Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Limited Atonement

"In Him we have redemption through His blood" (Ephesians 1:7).

It is amazing how one word can change the course of everything we believe. That is true here. When we talk about the subject of redemption, we have to ask, "Who are the recipients?" Paul answer that in this verse with the word "we." The recipients of redemption are the elect (v.4). They are those who are “saints” and “faithful in Christ Jesus” (v.1). They are those who have been “blessed...with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (v.3). They are those whom God “chose” for Himself “before the foundation of the world” (v.4). They are those who have been “ adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (v.5). Jesus Christ died for the redemption of the elect. Matt Slick, who is the founder of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry writes, “Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28 where Jesus died for ‘many'; John 10:11,15 which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9 where Jesus in prayer interceded for the ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion where he would bear the sins of many (not all)” [].

Matthew 1:21 says that He came to “save His people from their sins.”

Who are “His people”? It could be a reference to the Jews because “salvation is from the Jews” (Jn.4:22). But I believe it has a specific reference to the elect—those chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4). To limit it to a nationality of people ignores what Paul said to the Gentiles in Acts 13:46-48. He says to the Jews: “Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 "For so the Lord has commanded us,  'I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES, THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.' "  48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”

Jesus came to save those who were “appointed to eternal life” before the world began.

What about those passages that say speak of Christ’s redemption being for the whole “world” or for “all”?

John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

1 John 2:1-2 says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

1 Timothy 2:3-6 says, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”

These three verses are speaking “of Christ’s work in general terms...and was to correct the false notion that salvation was for the Jews alone. Such phrases as ‘the world,’ ‘all men,’ ‘all nations,’ and ‘every creature’ were used by the New Testament writers to emphatically correct this mistake. These expressions are intended to show that Christ died for all men without distinction (i.e., He died for Jews and Gentiles alike), but they are not intended to indicate that Christ died for all men without exception (i.e., He did not die for the purpose of saving each and every lost sinner)” (David Steele, The Five Points of Calvinism, 50). 

Charles Spurgeon said, “The Arminians say, 'Christ died for all men.' Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, 'No, certainly not.' We ask them the next question: Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer 'No.' They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, 'No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if ?' and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as infallibly to secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ's death; we say, 'No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.' We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.”

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