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Sovereignty, Free Will, and Salvation - Limited Atonement


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This presentation covers the very controversial topic of limited atonement in reformed theology.

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Sovereignty, Free Will, and Salvation - Limited Atonement

  1. 1. Sovereignty Free Will & Salvation
  2. 2. Limited / Definite Atonement
  3. 3. What is the Atonement?
  4. 4. The Atonement a·tone·ment:“satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends” “the doctrine concerning thereconciliation of God and humankind, as accomplished through the life, suffering, and death of Christ.”
  5. 5. The Atonement “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners,Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’senemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! ” (Romans 5:8-10)
  6. 6. What kind of Atonement did Christ Provide?
  7. 7. Various Positions on the Atonement1. Recapitulation – Christ went through all the stages of human life, resisted all temptations, died and arose a victor over death and the devil, making all benefits of His victory available to us.2. Ransom – Christ’s death was paid to Satan to purchase human beings who were captive in sin and set them free.3. Moral example – Christ’s death provided an example of faith and obedience that inspires others to be obedient to God.4. Necessary-satisfaction – it was necessary for God’s offended justice and honor to be satisfied by a penalty that only Christ could pay. Anselm proposed this.5. Moral influence – Christ’s death was not a moral example to us, but as a demonstration of God’s great love for us. We have a spiritual sickness from which we must be healed.6. Optional-satisfaction – allows for but does not require satisfaction of God for the sinner. God could have freed man in another way for nothing is impossible with God.7. Government – stresses law of God and says God has right to punish sin but it is not mandatory that He do so since Love is His main attribute.8. Mystical – God became man so that man may become God. God and man become mystically united in the Person of Christ.9. Penal Substitution – builds on Anselm’s necessary-satisfaction theory, but adds that because God’s absolute justice has been violated, a substitution for our sins had to be made by the sinless Son of God. Calvin & the reformers gets credit for this.
  8. 8. For whom did Christ die?
  9. 9. Did Christ Die for Everyone?“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! ” (John 1:29)“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” ” (John 6:51) “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:5–6) “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9)
  10. 10. Is everyone going to be saved through the atonement of Christ?
  11. 11. No, Some will be Lost“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” – Daniel 12:2 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” – Matthew 25:46“They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” – 2 Thessalonians 1:9“Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:15
  12. 12. If Christ died for everyone, then why isn’t everyone going to be saved?
  13. 13. A Fact You Can’t IgnoreThe Atonement is Limited If not everyone is savedthrough the death of Christ,and some will be lost, then theatonement of Christ must be limited.
  14. 14. Every Christian believes in Limited Atonement
  15. 15. How is the Atonement limited?
  16. 16. How is the Atonement Limited? The Atonement is limited to believers
  17. 17. It is Limited to Those who Believe “For God so loved the world that He gave His onlybegotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but see everlasting life.” – John 3:16
  18. 18. How does a person come to believe?
  19. 19. God Grants Repentance and Faith “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of thepower of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great lovewith which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised usup with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have beensaved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. ” (Ephesians 2:1–10)
  20. 20. God Grants Repentance and Faith“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if Godperhaps will grant them repentance, so that they mayknow the truth, and that they may come their sensesand escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
  21. 21. A Review of Moral Inability, Election, and Grace1. Scripture teaches that no person is morally able to come to God.2. Scripture teaches that God chooses those He desires for salvation3. Scripture teaches that God effectually calls His elect to salvation in Christ and gifts them with faith to believe4. Once enabled, the unbeliever willingly chooses God, believes, and is saved
  22. 22. Is the Atonement, then, limited by man or by God?
  23. 23. God Limits the Atonement, not People• If a person is morally unable to choose God (if the doctrine of total depravity is true), and if God doesn’t grant grace to all to believe, then people can’t limit the Atonement by not choosing God• If people don’t limit the Atonement, then God must
  24. 24. Two Possible Ways the Atonement is Limited1. Limited in effect2. Limited in extent
  25. 25. How Many Answer the Question…The Atonement is unlimited in its invitation, but is limited in its application (the effect).
  26. 26. The Atonement is not Limited in Effect, but in Extent We have already shown that the Atonement is limited tothose who believe. Therefore, it is limited in its extent (who the Atonement applies to) and not its effect. TheAtonement doesn’t partially save anyone; it totally saves all of the elect. The Atonement is not a potential one, but an actual one.
