Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Limited Atonement

Proof for the doctrine of a Limited Atonement

a. It may be laid down that the designs of God are always surely efficacious and cannot be frustrated by the actions of man. This applies also to the purpose of saving men through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. If it had been His intention to save all men, this purpose could not have been frustrated by the unbelief of man. It is admitted on all hands that only a limited number is saved.

b. Scripture repeatedly qualifies those for whom Christ laid down His life in such a way as to point to a very definite limitation. Christ died for His “sheep”, John 10:11,15, “His Church”, Acts 20:28, Eph. 5:25-27, “His people”, Matt. 1:21, and the “elect”, Rom. 8:32-35.

c. Christ intercedes for the elect only. He says, “I pray not for the world, but for those who you have given me.” John 17:9

d. The doctrine that Christ died for the purpose of saving all men, logically leads to absolute universalism.

e. The Bible clearly teaches that the design and effect of the atoning work of Christ is not merely to make salvation possible, but to reconcile God and man, and to put men in actual possession of eternal salvation, a salvation which many fail to obtain. Matt. 18:11, Rom. 5:10, 2 Cor. 5:21, Gal. 1:4, 3:13, Eph. 1:7

f. Christ during His earthly ministry is aware of a group of people whom the Father has given to Him. “All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out…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 a the last day” John 6:37-39

g. Further support is found in the consideration that all the blessings of salvation, including faith, repentance, and all of the works of the Holy Spirit in applying redemption, were also secured by Christ’s redemptive work specifically for His people. Those for whom He earned forgiveness also have had those other benefits earned for them. Eph. 1:3-4, 2:8, Phil. 1:29

h. All true Christians agree on the fact that salvation is limited, that is, all men will not be saved. Like John MacArthur said, “So if salvation is limited you just have to decide on who does the limiting, God or man.” Not a hard one to figure out.

i. Another note concerning evangelism: the free offer of the gospel is to be made to everybody without exception. We also know that everyone who repents and believes in Christ will be saved, so all are called to repentance (Acts 17:30). The fact that God foreknew who would be saved, and that He accepted Christ’s death as payment for their sins only, does not inhibit the free offer of the gospel, for who will respond to it is hidden in the secret counsels of God. That we do not know who will respond no more constitutes a reason for not offering the gospel to all than not knowing the extent of the harvest prevents the farmer from sowing seed in his fields.

Points a – e were taken from Systematic Theology, Louis Berkhof, p. 394-395
Points f, g, and I were taken from Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem, p. 594-595

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