I'd like to add some thoughts to this portion of Cory's post.
Papa: “Forgiveness does not establish relationship. In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sins against me, but only some choose relationship. … When Jesus forgave those who nailed him to the cross they were no longer in his debt, nor mine. In my relationship with those men, I will never bring up what they did, or shame them, or embarrass them.”If you have read this Blog at all, you will know that I have noted many Evangelicals have departed from the doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement. Don't get me wrong. Most still use the terminology. Yet they have become inconsistent with the Biblical truth of Christ's work.
What you have here is, unfortunately, a fairly common understanding of what Jesus accomplished at the cross. Unfortunately, it’s so wrong. Humanity, as William Young sees it, has been put in a neutral place because of what Jesus did on the cross. Because Jesus died on the cross, humanity is now in a place to act on their good nature and choose Christ, or act on their bad nature and not choose Christ. What’s wrong with this assumption? Where do I begin?
The Bible clearly teaches that humanity is not in a neutral state. Even reason teaches we are not in a neutral state. Just think about any relationship you’ve ever had! Not choosing to do someone good or love someone implies the opposite does it not? Take a look at what the Bible says about human nature.
The idea, that everyone has their sins forgiven at the cross while not having a "relationship" with Jesus, is to miss who Jesus really is and what He has done. Now Cory has already nailed the neutrality issue and God's sovereign work, so I will not repeat that here. It must be kept in mind that theologians may distinguish between aspects of Christ's work, but we must never divorce them from one another. There is a unity in the different teachings of Scripture. Here are a few problems when this is denied.
1) Terms have meaning.
If Christ is our Substitute and He actually bore our sins, and if everyone's sins have actually been imputed to Christ, the logical conclusion is that all will be saved or Universalism. This teaching is self destructive. If we are going to universalize the Biblical text in an unBiblical fashion, then we need to face the end results.
2) Imputation is lost.
If Imputation is to have any meaning at all, we must be consistent with what has actually happened at the Cross.
2Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.And again,
Rom 5:18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.These verses are about the great exchange. Our sins were born by Christ. Even though He did not commit sin, He was punished as if He had. He was imputed or credited at the Cross as a sinner in our place. His righteousness now belongs to His people/us.
If we say that every person has had their sins forgiven already at the cross, then this teaching is lost and the basis for Justification and even Original Sin is gone.
3) Union with Christ is denied by those who believe "we are already forgiven, just believe and get to heaven."
On the cross there is a union of the elect with Christ in His life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. To insist that man is morally neutral is to say that Christ has unified Himself with non-elect people in His death on the Cross. He has paid their sin debt, and they yet still go to hell (something which no one has explained why they go to hell).
Rom 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.Scripture is clear. When Christ died, his people died. When Christ was raised, His people were raised. This is no hypothetical union or substitution. This is a reality which comes to His people through faith.
Rom 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
Rom 8:30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
Rom 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
Rom 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Rom
8:33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;
8:34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Col 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.4) Faith in Christ is denied as the means which forgiveness is received
To say we are already forgiven before we believe is problematic. It is true that at the cross Christ actually procured the forgiveness of sins, but this is a Calvinistic doctrine, not a free-will doctrine. For those in union with Christ do have their sins dealt with perfectly. In time the elect come to faith by the work of the Spirit through those who preach the Gospel proclamation. The elect hear the Good News and turn to Christ in faith.
Rom 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,5) Faith becomes divorced from Christ's work.
Rom 4:6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works
Faith becomes something we work up within ourselves instead of something Christ procures for His people. It is precisely because of the work of the Spirit in applying the finished work of Christ that we believe. If Christ had only hypothetically died for us, then we would be dependent upon ourselves to trust Christ. This idea separates us from Christ's Person and his work.
Phi 1:29 For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sakeIt is through faith that we receive the righteousness of Christ, and it is a gift of the Triune God.
6) Christ's High Priestly Role is undermined.
As our High Priest, Christ intercedes in behalf of the elect of God. Are we seriously going to consider that when Jesus prays to the Father in behalf of those for whom He died, that somehow the Father will miss someone? Is it really possible that Jesus could offer, in prayer to the Father, His own sacrifice and somehow that sacrifice only be hypothetical?
Heb 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.Did He or did He not perfect forever those who are sanctified by His one offering?
7) The doctrine of Election is denied.
I will state this simply. If everyone is elected or that we elect ourselves, then no one was elected. As the villain said in the cartoon movie, The Incredibles, "When everyone is super, then no one will be."
Obviously much more could be said. My point is simple. We can not divorce all of the aspects of Christ's work. Distinguish, yes...separate, no.