Either Jesus died to save his church or he didn’t. There isn’t a third option.
Either he gave himself up for his bride, as Ephesians 5:25 tells us, or he died to create the possibility of her salvation that depends upon the skills of human decision-making.
Are we dead in our sins, as Ephesians 2:1–3 says, or are we slightly impaired? Are we “far from the peaceful shore” or are we gone, sunken to the bottom of the ocean with no chance of resuscitation? Does God toss us a floatation device, or does he raise us from the dead?
Was the cross of Christ a triumph over sin and evil, as Colossians 2:14–15 says, or was it just a nice first-move? Is Jesus victorious for the sake of his church, or did he spot us a few points? Did he suffer at Golgotha to demonstrate God’s grace to sinners, or was it a presentation of sorta-kinda-maybe hope for those smart enough to understand?
Did Jesus drain the dregs of God’s wrath meant for his people, or did he merely mute original sin and leave the destiny of our eternal souls in our own hands?
How we answer these questions has everything to do with what we think about our sin and the glory of Jesus, and therefore, it gets at the heart of the gospel.
What makes the gospel good news? Is it only the potential to be saved, which would grossly miscalculate human ability and undermine the blood of Jesus, or is it the declaration, “It is finished!” — that Jesus has demolished every obstacle that keeps his people from everlasting joy in God?
The Bible is clear. The gospel is God’s work, God’s victory. “He does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: he plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies” (Packer, Quest for Godliness, 130). And here is where we see his love — the kind that breaks through the sternest soul in sovereign power to save. The love of Jesus is sin-crushing, serpent-stomping, death-defying, people-purchasing love.
Softly and tenderly tip-toeing around the doors of our heart, giving his life to give us a chance, crossing his fingers that we will invite him into our lives . . .
no, Jesus doesn’t love us like that.