If we would take the basics of the Christian faith seriously, then we must begin with what Jesus actually said.
Of Jesus' Death

Jesus said: "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11).

By this word Jesus teaches that He gives His life in the place of His people as a substitute for them. He also says, "...I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:15). His death is a personal substitutionary atonement, not a general provision for all men. Jesus lays down His life as a sacrifice for certain persons who are His sheep, not for the goats. Jesus teaches that He did not die for all men, head for head, but for His people out of the world. Therefore Jesus does not say that He gives His life a ransom for sin generally, but that He came "to give his life a ransom for many," (Matt. 20:28, Mark 10:45). His life given upon the cross is the ransom for those for whom He died. They are many, but not all men, head for head. Jesus' death accomplished the actual, complete salvation and deliverance of those for whom He died. Jesus teaches a definite atonement for sin in His blood, not a mere possibility or provision. His blood cannot fail to save His sheep. The power of Christ and His cross never fails to save His people. Jesus saved and therefore also saves! As it is written, "For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified," Heb. 10:14. He accomplished a finished redemption in the cross.

Therefore Jesus speaks of Himself as the bread of life. As He said, "... and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world," (John 6:51). By this He teaches that His death is the only source of spiritual life and salvation just as bread sustains our earthly life when we eat it. That world for which He gave His life is fed by faith in Him with everlasting life. It is a world that is surely saved, for He says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life," (John 6:47). Jesus does not teach that He provides everlasting life for the world of all men, head for head, but that He is everlasting life unto the world of them who are united to Him by faith. His death is a true sacrifice. It saved, ransomed, and delivered those for whom He died, and He now gives eternal life through faith unto them as His sheep. As He said, "My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me and I give unto them eternal life..." (John 10:27, 28). This was God's design as Jesus said, "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him," John 17:2.

Jesus teaches that He accomplished a finished salvation and a personal substitutionary atonement for those for whom He died. Jesus teaches a definite limited atonement, a particular redemption, not a universal indefinite provision, not a mere possibility to become a personal Saviour, if you will only let Him. He gives eternal life to His sheep. Jesus teaches that He "knows his sheep," and not that He must engage in an investigative judgment to find out who they are. Do you believe in this Jesus of the Scriptures, Who knows His own, and dies for them? There is a false christ of man's invention who dies not knowing his own, a maybe saviour, a mere provider, who waits on man to make him truly a savior. Do you believe in the Jesus Who genuinely saves?

By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary Pastor

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