Sermon No: 2812-Calvinism - Part 4a Limited Atonement

SERMON TOPIC: Calvinism - Part 4a Limited Atonement

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 3 July 2016


Sermon synopsis: Today we will look at the 'L' in TULIP – Limited Atonement versus the Arminian concept of Unlimited Atonement.

CALVINISM: Limited atonement - Only the sins of the elect were atoned for by Jesus' death. The sins of the unsaved were never paid for.

ARMINIANISM: Unlimited atonement - The sins of the whole world were atoned for by Jesus' death, but some refuse to accept the provision for their salvation and thus remain lost.

UNIVERSALISM: - The sins of the whole world were atoned for by Jesus' death, and therefore whether they believe or not, every human being will ultimately be saved.




LUTHERANISM: Single Predestination - while God in eternity past did indeed elect a people for himself whom he would actively save in the outworking of history, he did not decree that the rest of mankind would be lost.

CALVINISM: Double Predestination and Unconditional Election - from eternity God has chosen some to be saved and he has chosen others to be damned.

ARMINIANISM: Conditional Predestination and Conditional Election - predestination is based on God�s foreknowledge. God�s election is conditional on faith in Jesus. God does not arbitrarily consign some people to eternal damnation; their wilful rejection of God�s salvation makes them responsible.


Today we will look at the L in TULIP � Limited Atonement versus the Arminian concept of Unlimited Atonement.

CALVINISM - Limited atonement Only the sins of the elect were atoned for by Jesus� death. The sins of the unsaved were never paid for.

ARMINIANISM - Unlimited atonement The sins of the whole world were atoned for by Jesus� death, but some refuse to accept the provision for their salvation and thus remain lost.

UNIVERSALISM The sins of the whole world were atoned for by Jesus� death, and therefore whether they believe or not, every human being will ultimately be saved.




















Let�s first consider Universal Reconciliation, which teaches that all sinful humans will ultimately be reconciled to God.

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in North America accept other religions in an inclusive manner, believing in a universal reconciliation between humanity and the divine. 1

Evangelical Universalists hold to conservative positions on most theological issues except for the doctrine of hell, in which case they assert Universal Reconciliation instead of eternal torment. Some avoid using the word �Universalism�, perhaps because of the negative connotations of the word among conservative Christians, using alternative terms like �Larger Hope�, �Blessed Hope� or the �Victorious Gospel.� 2

1 SOURCE: wiki/ Universalism 2 wiki/ Christian_Universalism#Evangelical_Universalism


Tony Campolo, 1 a leading �evangelical� and former spiritual advisor to US President Bill Clinton, says:

�Jesus is the only Saviour, but not everybody who is being saved by Him is aware that He is the one who is doing the saving.� 2

�I am saying that there is no salvation apart from Jesus, that�s my evangelical mindset. However, I�m not convinced that Jesus only lives in Christians�� 1

�I am only telling you what it says in John 1:9; He is the light that lighteth every man, every woman that cometh into the world. The minute you start saying that God isn�t in some people, you�re on the verge of Fascism.� 3

1 wiki/ Tony_Campolo: Incidentally Campolo also supports full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church. 2 Current34.htm 3 National Liberty Journal, 8/ 99


Is everyone going to be saved? The Bible makes it clear that some people will be lost. Here are just 4 of the many verses making this point:

Matt 25:46 �Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.�

2 Thess 1:9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might�

Rev 20:15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Dan 12:2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.


