Is the Cross a Revelation of My Value? A Response to Todd White

Is the Cross a Revelation of My Value? A Response to Todd White January 19, 2017

At the outset I want to make my purpose in this article clear: I will respond to the claim of Todd White in this video that the cross of Christ is not the revelation of the depth of sin in the sinner but the revelation of the sinners value. I am not making any statement as to whether I believe Todd White is saved or not, that is up to God alone. Nor am I responding to everything White says in the interview or even saying that everything is wrong. My only purpose is to make clear that White’s view of the cross given in this video is anti-biblical and leads to serious error. I have written a brief response to one of White’s longer teachings here.

In this interview, Todd White makes the argument that Christ died on behalf of mankind because mankind was worth dying for, i.e. one can look to how much Jesus suffered as an indication of his worth.[1] White makes these statements:

“The cross to me isn’t the revelation of my sin, the cross is actually the revealing of my value.” (1:11)

“If [Jesus] became sin so that I might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, then the cross is a revelation of my value.” (1:30)

White goes on to give the analogy of buying a car, making the point that when someone buys a car he pays what the car is worth, he doesn’t pay $88,000 for a $22,000 car. Concerning this he says, “If something on the earth the price that you pay for it determines its value, how much did heaven pay, how much did Jesus pay to get us back, I mean heaven went bankrupt. So the value of a person is determined by the price that was paid for it.” (2:12)

This short video exhibits the man-centeredness of Todd White’s theology and requires some response.

First, Todd White says, “The cross to me isn’t the revelation of my sin; the cross is actually the revealing of my value.” I am not particularly interested in what the cross is to Todd White, I want to know what God says about the cross through His word, the Bible. Whether this was a slip of the tongue on White’s part or not, it surely reveals what this video actually does, that is, tell us what the cross means to Todd White, not what God has told us that it meant through Scripture.

This brings me to my second point; White tries to use 2 Corinthians 5:21 to support his interpretation of the cross of Christ. He says, “If [Jesus] became sin so that I might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, then the cross is a revelation of my value.” This is a complete non sequitur; the implication from 2 Corinthians 5:21 is not that my value was so great that Christ died for me, but that my sin was so great the Christ died for me. If, taking my sin upon Himself, Christ had to endure the terrible agony of the cross – that is a manifestation of the enormous magnitude of my sin.

Third, White’s analogy of a car does not apply to heaven. He says, “If something on the earth the price that you pay for it determines its value, how much did heaven pay, how much did Jesus pay to get us back, I mean heaven went bankrupt. So the value of a person is determined by the price that was paid for it.” In response to this we must ask, why did Christ die? Why was it necessary for the second person of the Trinity to take on a human nature and die a gruesome death in order for humans to be saved? If White were to answer, “to show mankind’s value” then would Christ have had to die if Adam had not fallen, surely unfallen man is no less valuable than fallen man? His view of Christ’s death fails to account for why it was necessary. Furthermore, his analogy with the car utterly breaks down when applied to Christ and sinful humanity. The New Testament does not portray Christ’s redemption of sinful man as purchasing an object of great value, but as paying a great debt. Ephesians 2:1-3 describes sinful man as, “dead in trespasses and sins,” “following the prince of the power of the air,” “sons of disobedience,” “carrying out the desires of the body and the mind,” and “by nature children of wrath.” It is in this estate that God loved us (v.4) and made us alive with Christ (v.5).

Similarly, Romans 5:6-10 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

Consider the descriptions that Paul gives for fallen man here, “ungodly…sinners…enemies.” Paul does not say, “at the right time Christ died for the worthy/valuable” as one would expect him to say if he held to the same view as Todd White. Furthermore, Paul argues that since we have been justified by Christ’s blood (i.e. His death on the cross) we are saved from the “wrath of God.” This gets right to the heart of the utter misinterpretation of the death of Christ that White promotes, according to his view, to whom did Christ pay when He died on the cross? The biblical answer is clear; by dying in the place of sinners, Christ satisfied the wrath of God against sin. Every sinner deserves death for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Yet those who are saved do not receive death because Christ has become for them a propitiation (Romans 3:25), that is, a sacrifice to satisfy the wrath of God.

In addition, White’s logic turns grace on its head. Consider his analogy of the car. Laying aside for now exactly who the price is paid to in order to purchase the car, when a car is purchased, the seller does not thank the buyer for giving him a large gift of money. Similarly, a very talented employee does not thank his employer when he gets his paycheck, as if it were a gift, for it is not, the worker deserves his wages. This is exactly Paul’s point in Romans 4:4-5, he says, “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” White’s position, taken to its conclusion, forces us to say that when Christ paid for us on the cross and that payment is applied to us by the Holy Spirit, that it is because of our worth and is therefore not a gift. Back to Ephesians 2, God made us alive in Christ so that He might display His perfections (2:7) – not because we were worthy. If we were worthy, then salvation is no longer the gift of God. If Christ died for us because we were worthy then grace cannot be said to be unmerited favor, for we deserved it. In fact, it would have been unjust for God to not give us grace and in showing grace to us He was just giving us our due.