  27. 27. Isaiah 53 and Limited Atonement“As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. ” (Isaiah 53:11) “From the Calvinist point of view, it is Arminianism that presents logicalimpossibilities. Arminianism tells us that Jesus died for multitudes that will never be saved, including millions who never so much as heard of Him. It tells us that in thecase of those who are lost, the death of Jesus, represented in Scripture as an act whereby He took upon Himself the punishment that should have been ours (Isa.53:5), was ineffective. Christ has suffered once for their sins, but they will now have to suffer for those same sins in hell.” – David Clotfelter
  28. 28. “We are left with the utterlyuntenable conclusion [if Christ died for everyone] that God extracts double-payment for these sins: He punished themfirst in Christ, and then He will punish them for eternity in the non-elect, who could have avoided this if they had simply exercised their free will and believed.” - Dr. James White
  29. 29. “Now, I ask, whether any man, not bereaved of all spiritualand natural sense, can imagine that Christ, in his oblation,intended to purchase life andsalvation for all them whom heknew to be damned many agesbefore, the irreversible decree of wrath being gone forth against them?” - John Owen
  30. 30. Christ Died only for those Chosen by God “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” ” (Matthew 1:21) “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. . . .even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10: 11,15) “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” (John 17:9)“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit hasmade you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. ” (Acts 20:28)“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? ” (Romans 8:32)“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25)
  31. 31. The Unavoidable Implications of a Substitutionary Atonement “In his book titled “The Nature of the Atonement (1856), John McLeod Campbell explains how he came to realize that as long as the death of Christ isallowed to be in some sense a penal substitution, one is forced to deal with the issue of why everyone is not saved eventually. Then the only alternative becomes a particular redemption. . . . Having recounted John Owen’s summary of the case,Campbell concludes, ‘As addressed to those who agree with him as to the nature ofthe atonement [as a penal substitution], while differing with him as to the extent of its reference [that is was intended for all sinners], this seems unanswerable.’ I refer to him here only because he clearly saw and admitted what many modern evangelicals are so unwilling to admit; a substitutionary atonement must either save everyonewithout exception or be seen as a limited atonement in the sense that it was designed to save only the elect.” - R. K. McGregor Wright, No Place for Sovereignty
  32. 32. So what is ‘Limited Atonement’ in Reformed Thought? “In its simplest terms the Reformed belief is this:Christ’s death saves sinners. Itdoes not make the salvation of sinners a mere possibility. Itdoes not provide a theoreticalatonement. . . . Christ’s deathsaves every single person that it was intended to save.” - Dr. James White
  33. 33. So what is ‘Limited Atonement’ in Reformed Thought?“The language of limited atonement describes inadequately andunfairly the view which is held by Reformed people. The problem is that it seems to take away from the beauty, glory and fullness of the work of Christ. We seem to say that it does not go quite as far as it could or should go . . . . What we need to say is that the atonement is definite, that it is related to a particular people whom God has chosen” - Roger Nicole
  34. 34. So what is ‘Limited Atonement’ in Reformed Thought?“It means Christ’s intention inHis death was the perfect andsubstitutionary atonement ofall of His elect. The scope ofHis work is in perfect harmonywith His intention, which is thesalvation of His elect people who are entrusted to Him. Itmakes no sense for Christ tooffer atonement for those the Father does not entrust to Him for salvation.” - Dr. James White
  35. 35. Westminster Confession of Faith“Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam, are redeemed in Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any otherredeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.”
  36. 36. “God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for, either all the sins of all men, or all the sins of some men, or some sins of all men. If the last, some sins of all men,then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved . . . If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead androom suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world. If the first, why then are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins? You will say, ‘Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.’ But this unbelief, is it a sin, or not? If not, why should they be punished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not. If so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then did he not die for all their sins. Let them choose which part they will.” - John Owen
  37. 37. “We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ. Because we saythat Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men or all men would be saved. Now our reply to this is on theother hand our opponents limit it, we donot. The Arminians say Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by that. Did Christ die to secure the salvation of all men? They say no, certainly not. We ask them the next question: Did Christ die to secure the salvation of any one person in particular? They say no. They’reobliged to say that if they’re consistent.They say, no, Christ has died that any man may be saved if ... and then follow certain conditions of salvation…”
  38. 38. “Now, who is it that limits of the death of Christ? Why, you - you say that Christ did not die so as to infallibly secure the salvation of anybody. Webeg your pardon. When you say we limit Christ’s death we say no my dear sir itis you that do that. We say that Christ so died that He infallibly secured thesalvation of a multitude that no man can number who through Christ’s deathnot only may be saved but will be 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.” - Charles Spurgeon
  39. 39. Wait! What about these verses?
