Is By Faith Alone the Gospel, If Jesus Died for Everybody?

Josh Moody (No Other Gospel) rightly asks why the Galatians were tempted to add their works to Christ’s righteousness. Moody rightly answers that this temptation does not come from the faith which fears God, but comes from the fear which does not trust the cross to be enough to justify.

But if Jesus died for everybody, and not everybody is justified, then those who trust this false Jesus SHOULD BE AFRAID They will need to be careful to complete their faith with works, and thus we have the typical Calvinist stress on the the idea “now in the new covenant and with the Holy Spirit we can and want to do the right thing”.

Most of these Calvinists are failing to teach that Jesus Christ did NOT die for everybody. Thus they are failing to teach that Christ’s death is the only reason one person is saved and not another. Even the Calvinists who have “limited atonement” as their “shelf doctrine” are not teaching the doctrine. They are certainly not teach definite atonement as part of the gospel message, so that Spirit-enabled works are rejected as any part of the reason for “future justification”.

If you can’t go by train (because the train doesn’t go there), you have to go by car, and you can’t go by train and by car at the same time. If the only kind of atonement revealed in the Bible is definite and effectual (for the sheep, and not for those who will not believe, John 10), then there is no atonement revealed in the Bible for everybody, and you can’t have it both ways, no matter what Martyn Lloyd-Jones or anybody else tried to do.

You can say all matter of true things about the difference between law and gospel (and I have no doubt that the false teachers in Galatia did so), but you have no legitimate right to say them, if you avoid the offense of the cross being A. for the elect alone and B. being alone effectual, being the difference, since Christ’s death was not for everybody. And the true things you say about the cross, or about law and gospel, end up not being true things, just like the doctrine of the false teachers in Galatians.

You can say that Christ died for everybody and not be a “semi-Pelagian” or “soft legalist”. But if Christ’s death was the righteousness intended and obtained for everybody, then it’s not His death but our faith which must make the difference. And if that is so, we need to be very afraid.

Nobody comes along and says that Jesus didn’t need to die. They just say that Jesus died for everybody but that it doesn’t work unless the Spirit causes you to consent to it. They just say that, even if you are not elect and even if the Spirit doesn’t cause you to consent to it, Jesus loves you and died for you and offers to save you, but His death didn’t take away your guilt and it doesn’t work, because you didn’t have faith in it.

But if Jesus died for everybody, then the promise of the gospel is not about Christ alone or His death alone; and if it is about your being changed (so that grace is not cheap and Jesus is King), then salvation is not by Christ’s death. The message of His death plus your not wanting to sin anymore is really at the end a message about your not wanting to sin anymore.

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One Comment on “Is By Faith Alone the Gospel, If Jesus Died for Everybody?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Tianqi Wu—False gospel is about our response to what Christ did, rather than what Christ did False gospel denies what Christ did is effective, then urges us to have faith in what Christ did, to make it effective

    One false gospel is more explicitly legalistic. It outright denies anything like penal substitution or unconditional grace, but makes it clear that salvation is a matter of meeting one or more conditions, and God only wanted to save those who meet those conditions. Regarding Christ, it tends to say that Christ’s death simply restarted law, to put everybody on a level playing field.

    A different false gospel is more “evangelical”. In its rhetoric it uses terms like penal substitution or unconditional grace,. But in the end it will also comes down to some response in man, even when it says that God’s grace enables that response.

    The false gospel says that God fails in saving you, God really wants to save you but your hardness of heart frustrates that intention. Then it often says this rejection of “grace” incurs God’s wrath (sometimes it even that this is the only way God ever has wrath to man).

    In the first approach, the “gospel” is simply a new law that you do to get saved. Christ’s work was to get everybody a blank slate, so that everybody can be judged by their works in the new era.

    The second approach is at the core the same, but with the “extra” talk of “grace”, by which it means “gospel” is a “love letter” that shows God’s vulnerability in opening himself to man, with the threat of revenge for man’s rejection.

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