IF YOU ARE ONE OF GOD’S ELECT, CHRIST HAD YOU IN MIND WHEN HE WENT TO THE CROSS

IF YOU ARE ONE OF GOD’S ELECT, CHRIST HAD YOU IN MIND WHEN HE WENT TO THE CROSS

Have you noticed how unpopular it’s become to suggest that human beings might have any limits?

I don’t know about you, but I’m regularly informed by TV, music, movies, and ad campaigns – that there are literally NO limits to what I can achieve. If I can dream it, then I can BE it. Which is great news, because since watching a recent documentary about Michael Jordan, I’ve decided I want to be the MVP of the Chicago Bulls. So what if I’m a 48-year-old with a dodgy knee who consistently struggles to throw balled-up paper into a trash can three feet away? Stop limiting me with your words and your facts.

I suspect this “limitophobia” partly explains why some of us react against the theological concept of “limited atonement.” How could the perfect atonement won for us by the eternal Son of God be in any sense “limited”? Mindful of this unhelpful implication, some theologians have wisely taken to calling it “definite atonement” instead.

But, whichever term you use, what it means is simply this: Jesus died to fully secure the salvation of His people, not just to make the offer.

Limited or definite atonement is rooted in biblical texts such as Mark chapter 10, verse 45, which says, “The Son of Man came . . . to give his life AS A RANSOM FOR MANY.” That is, Christ didn’t die merely to make a ransom OFFER; His death actually WAS the ransom, and it was completely effective for the many to whom it applies.

That truth is reinforced by Revelation chapter 5, verse 9, where the worshipers in heaven sing to Jesus, “Worthy are you . . . for you were slain, and BY YOUR BLOOD YOU RANSOMED PEOPLE FOR GOD from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Or think about Ephesians chapter 5, verse 25: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up FOR HER.” Again, though Christ freely OFFERS salvation to all, His death actually ACHIEVED salvation specifically for His bride, “the church.”

Or consider John chapter 10, verse 11, where Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life FOR THE SHEEP.” The sheep here are those who hear Christ’s voice and follow Him. So, again, Christ doesn’t give His life for all people indiscriminately in the hope that some might decide to follow Him. The Good Shepherd lays down His life specifically for all those who actually follow Him.

John chapter 11, verse 52, says that Jesus died “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” His death wasn’t simply to enable the POSSIBILITY that God’s children MIGHT BE gathered into one; the gathering was actually ACCOMPLISHED by Christ’s death.

At stake, then, is the effectiveness of Christ’s death. Did Jesus only succeed in making an OFFER of salvation which might be freely accepted or freely rejected? Or did He succeed not only in making an offer but also in actually securing salvation for His people?

Limited atonement—or definite atonement—says that yes, Christ’s OFFER of salvation really IS held out to ALL people, for ALL time, and just because some reject that offer does not mean that His death was weak or ineffectual. On the contrary, His blood, shed on the cross, really DID succeed in saving, ransoming, and gathering the people He intended to redeem. It was not shed in vain.

So is the term LIMITED ATONEMENT unhelpful? Yes, if you think of LIMITED as meaning “small” or “miserly.” But that is not what LIMITED means here. Christ’s atonement is limited only in the way that a devoted husband’s marital love is limited to his bride.

What difference does this make? An awful lot, especially if you’re the bride.

God the Father didn’t send God the Son to give His life in the hope that a vague and hypothetical group of people MIGHT accept His offer of salvation at some point in the future, but then again might not.

He didn’t die as a potential substitute but as an actual one: YOUR sin was paid for at the cross if you’re a follower of Jesus. He actually died specifically FOR YOU. He had YOU in mind in eternity before history began, He had YOU in mind as He went to the Cross, and He has YOU in mind now as He sits at the Father’s right hand making intercession.

Just as God’s word never returns to Him empty, but always achieves precisely what He has sent it to do, so too does the blood of Christ: poured out to save HIS sheep, HIS people, HIS children, HIS bride.

[Transcribed from a podcast by Barry Cooper]

THE ARMINIAN LIMITATION OF THE ATONEMENT

THE ARMINIAN LIMITATION OF THE ATONEMENT

The Arminian limits the Atonement as certainly as does the Calvinist.

The Calvinist limits the EXTENT of it in that he says it does not apply to ALL persons; while the Arminian limits the POWER OF IT.

The Arminian says that in itself it does not actually save anybody.

The Calvinist limits it quantitatively, but not qualitatively; the Arminian limits it qualitatively, but not quantitatively.

For the Calvinist it is like a narrow bridge which goes ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE STREAM; for the Arminian it is like a great wide bridge which goes ONLY HALF-WAY ACROSS.

As a matter of fact, the Arminian places more severe limitations on the work of Christ than does the Calvinist.

For WHOM did Christ die? We answer without hesitation, CHRIST DIED FOR “GOD’S ELECT”!

“And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save HIS people from THEIR sins [Mt. 1:21].

