Did Jesus die to pay the penalty for the sins of believers?

October 12, 2011
By dreiher2

Do half truths bug you? Several things that have really bugged me lately are lyrics and speakers saying something to the effect, “Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus died on the cross to pay for OUR sins? We will not have to pay the penalty for our sins because of what Jesus did on the cross.” This is true. However it is only half of the truth. Of course they may quote a verse like:

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)

It sounds wonderful doesn’t it? For example, I can’t remember how many times I heard this verse quoted at Communion. Jesus died on the cross to pay for OUR sins? Is this true? YES! Of course! However, to those of us who are NOT 5 point Calvinists, the word “OUR” sometimes gets too much emphasis. When spoken by a person who is a Calvinist, who believes that Jesus did NOT die for the sins of unbelievers, it sure sounds like we are getting a rather sneaky lesson on the 3rd point of Calvinism, Limited Atonement.  Didn’t Christ die on the cross to pay for the sins of THEM too (i.e. unbelievers)? Why don’t we say during communion, “Is it wonderful that Jesus died on the cross to pay for OUR sins as well as the sins of the entire world?” That would be more accurate Biblically speaking. What about the fact that there are many scriptures that teach that Jesus died on the cross to pay in full the penalty for the sins of EVERYONE? For example

“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:2 (NKJV)

In the words of Zane Hodges:

There is nothing in 1 John 2:2 about Jesus Christ being potentially the satisfaction for the sins of the world. The apostle flatly states that Jesus IS the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. He IS that. Not that He CAN be, or POTENTIALLY is, but He simply IS. Note also that this passages states that He is the propitiation for OUR sins. In whatever sense He is the propitiation for OUR sins, he is also the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. Very simply put, the propitiatory work of our Lord Jesus Christ is universally effective. That is true whether anyone believes it or not. On the cross, my friends, Jesus paid for every single sin that has ever been committed, by any person who has ever lived on the face of the earth. If you ask me, that is magnificent and overwhelming.

Another verse that comes to mind is

19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Cor 5:19 (NKJV)

Because of Christ’s work on the cross, no sin will ever be imputed to an unbeliever. That means that unbelievers are not going to hell to pay the judicial penalty for their sins. Of course there is penalty for sin, but it is not a JUDICIAL penalty. It has been paid. Nobody will go to hell for their sin. They will go to hell because they are not written in the Lamb’s book of Life.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Rev 20:12-14 (NKJV)

There is no mention anywhere in this passage that unbelievers go to hell to pay for their sins. It is true that there is a penalty for sins we commit now. Believers as well as unbelievers pay now, and will pay later for their sins, but it is more of a law of sowing and reaping as Paul taught in Romans and Galatians.  In other words, both unbelievers and believers face the temporal wrath of God upon them and condemnation for sins. However this is much different from paying the penalty for any of the sins. Only Jesus, the Lamb of God can pay the penalty for the sins of the world:

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 (NKJV)

I can remember a lot of songs I hear in Church that say the same thing, that Jesus paid for OUR sin. Of course this is true. However there is a large part of humanity being ignored. In these songs there is no mention of the fact that Jesus paid for the sins of believers and unbelievers alike.

Let me know what you think. Has this bugged you? Let me know if after reading this post, that it now bothers you.

If you want to hear Zane’s 1 hour message (with Q&A) on this topic please go to my youtube channel and listen to:

Propitiation: Does it only count if we accept it?

It is about an hour long. If you just want to hear the part I quoted it is about 4 minutes into the video.

- Don Reiher


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