Posted by: stpowen | January 13, 2015

The Love of Christ Compels Us

Psalm 5:6. ‘The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.’
Matthew 5:43-45. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

I have been spending time over Christmas chatting on various blogs and internet forums, and I have found that many non-Christians believe that Christians are filled with rage and hatred, particularly against homosexuals. “Why can’t you be loving, and accepting and tolerant?” I have been asked. The question is especially pertinent in the light of the dreadful attack by Moslem extremists in Paris today {1}. It suits many secularists to lump ‘religious types’ together, and to suppose that Christians are just as likely to turn to violence as Moslems. What they really want of course is for us to deny the word of God and to abandon any sort of moral standpoint for the Christian faith, thus becoming, in their eyes, ‘inclusive and tolerant.’

It was as I was musing on this theme that 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 came into my mind.

‘For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.’

This is quite a difficult piece of Scripture, and we need to take it bit by bit. We notice that the sentence begins with the word ‘for’ or ‘because’ and so we need to look for the antecedent to which the sentence is related. There it is in verse 11. ‘Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.’ Knowing how dreadful it will be to be an unbeliever when the Lord Jesus returns, Paul seeks to persuade folk to come to Christ while there is still time.

So why do you do that Paul? What is your motivation? ‘For the love of Christ compels us…..’ This could mean our love for Christ, or it could mean Christ’s love for sinners such as us. Surely it must be the latter. If the Lord Jesus has loved sinners like us so much that He has suffered in such a terrible way and died for us, then how can we forbear to tell others of this wonderful Saviour? ‘……Because we judge thus; that if One died for all, then all died.’ The ‘One’ is obviously Jesus Christ, but in what way did He die for all? He did not die for, say, Judas Iscariot, the ‘son of perdition’ (John 17:12), so Paul cannot be saying that He died for every single person who ever lived. But Christ died for all in the sense of all kinds of people, for Jew and Gentile, for Pharisee and tax-collector, for respectable people and down-and-outs, for drunks, homosexuals, paedophiles, thieves, murderers and terrorists (Luke 5:32; 19:10); for everyone who will repent and believe (Mark 1:15).

If this is true, and it is, then how can we suppose that anyone can sin themselves out of the love of Christ? How can we regard some sins as being beyond the pale? Is there any sin for which the blood of Christ cannot make atonement? Absolutely not! ‘If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (i John 1:9). There is no limitation. Knowing therefore this love of Christ, we must proclaim it before all people and tell them with absolute assurance that if they will turn from their sins and trust in Christ for salvation, He will not turn them away (John 6:37).

‘…..Then all died.’ That is, they have died to sin and risen to new life in Christ (Rom. 6:2; Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:3). The blood of the Lord Jesus is absolutely efficacious. Every single person for whom He died will unfailingly come to eternal life. He did not die for all so that some died. These verses give no encouragement at all for an arminian view of the Atonement.

‘And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.’ But our Lord did not shed His blood to leave people in their sins. ‘Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?’ (Rom. 6:2). Paul will go on to say (v.17) that, ‘If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.’ Those for whom Christ died are new creatures; they are not what they were, and they will, they must, turn from their sins and live a new life for Christ (Rom. 6:16-18; Eph. 4:17ff). If they do not, it can only be concluded that they are not amongst those for whom Christ died and that they are still in their sins (2 Peter 2:20-22).

The application of all this for evangelists and preachers is that we must emulate the Lord Jesus (Mark 6:34), have love and compassion for all the lost, and preach the Gospel to all of them as we have opportunity. But we must understand that it is not unloving or hateful to speak of what the Puritans used to call ‘the sinfulness of sin,’ its offense to a holy God and of the absolute necessity for repentance if anyone would be saved. Let the homosexual lobby and the secularists rant at us all they want, it is not unloving to show people the way to salvation- quite the reverse. The most unloving, hateful thing we could possibly do would be to tell people that they can bring their sins with them into heaven. They can’t (Rev. 22:14-15).

{1} January 7th, 2015,



  1. And the major part of showing that love is to tell them what God has revealed to us about salvation and sanctification – which is when they get angry with us!

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