Was God’s wrath satisfied in Christ? If so then how can sinners suffer God’s wrath in hell? This question is one that is often asked by Calvinists to those who do not hold to the teaching of Calvinism. The question implies that Jesus could not have died for all people since many people experience God’s wrath in hell. Yet, John Piper, one of the better known Calvinist teachers, admits that those for whom Christ died can still be subject to God’s wrath. Piper concedes that God’s wrath is “being poured out on us” in our unrighteousness. He references those for whom Christ died when he says:
In other words, the reason we need God to reveal HIS righteousness to us in the gospel and give it to us as a gift through faith is because we are unrighteous and resist the truth in unrighteousness and, therefore, God’s wrath is against us. We need righteousness. We don’t have it. God’s wrath is being poured out on us in our unrighteousness. Is there any hope? Yes, the gospel is the power of God to save because in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.
John Piper also makes a statement that all people without a Saviour are under the wrath of God and sentenced to eternal torment in hell. He says in his sermon: …
The death of Jesus for the world is a delicate question for Calvinists according to John Piper. Piper answers a question from one of his listeners in a post called “In What Sense Did Jesus Die for the Non-Elect?” In the audio transcript of an interview Piper says:
Well, the apostle Paul says Christ died for all people, even the non-elect, and of course that raises delicate questions for us Calvinists to answer. How does Christ’s atoning sacrifice apply to the non-elect? The question comes from an anonymous listener to the podcast: “Pastor John, many times I have heard people say, ‘Yes, Christ died for all people but not all people in the same way.’ I know Reformed theology teaches that Christ’s atonement is particular in that the extent of the atonement to save souls is limited to the elect only. However, I am having trouble adequately explaining how Christ died for all people but not in the same way. For what tangible reason did Christ die for the non-elect?”
It is quite revealing how the listener was having trouble explaining John Piper’s explanation of the death of Jesus for the world. This article will demonstrate where John Piper takes a wrong turn and how to answer his description of an “offered” salvation vs. a “guaranteed” salvation. One thing that I like about John Piper is that he is clear about what he believes. Let’s examine his statements about salvation.
What tangible reason DID Christ die for the non-elect?
This question is often asked of those of us who do not believe that God initiates evil. If God predestined the death of Jesus, does this mean that God commanded or ordained the evil acts of men? A Calvinist website describes God’s ordaining of evil this way:
Remember, regarding the death of Jesus the Biblical text says, “…both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” (Acts 4:27-28)
So the Bible itself testifies that God ordained evil men to crucify Jesus. Acts 2 says the same. So you need to be able to develop a theology which fits that into your view. While you may not understand it, you must yield to what the Scripture teaches regarding God’s meticulous hand of providence in all things:
Was the death of Jesus evil: Let’s look at the facts.
Jesus’ life was not taken by the will of man. Jesus claimed that the authority to give up His life came from God and the action was His own initiative:
17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
The death of Jesus is a commandmentto Jesus, not a commandment to evil men.
John Piper’s article “For Whom did Jesus Taste Death?” focuses on Piper’s premise that disallows Jesus from being a ransom sacrifice for all people. There are many parts of Piper’s article that I would like to address, but I will deal with them one at a time in individual posts. This post addresses Piper’s claim that our faith was purchased on the cross as a gift.
Was Our Faith Purchased on the Cross as a Gift?
In my last post, I addressed the question of whether there was one verified example of a man for whom Jesus did not die. For if there was such a man who did not have a kinsmen Redeemer, then Jesus could not have died for all. Similarly, if there is a biblical example supported by the testimony of Jesus that He died for one particular man who is now in hell, then the premise that it would be unjust for a man to be in hell if Jesus died for him, is untrue. So, what about the claim that faith is a gift purchased at the cross? John Piper says that one will believe this if “you believe as you ought to believe”.
And when you believe as you ought to believe, you will discover that your belief—like all other spiritual blessings—was purchased by the death of Christ.
Where does the Bible say that your faith was purchased on the cross as a gift? Piper claims that Hebrews 10:14 shows that our sins were paid for and ultimately forgiven at the cross so that no judgment will ever fall on our head, no sin can be brought up against us, and the wrath of God was wiped out at the cross – before we were born! …
Did Jesus’ death leave no man left behind that was not covered by His death on the cross? For many Christians who identify as Calvinists, the gospel includes the conclusion that Jesus died only for a select group of people who were predetermined by God before the world was created. Consequently, some men were left behind because the blood of Jesus was not meant to cover their sin, according to their belief system. Instead, Calvinism says that if Jesus paid for the sins of all the world, then He must have also died for unbelief, leaving Him unable to judge sinners in hell for their unbelief. R.C. Sproul’s ministry Ligonier Ministries Inc says it this way:
If God’s justice is totally satisfied by Christ’s work on the cross, then it would follow that God would be unjust in punishing the unrepentant sinner for his unbelief and impenitence because those sins were already paid for by Christ.