The Bible makes no suggestion of second chances after death:

Heb 9:27 (NASB) And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment�

Where we spend eternity is predicated (based) upon belief; God forces no man to believe against his will. Jesus said:

�Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God�s one and only Son.� (John 3:18)


Some 5-point Calvinists claim that believing in Unlimited Atonement naturally leads to Universalism. But moderate Calvinist, Professor Millard J. Erickson argues:

The basic assumption here, however, ignores the fact that our inheriting eternal life involves two separate factors: an objective factor (Christ�s provision of salvation) and a subjective factor (our acceptance of that salvation). In the view of those who hold to unlimited atonement, there is the possibility that someone for whom salvation is available may fail to accept it. 1

1 �Christian Theology� - Millard J. Erickson


Millard J. Erickson (1932-)


Arminius was chosen to be the professor of theology in Leyden, a post he held until till his death. For years he faced attacks from Franciscus Gomarus, a staunch Calvinist colleague at the University of Leyden, who accused him of teaching Pelagian doctrines. Finally, Arminius asked for a public hearing, but he died before the synod convened at the age of around 49.

The early Dutch followers of Arminius� teaching, not wanting to adopt their leader�s name, called themselves the Remonstrants. When Arminius died before he could satisfy Holland�s State General�s request for a 14-page paper outlining his views, the Remonstrants replied in his stead.

46 preachers and 2 college leaders from the Dutch Reformed church met in The Hague in 1610 to draft the Five Articles of Remonstrance.


The five aspects of their theology were:

election was conditional on foreseen faith

Christ�s atonement was unlimited

total depravity

prevenient and resistible grace

the possibility of apostasy

After some political manoeuvring, the Calvinists convinced Prince Maurice of Orange to deal with the situation. He systematically removed Arminian magistrates from office and called a national synod at Dordrecht. 1

1 wiki/ Arminianism

Maurice of Orange (1567-1625)


The Synod of Dordrecht (or Dort), 1618�19, was to consider the Five Articles of Remonstrance. Arminius� old opponent Franciscus Gomarus played a leading role and hence these adversaries of Arminius became known as Gomarists or Counter-Remonstrants.

Although it was Arminius who had originally called for an open forum, there were 130 Calvinists present (including some invited from foreign countries) and only 13 Remonstrants who were prisoners of the state and were given no vote. 1

1 http:// v19n1/ v19n1reasoner.html

Franciscus Gomarus (1563-1641)


The Synod of Dort. The Arminians are seated at the table in the middle.


The Remonstrants (headed by Simon Episcopius) were at a disadvantage from the very start, and were summoned as defendants. They were denied seats in the council and were treated throughout as accused parties. 1

In 1618 the Synod of Dort published a condemnation of Arminius and his followers as heretics. Part of this publication was the Five Points of Calvinism in response to the Five Articles of Remonstrance. 1 & 2

1 Ibid 2 Calvin himself never systematized his doctrine into 5 points. The well-known �TULIP� doctrinal summary of Calvinism was based on this response of the counter-Remonstrants.

Simon Bisschop, aka Simon Episcopius (1583-1643)


The Calvinists were heavy handed in their dealings with the Arminians. For refusing to subscribe to the Canon of Dort, some 200 ministers were deprived of their positions, 80 were banished from the country. Those who continued to minister were sentenced to life in prison. 1 & 2 Episcopius was deprived of his office and expelled from the country.

1 SOURCE: http:// calvin_and_arminius.htm 2 In 1621 Lutheran professors at Wittenberg remarked in a publication, �What good there is to be expected from such brethren, may easily be gathered from the Synod of Dort and their proceedings. The Calvinists had several disputes with the Arminians, particularly about the article of grace or election, in which the latter defended our opinion, and the former that of Calvin. In this controversy, the Calvinists showed so much heat, that, by a hasty decree of that synod, they condemned the Arminians and their doctrines, without allowing them to make any defence, depriving them of the exercise of their religion, and banishing their most eminent ministers from their country forever. Was not that a very brotherly proceeding? If they thus treated such who differed from them in one article, namely predestination, what must we expect who differ from them in so many?� - Gerard Brandt, History of the Reformation in the Low Countries, Bk LVI. pg 330


Subsequently the statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, the former protector of the Remonstrants, was convicted on charges of treason and beheaded.