  40. 40. A Look at 1 John 2:2“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. ” (1 John 2:1–2) John is telling them that not only did Christ die for them (his readers) but for allChristians/peoples – it transcends nationalist Jewish particularism. Is Christ an advocate orpropitiation (satisfaction) for unbelievers? No. So John is saying that Christ is an advocate for them and a propitiation for their sins, as well as other believers – Jews and Gentiles – throughout the world. A look at how John uses these ideas elsewhere in his works is helpful: (1) “Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus wasgoing to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. ” (John 11:51–52) ; (2) “And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. ” (Revelation 5:9).
  41. 41. A Brief Look at “World” in Scripture“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:2 Many times in Scripture, the term “world” does not refer to every single person on earth. It can mean:1. The physical earth2. Part of the known world (e.g. “That the whole world might be taxed…”)3. The world system (e.g. (“Do not love the world…”)4. Large group (e.g. “Look the world has gone after Him…”)5. Non-Elect (e.g. “I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given Me…”, “If the world hates you…”)6. Elect only (e.g. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through Him…”)7. Jews & Gentiles (e.g. When the Samaritans said “This is indeed the Savior of the world”)
  42. 42. “God so loved the world was an astounding statement in that context because the OT and other Jewish writings had spoken only of God’s love for his peopleIsrael. God’s love for the ‘the world’ made it possible for ‘whoever’ believes in Christ, not Jews alone, to have eternal life.”
  43. 43. One Example“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” – John 1:10 How is the world used in the three instances above? “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believed in His name: whowere born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:11-13
  44. 44. Does “All” always mean everyone?“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partialhardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25–26) What constitutes “all” Israel?“But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; ” (Romans 9:6)
  45. 45. Does “World” always mean everyone?“For if their [Israel’s] rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (Romans 11:15) What constitutes “world” Everyone who’s ever existed? Paul is clearly referring to those peoples who are non-Jews.
  46. 46. A Look at John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (John 12:32) The phrase “all men” refers to all kinds of people and does not mean all peoplereceive salvation. The context of the chapter shows that non-Jews had come to thedisciples and asked to see Jesus: “Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus. ” (John 12:20–22
  47. 47. A Look at 2 Peter 2:1 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” (2 Peter 2:1)Peter is referring back to a time in Israel’s history when false prophets arose among the Jews: “They haveacted corruptly toward Him, They are not His children, because of their defect; But are a perverse and crooked generation. Do you thus repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you.” From the time of the exodusonward, any Jewish person would have considered himself or herself one who was ‘bought’ by God in the exodus and therefore a person of God’s own possession. So the text means not that Christ had redeemed these false prophets, but simply that they were rebellious Jewish people (or church attenders in the same position as rebellious Jews) who were rightly owned by God because they had been bought out of the land of Egypt (or their forefathers had), but they were ungrateful to him.
  48. 48. For Whom Did Christ Die? The Sheep “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. ” (John 10:14–15) The Elect “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 tosnatch them out of the Father’s hand. “I and the Father are one.” ” (John 10:27–30) All Kinds of People “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (John 12:32) The Given “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” (John 17:9)
  49. 49. Conclusions• Not everyone is going to be saved. This being true, the atonement has to be limited. Every Christian believes in Limited Atonement• How is it limited? It is limited to those who believe.• How does a person believe? It is God that brings about the regeneration in a monergistic fashion.• So by whom is it limited? By man or by God?• Man can’t limit the atonement if you hold to the doctrine of Total Depravity. So it is limited by God.• In what way is it limited? It is either limited in extent or effect.• The above already shows it is limited by extent (to only those who believe). It is not limited in effect. The atonement doesn’t partially save anyone.
  50. 50. Limited / Definite Atonement