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Limted Attonement

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by ForumChaplain, Sep 29, 2002.

  1. The teaching that Christ died only for the elect is commonly known as a belief in a "limited atonement" (some reformed men like to refer to it has "definite atonement"). It is the teaching that Christ died on the cross and paid the penalty only for the sins of the elect. He did not die for the ones who eventually will be in the lake of fire. Often it is worded as follows: "Christ died for all men WITHOUT DISTINCTION but He did not die for all men WITHOUT EXCEPTION." This is a subtle game of semantics which makes it possible for them to say that He died for all without really meaning that he died for all. What they really mean is that Christ died for all kinds of people and all classes of people, but He did not die for every single person. That is, He died for Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, slave and free, male and female, etc., but it is understood that He died for only elect Jews and Gentiles, only elect rich and poor, etc.

    Dr. Paul Reiter has clearly and simply summarized the Scriptural teaching on this issue. FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE? HE DIED...

    1. For all (1 Timothy 2:6; Isaiah 53:6).
    2. For every man (Heb. 2:9).
    3. For the world (John 3:16).
    4. For the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).
    5. For the ungodly (Rom. 5:6).
    6. For false teachers (2 Peter 2:1).
    7. For many (Matthew 20:28).
    8. For Israel (John 11:50-51).
    9. For the Church (Eph. 5:25).
    10. For "me" (Gal. 2:20).

    One believer who was not committed to the belief that Christ died for all men made this remarkable concession: "If Christ really did die for all men then I don't know how the Bible could say it any clearer than it does." How true!

    It is evident that the extreme Calvinist must ignore the clear language and obvious sense of many passages and he must force the Scriptures and make them fit into his own theological mold. Limited atonement may seem logical and reasonable, but the real test is this: IS IT BIBLICAL? "What saith the Scriptures?" (Romans 4:3). In child-like faith we must simply allow the Bible to say what it says.

    Those who promote this erroneous doctrine try to tell us that "world" does not really mean "world"' and "all" does not really mean "all" and "every man" does not really mean "every man" and "the whole world" does not really mean "the whole world." We are told that simple verses such as John 3:16 and Isaiah 53:6 must be understood not as a child would understand them but as a theologian would understand them. That is, we must re-interpret such verses in light of our system of theology.

    The true doctrine of the atonement could be stated as follows: The Scriptures teach that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God involved the sin of the world (John 1:29) and that the Saviour's work of redemption (1 Timothy 2:6; 2 Pet. 2:1), reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19) and propitiation (1 John 2:2) was for all men (1 Timothy 4:10), but the cross-work of Christ is efficient, effectual and applicable only for those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10; John 3:16). We could even say it in a simpler way: "Christ's death was SUFFICIENT FOR ALL but EFFICIENT only for those who believe." The cross-work of Christ is not limited but the application of that cross-work through the work of the Holy Spirit is limited to believers only

    'The extreme Calvinist would say that the cross was designed only for the elect and had no purpose for the "non-elect" (persistent unbelievers). But the death of God's Son had a divine purpose and design for both groups. For the elect, God's design was salvation according to His purpose and grace in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Tim. 1:9; 2 Thess. 2:13). For unbelievers, God's purpose and design is to render the unbeliever without excuse. Men are CONDEMNED because they have rejected the Person and WORK of Jesus Christ and refused God's only remedy for sin (John 3:18; 5:40). Unbelievers can never say that a provision for their salvation was not made and not offered. They can never stand before God and say, "The reason I am not saved is because Christ did not die for me." No, the reason they are not saved is because they rejected the One who died for them and who is the Saviour of all men (1 Tim. 4:10). They are without excuse.

    This issue is not merely academic. It is extremely practical. It affects the very heart of the gospel and its presentation. The gospel which Paul preached to the unsaved people of Corinth was this: "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3). Do we really have a gospel of good news for all men (compare Luke 2:10-11)? In preaching the gospel, what can we say to an unsaved person? Can we say, "My friend, the Lord Jesus Christ died for you. He paid the penalty for your sins. He died as your Substitute"?