Christ died not simply to render sins pardonable, but “to PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of Himself” [Heb. 9:26]. As to WHO’S “sin” has been “put away”, Scripture leaves us in no doubt—it was that of the elect. “For the transgressions of MY PEOPLE was He stricken [Isa. 53:8]. Again the Lord’s own words are, “I lay down My life for the SHEEP” (not the goats)! [John 10:15]

“Christ did not intend to save those He knew He would not save. If He intended to save any it was those He knew would be saved. Christ has died for them (the elect) and NOT FOR THE WORLD. It was the elect that Christ came to save. Since God eternally decreed not to save others Christ would not be engaged in a FOOL’S errand.” [Jonathan Edwards]

The Arminian’s fanciful delusion of an Unlimited Atonement is reduced to this – “IF the sinner believes, then Christ died for him; if the sinner does not believe, then Christ did not die for him; thus the sinner’s act is made the cause of its own object, as though his believing WOULD MAKE THAT TO BE WHICH OTHERWISE WAS NOT”. [A.W. Pink]

“Calvinism or the ‘Doctrines of Grace’ isn’t a produce stand from which we can pick and choose which doctrines we wish to keep and pass over the rest in a sort of hermeneutical reprobation. Calvinism is an interwoven system of theology which must be accepted or rejected as a whole. From the acceptance of one point, one is compelled by simple logic to the acceptance of all the rest. You can’t deny one without denying them all. The four-point Calvinist is as consistent as a psalm-singing atheist”. [Anonymous]

[Quoted from Loraine Boettner’s ‘Reformed Doctrine of Predestination’] 

THE ARMINIAN LIMITATION OF THE ATONEMENT

THE ARMINIAN LIMITATION OF THE ATONEMENT

The Arminian limits the Atonement as certainly as does the Calvinist.

The Calvinist limits the EXTENT of it in that he says it does not apply to ALL persons; while the Arminian limits the POWER OF IT.

The Arminian says that in itself it does not actually save anybody.

The Calvinist limits it quantitatively, but not qualitatively; the Arminian limits it qualitatively, but not quantitatively.

For the Calvinist it is like a narrow bridge which goes ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE STREAM; for the Arminian it is like a great wide bridge which goes ONLY HALF-WAY ACROSS.

As a matter of fact, the Arminian places more severe limitations on the work of Christ than does the Calvinist.

For WHOM did Christ die? We answer without hesitation, CHRIST DIED FOR “GOD’S ELECT”!

“And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save HIS people from THEIR sins [Mt. 1:21].

Christ died not simply to render sins pardonable, but “to PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of Himself” [Heb. 9:26]. As to WHO’S “sin” has been “put away”, Scripture leaves us in no doubt—it was that of the elect. “For the transgressions of MY PEOPLE was He stricken [Isa. 53:8]. Again the Lord’s own words are, “I lay down My life for the SHEEP” (not the goats)! [John 10:15]

“Christ did not intend to save those He knew He would not save. If He intended to save any it was those He knew would be saved. Christ has died for them (the elect) and NOT FOR THE WORLD. It was the elect that Christ came to save. Since God eternally decreed not to save others Christ would not be engaged in a FOOL’S errand.” [Jonathan Edwards]

The Arminian’s fanciful delusion of an Unlimited Atonement is reduced to this – “IF the sinner believes, then Christ died for him; if the sinner does not believe, then Christ did not die for him; thus the sinner’s act is made the cause of its own object, as though his believing WOULD MAKE THAT TO BE WHICH OTHERWISE WAS NOT”. [A.W. Pink]

“Calvinism or the ‘Doctrines of Grace’ isn’t a produce stand from which we can pick and choose which doctrines we wish to keep and pass over the rest in a sort of hermeneutical reprobation. Calvinism is an interwoven system of theology which must be accepted or rejected as a whole. From the acceptance of one point, one is compelled by simple logic to the acceptance of all the rest. You can’t deny one without denying them all. The four-point Calvinist is as consistent as a psalm-singing atheist”. [Anonymous]

[Quoted from Loraine Boettner’s ‘Reformed Doctrine of Predestination’] 

LIMITED ATONEMENT – THE MOST OFFENSIVE TRUTH WHICH GENERALLY CANNOT BE RECEIVED BY THE NON-ELECT

LIMITED ATONEMENT – THE MOST OFFENSIVE TRUTH WHICH GENERALLY CANNOT BE RECEIVED BY THE NON-ELECT

Michael Jeshurun

It is neither strange nor unnatural for a regenerated child of God to initially misunderstand or believe wrongly as to how he was saved or for whom His Lord died on the Cross etc. For God does not regenerate His elect only under the ‘Calvinist tent’ but wherever the death, burial and resurrection of His Son are faithfully proclaimed! [see 1Cor 15:1-4]

But if he is truly regenerated, he will not remain long in that error! And unlike the reprobate who are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth [2Tim 3:7], the true child of God will (by the same Spirit by Whom he was regenerated) by and by be led into all truth! [[John 16:13] For the path which he now walks is “the path of the just, (which) as the shining light, shineth more and more unto the perfect day”! [Prov 4:18]

Without doubt the doctrine of Limited Atonement or [Particular Redemption] is the most offensive, controversial and difficult of the doctrines of grace. A testing doctrine! Only a Christian who has decided to preach the offence of the Cross will accept it.

All the rest will openly reject it, and in certain cases vehemently attack it. The reason for this is because, if Limited Atonement is accepted, it follows that these must also be accepted –

1. God does not intend to save all, seeing He hath not made provision for all.
2. If God does not intend to save all he obviously does not love all.
3. It accuses God of partiality, and debunks the view they have had of Him since their youth.
4. The carnal mind immediately foresees that embracing this truth is to make oneself unpopular in the religious world.

History shows that the most popular preachers whether Reformed or Puritan, either deliberately ignored or explained this doctrine away by removing its offence. This is not the doctrine to contend for if you are a preacher interested in numbers or a Christian interested in making friends and influencing people.

What will you do with this grand Truth of God’s unfailing Word?!!

Come now, think about it . . .

