III. LIMITED ATONEMENT
- Arminian Position: Christ’s death was designed to make salvation possible for all people. Christ’s death made salvation possible for everyone, but it did not actually secure or guarantee the salvation of anyone. Fallen man determines whether or not Christ’s work will be effective by his faith.
- Reformed Position: Christ’s death was designed to actually secure the salvation of all of God’s chosen people. Christ’s death secured and actually accomplished the salvation of all of God’s chosen people. God has determined that all for whom Christ sacrificed Himself will be saved.
- Scriptural Support for the Reformed Position
- Christ’s death is set forth in scripture as that which ACTUALLY accomplished salvation, not that which merely made salvation possible.
Rom.5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
2Cor.5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Eph.2:15 – having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
Col.1:21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight
Gal.3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),
Titus.2:14 – who 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.
Heb.9:12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Luke.19:10 “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
1Tim.1:15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
- Jesus Christ was sent into the world to save the people whom the Father had given Him.
John.6:35-40 35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.36 “But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means 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 “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.40 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John.10:11″I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
John.10:14-18 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.15 “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.16 “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.18 “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
John.10:24 -29 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.26 “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.28 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
Eph.1:3 -4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
Eph.1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
Eph.1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
3.Christ’s sacrificial and intercessory work as high priest is for those the Father had given Him, not for the world.
John.17:1 – John.17:11
1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,2 “as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.4 “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.5 “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.7 “Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.8 “For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.10 “And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.11 “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.
John.17:20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;
John.17:24-26 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.25 “O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.26 “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Heb.2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
Heb.3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,
Heb.9:28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
- Christ’s saving work was intended to save a particular people.
Matt.1:21 “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
John.10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
John.10:15 – “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
John.10:26 – “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
Acts.20:28 -28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
Eph.5:25 -27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Rom.8:32 -34 Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
John.15:13 love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Matt.20:28 “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Matt.26:28 “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Heb.9:28 Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
- Those for whom Christ died are an innumerable host from every tribe, tongue, people and nation in the world.
Rev.5:9 – And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
John.3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John.4:42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
2Cor.5:19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
1John.2:1 -2 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
1John.4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.
Rom.5:18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
2Cor.5:14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
1Tim.2:4 -6 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,
Heb.2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
2Pet.3:9 the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Note: The Bible often uses the words all and world in a restricted, limited sense.
Luke.2:1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.
1Cor.6:12 – All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
1Cor.10:23 – All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.
John.12:32 – I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
1Cor.15:22 – For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
- Key Quotations
- Westminster Confession of Faith III,6 & VIII,5
As God has appointed the elect to glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called to faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, to salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience, and sacrifice of Himself, which He, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up to God, has fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father has given Him.
- Dr. John Owen (Vice Chancellor – Oxford)
FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE?
The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for either:
1) All the sins of all men;
2) All the sins of some men; or
3) Some of the sins of all men.
In which case it may be said:
1) If the last be true all men have some sins to answer for, and so none are saved;
2) That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth;
3) But if the first is the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins? You answer, Because of unbelief. I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!
Charles Haddon 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 that 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, must be saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved.