Where Death is Most Alive

B.B. Warfield writes in his Plan of Salvation (this is not a promotion of Warfield as a true Christian, as the bolded hyper-link should indicate):

The redemption of Christ, if it is to be worthily viewed, must be looked at not merely individualistically, but also in its social, or better in its cosmical relations. Men are not discrete particles standing off from one another as mutually isolated units. They are members of an organism, the human race; and this race itself is an element in a greater organism which is significally termed a universe. Of course the plan of salvation as it lies in the divine mind cannot be supposed to be concerned, therefore, alone with individuals as such: it of necessity has its relations with the greater unities into which these individuals enter as elements” (Warfield; underlining mine).

Individuals as such?  Do you mean the redemption wrought by Christ that concerns His elect Sheep as such? What, specifically, is it about the redemption of Christ that “of necessity has its relations with the greater unities into which these individuals enter as elements”? What’s with the language Warfield employs (e.g., “unities” and “elements”)? What are these “greater unities” that Christ’s redemption — “of necessity” — relates to? Are Christ’s elect Sheep those individuals that “enter as elements”?  Are these “greater unities” the habitable world into which these elect Sheep are born into?

At any rate, Christ’s redemption indeed has “cosmical relations” (underlining mine):

And coming up Jesus talked with them, saying, All authority in Heaven and on earth was given to Me. Then having gone, disciple all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things, whatever I commanded you. And, behold, I am with you all the days until the completion of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).

“…making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, for the administration of the fullness of the times to head up all things in Christ, both the things in the heavens, and the things on earth, in Him, in whom we also have been chosen to an inheritance, being predestinated according to [the] purpose of the [One] working all things according to the counsel of His [own] will” (Ephesians 1:9-11).

For all things were created in Him, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, the visible and the invisible; whether thrones, or lordships, or rulers, or authorities, all things have been created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and all things have subsisted in Him. And He is the Head of the body, the assembly, who is [the] Beginning, [the] First-born out of [the] dead, that He be preeminent in all things; because all the fullness was pleased to dwell in Him, and through Him making peace by the blood of His cross, to reconcile all things to Himself; through Him, whether the things on the earth, or the things in the heavens” (Colossians 1:16-20).

“…through [the] resurrection of Jesus Christ; who going into Heaven is at [the] right of God, [the] angels, and authorities, and powers being subjected to Him” (1 Peter 3:21-22).

“For I calculate that the sufferings of the present time [are] not worthy [to compare to] the coming glory to be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was not willingly subjected to vanity, but through Him subjecting [it], on hope; that also the creation will be freed from the slavery of corruption to the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that all the creation groans together and travails together until now. And not only [so], but also we ourselves having the firstfruit of the Spirit, also we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly expecting adoption, the redemption of our body; for we were saved by hope, but hope being seen is not hope; for what anyone sees, why does he also hope? But if we hope for what we do not see, through patience we wait eagerly” (Romans 8:18-25).

For it is right for Him to reign until He puts all the hostile [ones] under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25).

“And indeed every priest stands day by day ministering, and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But He, offering but one sacrifice for sins, sat down in perpetuity [at the] right [hand] of God, from then on expecting until His enemies are placed [as] a footstool of His feet. For by one offering He has perfected in perpetuity the ones being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit witnesses to us also. For after having said before, This [is] the covenant which I will covenant to them after those days, says [the] Lord: Giving My Laws on their hearts, and I will write them on their minds; also [He adds], I will not at all still remember their sins and their lawlessnesses” (Hebrews 10:11-17).

Since Jesus Christ IS ABLE TO TAKE AWAY the sins of all for whom He died; and since “[sitting] down in perpetuity” implies the EFFICACY OF HIS WORK; it is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE that the reprobate (non-elect) enemies here placed under His feet benefit in any sense from His death, resurrection, and intercession at God’s right Hand:

“God does not have any love toward the reprobate or any desire to save them, for God does not show love at the expense of His justice. The good things that God gives to them in this life lead only to their destruction, increasing their guilt for their thanklessness to God. Jesus Christ did not die for the reprobate in any sense, and they do not benefit in any sense from His death. Scripture, in speaking of God’s love for “all men” and “the world” is not speaking of all men without exception. Rather, these words refer to God’s love for all men without distinction – that is, regardless of their nationality or status.” [Psa 2:4-5; 5:5-6; 11:5; 73:11-12; 92:7; Pro 3:32-33; 11:20; 12:2; 16:4-5; 17:15; Joh 3:16; 15:22; 17:9; Rom 9:13; 1Ti 2:4; 1Pe 2:8; 1Jo 2:2; 4:10] (CCF)

Warfield continues:

“We have only partially understood the redemption in Christ, therefore, when we have thought of it only in its modes of operation and effects on the individual. We must ask also how and what it works in the organism of the human race, and what its effects are in the greater organism of the universe” (Warfield).