If the Atonement was offered for all mankind then the debt incurred by EVERY MAN HAS BEEN CANCELLED. If Christ bore in His own body on the tree the sins of all men WITHOUT EXCEPTION, then none will perish. If Christ was “made a curse” for all of Adam’s race then none are now “under condemnation.” “PAYMENT GOD CANNOT TWICE DEMAND, FIRST AT MY BLEEDING SURETY’S HAND AND THEN AGAIN AT MINE.”

But Christ DID NOT discharge the debt of all men without exception, for some there are who will be “cast into prison” (see 1 Peter 3:19 where the same Greek word for “prison” occurs), and they shall “by no means come out thence, till they have paid the uttermost farthing” (Matthew 5:26), which, of course, will never be. Christ DID NOT bear the sins of all mankind, for some there are who “die IN THEIR SINS” (John 8:21), and whose “sin REMAINETH” (John 9:41).

Christ WAS NOT “made a curse” for all of Adam’s race, for some there are to whom He will yet say, “Depart from Me YE CURSED” (Matthew 25:41). To say that Christ died for all alike, to say that He became the Substitute and Surety of the whole human race, to say that He suffered on behalf of and in the stead of all mankind, is to say that He “BORE THE CURSE FOR MANY WHO ARE NOW BEARING THE CURSE FOR THEMSELVES; that He suffered punishment for many who are now lifting up their own eyes in Hell, being in torments; that He paid the redemption price for many who shall yet pay in their own eternal anguish ‘the wages of sin, which is death’.

But, on the other hand, to say as Scripture says, that Christ was stricken for the transgressions OF GOD’S PEOPLE, to say that He gave His life FOR THE SHEEP, to say that He gave His life a ransom FOR MANY, is to say that He made an atonement which FULLY ATONES; it is to say He paid a price which ACTUALLY RANSOMS; it is to say He was set forth a propitiation which really propitiates; it is to say HE IS A SAVIOR WHO TRULY SAVE!

To say that Christ died for every human being without exception is to say that at least in some sense ‘Christ died in vain’. Fact is, there are many who died and perished long before Christ came. And even to this day there are many who died without hearing the Gospel. To say that Christ died even for these is to say that He died in vain!

 

THOSE WHO REJECT ‘LIMITED ATONEMENT’ DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD!

Five points

THOSE WHO REJECT ‘LIMITED ATONEMENT’ DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD!

It is neither strange nor unnatural for a regenerated child of God to initially misunderstand or believe wrongly as to how he was saved or for whom His Lord died on the Cross etc. For God does not regenerate His elect only under the ‘Calvinist tent’ but wherever the death, burial and resurrection of His Son are faithfully proclaimed! [see 1Cor 15:1-4]

But if he is truly regenerated, he will not remain long in that error! And unlike the reprobate who are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth [2Tim 3:7], the true child of God will (by the same Spirit by Whom he was regenerated) by and by be led into all truth! [[John 16:13] For the path which he now walks is “the path of the just, (which) as the shining light, shineth more and more unto the perfect day”! [Prov 4:18]

 Was Anyone Saved at the Cross?

by James White

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. —Charles Haddon Spurgeon

There was a time when I called myself a “four-point Calvinist.” There are a lot of people who use that term, and, almost all the time, the one point of the five that they reject is the terrible, horrible, “L”. Limited atonement. There is just something about the term that doesn’t sound right. How can Christ’s atonement be limited? And that is exactly what I said until I began to seriously think about the whole issue. It is my experience that most of those who reject the specific, or limited atonement of Christ, do not *really* believe in the complete sovereignty of God, or the total depravity of man, or the unconditional election of God. Most objections that are lodged against the doctrine are actually objections to one of the preceding points, not against limited atonement itself. The “break” in my thinking came from reading Edwin Palmer’s book, The Five Points of Calvinism. [Edwin H. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980) pp. 41-55.] In doing a radio program on the truth of God’s electing grace, I was challenged by a caller in regards to the death of Christ. “Why would Christ die for the whole world if God did not intend to save everyone?” I looked at my co-host, and he looked at me, and I made a mental note to do more study into that particular question. I grabbed Palmer’s book as soon as I returned home, and began to read the chapter on the atoning work of Christ.

I became a full “five-pointer” upon reading the following section:

The question that needs a precise answer is this: Did He or didn’t He? Did Christ actually make a substitutionary sacrifice for sins or didn’t He? If He did, then it was not for all the world, for then all the world would be saved. (Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism, p. 47.)

I was faced with a decision. If I maintained a “universal” atonement, that is, if I said that Christ died substitutionarily in the place of every single man and woman in all the world, then I was forced to either say that 1) everyone will be saved, or 2) the death of Christ is insufficient to save without additional works. I knew that I was not willing to believe that Christ’s death could not save outside of human actions. So I had to understand that Christ’s death was made in behalf of God’s elect, and that it does accomplish its intention, it does save those for whom it is made. At this point I realized that I had “limited” the atonement all along. In fact, if you do not believe in the Reformed doctrine of “limited atonement,” you believe in a limited atonement anyway! How so? Unless you are a universalist (that is, unless you believe that everyone will be saved), then you believe that the atonement of Christ, if it is made for all men, is limited in its effect. You believe that Christ can die in someone’s place and yet that person may still be lost for eternity. You limit the power and effect of the atonement. I limit the scope of the atonement, while saying that its power and effect is unlimited! One writer expressed it well when he said,

Let there be no misunderstanding at this point. The Arminian limits the atonement as certainly as does the Calvinist. The Calvinist limits the extent of it in that he says it does not apply to all persons…while the Arminian limits the power of it, for he says that in itself it does not actually save anybody. The Calvinist limits it quantitatively, but not qualitatively; the Arminian limits it qualitatively, but not quantitatively. For the Calvinist it is like a narrow bridge that goes all the way across the stream; for the Arminian it is like a great wide bridge that goes only half-way across. As a matter of fact, the Arminian places more severe limitations on the work of Christ than does the Calvinist. (Lorraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1932) p. 153.)

