What was accomplished at the cross?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by jmbertrand, Jun 6, 2002.

  1. jmbertrand

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    You will often hear Calvinists argue that Scripture demands either a) universal redemption, or b) particular redemption. I think this frustrates most evangelical Arminians, because they are not arguing that everyone will be saved. They agree that only some will be saved, but do not agree that only some can be saved. In essense, their contention is that everyone could in theory be saved, although not all will be. In other words, Christ's death on the cross made it possible for all men to be saved.

    The more you consider this, the more you realize that the Calvinist and the Arminian do not have the same definition of 'atonement.' Calvinists believe that Christ died as a substitute for particular individuals whom God had chosen from eternity and sent His Son to save. In His death, Christ paid the price for their sins. The title of John Murray's book -- Redemption Accomplished and Applied -- gives you a good idea of the simple, Trinitarian view of the atonement in Reformed theology: the Father plans, the Son accomplishes, the Spirit applies.

    Arminians, I think, would agree that Christ paid the price for someone's sins at the cross. Something about the atonement was finished at Calvary. The question is, what? This is where John Owen's famous argument comes into play. If Christ paid the price for all the sins of all men, then how can God punish any man? If Christ paid the price for some of the sins of all men, then how can God pardon any man? Owen concludes that Christ must have paid the price for all of the sins of some men.

    In speaking with Arminians about the atonement, I have heard a number of suggestions about how the atonement might work. Perhaps Christ made a 'downpayment' of some sort at Calvary, and then He pays the balance when man believes. Perhaps Christ has 'made the deposit,' but it's up to man to transfer the funds. Or perhaps, as has been suggested recently on this forum, Christ paid the price for all the sins of all men, but they still have to believe in order to be saved (a suggestion Owen anticipated: Either unbelief is a sin or it is not. If it is, then why did Christ not atone for it; if it is not, then why is a man condemned for it?)

    Now, circling back to my starting point, the reason Calvinists suggest that only universalism and particularism will fit the Scriptural evidence (or rather, the universalist language; clearly, universalism fails when tested against the full counsel of Scripture) is that the universal language used in Scripture seems so definite. To give just one example, Paul refers to Christ as the Savior of the world. The Calvinist has no problem with this; after all, Warfield wrote a book about it! In the elect, Christ saves the world in the same way that God saved the world in the remnant of Noah's family. This answers the universal language and has the benefit of drawing on a prior precedent in redemptive history. The universalist, too, has no problem with this title. He believes Christ is literally the Savior of every man, woman and child. But the Arminian, as we said, believes that all men can be saved but not all men will be. He cannot affirm that Christ is the Savior of the world in the Calvinist sense or the Universalist sense. Instead, he is can only say that Christ is potentially the Savior of the world, or that, in theory, He could be.

    By limiting the atonement's saving effect to a particular people, the Calvinist also confesses a definite atonement. To him, it seems that the Arminian achieves a wider scope for the atonement only by weakening the atonement itself -- i.e., it is spread farther, but also thinner.

    As a result of all this, the Calvinist thinks a believer can ask himself the question, "Did Jesus die to save me in particular?" and answer, "Yes." I'm sure most Arminians would answer the question the same way, but what they are teaching is that Jesus died to save them in general. In other words, He died for all men in general and no man in particular.

    There was a time when I thought that pointing this out would lead even the bitterest opponent of Calvinism to introspection, but I've actually been told by an exasperated Arminian: "Of course He didn't die for you specifically!" The implication was that only an arrogant elitist would think so! So I guess this is a very long introduction to ask two very simple questions of our Arminian brothers and sisters:

    1. Do you believe Jesus died to save you specifically? If you do, explain how Christ could die to save all men specifically and fail.

    2. Do you believe Jesus actually paid the price for your sins at Calvary? If so, do you believe Christ has paid for the sins of men who will ultimately be condemned to Hell anyway?

    Mark

    PS -- I apologize for the length of this post and thank you for having taken the effort to read it through!
     
  2. ScottEmerson

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    1. He died to save me specifically, just as He died to save every single person specifically who ever lived. I think you're simply dealing with semantics. There is no logical contradiction in saying that Christ's suffering and death were universal (in quality), but that free responsible individuals have to accept his free gift (quantity). Is it "failure" as such when a person says "no?" Not if God gave man a choice - it's man's failure to choose Him, not God's.

    2. Christ potentially paid the price for every person's sins. It is up to them to choose salvation and believe. II Corinthians 5:14, I Timothy 2:6, I John 2:2, I Timothy 4:10, Titus 2:11, Hebrews 2:9. After all, Christ is the atoning sacrifice for OUR sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world! (For the use of the term whole world in the book of I John, read 5:19 "the whole world lies in the evil one," to denote all unsaved person.)

