Theology for the Masses

November 15, 2006

For the whole world

Filed under: Calvinism,creeds,Nature of God,Salvation — Henry Imler @ 11:42 pm

Puritan Bob in a comment on my post on Limited Atonement asks the following:

As for limited atonement, I ask did Christ die for all the sins of all people? If your an Armenian you really can’t say yes because then everyone would be saved (I actually think Universalism is a consistent form of universal atonement). So there is one sin Jesus did not die for, unbelief (in the Armenian framework). So Jesus did not die for all our sins.

I would have to say that I agree and disagree with this. Here is how. I maintain that Christ’s death was universal, that He died for all mankind. See 1 John 2:1-2

1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

It would take some pretty good finagling on my part to suggest that when the Bible says “the sins of the whole world“, it really means “the sins of the whole world, well, not the whole world, just those that God has selected and not the rest of the world“. I think that it would have been much cleaner to just come out and say that it was not for the sins of the whole world.

When Jesus died on the cross in the place of our sins, the payment was retroactive and applied univerally. All the sins of the world, past, present, and future were paid for by Jesus at the cross. Reference this idea with Hebrews 10:11-14:

11And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

To further express this point, later on in chapter 11 in the book of Hebrews, we see that the faith of those in God before the coming of Christ has the same effectiveness of those after the coming of Christ:

1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2For by it the people of old received their commendation.

So, Christ’s death is good as a sacrifice for all sins for all of time. It is a gift that is presented to mankind out of God’s love for us. However, we also know that not everyone will partake in this gift. What does one have to do in order to receive this gift? All one must do is have faith in Jesus.

This is not a work of ours. It is an action, but it is not a meritous one. One does not “earn” salvation. It is given to the person.

This is potential universalism, not actual universalism. There is action in recieving the grace of God, not merit on our part. We must believe and we will receive the free gift of salvation. This is how one can hold to a unlimited atonement and still maintain that not everyone will be saved.


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