The goal of this series is to magnify God’s grace and to humble man’s pride.
This is blog post is based on Covenant Reformed Seminary of Asia’s session on The Sovereignty of God and the Doctrines of Grace: Limited Atonement: Part 2
Today, let’s look at some of the common objections against Limited Atonement. But this blog won’t include a discussion that relates to the verses with references to “world” (John 3:16, John 1:29, 1 John 2:2) and “all” (1 Tim 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9).
As a review, we affirm that all men are born dead in their sins, a slave to their own desires, without the ability to seek God and make themselves alive. This is total depravity. We also affirm that God in His love and sovereignty predestined some to be saved from their sins and be reconciled to Him. We saw that this is not based on anything they do, but is based on the mercy, grace, and love of God. This is Unconditional Election. Furthermore, we affirm that Christ died only for those whom the Father elected even before the foundation of the earth.
According to R.C. Sproul,
Did God intend when He sent into the world His son to die; did he intend that death would actually save people, or did He just hope it would?"
God knew that the death of Christ has a definite purpose that would definitely be accomplished, and definitely, it was accomplished.
Those who hold to Limited Atonement believe that Christ’s atonement was limited only in that it did not atone for the sins of everyone in the world, but for those who would believe.
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
John 11:52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
Act 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
These passages reveal that Christ’s death is meant for the church of God, which is His own people.
Rom 8:32-33 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.
Arminians also cite verse 32 to highlight the word “all”, but they do not continue till verse 33 that says none can bring a charge against God’s elect.
Rom 5:8-10 ESV 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.
Mar 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Joh 6:37-39 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
Eph 1:4-6 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
#1 The Gospel cannot be offered to all people
If only the elect’s sins were paid for on the cross, then the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be offered to all people.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Mat 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
Jesus Christ is rebuking Jerusalem, referring to the leaders, since they were hindering Christ in gathering their children.
Objection stated: How do we reconcile these two revelations of God that He has specifically chosen a certain people to save from eternity past and that He desires all people to be saved.
Answer: Whenever there is an apparent mystery in Scripture of clear revelations that do not contradict but seem hard to reconcile, we must accept what Scripture says and build our theology on that truth to be consistent with God’s revelation.
Consistent and clear teachings of God’s word of an elect, chosen people, and His desire to save all people.
This is not a contradiction, but points us to the mystery and glory of God’s will expressed on the cross (e.g. The Doctrine of the Trinity, Hypostatic Union – Jesus’ Deity and Humanity, Eternality of God – God has always existed, before time, and interacts with us in time, the infinitude of God’s nature – all of God’s attributes are infinite, they have no beginning or end)
Right attitude: we believe these doctrines, as hard as they may be fully comprehended because God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts (Isaiah 55., De 29:29)
Isa 55:8-9 ESV For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Deu 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Two different categories of God’s will:
- Decretive will – what God ordains to take place in His sovereign love and goodness
- Revealed will (Will of Disposition)- God revealing His desires for mankind (Eze 33:11,18:23, 32, 32).
Example: Just as God desires mankind to be perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect, yet no one on earth has even been perfect for Christ. God created a world in which His revealed will is not obeyed because of sin.
Application: Christ died for the elect whom the Father gave Him, and at the same time God offers the gift of salvation to all, and even commands all people to repent (Acts 17:30).
#2 Limited Atonement is an obstacle to Evangelism
Objection stated: How can we go to every person and tell them the good news that Christ died for them if Christ only died for the elect?
Answer: Nowhere in the New Testament do we see the apostles teach or display this kind of evangelism. The statement “Christ died for you”, though very common in modern evangelicalism, is unbiblical in that we do not actually know, in a crown of unbelievers, if they will ever repent, place their faith in Christ, and that Christ actually atoned for their sins.
Biblical Model: It is to state that Christ died for sinners, and the way to partake in his atoning death is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, which involves repentance and faith. We can tell them that they can be reconciled to God.
IMPLICATIONS OF LIMITED ATONEMENT
The implications of limited atonement for our lives are profound and comforting. Unlike some of the concerns and objections raised by our brothers and sisters who may disagree with this view, limited atonement guarantees our salvation. It is assuring to know that not one drop of blood from Christ on the cross was ineffective; he fully finished the work on the cross and satisfied the full wrath of God for our sins.
If you are in Christ, all of your sins, past, present, and future have been paid for in full and you are no longer an enemy of God. The perfectly finished work of Christ shows us our salvation is secure, and we can never lose it. We will look at this more closely in the last doctrine of grace in the series, “Perseverance of the Saints.”
With regard to evangelism, limited atonement doesn’t make evangelism more difficult, it increases our confidence, hope, and zeal for evangelism. We know God’s sheep will respond to the gospel call. Every time the gospel is proclaimed and shared, God is planting seeds and doing work in His people. The word of God will never come back void (Is. 55:11). This truth is what spurred William Carrey, the father of modern missions, to go to India to advance the gospel and the Kingdom of God. The modern mission’s movement was spurred on by these truths of God’s Grace and electing power. We can rest in the fact that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).
Instead of being a doctrine that limits or diminishes the power of the atonement and the gospel of Jesus Christ, limited atonement emphasizes the revelation of God that Jesus accomplished perfectly that which He came to do—to purchase for his own a people of God, and redeem and reconcile them to Himself!
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
For Further Reading:
- Piper, J. (1995, January 1). Are There Two Wills in God? Desiring God. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/are-there-two-wills-in-god
- John Calvin’s view of Limited Atonement – by Dr. Roger Nicole | Reformed Theology at A Puritan’s Mind. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2022, from https://www.apuritansmind.com/arminianism/john-calvins-view-of-limited-atonement/
One thought on “Limited Atonement Part 2”
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
LikeLiked by 1 person