Curtis Hudson vs. Calvinism: Part 3 Limited Atonement (Definite Redemption)

III. Limited Atonement

By limited atonement, Calvin meant that Christ died only for the elect, for those He planned and ordained to go to Heaven: He did not die for those He planned and ordained to go to Hell. Again, I say, such language is not in the Bible, and the doctrine wholly contradicts many, many plain Scriptures. For instance, the Bible says in 1 John 2:2, “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” The teaching of Calvinism on Limited Atonement contradicts the express statement of Scripture.

By way of a response, Calvinism points out there are only four possible options regarding salvation.

God can save no one. God is under no obligation to save anyone since all have sinned and come short of His glory. God is holy, and individuals are not. Every person deserves hell. No one deserves mercy. God owes individuals nothing except justice.

God can save everyone. This the position of Universalism, but it is unbiblical.

God can give the opportunity for some to be saved, based on some form of human responsibility, such as keeping the Law (Gal. 3:10-12).

God can choose to save some people, according to His own sovereign will.

The issue is this. When Jesus died, did His death accomplish anything definitively? Did Jesus die to make salvation possible? Or, Did Jesus die to secure the salvation of His people (Matt. 1:21)?

Calvinism teaches that the sacrifice of Christ was not in vain, it actually secured the salvation of the elect. Let the redeemed of the Lord know also, “we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11).

1 John 2:2 affirms the Doctrine of Definite Redemption and the application of salvation to Jews and Gentiles, which is consistent with John 11:51-52. Study 1 Peter 1:2; Eph. 1:4,5.

It can be argued that Christ died for all men without distinction, in that He died for Jew and Gentile alike.

Christ did not die for all men without exception, or for the purpose of saving each and every lost sinner, for then all would certainly be saved. The motive for this divine act of propitiation was love. “God so loved the world” (John 3:16).

A Hypothetical Atonement

First Timothy 2:5,6 says, ” The man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all….” Christ is a Great High Priest for His people. He mediates on their behalf so that sin is not charged to their account.  6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Calvinism rejects the idea of a hypothetical atonement. There is divine certainty in the work of Christ at Calvary. The Messiah was to see the work of His soul and be satisfied.  Arminians believe “that Judas was atoned for just as much as Peter; they believe that the damned in hell were as much an object of Jesus Christ’s satisfaction as the saved in heaven; and though they do not say it in proper words, yet they must mean it, for it is a fair inference, that in the case of multitudes, Christ died in vain, for He died for them all, they say, and yet so ineffectual was His dying for them, that though He died for them they are damned afterward” (Charles Spurgeon, “The Death of Christ”).

Calvinism teaches that if God truly intended for all men without exception to come to faith, then that would happen, for if anyone could ultimately resist God, He would cease to be the Sovereign.

In context, Paul is speaking of all sorts or classes of men (note, v. 1, 2), which are identified. God would have all types of individuals come to faith, and they do, for Christ actually ransomed, He paid the price for His people, all of them.

A Universal Savior

The Bible teaches that Jesus is the Saviour of the world. John 4:42 says, “And said unto the woman, now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”

Calvinism affirms that Christ is the Savior of the world, in the sense that He saves both Jew and Gentile, male and female, rich and poor. Christ saves individuals, not without exception, but without distinction. Considered as outcasts from Israel, and separated from the way of salvation by the Jews the Samaritans rejoiced as they understood they were part of the world of the elect for whom Christ came as the Savior. Truly God shows favor to men, without distinction, as regards to race, color, gender, social status, or education.

Again, 1 John 4:14, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” The Scriptures make it plain that Jesus came to save the world.

Calvinism believes that whenever a soul is saved in the world, it is because the Father has given the Son to be the Saviour of individuals, without distinction of their being Jew or Gentile, etc. God did not send His Son to be the Savior of every person in the world without exception, for then the sins of every person would be paid for by the blood of Christ. But then, not everyone is saved in the world. The Bible says that Judas went “to his own place” (Acts 1:25). Jesus spoke of a day of judgment, and a great separation (Matt. 13:24-30).

John 3:17 says, ” For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

Calvinism agrees that in the act of salvation, the benevolent nature of God, and the purpose of His love is manifested. There was every reason why God should condemn every person in the world without exception. However, God has chosen to save some, and thus be glorified in the expression of grace to the world of the elect, consisting of Jews and Gentiles. That the world of the elect is in view, and not the world of mankind without exception, is confirmed in the fact that not all men are saved. In fact, those outside of Christ are already condemned (v. 18). The very coming of Christ was appointed for the fall or destruction of some (Luke 2:34).

Can God Obtain What He Desires?