    One reformed writer said this:

    "But counselors, as Christians, are obligated to present the claims of Christ. They must present the good news that Christ Jesus died on the cross in the place of His own, that He bore the guilt and suffered the penalty for their sins. He died that all whom the Father had given to Him might come unto Him and have life everlasting. As a reformed Christian, the writer believes that counselors must not tell any unsaved counselee that Christ died for him, FOR THEY CANNOT SAY THAT. No man knows except Christ Himself who are His elect for whom He died" [emphasis mine] (Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, p. 70).

    As C.H. Mackintosh has said, "A disciple of the high school of doctrine [extreme Calvinist] will not hear of a world-wide gospel--of God's love to the world--of glad tidings to every creature under heaven. He has only gotten a gospel for the elect."

    If the reformed preacher were really honest about it, he would need to preach his doctrine along these lines: "Christ may have died for your sins. If you are one of God's elect, then He died for you, but if not, then you have no Saviour. I cannot tell you that Christ died on the cross for you because I don't know this for sure. If you believe the gospel then this proves that you are one of God's elect, and then it is proper to speak of Christ dying for you."

    What an insult to the God "who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). The Apostle Paul was not so handicapped when he preached the gospel to the unsaved Corinthians. He clearly proclaimed that "Christ died for our sins [yours and mine!]." If Paul could preach that message, so should we and so must we!

    Copy and past from website listed below...
    Dangers of Teaching Limited Attonement
  2. russell55

    russell55 New Member

    Feb 4, 2002
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    There is really nothing here that someone who adheres to limited atonement disagrees with, only they usually would express is as "sufficient for all, efficient for the elect," and would probably substitute elect for believers in the second sentence, too.

    As proof, let me quote from Charles Hodges section on the atonement. I will use his explanation of Limited Atonement because it is easy enough for me to find it on the net:

    From the article pasted by Chappie:
    As you can see from the quote above, this is not true.

    Those who hold to limited atonement do not disagree.

    Once again, no disagreement.

    Not a whole lot of disagreement here, either. Charles Hodge says:

    The article you are quoting is arguing against a charicature of the doctrine of limited atonement rather than the doctrine itself.

    [ September 29, 2002, 06:41 PM: Message edited by: russell55 ]
  3. There are 10 scriptural refrences listed in the original post. Who of the calvinistic persuasion will deal with them...
  4. russell55

    russell55 New Member

    Feb 4, 2002
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    There is no need to, because there is a real sense in which Christ died for every person, but He also died with special reference to the elect: The salvic purpose of the atonement is toward the elect.

    But here is my take on your scripture anyway.

    1 Tim. 2:6 ...who gave Himself a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time...

    Well, this could possibly, given the context, mean all without distinction--all sorts of people, including kings and those in authority; or that Christ's death was sufficient to ransom all of humanity.

    Isaiah 53:6 ...But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

    In context I think the "us all" referred to here is all of "my people". (See verse 8: ...For the trangression of my people to whom the stroke was due? )

    Hebrews 2:9 ...that by the grace of God He might taste death for every one.

    Well, the question is, who does the "everyone" (or the "each one") refer to. Everyone or each one of whom? Does the writer of Hebrews have everyone in the world in mind, or every one of some other group? I really think, that in context, he is making reference to the special group of the many sons brought to glory, the children given to Christ, Christ's brethren, the people, the seed of Abraham. This whole passage, BTW, is the passage that convinced me finally of the particularity (the special reference to Christ's brethren) in the propitiatory work of Christ.

    John 3:16 For God so loved the world, etc....

    It is a loving act toward the whole world for God to provide a means by which anyone who believes can have eternal life.

    Romans 5:6 ...Christ died for the ungodly.

    This one is not an argument for either view of the atonement, for even the elect are ungodly.

    2 Peter 2:1 denying the Master who bought them.

    The exact meaning of this is ambiguous at best, and it is certainly not a verse to build an atonement theory around, as it is not clear it is refering to the atonement at all.

