Reverend Malcolm Watts asks:
“how can the Gospel be good news to all people if it merely declares the facts that God loves his elect, that Christ has secured them by purchase, and that the Holy Spirit will irresistibly call them to faith and salvation?”
I answer, the gospel is not good news to all people.
Watts disagrees. He insists that the gospel is indeed good news to all people, because he insists the gospel that was preached to Adam was simply the announcement of a Redeemer. He also insists that the gospel is good news for all people, because:
a. it declares that Christ has been constituted the official ‘Saviour of the world’ (as per 1 John 4:42)
b. it brings the Savior and salvation within everyone’s reach (as per Titus 2:11)
c. it gives a ground for claiming possession of Christ and all His benefits.
“I will put enmity between you
and the woman,
and between your offspring
and her offspring;
He shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
The gospel that was preached to Adam was more than just the announcement of a Redeemer. It was the announcement that God was placing enmity between two kinds of people – those who were the seed of the woman, and those who were the seed of the serpent.
Now, it is not immediately obvious from the Genesis text, but God is using the word “offspring” (or “seed”, depending on the translation) in two different ways. Offspring in Genesis 3:15 refers both to Christ Himself, as in “He shall bruise your head”; and also to Christ’s people, as in, “I will put enmity between her offspring and yours”. (Surely, no one is going to argue that enmity did not already exist prior between Christ and the serpent, are they?)
As I said though, this is not immediately obvious from the Genesis text. Rather, it is something that becomes obvious as the Scriptures unfold. However, it would not come to the fullest light for some several millennia when, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul penned his epistle to the Romans.
In chapter 9 of his epistle to the Romans, Paul begins by expressing grief over the fact that many of his kinsmen are predestined for eternal judgment.
Rom 9:2-5 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish hat I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are the Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
Even though the promise of a Savior belonged to them, nevertheless, they are not the ones to whom the promise was given. Now, this fact causes many people to stumble, because when they read the words “to them belong the promises”, they think it means “to them were the promises made.” No, quite the contrary. It means they were the ones through whom the promise was announced, but the promise itself was only for the elect, because not all who are Israel are Israel.
Romans 9:6-8 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
Both Jacob and Esau were descendants of Abraham, but only one was a child to whom the promise was made. Drawing a comparison between Jacob and Esau, Paul goes on to explain the truth about election, and the fact that God has predestined a people for salvation according to His own good pleasure and will.
Romans 9:9-13 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad – in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls – she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
This promise was not made to both Jacob and Esau. Rather, it was made only to Jacob. As we move further along in history to their descendants, Scripture shows us that not all Jacob’s descendants were children of promise either, but rather only a small minority.
Romans 9:27 And as Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved”
Paul anticipates the reaction which this news is going to generate. How could God do such a thing? Isn’t God unjust to do this?
Romans 9:14-18 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up that I might show My power in you, and that My power might be proclaimed in all the earth. So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills.”
God is just to show mercy to whomever He wills, and He is just to harden whomever He wills, for He alone is the Creator of those to whom He shows mercy, and also of those whom He hardens. He did not lie about this. He stated this in Genesis 3:15! Even as far back as Genesis 3:15, we are shown that God has always had only His elect in mind.
Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall crush your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
There were two offspring already in God’s mind. In Genesis 3:15, God announces that He will put enmity between these two seeds.
Paul draws another comparison to show us this fact about election, this time using Pharaoh. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up that I might show My power in you, and that My power might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
Are we to believe that because God showed His power in Pharaoh, therefore Pharaoh was one to whom God promised salvation? No. On the contrary, for even after the Lord had finished demonstrating His power by striking down Pharaoh’s firstborn son, the Scriptures tell us that the Lord again hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that Pharaoh gave chase to the Israelites, resulting in Pharaoh’s destruction after the Lord brought the walls of the Red Sea crashing down onto Pharaoh’s army.
Just because the promise of salvation in Christ Jesus belonged to Israel does not mean an offer of salvation in Christ Jesus had been extended to Israel. On the contrary. Israel existed in order to make known the riches of God’s glory for vessels of mercy. In other words, their condemnation serves to demonstrate the riches of God’s mercy for those whom He has chosen for salvation.
