Limited Atonement

I. The doctrine of Limited Atonement stated:

Christ’s work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them.

II. The doctrine opened into its parts

A. Christ’s redeeming work actually secured salvationfor the elect.

1. Christ came, not to make people savable, but actually to save sinners.

a. “You will call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

b. “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

2. Christ, by His redeeming work, secured reconciliation for His people.

a. “When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” (Romans 5:10)

b. “You who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” (Colossians 1:21)

3. Christ secured the righteousness and pardon needed by His people for their justification.

a. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

b. “With his own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12)

4. Christ secured our faith, repentance, regeneration, sanctification and the gift of the Spirit.

a. “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)

b. “Him God exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31)

c. “Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:3)

d. “Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (I Corinthians 1:30)

e. “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33)

B. Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save only the elect.

1. Christ died to save all those given Him by His Father.

a. “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.” (John 6:39)

b. “You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.” (John 17:2)

2. Christ laid down His life for His sheep. (Some people, the Bible states, are not His sheep.)

a. “I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10:15)

b. “You do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:26-27)

3. Christ, in His high priestly prayer, prays not for the world, but for those given Him by the Father. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” (John 17:9)

4. Other references that show that Christ’s redeeming work was of a definite or particular nature.

a. Matthew 20:28

b. Matthew 26:28

c. Acts 20:28

d. Ephesians 5:25-27

e. Hebrews 9:28

The above passages clearly indicate that Christ’s redeeming work was of a PARTICULAR nature, that is, it was intended to save only the elect. What are we to understand, then, of those passages of a more general scope? How are they to be harmonized with the passages which, as we have seen, rule out as error the doctrine of universal or general redemption?

“There are two classes of texts that speak of Christ’s saving work in general terms: (a) Those containing the word ‘world’ – e.g. John 1:9, 29; 3:16-17; 4:42; II Corinthians 5:19; I John 2:1-2, 4:14 and (b) Those containing the word ‘all’ – e.g. Romans 5:18; II Corinthians 5:14-15; I Timothy 2:4-6; Hebrews 2:9; II Peter 3:9.

“One reason for the use of these expressions was to correct the false notion that salvation was for the Jews alone. Such phrases as ‘the world,’ ‘all nations,’ and ‘every creature’ were used by the New Testament writers to emphatically correct this mistake. These expressions are intended to show that Christ died for all men without distinction (i.e. – He died for Jews and Gentiles alike) but they are not intended to indicate that died for all men without exception (i.e. – He die not die for the purpose of saving each and every lost sinner).” – Steele & Thomas

“Calvinists do not deny that mankind in general receive some important benefits from Christ’s atonement. Calvinists admit that it arrests the penalty which would have been inflicted upon the whole race because of Adam’s sin; that it forms a basis for the preaching of the Gospel and thus introduces many uplifting moral influences into the world and restrains many evil influences. Paul could say to the heathen people of Lystra that God ‘left not Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.’ (Acts 14:17) God makes His sun to shine on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust. Many temporal blessings are thus secured for all men, although these fall short of being sufficient to insure salvation.” – Boettner

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