    The last 4 verses are actually used as proof texts for limited atonement, as they describe it as having special reference for the church, the many, the individual believer like Paul, and God's people throughout the world.

    [ September 30, 2002, 12:09 AM: Message edited by: russell55 ]
  5. russell55

    russell55 New Member

    Feb 4, 2002
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    Oops. I forgot one.

    1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for the whole world.

    Two possibilities. It may be saying that Christ is the propitiation for [people throughout] the whole world", or that Christ's death temporarily stayed Christ's wrath against the whole world--it is a temporary reprieve from God's wrath against sin. Even those who hold to unlimited atonement do not believe that it means that Christ's death is a full and final propitiation for every sin ever commited.
  6. Rev. G

    Rev. G New Member

    Sep 16, 2002
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    Perhaps these should be discussed as well, since we want to have an "open" discussion.

    John 10:11 - "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."

    Acts 20:28b - "Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood."

    Ephesians 5:23b - "Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her..."

    Matthew 26:28 - "This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

    Isaiah 53:4-12 - SUMMARY
    * "Took up OUR infirmities"
    * "Carried OUR sorrows"
    * "Pierced for OUR transgressions"
    * "Crushed for OUR iniquities"
    * "The punishment that brought US peace was upon Him"
    * "By His wounds WE are healed"
    * "The LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of US all"
    * "For the transgression of MY PEOPLE He was stricken"
    * "He will see His OFFSPRING"
    * "My righteous servant will justify MANY, and He will bear THEIR iniquities"
    * "He bore the sin of MANY"
    * "Made intercession for the transgressors"

    Rev. G
  7. ScottEmerson

    ScottEmerson Active Member

    Jun 3, 2002
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    Very well.

    Doesn't exclude those who are not His sheep.

    Doesn't exclude those who aren't of the church of God.

    Doesn't exclude the church.

    Assume that all the people that have ever lived number 40 billion. That can be seen as "many," right? Many doesn't exclude all.

    Indeed, Christ did die for "us," but nowhere will you find that he died for "us and only us." Until a passage like that can be shown, it seems that the passages that indicate that Christ died for all are correct. The passages that indicate that Christ died for "the church," "for us," and "for his sheep" are merely, then, a subset.
  8. Being that it does not say all sorts of people, is there a slight possibility that it just means exactly what it says.

    But no refrence is made to "all my people". Why should we go outside the passage to determine what it says. "Us All, means; Us All. When do we leave scripture to say what it says. See how we are manipulatling the context of scripture to make it conform to our preconceptions. This ought not be done...
    Is the writer illiterate. Do not change one jot or tittle. Leave the passage alone. It says what it says. If he intended that we understand it to refer to a special group, i trust that he had that ability.
    It does not speak of a loving act, it speaks of the unlimited loving condition that God has towards the whole world. Out of context it could be extended to include animals, birds, reptiles,everything in the world. But the word "all" left no possibilities for the word to mean less than "All"
    See how you have to mold the passage to fit your docturine. Christ did for the ungodly, now without any problem, that includes your so called elect, yet nothing in the passage allows for the exclusion of anyone else.

    See how you have to mold or manipulate each passage, not one; all of them. This tells me that you should, at a minimum, cause you to be suspicious of your conclusions.

    Can you not see why, at a minimum, i should be skeptical of your conclusions.

    [ September 30, 2002, 12:31 PM: Message edited by: Chappie ]
  9. russell55

    russell55 New Member

    Feb 4, 2002
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    First of all, let me say that I think there is a real sense in which Christ died for every man. However, I simply told you what I think each verse means in context. Where a particular passage is speaking primarily of a particular group, then the "all's" in that passage probably refer to all of that group. That would seem to me to be the most natural way to read things, anyway. After all, isn't this the way we read other texts? Putting a verse back into it's context is not molding or manipulating a passage--it is finding the intended meaning of the verse.

    "All" can sometimes mean "all sorts" or "all types". As in "the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil". And the references to different types of men in the context makes it a possibility that it mean "all types" here. But you will notice that I also said it might mean that Christ's death is sufficient to redeem every single person.