This reasoning is faulty because it is man’s reasoning and not the testimony of Scripture. The Scripture NEVER makes this claim and, in fact, the testimony of Jesus refutes it. The understanding of the extent of Jesus’ death (for whom did Jesus die?) must take into consideration the testimony of Jesus. Did Jesus leave any man behind not paying for their sin?
Before we look at the evidence left to us by the words of Jesus, let’s consider the claim that Jesus merely “passed by” the sinner that He does not intend to save. …
What comes before the giving in John 6:37? Nothing according to Dr. James White on his October 23, 2017 podcast of the Dividing Line Program (segment starts at 1 hr 2 min 30 second mark). But is James White correct that John 6:37 shows that only unbelievers are given to Jesus? Let’s walk through the context of this verse and compare it to what Dr. White claims is the only proper way to understand this passage.
An important note:
Dr. White defines those who disagree with him as “Anti-Calvinist”, in particular, he identifies a “lady anti-Calvinist”. I appreciate that James White remembers that he reviewed my work on John 6 on the Dividing Line a few years ago. However, for many of us, the term anti-Calvinist is not true or fair. One can vigorously disagree without having an “anti” label attached. Does James White call himself an anti-nonCalvinist? I have never heard him refer to himself that way. …
In John 12:32 Jesus draws all men to Himself. Is this true or must we reinterpret Jesus to remove His promise?
John 12:32 (NASB) “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth will draw all men to Myself.”
Are all people drawn to Jesus? We know for sure that not all people come to Jesus because we know that not all will believe in Him. However, Jesus said that He WILL draw ALL men to Himself. So, what does Jesus mean in this context? Let’s lookout His words to understand His meaning.
In John 12:27 it states the purpose He came is for this hour so although He is troubled He will not ask to be saved from this hour.
John 12:27 (NASB) “Now My soul has become troubled: and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
Jesus is speaking to a crowd of unbelievers (see verse 37). And in verse 30 Jesus says that the voice from heaven was for the benefit of this unbelieving crowd.
John 12:30 (NASB) Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.
John 12:37 (NASB) But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him.
Jesus said that He came for this hour. Jesus came to die, yet so many of those who heard Him speak did not believe. They weren’t just not believing Jesus. They did not believe God the Father. Some say that their unbelief was what God predestined for them from all of eternity. But there is a problem with this view because of the words of Jesus. Jesus speaks about drawing all, not just some. If God did not desire for all to come to faith, then Jesus would never draw all. John 12:32 is a dividing line between the truth and error, but to some, it doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t seem to be true.
Is there purposeless evil if God did not foreordain all things?
Calvinists often talk about “purposeless evil.” In fact, Dr. James White, a Calvinist apologist from Alpha and Omega Ministries, has stated that if God did not ordain all things including the evil actions of men, then evil has no purpose. Dr. White gives Isaiah 41:22, Genesis 50:20, and Acts 2:23 as proof that God ordains evil. Dr. White says that everything is for God’s ultimate glory so that there is no purposeless evil. But are these verses really saying that God ordains all evil acts of men? This post will address the three texts that Dr. White proposes as proof that God ordains all things including all evil.
Isaiah 41:22 (NASB) Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place; As for the former events, declare what they were, That we may consider them and know their outcome. Or announce to us what is coming;
When Dr. James White debates God’s Sovereignty he appeals to Isaiah 41:22 to prove that God ordains all evil actions. Dr. White says that the words “know their outcome” (in Isaiah 41:22) means to “know their purpose.” He uses “purpose” as a synonym for “outcome,” but “purpose” cannot be exchanged with the word “outcome.” That would completely change God’s meaning.
In our discussion of Jesus, Judas, and the first communion, a Calvinist pointed me to an article by a Calvinist author. The article was said to refute the idea that Judas was commanded to partake of the first Lord’s Supper. I have already answered the first challenge using the inspired words and grammar from Scripture on my post here. In this new post, I will deal with another challenge that was included in the article by the Calvinist author who claims that Jesus would have guarded the table to keep Judas away from communion.
Guarding the communion table happens when people do not believe that Jesus died for all. It also happens when people believe that leaders have the responsibility to keep the sacrifice of Jesus away from those who are not part of their denomination or from those they consider insincere.
Did Jesus guard the table?
Because of the claim that Jesus would have kept Judas away from the communion table, it is important to look at any warning that Jesus gave before He commanded His twelve disciples to partake. We can look very carefully at all four of the gospels and find nothing that would prohibit any of the disciples from partaking. Jesus did not warn them not to partake and in fact, He did the opposite. Jesus commanded them all to partake of the elements of communion. In Mark 14:22 the term “take” is an imperative. An imperative is a command.
Did Jesus Conduct the table properly?
The article by the Calvinist author asks this question.
(3) Did Jesus conduct the Table properly?
