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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Reformed Righteousness by Rev. Charles R. Biggs | Main | Helpful Audio on Reformation History & More... »

    The Satisfied Savior by Pastor John Samson

    "Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:11-12 ESV

    Christ's work on the cross achieved all of the Divine purposes for it. The intent of the design was not merely to try to save all, but when all was said and done, the plan could fail for many because of that stubborn thing called "free will," with the Savior sad for all eternity because many He died for received no benefit for all His labor. No, He died a satisfied Savior, giving Himself for His friends, for His sheep, for His people, for His Church, and fully accomplished the work of redemption for all in this number.

    All who are particularists (who believe that not everyone will be saved - that some people will in fact spend eternity in hell) believe in some type of limitation to the atonement of Christ. The Arminian limits its power, for it only becomes effectual through man's cooperation; the Reformed person limits its extent.

    Christ did not build a wide bridge that merely went most of the way from heaven to earth, requiring all who were willing to jump the final few yards. It was a narrow cross shaped bridge, that extended all the way from heaven to earth, with Jesus the Savior, walking the bridge, finding His sheep on the other side in spiritual death, raising them to life, and carrying each one safely to heaven in His arms.

    The Reformation sola of "Grace Alone," did not refer to a grace that tries but often times fails to accomplish its intention. For the Reformers it meant "grace at the start, grace to the end, grace in the middle, grace without fail, grace without mixture, grace without addition, grace that allows no boasting, grace that precludes all glorying but in the Lord."

    As C. H. Spurgeon said, "The doctrine of Holy Scripture is this, that inasmuch as man could not keep God's law, having fallen in Adam, Christ came and fulfilled the law on the behalf of his people; and that inasmuch as man had already broken the divine law and incurred the penalty of the wrath of God, Christ came and suffered in the room, place, and stead of his elect ones, that so by his enduring the full vials of wrath, they might be emptied out and not a drop might ever fall upon the heads of his blood-bought people." (C. H. Spurgeon - Sermon 310 - "Christ our Substitute - New Park Street, Southwark)

    "I had rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than an universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of man be joined with it." (C. H. Spurgeon - Sermon number 173 - Metropolitan Pulpit 4:121)

    In another sermon, Spurgeon preached, "Once again, if it were Christ's intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own evidence that there is a lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit must be cast some of the very persons, who according to that theory, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a thousand times more frightful than any of those horrors, which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of particular redemption." (C. H. Spurgeon - Sermon 204 - New Park Street Pulpit 4:553)

    This doctrine of the particular redemption or definite atonement of Christ, speaks of God's design in the atonement, and who it was God was intending to save when Christ went to the cross. Christ died as a substitute who bore the full weight of God's wrath on behalf of His people, paying the penalty for their sin. Christ intended to save His sheep and actually secured everything necessary for their salvation. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, thereby guaranteeing their salvation.

    Singer and songwriter Steve Camp recently wrote the following: "When the Lord Jesus Christ declared from the cross,"It is finished!", He had:

    fulfilled the Law;
    went beyond the veil;
    satisfied God's justice;
    propitiated the Father's wrath;
    satisfied His holiness;
    fulfilled all righteousness;
    exalted grace;
    confirmed the gospel;
    redeemed the elect;
    justified His own from the penalty of sin;
    quenched the guilt of our sin;
    crushed the head of Satan and destroyed his hold of death;
    abolished death and its sting;
    fulfilled all redemptive Messianic prophecies;
    secured for us eternal life;
    brought us into intimacy with God;
    imputed to us His perfect righteousness;
    instituted a new covenant;
    and brought us into peace with God forever!"

    Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, based on the Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone! Christ's all sufficient work affirms this!

    For those interested in a lengthier treatment of this subject, I have written an article available at http://fccphx.homestead.com/DivineIntention.html

    Posted by John Samson on October 26, 2005 09:02 AM

    Comments

    Can anyone help me find a way to answer the Arminian question: Can a Calvinist say "Chist died for you" when you don't believe Christ died for everyone?
    What should we say?

    Hi John M.,

    Perhaps I can answer your question with a question - can you show me anywhere in the New Testament where "Jesus died for you" was ever a part of the apostolic proclamation of the Gospel?

    We do find - "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," (1 Tim. 1:15) and the angelic announcement before Jesus' birth in Matt. 1:21, "... you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Christ came into the world to actually "save" sinners, not merely to try to do so, or merely to make sinners saveable... (Jesus doing His part, the rest was up to them). He achieved His intention - He saved His people from their sins.

    We need to return to the biblical message and proclamation and clear out of the way all our traditions and expressions which tend to muddy the water when it comes to understanding. Just because preachers say "Jesus died for you" all the time in our day, and we've heard this a thousand times, doesn't mean it is not a tradition. This tradition is a strong one in people's minds because it has been repeated so often, but I believe it is a tradition nevertheless rather than a scriptural concept.

    You response is what I've been saying - the phrase used is not found in apostolic preaching & is more part of human tradition.
    At least I know I'm not the only one who has a hard time with its use.

    "All who are particularists believe in some type of limitation to the atonement of Christ. The Arminian limits its power, for it only becomes effectual through man's cooperation; the Reformed person limits its extent."

    I find this standard argument of High Calvinists so frustrating and misleading. Firstly, because people interpret the word 'atonement' differently and secondly because it presents a false dichotomy, as though these are the only two choices.

