Last week we delved further into the 5 points of Calvinism by learning of God’s unconditional election of certain individuals. We learned that His election was not based on anything we did but out of His grace alone. Tonight, we will be going over the third point; limited atonement. While all points have their areas of difficulty in the modern age, this particular point is the one people have the most difficulty with.
Ask congregation if they feel Jesus died for everybody or only for a few.
As with the past weeks, I fully expect people to side with Arminianism even though most have never heard of it. While one reason is because it is what is taught in many churches in this present day and age, A.W. Pink puts it in another light that I feel says it best.
The reason why there is so little depth, so little intelligence, so little grasp of the fundamental verities of Christianity, is because so few believers have been established in the faith through hearing the doctrines of grace expounded, and through their own personal study of them.
The superficial work of many of the professional evangelists of the last fifty years is largely responsible for the erroneous views now current upon the bondage of the natural man, encouraged by the laziness of those in the pew in their failure to “prove all things”.
It is my goal to rectify this.
The Five Points of Calvinism, pgs. 40-41
Since not all men will be saved as the result of Christ’s redeeming work, a limitation must be admitted. Either the atonement was limited in that it was designed to secure salvation for certain sinners, but not for others, or it was limited in that it was not intended to secure salvation for any, but was designed on to make it possible for God to pardon sinners on the condition that they believe. In other words, one must limit its design either in extent (it was not intended for all) or in effectiveness (it did not secure the salvation for any).
What it really boils down to is where one chooses to place the limitation. Scripture is very clear that the limitation is not placed in the effectiveness. Scripture is also clear that Christ does not merely make a way for men to save themselves but actually does the saving.
She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.
1 Timothy 1:15
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
Grace to you and peace from God out Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.
If you remember from the previous lesson, John 8:44 says the unregenerate man is bound by the will of his father. It also says his father is the devil. Here in Galatians 1:3-4, we see Paul is writing to fellow Christians. These Christians now have a new Father; God. They are no longer under the will of the devil but are now under the will of God. Everything done is according to the will of the Father. Even the Son subjected to this will. How much more so do we? The will of our Father is not that we would save ourselves after Christ made a way. The will of our Father is that Christ would rescue is; that he would save us.
who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
Not only is it Christ doing the saving but he also does it with a purpose. He does not simply throw us a rope to climb out of the quicksand called sin. He actually crosses the quicksand, pulls you out, and ensures you will never fall back into it. How can we make such bold statements? It is because Titus 2:14 tells us Christ not only redeems us but that he also purifies us. He purifies us and makes us zealous for good deeds. It was not a good deed, us choosing Christ, that purified and saved. It was purification and salvation that caused us to desire to pursue good deeds.
While there is indeed a limitation within the atonement at some point, no one can ever claim this limitation has reduced the effectiveness of atonement. For the non-Elect, it is not effective at all as it was never meant to be. However, for the Elect, it is thoroughly effective and sufficient. It is the atonement that justified us.
being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Christ not only rescues and justifies but he also sanctifies.
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.
and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
1 Peter 1:20
But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.
1 Thessalonians 4:3a
For this is the will of God, your sanctification
The previous lesson on unconditional election really plays a big part in the limited atonement. We learned that God called His Elect before the foundation of the world. We also learned that this election was not based on anything within ourselves. It is this group and this group only that the limited atonement applies to.
“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again This commandment I received from My Father."
The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, "How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.”
Christ did not die for everybody. Not even in one instance was his death in vain. He died for his flock. He died for his sheep. In John 10, Christ says his sheep hear his voice. He says he knows his sheep. He says there are other sheep not currently in the fold and that he has plans to bring them in. Salvation and atonement are not at random. They both go hand in hand in a systematic manner. They go hand in hand with a purpose. The Son knows those whom the Father has given him and he intends to call each and every one of them into the fold without missing anybody.
I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours;
I’d like to close with a quote by Charles Spurgeon:
We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is, that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it: we do not. 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 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.