Romans 9:22-23 What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory
Israel was zealous for God, but their zeal was not according to knowledge. Being ignorant (lacking knowledge) of God’s righteousness, they sought to establish their own. Watts asks, how can the Gospel be good news to all people if it merely declares the facts that God loves his elect, that Christ has secured them by purchase, and that the Holy Spirit will irresistibly call them to faith and salvation? The answer is that it isn’t good news to all people, for not all who are Israel are Israel.
However, for God’s elect, the knowledge of God’s love for His elect and the knowledge that Christ has accomplished His elect’s salvation by offering His body to God at the cross as a sacrifice for their sins, this knowledge is indeed good news, because the knowledge of these things is according to God’s righteousness.
This does not mean that God has rejected all who are of the flesh of Israel. On the contrary, He has an elect, some of whom are of Israel and some of whom are of the Gentiles.
Romans 11:4-10 “I have kept for Myself seven-thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear
down to this very day.”
So then, as is plain from Scripture then, the gospel is certainly not good news for everyone, nor is it meant to be.
The Righteousness of the Cross
Watts argues that the gospel must be good news to everyone, because the gospel “gives a ground for claiming possession of Christ and all His benefits”. By “gives a ground for claiming possession of Christ”, Watts means that the grounds, or warrant, of assurance is not Christ’s death, but rather a possibility of life which Christ offers to all people without distinction. He writes:
“. . . in 1 John 5:11 we read – ‘This is the record, that God hath given eternal life, and this life is in his Son.’ The sum of God’s testimony is that he has made available to sinners a full and free gift of life in Christ. This gift is not a gift in possession, but a gift in offer, for as the previous verse speaks of the possibility of rejecting the testimony, the verse following speaks of the possibility of rejecting the proffered gift.”
Watts argues that “all may take and apply Christ for their salvation.” Well might I ask, what of those who do not?
Watts is pleading for a salvation that is dependant on one’s decision to take and apply Christ. Is this not precisely what the Arminian argues? Watch any Billy Graham Crusade, and you will hear Billy close his sermon with that very same plea.
Watts surmises that the grounds for one’s assurance lies in the hope of an offer that Christ’s death may have extended, rather than in the effectual nature of the death itself.
May have, he says. May have.
Eternal life and all the benefits that go with it is the offer which Watts surmises the cross may have accomplished. May have. Not actually did accomplish, but rather, may have. In Watts’ view, whether the cross has or has not accomplished depends on whether the listener has the wherewithal to appropriate the cross. Watts writes:
“Thirdly, the Gospel is good news to all people because it gives a ground for claiming possession of Christ and all his benefits. No less is promised to all who will believe, and the promise is the sinner’s legal warrant for receiving and resting upon the Lord Jesus for a full salvation. ‘Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold, your God!’ (Isaiah 40:9) ‘Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength, even to him shall men come’ (Isaiah 45:24). We conclude therefore that faith receives Christ as he is offered to us in the Gospel. ‘So we preach, and so ye believed’ (1 Corinthians 15:11).”
I agree that the Gospel gives a firm ground for claiming possession of Christ and all His benefits. I also agree that no less is promised to all those who believe. But I reject the notion that the claim to the possession is also thereby the grounds for the possession.
Watts asks the question, “how can the Gospel be good news to all people if it merely declares the facts that God loves his elect, that Christ has secured them by purchase, and that the Holy Spirit will irresistibly call them to faith and salvation?”
He assumes in this question that the gospel is supposed to be good news to all people. But where in Scripture is the gospel asserted to be good news for everyone?
Hebrews 4:1-2 Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.
John 6:65-66 And He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted them by the Father.” After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him.
Did not Christ clarify His intent when He told the disciples that He spoke to the people in parables so that they would not understand (Matt 13:13-17)?
In John 12, John tells us that the cause of the people’s unbelief was God Himself, keeping the people blind in order to fulfill His Word! Although Christ had performed many miracles, the people still did not believe so that the words spoken by the prophet might be fulfilled! (John 12:36-40)
Scripture clearly shows us that the same gospel which the Spirit uses to open the eyes and ears of His elect, is also the same gospel which the Spirit uses to harden the minds of the non-elect. This is at the very heart of Paul’s argument in Romans 9, 10 and 11.