Therefore, we are not talking about presenting some terrible limitation on the work of Christ when we speak of “limited atonement.” In fact, we are actually presenting a far greater view of the work of Christ on Calvary when we say that Christ’s death actually accomplishes something in reality rather than only in theory. The atonement, we believe, was a real, actual, substitutionary one, not a possible, theoretical one that is dependent for its efficacy upon the actions of man. And, as one who often shares the gospel with people involved in false religious systems, I will say that the biblical doctrine of the atonement of Christ is a powerful truth that is the only message that has real impact in dealing with the many heretical teachings about Christ that are present in our world today. Jesus Christ died in behalf of those that the Father had, from eternity, decreed to save. There is absolute unity between the Father and the Son in saving God’s people. The Father decrees their salvation, the Son dies in their place, and the Spirit sanctifies them and conforms them to the image of Christ. This is the consistent testimony of Scripture.

The Intention of the Atonement

Why did Christ come to die? Did He come simply to make salvation possible, or did He come to actually obtain eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12)? Let’s consider some passages from Scripture in answer to this question.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:10).

Here the Lord Jesus Himself speaks of the reason for His coming. He came to seek and to save the lost. Few have a problem with His seeking; many have a problem with the idea that He actually accomplished all of His mission. Jesus, however, made it clear that He came to actually save the lost. He did this by His death.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst (1 Timothy 1:15).

Paul asserts that the purpose of Christ’s coming into the world was to actually save sinners. Nothing in Paul’s words leads us to the conclusion that is so popular today—that Christ’s death simply makes salvation a possibility rather than a reality. Christ came to save. So, did He? And how did He? Was it not by His death? Most certainly. The atoning death of Christ provides forgiveness of sins for all those for whom it is made. That is why Christ came.

Christ’s Intercessory Work

But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them (Hebrews 7:24-26).

The New Testament closely connects the work of Christ as our High Priest and intercessor with His death upon the cross. In this passage from Hebrews, we are told that the Lord Jesus, since He lives forever, has an unchangeable or permanent priesthood. He is not like the old priests who passed away, but is a perfect priest, because He remains forever. Because of this He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him. Why? Because He always lives to make intercession for them.

Now, before considering the relationship of the death of Christ to His intercession, I wish to emphasize the fact that the Bible says that Christ is able to save men completely. He is not limited simply to a secondary role as the great Assistor who makes it possible for man to save himself. Those who draw near to God through Christ will find full and complete salvation in Him. Furthermore, we must remember that Christ intercedes for those who draw near to God. I feel that it is obvious that Christ is not interceding for those who are not approaching God through Him. Christ’s intercession is in behalf of the people of God. We shall see how important this is in a moment.

Upon what ground does Christ intercede before the Father? Does He stand before the Father and ask Him to forget His holiness, forget His justice, and simply pass over the sins of men? Of course not. The Son intercedes before the Father on the basis of His death. Christ’s intercession is based upon the fact that He has died as the substitute for God’s people, and, since He has borne their sins in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24), He can present His offering before the Father in their place, and intercede for them on this basis. The Son does not ask the Father to compromise His holiness, or to simply pass over sin. Christ took care of sin at Calvary. As we read in Hebrews 9:11-12:

When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.

When Christ entered into the Holy of Holies, He did so “by his own blood.” When He did this, we are told that He had “obtained eternal redemption.” This again is not a theoretical statement, but a statement of fact. Christ did not enter into the Holy of Holies to attempt to gain redemption for His people! He entered in having already accomplished that. So what is He doing? Is His work of intercession another work alongside His sacrificial death? Is His death ineffective without this “other” work? Christ’s intercession is not a second work outside of His death. Rather, Christ is presenting before the Father His perfect and complete sacrifice. He is our High Priest, and the sacrifice He offers in our place is the sacrifice of Himself. He is our Advocate, as John said:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2. [This passage is often used to deny the specific atonement of Christ; yet, when the parallel passage in John 11:51-52 is consulted, it is clear that John means the “world” to be taken in the same sense that is explained for us in Revelation 5:9-11, where Christ’s death purchases for God men “from every tribe and language and people and nation,” that is, from all the world.]

Christ’s atoning death is clearly connected with His advocacy before the Father. Therefore, we can see the following truths:

1) It is impossible that the Son would not intercede for everyone for whom He died. If Christ dies as their Substitute, how could He not present His sacrifice in their stead before the Father? Can we really believe that Christ would die for someone that He did not intend to save?

2) It is impossible that anyone for whom the Son did not die could receive Christ’s intercession. If Christ did not die in behalf of a certain individual, how could Christ intercede for that individual, since He would have no grounds upon which to seek the Father’s mercy?

3) It is impossible that anyone for whom the Son intercedes could be lost. Can we imagine the Son pleading before the Father, presenting His perfect atonement in behalf of an individual that He wishes to save, and the Father rejecting the Son’s intercession? The Father always hears the Son (John 11:42). Would He not hear the Son’s pleas in behalf of all that the Son desires to save? Furthermore, if we believe that Christ can intercede for someone that the Father will not save, then we must believe either 1) that there is dissension in the Godhead, the Father desiring one thing, the Son another, or 2) that the Father is incapable of doing what the Son desires Him to do. Both positions are utterly impossible.

