Who Is Good? The Impact of Atonement :: By Denis Bowden

Who Is Good?

Guys, you should know this about me. Once I start to write, my main trouble is knowing when to stop. This commentary is a case in point. It was to be a short reply to a dear friend and brother who had sent me a disturbing link with a cryptic comment. ‘Boy…did he get a barrel-full in reply.’ After reflection, I thought, ‘gee whiz, there’s enough here for a commentary.’

Another thing about me is that I’m born lazy and quite happy to apply the maxim, ‘waste not – want not!’


Brother Denis—very upsetting. I guess no one goes to hell?



Hi Mate, (Well, I am Australian so ‘Mate’ is de rigueur in this neck of the woods.)

Thanks for sending me this link. One of many similar statements Francis has made.

Every time I hear this mortal man (who, through the papacy, claims to speak for God) open his mouth, he increasingly spews out a gospel of scriptural untruth. So much so, that even his own senior clergy now have much difficulty with him.

Actually, we know it well, for it is the gospel of Hell as it awaits those readying ‘themselves’ for the Second Death, following their appearance before the Great White Throne of God.

It’s important to think upon the implication that ALL of us are to be resurrected. Those raised to life, having believed in and upon the Grace that flows only from and through Jesus (the only possible way to the Father), are judged already. Their names appear in the Book of Life. They await only the Bema judgment of their life’s ‘works’ purporting to have been performed in the service of God. This is the template upon which their ‘rewards’ will be determined and allotted by Jesus.

How far true repentance plays a part in this at the point of that ‘judgment'(respecting their rewards), I don’t know – and further, don’t think I am sufficiently qualified to answer. However, I suspect that my dear sisters Geri Ungurean and Lea Sylvester have very firm, scripturally based views on this. I’m still a babe in the woods, I’m afraid.

Conversely, it is my understanding that those raised at the fulfillment or continuation of their lifetime of denial (validated by their personal lives of sin) will stand before the Great White Throne of God to hear the words, “Begone, I did not know thee!”

Maybe many of them only re-confirm their denial right at the last?

When I wrote this statement, I had in mind those who ‘see’ the way this fallen world is going and literally say and make the irrevocable decision, “What the #e!!…who gives a d_ _ _ n what I do or don’t believe!” (even if they had for a lifetime purported to be believers). A case of the old ‘if you can’t lick em…join em,’ syndrome maybe?

I would draw from this the conclusion that God will know how deep and sincere was our repentance. And surely, not simply as the premier litmus test, but as a validation of the depths of our real love for Him.

When we truly love someone, don’t we want and wish (though we often fail) to demonstrate this by proving it to them?

We do this ipso facto, ‘after the fact’ – an alleged consequence that, through our actions, we can clearly demonstrate our attempt to follow through. We love them first, then try to apply the means and actions to show it.

And so it is with my God. I love Him with all my heart and soul, and I want to show him.

These (I want to show Him attempts) often translate as ‘works,’ but they are not those that got me to where I now stand. They are simply the fruits of my love…they are the flowers and chocolates (poor metaphors I know) I want to give my divine love as a token of my fidelity and deepest, heart-felt affection.

More often or not they are completely spontaneous actions, taken without thinking. Maybe (and hopefully) they are some loving action I have performed for another. Perhaps if done for a fellow believer, even better.

They are what a child wants and loves to do to a beloved father, as when climbing upon his knee, their little arms around his neck, they whisper softly to his ear alone, “I love you so much Daddy!”


Today, even believing man asks ‘who did Jesus really die for?’

I didn’t want to get into the question of ‘limited or full atonement?’ However, the question asked by this small boy was, “Will my Daddy who was an atheist but a ‘good man’ go to Heaven?”

GOT QUESTIONS, after a lengthy discourse on this, finally cuts to the chase and deals with it as did the Apostles themselves. For, even in their own lifetime, it was a matter of controversy.


The offer of salvation is universal—to all who will believe (Romans 10:11, 13). We also know that, regardless of how broad Christ’s atonement is, it is limited in some respect—it is effective only for those who believe (John 3:18).