After the death of Maurice of Orange in 1625 some Arminian exiles returned to Holland. In 1630 Arminianism was officially granted protection as a religion. Arminians were again allowed to reside in the Republic but were not, however, officially allowed to build churches until the establishment of the Batavian Republic in 1795. Until then they held their services in house churches. 1

1 wiki/ Remonstrants

Oldenbarnevelt (1547-1619)


NOTE: The Five Points of Calvinism were not drafted by John Calvin, but by Dutch Calvinists, in response to the followers of Arminius publishing The Five Articles of Remonstrance. These 5 points which were later summarised by the acronym TULIP were published 8 years after the Arminian document and some 54 years after Calvin�s death.




Calvin born


Arminius born


Calvin died


Arminius died


The followers of Arminius publish The Five Articles of Remonstrance


The Synod of Dort publish The Five Points of Calvinism



Jay Adams is an American Christian counsellor who has authored more than 100 books. Being a 5-point Calvinist, Adams advises counsellors:

As a reformed Christian, the writer believes that counsellors 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. 1

1 Competent to Counsel, p. 70


Dr. Jay Edward Adams (1927-)

The gospel means �good news� and in a nutshell it means that God possibly hates you and Jesus most probably didn�t die for you. But on the off-chance that he did, why don�t you �respond� to his irresistible grace?



According to Calvinist John MacArthur:

It is commonly thought that Christ died to pay in full the penalty for everyone�s sins, whether they ever believe or not. The popular notion is that God loves everyone, wants everyone saved, so Christ died for everyone. This means His death was a potential sacrifice or atonement that becomes an actual atonement when a sinner repents and believes the gospel. Evangelism, according to this view, is convincing sinners to receive what has already been done for them. All can believe and be saved if they will, since no one is excluded in the atonement. This viewpoint, if taken to its logical conclusion, has hell full of people whose salvation was purchased by Christ on the cross� One should forget the idea of an unlimited atonement. 1

1 New Testament Commentary (on) 2 Peter & Jude (2005) (pages 73-74)



McArthur is quite correct that Arminians believe that while God�s gift of salvation is free, the sinner has the choice to accept it or not. Surely everyone understands that a gift cannot be forced on someone � the recipient has the prerogative to reject it?

It is not enough that the grace of God exists as a potential

solution for sin - it must be claimed personally by the sinner. And when we receive God�s gift of salvation, only then can the atoning death of Christ become an actual solution for one�s sins.

The extreme Calvinist argues that Christ must save everyone that He died for. They reason thus: �If Christ died for everyone, then everyone will be saved.� Let�s think about the logic of this statement. This would be like saying, �If medicine is available for everyone, then everyone must be healed.� This is obviously false. The medicine, though available, will not do any good unless it is taken. ?


�There is more than enough cool, refreshing water for every thirsty person in the village.� Does this mean that every person in the village will have his thirst quenched? Only if every person drinks! 1

We need to differentiate between redemption supplied (i.e. available) and redemption applied.

1 http:// doctrine/ danger02.htm


5-point Calvinists argue that if Jesus died for those who never convert, then his blood was wasted � and it is too precious a commodity to be wasted.

But that is the very point of God�s judgment on men � that they have wasted the sacrifice and trampled under foot the precious blood that bought them.

Heb 10:29-31 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, �It is mine to avenge; I will repay,� and again, �The Lord will judge his people.� It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.



Methodists, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Lutherans, Catholics, most Baptists 1 and 4-point Calvinists believe in an Unlimited Atonement. The doctrine of Unlimited Atonement can be defined as follows:

� the call of the Gospel is universal and there are no limits on who can believe through faith, but the legal payment is still regarded as limited only to those that respond through faith in Jesus. Thus, it is not the same as the doctrine of universal salvation, which holds that all souls will ultimately be reconciled to God, irrespective of faith. 2

1 The Southern Baptist Convention is the world�s largest Baptist denomination. According to a 2012 poll by LifeWay Research only 10% strongly agree with the statement that �Christ died only for the elect, not for everyone in the world� and another 6% somewhat agree. 6% somewhat disagree and 77% strongly disagree. 2 wiki/ Unlimited_atonement


It is important to remember that not all Calvinists are 5-point Calvinists. Many 4-point Calvinists reject the error of Limited Atonement. In fact this is the single point of TULIP theology that professing Calvinists are most likely to reject � or to redefine or soften.



