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Sermon No: 2821-Calvinism - Part 4b Limited Atonement



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SERMON TOPIC: Calvinism - Part 4b Limited Atonement

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 7 August 2016

Topic Groups: CALVINISM, ARMINIANISM, LIMITED ATONEMENT

Sermon synopsis: Even many Calvinists reject the belief in Limited Atonement. These 4-point Calvinists are sometimes called “moderate Calvinists”. John Bunyan (1628-1688),the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, is considered a Calvinist, but he clearly believed in an Unlimited Atonement.
Bunyan writes, “To this question I shall answer ? First. In the language of our Lord, “Go preach the Gospel unto every creature,” and again: “Look unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved; and whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.” And the reason is, because Christ died for all, tasted death for every man, is the Saviour of the world, and the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.”
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ARMINIANISM

& CALVINISM

PART 4b

ATONEMENT

DEFINITION: Atonement refers to the forgiving or pardoning of sin in general and original sin in particular through the death and resurrection of Jesus, enabling the reconciliation between God and his creation.

We continue our look at the L (Limited Atonement) in TULIP vs 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.

INTRODUCTION

WHO LIMITS?

5-POINT CALVINISM

THE ELECT

PREDESTINED FOR DAMNATION

GOD

LIMITED ATONEMENT

WHO LIMITS?

THE UNREGENERATE WORLD (KOSMOS)

UNLIMITED ATONEMENT

GOD

UNIVERSALISM

WHO LIMITS?

THE UNBELIEVING WORLD

UNLIMITED ATONEMENT

UNBELIEF

“WHOSOEVER WILL…”

GOD

ARMINIANISM

We saw 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.

Calvinism

Arminianism

Total Depravity

Prevenient Grace

Unconditional Election

Conditional Election

Limited Atonement

Unlimited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Resistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

Falling from grace

4-POINT CALVINISM

THE GREEK WORD KOSMOS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

THE WORLD, THE UNIVERSE

THE CIRCLE OF THE EARTH, THE EARTH

THE INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH, MEN, THE HUMAN RACE

THE UNGODLY MULTITUDE; THE WHOLE MASS OF MEN ALIENATED FROM GOD, AND THEREFORE HOSTILE TO THE CAUSE OF CHRIST

WORLD AFFAIRS, THE AGGREGATE OF THINGS EARTHLY

ANY AGGREGATE OR GENERAL COLLECTION OF PARTICULARS OF ANY SORT (cf. James 3:6 “the tongue also is a fire, a world of evil…”)

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…

KOSMOS

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

John the Calvinist (spot the mistake!)

We noted the big problem for 5-point Calvinists in that John Calvin, on whose teachings the TULIP acronym was supposedly based, taught that the lost were purchased by Christ’s blood. He stated, “It is no small matter to have the souls perish who were bought by the blood of Christ.” 1

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, who taught a more extreme version of Calvinism.

1 Sermon 6, 2 Tim 2:19, pg. 83, A Selection of the Most Celebrated Sermons of John Calvin, John Calvin

CALVIN WAS A 4-POINTER

LIMITED ATONEMENT

UNLIMITED ATONEMENT

UNIVERSALISM

ATONEMENT

LIMITED

UNLIMITED

UNLIMITED

APPLICATION

LIMITED

LIMITED

UNLIMITED

LIMITED BY

GOD

MAN

NO ONE

WHO LIMITS?

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

While God makes the provision of salvation for all men, it is conditioned by faith. Salvation is only actualised for those who believe, although it is potentially available to all.

Jesus paid the penalty for my sin. If I reject his offered pardon, it doesn’t automatically follow that he hasn’t paid the price. It’s like being locked up in prison and finding out that someone has paid my bail, yet I opt to remain in custody. My bail wasn’t unpaid - I just don’t avail myself of the benefit of the payment.

WHO LIMITS?