    The first point that needs to be understood is that the word 'atonement' was originally coined to describe reconcilliation, literally "at-one-ment". However, reconcilliation is something that does not take place until man is regenerated and believes. Until then he remains by nature an object of wrath. So, if by 'atonement' we are referring to the process of regeneration where a sinner is enabled by God's sovereign grace to believe, then, yes, clearly both sides of the argument limit the extent of this understanding of the atonement for both will acknowledge that not all will believe. The difference between the two in this case though is not so much a question of the extent of the atonement but of what is the ultimate cause of regeneration - God's sovereign decree to elect some and, in time, to regenerate, by the 'blowing' of the Holy Spirit where He will, those and only those whom He has in eternity past predestined to this end or man's supposed morally neutral ability to choose to believe - in effect, to choose to allow the Holy Spirit to regenerate Him? The Holy Writ is abundantly clear on this - a dead man cannot choose to bring himself back to life!

    Unfortunately though, this is not what most people mean by 'atonement' and neither is it, I suspect, your intention. What most people have in view when they speak of atonement is Christ's death on the cross (which is both an expiation and a propitiation). If then you mean, as most do, the extent of Christ's death then this is an entirely different question.

    The first thing to establish though is what do we even mean by the "extent of Christ's death"? The extent of what it accomplishes or the extent of the intention behind it? It needs to be understood that what Christ's death accomplishes in, and of, itself is not the same as the ultimate end that is intended by it. Jesus' death on the cross, for example, did not directly result in me believing before I was even born - the Holy Spirit still needed to awaken me in time from my 'slumber'. We might characterise the difference as one of 'redemption accomplished' versus 'redemption applied' for ease of future reference. So we need to recognise that, logically at least, the scope or extent of redemption accomplished may not be the same as the scope or extent of redemption applied. To argue back from the limitation at the point of application that the death must therefore also be limited in its scope of accomplishment is not only to confuse the two then but is also a classic case of committing the fallacy of affirming the consequent. We cannot build our doctrines from erroneous logic but on the Word of God alone. Any argument that the scope of the expiation in and of itself, apart from its intent, is limited must be proven from scripture.

    The second thing to understand is that we cannot just assume that there is only one purpose or intent behind Christ's death. Just because we know that ultimately Christ's death will only be of any saving good to the elect we cannot from this infer that that is the only reason that God gave His Son. In fact scripture gives us another very clear reason why God gave His Son - because He loved the *World*. But putting aside for a moment the standard and easily refuted arguments of those who claim that world = elect, the point is that scripture does not teach us that we must limit the reasons why God gave His Son to only one. Therefore, if we wish to understand the question of for whom did Christ die we must go to scripture alone. Just because the 'atonement' is limited at the point of application by the sovereign will of God we cannot infer from that that the extent of Christ's death is necessarily limited in the same way.

    Hopefully you will now see the reason why I also say that it is a false dichotomy. Logically, there is another position which consists of saying that the atonement in terms of redemption accomplished is unlimited in its scope. The limitation is at the point of application and this is the position of a great many scholars and preachers including Calvin, Ursinus, Calamny, Davenant, Baxter, Flavel, both Hodges, Dabney and Shedd to name but a few. In fact a closer study of these men's writings will reveal minor differences between them such that there aren't even three historical positions but a great number. Curt Daniel's History and Theology of Calvinism briefly covers some of this ground.

    Spurgeon makes a similar mistake as you when he speaks of Christ's intention and fails to recognise the logical possibility, and indeed, as held by those listed above, scriptural truth, that the intention to save is rooted in God's eternal decree and, whilst dependent upon, is not co-equal with the expiation. Christ's death does NOT in and of itself save without the instrument of faith and, furthermore, there is nothing in scripture that forces us to think that the expiation necessarily secures faith for all for whom it is intended. Rather scripture teaches us that the intention in Giving His Son is that the world might believe. Thus the death of Christ, in and of itself, is not designed to save but is intended as a provision for all. By His death on the cross, guilt is removed, God's wrath is appeased, His justice satisfied and man is left without excuse, how much greater the condemnation for those who reject such a great salvation.

    Arminianism may be refuted on far better grounds than fallacious arguments about the 'atonement'.

    Martin

    Brother Martin

    You said >>>>>... reconcilliation is something that does not take place until man is regenerated and believes.

    Martin ... I like many things you have to say in your post and especially the concerns behind them, but you have failed to remember that all redemptive blessings find their source in Christ (Eph 1:3). You are bifurcating Christ's person and work from the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. In other words, your position would have us believe that regeneration is a blessing to be found seperate from Jesus Christ. Reconcilliation is not the only facet of redemption. Regeneration is also part of its application.


    You also said >>>>The second thing to understand is that we cannot just assume that there is only one purpose or intent behind Christ's death. Does not Christ's death also result in God's judgement being postponed?Just because the 'atonement' is limited at the point of application by the sovereign will of God we cannot infer from that that the extent of Christ's death is necessarily limited in the same way.

    No one here denies that there may be more than one purpose in the atonement, but the issue we are concerned with is redemption and that is why the position we hold is called "particular redemption". It refers to the redemptive intent of the atonement which Christ shows in John 6:39. Yes, the other things you mention are indeed part of christ's work and Christ did secure these other blessings, but the issue at hand is whether or not Christ died redemptively for all people or His people. That is what the debate is about. There is indeed a way in which Christ died for the elect that he did not for the non-elect.


    Lastly you said >>>>>Christ's death does NOT in and of itself save without the instrument of faith and, furthermore, there is nothing in scripture that forces us to think that the expiation necessarily secures faith for all for whom it is intended.

    The work of redemption is not limited to reconcilliation. It has manifold apects. Regeneration is also a part of the saving work of Christ and to bifurcate this from Christ and his work is erroneous to say the least. A Christ-less regeneration. Furthermore, all persons associated with this board, including the author of this article, would agree that faith is necessary for justification so I am not sure who you are directing this toward. But considering the fact that the redemptive blessing of regeneration finds its origin in Jesus Christ then indeed faith is secured for all to whom it is intended.

    "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Pet 1:3)

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