“Christ died not simply to make salvation possible, but to make it certain.” (A. W. Pink)

While studying to teach a Bible study on the Gospel of John, I came across the section where Caiaphas, the high priest, although evil in every way, was used by God to prophesy of Christ dying for His people. The text reads:

“49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all.  50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.’  51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,  52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” (John 11:49-52)

This text speaks of both the breadth and the narrowness of the Atonement. We see its breadth in the fact that it was not just for Jews, but for all of the “children of God who are scattered around the world.” As one of the songs of heaven proclaims, Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,  10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”(Revelation 5:9-10)

Yet, it also speaks of the narrowness of the Atonement. Jesus died for the “children of God.” He died not make salvation possible, but to purchase the salvation of those chosen before the foundation of the world. As A. W. Pink said so well:

“The great sacrifice was not offered to God at random. The redemption-price which was paid at the Cross was not offered without definite design. Christ died not simply to make salvation possible, but to make it certain. Nowhere in Scripture is there a more emphatic and explicit statement concerning the objects for which the Atonement was made. No excuse whatever is there for the vague (we should say, unscriptural) views, now so sadly prevalent in Christendom, concerning the ones for whom Christ died. To say that He died for the human race is not only to fly in the face of this plain scripture, but it is grossly dishonoring to the sacrifice of Christ. A large portion of the human race die unsaved, and if Christ died for them, then was his death largely in vain. That means that the greatest of all the works of God is comparatively a failure. How horrible! What a reflection upon the Divine character! Surely men do not stop to examine whither their premises lead them. But how blessed to turn away from man’s perversions to the Truth itself. Scripture tells us that Christ ‘shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.’ No sophistry can evade the fact that these words give positive assurance that every one for whom Christ died will, most certainly, be saved.”

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