For Whom Did Christ Die?

For Whom Did Christ Die?

Did Christ die for you?

Was the act that was meant to pay the just penalty for man's sins specifically calculated with you in mind? Was Christ cognizant of you when He accomplished His sacrifice and subsequent resurrection?

The first century apostle, Paul, answers this relevant question in his letter to the Romans. His words may help you and those you love.

His answer:

Christ died for those who aren't strong

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).

The idea that Christianity is for people who have innate moral strength is denied. Paul states categorically that Christ died for those who do not have the ability to get to God on their own, that is, people who aren't able to be and do all God demands. Interestingly, your awareness of your spiritual inability is not a hindrance to having new life in Christ—it is your ticket. Christ came for people just like you!

Christ died for those who sin

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while were still sinners, Christ died for us (5:7-8).

Though sin is what makes every living person deserving of hell, it is only for those who know themselves to be sinners that Christ's death has any meaning and effect. Sin is not only "the rape of the soul"—it is the cause of eternal separation from God. How often do you sin? Multiplied thousands of times before you die. Why? Because you are corrupted in your essential nature. It is for such that Christ died. Be glad that you know yourself well.

Christ died for those who are His enemies

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son . . . (5:10).

Who killed Jesus? The Jews? The Romans? God? Yes, in their own way each of them was responsible. Yet, after all of it is bantered about, it was our rebellion that caused the cross. Our self-interest is blatant. We have lived independently, not wanting the control of God over our lives. The Bible calls this enmity—and apathy is just the passive form of it. But Christ died for such people.

Do you qualify as one for whom Christ died?

In Dallas, Texas there is an institution that has been serving that community for many years. It is now called the Buckner Children's Home. In earlier days it was called Buckner Orphanage. "Daddy Buckner" was the founder of this great work.

A story is told about a little girl who had survived a fire that had claimed the lives of her family. She was scarred, especially on half of her little face. It was difficult to look at her. When she came to the orphanage, she told Mr. Buckner, "You'll have to be my mommy and my daddy."

When Daddy Buckner walked into the orphanage one day, he found the little girl weeping in a corner. He had the sense to dismiss the other children so that he could talk with her privately. Putting her on his lap, he quietly said, "What's the matter, honey?"

"Oh, Daddy Buckner," she cried, "I know I'm ugly and nobody loves me. But would you kiss me on my good side and tell me that you love me?"

Daddy Buckner took the little girl's face in his hands and, beginning with her scarred side, kissed all over her face, passionately repeating the words, "I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you."

The cross is God's way of saying to helpless, sinful enemies that He loves us.

"I didn't come for the well," Christ once asserted, "but for the sick." He was not exempting some people as if they simply didn't need Him, but rather He was asserting that there are some who see themselves in need of nothing from Christ. For such people the cross of Christ confers no benefits and has no effect.

It is emblematic that there was a thief crucified on the cross next to Jesus. Two, in fact—one completely self-sufficient to the end, the other fully aware of his deplorable enmity against God.

"Remember me," he pleaded. Christ did. He died for him—and for all such pathetic wretches.

Were you among them?

Copyright © 2004 Jim Elliff. 

So What's the Problem?

So What's The Problem

A well-known Christian philosopher, Francis Schaeffer, was asked this question: If you had only one hour on a train to tell someone about Christ, what would you do? He answered: I would spend forty-five minutes showing him the problem, and fifteen minutes showing him the solution.

Do you have a problem? Perhaps it is not so easy for you to see. If you have good relationships, make good grades, have a family that loves you, and feel hope about the future, then you may not think there is anything to be fixed. But there is. Your problem is with God, and it is serious enough to cost you everything good for all of eternity.

You may not feel your problem right now. A man may be condemned as guilty and yet not feel guilty, just as a person might have cancer and not feel it or even know it. There is real or legal guilt and there is emotional guilt. But regardless how your emotions are experiencing your dilemma, God makes it clear that you have an insurmountable problem.

So what's the problem?

The Bible uses several words and phrases to help us understand. First, it says you are dead—not sick, not desperately sick, not sick to the point of death, but DEAD! "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…." (Eph. 2:1) So the old story that says salvation is like a Christian throwing a lifeline out to a floundering, drowning man is not the truth. It is worse than you thought. You're not drowning, you're face down on the ocean floor!

Second, the Bible says that you are BLIND. "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ." (2 Cor. 4:4) Just as a person in a cave cannot see his hand in front of him when there is no light, so you cannot see Christ without God shining his light on you (see vs. 6). In a world of sightless people, everyone imagines his own inward reality, but he cannot see the truth unless God gives him sight. He sees lies, but cannot see truth.

The Bible says that you are LOST. In Luke fifteen Jesus described lostness by telling the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. There is nothing more hopeless than being lost. Like the man in a blinding blizzard, every turn seems right for the moment, but all is futile.

The Bible also says that you are CONDEMNED. This means that you are under the judgment of God for your disobedience against Him. "Whoever does not believe stands condemned already…." (Jn. 3: 18) God condemns every unbelieving person to hell, even if he or she is in the remotest part of the world. He is just in doing so, because unbelievers have sinned against whatever knowledge of God they have. (see Rom. 1)

What I am trying to say is that you do have a problem, and it is the type of problem that can only be solved with help from the outside. As a dead person you cannot make yourself alive; as a blind person you cannot give yourself sight; as a lost person you cannot find your way out; and as a condemned person, you cannot absolve yourself from your actual guilt. You have a problem and you really don't have a solution unless it comes from somewhere else besides you.

Trying to overcome your problem on your own is a useless exercise. The famous preacher of the 1700s, George Whitefield, once said, "What! Get to heaven on your own strength? Why, you might as well try to climb to the moon on a rope of sand!" Like trying to jump six foot hurdles, you simply cannot accomplish what God requires.

How does God solve your problem? First, He sets His heart on you from eternity past. Think about that! What an exciting thing to know that God has forever loved people just like you. "I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jer. 31:3)

Next, He sends His Son, Jesus Christ, to cover the cost of your sins by dying on the cross in your place. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8) In Christ's death the full payment for all the sins of all who come to Him are fully met. In this way God's justice is satisfied and you are fully pardoned. This is why Christ is called the Savior, or the Rescuer.

Finally, He pursues you by His Spirit, convicting you of your sinfulness, teaching you about the nature of salvation, and drawing you to Christ's beauty and worthiness (see Jn. 16:9-11; Jn. 6:44; Jn. 6:45). Christ becomes irresistible to you. The Bible teaches that even the faith you exercise is a gift from Him. (see Eph. 2:8-9)

You have a problem and God has the solution
—the only solution.

The people who have experienced this solution are called believers. They look away from themselves to Christ. They believe that God has loved them from eternity past. They believe that the payment of Christ on the cross for sins was for them. They find Christ irresistible, and following Him the greatest privilege of all. They have faith in Christ and what He has done for them. They trust Christ, looking outside of themselves to Him alone. They believe.

"Now to you who believe, this stone (Christ) is precious." (1 Pet. 2:7) 

Copyright © 2001 Jim Elliff