That Christ does not act as High Priest for all men is clearly seen in His “High Priestly Prayer” in John 17. The Lord clearly distinguishes between the “world” and those who are His throughout the prayer, and verse 9 makes our point very strongly:

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.

When Christ prays to the Father, He does not pray for the “world” but for those that have been given to Him by the Father (John 6:37).

For Whom Did Christ Die?

There are a number of Scriptures that teach us that the scope of Christ’s death was limited to the elect. Here are a few of them:

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

The “many” for whom Christ died are the elect of God, just as Isaiah had said long before,

By his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:11)

The Lord Jesus made it clear that His death was for His people when He spoke of the Shepherd and the sheep:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep….just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15).

The good Shepherd lays down His life in behalf of the sheep. Are all men the sheep of Christ? Certainly not, for most men do not know Christ, and Christ says that His sheep know Him (John 10:14). Further, Jesus specifically told the Jews who did not believe in Him, “but you do not believe because you are not my sheep” (John 10:26). Note that in contrast with the idea that we believe and therefore make ourselves Christ’s sheep, Jesus says that they do not believe because they are not His sheep! Whether one is of Christ’s sheep is the Father’s decision (John 6:37, 8:47), not the sheep’s!

…just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God….husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:2, 25-27).

Christ gave Himself in behalf of His Church, His Body, and that for the purpose of cleansing her and making her holy. If this was His intention for the Church, why would He give Himself for those who are not of the Church? Would He not wish to make these “others” holy as well? Yet, if Christ died for all men, there are many, many who will remain impure for all eternity. Was Christ’s death insufficient to cleanse them? Certainly not. Did He have a different goal in mind in dying for them? [I am not here denying that the death of Christ had effects for all men, indeed, for all of creation. I believe that His death is indeed part of the “summing up of all things” in Christ. But, we are speaking here solely with the salvific effect of the substitutionary atonement of Christ. One might say that Christ’s death has an effect upon those for whom it was not intended as an atoning sacrifice.] No, His sacrificial death in behalf of His Church results in her purification, and this is what He intended for all for whom He died.

He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring a charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us (Romans 8:32-34).

The Father gave the Son in our place. Who is the “our” of this passage? The text says that it is “those whom God has chosen,” that is, the elect of God. Again, the intercessory work of Christ at the right hand of the Father is presented in perfect harmony with the death of Christ—those for whom Christ died are those for whom He intercedes. And, as this passage shows, if Christ intercedes for someone, who can possibly bring a charge against that person and hope to see them condemned? So we see what we have seen before: Christ dies in someone’s place, He intercedes for them, and they are infallibly saved. Christ’s work is complete and perfect. He is the powerful Savior, and He never fails to accomplish His purpose.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

Are all the friends of Christ? Do all own His name? Do all bow before Him and accept Him as Lord? Do all do His commandments (John 15:14)? Then not all are His friends.

While we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:13-14).

Both the substitutionary element of the cross (gave himself for us) and the purpose thereof (to redeem us…to purify) are forcefully presented to Titus. If it was the purpose of Christ to redeem and purify those for whom He died, can this possibly not take place?

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

Christ will save His people from their sins. I ask what Edwin Palmer asked me before: Well, did He? Did He save His people, or did He not?

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

This is the common confession of every true believer in Christ. We died with Him, our Substitute, the one who loved us and gave Himself in our behalf.

We have seen, then, that the Word teaches that Christ died for many, for His sheep, for the Church, for the elect of God, for His friends, for a people zealous for good works, for His people, for each and every Christian.

Perfected and Sanctified

One could quite obviously fill entire volumes with a study of the atonement of Christ. [The reader is strongly encouraged to make the effort to read completely a work that stands as a classic in the field: John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ from Banner of Truth, for a full discussion of the issues surrounding the atonement of Christ.] It is not our purpose to do so here. Instead, we shall close our brief survey of Scripture with these words from Hebrews 10:10-14:

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifice, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

While we have seen many logical reasons for believing in limited atonement, and we have seen many references to Christ’s death in behalf of His people, this one passage, above all others, to me, makes the doctrine a must. Listen closely to what we are told. First, what is the effect of the one time sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ? What does verse 10 tell us? “We have been made holy,” or, another translation would be, “We have been sanctified.” The Greek language uses the perfect tense here, indicating a past, and completed, action. The death of Christ actually makes us holy. Do we believe this? Did the death of Christ actually sanctify those for whom it was made? Or did it simply make it possible for them to become holy? Again, these are questions that cannot be easily dismissed. The writer goes on to describe how this priest, Jesus, sat down at the right hand of God, unlike the old priests who had to keep performing sacrifices over and over and over again. His work, on the contrary, is perfect and complete. He can rest, for by His one sacrifice He has made perfect those who are experiencing the sanctifying work of the Spirit in their lives. He made them perfect, complete. The term refers to a completion, a finishing. Again, do we believe that Christ’s death does this? And, if we see the plain teaching of Scripture, are we willing to alter our beliefs, and our methods of proclaiming the gospel, to fit the truth?

What of Faith?