UNLIMITED ATONEMENT

The doctrine of Unlimited Atonement CAN BE STATED AS FOLLOWS:

The purpose of the atonement was universal—Jesus died on behalf of all people, not just the elect. The atonement makes a way for all to respond to the Gospel call—Part of the effect of the atonement is the restoration of the ability to respond to God’s call of salvation. Salvation is available for all—The doctrine of unlimited atonement rejects the predeterminism associated with Calvinism and states that every human has the opportunity to accept Jesus through faith. The atonement legally pays for the sins of those who believe on Jesus—Only those who believe on Jesus are forgiven—only the believers’ sins are paid. 1

1 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Unlimited_atonement

WHAT IT STATES

The doctrine of Unlimited Atonement DOES NOT STATE THAT:

Jesus paid the penalty for those who deny faith in Him, and His death was a substitutionary atonement for those who deny Him—Though the term unlimited atonement can easily give the incorrect assumption that Jesus’ payment encompassed all people, unlimited atonement maintains a limit on the legal effect. Jesus’ death was indeed an offer of a substitutionary atonement to all, but this offer was resistible; though salvation is offered to all, not all are saved. 1

1 https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Unlimited_atonement

WHAT IT DOESN’T STATE

What did the early church believe on this regard?

Clement of Alexandria (150-220):

“Christ freely brings... salvation to the whole human race.”

Eusebius (260-340):

“It was needful that the Lamb of God should be offered for the other lambs whose nature He assumed, even for the whole human race.”

Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386):

Do not wonder if the whole world was ransomed, for He was not a mere man, but the only-begotten Son of God.”

THE EARLY CHURCH

Gregory of Nazianzen (324-389):

“The sacrifice of Christ is an imperishable expiation of the whole world.”

Basil (330-379):

“But one thing was found that was equivalent to all men… the holy and precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He poured out for us all.”

Cyril of Alexandria (376-444):

“The death of one flesh is sufficient for the ransom of the whole human race, for it belonged to the Logos, begotten of God the Father.”

THE EARLY CHURCH

Ambrose of Milan (340-407), who was responsible for the conversion and baptism of Augustine of Hippo, wrote:

“Christ suffered for all, rose again for all. But if anyone does not believe in Christ, he deprives himself of that general benefit.”

“Christ came for the salvation of all, and undertook the redemption of all, inasmuch as He brought a remedy by which all might escape, although there are many who... are unwilling to be healed.”

Early mosaic of Ambrose that might be an actual portrait.

THE EARLY CHURCH

By his own admission Calvin used Augustine (AD 354-430) as a key source for many of his beliefs. But though Augustine is often cited as supporting Limited Atonement, if this is true, it would make his own works contradictory. He said:

The Redeemer came and gave the price, shed His blood, and bought the world. Do you ask what He bought? See what He gave, and find what He bought. The blood of Christ is the price: what is of so great worth? What, but the whole world? What, but all nations? 1

1 Enarration on Psalm 95, no. 5

AUGUSTINE

Prosper of Aquitaine (c. 390 – c. 455), a friend and disciple of Augustine, writes that the “whole world” is bought, but some do not avail themselves of the benefit because of the exercise of their free will and lack of faith:

“Although the blood of Christ be the ransom of the whole world, yet they are excluded from its benefit, who, being delighted with their captivity, are unwilling to be redeemed by it”.

“As far as relates to the magnitude and virtue of the price, and to the one cause of the human race, the blood of Christ is the redemption of the whole world: but those who pass through this life without the faith of Christ, and the sacrament of regeneration, do not partake of the redemption.”

UNLMITED ATONEMENT

AUGUSTINE

In his thesis “The History and Theology of Calvinism” Dr. Curt Daniel, who is himself a Calvinist, agrees that Beza, rather than Calvin, was probably the first Reformer to explicitly teach Limited Atonement. He 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.

To support his claim Dr. Daniel cites the Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 (regarded as one of the most influential of the Reformed catechisms):

That all the time He lived on the earth, but especially at the end of His life, He bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the whole human race

THE REFORMERS

What did the reformers teach on the universality of the atonement? Martin Luther (1483-1546) was not clear on the issue or else he changed his mind. In 1515 to 1516 he stated that 1 Timothy 2:4 (God will have all men saved) “must be understood only with respect to the elect” and that “Christ did not die for absolutely all”, 1 which is used in support of Limited Atonement. But he later said in 1531:

… for the devil describes Christ as an exacting and cruel judge who condemns and punishes men. Tell him that his definition of Christ is wrong … that by His sacrifice He has taken away the sins of the whole world… Be assured that Christ has cancelled the sins, not of certain persons only, but your sins. Do not permit yourself to be robbed of this lovely conception of Christ. 2