    It is faith that is required to accept the payment for sins.

    I find this quote humorous to the point of absurdity!

    An omnipotent God doesn't "spread himself" farther or thinner. If Christ was indeed God, his death was infinite!

    Another one:

    Thank goodness! My God is the Saviour of the whole world, not just a certain number of people - with the rest being damned to Hell! He opens his arms to anyone who is willing to hear and believe. He could potentially be the Saviour of every man who is living right now, if they only hear and believe!

    And Greek scholars of every faith and even the secular say that world is world - not the elect! I've also read books proving universalism - such an appeal to "authority" merits little.
     
  3. Eric B

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    I really like the approach you are taking to the issues; laying out the questions and asking us for our explanations-- rather than simply concluding we believ another gospel, a "weak god", etc. or even questioning our Christianity, as others have done.
    But alot of these questions seem to be more philosophy and logic that cannot really be answered biblically, because the Bible does not address this whole distinction between "atoning" and "making it possible", for instance. That was conceived to prove one side of this debate. I think alot of this is a mystery that we shall not fully understand right now.
    This is not to say it is not worth discussing or thinking about. But we cannot build "biblical" doctrine on "this view answers this [hypothetical] question, and this one cannot".
    This is the type of non-sequitur logic that is the main problem. Unbelief is atoned for, along with every other sin. You mean, why does He not just forgive it while the person is still practicing it? Because He had determined that through faith we are saved. Unbelief may be a sin, but that does not mean belief is a work of righteousness. (another common argument).

    [ June 06, 2002, 08:43 PM: Message edited by: Eric B ]
     
  4. KenH

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    Mark and Scott,

    Thank you both for two excellent posts.

    Mark states the case for Jesus as an actual Savior who has accomplished redemption without a sinner having to add something to His finished work(i.e., receiving it, accepting it, believing, repenting, being baptized, etc.) to make it applicable to that sinner's life. Once man is born again(from above) he receives Christ, repents, believes, etc. Also, Christ is not judged by a sinner so we should not talk about a person accepting Christ; rather it is the saved sinner who is accepted in Christ.

    (Eph 1:6 NKJV) to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

    Scott makes the case for Jesus being only a potential Savior who has not accomplished an actual redemption of any person. It is left up to the sinner to complete the work of Christ by the sinner doing something(receiving, repenting, believing, being baptized, etc.) or else there is no redemption. According to this view, taken to a logical conclusion, the sinner ends up being more powerful than God. God can't save the sinner, according to this view, unless the sinner lets Him.

    My trust and faith is in my actual Savior, Christ Jesus, who is omipotent, omniscience, and omnipresent. And I thank Him that He didn't leave my salvation in my hands, but took me by the hand and lifted me out of the mire of my dirty, ugly sins.

    Hallelujah! What a Savior is mine!

    One redeemed by Christ's blood,

    Ken
     
  5. ScottEmerson

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    Christ cannot complete the act of redemtion without a person allowing it, otherwise all people would be saved - it is indeed God's will that ALL people be saved. Instead, he allows man to choose a personal relationship with Him.

    Why is that? What a terrible misrepresentation of my position!! It does require both the sacrifice of Christ and the decision of man - We were completely unable to save ourselves - the Holy Spirit draws ALL men to Christ, so we are able to choose him.

    God can't save the sinner unless the sinner lets him in the same manner that, in your view, God can't save the non-elect. "Can't" is a poor word choice - The word doesn't fits a whole lot better.

    What about those of the so-called non-elect? Do their hands get passed over? Does He ignore them? That would seem to go against Scripture, especially John 1:7-12!
     
  6. KenH

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    God chooses whom He saves. It is not a matter of can't. God is omnipotent. Period.

    Without regeneration, being born again(from above) a sinner won't reach up.

    One trusting in my actual Savior - Christ Jesus,

    Ken

    [ June 06, 2002, 09:50 PM: Message edited by: Ken Hamilton ]
     
  7. ScottEmerson

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    In your frame of reference, God is so omnipotent man has no choice. In my frame of reference God is sovereign enough to allow man a choice in his own salvation. If God wills ALL to be saved, but only chooses some, is he contradicting himself? What Scriptures are you using saying that God CHOOSES certain individuals and doesn't choose others? Romans 9-11 perhaps?

    And your scripture to support this is...? So God draws all men - how does this happen in Calvinism?