One common belief needs to be addressed in passing. Many who believe in a “universal” or non-specific atonement, assert that while Christ died for all, His atonement is only effective for those who believe. We shall discuss the fact that faith itself is the gift of God, given only to the elect of God, in the next chapter. But for now, we refer to the great Puritan writer, John Owen, in answering this question:

To which I may add this dilemma to our Universalists:—God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for, either all the sins of all men, or all the sins of some men, or some sins of all men. If the last, some sins of all men, then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved; for if God enter into judgment with us, though it were with all mankind for one sin, no flesh should be justified in his sight: “If the LORD should mark iniquities, who should stand?” Ps. cxxx. 3….If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world. If the first, why, then are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins? You will say, “Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.” But this unbelief, is it a sin, or not? If not, why should they be punished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not. If so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then he did not die for all their sins. Let them choose which part they will. (John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1985) pp. 61-62.)

Conclusion

Some object to the doctrine of limited atonement on very pragmatic grounds. “The doctrine destroys evangelism, because you cannot tell people that Christ died for them, because you don’t know!” Yet, we ask, is there an advantage in presenting to men an atonement that is theoretical, a Savior whose work is incomplete, and a gospel that is but a possibility? What kind of proclamation will God honor with His Spirit: one that is tailored to seek “success,” or one that is bound to the truth of the Word of God? When the Apostles preached the Gospel, they did not say, “Christ died for all men everywhere, and it is up to you to make His work effective.” They taught that Christ died for sinners, and that it was the duty of every man to repent and believe. They knew that only God’s grace could bring about repentance and faith in the human heart. And far from that being a *hindrance* to their evangelistic work, it was the power behind it! They proclaimed a *powerful* Savior, whose work is all sufficient, and who saves men totally and completely! They knew that God was about bringing men to Himself, and, since He is the sovereign of the universe, there is no power on earth that will stay His hand! Now there is a solid basis for evangelism! And what could be more of a comfort to the heart that is racked with guilt than to know that Christ has died for sinners, and that His work is not just theoretical, but is real?

The Church needs to challenge the world again with the daring proclamation of a gospel that is offensive—offensive because it speaks of God saving those whom He will, offensive because it proclaims a sovereign Savior who redeems His people.

[The above is by PastorJames White of The Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church]

CHRIST DIED FOR “GOD’S ELECT”

Died for the world9687

CHRIST DIED FOR “GOD’S ELECT”

compiled by Michael Jeshurun

Limited or Particular Atonement is one of the most difficult truths to accept! Our business is not to REASON about it, but to BOW to Holy Scripture. Our first duty is not to UNDERSTAND, but to BELIEVE what God has said.

R.C. Sproul is right when he says – “There are a host of folks who call themselves four-point Calvinist because they can’t swallow the doctrine of limited atonement. Sometimes they say, “I’m not a Calvinist and I’m not an Arminian, I’m a Calminian.” I think that a FOUR-POINT CALVINIST IS AN ARMINIAN. I say that for this reason: When I have talked to people who call themselves four-point Calvinists and have had the opportunity to discuss it with them, I have discovered that they were NO-POINT CALVINISTS. They thought they believed in total depravity, in unconditional election, in irresistible grace, and in the perseverance of the saints, but they didn’t UNDERSTAND these points”. [The Truth of the Cross pp. 140-42 (Capital letters mine)]

For WHOM did Christ die? We answer, Christ died for “God’s elect”. “And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save HIS people from THEIR sins [Mt. 1:21]. Christ died not simply to render sins pardonable, but “to PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of Himself” [Heb. 9:26]. As to WHO’S “sin” has been “put away”, Scripture leaves us in no doubt—it was that of the elect. “For the transgressions of MY PEOPLE was He stricken [Isa. 53:8]. Again the Lord’s own words are, “I lay down My life for the SHEEP” (not the goats)! [John 10:15]

“Christ did not intend to save those He knew He would not save. If He intended to and NOT FOR THE WORLD. It was the elect that Christ came to save. Since God eternally decreed not to save others Christ would not be engaged in a FOOL’S errand.” [Edwards]

People’s fanciful delusion of an Unlimited Atonement is reduced to this – “IF the sinner believes, then Christ died for him; if the sinner does not believe, then Christ did not die for him; thus the sinner’s act is made the cause of its own object, as though his believing WOULD MAKE THAT TO BE WHICH OTHERWISE WAS NOT”. [A.W. Pink]

“Calvinism isn’t a produce stand from which we can pick and choose which doctrines we wish to keep and pass over the rest in a sort of hermeneutical reprobation. Calvinism is an interwoven system of theology which must be accepted or rejected as a whole. From the acceptance of one point, one is compelled by simple logic to the acceptance of all the rest. You can’t deny one without denying them all. The four-point Calvinist is as consistent as a Psalm-singing atheist”. – Author known only to God!

IS UNIVERSAL ATONEMENT TRUE?

Pelagian

IS UNIVERSAL ATONEMENT TRUE?

Stewart Angus

If Christ died for absolutely everybody, then why are not all actually saved? Romans 6 makes it clear that those who are united to Christ in His death are dead to sin (6-7) and “alive unto God” (11), and will be raised bodily to glory (5). But many spend all their days “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1) and will rise in the “resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29). We can only conclude that they were not united to Christ in His death (i.e., Christ did not die for them). For if the reprobate were united to Christ in His death (i.e., if Christ died for them), they would live unto God.

Scripture teaches that both faith (Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29) and repentance (Acts 5:31; 11:18; II Tim. 2:25) are gifts of God’s grace. Faith and repentance are instances of “spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). God’s blessings in Christ come through Christ’s cross (Rom. 8:32; Gal. 3:13-14). But “all men have not faith” (II Thess. 3:2) nor do all repent (Rev. 16:11). Thus faith and repentance were not purchased for everybody head for head on the cross and so Christ did not die for all.