    Why force "us all" to mean anything beyond Isaiah and his people when the focus of the whole passage is Isaiah and his people?

    I didn't change a thing. I simply read the context. Can you explain why the natural reading of the passage is to make "each one" mean each person who ever lived when the very next verse is talking about the "many sons He brings to glory", and the next verse speaks of "the brethren", and after that it is "the children God has given me"?

    Huh? Methinks you are arguing just for the sake of arguing here. God love the world in this way: He gave His only Son. The act comes from the love. A loving act.

    Of course it means all. Well....."all believing" anyway.

    I didn't mold the passage. I just said it doesn't speak specifically about the extent of the atonement either way, so don't try to make it speak to the extent of the atonement. If you are trying to make it speak to the extent of the atonement, then you are the one "moulding" the passage.
  10. How do we place a passage into context; and how do we take one out of context??? As you will see, to put 1 Timothy 1:6 into context we have to: Because of the word “therefore” we have to Go back to 1 Timothy 1:19 & 20. in order to pick up the context in which it is spoken.
    1 Tim 1:19-20
    19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
    20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

    In these two passages, we find Timothy speaking concerning Hymenaeus and Alexander; Who have been delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. In 2:1, Timothy says, “I exhort therefore that, first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men:

    Timothy is telling them not to limit their prayers for these two, but not only are they to pray for them, but they are to pray for all men. The word all is put into a perspective that means “all men”.
    1 Tim 2:1-6
    1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

    Verse 2, says all in authority. Timothy is now specifically including “all” men that are in authority. Which is certain to include some that are saved and some that are not saved. Can you not see that when “all” is limited; the scriptures limit all.
    2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

    3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
    4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

    Again, it says, “all men” it is not limited to all good men, all tall men, all that are in authority. In order to be included here, all you have to be is a man. Not all that are the elect, nor all that are chosen, the bible does not say that. It specifically says “all men”. That’s what it means, “all men”.

    5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    Again, here we have the stamp of approval on “all men&#8221,meaning "all men". One God, one mediator between God and men. Do we have a mediator between God and the good, that is not also the mediator between God and the bad? Is there one mediator between God and the chosen and God and the not chosen. There is but one mediator between God and men. ALL MEN.

    6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
    Christ gave himself to be a ransom for “all men”. He is therefore the judge of the quick and the dead. Why? Because he paid the price that could redeem all men, his is now free to judge them as he pleases.

    Yet his very own nature prevents him from acting unjustly towards any. Christ is not only the judge of those that are saved, he is the judge of those a that are lost also. Yet he does not judge another man’s servants. Which should cast some doubt on your assertion that some belong to Christ and others do not. We all belong to Christ, the quick and the dead. You are of your father the devil, does not preclude Christ judging them.

    There are many possibilities when we go past what is actually stated in scripture. Could be extended to mean all big ones, or ugly ones, or all fat ones. But if we stick with scripture, it simply says, “All”.

    You are correct, it cannot be scripturally forced to include any one but Isaiah and his people. If it is to be extended, it has to be done within the pages of scripture. Here ya go..

    Matt 8:17
    17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

    Rom 5:6
    6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
    Nevertheless, that it is extended without exception to the ungodly is specific. It cannot be limited to just the elect unless only the elect were ungodly…

    A Christian….

    [ September 30, 2002, 06:28 PM: Message edited by: Chappie ]
  11. BobRyan

    BobRyan Active Member

    Aug 27, 2002
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    Non Baptist Christian
    The Bible says "God so Loved the World that He gave"..

    Calvinism says "God so loved the arbitrarily selected FEW of Matt 7 - then called that - So loving the Word".

    The bible says that "Christ is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not for our sins only but for those of the Whole World" -

    Calvinism says "Christ is the atoning sacrifice ONLY of those who will some day believe in him".

    The Bible says "God is not willing for ANY to perish but for ALL to come to repentance" -

    Calvinism says "God IS willing for the MANY of MAtt 7 to go to hell - and does not CARE to do anything to save them - He is content with the FEW of Matt 7 - and EVEN at that - He needn't have bothered with them either - He just chose to"

    The bible shows God obligating HIMSELF - by His Word. But who can believe it?