Our God and Father, according to His great mercy, has

“regenerated us to a living hope through [the] resurrection of Jesus Christ from [the] dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, having been kept in Heaven for [us His people]” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

So, there’s the AWE-INSPIRING “[mode] of operation and [effect] on the [individuals]” for whom Christ made satisfaction and wrought redemption. Regeneration is always, necessarily, and inevitably through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. If you believe that Christ died  and was resurrected on behalf of every sinner without exception (or believe that such people are your “inconsistent brethren”), then you have NOT yet been regenerated to this living and incorruptible hope; you do not “know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10); you are debtor to do the whole law (Galatians 5:3); you are ignorant of the SOLE GROUND of acceptance with God and your antichristian doctrine “says, Jesus [is] a curse” (1 Corinthians 12:3; cf. Romans 10:1-5; Galatians 3:10-14).


“Jesus Christ came to save men, but he did not come to save men each as a whole in himself out of relation to all other men. In saving men, he came to save mankind; and therefore the Scriptures are insistent that he came to save the world, and ascribe to him accordingly the great title of the Saviour of the world” (Warfield; underlining mine).

Is Warfield saying that since Christ and “the children whom God gave to [Him]” (Hebrews 2:13) have both partaken of flesh and blood, then Christ “of necessity” takes hold — or tries to take hold — of others besides “[the] seed of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16)?

“On the morrow, John sees Jesus coming toward him and said, Behold! The Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

True believers are the only ones who have been taught by God:

“No one is able to come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day. It has been written in the Prophets, They shall all be taught of God. So then everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:44-45).

“For you see your calling, brothers, that [there are] not many wise according to flesh, nor many powerful, not many wellborn. But God chose the foolish things of the world that the wise might be put to shame, and God chose the weak things of the world so that He might put to shame the strong things. And God chose the low-born of the world, and the despised, and the things that are not, so that He might bring to nothing the things that are, so that no flesh might glory in His presence. But of Him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, both righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that even as it has been written, “He that glories, let him glory in [the] Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to announce the gospel, not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ be made of no effect. For the Word of the cross is foolishness to those being lost, but to us being saved, [it] is [the] power of God. For it has been written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will set aside the understanding of the understanding ones. Where [is the] wise? Where [the] scribe? Where [the] lawyer of this world? Did God not make the wisdom of this world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world [by] wisdom did not know God, God was pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save the ones believing. And since Jews ask for a sign, and Greeks seek wisdom, we, on the other hand, preach Christ crucified (truly an offense to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks), but to the called out ones, both to Jews and to Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:17-24; underlining mine).

Is the cross of Jesus Christ the power of God to those who believe that He died for everyone without exception (in whatever “sense”)? NO.  To believe that Jesus died in any sense whatever for those who perish (or to believe that such persons are saved) is to count the cross of Christ as foolishness; it is to self-righteously DENY that Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

More from Warfield:

“They go indeed further than this: they do not pause in expanding their outlook until they proclaim that it was the good pleasure of God ‘to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth.’ We have not done justice to the Biblical doctrine of the plan of salvation therefore so long as we confine our attention to the modes of the divine operation in saving the individual, and insist accordingly on what we have called its particularism. There is a wider prospect on which we must feast our eyes if we are to view the whole land of salvation. It was because God loved the world, that he sent his only-begotten Son; it was for the sins of the world that Jesus Christ made propitiation; it was the world which he came to save; it is nothing less than the world that shall be saved by him” (Warfield).

Correct, Warfield — a TRUE PROPITIATION. An Almighty Creator, a Just God and a Savior, who ACTUALLY DOES and is able to take away the sins of the world (underlining mine).

Who [is] this who comes from Edom [with] dyed garments from Bozrah, this One adorned in His clothing, bending in His great power? [It is] I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save! Why [is Your] clothing red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? I have trodden the winepress, I alone, and no man of the peoples [was] with Me. And I will tread them in My anger, and trample them in My fury; and their juice shall be spattered on My garments; and I will pollute all My clothes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come” (Isaiah 63:1-4).