Titus 2:14 explains that Christ’s purpose in His redemption on the cross is the sanctification of His own “peculiar people” that we would be purified and be “zealous of good works.” But many die “filthy” (Rev. 22:11) because of their “ungodly deeds” (Jude 15). Since the purpose of the omnipotent God always stands (Rom. 9:11) and can never be resisted (II Chron. 20:6), it was not Christ’s purpose to sanctify and redeem the reprobate by His cross. Thus He did not die for them.

If Christ shed His blood to redeem everyone head for head, then the creeds of the Reformed churches, on the continent and in the British Isles and all around the world, teach false doctrine at this point. The Canons of Dordt—the most international assembly of Reformed Protestants ever—clearly state that Christ redeemed the elect “and those only” (2.8) and that those who teach that He died for absolutely everybody speak “contemptuously of the death of Christ” and “bring again out of hell the Pelagian error” (2.R.3).

B. B. Warfield writes that the Canons were “published authoritatively in 1619 as the finding of the [Dutch] Synod with the aid of a large body of foreign assessors, representative practically of the whole Reformed world. The Canons … therefore … [possess] the moral authority of the decrees of practically an Ecumenical Council throughout the whole body of Reformed Churches” (Works, vol. 9, p. 144).

The Westminster Confession of Faith states, “Neither are any other redeemed by Christ … but the elect only” (3.6; cf. 8:1; 11:4; 13:1). These articles were copied in the Savoy Declaration and the Baptist Confession. Thus the creeds of Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists all teach Limited Atonement or Particular Redemption. Remember too that all who recite the Westminster Shorter Catechism confess that Jesus Christ is the “only Redeemer of God’s elect” (A 21). As we have seen in the last few issues, the Reformed creeds simply set forth the Bible’s teaching on this subject. Let us hold fast to Scriptural truth and honor the crucified and victorious Christ!

TULIP OR WEEDS?

Tulip or Weeds

TULIP OR WEEDS?

by Daniel E. Parks

Is salvation the work of God alone? Or is it the work of man cooperating with God? Is salvation bestowed by God’s grace alone? or does man merit it? Is man’s will in bondage? or does he have freewill? Did Christ save His people? Or only make everyone savable?

Church history is highlighted by confrontations on this doctrine. Those who preach that salvation involves man’s freewill and works have ever opposed those who preach that salvation is by God’s grace alone. This opposition has come from Pharisees and Judaism (1st century), Pelagians (from 4th century), Romanists (from Dark Ages), Arminians (from 17th century), and Wesleyans (from 18th century), and from every other form of Freewillism in every age.

Here are major points of disagreement in this controversy –

SALVATION IS BY GOD’S GRACE ALONE

T-otal depravity – Mankind is spiritually dead and under the dominion of sin (Ephesians 2:1-3; John 8:34). None will of his own will come to Christ for salvation (John 5:40; 6:65). None has faith unless God graciously bestows it (Ephesians 2:8).

U-nconditional election – God the Father graciously chose and predestined to salvation some of our fallen race (2 Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 1:3-6). His choice was in no way conditioned upon foreseen good or merit in the chosen ones (John 15:16).

L-imited atonement – Jesus Christ died as the substitute of God’s elect, forever redeeming and forgiving them (Isaiah 53:4-6, 8b; Ephesians 1:7). He did not die for any who are not His sheep and who will die in unbelief (John 10:11, 26)

I-rresistible grace – God will not be thwarted in His purpose of salvation (Daniel 4:35). Every one of His chosen and redeemed sinners will be brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ (John 6:37, 45; Romans 8:29f).

P-erseverance of the saints – God preserves in salvation all believers in Christ, and none will ever perish (John 3:16; 10:28f). And He enables them to persevere to the end, so that none will be lost (Jeremiah 32:40; Romans 8:35-39).

SALVATION INVOLVES MAN’S FREE WILL

W-ill of man is free – Mankind is influenced by sin, but not under its dominion, as all yet have freewill and the ability to determine their own destiny. Anyone can of his own freewill come to Christ for salvation. All men have faith, but not all will to exercise it.

E-lection is conditional – Election to salvation involves both the sinner choosing God and God choosing the sinner. God’s choice was conditioned upon man’s choice, as God chose in eternity past those whom He foresaw in time believing in Jesus Christ for salvation.

E-veryone is redeemed – Jesus Christ died for every one universally, paying the price of redemption for them all. But this does not guarantee their forgiveness, as many of His redeemed will be eventually damned because of unbelief.

D-enial thwarts God – The sovereignty of God does not extend to His salvation, for man’s will can thwart God’s purpose in salvation. God is trying to save every sinner, but He is helpless to save any sinner who will not let Him.

S-ome will lose salvation – God cannot preserve in salvation those who of their own freewill refuse to be preserved. Those believers who do not remain faithful to the very end will lose their salvation, “fall from grace”, and eventually perish.

The first letter in each point of disagreement above is in bold and underlined type. These form acronyms. The acronym under “Salvation Is by God’s Grace Alone” is the very-well known TULIP. The acronym under “Salvation Involves Man’s Freewill” is appropriately WEEDS.

Which is applicable to you?

The Arminian Limitation of the Atonement!

Halfway Bridge

The Arminian limits the Atonement as certainly as does the Calvinist.

