For whom did Christ die?
James Smith, 1864
"That he by the grace of God, should taste death for every man." Hebrews 2:9
That the Lord Jesus Christ came to save his people from their sins, to redeem them from all iniquity, and to present them faultless before the presence of his glory — is an acknowledged fact. But it is not generally acknowledged that they alone are interested in his redeeming work. Many conclude that his blood was shed for them who perish — as much as for them who are saved! And they draw this conclusion from many general expressions which are found in the word of God, especially from the text we are now about to look at: "That he by the grace of God, should taste death for every man."
It should be known that the substantive man, is not in the original at all — but is supplied by the translators. Therefore the context must explain or set forth the extent of the meaning of the term: it was for every son, verse 10, every one of the sanctified (Hebrews 10:14), the brethren of Christ, verse 11, the children God gave the Messiah, verse 13-14. We must not be led away by the sound of words — but seek for the sense of the words.
How is the phrase, every man, used in other portions of Scripture? We will look at one or two.
Luke 16:16. "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it." Did the scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers press into it? They were men. Did the heathen nations press into it who had never heard of it? They also were men. The meaning must be that many, a multitude pressed in — not every individual man, or all men.
1 Corinthians 12:7. "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man" — yet there are many who have never heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.
Colossians 1:23. "The Gospel was preached to every creature under Heaven" — and yet it is notorious that there were thousands at that time who had never heard the Gospel. If there had been such an expression as this used in reference to redemption, many would have looked at it as decisive, and would have considered any attempt to confine it to some only, to have been awfully presumptuous. And yet it cannot mean every rational creature — but only a great multitude, or people of almost every nation. Rev. 5:13. Can every creature here mean, every distinct rational being inhabiting those places? Assuredly not. Let us not then be led away by general expressions — but let us search, compare, and examine the Word of God in humility, with prayer and perseverance.
The Father's act of election fixes the extent and number of the Church,
the Son's redemption delivers that Church from wrath,
and the Spirit's operations prepare that Church for glory.
The Father chooses, predestinates, and gives;
the Son receives, redeems, and claims;
the Spirit quickens, teaches, and sanctifies;
and by the joint working of the Glorious Trinity, the Church is saved with an everlasting salvation.
The speaking blood of Immanuel will never cease to cry, until all for whom it was shed are brought to enjoy the blessings it procured. Nor will Jesus see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied — until all his redeemed people are with him associated, identified, and glorified. He tasted death for them — that they might never die — and he will lead them to glory as the great Captain of their salvation.
The triumphs of his cross shall be celebrated around his throne, by each and every one for whom he suffered, bled, and conquered. The purchase of his blood shall never be stolen, forfeited, or lost; impartial justice will see that all be sent out of the pit; and omnipotent mercy shall guide them to glory. The blood that purchased — shall cleanse all whom it bought — and none who are cleansed shall sink into perdition.
"But what encouragement has a sinner, as such, to come to Christ, if this is the truth?" Every encouragement. The Father invites him. Jesus is pledged to receive him. The promises are made to him — and his very coming, being the effect of the Spirit's teaching, is the evidence of his interest in all the blessings of redemption.
We are not invited to come to Christ as "the elect," or as "the redeemed," but simply as sinners. Every sinner to whom the Gospel comes, is invited. Every one who comes, is received. Every one who is thus received, has been redeemed. For no man will come to Jesus — unless the Father draws him.
The particularity of redemption excludes no man from Christ — but it secures the certain salvation of all . . .
for whom he engaged as a Surety,
for whom he suffered as a Substitute,
and for whom he died as a Sacrifice.
He is the one propitiation for the whole world — there is no other. His blood is the one atonement for human guilt — there is no other. The Gospel warrants any soul to build upon that atonement for eternal life — and every man, woman, or child who does so, is delivered from the wrath to come. Jesus is the one, solitary, and all-sufficient Savior. He invites sinners, as such, without distinction to come to him for life and everlasting salvation; he pledges his word that he will never refuse one; he has solemnly kept his word until the present moment — and he ever will. Is not this encouragement enough for any one, for every one, who desires to be saved by him?
"But what if Christ did not represent me — what if he was not my sin-atoning substitute." Such suggestions come from Satan, and if you take any other view of truth, similar discouraging suggestions will be presented to your mind.
The fact is, that as a sinner, you have nothing to do with God's election, or with the particularity of Christ's redemption; all you have to do with, is the assurance that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin, that he is able to save unto the uttermost, and that he invites you, as a sinner, to come and be saved by him. Difficulties may be exchanged for others; but difficulties you will find until you simply take God's word as it is addressed to you in the everlasting Gospel, and act upon it. If you seriously desire to be saved, the Lord Jesus is both able and willing to save you; but if you are disposed to cavil at the revelation God has given — you will find plenty to cavil at, and may perish in so doing.
Salvation flows . . .
from the Father's love,
through the Son's blood,
by the power and operation of the Holy Spirit;
it embraces the whole Church, which never has formed more than part of the world, nor never will, until Jesus comes the second time without sin unto salvation. The former part of this statement is a historical fact which cannot be questioned, and the latter appears to me to be most clearly revealed in God s most holy word.
Reader, do you wish to be saved? Are you willing to be saved as a poor sinner by free grace alone? If so, the Lord Jesus is both able and willing to save you. You are one of those for whom he tasted death, one of those whose sins he bore in his own body on the tree. Listen not to the sly suggestions of Satan. Pay no attention to man's quibbles at God's word. Perplex not your mind by any nice distinctions made by man — but come at once to Jesus. Come expecting him to receive you. Come relying on his hearty invitation. Come to prove the truth of his precious promises. Come and cast yourself upon his veracity, merit, and mercy — and eternal life is yours. Greater encouragement you could not have, more than what is already given. When you have been received by Jesus, when you enjoy salvation — then you will be able . . .
to trace out the work of the Holy Spirit within you,
to realize your personal interest in the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus,
and to see that your present blessedness and future prospects, flow alike from the free, sovereign, and distinguishing grace of the Father. Then you may enjoy your election of God. Then you may rejoice in Jesus as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. And then you will realize that the work of the Holy Spirit alone, distinguishes man from man, and makes us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. All that is spiritually good must be traced up to God's free grace — and all moral evil, to man's free will.
O glorious Redeemer! I review your redeeming work with delight, and rejoice in the persuasion, "That all whom the Father gave you shall come to you — and him who comes you will never cast out!" It is sweet, pleasant, and delightful — to see love, blood, and energy united in the salvation of your people; and to know that the objects of your Father's love are the members of your Church, and that only the people of your choice are the purchase of your death; that all whom you have died for are quickened by your Spirit, and taught to . . .
know your name,
love your person,
prize your Gospel,
keep your ways,
observe your laws,
sing your praises, and
shall be your crown, your joy, and your delight forever.
Help me to live in the full persuasion that I am yours:
bought by you,
belonging to you,
ordained to glorify you, and
bound to honor you by every tie of gratitude, duty, and love.