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
If there had been something man could do to make himself acceptable to God, then he would only have needed to do that thing one time, because having once made him acceptable to God, that one things would have sufficed to have made him acceptable forever. The fact that he is commanded to continue in belief, forgiveness, prayer, Scripture study, and so forth means that none of these things can make him acceptable to God, because these are things continually repeated.
There is only one thing that can make a man acceptable to God, and that one thing was performed one time by God, and it shall never be repeated. That one thing is Christ’s death.
Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is no longer any offering for sins. Obviously! Because the sins have been forgiven. No need to offer sacrifices for a sin that has been forgiven.
When Christ had offered His body to God at the cross one time as a sacrifice for His people’s sins, He right then and there perfected them for all time. Verse 14 states this.
Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Chapter nine of Hebrews echoes this.
Hebrews 9:26-28 But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.
This does not mean that God’s elect were made righteous two-thousand years ago. Rather, it means they were redeemed two-thousand years ago. Christ had propitiated (satisfied) God’s wrath that had stood against His elect for their sins. He did this two-thousand years ago. Christ had atoned for the guilt of their sins. He did this two-thousand years ago.
The elect are still in need of imputation, of course; still in need of new birth resulting in faith, still in need of being justified, still in need of being converted; but these benefits are the consequences of the propitiation which Christ has already made, and not instead the cause of it. (Ephesians 2:8)
To put it another way, Christ purchased His people’s faith two-thousand years ago. If God does not grant them this faith in the present time before they die, then He is not righteous. But God is indeed righteous, and the gospel is the revelation of His righteousness (Romans 1:16-17). This means that the gospel explains to people why God is righteous to bring His people to faith. Any gospel that talks about Christ’s death and resurrection, talks about man’s guilt and need for a Savior, but gives no explanation for why God is righteous to justify His people and bring them to faith, then this is no gospel at all. It is a false gospel. It is a gospel of self righteousness.
The gospel tells us that from eternity God chose to create a people for His own possession, a people upon whom He would set His love and grace, a people for whom He would glorify Himself by sending His Son to die for their sins. (Ephesians 1:3-10, Romans 9:21-24)
The gospel also tells us that God chose from eternity to permit the entirety of the human race to fall into sin so that He might condemn those whom He had not chosen in Christ and that He might save those whom He had, thus glorifying both His holiness, as well as His mercy. (Ephesians 1:11-12, Romans 5:12-21, Colossians 1:16)
The gospel further tells us that at a time which God had appointed from eternity, God sent forth His Son, conceived by the Spirit and born of a virgin, both a Child born and yet also a Son given, a man who is both fully a man and yet also fully God. This man’s name is Jesus Christ. (Galatians 4:4)
The gospel goes on to tell us that this one and same Jesus Christ did live a life of perfect obedience to God. In not one moment did He ever sin. (Hebrews 4:15, 5:7-10)
The gospel tells us that though this one and same man Jesus Christ did live a life of perfect obedience, His Father did still yet command Him to go to the cross in order to atone for the sins of His people whom He chose from eternity. Even in this did Jesus Christ obey. He went to the cross obediently. And at the cross, God did impute (charge, reckon, credit) to His account the guilt for all the sins of all His elect. Having thus imputed Jesus Christ guilty, God did then spend upon Jesus Christ the entirety of His eternal wrath that had stood against His elect. Jesus Christ, having been credited with the guilt for every one of His elect’s sins did fully and finally and forever satisfy God’s demand for justice on behalf of His people by dying on the cross. (Hebrews 9:12, Colossians 2:14, Hebrews 10:1-14)
God’s law states that the soul who sins shall die. God is righteous. His demand for justice, for the death of the soul who has sinned, must be satisfied or else He is not God. Praise be to God, Jesus Christ fully and perfectly satisfied that demand for death on behalf of His elect.
