Jesus Loves Everyone Equally
Even When They Don’t Know It
To be clear Jesus is more than capable of saving any and every soul. He died for everyone. Not just the elect or the specially chosen or those that actually believe.
He died for every single soul.
And that isn’t just an opinion. The Bible states this clearly in spite of anything you’ve heard to the contrary.
He (Jesus) is the propitiation (payment for) our sins (believers sins) and not for our sins only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)
The meaning is clear. Jesus didn’t die for believers only but for the whole world.
There is a figure of speech used here that further emphasizes this truth. The figure is called Epanorthosis in Greek and it means “Correction.” In this case, it corrects the original limitation of He died for believers’ sins by extending the meaning to everyone, even nonbelievers.
Instead of Jesus dying for believers only, the meaning is extended to He died for the whole world or every person. The word “World” is also a figure. It refers to the physical world and to everyone in it.
I don’t want to over labor the point but John 3:16 also says God loved not just those who believe but the whole world.
The question, though, is who are the two kinds of people that Jesus can really help? The answer is simple. The best among us and the worst among us.
The Best Among Us
The best among us have a difficult time confessing their sin. They rank high in things like qualification, efficiency, reliability, honor, problem-solving and more. At least that’s how they see it and everyone knows that’s how they see it. To be sure, the capabilities of these highly rated people are obvious but their weaknesses shine through too, the ones they have a hard time seeing or acknowledging.
I had a distant family member like this. She was very particular and demanding, of herself and everyone else.
There was nothing in her life to indicate she was a bad person but there was also nothing to indicate she was genuinely Christian. She was decent and she cared for others. As often happens with these high performers, she overdid the concern. She knew what you should do, how you should do it, what you should wear, what made you look good, and her sense of taste/etiquette was impeccable.
After thinking about it for some time, I took the opportunity to ask her if she was a Christian and her response singed my hair. I was coughing up black phlegm for about a week and our conversation was on the phone.
I will admit that in this person’s eyes I was probably considered one of the least in the family, and therefore the last to ask such a question, so the dynamic of that relationship probably helped induce the response. In their view, I ranked well below them in the pecking order. It was the wrong perspective and I didn’t buy it, but they did.
What can I say? I wasn’t a child at the time and I was genuinely interested.
The only explanation for such an angry response is an overcharged sense of pride.
It’s generally true that these Besters rank very high among their peers but what they are not seeing is that they still fall far short of the goal, perfection. Their time, energy, and effort are taken up with being and staying above everyone around them.
They compare well to siblings, classmates, neighbors, and maybe even a spouse. The failings and weaknesses of others not only motivate them to stay ahead, so to speak, it also gives reason to justify their self-righteous I’m-not-a-sinner attitude.
These kinds of people rarely apologize. That’s too much like everyone else. They also rarely ask for help. They’re too busy providing it for others.
I’m not talking about the Mother Theresa types. Mother T was definitely the best among us but she also admitted her sinfulness. She was Catholic. That’s what they do.
No, the self-righteous, above the muck person, is so busy being better than everyone else, remaining anchored while all the intolerables flounder, they never stop long enough to realize I’m a sinner too.
It’s a problem. How does the best among us, become one of us.
The Besters think of Christianity as an achievement and they have risen to it. In their mind, they also continue to maintain it.
If you aren’t sure about this, give it a test. Just ask the many people you know if they are Christian. True Christians will understand exactly what you mean and will gladly admit to being Christian and will even tell you when or how they became one.
Among those who aren’t really Christian or who don’t really understand the issues, but are at least open to the discussion, some will give the good-natured response: I hope so. I try to live a good life. The wrong answer but at least not self-righteous.
The Besters, though, the ones who see themselves as truly beyond sin, or well above the bulk of sinners, will respond with anger: How dare you ask?! They take it personally. The question is an insult. How could anyone not see what is obvious?
The Best Approach To Besters
Remember, Jesus died for this person too and He wants to be their Savior but it will take a change of perspective on their part. We call that repentance. They need to see their sin the way God and everyone else sees it.
The only person who could be the measure of how good they are is Jesus. Not you, not me, not siblings or parents or neighbors or friends.
Rightness is not a competition. If it were, Jesus is the only winner. When it comes to salvation, everyone can win.
We must, however, maintain the right attitude toward Besters. They can be surly, incorrigible, and abrasive but in the face of that, we must be gracious. Not an easy thing to do but it is essential.
Honestly, I stewed over the exchange with my relative for a long time. It stuck in my craw. I didn’t lash out or say what I thought but the bad vibe stayed with me for a long time.
I have, however, thought of ways I could have mitigated the offense. And, yes, I knew there could be offense. I approached the topic with her tentatively but charged ahead thinking I needed to do my bit for Jesus.
I could have asked for permission to ask my question. Instead of a blunt, are you a Christian, I could have asked:
May I ask you a personal question about Christianity?
A question like that is more of an investigation and less of a statement.