Total Depravity

Prevenient Grace

Unconditional Election

Conditional Election

Limited Atonement

Unlimited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Resistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

Falling from grace


But most surprising of all, seemingly those who believe in Limited Atonement are more �Calvinistic� than Calvin himself.

It should also be noted that the namesake of the Calvinist systematic theological viewpoint, John Calvin, seemingly expressed an unlimited atonement position in several passages from his published Commentaries. 1

Remarkably it appears that 4-point Calvinism is closer to what was originally taught by John Calvin.

1 wiki/ Unlimited_atonement


So the biggest problem for 5-point Calvinists is that the man, on whose teachings the TULIP acronym is supposedly based, taught that the lost were purchased by Christ�s blood. Calvin stated, �It is no small matter to have the souls perish who were bought by the blood of Christ.� 1

Like Arminians, Calvin believed that the atonement was sufficient to pay the price for all men, although all do not avail themselves of the benefit.

Calvin on Romans 5:18 2 � ��for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God�s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive Him.�

1 Sermon 6, 2 Tim 2:19, pg. 83, A Selection of the Most Celebrated Sermons of John Calvin, John Calvin 2 Rom 5:18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.


Renowned Reformed scholar 1 Richard Muller writes:

Calvin taught that the value, virtue, or merit of Christ�s work served as sufficient payment for the sins of all human beings, and provided the basis for the divine promise that all who believe will be saved, assuming that believers are recipients of God�s grace and that unbelievers are �left without excuse.�� On the other hand, Calvin assumed that Christ�s work, albeit sufficient payment for the sins of the world and for securing the salvation of all human beings in even a thousand worlds, is by divine intention effective for the elect only

But that view is totally consistent with the Arminian idea of Unlimited Atonement!

1 P. J. Zondervan Professor of Historical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary)


John Calvin writes:

On Rom 5:10 - �By saying that we were reconciled to God by the death of Christ, he means, that it was the sacrifice of expiation, by which God was pacified (appeased) towards the world�� 1

On Col 1:14 � �This redemption was procured by the blood of Christ, for by the sacrifice of His death all the sins of the world have been expiated (atoned).� 2

On Heb 5:9 � �He seems � to have adopted a universal term, all, for this end, that he might show that no one is precluded from salvation who is but teachable and becomes obedient to the Gospel of Christ.� 3

1 library/ calvin/ commentary_on_romans/ romans_5_10.htm 2 commentaries/ calvin/ colossians/ 1.htm 3 commentaries/ calvin/ hebrews/ 5.htm


And so it can be convincingly argued that contemporary Calvinism has deviated from Calvin with regard to his teaching on the extent of the atonement. In the following passage Calvin explains the extent and application of the atonement in a manner quite acceptable to Arminians:

�But this does not alter the fact that the reprobate are mixed up with the elect in the world. It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world. But the solution lies close at hand, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but should have eternal life (Jn 3.15)� Hence, we conclude that, though reconciliation is offered to all through Him, yet the benefit is peculiar to the elect, that they may be gathered into the society of life. 1

1 Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.148


In his thesis �The History and Theology of Calvinism� Dr. Curt Daniel, who is himself a Calvinist, notes:

The evidence is overwhelming that John Calvin agreed with all the other Reformers that Christ died for all� Universal Atonement was clearly the accepted viewpoint of Reformed Theology up to about the year 1600.�

So who put the �L� (Limited Atonement) in TULIP?


As we have already seen, the 5 points of Calvinism were not articulated by Calvin, but by Dutch Calvinists over 50 years after his death. The Synod of Dort published the Canons of Dort which included Limited Atonement. They believed they were summarizing Calvin�s teachings and refuting every point of Arminianism.