    [ June 06, 2002, 10:35 PM: Message edited by: ScottEmerson ]
     
  8. SolaScriptura

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    Pleas show me where in Scripture this terminology about paying for our sins comes from. Did Christ pay to atone our sins? I find that Christ "bought US with a price" according to 1 Cor 7:23 and 1 Cor 6:20. However, I do not find that he atoned for our sins with "a price." I find no "payment" terminology in the atonement, but rather "cleaning" terminology - that Christ's blood cleanses us from sin. I believe, therefore, that in the Atonement Christ made salvation possible by shedding that blood which was necessary for our cleansing. Can you show me where he made a payment for sin? He gave his life a "ransom" according to Mat 20:28, Mark 10:45, 1 Tim 2:6. But was he a ransom to sin or to the law? Now, the law is not sin, Paul say, so you can't say those are the same. And if you say that he paid the penalty that the law placed on sin, that penalty was mere physical death - the law did not impose hell on any man as a punishment. Perhaps then Christ's Atonement from physical death is penal, legal, substitutionary and paymental (if I can use such a word) and was payed for ALL even those that do not believe but his Atonement from sin itself and from eternal punishment is by cleansing, the cleansing that his blood provides to believers ONLY. This seems the most logical understanding, for ALL ARE RESURRECTED - therefore he must have died for all in the sense of taking physical death and remitting it from all or else all could not be resurrected. But his Atonement from sin itself cannot apply to all - only to believers - and must be by blood for "without the shedding of blood is no remission" Heb 9:22
     
  9. Bro. Curtis

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    [QB]
     
  10. AITB

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    Originally posted by J. Mark Bertrand:
    1. Do you believe Jesus died to save you specifically? If you do, explain how Christ could die to save all men specifically and fail.


    This is such a Calvinist misnomer!

    Did Jesus die? Yes. Is his death enough to pay for the sins of any sinners who believe? Yes. Then how, pray tell me, did he fail???

    Mark, what you are missing is that this is the math of abundance and generosity, not the math of equality. "Out of the riches of His grace[/i] the Scripture says.

    He who was rich became poor for us...

    So, it's like, I put millions of dollars in the bank that are yours if you need them. Did I fail because you only withdrew $1,000? No, of course not!!!

    2. Do you believe Jesus actually paid the price for your sins at Calvary? If so, do you believe Christ has paid for the sins of men who will ultimately be condemned to Hell anyway?

    Of course Arminians believe that Jesus paid and God has granted the choice to humans, to believe or not.

    I wouldn't mind if you didn't withdraw all the money, Mark.

    My problem with Arminianism and Calvinism is, how could I watch you not use it and not urge you and urge you and in the end say "If he won't, I will" and go and pay your debt myself - if I truly 'so loved you' like God 'so loved the world'.

    Comments, anyone? [​IMG]

    [ June 07, 2002, 07:24 AM: Message edited by: AITB ]
     
  11. KenH

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    Here ya go Scott:

    (John 1:13 NKJV) who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    (Rom 9:15-16 NKJV) For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." {16} So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

    How much plainer than it be? "not of the will of man", "not of him who wills"

    Man is dead in sin(Ephesians 2). A dead man can't act on his on behalf - he can't raise a finger. Man's will is corrupted by the Fall. God saves and God alone, not God does His part and man does his part.

    One redeemed by Christ's blood,

    Ken
     
  12. jmbertrand

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    Thanks for the responses. I particularly appreciate those of you who have made an effort to engage with my (admittedly long-winded) argument. When I suggested that some Arminians believe that "Perhaps Christ has 'made the deposit,' but it's up to man to transfer the funds," I worried that some of you would protest that this was an unfair characterization. AITB has at least cleared me of that potential charge! [​IMG]

    I'm sensitive to Eric's concerns about using extrabiblical language to discuss these things, but let me remind everyone that the church has been forced since the days of the Arian controversy to do precisely this. The Arians could affirm the language of Scripture and deny the Son's diety all day long, but they could not affirm the extra-biblical term 'same substance.' The purpose of our discussion right now is to figure out how to express the truth of what Scripture teaches in language that those who deny what Scripture teaches cannot affirm.

    It seems pretty clear reading through the responses thusfar that my observation concerning the different definition of atonement is accurate. Each Arminian has affirmed both that a) Christ paid the price for all the sins of all men, and that b) all men will not be saved. To a Calvinist, this sounds an awful lot like saying, "Just because you are redeemed doesn't mean you're going to heaven."

    So let me ask another question: Is it possible to be redeemed and ultimately suffer damnation? If not, is it possible for Christ to pay the price for your sins (i.e., "we are bought with a price") and for you not to be thereby redeemed?

    Mark
     
  13. ScottEmerson

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    Considering the context and the parallel to John 3, I think what John is saying that this birth is a spiritual birth, not a physical one. Another translation (NIV) says, "children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." The word for man is not anthropou, but andros, signifying male, not mankind.

    Ah, but a few verses later, in chapter 11, Paul says that "Rom 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." It seems that it's God's perogative to show mercy on every man - and since we know that all aren't saved, there must eb a mechanism whereby man can choose "no."