Does Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 11 change the Lord’s supper from the way that Jesus first established it with the twelve disciples? I believe that Paul changed nothing about Communion, and instead, he upheld the original way it was given.
Jesus established that the meal was for all just as His death was for all.
Paul agrees with Jesus. Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians about Communion was primarily about the exclusion of people. The Corinthians were not coming together in unity to celebrate but were being divisive and exclusive.
Paul identifies that their coming together as a church brought divisions.
1 Corinthians 11:18 (NASB) For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it.
Within the one body, there were divisions and factions and in celebrating the meal, they were excluding and separating themselves. …
I received a link to an article found here. The article was sent to me by a Calvinist who said it shows reasons why we can believe that Judas left before the Lord’s supper was served. The article says:
Mathew (Matt. 26:19-30), Mark (Mk. 14:10-26), and John (Jn. 13:1-30) indicate that Judas “may not” have partaken of the Lord’s Table.
The author states that Judas “could have” left between verses 25 and 26 in Matthew 26 and even though the text doesn’t say so, just because something is omitted does not mean it did not happen. It is true that just because something is omitted does not mean it didn’t happen. However, Matthew’s silence cannot contradict Luke’s specific words showing Judas was still there after communion was given. In fact, Luke is the ONLY gospel that directly tells us that Judas was still there until after communion.
Luke 22:19–22 (NASB) 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. 21 “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. 22 “For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”
Luke states that the bread and the wine were given while Judas was still there because Jesus identifies the hand of Judas with Him on the table. The author of the article suggests that we should take Luke’s account as topical and not in chronological order, however, I would like to prove that this cannot be true.
First of all Luke’s gospel was written from a chronological viewpoint as we find in Luke 1:3
Luke 1:3 (NASB) it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;
Luke wrote primarily in consecutive order with very few exceptions where he summarized. One such instance is John the Baptist where Luke summarized John’s end of life to give the focus over to the account of Jesus the Messiah. Luke is the account that we can trust was written with extra care to the order. No other gospel tells us exactly where Judas was during communion. Luke has the most precise detail put squarely into the mouth of Jesus who identifies the betrayer in their midst AFTER communion. …
I posted a YouTube video with my response to the challenges of Dr. James White. On July 24, 2014 Dr. White critiqued my article on John 6:37 posted here http://www.mmoutreach.org/tg/come-john6-37/. Because of ill-health and ministry obligations I was not able to give my response on YouTube until now. I have posted my video response athttp://youtu.be/lYK1cTaycDM. I welcome discussion on this blog post. Your comments will be held in moderation the first time you post and I ask that you be respectful as all Christians belong to one Lord Jesus. I will continue to add responses in the next set of YouTube posts. I will create a blog post for each YouTube video and discussion can continue on these posts.
This post is in response to Dr. James White from his August 5, 2014 podcast where he gave several challenges about the answers I posted on my blog post “Why are people not coming to Jesus?”Dr. White’s point was that if one believes that Jesus showed a person belongs to the Father before he belongs to Jesus, then it must mean that the sheep choose the shepherd. Is Dr. White’s statement true? Do the sheep choose the Shepherd if they respond to the Father first? This post will be the first in a series of posts that will answer the challenges of Dr. James White on the issue of Calvinism vs. non-Calvinism.
Dr. James White’s challenge: If people are given to the Son as believers, they are choosing the Shepherd
The biblical truth that is being challenged is Jesus’ teaching that people who fear God, first belong to the Father before they are given to the Son.
Malachi 3:16–18 (NASB) 16Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name. 17“They will be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” 18So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.
John 6:37 (NASB) “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
In Malachi 3:16-18, those who feared the LORD were heard and a book of remembrance was written. Does this mean that they were the ones who chose the Shepherd? No! God Himself must first do the work that prepares the sheep. God must first teach people to fear Him.
Deuteronomy 31:12 (NASB) “Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law.
God prepares the sheep by teaching them about Him.…
In my post about Judas and the last supper, Colin Maxwell, a Calvinist responded to my post, although not responding on this blog, but on his twitter account @weeCalvin. He wrote that Luke’s account that listed Judas as being at the first celebration of the covenant in Jesus’ blood should be considered as a disputed passage. He considers Luke disputed not because he doesn’t believe that it is God-breathed, but because he doesn’t believe that it is written in chronological order. He also said that Matthew’s account where Jesus’ words show that Judas could not have been present, should be trusted as the chronological wording of Jesus so that Judas was not offered the wine and the bread representing Jesus’ death on the cross.
Let’s take a look at this issue carefully, trusting that God’s Word does not contradict itself.
How was the book of Luke written?
Let’s look at the testimony of Luke.
Luke 1:1–3 (NASB)
1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,
2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,
3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;
Luke’s purpose was to write out a consecutive, ordered account of the events that happened concerning Jesus and the gospel. That is his testimony.