1 Lectures on Romans 2 Commentary on Galatians

THE REFORMERS

However the successor of Luther, Philip Melanchton (1497-1560) explicitly wrote, “It is necessary to know that the Gospel is a universal promise, that is, that reconciliation is offered and promised to all mankind. It is necessary to hold that this promise is universal, in opposition to any dangerous imaginations on predestination, lest we should reason this promise pertains to a few others and ourselves. But we declare that the promise of the Gospel is universal. And to this are brought those universal expressions which are used constantly in the Scriptures.” 1

1 Common-places, On the promises of the gospel, pg 195

THE REFORMERS

1537 portrait of Melanchton

The Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) writes:

If then Christ by his death has reconciled all people who are on earth when he poured out his blood on the cross and if we are on earth, then our sins, too, and those of everyone who has ever lived, have been recompensed by the one death and offering. 1

Christ who through his death has offered himself to God for the sins of all who ever been and ever shall be. 2

1 Zwingli, Exposition and Basis of the Conclusions or Articles Published by Huldrych Zwingli, 29 January 1523, Vol 1, pg 97 (Pickwick Publications) 2 Ibid, pg 94

THE REFORMERS

Ulrich Zwingli

Zwingli’s successor, Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575) states:

Christians know that the sacrifice of Christ once offered is always effectual to make satisfaction for the sins of all men in the whole world, and of all men of all ages… 1

1 Decades, 4th Decade, Sermon 7, vol 2, pp., 285-286, 287, and 296

THE REFORMERS

Heinrich Bullinger

The early English Reformers held to universal atonement.

Established in 1563 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the 39 Articles of Religion are the historically defining statements of doctrines of the Church of England with respect to the controversies of the English Reformation. Article 31 states, “The Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone”.

ENGLISH REFORMERS

Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603)

Calvinist John MacArthur says

Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Judas. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Herod. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Pilate. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of Adolph Hitler. Jesus didn’t pay for the sins of all that mass of humanity that show up at the Great White Throne and are cast into the Lake of Fire forever… But He did pay for the sins of all who will believe in Israel and the world. 1

1 From the Sermon, “The Sacrifice That Satisfied-1 John 2:2

WHAT ABOUT JUDAS?

John McArthur (1939-)

But the Church of England Reformer and martyr, Hugh Latimer, clearly disagreed with MacArthur about Jesus shedding his blood for the likes of Judas:

For Christ shed as much blood for Judas as He did for Peter; Peter believed it, and therefore he was saved; Judas would not believe and therefore he was condemned – the fault being in him only, and in nobody else. 1

1 Sermon XXVIII - Epistle for twenty third Sunday after Trinity - Sermons by Hugh Latimer, Vol 1 edited by George Elwes Corrie

Hugh Latimer (c. 1487-1555) - chaplain to King Edward VI and later burnt at the stake by Queen Mary.

WHAT ABOUT JUDAS?

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.

UNLMITED ATONEMENT

MODERATE CALVINISM

Moses Amyraut (1596-1664)

Robert Lightner writes in his book “The Death Christ Died”:

[Moderate Calvinists] believe the cross does not apply its own benefits but that God has conditioned His full and free salvation upon personal faith in order to appropriate its accomplishments to the individual. This faith which men must exercise is not a work whereby man contributes his part to his salvation, nor does faith, in the moderate Calvinist view, improve in any way the final and complete sacrifice of Calvary. It is simply the method of applying Calvary’s benefits which the sovereign God has deigned to use in His all-wise plan of salvation.

MODERATE CALVINISM

Though John Bunyan (1628-1688), the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, is considered a Calvinist, he clearly believed in an Unlimited Atonement.

Bunyan writes, “To this question I shall answer ? First. In the language of our Lord, “Go preach the Gospel unto every creature,” and again: “Look unto me, all ye ends of the earth, and be ye saved; and whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.” And the reason is, because Christ died for all, tasted death for every man, is the Saviour of the world, and the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” 1

1 Reprobation Asserted, John Bunyan, ca. 1674, Ch 9

John Bunyan

JOHN BUNYAN

Swiss Protestant theologian Benedictus Aretius (1505-1575):

“Christ died for all, yet, notwithstanding, all do not embrace the benefit of His death… they despise the offered grace.”

