you do. And if you don’t, my prayer is that you will simply face the question. Think about it. Read the Scriptures. Ask the Lord to give you light with regard to it. May I close in a word of prayer?
[Prayer] Father we are so grateful to Thee for the privilege of gathering as believers, and as unbelievers if there are unbelievers here as well. We thank Thee for the privilege that we have in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. We thank Thee for the confidence that is given to us as we come to the end of our lives and realize that we face a future that is, in some parts at least, even for the securest of believers, a land that would be strange to us, we face questions that we have to face up to with, and we feel a bit of trembling with regard to them. But we thank Thee for the word of God and the comfort that it gives us and for the knowledge that in having our Lord Jesus Christ we have the one who will guide us through all of the future, which all of us face. We thank Thee for this time together. We pray that if there are some here who have not yet believed in him, that at this very moment, guided by the Holy Spirit, that…
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