My comment on this part of the answer is, that it comes down to each of us individually, as it always has. If we want the sacrificial atonement of the Christ of God to be effective and redeeming of us, then we MUST believe that the Christ did die for the sins of all men. Specifically, that you, individually, believe that He thereby, died for ‘You.’

Looking at it from another side, I personally feel that it is NOT Christ’s atonement that is limited. It is we, who because of our unbelief, limit it.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we invariably (either deliberately or sub-consciously) always want to bring our Sovereign God and Father down to our level and upon ‘our terms.’ If this was simply our attempt to try and understand Him, perhaps to some extent we might be somewhat empathetic. However, I fear another more sinister reason applies.

This is ‘the way of man,’ particularly in the pride of his intellectualism and reasoning powers.

We remain mostly unwilling to concede that anything or anyone could be larger than our own humanity and accomplishments.

Fallen man looks around him. And he sees the great accomplishments of science, of engineering, medical breakthrough, our great armies, et al. He lovingly falls upon the altar of self-adoration of our own species. Yet the ‘one’ really deserving of the honor and glory is denied all. There is absolutely no ‘goodness’ in this scenario.

Our nations of the West now crumble because we no longer even pretend to offer God that homage of which He is most deserving, as we slavishly remove every vestige of symbols that purport to illustrate our love, respect and allegiance to our Father Creator. “What lousy hypocrites mankind has become!”

(end comment)


John 10 provides more insight into the issue of whom Jesus died for. In that passage we see that Christ died for His sheep (John 10:11,15). Also, all who are His sheep will come to Him (verses 4 and 27), and they are kept secure in Christ (verses 28–30).

However, when we share the gospel, we don’t try to “pre-screen” the hearers of the message. We don’t delve into who are the elect or for whom Jesus may or may not have died. Those discussions would distract from the goal of evangelism.

When presenting the gospel, we simply say, “Jesus died for your sin, and He rose again from the dead. His death is sufficient to pay for your sins if you will put your faith in Him.” This is a biblically accurate statement, and it avoids trying to get too specific. The preaching of the apostles in the New Testament didn’t attempt to try to cut it more finely than that.

My comment:

However, legalists (the law followers) do want to make a distinction (I fear) for their own doctrinal positions. There are a number of ‘churches’ out there that for centuries have attempted to force such distinctions upon the sheep. Their pulpits are the habitation of wolves. They devour the sheep.

Whilst it would be so hard to answer the heart-sore question with the answer of comfort sought by this small child, nevertheless, to answer it by stating that the ‘goodness’ of his late father would see him thereby, clasped to the bosom of God, is surely a heresy. Particularly when exhorting adoring cries of agreement from the ‘faithful.’

Simply put, I do NOT know how I would personally have attempted to answer a grieving, immature child such as this lad.

That of course didn’t stop Francis impugning Grace by saying, as he now regularly says also about sexual fornicators of all persuasions (words to the effect of), “we are all cared for by God and will be taken into Heaven!” His inference obviously being that God loves all mankind so much that we will all be excused our debts and that which is owed our debtors.

He neglected to add that God holds ALL our ‘I.O.U.’s!

Il Papa is correct to the extent that all are resurrected, but (as I mentioned earlier) he neglected to mention the Judgment of Reward (the Bema) for those born again through their faith who worked so hard to turn their lives around. Their sins forgiven, they sit as equals at the banquet feast of the Lord.

And worse, he makes no reference (but appears to vigorously deny) that there is another resurrection, whereby those who died in flesh, locked in denial and unshriven because of sin, are resurrected to the Judgment of the Second Death and its awful consequences. Is his position ‘that there is no Hell?’

I can only refer us all to what Jesus Himself said when He raised the question of ‘goodness’ to the rich young man and those who were listening.

