"...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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  • « A Thematic Analysis of Philippians | Main | Mercy Speaks by Jesus’ blood »

    Redemptve Blessings for the Elect Only?

    This attempts to answer the question of a visitor as to the Scriptural witness regarding the doctrine of limited atonement: i.e. Does the Scripture teach that Christ died in a way for the elect that he did not for the non-elect (that is, redemptively)? Hopefully some of the following Scripture will shine a light on the subject to many in a way not previously considered.

    Dear Mr. Hendryx:

    Greetings. I endeavour to write you regarding a topic of utmost importance: The extent of Christ's atonement. In undertaking this subject, it is my desire not to confound this matter with theories of atonement, for that it is quite another undertaking. Neither do I wish to engage in metaphysical discussions on the freedom or bondage of the will, the irresistibility or efficacy of how God operates His grace, the inherent depravity and/or inability of man, the imputation of Adam's sin, supralapsarianism, sublapsarianism, infralapsarianism, double-predestination, conditional or unconditional election, the perserverance of the saints, etcetera. I desire only to discuss the extent of Christ's atonement.
    The question is, "Is limited atonement Scriptural?" not "What did the Reformers say?" Seeing as this is the case, I enquire of you proofs for either of these two propositions: Affirmatively, show me one or more passages of Scripture that state Christ died only for the elect (those who are saved); or negatively, show me one or more passages of Scripture that state Christ did not die for the non-elect (those who perish). Thank you for your consideration in advance.

    Some of the following texts demonstrate that Christ died in a way for the elect that he did not for the non-elect (that is, redemptively).

    "Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant." (Heb 9:15)

    In the above, the "called" and the "redeemed" are one and the same.

    Heb. 10:14-18 - "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, 'THIS IS THE NEW COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,' He then says, 'AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.' Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin."

    From these important Texts in Hebrews we see:

    1) God grants people faith in Himself unto salvation, and
    2) God forgave their sins once and forever through the blood of Christ.
    But the quotation in the text of Jer. 31 in Heb. 8 puts it like this: 1) God grants people faith in Himself unto salvation, ***FOR*** 2) God forgave their sins once and forever through the blood of Christ. So it is clear that Christ's death purchases faith in the New Covenant, which means that those who believe do so because of a the atonement.

    John 10:11, 16, 26-29. ‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.’ and to those Jews he speaks with to he says point blank: "you do not believe because you are not my sheep" (the reason for their unbelief they are not His, not visa versa - he does not lay down his life for the goats) In verse 16, He says, ‘And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring (there is nothing questionable, there is nothing optional about this; He says all those sheep for whom I died I am going to bring, them I must bring), they shall (nothing questionable, nothing optional) hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, and one shepherd.’ Verse 27, He says, ‘My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me’ (there is nothing questionable, there is nothing optional about this. In the course of time God is powerful, God is wise enough to cause His sheep to hear His voice and to follow the Lord Jesus Christ). ‘And I give unto them eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all: and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.’

    St. Paul instructs the elders in Ephesus "to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28), and he says in his letter to the same church that "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). Likewise, Jesus speaks to his disciples of His coming death that he will lay down his life "for his friends" (John 15:13).

    “Jesus Christ...gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Tit. 2:14).

    This passage restricts salvation “to his people, his church, those who are redeemed from iniquity, who are purged, who are a choice and peculiar people, and are zealous of good works. For these Christ gave himself and no other.

    At the last supper Jesus tells His disciples that His blood is poured out “for many“: “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mt. 26:28).

    In Mark 10:45 Jesus says: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” “Many, distinguished from one and all, and here applied to true believers, or the elect of God, for whom Christ came to suffer.

    IN rabbinic literature and at Qumran,“the many” is a technical term for the elect community, the eschatological people of God.”

    From John's Apocalypse we read...

    "Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
    for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
    Revelation 5:9

    It does not say Jesus ransomed all people, rather it say Jesus ransomed people from among every tribe, language, people and nation.