The Calvinist limits the EXTENT of it in that he says it does not apply to ALL persons; while the Arminian limits the POWER OF IT.

The Arminian says that in itself it does not actually save anybody.

The Calvinist limits it quantitatively, but not qualitatively; the Arminian limits it qualitatively, but not quantitatively.

For the Calvinist it is like a narrow bridge which goes ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE STREAM; for the Arminian it is like a great wide bridge which goes ONLY HALF-WAY ACROSS.

As a matter of fact, the Arminian places more severe limitations on the work of Christ than does the Calvinist.

For WHOM did Christ die? We answer without hesitation, CHRIST DIED FOR “GOD’S ELECT”!

“And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save HIS people from THEIR sins [Mt. 1:21].

Christ died not simply to render sins pardonable, but “to PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of Himself” [Heb. 9:26]. As to WHO’S “sin” has been “put away”, Scripture leaves us in no doubt—it was that of the elect. “For the transgressions of MY PEOPLE was He stricken [Isa. 53:8]. Again the Lord’s own words are, “I lay down My life for the SHEEP” (not the goats)! [John 10:15]

“Christ did not intend to save those He knew He would not save. If He intended to save any it was those He knew would be saved. Christ has died for them (the elect) and NOT FOR THE WORLD. It was the elect that Christ came to save. Since God eternally decreed not to save others Christ would not be engaged in a FOOL’S errand.” [Jonathan Edwards]

The Arminian’s fanciful delusion of an Unlimited Atonement is reduced to this – “IF the sinner believes, then Christ died for him; if the sinner does not believe, then Christ did not die for him; thus the sinner’s act is made the cause of its own object, as though his believing WOULD MAKE THAT TO BE WHICH OTHERWISE WAS NOT”. [A.W. Pink]

“Calvinism or the ‘Doctrines of Grace’ isn’t a produce stand from which we can pick and choose which doctrines we wish to keep and pass over the rest in a sort of hermeneutical reprobation. Calvinism is an interwoven system of theology which must be accepted or rejected as a whole. From the acceptance of one point, one is compelled by simple logic to the acceptance of all the rest. You can’t deny one without denying them all. The four-point Calvinist is as consistent as a psalm-singing atheist”. [Anonymous]

Christ’s Atonement Sufficient for All but efficient for the Elect?

Christ’s Atonement Sufficient for All but efficient for the Elect?

Want to know my view on the statement that is prevalent in many Reformed circles on the Atonement which says- “Christ’s death was of infinite worth and is sufficient for all, but efficient only for the elect”. I am personally convinced that this statement is dabbling with Amyraldian speculation. We know that Amyraldius attempted to fuse together the Arminian tenant that Christ died for all, while holding to part of the Calvinistic tenant that Christ died only for the elect.

In trying to relay information to the public at large as gracious as possible, the Synod of Dordt, one of the most respected councils in the history of the church, said this:  “The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.” Don’t you think this is erroneous? Nothing wrong in saying, “The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value.” But to say, “abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world” is an Arminian statement, don’t you think?

Many Calvinist’s hold that if God desired, He could have saved everyone, and the same atonement that saved His elect, could have saved a million billion worlds – hypothetically speaking of course.  But here is the rub; the Scriptures never speak hypothetically in this way – ever.  Instead, they always speak of what Christ did do and what Christ accomplished.  For example, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  This is what Christ did.  A pondering god on what “might have been” or what “might be” is not at all-sovereign, and all knowledge God.  God speak in terms of reality, not possibility.  He operates in the realm of the actual, not the realm of “what if?”

To say that the atonement is of infinite value or worth is to correctly describe it biblically speaking.  I agree with that sentiment because of the design and nature of what the atonement had to be to redeem an elect number of people for their sin.  The atonement of Jesus Christ is of infinite worth, and must be of infinite worth, because it is a propitiation and expiation of the elect’s sin before the infinite holiness of an infinitely holy God.  God’s character defines the kind of sin offering that must be given.  God is infinitely holy.  Men have sinned against an infinitely holy God.  The sacrifice, then, of the Mediator that God sends, must be infinitely given – an infinite sacrifice.  For this reason alone, the Mediator must be God for only God is infinite.  We know, Scripturally, Jesus Christ is God incarnate.  Only God could offer up to Himself an infinitely holy sacrifice for sin.

To say the atonement of Jesus Christ is “sufficient for all, but efficient for the elect” is really saying only half a truth.  The atonement is only sufficient and efficient for the elect.  It is sufficient to do exactly what God designed it to do – that is – atone for all the sins of the elect.  Could God have decreed something different?  Let’s speculate!  Sure He could have.  He could have decreed that trees grow upside down, that men are born with wings to fly around and live in giant green pea-pods that float in the sky.  He could have decreed that all fish breath air, and that the ocean is really made of strawberry jelly.  He could have decreed that we see with our nose, smell with our ears, and see with our toes. He could have decreed that Christ’s sacrifice could save everyone, including a million billion worlds.  He could have decreed anything.  But He decreed what He did decree.  As you can see, to speak otherwise is just to speculate, and speculating can become very weird very quickly.  Instead, why not simply follow the biblical directives of what Christ actually did, and what He actually accomplished in His infinite sacrifice which had to be infinite for the infinite sins against an infinitely holy God.  And mind you, the Bible never depicts God as the one who speculates in hypothetical possibilities, and thus, neither should we.

[paraphrased from an article by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon titled “Jesus died for Aliens on Planet Zeno”. Read the full article on http://www.apuritansmind.com]