David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Tag: Limited Atonement

One verse that nails down Limited Atonement

As I was reading Hebrews 10 last night, I came across a verse I’ve read many times, but thought I’d comment on. The verse is verse 14, which states, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” In other words, by the single offering, blood atoning, propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, He has perfected (past tense, i.e. it happened in history) for all time the very people who are being (present tense) sanctified (made holy). His sacrifice was not a potential sacrifice. His sacrifice accomplished something objectively, for certain people, namely those who are being sanctified now, i.e. believers. This work is something that has happened to them, not by their initiation per se, but by His own perfect, infinite power and work on the cross in particular, as stated here. His work accomplished the very perfecting necessary to bring people into heaven. However, not everyone is perfected. Therefore His sacrifice was made for particular persons, namely the remnant, chosen by His grace (Ephesians 1 expands upon this).

Definite Redemption

Many Christians hear the phrase limited atonement and just cringe. “What a repulsive idea! How could you even propose such an idea?” The term “limited atonement” within Calvinism is very misleading though. I instead prefer the term definite redemption, or definite atonement. First of all, many against Calvinism imply we are stating Christ’s death couldn’t have saved everyone, that we are “limiting” it’s power by making this assertion. This is just wrong. Christ’s blood possesses infinite value because He is God and He is infinite, eternal. His blood has infinite worth, able to cleanse trillions upon trillions, infinite numbers of sins and sinners. Could His death and resurrection have saved everyone? Absolutely! What are we talking about though in terms of the limit? It’s very simple. It’s not talking about the worth of Christ’s blood, but the scope of who it’s applied to. What was the intention of the cross? To make everyone savable (a possible salvation if the hearer adds a response of faith to the call of the Gospel (a faith produced by their unregenerated human nature)), or to render certain the salvation of specific people, namely His children, the chosen, the elect? Was it to cover all sins except unbelief or to cover all sins including unbelief (i.e. rendering certain faith and repentance)? IF our doctrine of Unconditional Election is true, stating that God, from eternity, from before the foundation of the world, chose specific individuals without regard to their future works, faith, repentance, looks, smartness, or any other thing (hence the word unconditional), but that He chose them simply because of His eternal love (to which we humbly, undeservingly, and contritely answer, “Praise God!”), then what was the intention of the death of Christ? To make salvation merely possible or to make it certain? That is what this doctrine is about. I believe John Piper is very helpful on this …

“The term ‘limited atonement’ addresses the question, ‘For whom did Christ die?’ But behind the question of the extent of the atonement lies the equally important question about the nature of the atonement. What did Christ actually achieve on the cross for those for whom he died? …

… Which of these statements is true?

1. Christ died for some of the sins of all men.

2. Christ died for all the sins of some men.

3. Christ died for all the sins of all men.

No one says that the first is true, for then all would be lost because of the sins that Christ did not die for. The only way to be saved from sin is for Christ to cover it with his blood.

The third statement is what the Arminians would say. Christ died for all the sins of all men. But then why are not all saved? They answer, Because some do not believe. But is this unbelief not one of the sins for which Christ died? If they say yes, then why is it not covered by the blood of Jesus and all unbelievers saved? If they say no (unbelief is not a sin that Christ has died for) then they must say that men can be saved without having all their sins atoned for by Jesus, or they must join us in affirming statement number two: Christ died for all the sins of some men. That is, he died for the unbelief of the elect so that God’s punitive wrath is appeased toward them and his grace is free to draw them irresistibly out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

(Taken from “What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism” – John Piper and Bethlehem Baptist Church Staff – This sums up what I believe pertaining to Calvinism as well)

11-Part MP3 Audio Series on Calvinism by John Piper

Misunderstanding the Term Limited Atonement

Many believer’s, or even more specifically, “4-Point Calvinists” against the all-encompassing argument-spawning L in T.U.L.I.P. (i.e. Limited Atonement), seem to have many misunderstandings about what this means. Many I have talked to seem to presume that by using the term “Limited Atonement” we are somehow limiting the power of Christ’s blood to say that He could have only paid for the elect and not at all for the non-elect. This is not the case at all. This term is talking about the scope or range of the atonement, not it’s power, who Christ actually bought on the cross with His precious infinitely valuable blood, not the value of His blood to be able to carry out salvation for all. It would have taken just as much blood, excruciating physical pain, heartbreaking spiritual torment of the Father’s wrath to pay for one person’s sins as it would an infinite number of people. Our sin has eternal weight to it, eternal hell. There is no limit here on Christ’s atoning power. It is indeed without limit. Could Christ have saved every single person for all time with His blood? Absolutely! What does Scripture say though? I believe it’s very clear on this. Not all have been chosen undeservingly for salvation.

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