Bill Parker on the Gospel

A famous Calvinist preacher once said, “All Christians hold that Christ died to redeem, but all Christians do not teach the same redemption. We differ as to the nature of atonement, and as to the design of redemption.” He could as well have said all Christians do not preach and believe the same Gospel; that some believe salvation conditioned on the sinner (works) and others believe salvation conditioned on the Christ alone (grace). This is one who claims to know and believe the Gospel, but who does not see the saving value of it. If we see the atonement as merely a doctrine on which “Christians” may or may not agree, we have missed the central issues of God’s glory in salvation. Consider how severely God dealt with Israel under the Old Covenant when they perverted, compromised, or neglected the atonement. How much more severely will God deal with sinners who pervert, compromise, or neglect the atonement of Christ wherein His chief glory resides?

The atonement of Christ and His righteousness are one and the same thing. The Gospel is the revelation of Christ and His righteousness which demands the justification and eternal life of every sinner for whom He died. We must, then, see that to preach the Gospel is to preach a definite, effectual atonement for sinners. To say that Christ’s death makes salvation possible for all without exception upon their meeting some condition is as foreign to the true Gospel and to the grace of God as it would be to say openly that salvation is by works. The Gospel reveals that the whole ground of any sinner’s acceptance before God is the atonement accomplished by Christ as He established a righteousness which SATISFIES God’s law and justice on behalf of God’s elect.

All for whom Christ died MUST be justified in time. They must have eternal life, or His death, His atonement, His righteousness has no value at all in and of itself. Universal atonement denies the Gospel and therefore denies salvation by grace. It reduces God’s salvation to works religion. It makes the atonement, the righteousness of Christ, of no real value at all in and of itself. Any attempt to apply the death of Christ to all without exception is the attempt of proud religionists to make salvation conditioned on the sinner in direct opposition to God’s Gospel, His promise of salvation conditioned on Christ alone.

This is something that Calvinists and all who claim to believe the doctrines of grace should consider. It is an issue that many, if not most, want to avoid. Any sinner who believes in a universal atonement cannot have the right ground of salvation. They, of necessity, must rely on something other than the blood of Christ and His righteousness alone to make the ultimate difference between saved and lost, heaven and hell. This is deadly, and it does no one any spiritual or eternal good to ignore this issue or deny it. The problem is that too many so-called “Calvinists” want to insist on their being saved while they themselves believed and promoted a universal atonement. They want to speak peace to themselves and to others while either ignorant of or not submitted to the righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel. God’s Word does not support them (Rom. 10:1-4; 2 John 9-11). Many have admitted that universal atonement is heresy, anti-Gospel, and even another Gospel, but insist that they themselves and others were and are saved while believing and promoting such God-dishonoring, Christ-denying, sinner-exalting doctrines. God’s Word will not support them either (Gal. 1:6-9). We must tell sinners the truth and pray that God will bring them to a saving knowledge of Christ and Him crucified.

Bill Parker pastors the 13th Street Baptist Church in Ashland, KY.

Bill Parker

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