No man will ever look at Jesus Christ and say, “You didn’t want to be my Saviour.” No! No! Jesus wants to be the Saviour of all men. As a matter of fact, I Timothy 4:10 says, “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.”

Calvinism observes that, in context, Paul argues that God is not merely the Saviour of a few ascetics (note verses 3,4). God’s offer of salvation applies to all men without distinction. To reassure any Christian who was concerned by the exclusive claims of the heretics, Paul declares that God is especially the Saviour of believers.

This passage should not be taken out of its context to teach universalism, or that Christ died for all sins of all men. It is a small God indeed, who wants something He cannot obtain. The Biblical view of God is that He does whatsoever He wills. Paul understood that God works “all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11).

It is noteworthy that Arminians themselves limit the extent of the atonement, even while asserting that Christ bore the sins of us all.

Ask the Arminian, “Why is anyone in hell if Christ bore the sins of us all?” A typical response is that people are in hell because they do not accept the gift of God which is eternal life.

Ask the Arminian, “Is not rejection of Christ, and thus God’s gift, a great sin?”

Indeed, it is.

“But, if Christ died for all sins of all people, whey then is not everyone saved, including the unbelieving?” After all Christ died for all sins, according to the Arminian teaching.

The truth emerges that Arminianism teaches that Christ died for all sins of all people, except for the sin of unbelief, because, Calvinist are told, God will not “bulgarize” or “rob” individuals of their choice.

Nevertheless, the Arminian has just “limited” the extent of the atonement, or the sins for which Christ died.

The Bible teaches that Christ bore the sins of all people. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” There are twos “alls” in this verse. The first “all” speaks of the universal fact of sin- “All we like sheep have gone astray.” And the second “all” speaks of universal atonement-“and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” The “all” in the first part of Isaiah 53:6 covers. If all went astray, then the iniquities of all were laid on Christ.

Not only did He bear the sins of us all, but the Bible plainly teaches that He died for the whole world. Look at 1 John 2:2: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world.” If that isn’t plain enough, the Bible says His death was for every man; “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9).

Calvinism notes the word for “man,” “anthropos,” is not found in this passage, but “pantos” is, which signifies “everyone”, or “everything”. The concept is that every one of the heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14), every one of the sons of God (Heb. 2:10), and every one of the brethren (Heb. 2:11) is assured that Christ tasted the awful death of redemption by way of anticipation (Luke 2:49), and then drained the bitter cup.

“Christ did taste death for every son to be brought to glory, and for all the children whom God had given to Him. But there is not the slightest warrant in this text to extend the reference of the vicarious death of Christ beyond those who are most expressly referred to in the context.” (John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied).

Did Christ Ransom Judas Iscariot, Adolf Hitler, and Joseph Stalin?

Nothing could be plainer than the fact that Jesus Christ died for every man. First Timothy 2:5,6 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all. . .. ” Christ is a Great High Priest for His people. He mediates on their behalf so that sin is not charged to their account.

Calvinism rejects the idea of a hypothetical atonement. There is divine certainty in the work of Christ at Calvary. The Messiah was to see the work of His soul and be satisfied.  Arminians believe “that Judas was atoned for, just as much as Peter; they believe that the damned in hell were as much an object of Jesus Christ’s satisfaction as the saved in heaven; and though they do not say it in proper words, yet they must mean it, for it is a fair inference, that in the case of multitudes,  Christ died in vain, for He died for them all, they say, and yet so ineffectual was His dying for them, that though He died for them they are damned afterward” (Charles Spurgeon, “The Death of Christ”).

Calvinismteaches that if God truly intended for all men, without exception, to come to faith, then that would happen, for if anyone could ultimately resist God, He would cease to be the Sovereign.

In context, Paul is speaking of all sorts or classes of men (note, v. 1, 2), which are identified. God would have all types of individuals come to faith, and they do, for Christ actually ransomed, He paid the price for His people, all of them.

Romans 8:32 states, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

Christ died for all men, without distinction, in that He died for Jew and Gentile alike. This was a radical concept for orthodox Jews. Christ did not die for all men without exception, or every single person would come to faith. That does not happen. Multitudes die apart from Christ. The language of redemption is that Christ was delivered up for us who are the children of God.

Look at the statements—statement after statement: “that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man”; “Who gave himself a ransom for all”; “delivered him up for us all.”  John 3:16 has often been called “the heart of the Bible.” It has been called “the Bible in miniature.” “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  Jesus died for the whole world. He suffered Hell for every man who has ever lived, or ever will live. And no man will look out of Hell and say, “I wanted to be saved, but Jesus did not die for me.”

