Question on Limited Atonement
Question: I am studying the Atonement and am struggling with the concept of a limited atonement, and was wondering if you could assist me thru this:
what do we do with all the scriptures that speak of Christ dying for the sins of all men; for the sins of the world, etc....
Last night I read out of Berkhof's Summary of Christian doctrine, under the heading --Extent of the Atonement. That started to turn on a light...Then I started in on Grudem's sys theo under the same heading.
At issue is the Truth--there must be one.....God's not the author of confusion!! It's us; even His children):
Thanks and most sincerely-
Because Soli Deo Gloria!
Thank you for your email and your excellent inquiry. You are quite right in saying that God is not the author of confusion and, as such, the Trinity works in harmony in our salvation. The Father elects us in Christ, The Son redeems those the Father elects and the Holy Spirit applies the redemptive work of Christ to the same. To say that the Father elects a particular people and the Son dies for everyone and the the Spirit regenerates a particular people is confusion.
Let me ask you. The work of the Holy Spirit in effectual grace ... do you believe it? If so, is this grace from Jesus Christ or from elsewhere? i.e. some generic grace (apart from Christ)? No, regeneration is only possible because of the work of Christ. Therefore, Christ died for the elect in a way (a redemptive way) that he did not for the non-elect. That is to purchase their regeneration, which is a grace never given to the non-elect. This particular grace given only to the elect, proves beyond any doubt that Jesus had the intent of dying for his bride, the church, and not for everyone without distinction.
As for the verse in 1 John which says that Christ not only died for our sins but for the sins of the whole world ... remember this was a time of transition from exclusively Jewish to now also include Gentiles, so this passage is referring not to Christ dying for all people without exception but all people without distinction.. that is both for Jews and Gentiles. To give more evidence that this is clearly what it means, the same author John, in the bok of Revelation 5:9 says that with his blood Christ purchase men FROM every tribe, nation, tongue..." Jesus' blood purchased men OUT OF every tribe ... it does not say he purchased every person in every tribe. Likewise Caiaphas, who was high priest the year Jesus was Crucified, said to the Pharisees, "You know nothing at all,nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish." 51Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
Here the same author John quotes this Pharisee's prophesy which speaks of Jesus dying not only for Israel but for the children of God scattered abroad.... clearly a reference to all of God's people in the world .. not referring to every single person in the world ... which would be complete nonsense... for if Jesus died for all people without exception then why aren't they all saved.??? Because of unbelief one might say?
So in other words, then, Jesus died for all sins except the sin of unbelief? That is ludicrous. Grace is not a reward for faith but faith is the result of grace. Jesus says no one can have faith in me unless God grants it (John 6:65) So even faith is the gift of God, something Jesus purchased as part of our redemption. Also read the high Priestly prayer in John 17. This was given just before he went to the cross, just as a high priest goes to the temple prior to sacrifice. Jesus said, "I pray for them, I pray not for the world, but for those you have given me." Later in the the prayer he also describes those who believe in the apostles words as "those you have given me". In John 6:37 he says "All that the Father gives to me WILL come to me." ... so again the order is clear about God's grace in Christ preceding faith -- a grace given because of Christ's perfect life and sacrificial atonement on behalf of his people. Jesus lays does his life for the sheep.
Hope this helps