    "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham." (Heb 2:14-16) (remember in Roman 9 - Abraham's children are defined as "the children of promise", not simply all physical decendants)

    Writing to Roman Christians Paul says: “Jesus our Lord...was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our Justification“ (Rom. 4:25). To the Galatians Paul writes: “Our Lord Jesus Christ...gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age” (Gal. 1:4). Paul says that Christ became “a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13); and that He actually redeemed His people from the curse of the law (v. 13). The church—the bride of Christ—is the object of His love: “Christ...loved the church and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). If Christ died for every individual, and God really intends to save everyone, Romans 8:31-33 cannot be true, for nothing created can separate us—that is, God’s own people—from His love: “If God be for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also freely give us all things?” How does Paul define us in Romans? As every person in the world? No, but only as the elect: “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?“ (8:33).

    Also, it is not unimportant to recognize that all spiritual/redemptive blessings have their source in Christ and Christ alone. Irresistable grace (John 6:65, 37) is a redemptive blessing for which Christ died. In other words, efficacious grace is among the blessings Christ purchased for His people, a gift we all agree was granted to the elect only and not the non-elect. If you are already convinced biblically of the doctrine of irresistable grace then you already believe in limited atonement without knowing it perhaps ...for they are the same aspect of redemptiion viewed from different perspectives. There is no such thing as a "Christ-less" effectual grace. Effectual grace is a work of the Holy Spirit applying the work of Christ, just as justification is. Our redemption must be viewed multi-perspectivally, not merely as justification alone. Effectual grace is just as much a part of our redemption as justification, and it must be agreed this redemptive blessing for which Christ died is granted to the elect ONLY.

    Lastly you may want to consider some of the content of Jesus' prayer in John 17. " have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him (particular). And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent ... I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours." (John 17: 3, 9)

    Our natures' fight against this, buy Jesus couldn't be clearer that he came to redeem a particular people for Himself, not all persons without exception.

    There is certainly much more that could be covered, but this is a good start.

    Click Here for more on this topic.

    Posted by John on July 28, 2006 03:32 PM


    A couple more passages which argue for particular redemption:

    II Corinthian 5:14-15
    For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

    The argument here is very clear: since Christ died for all, all died; and since all died, all will live, not to themselves, but to Christ. Therefore, if Christ died for any person, that person has new life -- he is a new creation in Christ (verse 17). This passage makes it impossible to suppose that there are some for whom Christ died that do not also have new life in him. Further, it strengthens our understanding (which is also made clear by other texts) that it is common in NT usage to use the term "All" to refer to all who are in Christ, and not all who are in the world.

    A second passage:

    Isaiah 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

    This passage makes the justification of sinners immediately consequent upon Christ's bearing their iniquities -- in other words, Christ shall justify the "many" by, or in consequence of his bearing their iniquities. Which makes the case of a person whose iniquities Christ has borne, and who will not be justified, an impossibility.

    One final clarification on Romans 8:34-35:

    Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?...

    The conception of a universal atonement makes nonsense of Paul's argument here. He is saying that, if Christ died for someone, then no one can condemn that person. If Christ died and rose for someone, then he intercedes for him, and nothing can separate him from the love of God. When Paul says, "Who can condemn? Christ died..." he makes it very clear that, simply because Christ died for someone, he cannot be condemned. It is an impossibility to posit the case of someone for whom Christ died being eternally condemned. This is quite in line with Paul's earlier assertion that, if God did not withhold his Son from us, he will not withhold any good thing. Is faith a good thing? Is eternal life a good thing? If so, it cannot be withholden from anyone for whom God delivered up his Son. To suppose that the atonement was universal is to make nonsense of Paul's lines of reasoning, and, in essence, to make him a liar, and the scripture promises of this passage false.


    "The Arminians say, 'Christ died for all men.' Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, 'No, certainly not.' We ask them the next question: Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer 'No.' They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, 'No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if ?' and then follow certain conditions of salvation. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as infallibly to secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ's death; we say, 'No, my dear sir, it is you that do it.' We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it."
    -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

    Excellent points Nathan.. Thanks for adding them to the mix..


    I am in greatful agreement with this post. I have just one request, could someone supply the references in Qumranic and Rabbinic literature for the "many" reffering to the eschatological community.

    Thank you in advance.

    By His Grace and FOr His Glory,
    David G.


    >>>>In rabbinic literature and at Qumran,“the many” is a technical term for the elect community, the eschatological people of God.”

    William L. Lane, The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 384.

    who himself cites...
    Cf. R Marcus, "Mebaqqer and Rabbim in the Manuel of Discipline vi, 11-13," JBL 75 (1956), pp. 298-302; H Huppenbauer...

    Hope this helps
    John H.

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