I learned an even better approach through Evangelism Explosion, by Dr. James Kennedy. After asking for permission to discuss spiritual things, he suggests asking:
Have you come to the place in your spiritual life where you are absolutely certain you’ll go to heaven when you die?
That question doesn’t imply judgment on the person’s character and it opens the door to detailed discussions on what the Bible actually says. Once the information has been shared in a nonoffensive setting, God can then do His work and that’s what the aim is.
Besters are not the easiest people to get along with or talk to but when we prayerfully take the time, it is possible to get through to them.
The Worst Among Us
The second type of person Jesus can really help are those who are particularly sinful. They don’t sin a little. They sin a lot.
These people are very different from the Besters. Instead of denying their sin, they are very open about their transgressions. They admit to doing many horrible things and expect to pay for it later.
They know they need salvation but are convinced they are beyond help.
The Best Approach To Worsters
Worsters are correct in one sense. They have a serious problem. But in the same vein they are also wrong about the solution to the problem. Their problem, which is quite severe, is no worse than any other person’s problem.
Worsters, by the way, are ahead of Besters in one important sense. While they are more actively sinful, and the immediate damage is apparent, they know they are sinners and are usually honest about it.
That’s a most important distinction. Can Jesus save a person who doesn’t first admit to being a sinner? I don’t think so. Even cardio surgeons won’t perform life-saving surgery with the patients consent.
We are all sinners. Not good sinners or bad sinners, just sinners. The Bible is clear on this.
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
No difference is made between small sinners and big sinners. We’re all just sinners. We’ve all missed the mark and we’ll all pay the price unless we believe.
There are several roadblocks, however, that need to be cleared for the Worsters.
- Their sin is too bad.
Some think they’re just too bad. They have a hard time believing Jesus could die for the things they have done. In reality, sin is sin. There’s no such thing as good sin and bad sin.
All sin is offensive to God. David committed polygamy, adultery, and murder. The murder was particularly egregious. He had the husband of the woman he committed adultery with murdered.
And yet he was forgiven. He confessed his sin and God forgave him. There were many people who didn’t forgive him but the most important Person, God, did.
The only sin God cannot forgive is the refusal to accept Christ as Savior. In John 16:9 Jesus said the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin…
Because they do not believe in me.
Not because they stole money or committed adultery or were serial murderers but because they do not believe in Jesus. That is the worst sin of all. No other sin can prevent a person from getting saved.
Jesus also said:
He that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)
Nothing is said about lying, cheating, stealing or murder. The only sin Jesus can’t overcome is unbelief. Encourage your overbearingly sinful friends to believe. Jesus will readily save them.
- They can’t let go of their sin.
I understand this.
I remember the day I got saved like it was yesterday. The one overwhelming sensation I had was a concern about staying free of sin. I didn’t think I could do it. Well, I’ve learned since then that I couldn’t. To this day, I haven’t mastered the art of being sin-free and I know I’ll never reach that state this side of heaven.
I am a sinner and sinners sin. I’m not saying I want to sin. I don’t, but I also know my ability to avoid sin is compromised.
One brief story. When I was a youngster my Mom would buy six-packs of Cokes. They were the small bottles, the ones you rarely if ever find today. But I loved those things.
And they had power over me. If I drank one, I would be back in no time for the second and then the third. It wasn’t unusual for me to drink the whole six-pack in one afternoon. I dreaded my Mother’s response once she found out but I couldn’t help it. I had to have those Cokes.
The only kinds of people Jesus saves are sinners and no sinner has ever managed to stay completely free of sin. Once you are saved, Jesus will help you focus on the right things and that will help you stay relatively free from sin. You’ll still be a sinner and you’ll still struggle with sin but the bottom line is your salvation is secure.
- The price of admission is too severe.
Unfortunately, sin has a price. We usually refer to the price as the consequence of sin but that misses a fundamental truth about sin. The penalties humanly applied to sin are always short of what they should be and will never bring justice. In other words, the price you pay for sin will never satisfy the demand.
The only penalty righteousness accepts is death. And the only death that satisfies is that of a righteous person.
The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)
Jesus was the righteous person who paid that price.
Therefore, leniency is always possible. Salvation evokes unexpected responses from many directions. The people you’ve wronged are happy you’re changed. Other Christians are focused on the new you and pleased you’re not still the old you.
Getting saved changes your perspective on the world and the world’s perspective on you.
I’ve known divorced people who got remarried because salvation gave both individuals a different outlook.
The one thing these Worsters have going for them is honesty. They aren’t deluded about their sin. They also don’t question that Jesus is the answer. Once the penny drops, the mental block to “belief” swings open widely.
Steve Smith says
While I agree with Jesus saving power your conclusion about being unable to fully save us from sin seems at odds with all of scripture, 1 Jo 3:6 & 9 is one example of this.
I get your point and this is an issue among Christians. For me, Paul’s remarks on the matter provide a different perspective:
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I… it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Thanks for dropping by and taking time to read and comment.