“Gather yourselves and come; draw near together, escaped ones of the nations; the ones who set up the wood of their carved image, and the ones who pray to a god who cannot save; they know nothing. Declare and bring near; yea, let them consult together. Who has revealed this of old; [who] has told it from then? Is it not I, Jehovah? And there [is] no God other than Me; a just God and a Savior; [there is] none except Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I [am] God, and there [is] no other” (Isaiah 45:20-22).

Calvinists (e.g., R.L. Dabney, Charles Hodge) and Arminians who pray to a god who cannot save.


And therefore the Biblical doctrine of the salvation of the world is not ‘universalism’ in the common sense of that term. It does not mean that all men without exception are saved. Many men are inevitably lost, throughout the whole course of the advance of the world to its complete salvation, just as the salvation of the individual by process means that much service is lost to Christ through all these lean years of incomplete salvation. But as in the one case, so in the other, the end is attained at last: there is a completely saved man and there is a completely saved world. This may possibly be expressed by saying that the Scriptures teach an eschatological universalism not an each-and-every universalism. When the Scriptures say that Christ came to save the world, that he does save the world, and that the world shall be saved by him, they do not mean that there is no human being whom he did not come to save, whom he does not save, who is not saved by him. They mean that he came to save and does save the human race; and that the human race is being led by God into a racial salvation: that in the age long development of the race of men, it will attain at last to a complete salvation, and our eyes will be greeted with the glorious spectacle of a saved world. Thus the human race attains the goal for which it was created, and sin does not snatch it out of God’s hands” (Warfield; underlining mine).

Presumably by “racial salvation” Warfield is alluding to Revelation 5:9:

“And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy are You to receive the scroll, and to open its seals, because You were slain, and by Your blood purchased us to God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”

Warfield had written:

“…it will attain at last to a complete salvation, and our eyes will be greeted with the glorious spectacle of a saved world. Thus the human race attains the goal for which it was created, and sin does not snatch it out of God’s hands.”

For the Calvinists previously mentioned — Dabney and Hodge — “sin” DOES snatch it out of the hands of their impotent and execrable idol.

“…the [One] having saved us and having called [us] with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to [His] own purpose and grace given to us in Christ Jesus before eternal times, but now revealed through the appearance of our Savior, Jesus Christ, indeed making death of no effect, bringing life and incorruptibility to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:9-10; underlining mine).

Before eternal times, the plan of salvation was for Jesus to save His people. Paul preached that Jesus Christ made death of no effect. The false jesus of Charles Hodge and R.L. Dabney did not make death of no effect, because there will still be some for whom he died who will experience the second death.

“Sin” (or the sinner) cannot snatch salvation out of God’s hand. Sin does not swallow up the power (Greek: Dunamis) of Christ’s cross and resurrection; for it is Christ’s efficacious cross-work and the power of His resurrection that swallows up death in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54-57; cf. Hosea 13:14).

In the truly efficacious cross-work of Jesus Christ, death is abolished and life and immortality is brought to light. In the false gospel atonement of R.L. Dabney and Charles Hodge, sin and the sinner have the power to abolish the cross and to nullify Him who is the Resurrection and the Life.

In the true gospel of Christ’s efficacious atonement, satisfaction, propitiation, resurrection, and intercession at the Father’s right Hand. In the Person & Work of Christ, death has died.

In striking and sobering contrast, the Calvinist version of universal atonement, pseudo-satisfaction, pseudo-propitiation, pseudo-resurrection….there is no peace effectually wrought by efficacious blood.  There is no nullification of death to be found here; there is no blessed resurrection through the body of Christ here.  In this dark and dismal dungeon we discover Dabney & Hodge, two stark-dead sinners, who are animated with an antichristian power to heal their mortal wound.

“Admitting, however, that the Augustinian doctrine that Christ died specially for his own people does account for the general offer of the gospel, how can it be reconciled with those passages which, in one form or another, teach that He died for all men? In answer to this question, it may be remarked in the first place that Augustinians do not deny that Christ died for all men. What they deny is that He died equally, and with the same design, for all men” (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Volume 2, p. 558; underlining mine).

In the true cross of Jesus Christ, death is swallowed up in victory; it has been nullified.  In Hodge’s Augustinian atonement we find a place where death is most alive.