It is true that no man will look out of Hell and say, “I wanted to be saved, but Jesus did not die for me.” Indeed, Jesus told the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in the gospel of Luke (chapter 16). Not once did the Rich Man ask to be released from Hell, though he did not want others to join him. Neither did the Rich Man repent of his sins. There is a false assumption by Arminians that the ungodly, the unbelieving, the unregenerate WANT to be saved. No, the testimony of life, and the Bible is that men LOVE their sin. They know the wrath of God is against them, but they do not care. “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:32).

Some argue that if Jesus died for the whole world, the whole world would be saved. No. the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was sufficient for all, but it is efficient only to those who believe. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross made it possible for every man, everywhere, to be saved. But only those who believe that He died to pay their sin debt, and who trust Him completely for salvation, will be saved.

Calvinism notes that John 3:16 teaches nothing about a person’s ability to believe, or not believe in Christ. It simply states that “whosoever believeth in him shall not perish.”

The Greek word for “whosoever” (hostis) is not found in the Authorized Version. The word “pas´ means “all” or “the whole”, or “every kind of” and it modifies “ho pisteuon.” Accurately translated the words mean, “all the believing.” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten So, that the believing ones in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

But who will believe? Jesus taught only those whom the Father has given to Him and have been drawn by the same will have the power or the ability or even the inclination to believe in Him for, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:44).

“Christ died to bring us to God in order to know Him as our Creator, and to love Him, obey Him, submit to Him, and trust in Him, as our Owner, Ruler, and Benefactor to devote ourselves to Him as our sovereign Lord, depend upon Him as our Chief Good, and direct all to His praise as our highest end this is life eternal” (Matthew Henry, Commentary).

The term “world” refers to the “world of believers,” or the elect of God, in contrast to the “world of the ungodly” spoken of elsewhere (2 Pet. 2:5). Confirmation of this truth may be found by a comparison of the other passages that speak of God’s love (Rom 5:8; Heb 12:6; 1 John 4:19). In the final analysis, God had such a special and supreme love that He willed, within the nations of earth, that His people should be saved.

Ultimate Responsibility for Salvation

This salvation was to be accomplished by appointing His Son to be a sufficient Savior, making it certain that every believer should have all the spiritual riches He intended for them. Again, I quote John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. . ..”

Both the Calvinist and the Arminian agree that God’s wrath is upon all who do not believe and obey the gospel. A wrathful God is not a propitiated or satisfied God (1 John 2:2). What Calvinism insists upon is that no eternal wrath will ever be poured out on the soul who is safe and secure forever in the Saviour (Rom. 8:1).

“When conscience tells me I am a sinner, I tell conscience I stand in Christ’s place, and Christ stands in mine. True, I am a sinner, but Christ died for sinners. True, I deserve punishment, but if my ransom died, will God ask for the debt twice? Impossible! He has cancelled it. There never was, and never shall be one believer in hell. We are free from punishment, and we never need quake on account of it. However horrible it may be-if it is eternal, as we know it is-it is nothing to us, for we never can suffer it. Heaven shall open its pearly portals to admit us; but hell’s iron gates are barred forever against every believer. Glorious liberty of the children of God!” (Charles Spurgeon)

Arminianism Limits the Atonement with A Salvation that Does not Save

Everybody is potentially saved, but everybody is not actually saved until he recognizes that he is a sinner, believes that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the sin debt, and trust Him completely for salvation.

“We [Calvinist] are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or 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 to infallibly 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.

You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.” (Charles Spurgeon)

The atonement is not limited. it is as universal as sin. Romans 5:20 says, “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Isaiah 53:6 states, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

A famous English preacher spoke in an English town, then rushed to catch his train for London. A sinner who heard him preach felt that he must immediately settle the matter of salvation. So, he followed the preacher to the train. Just as the train pulled into the station, he took hold of the preacher’s lapel and said, ” I want to be saved! Tell me how!”

The minister said, “I must catch this last rain to London. Do you have a Bible?”

“Yes, I have one at home,” said the anxious inquirer.

“Then go home and find Isaiah 53:6. Read it carefully. Go in at the first all, and come

out at the last all, and you will be saved.”

The preacher rushed away, and the anxious sinner was left alone. He went back to his

home, and opening his Bible, he turned to Isaiah 53:6. What did the preacher mean,

he wondered—

“Go in at the first all and come out at the last all, and you will be saved”? He found the verse and read it carefully: “All we like sheep have gone astray.”

Well, he thought to himself, I can certainly go in at the first all. I have gone astray. I am a poor, lost sinner. The he read the last part of the verse, “And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” He said to himself, “If I come out at the last all, I must believe that all my sins were laid on Christ, that He took my place and paid for my sins. And if I rely upon that, I will be saved. That’s what the preacher meant.”

He then trusted Christ and was saved. He believed that he was a sinner, and that all his sins had been laid on Christ.

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