But the �L� seems more likely to have come from Calvin�s successor, Theodore Beza.


I said What?

Professing 4-point Calvinist, Robert Lightner (Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, Adjunct Professor in Theological Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary) and author of the book, �The Death Christ Died� writes:

Those who subscribe to a limited atonement generally argue that that is the position espoused by Calvin. But it is highly debatable that he did, in fact, hold that view� Whereas some scholars have attempted to show that there is harmony between Calvin and later orthodox Calvinism, others have argued that contemporary Calvinism has veered significantly from Calvin�s teaching, including his teaching on the extent of the atonement.


Dr P.N. Archbald, Minister of the Reformed Church of Masterton, notes: �� many church historians today have come to the conclusion that Beza departed significantly from the theology of Calvin. It is often said that Beza was more Calvinistic than Calvin. What is meant by this charge is that Beza� pushed his teacher�s views farther than the man himself would have found agreeable. This is a very old accusation� Many later theologians have agreed, insisting that Beza went on to influence the whole Calvinistic world, convincing it that his distortion represented Calvin�s true views� Many theologians today believe that Calvin did not teach the doctrine of limited atonement� Rather, they believe that Beza popularized the doctrine in Continental and English Calvinism.� 1

1 fnf/ a98.htm NOTE: Being a Calvinist, Archbald himself does not entirely agree with all these assertions, yet summarizes them well.


So even many Calvinists reject the belief in Limited Atonement. These 4-point Calvinists are sometimes called �moderate Calvinists�. The list of claimed adherents (which is naturally disputed by 5-point Calvinists) includes, but is not limited to Richard Baxter, John Davenant, Edmund Calamy the Elder, John Bunyan, Heinrich Heppe, the New Divinity theologians like Samuel Hopkins and Jonathan Edwards, and famous dispensationalist Lewis S. Chafer.

Amyraldism (named after Moses Amyraut, a French theologian) and Hypothetical Universalism are both forms of 4-point Calvinism.



Moses Amyraut (1596-1664)








Thayer's Greek Lexicon

No one can say that Jesus didn�t die for them.

John 1:29 (NASB) The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, �Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (kosmos)�

John uses the universal term, �world� which in Greek is kosmos (Strongs 2889) Definition: the world, universe� the inhabitants of the world�


Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the elect!

When John uses the same word kosmos elsewhere, no one suspects that he is referring to �the elect�.

John 1:9-10 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world (kosmos). He was in the world (kosmos), and though the world (kosmos) was made through him, the world (kosmos) did not recognize him.

Try substitute (as 5-point Calvinists would have us believe is inferred in John 1:29 and John 3:16) the elect for kosmos in the above passage.

John 1:9-10 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the elect. He was in the elect, and though the elect was made through him, the elect did not recognize him.

Try use the Calvinist logic of kosmos = elect elsewhere:

Matt 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world (elect?) and their splendour.

Matt 16:26a What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world (elect?), yet forfeit their soul?

Matt 18:7a Woe to the world (elect?) because of the things that cause people to stumble!

Luke 12:30 (ESV) For all the nations of the world (elect?) seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.

John 16:33 �In this world (elect?) you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (elect?).�

In fact John specifically uses the word kosmos to refer to those who are clearly non-elect. Jesus contrasts the kosmos with those who belong to him.

John 17:9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world (kosmos), but for those you have given me, for they are yours.

Here John uses kosmos to refer to unregenerate mankind:

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world (kosmos) or anything in the world (kosmos). If anyone loves the world (kosmos), the love of the Father is not in him

1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world (kosmos) hates you.