This leads to my fourth and final point: saving sinners was not the ultimate end of Christ’s death, but rather, it was the glory of God. Colossians 1:15-18 says, speaking of Christ,

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that (ἵνα) in everything he might be preeminent.

Paul says that all things were created through Christ and for Christ, and that He is the firstborn from the dead in order that might be preeminent. The works of God, from creation to redemption are all focused on the preeminence of Christ. Similarly, in Romans 8:29 says, “For those whom [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that (ἵνα) he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” God’s eternal plan to save sinners and change them into the likeness of His Son was in order that Christ might be preeminent among them and that they might worship Him. Ephesians 2 also speaks of this, Paul says that God has made us alive together with Christ, “so that (ἵνα) in the coming ages [God] might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” God has saved a people for Himself in order that He might put on display the full range of His attributes, specifically His grace, mercy, and kindness toward the saints. Christ did not die because we were worth it; He died because the glory of God was worth it.

Let me close by saying that I am sure that many, if not most, of the people who listen to Todd White do not take his teachings to their inevitable conclusions. I am sure that there are many among them who would recoil at any suggestion that grace is not a gift or that Christ did not take on the wrath of God. Yet I hope they will be warned about the dangerousness of White’s man-centered theology. I will end with two quotes from an interview with John Piper, where he addresses the question, “Does the Cross Show How Valuable I Am?”

The Bible does not portray the cross of Christ as a display of the prior value of what he purchased by it. Just the opposite. The cross is a display of the hopeless, undeserving, dirty, sinful, guilty, rebellious, corrupted condition of the people who were purchased. The magnitude of Christ’s sufferings is a measure, not of the magnitude of my worth, but the magnitude of the ugliness of my sin, the outrage of my rebellion, and the infinite value of the glory of God that my sin had defamed.

So my answer to [the] question is: No, the message of the cross is not our innate value. No, the price paid does not mean we were worth it. No, therefore, the cross does not testify to the superior innate prior value of the redeemed over the non-redeemed. Rather, the cross: 1) testifies to the infinite value of the glory of God. 2) It testifies to the enormity of human sin in belittling that glory. 3) It testifies to the immeasurable greatness of the grace of God. And 4) it testifies to the new creation that God has brought into being, which is a beautiful thing.

 

[1] I will not address, but it is worth noting, the fact that this interview was on TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), a network well known for broadcasting the teachings of many false teachers.

 

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  • Kostya2

    I am not a Calvinist, but decry with you the self-centred and humanistic gospel that has become prevalent everywhere.
    In the Old Testament, God often told Israel it was not because they were so wonderful that He would redeem them, they were horrible, but for His sake. God’s love for them however always remained and will remain. God’s love is not tied to the value we have, it makes us valuable though. It seems hard for us today to have a God-centred view of the gospel because of the humanism in the church.

    • Yep, Deuteronomy 7:6ff is pretty clear that God’s love for Israel was not based off of any inherent value in them.

    • Stephen “Steve” Sponsler

      True on that, though Todd White is not coming from the place of being man centered. Not at all…in another video he mentions that some say < I must become less and he become more "John the Baptist".but clarifies that I must die so that He is My life…He speaks consistently about the Blood and the Cross…and His Righteousness – dissecting what Mr White said in one video doesn't really give the whole picture. He does refer to 'For God so loved the world, that 'He Gave' his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Would He "Give' for a people that didn't not have any inherent value to Him? He also speaks on those who preach Grace in the wrong light (such as akin to they who say it's a license to sin..)..but in a different context even from that. Might want to watch his video on 'Seek First The Kingdom of God"…otherwise, for real, there is not one preacher in the entire world that someone will not find something to pick apart..have yet to see that not be the case. on the otherhand, sure enough, it is easy , too easy to conclude that from the video (s) being referred to, that it would be very easy to draw the conclusions drawn in this post, and fair enough indeed based on 'the evidence' from this one video. On the otherhand, 'maybe' he had already had earlier discussions which we are not privy to..problem is..from the videos alone…there is no evidence that that is the case, so point well taken regardless, and very grateful that time was taken to make the points that were made.

      • Clint Martin

        Well said Steve

    • Stephen “Steve” Sponsler

      God so loved the world that He Gave His only begotten son…”..if God pre-destined Son ship for those whom He has Chosen to come to the Son..they had to have had some value. Might want to learn more about the truth of which Calvin spoke, as people have built entire theologies around avoiding it, which is bogus. I don’t know exactly what was said and why at those times, other than it was in response to some majorly fallacious beliefs that were going on at the time. We ought be Grateful for the links of him, or otherwise we’d never know of a thing called The Puritans..who came to establish a place that would later be called The United States , fleeing the Roman Catholic Church..No one got it all Right except of course, The Lord, Christ Jesus. I find much more Substance in the writings of Owen’s put out by Puritan Paperbacks than in much of anything put out today.

  • Realist1234

    With respect, I think both you and Todd White are wrong.