Church of Ireland Archbishop Usher (1581-1656):

“We may safely conclude that the Lamb of God offering himself a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, intended, by giving sufficient satisfaction to God’s justice, to make the nature of man, which he assumed, a fit subject for mercy, and to prepare a medicine for the sins of the whole world, which should be denied to none that intended to take the benefit of it”. 1

1 Cited in James Morison, The Extent of the Atonement, pg 136

OTHER PROTESTANTS

Another blow to 5-point Calvinists is that the highly regarded American Puritan and Calvinist preacher, Jonathan Edwards, was clearly not in their camp on this issue. Note his own explanation of his beliefs.

Now Arminians, when [they] say that Christ died for all, cannot mean, with any sense, that he died for all any otherwise than to give all an opportunity to be saved; and that, Calvinists themselves never denied. He did die for all in this sense; ’tis past all contradiction. 1

1 Jonathan Edwards [1722], The “Miscellanies”: (Entry Nos. a–z, aa–zz, 1–500) (WJE Online Vol. 13) , Ed. Harry S. Stout, page 174

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

JOHNATHAN EDWARDS

THE GREAT COMMISSION

In his Great Commission Jesus instructs us to go into all the world (kosmos), preaching to all creation. The criteria for baptism and salvation is stipulated by Jesus – belief!

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)

But Limited Atonement makes no sense in relation to the Great Commission message. What are you supposed say to the unsaved? “Jesus might have died for you?”

I’ve come to proclaim the “good news” that Jesus might have died for you because God possibly loves you (although there’s a strong chance that he actually hates you).

???

GREAT COMMISSION

The danger of 5-point Calvinism is that it can lead to apathy on behalf on the unsaved. After all, why worry about evangelising those for whom Christ may not have died?

Jerry Vines 1 states, “When a Calvinist is a soul-winner, it is in spite of his theology.”

But the Hyper-Calvinist, who says that evangelisation is not important (because Jesus didn’t even die for the sins of the non-elect), should note what John Calvin writes about Gal 5:12:

It is the will of God that we should seek the salvation of all men without exception, as Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world.”

1 Jerry Vines is the former pastor of the then nation’s third largest Southern Baptist church, the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida.

GREAT COMMISSION

But our Lord said that you must invite “anyone you find” to the wedding feast.

Matt 22:9 “So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.”

GREAT COMMISSION

AN OPEN INVITE!

THE SCRIPTURES ON THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT

Those who advocate a Limited Atonement use verses which speak of Jesus dying for the sheep, 1 for his friends 2 and for the church. 3 This proves, they say, that he died for a select group and not for all sinners.

1 John 10:15b “I lay down my life for the sheep.” 2 John 15:13-14 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” 3 Acts 20:28b Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. Eph 5:25 … just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…

DYING FOR HIS SHEEP

But it is a “logical fallacy” to use passages that speak of Jesus dying for a group of individuals as evidence that it is for those alone. He may be said to have given himself for one person or group without denying that he gave himself for others as well.

Jesus didn’t stipulate any exclusivity e.g. “I lay down my life for the sheep ONLY ”. So you simply cannot use these verses to prove that Jesus died exclusively for the elect.

A Biblical precedent of this principle is found in Galatians 2:20, where Paul speaks of “the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” not at all implying that Christ did not also give himself for other people.

DYING FOR HIS SHEEP

These passages are speaking of a SUBSET of people that Jesus died for within a greater SET. Looking at Scripture in it’s entirety makes it clear that he died for a greater SET also; in fact the whole world (holo kosmos).

DYING FOR HIS SHEEP

HOLOS KOSMOS (1 John 2:2 )

SET

SUBSET

THE CHURCH (Acts 20:28)

SUBSET

PAUL (Gal 2:20)

JESUS DIED FOR

Robert Lightner (Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, Adjunct Professor in Theological Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary) makes a similar argument:

Those who hold to an unlimited atonement recognize that some Scriptures emphasize the fact that Christ died for the elect, for the church, and for individual believers. However, they point out that when those verses single out a specific group they do not do so to the exclusion of any who are outside that group since dozens of other passages include them. The ‘limited’ passages are just emphasizing one aspect of a larger truth. In contrast, those who hold to a limited atonement have a far more difficult time explaining away the ‘unlimited’ passages. 1

1 “For Whom Did Christ Die?” Walvoord: A Tribute, ed. Donald K. Campbell, p. 166.