It is a fallacy to attempt to restrict universal terms like �world� in contexts which deal with the atonement. Robert Lightner aptly comments:

�Those who always limit the meaning of those terms in contexts that deal with salvation do so on the basis of theological presuppositions, not on the basis of the texts themselves.�

A word study of the word �world� - particularly in the apostle John�s writings, where it is used 78 times - indicates that the world is God-hating, Christ-rejecting, and Satan-dominated. Yet this is the world that Christ died for. Particularly in John�s writings, interpreting �world� as �world of the elect� seems a great distortion of Scripture. 1

1 Ibid

Although the Anglican bishop J.C. Ryle held the Calvinist view of election, he says of John 1:29:

Christ is� a Saviour for all mankind� He did not suffer for a few persons only, but for all mankind� What Christ took away, and bore on the cross, was not the sin of certain people only, but the whole accumulated mass of all the sins of all the children of Adam� I hold as strongly as anyone that Christ�s death is profitable to none but the elect who believe in His Name. But I dare not limit and pare down such expressions as the one before us� I dare not confine the intention of redemption to the saints alone. Christ is for every man� The atonement was made for all the world, though it is applied and enjoyed by none but believers.

In fact John Calvin himself did not believe that John the Baptist meant �the elect� in John 1:29. He wrote:

And when he says the sin of the world, He extends this favour indiscriminately to the whole human race� all men without exception are guilty of unrighteousness before God and need to be reconciled to Him� Now our duty is, to embrace the benefit which is offered to all, that each of us may be convinced that there is nothing to hinder him from obtaining reconciliation in Christ, provided that he comes to him by� faith.

Note that Calvin says that the benefit of salvation is �offered to all� and that the favour is extended �indiscriminately to the whole human race�. He quite correctly notes that we have a �duty� to embrace the benefit�.

B. F. Westcott was a British scholar, best known for co-editing The New Testament in the Original Greek in 1881:

He wrote on John 1:29 - �Potentially, the work of Christ extends to the whole world.�

And on John 3:16 he says - ��the love of God is without limit on His part, but to appropriate the blessing of love, man must fulfil the necessary condition of faith.�

B.F. Westcott (1825-1901)

The words of Jesus recorded in John�s gospel are clearly universal (John 3:16-18). The criteria for eternal life is �whoever believes�.

For God so loved the world (kosmos) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life� He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already�

Calvin�s own commentary on John 3:16 indicates a view of a universal offer of salvation to the whole world.

And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favour of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life. Let us remember, on the other hand, that while life is promised universally to all who believe in Christ, still faith is not common to all. 1

1 Commentary on the Gospel of John

Ryle also cautioned others not to tamper with John 3:

Beware, again, of the common doctrine that God�s love is limited and confined to His own elect, and that all the rest of mankind are passed by, neglected, and let alone. This also is a notion that will not bear examination by the light of Scripture� I confess, boldly, that I hold the doctrine of particular redemption, in a certain sense, as strongly as any one. I believe that none are effectually redeemed but God�s elect. They and they only are set free from the guilt, and power, and consequences of sin. But I hold no less strongly, that Christ�s work of atonement is sufficient for all mankind. There is a sense in which He has tasted death for every man, and has taken upon Him the sin of the world. I dare not pare down, and fine away, what appear to me the plain statements of Scripture. I dare not shut a door which God seems, to my eyes, to have left open. I dare not tell any man on earth that Christ has done nothing for him, and that he has no warrant to apply boldly to Christ for salvation. I must abide by the statements of the Bible. Christ is God�s gift to the whole world. 1

1 J.C. Ryle, Do You Believe?

A. T. Robertson was a Southern Baptist preacher and a notable American Biblical scholar of New Testament Koine Greek. He wrote on John 3:16:

The world (ton kosmon). The whole cosmos of men, including Gentiles, the whole human race. This universal aspect of God�s love appears also in 2 Corinthians 5:19; Romans 5:8. 1

1 Robertson�s Word Pictures of the New Testament

Regarding this verse John Calvin says: �God is unwilling that we should be overwhelmed with everlasting destruction, because He has appointed His Son to be the salvation of the world.�

Calvin also stated: �The word world is again repeated, that no man may think himself wholly excluded, if he only keeps the road of faith.�

For God did not send His Son into the world (kosmos) to condemn the world (kosmos), but that the world (kosmos) through Him might be saved. (John 3:17)

The distinction that Arminians make about Jesus being the Saviour of all men, but in a unique way to those who believe, is stated plainly in Scripture:

1 Tim 4:9-10 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labour and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, and especially of those who believe.

