"...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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  • « Universalist, Arminian and Calvinist Views on the Atonement | Main | The #2 Reason For Embracing Particular Redemption »

    The #1 Reason For Embracing Particular Redemption


    Pastor John, I understand that you did not always hold to Reformed theology and to the doctrine of Particular Redemption (or 'Limited Atonement' as it is called in the acrostic TULIP). May I ask you, what was the number 1 reason you came to embrace it?

    Thanks for your question. You are right in the fact that I have not always embraced the doctrines of grace. Concerning the specific matter of the atonement of Christ, in coming to see the clarity of the Scriptures on this issue, by far the most compelling argument in determining my change of view was this fact: The Arminian understanding of the atonement (which was my former view) undermines the mission, purpose and unity of the Godhead. That is strong language to be sure, so please allow me to explain:

    In Arminian theology three different groups of people are in view:

    1. The Father elects those whom He foresaw as believing in Christ (that's one group).
    2. The Son dies for everyone in what we would call a universal atonement (that's a second group).
    3. The Holy Spirit then seeks to woo/draw those who hear the Gospel (yet a third group). We should note that there are many who will never hear the Gospel of Christ.

    Quite clearly, these are three entirely different groups of people.

    Jesus made it very clear that His mission was to do the will of the Father. In John 6 we have His words recorded:

    37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

    Jesus and the Father were never at odds for even a moment. Christ came to do the Father's will which involved losing none of the ones given to Him by the Father and raising that entire group up to eternal life. Jesus confirmed this unity of purpose in John 10:30 when He said, "I and the Father are one." Here we see the Father and the Son in perfect accord, united in will, purpose and mission. What is true of the Father and the Son is also true of the Holy Spirit. The entire Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united in purpose and have been from eternity.

    In contrast with the fragmented view of Trinitarian redemption found in Arminian theology, I found the consistency of the Scripture revealed in the Reformed view of the cross. As C. H. Spurgeon once said, "Reformed theology is simply a nickname for biblical Christianity."

    Here was the clincher for me. Only in the Reformed view is the unity of the Godhead maintained.

    The Father planned redemption for those He chose to save; the Son accomplished redemption for them, and the Holy Spirit applies redemption to them in what we call irresistible grace. All three persons of the Trinity work in harmony to bring about the salvation of the elect.

    So to answer your question, the number 1 argument that convinced me that "Particular Redemption" is the biblical doctrine of the atonement was this; the unity of the Godhead in the work of redemption.

    - JS

    Posted by John Samson on August 25, 2013 01:36 AM


    Some of the names of the 5 points of Calvinism can be a little unhelpful sometimes.

    Limited atonement for example, makes it seem like it is only Calvinism that limits the atonement; whereas it is also the freewill doctrines, like those of Pelagius, Arminius and Rome, that limit the atonement. We limit it's scope, but they limit it's power. We preach that the atonement actually saves those for whom it was made by extinguishing the wrath that was suffered by Jesus, and it actually causes forgiveness for those for whom it was made.

    But the freewill approach that when it says He died for the world, it must means every person, and not that He redeemed people -out of- every tongue, tribe, people and nation; that view of the atonement very obviously teaches that because he did it for every person, and it does not ensure their salvation, they therefore limit the power of the atonement, declaring that it has no definite power to cause the salvation of anyone.

    But Jesus in John ch. 10 tells the Pharisees (A) "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." and (B) "ye are not of my sheep" thus Jesus told these people in no uncertain terms that He gives not His life for these particular men, which also tells us that whom He does give His life for, are a particular people. he did not give His life for those men.

    Understand also this, that "ye are not of my sheep" was said in the midst of a sentence that has profound and clear ramifications, which should cause anyone holding to the freewill position to amend their theology. "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you."

    He did not say, you are not my sheep, because you do not believe..." as if you become a sheep by believing. No. He said, "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you." which clearly says that the reason that they do not believe, why they do not hear the Shepherd's voice and follow Him, why they follow strangers and not God, is because they are not His sheep. This further shows us that believing God is the fruit of being a Sheep. Please read all of John ch's 10 & 17.

    When He calls you, not solely by the mouth of a preacher preaching the Gospel but when He Himself, by His power, uses the preaching of the Word of God, and effectually calls you, you will hear His voice, and you will follow Him; you will believe on Him. Many are called and few are chosen. Many 'hear' the call of the Gospel, but those who are chosen 'hear' in a way that those who are not chosen, do not hear.

    Did the Pharisees hear Christ? Of course! Else they would have had no compulsion to try and stone Him. They heard and hated His Gospel which He preached. And it's the same with the world. So so many people have 'heard' the Gospel call. We call to them on Thursday's on Grafton street. We call as many as walk by us. But do they hear us? Yes. But no. Their hearing is not the sort of hearing which Christ's sheep are given.

    Read this in Mark 4:9-12:

    "And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them."

    Why are they left in their ignorance of the Gospel? Because they deserve it. Why did God not leave us in ignorance of the Gospel? Because He is both sovereign and merciful. "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." Romans 9:18 Please read all of Romans ch. 9.

    This truth, hard as it might be, is Biblical, exegetical, and the most consistently accepted theological position by the overwhelming majority of God's Spirit lead and beloved church for the last 2,000 years.

    "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, , my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost." Romans 9:1

    May God once again reform His beloved Bride, and empower us with His Spirit, humbling us by the truth, that we might not lift up our heads to boast in His presence; and that we might with a fuller heart praise Him for His Glorious Sovereign Grace; and that we might declare the true Gospel which respects God's will more than man's; for man's nature and will is bent completely against God, and "receiveth not the things of the Spirit"; but God, who is sovereign over all, can change the hearts of men, to the praise of His Glorious Grace. I pray these things in Jesus' Name.

    I have wanted to find the source so badly for that Spurgeon quote: "Reformed theology is simply a nickname for biblical Christianity."

    I know it was mentioned in a roundtable discussion at a conference (it was Sproul that quoted it, I believe) but have never found the quote within context in any of his online sermons.

    Can you point me to the source?

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