(end comment):


“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone. You know the commandments: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’ Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this, the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

Is Jesus here rebuking the man for calling Him good and thereby denying His deity? No. Rather, He is using a penetrating question to push the man to think through the implications of his own words, to understand the concept of Jesus’ goodness and, most especially, the man’s lack of goodness. The young ruler “went away sad” (Mark 10:22) because he realized that although he had devoted himself to keeping the commandments, he had failed to keep the first and greatest of the commandments—love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Matthew 22:37-38).The man’s riches were of more worth to him than God, and thus he was not ‘good” in the eyes of God.

Jesus’ fundamental lesson here is that goodness flows not from a man’s deeds, but rather from God Himself. Jesus invites the man to follow Him, the only means of doing good by God’s ultimate standard. Jesus describes to the young ruler what it means to follow Him—to be willing to give up everything, thus putting God first.

When one considers that Jesus is drawing a distinction between man’s standard of goodness and God’s standard, it becomes clear that following Jesus is good. The command to follow Christ is the definitive proclamation of Christ’s goodness. Thus, by the very standard Jesus is exhorting the young ruler to adopt, Jesus is good. And it necessarily follows that if Jesus is indeed good by this standard, Jesus is implicitly declaring His deity.

Thus, Jesus’ question to the man is designed not to deny His deity, but rather to draw the man to recognize Christ’s divine identity. Such an interpretation is substantiated by passages such as John 10:11 wherein Jesus declares Himself to be “the good shepherd.” Similarly in John 8:46, Jesus asks, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” Of course the answer is “no.” Jesus was “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), holy and undefiled (Hebrews 7:26), the only One who “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The logic can thus be summarized as follows:

1: Jesus claims only God is good.
2: Jesus claims to be good.
3: Therefore, Jesus claims to be God.

(Final Comment):

I would put to you that, in our fallen state, none of our ‘works’ performed in the flesh are ‘good,’ except those of our belief, which is entirely based upon our Christ’s redemptive, Saving Grace. And that because He alone was prepared to do His Father’s bidding and die for us as atonement for all who would subsequently believe.

Therefore, ‘goodness’ is the product of Grace, and Grace comes first or there is no ‘goodness.’ Grace in turn, the product of our ‘belief’ as ‘faith,’ both in His godhead and atoning sacrifice, becomes the consuming fire of our lives.

By that one sacrificial act of complete ‘goodness,’ as He allowed Himself to be taken to execution, his own spilt blood, both from the scourging and the spear to his heart through His side, became the living, perpetual token. The token that (forever) atonement for the sin of man was now accomplished.

The divine auctioneer cries, “What am I bid for this prized treasure? Who will bid? What is your offer?” And the broken, crushed, suppliant, the child of God, falls at the foot of the Cross and says, “Everything I have…take it Lord, it’s yours!”

For we know that it is blood itself in which lies the life of all flesh.

From dust were we raised, but our life is manifest in the divine DNA of the blood God Himself placed within our veins and the breath He breathed into us. Thereby, we live as His creation and to serve Him through the template of our lives and in true, loving, worship.

Having poured out the precious blood of atonement upon us from Himself, He both immersed us in the Holy Spirit and simultaneously washed us clean of all sin.

Centuries of sacrifices performed under the Mosaic Law and its rituals and the sacrificial death of hundreds of thousands of beasts failed to achieve that.

Caiaphas, High Priest in that year of fulfilled prophesy, inadvertently summed it up, but for the wrong reasons, as the Sanhedrin argued the question of execution.

I like the translation from the complete Jewish Bible.

John 11:50 “You don’t see that it’s better for you if one man dies on behalf of the people, so that the whole nation won’t be destroyed.” (We know this is statement of fact because followers of Jesus were amongst members of the Sanhedrin.)

Any claim we might have of ‘goodness’ as saved sheep lies in and only from that anointing. It has washed us clean because we have believed in and upon it. Only this confirms our wish to serve God and, in repentance, do our best to turn our fallen lives around whilst we draw breath. ‘This, our Wedding Ceremony.’ And thereby, ‘we plight thee our troth.’

In this also lies our ‘goodness.’

Your loving brother,


PS: I was not looking to get into this so deeply. And as I wrote I was thinking of what Jesus said to the apostles, “Suffer little children to come unto me for such is the kingdom of Heaven!”

Denis Bowden