In the previous two Q&As, we discussed God’s love towards all men. Subsequently, further questions arose which deserve answers.
For instance, since Christ died for the world and for us when we were still sinners, why do we read that He gave His blood for many for the remission of sins, but not for all?
Christ shed His blood for many [not all] for the remission of sins because He KNEW that some would not accept His Sacrifice, rebel against Him, commit the unpardonable sin, and end up in the lake of fire. So insofar as those people are concerned, His blood does not cover them, as they reject it. That is why the Bible says that He died for MANY for the remission of sins, not for all, because some would not repent and therefore would not receive remission of sins.
Matthew 26:28 says specifically: “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 20:28 adds: “… the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” The ransom is for those who will repent and accept His Sacrifice. Christ did not give His life as a ransom for those who would reject His Sacrifice.
Hebrews 9:27-28 reads: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
Please note, Christ did not bear the sins of all, but of many. Those are exempted who would refuse to repent.
On the other hand, it was and is God’s and Christ’s desire for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). And so, we read in Hebrews 2:9:
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
Christ died for all people, potentially. Nobody HAD to fail. Nobody was “predestined” to commit the unpardonable sin. It is strictly man’s choice. But out of God’s “unconditional love” for all mankind, Christ died so that all could come to Him and could receive forgiveness of sin. He died to be able to offer salvation to everyone. God would call them in their due time (prior to Christ’s return, during the Millennium or during the Great White Throne Judgment period) and offer them the opportunity to accept Christ as their personal Savior (as in no one else is there salvation, compare Acts 4:12). At the same time, He knew that some would reject the offer—even though He did not know who exactly that would be, as He has decided NOT to know who would commit the unpardonable sin. But THAT some would commit it, is clear from Scripture, as the Bible foretells that some would be thrown into the lake of fire. For those, He did not give His blood for the remission of their sins.
Likewise, we read in Titus 2:11: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” Yes, God’s grace appeared to all men, but all would not accept that precious gift. Ultimately, many would, but not all.
We also should focus on John 3:16, in context. It is true that Christ died for the world, living in sin, but He did not die for the world so that the world would continue to live in sin: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
After Christ gave His life, He wanted that those whom He would call—now or later—to believe in Him. Their faith was supposed to be obedient faith (Romans 1:5). And in loving God, by keeping His commandments, they would keep themselves in the love of God (Jude 21). They would not continue to live a disobedient lifestyle, as expressed by John in 1 John 3:17: “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”
As we said in our previous Q&A:
“We should be able to see that God expects of us to respond to His ‘unconditional’ love towards us (‘unconditional’ at the time when Christ died for us while we were yet sinners) by rejecting sin and by showing love towards God and our neighbor. God’s love is defined as keeping His commandments (1 John 5:3), and as we just read above in 1 John 3:17, we can lose God’s love in us due to our conduct. God’s love, once ‘unconditional’ at and before the beginning of our journey towards eternal life, has very clearly become ‘conditional.’
“We must DO something to ‘keep ourselves in the love of God’ (Jude 21). We read Christ’s words in John 14:21: ‘He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.’”
God’s love for us can also be seen when He disciplines us. That could be described as “tough love”—love which corrects us. His goal is for us to become God beings, and His correction is necessary to achieve that goal. Job had to go through many trials, pain and suffering, because he did not see himself as God saw him. His self-righteousness, had it not been repented of, would have kept him out of the Kingdom of God, but it was difficult for him to recognize how self-righteous he was. Only through God’s correction was he able to do so.
James 5:10-11 tells us: “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
God’s compassion and mercy was shown by the fact that He was willing to deal with Job, in spite of his at harsh words against God at times, thinking that he was more righteous than God, and that God dealt unjustly with him.
And so, when we are corrected by God, it is because He loves us and wants us to be in His Kingdom.
Hebrews 12:4-6 states:
“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’”
Verse 10 explains the reason why God corrects us:
“For they [that is, our human fathers, see verse 9] indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
Christ also tells those Church members in need of repentance in Revelation 3:19: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
God knows that we could lose salvation. Even though that will be ultimately our decision, God is willing to do everything for us to prevent that from happening. Hebrews 2:1-4 says:
“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”
Also, notice Philippians 2:12-13:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
We see here God’s involvement in our lives. He is willing to do everything which we allow Him to do to ensure that we make it into His Kingdom. But Paul continues to remind us of our responsibility, in Philippians 2:14-16:
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”
So, we see that God and Christ rebuke and chasten us because of love. They correct us because they want us to be in God’s Kingdom and share in God’s glory, becoming part of God’s holiness.
We need to contrast this with the fate of the unrepentant sinner who has committed the unpardonable sin.
We said in our previous Q&A:
“As we have seen, even the destruction of the sinner in the lake of fire reflects God’s love in that He does not want him to be tormented forever in an ever-burning hell, but it is obviously not a reflection of God’s ‘unconditional’ love which would allow us to live in sin and to do whatever we want to do, with the attitude: ‘God loves me, no matter what I do.’”
We must understand this statement in its proper context. God’s love and His righteousness do not tolerate or justify an unrepentant sinner’s continued ungodly lifestyle. God sees how much suffering and pain for others the sinner’s conduct causes. And so, we read in John 3:36 (Revised Standard Version): “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.” Romans 1:18 adds: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…”
And so, we read the following alarming pronouncement by Christ in Matthew 24:48-51:
“But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
This evil servant is one who has committed the unpardonable sin, and whose fate it is to be thrown into the lake of fire where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth (compare Matthew 13:41-42, 49-50). But before he ends up in the lake of fire, he will be “cut in two.” This “correction” is not for the purpose of leading him towards salvation; rather, it is punishment for his evil deeds with which he influenced and tortured others, without a willingness to repent. His punishment reflects God’s love for others, as well as His righteousness, which demands that the sinner has to pay. It is clearly NOT a reflection of God’s “unconditional” love for the incorrigible sinner.
We state the following in our free booklet, “Punishment for Our Sins”, when addressing Christ’s statement that the evil servant will be “cut in two,” and after quoting numerous commentaries attempting to explain this phrase:
“… the wicked servant will receive some kind of physical and psychological punishment before he is thrown into the lake of fire with the hypocrites and the unbelievers. We do not know exactly what that punishment will be, but it is clear from Scripture that the punishment of the incorrigible sinners will include torment and fearful expectation BEFORE their existence ends. It will be much more severe than just a fleeting moment of annihilation in the Gehenna fire. They will receive ‘heavy stripes’ or ‘scourging’… including ‘stripes’ of a psychological nature.
“When those who commit the unpardonable sin stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, they will be confronted with the terrible deeds, which they had committed, but they will not feel any remorse. They will refuse to repent of their wicked conduct. Filled with wrath and hate, they will hear Jesus Christ’s words condemning them to punishment and eternal death, and they will be tormented by the realization that they ARE going to receive ‘stripes’ and that they will be subsequently destroyed forever. Because of this, their hate and rage will even increase. Their wicked nature and conduct will be manifested in front of everyone. There will never be any doubt about God’s unfailing justice and just punishment.”
Nothing else would reflect or manifest God’s righteousness. These people had lost God’s love which had been poured in their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). They had chosen the way of hate and unrighteousness. Christ who gave His life for them when they were still sinners will not have “unconditional” love for them when they are to be punished for their wickedness in the Third Resurrection which is the second death (Revelation 20:14).
And so, God loved mankind unconditionally when He gave His Son to die for them [potentially, each and every one of them], but it became very much conditional, based on how man responded when he or she was called. And if they reject God’s love—not that anyone would have to; it is strictly their choice—and if they “sin willfully after [they] have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link