    The death of Jesus showed how ‘bad’ our sin is, but also our value. Why would God, or anyone else for that matter, die on behalf of something they held to have no value? Of course they wouldnt.

    No, God values human beings (and thus gives us value) so much that He was prepared to sacrifice Himself so that our relationship with Him could be restored, and we would become the beings we were supposed to be from the beginning. And our sinfulness was so serious it cost the Son of God His life, but in that sacrifice he satisfied His own requirement for justice.

    So He died because we are valued so much by Him AND because of our sin.

  • Clint Martin

    Whoever wrote this must be a really happy person
    Nitpicking everything
    The fruit of todds ministry is huge, why doesn’t the writer get out and talk to people about Christ instead of quoting out of context preaching. The mans heart is pure

    • The Bible is replete with warnings about false teachers: Acts
      20:28-3; Jude
      1:17-23; 2 Peter 3:17-1; Matthew
      7:15-2; Romans 16:17-1; 2
      Corinthians 11:3-5; Galatians
      1:8-; 2
      Thessalonians 2:3-7, to name a few passages. In addition it instructs leaders to watch both their life and their doctrine closely, because it is a matter of life and death (1 Timothy 4:16 – Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.) What we believe is incredibly important and has implications for every area of our lives. It breaks my heart that so many people are led away and deceived by false gospels. I take no joy in seeing Todd or anyone else twist the Scriptures. Still, we are to be diligent to make sure we interpret the Scripture rightly (2 Timothy 2:15).

      My point is writing this is to warn others that at the center of Todd’s “gospel” is a inversion of the truth. Even if you are not convinced of this, simply go and see what Todd has said about well known prosperity preachers such as Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland. He endorses and partners with false teacher and leads other to them.

      • Clint Martin

        Yes it is clear but just because he is using a different language that you don’t understand does not make him a false teacher. What does Paul say “whether in contention or strife the Gospel is still getting preached”.

        Do you know what upsets me- that people have all the time to tear down Gods work and be encouraged by others response and it just keeps feeding itself,now that’s quite self seeking. See how I did that- turned it around,that’s what’s happening with this thread mate.

        If it ain’t working try something different and hell fire and brimstone does not always work.

        • I have watched hours of his videos, researched the people his endorses, seen him speak in person, and had long conversations with friends who like him. I do not believe that I am misunderstanding him.

          You’re correct, Paul does rejoice when Christians preach the gospel, even with false motives. But what is striking from that passage in Philippians 1 is how Paul emphasizes so much that they are preaching the same gospel as he is, Paul says they “speak the word” (v. 14), they “preach Christ” (v. 15), they “proclaim Christ” (v. 17) and “Christ is proclaimed” (v. 18). He doesn’t mean that they just happen to also use the name of Christ but preach a different message, he would not rejoice in that. But that they are preaching the same gospel as he is, regardless of their motives.

          From my perspective it is not tearing down God’s work, because Todd is leading people astray. Can you at least see how from the perspective of one who disagrees with Todd’s theology at a fundamental level how we cannot rejoice in his work? I believe it to be false teaching and so am conscience bound to oppose it. I am not convinced from scripture that what Todd is saying is correct, but fundamentally wrong.

          • Clint Martin

            Ask Reinhard Bonke about Todd(One of the worlds leading evangelist- millions saved through his preaching.
            Todd has prayed for me and I’ve been healed also. Forefront ministry is like that you can’t pick and choose who you are going to hang out with. In the world not of it means that secular systems are always raging for your attention,but your allegiance is else where- among other things.

          • Clint Martin

            Todd constantly reminds his listeners that he is a man of the word and backs it up by using the bible as his foundation. Anyone can use the word but the Holy Spirit partners with Todd and backs it up with signs and with signs and wonders.

    • Kathy –

      Taylor I know it’s been a year since you wrote this, but I do want to encourage you. And respond to Clint since others will read this response chain.

      Honestly, Clint, whether or not you agree with Taylor – he’s doing something that is completley neglected in today’s church, yet commanded in the Bible. Dissecting teachings and testing them according to the Bible is not optional – it’s a command. When done in a respectful manner as Taylor has done, it’s noble and commendable in the eyes of Jesus. (Acts 17:11, Revelation 2:2)

      We’ve become so hyper-sensitive that we’re unable to see that criticizing a man’s teaching IS NOT criticising his heart/character. Even Aspotle Peter had to be corrected by Paul. Was Paul calling Peter’s heart into question? Of course not. He was addressing a faulty teaching.

      As for Kopeland and Hinn, whom White has chosen as mentors – there’s no denying that they teach heretical doctrine. They’ve been around long enough for their teachings to be documented and thouroughly debunked by Scripture. Clint, you say below that Todd can’t “pick and choose who he hangs out with,” but the Holy Spirit says differently in 2nd John. “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine (correct doctrine about Jesus), do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”
      In Revelation 2, Jesus rebuked a church for tolerating a heretical teacher in their midst.

      Anyways, Taylor, thank you for doing this work in a respectful way. I know it usually comes with a bunch of accusation and frustration, since people are often more interested in defending their favorite preacher than delving into Scripture.