DYING FOR HIS SHEEP

It is true that Jesus gave himself in a special way for his church, but this does not prove that he did not also give himself for “all men” or the “whole world” in a different way, especially since Scripture explicitly says that he did in fact do that very thing.

Jesus was a ransom for all men:

1 Tim 2:5-6 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.

He died for all:

2 Cor 5:14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

ALL MEN

Jesus tasted death for everyone:

Heb 2:9: But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

ALL MEN

2 Pet 2:1 … there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves.

The above verse actually poses 2 problems for the 5-point Calvinist.

denying the sovereign Lord – According to the doctrine of Perseverance of the saints (i.e. Eternal Security or “once saved always saved”) what is being cautioned against here is actually an impossibility.

who bought them - Christ even “bought” those who are ultimately not among the elect (they are destroyed), including the false teachers of “destructive heresies” alluded to here.

UNLIMITED ATONEMENT

It is possible for that someone “for whom Christ died” to be destroyed:

Rom 14:15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.

1 Cor 8:11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.

UNLIMITED ATONEMENT

Those who advocate a Limited Atonement use verses which speak of Jesus dying for “many” 1 to again infer that this places a restriction on the atonement.

Mark 14:24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.

Yet note what John Calvin comments on this verse:

This is my blood… Which is shed for many. By the word many he means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race; for he contrasts many with one; as if he had said, that he will not be the Redeemer of one man only, but will die in order to deliver many from the condemnation of the curse.

1 E.g. Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

THE MANY

Isa 53:12b For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Again note Calvin’s comment:

I approve of the ordinary reading, that He alone bore the punishment of many, because on Him was laid the guilt of the whole world. It is evident from other passages, and especially from the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, that many sometimes denotes all.

A quick cross-reference to the Scriptural context shows:

Isa 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

THE MANY

We know from Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned”, yet Paul speaks of Adam’s sin as affecting “many”:

Rom 5:15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

One must also remember that in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that only a few find the narrow road to eternal life (Matt 7:14) and in Matthew 22:14 he said that “many are invited, but few are chosen”. Yet he did not say his blood was poured out for a few, but for many.

MANY VS FEW

HOLOS KOSMOS (1 John 2:2 )

SET

SUBSET

THE CHURCH (Acts 20:28)

MANY ARE INVITED

FEW ARE CHOSEN

MANY VS FEW

Matt 22:14 “… many (the world) are invited, but few (the elect) are chosen”

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.

Was is the point Paul is making? Through Adam’s one act of disobedience all humanity became the recipients of sin. IN CONTRAST through one act of obedience, Jesus made provision for the sin of all humanity.

ROMANS 5

ALL HUMANITY AFFECTED BY ADAM’S WORK

ALL HUMANITY AFFECTED BY JESUS’ WORK

Yet Limited Atonement claims the opposite, namely that in the first half of Rom 5:18 all people means all people, but in the second part all people means some people?

Rom 5:18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people (= all people), so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people (= some people).

ALL HUMANITY AFFECTED BY ADAM’S WORK

ONLY SOME OF HUMANITY AFFECTED BY JESUS’ WORK?

ROMANS 5

Some may argue that if Jesus died for those who ultimately go to hell, what benefit do they have from his death?

Num 21:9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

John 3:14-15 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

You could just as well ask what benefit did the bitten Israelites get from the bronze serpent if they refused to look at it. None, obviously, but it was God’s method of deliverance and a type of our deliverance by Jesus.

Some contend that it would be unjust for God to punish the same sins twice (i.e. double jeopardy). How could he send people to hell if Jesus paid for their sins? To back this claim they cite Spurgeon who said, “… I believe in a just God, and if God be just, he will not punish Christ first, and then punish men afterwards.” 1

But Unlimited Atonement proponents hold that God is not unfair in condemning those who reject the offer of salvation. He is not exacting judgment twice. Because the nonbeliever refuses to accept the death of Christ as his own, the benefits of Christ’s death are not applied to him. He is lost, not because Christ did not die for him, but because he refuses God’s offer of forgiveness. 2

1 “The Death of Christ” Sermon No. 173 2 “Conviction Without Compromise” by Norman Geisler (moderate Calvinist) and Ron Rhodes (4-point Calvinist)

DOUBLE JEOPARDY?