    In Christ,

  12. zcostilla

    zcostilla New Member

    Sep 21, 2002
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    I see no sense in bickering. I submit the following questions to be answered by the Calvanist.

    1 Define the word "elect"
    2. Describe the manner in which one becomes elect
    3. How does "foreknew" compare to or contrast "foreordained"
    4. Reconcile or porperly interpret Acts 16:31 "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved"

  13. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry <b>Moderator</b>
    Site Supporter

    May 4, 2001
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    God chooses

    Probably virtually synonymous though the passages you are referring to would be helpful.

    What is there to reconcile? This is Calvinist theology.



    I am going to urge you to back off your rhetoric a bit. You repeatedly make the same type of misrepresentative statements about the Calvinist position and use inflammatory words and phrases. Please back off and use solid argumentation rather than sensationalism to make your point.

  14. Pastor Larry.
    Respectfully I ask, would you please point me to the post in question and perhaps briefly expose the misrepresentations so that I might gain a better understanding???
  15. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry <b>Moderator</b>
    Site Supporter

    May 4, 2001
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    Sure. His post above is based on misrepresentations that have been corrected many times.

    Calvinism does not deny that God loves the world. It affirms it.

    The Bible is what says that christ is the atoning sacrifice for those who believe. Bob actually agrees with this unless he is a universalist.

    Calvinism does not say "God IS willing for the MANY of MAtt 7 to go to hell - and does not CARE to do anything to save them - He is content with the FEW of Matt 7 - and EVEN at that - He needn't have bothered with them either - He just chose to"

    Bob is right that the bible shows God obligating HIMSELF - by His Word. But who can believe it? But he has completely missed the application of that point in the big picture of soteriology.
  16. Primitive Baptist

    Primitive Baptist New Member

    May 20, 2002
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    Before we try to understand what Christ accomplished at the cross, we should try to understand the purpose. What was the purpose of God sending His Son to the cross?

    "Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second." (Heb. 10:9)

    "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." (Jn. 6:38)

    It is certainly obvious that Jesus came to do the will of the Father. What was the will of the Father?
  17. Does Calvinism use John 3:16 to affirm this belief?
    I believe that his atonement was for the whole world, yet it is rendered salvific through faith. The fact that christ dies for all men is instrumental to his being the judge of all men. (saved and unsaved)
    Pastor, I am a firm believer in the trueism, that says action speaks louder than words. So if under calvinistic theology, Christ does care, and we know that love is a word of action rather than emotion; this creates a question for me.

    You say that Christ did not die for them, chose not to save them, did not call them, nor draw them, did not cause them to believe: Might I ask; what did he do to demonstrate his love towards them?
  18. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry <b>Moderator</b>
    Site Supporter

    May 4, 2001
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    Absolutely ... this Calvinist does and so do the others I know.

    No complaint there although we would certainly quibble over where the faith comes from.

    He provided an atonement that they have willfully rejected. I think the greater problem for you is that if Christ does love them, and does have the power to draw them to himself, why doesn't he? Assuming he chooses not to override their free will, why did a loving God even allow them to be born? Did God not care enough to keep them out of hell by keepign them from being born? I don't think your position solves this problem. I think it compounds it.
  19. Ray Berrian

    Ray Berrian New Member

    Jan 11, 2002
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    Christ draws all human beings as they hear the Word of salvation. Man decides his or her eternal home. [Rev. 22:17]

    'And the Spirit and the bride say come; and let him that heareth come. And let him who is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.'

    'Whosoever will . . . ' not the bondage of the will. 'Take of the water of life freely . . . free grace to all who will believe in Jesus.
  20. weeping prophet

    weeping prophet New Member

    Sep 25, 2002
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    Free will- Since Christ saved me, what makes my free will to have faith in Christ wiser than the free will of a man who rejects faith in Christ?

    Answer: Ephesians2:8