Brokeback Christian (Part Three)

But we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor, which was made little inferior to the Angels, through the suffering of death, that by God’s grace he might taste death for all men. (Hebrews 2:9 Geneva Bible, 1587 [spelling updated])

Well, so far, in the Brokeback Christian series, we have seen that we Christians need to worry about the issues within the walls of our own church before we can go condemning those outside the church for their pagan-ness (Part One). Then we saw that, if the homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God because of their sin, then none of the rest of us will inherit the kingdom of God either (Part 2). In Part two, there was an allusion to God’s provision for sin. That is where we will focus in this part of the series. This is also where we will conclude.

This verse is very much mistreated by the greater majority of the Calvinist camp. This verse and many others. Here are just a couple of the other verses that are not treated with as much respect as they ought to be.

He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:2 HCSB)

[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4 NASB)

Among us Reformed folk, we don’t like the idea of a general atonement. We hold dogmatically to our doctrine of a Limited atonement. A particular atonement. The Biblical truth that Jesus’ death was only sufficient for those whom He had chosen from before the foundations of the world. And I will shout as loud as any Calvinist that this is exactly what the Bible teaches. Not for an instant do I deny this Biblical truth.

(And just a side note. When I said that I denounced the name Calvinist, I did not deny the doctrines of Calvinism, or, as some are apt to call it, “the faith once for all delivered to the saints”. I just didn’t want to be referred to under the name “Calvinist” because of all the negative connotations that are associated with it.)

In fact, I hold so firmly to this truth of Scripture that I am willing to say that those who believe differently are borderline heretics. And some hold differently such that they indeed are heretics on this matter. In fact, I disagree completely with Rob Bell when, in his Velvet Elvis book, he says that there are people in Hell who Jesus died for. I believe Bell to be in error on this point.

Ah, but I am getting off topic. This isn’t a discussion about who is right and who is wrong on the matter of the scope of the atonement. This is a discussion of the Biblical truth of God’s provision for sin. So let us get back on topic.

According to our verse for today, “…we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor, which was made little inferior to the Angels, through the suffering of death, that by God’s grace he might taste death for all men.” (Hebrews 2:9 Geneva Bible, 1587 [spelling updated])

Isn’t that beautiful? “By God’s grace [Christ] tasted death for all men”. If we think about this for a moment, this should have such a profound impact on the way we live our lives in Christ. This should have such a profound impact on the way we present the gospel to those around us who may be headed for hell. But, many times, it doesn’t.

I don’t think that most of us realize the implications this verse has for our lives and those around us. If, “By God’s grace [Christ] tasted death for all men”, then doesn’t that mean that something has been done by God on behalf of “all men”? If it is on behalf of “all men”, then doesn’t that mean that, at some level, God loves “all men”? Doesn’t this mean that John 3:16 has a different meaning than we Reformed type would like to put on it?

Let’s do a brief word study here as well.

Notice one word in this Hebrews verse.

Tasted

The word translated “tasted” is the Greek word “γεύομαι” (geuomai), which means, “to taste; by implication to eat; figuratively to experience (good or ill)”. So, in essence, when we say “By God’s grace [Christ] tasted death for all men” we are saying, “Christ experienced His death on the cross for all men by God’s grace”. Let’s look at another word.

All Men

The word translated “men” here is actually the Greek word “πᾶς” (pas), which means, “all, any, every, the whole”. The word “men” is implied by this word because it is used in the masculine form. So, if we want to be strictly literal about it, the verse would read, “By God’s grace [Christ] tasted [or experienced] death for every man”. It is also used in the singular, not the plural. The King James Version and the American Standard Version (1901) render the verse most accurately on this point. They read,

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9 KJV Emphasis mine)

But we behold him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for every [man]. (Hebrews 2:9 ASV Emphasis mine)

If we want to be a little more dynamic with the last part of the verse, we could say, “By God’s grace, Christ experienced death on behalf of every single man”. I do not believe we would be wrong in saying this.

Now, why do I spend all this time doing word study and showing more literal translations of the verse? I want to make a point. My point is that something happened at the cross for every individual sinner on the face of the earth. Scripture doesn’t seem clear on what exactly happened on behalf of all of us, but it stands true that something did happen. Whether you are a homosexual, a murderer, a rapist, a liar, a luster (can I make up words please?), Christ did something for you at the cross. On some level, He tasted death on your behalf. For you.

So, Brokeback Mountain has been nominated for something like 5 Academy Awards. So, there is a homosexual actor playing Jim Elliot in a movie about his missionary journey. God still loves those people, and He still desires their salvation.

[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4 ESV)

And, guess what. If you’re already a Christian, God desires your salvation too. Yes, I said it. God desires the salvation of the Christian as well. Check this out.

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 HCSB)

Go to God and confess your sins, and do it today.

Working together with Him, we also appeal to you: “Don’t receive God’s grace in vain.” For He says: In an acceptable time, I heard you, and in the day of salvation, I helped you. Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 HCSB)

Redemption is here. And, along with Paul, I proclaim to you that,

if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:9-10 HCSB)

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