The gospel continues by telling us that having made atonement for the sins of His elect by dying on the cross for their sins, Jesus Christ was then buried. And having been buried, and having remained buried for two days, God did then proclaim by raising Him up from the dead that Jesus Christ had indeed perfectly atoned for His people’s sins. The same Jesus Christ who emerged from the tomb is the same Jesus Christ who went into the tomb. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
The gospel tells us that having made atonement for His people’s sins, this one and same Jesus Christ was then exalted to the right hand of the Father, and there God bestowed upon Him the name that is above every name – Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:32-36)
Finally, the gospel then concludes by commanding everyone everywhere – commanding! not offering, but rather commanding! – to agree with God that everything the gospel has just stated is true. Only the elect shall be brought to agree, because only their sins were atoned for. (Romans 1:5, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6)
The gospel is not good news for everyone. The gospel is only good news to those for whom Christ died. I do not know who all the elect are though, and so I proclaim this gospel to everyone. I do not proclaim it as an offer, as though somehow Christ’s death needs my acceptance in order to make the death work. Rather, I proclaim it is a command that is to obeyed. God commands you to believe this gospel. I know that only the elect shall obey the command, because only they were chosen for salvation, and only they were the ones for whom Christ died. But I do indeed proclaim it to everyone.
The grounds, therefore, for claiming possession of Christ and all His benefits is nothing less than God’s own righteousness. God’s righteousness is the grounds for claiming possession of Christ.
Law or Grace
At the heart of the matter is the gospel. Watts argues for a possible savior rather than an accomplished one.
Watts writes: “None of the sons or daughters of Adam the sinner are excluded from this salvation when the Gospel is preached, but those who exclude themselves by stubbornness and unbelief. In view of that, let the good news be proclaimed world-wide, and let Christ be tendered to all. God does not name certain sinners as if some only are warranted to believe. He gives to every hearer an all-sufficient ground for believing.”
Titus 2:11-15 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.
Watts presumes that “all people” means all people without distinction. He even quotes Dr. Fairbairn in the affirmative, who wrote: “In a word, the salvation-bringing grace of God is without respect of persons; it is unfolded indiscriminately, or to sinners of every name, simply as such.’
Watts’ presumption is a denouncement of God’s righteousness. Look carefully at the Titus text. It states that Jesus Christ, “gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people of His own possession.” Did Jesus Christ do this? Did He redeem everyone from lawlessness and purify everyone for Himself? If so, then why do some people still die in lawlessness and impurity? Either Watts is going to have to start saying that Christ’s death doesn’t always work, and thus God is unrighteous to save some people, or else he is going to have to confess that he has misunderstood the meaning of all people.
Jesus Christ did indeed redeem some people from lawlessness, and did indeed purify a people for His own possession. He redeemed all of His elect people from lawlessness. He purified all of His elect for His own possession. When Paul wrote “all people”, he meant all chosen people. The salvation-bringing grace of God is absolutely with respect to a person, and that person is Jesus Christ. Salvation-bringing grace comes only to those for whom Christ died, because Christ’s death truly is effectual.
Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
The law can only do two things. It can only show a man that he is guilty, and it can only demand the man die for his guilt. In the Garden of Eden, God commanded Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent, however, came with a different word.
The serpent promised the first couple that they could be as God, having a righteousness of their own just as God does, if they but partake of the knowledge which the tree of the knowledge of good and evil afforded. They could then use the knowledge of good and the knowledge of evil to choose good over evil and thereby establish a righteousness for themselves.
But the act of partaking was an act of disobedience. The law which God had laid down to Adam – you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall die – now demanded that Adam die. No amount of choosing good over evil could alter this fact. No effort to establish his own righteousness could change the fact that Adam was now living with the promise of God’s judgment hanging over his head.
Now replace that tree of the knowledge of good and evil with any number of rites and rituals and customs and laws, or even a free will choice, and you find false religion at work. Watts is telling us that people have the ability to establish their own righteousness by choosing the good of choosing Christ. His condemnation is just.
The non-elect are not under grace. They are under condemnation. Christ did not die for them. A gospel that promises them righteousness in return for their choosing “the good” of choosing Christ is nothing more than a tongue-flickering hiss from the serpent. It is a false gospel that proposes a false promise at the cost of ridding God of His righteousness.
And Watts is desperate to rid God of His righteousness, no doubt about that. Jesus said, “I will build My church.” Watts thinks Jesus is building it too small. He is trying to widen the narrow road and thread the camel through the eye of the needle. (Matt 19:24-26)
Christ, Official Savior of the World?
