Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Why Are Sinners Condemned?

All of salvation is a gift of God.  This is the position of many Calvinists.  No Arminian would disagree.  We firmly believe that salvation is the gracious work of Christ and that salvation is fully accomplished by God and for His glory.  The only “work” for the sinner is to believe the gospel (John 6:29) which Paul clearly shows in Romans 4:4-5 is not a work.  Here Paul the Apostle contrasts faith with works and shows that faith is the opposite of work.  To work for one’s salvation would nullify grace (Romans 11:6).  Faith is the full acceptance of the gracious work of God that He has given to us in Christ Jesus who finished the work of saving sinners through His sacrificial death on the cross (John 19:30).

However, why will people then be condemned at the judgment seat of Christ?  Will it be because they were not sovereignly chosen by God to be saved?  Will it be because they refused the gospel?  Will it be for the sins?  The answers to those questions are vital to our understanding of God, His nature, the purpose of the atonement, evangelism, discipleship, etc.  So let us work through these questions.

First, why are people condemned?  The obvious answer is sin.  It was the warning of Genesis 2:17 that brought death to the human race in our forefather Adam (Romans 5:12).  Adam was created with a sinful nature, without being depraved, yet he sinned against God.  He violated God’s holy law.  This brought condemnation to all and now all of Adam’s posterity is born with a sinful desire.  Arminius rightly saw this as total depravity.  Arminius wrote:

The whole of this sin, however, is not peculiar to our first parents, but is common to the entire race and to all their posterity, who, at the time when this sin was committed, were in their loins, and who have since descended from them by the natural mode of propagation, according to the primitive benediction. For in Adam “all have sinned.” (Rom. v, 12.) Wherefore, whatever punishment was brought down upon our first parents, has likewise pervaded and yet pursues all their posterity. So that all men “are by nature the children of wrath,” (Ephes. ii, 3,) obnoxious to condemnation, and to temporal as well as to eternal death; they are also devoid of that original righteousness and holiness. (Rom. v, 12, 18, 19.) With these evils they would remain oppressed forever, unless they were liberated by Christ Jesus; to whom be glory forever.

So people are condemned because of sin.  This is obvious.  Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).  Sin brings death (Romans 6:23) and sin only breeds more sin (Galatians 6:7-8).  James 1:14-15 (NKJV) tells us where sin comes from:

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Jesus said that whoever sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34).  Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.”  Romans 3:10-18 perfectly describes our condition before a holy God:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
“Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

We sin because we are both sinful and we are sinful because we sin.  Condemnation comes because of sin.  The fact of Genesis 2:17 did not change.  Those who sin deserve death and the wages of sin is death.  People are condemned because of sin.  Paul writes in Galatians 5:19-21 about the works of the flesh and how such acts will keep us from the kingdom:

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Notice that it is sin that will keep a person from the kingdom.  There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that the sovereignty of God will keep us from heaven or that God has decreed such.  The fact is that people are condemned because of sin.

The only remedy for sin is the precious blood of Jesus.  Hebrews 9:22 says, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”  Why?  Because God demands that the one who sins shall die (Genesis 2:17) and He requires blood to atone for sins (Leviticus 17:11).  Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us from sin (Hebrews 9:28; 1 John 1:7).  The blood of Jesus was absolutely perfect and holy blood that had never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21).  The blood of Jesus is our only hope for salvation (Matthew 26:28; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).  The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4).  Someone must die when someone sins.  Whether it be the Lamb of God, our substitute, our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7) or our own blood, someone must die.  The problem is that our blood is tainted with sin.  Jesus’ blood was not.  He stood condemned in our place, for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6).  He died on the cross for our transgressions.  And not just ours but for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).  What a great sacrifice was the cross!  How unlimited is His atonement!

People then will stand before God at the final judgment and will be cast aside not because of election or reprobation but because of their own sins and their rejection of the truth.  Romans 1:18-32 establishes universal condemnation.  The necessity of the gospel and world evangelism are seen in the words of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8) and in the words of Paul in Romans 10:14-17.  The way for people to be saved is through the gospel.  We are under obligation to preach to all (2 Corinthians 5:18-6:3).  We must declare that Jesus alone can forgive sins by His blood.  And what brings condemnation is their own sins before a holy God and rejection of His truth (John 3:17-21).  No person will stand at the judgment and say that it was God’s decree that sent them to hell but their own sins.  They know that they are guilty before God (Romans 2:12-16).  Arminius stated, “The opposite to justification is condemnation, and this by an immediate contrariety, so that between these two no medium can be imagined.”  In other words, Arminius acknowledged that we are either justified through faith in Christ or we are condemned in our sins.  There is only one way to justification before God and that is in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).  He alone is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6; cf. Acts 4:12).

I believe, in closing, that the will of God is for all to be saved and He has demonstrated this in the giving of His Son (John 3:16).  I believe He takes no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32).  People will be condemned not because of God’s failure to provide His Son for their sins but their rejection of His gospel.  Through their own sins, their false worshiping and idolatry, they will stand before God and face condemnation.  The only hope is Jesus.  We must preach the gospel to all.  The gospel of Christ alone has the power to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:21; cf. Romans 1:16-17).  Our salvation will come only in Christ and what He has accomplished with His death on the cross and His glorious resurrection (Romans 4:24-5:1).  Arminius rightly said about men rejecting the gospel,

The accidental issue of vocation is, the rejection of the doctrine of grace, contempt of the divine counsel, and resistance manifested against the Holy Spirit, of which the proper and per se cause is, the wickedness and hardness of the human heart; and to this not unfrequently is added the just judgment of God, avenging the contempt shown to his word, from which arise blindness of mind, hardening of the heart, and a delivering up to a reprobate mind, and to the power of Satan.

But Arminius also noted that justification before God only comes through faith and with it comes blessings:

The object of justification is man, a sinner, acknowledging himself, with sorrow, to be such an one, and a believer, that is, believing in God who justifies the ungodly, and in Christ as having been delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification. As a sinner, man needs justification through grace, and, as a believer, he obtains justification through grace.

May we preach to all to come and be saved, to look to the Lord Jesus for salvation (John 3:14-15) and repent of their sins (Acts 17:30-31).  All can be forgiven and accepted in the chosen Son of God (Ephesians 1:7).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/12/2012 at 12:39 AM

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