For Whom Did Christ Die?
3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. Revelation 14:3-4
The objects of redemption, those for whom Christ died, for whom He made atonement by the shedding of His blood, for whom He obtained eternal redemption, are a special and distinct people. The Scriptures declare that they are “redeemed from the earth” (Revelation 14:3), from among all the other inhabitants of the earth. As explained in the very next verse, they are “redeemed from among men” (Revelation 14:4).
The inspired writers seem to delight in using the pronoun “us”, when speaking of the death of Christ, and our redemption by it. Thus the objects of redemption are identified as a distinct, particular people called “us”. “Christ died for us.” God “delivered Him up for us all.” Christ “gave Himself for us.” He did so “that He might redeem us.” The saints around his throne sing unto the Lamb, “Thou hast redeemed us unto God by Thy blood.” The Scriptures everywhere teach limited atonement, particular, effectual redemption accomplished and obtained for God’s elect by the sin-atoning death of Christ as our Substitute.
There is not a hint, suggestion, or implication of universal atonement anywhere in the Word of God. Not only does the Bible teach the blessed doctrine of effectual, limited atonement, the Word of God also tells us specifically and clearly who those sinners are for whom Christ died.
The Lord Jesus Christ died for every sinner in this world loved of God with an everlasting love. The objects of Christ’s redemption and the objects of God’s love are the same. Redemption flows from the love of God (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16; 4:10). This love from which redemption flows is much, much more than some imaginary, universal benevolence, and much, much more than that general kindness shown in providence to all men, as the creatures of God. This is a special and discriminating love. It is the special, saving favor which God bears to His own people alone, as distinct from others. The Lord God declares, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” This is a hard pill for some to swallow. They would rather compromise the character of God and make for themselves a god like themselves (mutable, unfaithful, and untrustworthy) than acknowledge the plainly revealed fact that God’s love, His sovereign purpose of grace, His providence and all His saving operations are toward His elect alone. I defy anyone who denies this fact to give a sane interpretation of Isaiah 43:3-4.
This special, redeeming love is most highly expressed and clearly revealed by our all glorious Savior. When we see Him hanging on the cursed tree, bearing in His own body all the sins of all His people, and suffering all the horrid wrath of almighty God as our Substitute, we begin to understand the meaning of John’s words: — “Having loved his own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). All who are thus loved by Christ were redeemed by Christ. They are “His” people, “His” sheep, “His” church. To suggest, or imply that Christ died for reprobate sinners, who are the objects of His just wrath and contempt, that He died for those for whom He refused to even pray (John 17:9, 20), is utter nonsense. Those who say that Christ loved Esau and died for him, when Christ himself says, “Esau have I hated,” would make the Son of God a liar! They would rather declare that God is a liar than acknowledge that salvation truly is of the Lord in its entirety!
Don Fortner, Pastor Grace Baptist Church Danville, Kentucky