    Not of the will of the husband, refers to physical childbirth. We don't will mercy on ourselves, but God wills mercy on all. Not very plain, I think.

    Man is dead in his sin and he can no way make himself alive again. Ephesians 2:8 says that grace is not of ourselves, but a gift from God - (not faith, as it is assumed - check out the endings of the words). When that grace is offered, man can make a choice to follow, otherwise how can even the elect choose to follow? John 6:44 says that no one can come unless he is drawn, and it has been shown that Christ will draw all men. What could this mean?
     
  14. AITB

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    Originally posted by J. Mark Bertrand:
    Thanks for the responses. I particularly appreciate those of you who have made an effort to engage with my (admittedly long-winded) argument. When I suggested that some Arminians believe that "Perhaps Christ has 'made the deposit,' but it's up to man to transfer the funds," I worried that some of you would protest that this was an unfair characterization. AITB has at least cleared me of that potential charge! [​IMG]


    &lt;AHEM&gt; Honesty compels me to admit I only read the questions at the end of your post so I didn't know you talked about the 'deposit' analogy... [​IMG]

    It was coincidence and/or the will of God I guess, that I used it too... :D

    Or maybe it's pretty common and so no wonder I used it.

    Each Arminian has affirmed both that a) Christ paid the price for all the sins of all men, and that b) all men will not be saved. To a Calvinist, this sounds an awful lot like saying, "Just because you are redeemed doesn't mean you're going to heaven."

    Well, then Calvinists need to go a bit deeper than their own definitions of words then, I would respectfully submit.

    There's a cultural/language divide between Arminians and Calvinists, caused by differences in beliefs and they have the choice to play word games with it, tossing assertions out, getting nowhere, or get beyond it to where they can find a common language of meaning and have substantive interaction on 'the issues'.

    Or so I believe [​IMG]

    The same is true in evangelism btw. We can choose to pretend that it's everyone else's fault if they don't accept what we share, or we could work a bit harder to get beyond our Christianeze, having the humility to admit that it's no wonder that those who are unchurched have trouble understanding a 'language' it took us decades ourselves, to learn. Or maybe less; but the more time goes by the less likely we are to remember that this really is a whole different language to what those outside the church speak.

    Unbelievers really would need the gift of interpretation to understand it! [​IMG]

    In general I wonder why Christians who know Paul said "I became all things to all men", in debate seem to insist "No, you meet me where I am at, and not vice-versa!" Whether they are Calvinists addressing Arminians or Arminians addressing Calvinists or, otherwise.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. KenH

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    That is not true, Scott. Is it your experience that all men are drawn to Christ? If that is true, then all men will saved. It is my experience that most men want nothing to do with Christ.

    One redeemed by Christ's blood,

    Ken
     
  16. AITB

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    That is not true, Scott. Is it your experience that all men are drawn to Christ? If that is true, then all men will saved. It is my experience that most men want nothing to do with Christ.</font>[/QUOTE]Uh, Ken -

    Jesus said: "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (John 12:32)

    It's in the Bible.

    So now this gets back to that language thing - because you weren't intentionally inferring the Bible is not true, were you?
     
  17. KenH

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    Ha ha. :D The Bible is always true, it is man's intepretation that is open to falsehood.

    Now on this language thing - how do you define the word "draw"?

    Now I define "draw" as coming to something. If you draw a conclusion, you come to a conclusion. Jesus said no man can come to Him unless the Father enables him. To be drawn to Christ is to come to Christ. A man is not drawn to Christ unless the Father enables him to come. All of those thus enabled come to Christ. There is no mention in the Bible of God drawing someone to Christ who did not ultimately come.

    One redeemed by Christ's blood,

    Ken
     
  18. AITB

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    I thought that verse I quoted was a mention? It says 'all men'?!
     
  19. KenH

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    Then how do you reconcile the fact that to be drawn to Christ is to be saved yet all men are not saved?

    Also, the word "men" is supplied by the translators(it is in italics in the King James Version), it is not in the Greek manuscript. In the Greek, Jesus says "I will draw all to me." All of what must be supplied by comparing Scripture with Scripture.
     
  20. AITB

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    Originally posted by Ken Hamilton:
    Then how do you reconcile the fact that to be drawn to Christ is to be saved yet all men are not saved?


    Don't look at me - with all due respect, I didn't say it, Jesus did...

    Also, the word "men" is supplied by the translators(it is in italics in the King James Version), it is not in the Greek manuscript. In the Greek, Jesus says "I will draw all to me." All of what must be supplied by comparing Scripture with Scripture.

    How does taking 'men' out resolve that it says all? I think that's irrelevant. Your main point evidently is that you're saying 'all' doesn't mean 'all'.

    Which is a Calvinistic argument I've seen before so you needn't elaborate on why 'all' doesn't really mean 'all'.
     

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