Theology for the Masses

November 15, 2006

Limited Atonement

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

Limited Atonement:

The doctrine of Limited Atonement (or Particular Redemption) is probably the most controversial of the doctrines of grace and most difficult to accept by many believers. Limited Atonement states that Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only, and actually secured salvation for them. His death was the substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ’s redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation; including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, therefore guaranteeing their salvation.

This doctrine of Calvinism is the hardest one for me to fathom. I can understand the predestination idea and verses many speak in favor of it, at least on the surface. Limited atonement, however, seems to degrade God. A God who says that He is love and He is not a respecter of persons:

34So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

The story of the Bible is a God that loved his creation enough to suspend His power and authority and allow the pinnacle of His creation, man, to accept or reject Him. All men, save one have sinned and as a result are all subject to His anger as Puritan Bob rightfully points out. However, the story gets much better. Jesus, God incarnate, comes to earth, lives through the same temptations as man, rises above them all, and still chooses to die for the sins of the world. With Jesus’ act of self-sacrifice, he is the blameless lamb that took our place. He died for the sins of the world. God extends this promise to all. It is the universal gift that He allows us to chose to accept:

15And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Christ came do to His father’s will. What was His father’s will? It is the will of God that all men should come to seek him:

9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

It is in the light of the above and below verses that I cannot accept the doctrine that there is a “special love” of God toward those random people that He arbitrarily chose to save before the founding of the world. I think that it makes much better sense that God exists outside of time, chose the plan of salvation, knows who will partake in that promise and therefore it can be considered to have choosen those that are with Him before the founding of the world.

Other Verses to consider:

[More:]

1 John 2:1

My 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.

Luke 19:10

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

14For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Hebrews 2:9

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Mark 16:15-16

15And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Romans 1:16

16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

John 1:29

29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

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.

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