Thought for Thursday

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

If there is a more popular Gospel text than our text today, it is John 3:16. And it is popular, most say, because it applies to everybody. But what most don’t stop to consider is the huge restriction that John 3:16 places on who can be saved. Oh but, you say, there is no restriction, the verse says ‘whosoever’ and that means everybody and anybody can be saved. Correction, John 3:16 does not just say ‘whosoever’, it says ‘whosoever believeth’. And that excludes salvation from everyone who refuses to believe on the Son. It is not an exclusion that God makes; He opens the door for all. It’s an exclusion that sinners impose on themselves. In the same way, our text today contains a restriction on the benefits of Christ’s death for us.

Let’s be careful not to fall into the erroneous doctrine of limited atonement. This error teaches that when Christ died on the cross, He died only for those who God knew would be saved. That is false; we rejoice in the knowledge that the work of redemption that was completed at Calvary was infinite. ‘And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world – 1 John 2.2. ‘And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world’ – 1 John 4:14. No one is excluded from access to God’s provision, but not all will avail themselves of that access. It’s just like a bus that travels down a highway; there is plenty of room for anyone along that highway who wants to get on board, but the only people who get to ride are the people who actually boarded the bus.

One of the great things about the Gospel is its ability to knock the pride out of a person. Our text refers to our having no strength. And yet, many around us believe they have enough strength to save themselves with their works or their religion. We were not saved until we were able to see through that lie of the devil. Our inability to save ourselves means we are also unable to keep ourselves saved. Our eternal security rests not on us but on the work of Christ. Our text declares that we are not only weak but ungodly. There is nothing about us that God can accept. But there is everything about Christ that God can accept. That is why we can be saved. And that is why those who fail to see their own ungodliness are not saved.

Do you deserve to be saved? No. That’s why you can be – and are – saved. Only those who were ungodly sinners can benefit from the Saviour’s death -Jim MacIntosh

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