A FRAUDULENT OFFER?

Acts 17:30 “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”

Self-professed 4-point Calvinist, Ron Rhodes says:

In view of such passages, it is legitimate to ask: “If Christ died only for the elect, how can the offer of salvation be made to all persons without some sort of insincerity, artificiality, or dishonesty being involved? Is it not improper to offer salvation to everyone if in fact Christ did not die to save everyone? How can God authorize His servants to offer pardon to the non-elect if Christ did not purchase it for them? This is a problem that does not plague those who hold to General [Unlimited] Redemption, for it is most reasonable to proclaim the Gospel to all if Christ died for all.” 1

1 http:// home.earthlink.net/ ~ronrhodes/ Atonement.html

A FRAUDULENT OFFER?

Speaking of the judgement on Capernaum, Corazin and Bethsaida because of unbelief, John Bunyan wrote:

… for if those that perish in the days of the Gospel shall have at least their damnation heightened because they have neglected and refused to receive the Gospel, it must needs be: that the Gospel was with all faithfulness to be tendered unto them; the which it could not be unless the death of Christ did extend itself unto them; for the offer of the Gospel cannot, with God’s allowance, be offered any further than the death of Jesus Christ doth go; because if that be taken away there is indeed no Gospel nor grace to be extended. Besides, if by every creature, and the like should be meant only the elect, then are all the persuasions of the Gospel to no effect at all…

A FRAUDULENT OFFER?

So Bunyan argues that we cannot offer the sinner what has not been provided. If Jesus did not die for that person, how can you make a genuine offer of the gospel to them? Your offer is fraudulent as the offered salvation was never available in the first place.

As Robert Lightner said, “No maxim appears more certain than that a salvation offered implies a salvation provided.” 1

1 The Death Christ Died, pg 114

A FRAUDULENT OFFER?

Ron Rhodes says:

To believe that some are elect and some non-elect creates no problem for the soul winner provided he is free in his convictions to declare that Christ died for each one to whom he speaks. He knows that the non-elect will not accept the message. He knows also that even an elect person may resist it to near the day of his death. But if the preacher believes that any portion of his audience is destitute of any basis of salvation, having no share in the values of Christ’s death, it is no longer a question in his mind of whether they will accept or reject; it becomes rather a question of truthfulness in the declaration of the message. 1

1 http:// home.earthlink.net/ ~ronrhodes/ Atonement.html

A FRAUDULENT OFFER?

Again a 5-point Calvinist may question why God would bother to have Jesus die for those whom he, in his foreknowledge, knew would never repent.

Well consider a few Scriptural precedents. Why did God create Satan and other angels who he knew would subsequently rebel? Why did he send Noah to preach to people he knew would never repent? Why did he send John the Baptist to rebuke Herod when he knew he would simply imprison and behead him?

WHY BOTHER?

The purpose of language is to communicate effectively. It is a misrepresentation of Scripture to attempt to redefine universal terms like “the world”, “all men”, “everyone” and “anyone” because the plain meaning contradicts your theology.

If we allow common language to simply mean what it says, we see that God wishes all to be saved:

1 Tim 2:3-4 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

2 Pet 3:9 The Lord… is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

GOD WANTS ALL SAVED

Paul writes of a grace that “offers salvation to all people”, not just the elect:

Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…

As God cannot lie, it is inconceivable that he would make a fraudulent offer of salvation.

Titus 1:2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time…

So we can sincerely make a genuine offer of salvation to a sinner, based on our confidence in the character of a truthful God.

A FRAUDULENT OFFER?

But if redemption has been made for all, how then can any go to hell?

Though God has provided atonement for all, He has also stipulated that none get the good of it, except through repentance and faith. Deliverance from doom was not contingent on the atonement itself but on the reception of it. Men can starve in the presence of a free feast, if they refuse to partake of it. 1

1 http:// home.earthlink.net/ ~ronrhodes/ Atonement.html

CONCLUSION

God, who loves the world (John 3:16) and who wants all to be saved (1 Tim 2:3-4) has promised that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:13)

CONCLUSION

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

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. (http:// www.Lockman.org)

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.”




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