Watts argues that “all are to be called”. By all he means all without distinction. He writes:
“Ministers are told to invite as many as they find (Matthew 22:9), even the most unlikely, described in Luke 14 as the maimed and the halt and the blind. According to Isaiah 55:6-7, the wicked must be called and offered God’s abundant pardon. In declaring such offers, we do well to remember the promise which Christ has given. ‘Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6:37). In view of that, we may rest assured that no sinner will ever perish at his door.”
Watts is committing two fallacies. First, he is begging the question.
The parable of the wedding feast begins with the words, “And again Jesus spoke to them in parables” (Matt 22:1). This comes after Jesus had already told His disciples that He spoke to the people in parables so that they that would not understand the truth (Matt 13:13-17, Lk 8:9-10). The parable of the wedding feast was designed to keep people blind! So much for no sinner perishing at the door.
The second fallacy Watts is committing is a much more basic one. We should never base doctrine upon an illustration, because illustrations always eventually break down. No illustration can completely convey the full truth, because the illustration always eventually fails somewhere along the way. This is what parables are. They are illustrations. They are more like crude sketch art rather than full color photographs. Not one of them ever completely conveys the full truth. Not even the parables which Christ told.
Take the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, for instance. If I was to take this parable as the full truth, then I would have to conclude that Abraham travels back and forth between heaven and hell, because that’s what the parable has Abraham doing.
This aside, what about Isaiah 55? Time and space restricts me here from answering in full (for a full rebuttal, see here: https://cornbreadandbourbon.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/free-offer-of-a-false-god-full-address-of-the-texts/ ). But it is enough for now to ask, in light of verse 11, how an offer that is sure to be rejected by at least half the hearers not come back empty? How can it not have accomplished its purpose, if the reason God sent it in the first place was to offer salvation to everyone who hears it?
In Accordance With the Scriptures
1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five-hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me.
Paul begins by reminding the Corinthians of the gospel he had preached to them. Very well, what was that gospel that he preached to them?
For I delivered to you as of first important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.
Ah, so you hadn’t preached a word that simply said Christ died to forgiven sins, had you, Paul. Instead, you had preached a word that said Christ died in accordance with the Scriptures.
Well then, what do the Scriptures say about Christ’s death?
According to Romans 9-11, the Scriptures tell us that Christ’s death is according to election. It tells us that the Scriptures say Christ’s death was a promise made only to the elect. It tells us that the Scriptures say Christ’s death is according to grace, a promise made to the elect before they were born and could do anything either good or bad.
According to Hebrews 9 and 10, the Scriptures say Christ’s death actually accomplished His elect’s redemption, and that it was a death performed in perfect obedience. Christ’s obedient death has atoned for His elect’s sins.
According to Galatians 4, the Scriptures say Christ’s death was in accordance to the fullness of time, a time that had specified by God from before the ages.
According to 1 Peter 2, the Scriptures say that Christ’s death is a stumbling block to those who were “destined” to destruction (1 Peter 2:6-8).
According to 2 Corinthians 4, the Scriptures say that the truth about Christ’s death is veiled to those who are perishing, to those whose minds have been blinded by the god of this world, whose minds we too once shared until God gave us the light of the knowledge of His glory. (2 Cor 4:3-6)
According to 1 Corinthians 1 and 2, the Scriptures say that Christ’s death is the wisdom of God, and that this wisdom is foolishness to the world, it shames the wise, and it is understood only by those who have been given God’s Spirit.
All of this is what is meant by “according to the Scriptures.”
Now, must a believer’s knowledge of these truths be complete in order to be assured of his salvation? No, because not all propositions concerning these truths relate to the effectual nature of Christ’s death.
However, must the believer’s knowledge of these truths be consistent with Scripture’s propositions concerning the effectual nature of Christ’s death? YES! MOST ABSOLUTELY, YES!
In other words, a new convert may not have knowledge of everything there is to know about what Christ’s death accomplished. However, he will know and agree with God that Christ’s death really did accomplish (past tense) all that it was meant to accomplish. He will reject the notion that Christ’s death was also meant for someone in a way that it did not accomplish what it was meant for.
In other words, if Jesus Christ had died for everyone – even in a non-saving sense – then everyone would be saved, because salvation is what Christ’s death was meant for. Therefore, Jesus did not die for anyone in a non-saving sense. Therefore, the gospel is not meant to be good news for everyone. Watts is a
liar. He is lying about God. His condemnation is just.