Indefinite Redemption Is Greatly Injurious
The doctrine of indefinite redemption is greatly injurious to the comforts and joys of believers.
1. The notion that the death of Christ is conditionally sufficient for all mankind, that is if all mankind were to believe in it, leads the sinner at once to the performance of some duty which he imagines will give efficacy to the death of Christ and render it available to him. By this means he is lead to draw comfort from his duties instead of the finished salvation of Christ. This error is the fruitful cause of the disquieting fears and legal bondage of many professors. They are constantly in fear lest they have not performed the requisite condition and, after much toiling, their uneasy spirits are as far from rest as ever, and again they utter the old complaint, “What lack I yet?” They have no notion that the alone work of Christ made manifest to the heart by the Holy Spirit, is sufficient to give joy unspeakable without the performance of some duty on their part, and therefore they are in constant perplexity lest this important duty should not have been performed. “I find,” said Mr. Owen Stockton, “that though in my judgment and profession, I acknowledge Christ to be my righteousness and peace, yet I have secretly gone about to establish my own righteousness and have derived my comfort and peace from my own actings. For when I have been disquieted by the actings of sin, not God speaking peace through the blood of Christ, but the intermission of temptation and the cessation of those sins have restored me to my former peace. When I have been troubled at the evil frame of my heart, not the righteousness of Christ, but my feeling of a better temper hath been my consolation. I have prayed against, and resolved against sin, striven with sin, and avoided occasions of sin; all which a natural man may do. But how to fetch power from the death of Christ, how to believe in God for the subdueing of sin, and how to do it by the Spirit, have been mysteries to me.”
In this state of bondage are many precious souls detained because they cannot see the absolute perfection of the work of Christ. They allow that Christ has done a great deal for sinners, but something they imagine must be done on our part to render His blood available; and that something not being able to satisfy divine justice and being too weak to purge their guilty conscience, they are disquieted. But when the soul is driven from every other refuge to trust in Christ alone then it finds rest. It no more asks, “What lack I yet?” knowing that the law is magnified, justice satisfied, and God the Father well pleased in His beloved Son:
“For we who do believe have entered into rest.” (Hebrews 4:3)
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned.” (Isaiah 40:1-2)
2. The knowledge which believers have that Christ died in their stead, and gave Himself particularly for them, is full of the sweetest consolation to their ransomed spirits. Who can describe the inward peace which fortified the mind of the Psalmist, when he uttered those memorable words, “My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul which thou hast redeemed?” (Psalm 71:23). Or can we express the comfort which is poured into the heart of an afflicted saint, when the Holy Spirit brings powerfully to his mind such a precious promise as this? “But now, thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel; Fear not, for I have redeemed thee thou art mine.” (Isaiah 43:1). No small part of the consolation comprehended in such promises arises from distinguishing love and special redemption. But if Christ died for sin abstractedly, He died no more for one man than another, and the comfort derived from particular redemption is vain.
3. A spiritual conviction of union to Jesus, in His death, resurrection, and exaltation, is essential to a believer’s joy. The comfort of a saint is, that he is dead judicially with Christ. He rejoices in this, that Jesus is alive from the dead to die no more, having made an end of sin, and as the sins of His people are no more found upon Him, death hath no dominion over him, but he lives evermore unto God. Now, the Spirit assures a believer’s heart that Christ and he are one. A saint, through the Spirit, reckons himself to be “dead indeed, unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” He is crucified with Christ, dead with Christ, risen with Christ, and exalted to sit in heavenly places in Christ, and all this is the spring of his joy. “Your spirits,” says Mr. Walter Cradock, “will never be heightened and raised to live the life of Paul by beholding any thing that is in you personally in your possession, but what you are by relation and marriage to Christ. Reckon yourselves dead with Christ; and so conceive, I am a just man; I was bound once to the law of God, a terrible law; and there are thousands in hell paying the debt, and cannot pay it; and yet I have payed every farthing, and the law cannot ask me more. I have offered a perfect righteousness to God; and I am now sitting at God’s right hand in heaven, by my union with Jesus Christ.” (W. Cradock’s works – Page 25.) Another of the precious sons of Zion thus expresses his faith in a living Redeemer, and exercises the confidence of his ransomed spirit. Referring to the cross of Christ, he says, “My full receipt may there be view’d, Graven with iron pens and blood, In Jesus’ hands and side; I’m safe, O death, O law, and sin, Ye cannot bring me guilty in, For Christ was crucified.”
In this manner do believers joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom they have received the atonement. But all this proceeds on the supposition of union to Jesus, when He died and when He rose again; but no such union existed between Christ and any of Adam’s race if the indefinite scheme be true.
4. The covenant interest which God has in His people and they have in Him, is a fruitful source of consolation to the saints. It constitutes the grand promise of the new covenant: “I will be their God, and they shall be my people;” and it is the bulwark of their security: “Fear not: for I am with thee, be not dismayed, for I am thy God.” An afflicted saint possesses a peace which passeth all understanding when the Holy Ghost enables him to say, “The LORD is my God.” This dries his tears, brightens his countenance and cheers his mournful heart. It comprehends all he can desire in time and to eternity. “They shall call on my name, and I will hear them; I have said, It is my people, and they shall say, Jehovah is my God.” (Zechariah 13:9)
But the advocates of indefinite and universal redemption seem not to acknowledge this covenant union. They believe that God has a peculiar regard for pious people, but as for that conjugal covenant relationship, which flows from electing love and everlasting kindness, they know nothing of it. This federal connection arises out of discriminating love and is consistent only with special redemption, because all the blessings of the everlasting covenant are ratified by that blood which was shed “for many.”