Hey! Randy

Archive for September, 2008

God Accomplishes His Purpose

Posted by heyrandy on September 4, 2008

In the TULIP acrostic, the “L” stands for limited atonement.  This doctrine states that the atoning death of Christ is only for the elect of God.  This is a controversial idea in much of Christianity.  It is commonly believed that Christ died for all men everywhere and in every time.  The Bible teaches that Christ died to redeem the ones given to Him by God.

Limited atonement is sometimes also called particular redemption.  That is, particular people, not everyone in general, benefit from the death of Christ.  The basic question addressed by the issue of limited atonement is whether Christ died to make salvation possible or to accomplish salvation.  This is the central issue.  It is not a question of whether Christ’s atoning death is unable or insufficient to save all men everywhere.  Christ was certainly able to accomplish this had it been the Father’s design to do so.  Proponents of particular redemption believe the Bible teaches that the death of Christ was designed from eternity to save those sinners that were given to Him by the Father.

Many objections to particular atonement are based on a faulty understanding of some well known scripture texts.  As with the misunderstanding of election, an appeal is made to those passages in the Bible that use terms such as “all”, “the world”, “every”, etc.  On first glance many of these text seem to teach a general atonement.  On closer examination it is seen that this is not so.  For example, 1 John 2:2 is often cited by those who oppose particular redemption.  Here it seems that John is saying that Jesus is the propitiation for all the sins of the entire world.  Does this mean that Jesus’ death paid the price for everyone?  If so, no one should perish.  This would be universal salvation, something the Bible does not teach.  The answer lies in the use of the word “world”.  Does John mean every person on the planet?  Or is John making a distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles?  Is John saying the atonement is local, for the Jew of Palestine, or also for the elect Gentiles throughout the world?

The same question of meaning must be make when the word “all” is encountered.  Does it mean everything, everyone?  When Paul said that “all things were lawful for him” (1Cor. 6:12, 10:23) he was not saying it was lawful for him to sin.  If “all” meant every person everywhere, when Paul wrote 1Cor. 15:22, “as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive,” he would be saying that all would be saved, hell would be an empty place, and the final judgment by God would be meaningless.

It is essential to keep in mind this idea of how the words are used when interpreting the universal sounding passages.  It is the mark of shallow Bible study to not go beyond first impressions of the text.  This is not to say that first impressions are necessarily wrong, but do not stop there.  Scripture is written with great depth of meaning.  It is a lifetime of study.  Much truth is missed because we do not press into more difficult areas.

Did Christ actually make an atonement for the sins of His people?  This is the fundamental question.  The scriptures teach that Christ did indeed make an atonement for those given to Him by the Father.  “I lay down my life for my sheep.” John 10:15.  Here we see Jesus describing the extent of His death: for His sheep.  A few verses later Jesus tell the Jews, “You believe not because you are not my sheep.” John 10:26.

In Ephesians 5:25-27, Paul tells us that Christ gave Himself for the Church.  It was not for the entire world, only for the Church that Christ died.

We see this also in John 6:37-40.  The Lord came to do the Father’s will.  All those given to Him by the Father would be redeemed; none would be lost.  Jesus came with the specific purpose to redeem those so predestined by the Father.

In Romans 8:28-39 Paul speaks of the certainty of salvation in Christ.  There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ.  In v. 32 he asks a rhetorical question:  “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”  The word “all” there refers to the redeemed, the Christians.  This is the all for whom Christ died.

We see the nature of the atonement in Christ’s name.  In Matthew 1:21 Joseph is told to name the child “Jesus, because he will save his people from their sin.”  In the name of Jesus is found both the particularity of the atonement and the doctrine of election.

The atonement of Christ is powerful.  It cancels the sin debt.  It frees the prisoners of sin.  Is saves to the uttermost.  It is the only means of salvation.  All people outside of Christ are condemned to eternal torment.  This is the just punishment for their sin.  The atoning death of Christ brings about the salvation of those God gave to His Son.  God accomplishes His perfect plan.

Posted in Calvinism | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »