Thursday, April 1, 2010

Blogging Thru: "L" By Grace Alone

Click here for the intro to this series of Blogging Thru: By Grace Alone TULIP

The Letter "L"

Limited Atonement or Particular Redemption

This topic is extremely relevant with Easter approaching. Limited atonement deals with the question of "For whom did Christ die?" Was his blood shed for everyone, or for the elect only?
The debate centers on the necessary consequences of either position. The Bible clearly states that not everyone will be saved. So, if Christ died for everyone without exception, then He merely made salvation possible. He arranged for everyone to have the means of salvation if they would just take advantage of it. However, if Christ actually finished the work of redemption - if His death was completely sufficient and effective in securing salvation for guilty sinners - then the very fact that not everyone is saved forces us to conclude that Christ died only for His elect people. (page 63)
Here is closer look at both sides of the issue.

Opponents of this doctrine argue that it is improper, and even presumptive, to place limits on Christ’s work. However, the truth be known, the Arminian view of “Universal Atonement” actually puts a much more stringent limitation on the redemptive work than we do.
 If Christ’s death simply made salvation possible, and every individual has the atonement available provided they claim it, then Christ did not actually save anyone! The advocates of Universal Atonement would have us believe that Christ poured out the sanctifying blood of God just in case anyone ever decided to use it. But, the actual catalyst in salvation is the will of the individual who decides to put the atonement into effect in his or her own life.
While the Doctrines of Grace limit the extent of the atonement, the Arminian doctrine limits the power of it. We do not doubt that the value of Christ’s suffering and dying was sufficient to save every individual who ever lived, but it was efficient only to the elect.

The Arminian thinker views the atonement as a great, wide bridge that spans the gulf between man and God, but it only goes halfway. Men must build the other half in order to reach the heavenly destination. However, the Calvinistic thinker asserts that the atonement is a narrow, sturdy bridge that reaches all the way across the expansive gulf between ruin and salvation. But, it is not popularly known and it is difficult to find.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:13-14).

So, invariably we are forced to limit the atonement in either its effectiveness - the Arminian view - or in its particularity - the Calvinistic view. The Bible however defends the absolute completeness and utter efficaciousness of Christ’s death, while it also declares its specific application and apprehension among the elect of God. Thus, the Arminian limitation lacks Scriptural support.(page 80-81)
The book covers much more on this subject, discussing what was actually accomplished at the cross. Each of these are considered in depth there, but here is just a summary of what he pulls from scripture.
In summary, Scripture tells us that Jesus on the cross:
1. Was the final substitutionary sacrifice for sin.
2. Offered the propitiation that fully satisfied the wrath of God.
3. Paid the redemption price to purchase guilty sinners.
4. Was the ransom price that was paid.
5. Made reconciliation between man and God.
6. Justified guilty sinners, satisfying God's holy justice.
7. Sanctified those people, or set them apart as holy.
8. Perfected forever those whom He bought, justified and sanctified.

And, by Christ’s own declaration on the cross, “It is finished.” He actually accomplished all these things in his death and resurrection. (page71)
He also covers a few of the verses that are most often misused to counter the doctrine of limited atonement. Here are the verses discussed. You can read his explanation of each of these yourself if you would like to learn more.

2 Peter 3:9 ( KJV) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

John 3:16 (KJV) 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.

1 Timothy 2:3-6 (KJV) For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  
 One last thought on the subject: If Christ died for the sins of every individual whoever lived or will live, then the Father's wrath against sin has been satisfied fully. Then why will unbelievers end up in hell? If all sins have been paid for, why will they still be punished?

Just something to think about!

Come back next time when we will look at Irresistible Grace. 

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