Scripture explicitly says that Jesus atoned not only for the saved, but also for the sins of unbelievers:

1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole (holos) world (kosmos).


Dr. Walter Martin, founder of the Christian Research Institute and author of the influential book �The Kingdom of the Cults� observes the following about 1 John 2:2.

John the Apostle tells us that Christ gave His life as a propitiation for our sin (i.e., the elect), though not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2)� [People] cannot evade John�s usage of �whole� (Greek: holos). In the same context the apostle quite cogently points out that �the whole (holos) world lies in wickedness� or, more properly, �in the lap of the wicked one� (1 John 5:19, literal translation). If we assume that �whole� applies only to the chosen or elect of God, then the �whole� world does not �lie in the lap of the wicked one.� This, of course, all reject.


In John 4:42 the Samaritans at Sychar called Jesus �the Saviour of the world (kosmos)�.

We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.


Likewise John writes in 1 John 4:14, �And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world (kosmos).�

Jesus said in John 8:12, �I am the light of the world (kosmos)�.

The sun shines on all men, yet some may choose to shut out its light by retreating to a dark room.


John 16:8 (ESV) And when he comes, he will convict (elengch�) the world (kosmos) concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:

The ministry of the Spirit is to convict the entire world of their sin that separates them from a righteous God and of the coming judgment. The motivation behind the conviction is to move the guilty party toward redemption. Elengch� means �to show someone his sin and to summon him to repentance�. 1

The ultimate goal of this conviction is to restore the relationship between a person and God. 2 So why bother to convict the whole world if Jesus never died for them?

1 Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 2:474 2 e.g. John 16:8; Heb 12:5 (The Complete Biblical Library, Greek-English Dictionary, 12:373)


Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would bring conviction on the world. And one of the things the Spirit convicts the world of is the sin of not believing in him.

John 16:8-9 (ESV) � he will convict the world (kosmos) concerning sin� concerning sin, because they do not believe in me

If as 5-pointers say, the world that is convicted of unbelief is the �world of the elect� then holding that logic in the same context, Satan who is called the �prince of this world� is actually the �prince of the elect.�

John 16:11 � and about judgment, because the prince of this world (kosmos) now stands condemned.


Throughout the John 14-16 passage Jesus distinguishes between the world and his disciples (who are referred to as �you� and �your�).

John 16:33 �In this world (kosmos) you (Jesus� disciples) will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (kosmos).�

Once again John Calvin shows in his commentary on this passage that he also believed �the world� included the reprobate:

Under the term world are, I think, included not only those who would be truly converted to Christ, but hypocrites and reprobates. 1

1 Commentary on John 16:8-15 ccel/ calvin/ comment3/ comm_vol35/ htm/ vi.ii.htm


Like the apostle John, Paul makes it clear that the sacrifice of Jesus was for everyone.

2 Cor 5:19a that God was reconciling the world (kosmos) to himself in Christ, not counting people�s sins against them.

Contrary to hating the wicked, God grieves at their death:

Ezek 18:30-32 �Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!


















Limited atonement says that the atonement is God-limited

Unlimited atonement says that the atonement is unlimited by God but it�s effect is human-limited

Limited Atonement says that the non-elect perish because they have no Saviour who died for them.

Unlimited Atonement and indeed the Scriptures say that the lost perish because, even though the Saviour died for them, they refuse to accept and love the truth.

2 Thess 2:10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.


Charles Wesley, the brother of the most famous Arminian preacher, John Wesley, wrote in his hymn �O for a thousand tongues to sing�:

See all your sins on Jesus laid: The Lamb of God was slain, His soul was once an offering made For every soul of man.



Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION�, NIV� Copyright � 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.� Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible�, Copyright � 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (

Scripture quotations taken from the ESV:

�Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version� (ESV�), copyright � 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.�

NOTE 3: Illustration from http://

1 John 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

In Calvin�s comments on 1 John 2:2, he says that the word �all� or �whole� does not include the reprobate. This is used by some to say he taught a Limited Atonement. But read in context his remarks are not to refute an Unlimited Atonement, but rather to quite correctly refute Universalists who taught that the reprobate, including Satan, are saved by the cross � even if they do not believe. 1

1 commentaries/ calvin/ 1_john/ 2.htm Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation�Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe�



The Five Articles of Remonstrance contrast with the Five Points of Calvinism on most points. Article I disagrees that election into Christ is unconditional. Rather, in this article the Remonstrants assert that election is conditional upon faith in Christ, and that God elects to salvation those He knows beforehand will have faith in Him. Article II espouses unlimited atonement, the concept that Christ died for all. This stands in contrast to the limited atonement of Calvinism, which asserts that Christ only died for those God chooses to be saved. Article III affirms the total depravity of man, that man cannot save himself. Article IV repudiates the Calvinistic concept of irresistible grace, contending that mankind has the free will to resist God's grace. Article V, rather than outright rejecting the notion of perseverance of the saints, argues that it may be conditional upon the believer remaining in Christ. The writers explicitly stated that they were not sure on this point, and that further study was needed. 1

1 wiki/ Five_Articles_of_Remonstrance


Article I � That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ, his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ�s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John iii. 36: �He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,� and according to other passages of Scripture also.


Article II � That, agreeably thereto, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption, and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins, except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John iii. 16: �God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life�; and in the First Epistle of John ii. 2: �And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.�

Article III � That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do anything that is truly good (such as having faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the word of Christ, John xv. 5: �Without me ye can do nothing.�


Article IV � That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of a good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without that prevenient or assisting, awakening, following, and co-operative grace, can neither think, will, nor do good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements, that can be conceived, must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But, as respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, in as much as it is written concerning many that they have resisted the Holy Ghost,�Acts vii, and elsewhere in many places.


Article V � That those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his life-giving Spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory, it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through his Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand, and if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled, nor plucked out of Christ�s hands, according to the word of Christ, John x. 28: �Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.� But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scriptures before they can teach it with the full persuasion of their minds.


Hypothetical universalism� is the belief that Christ died in some sense for every person, but that his death only effected salvation for those who were predestined for salvation. In the history of Reformed theology, there have been several examples of hypothetical universalist systems. Amyraldism is one of these, though hypothetical universalism as a whole is sometimes erroneously equated with it. Hypothetical universalist teachings may be found in the writings of early Reformed theologians including Heinrich Bullinger, Wolfgang Musculus, Zacharias Ursinus, and Girolamo Zanchi. Several theologians who signed the Canons of Dort were hypothetical universalists. English hypothetical universalism was developed by John Preston, John Davenant, and James Ussher. 1

1 wiki/ Hypothetical_universalism


Hypothetical universalism� teaches that God ineffectually decrees that all men be saved, but because God knows that some men will not have faith he makes an effectual decree to save those whom he predestines to salvation. 1 Amyraldian hypothetical universalism, associated with John Cameron and Mo�se Amyraut, differs by asserting that God decrees the election of some to salvation logically subsequent to the decree to provide salvation through Christ. 1 Amyraldism� holds to a view of Unlimited atonement that is very similar but not synonymous with the traditional Arminian understanding teaching that God has provided Christ�s atonement for all alike, but seeing that none would believe on their own, he then elects those whom he will bring to faith in Christ, thereby preserving the Calvinist doctrine of� unconditional election� 2

1 Ibid 2 wiki/ Unlimited_atonement