Saw the following statement on Christ’s atonement made by Charles Haddon Spurgeon over at Puritanism Today.  They say, and I agree, that it is regretful that those who are Calvinist speak of “limited atonement" since that isn’t the actual issue.  The real issues is whether the atonement is effacacious or inefficacious, not whether it is limited or unlimited.

Spurgeon said this regarding the atonement:

“We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made 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 say ‘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 limit’s the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as infallibly to 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”

So whose position really limits atonement?

14 comments
  1. Spurgeon is assuming that his non-calvinist friend does not believe that God is omniscient. You don't have to be a Calvinist to believe that God is omniscient. He knew who would be saved before the beginning of time, so the answer to the question “Did Christ die to secure the salvation of anyone in particular” is “Yes, everyone that he knew beforehand would choose it.”

  2. When I was in college I wrote a paper on the efficacy of scripture. I will spare you the details except to say that without realizing it my postion was quite Barthian, right up to the point where Barth jumps off the cliff and goes into the three types of scripture. There I took a detour and simply made the claim that scripture was efficacious only when it was recieved. Romans 10:17 speaks to this point and the question of limited atonement when it says that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the [spoken] word of God. The Greek specifically uses the word rhema to describe what type of word was rejected by the Jews in the previous verse. Was salvation limited therefore to the Gentiles? Of course not. Jesus said, “He that has ears, let him hear.” Of course God does not speak to one's human finite understanding, but to the soul of the one who bears witness with the Spirit of God. Simply put, if we don't listen, we will not be saved, regardless of who Jesus died for.

  3. This topic goes to the fact that God gave all his creations free will. God does not FORCE us to love Him, to obey Him, or to go to Him for anything. God wills us to seek Him first above all else so that we may be perfected through Him. God's presence involves love, hope, and faith; not puppet strings. God wants us to love and obey His commands because WE WANT TO DO SO. We get a choice in every matter that presents itself before us. We can CHOOSE to live in God's mercy and love, or we can choose to live without it. The consequences amount to whether we want to inherit His Kingdom or not. We choose to accept Christs Divine Sacrifice or not because that Sacrifice is there for us.

  4. Tom,

    How do you explain John 6:44? I do agree with you that we are not “forced.” God didn't create robots, but you seem to be dismissing election which is seen numerous times in scripture.

    I guess we also need to remember that we are saved by grace through faith. Sometimes I believe the common message heard is that we are saved by faith – not so.

  5. I am not sure how you prove that from scripture. Ephesians 1, Romans 9??

    The problem with the view that you have outlined is that is what makes sense to us. There is a sense of mystery when it comes to that which God does. He chose us because He knew would choose Him? I just can't find that one in scripture.

    Romans 11
    Who has known the mind of the Lord, or offered Him any counsel?

  6. Really?? REALLY? Do you not see in scripture that even our faith is a gift from God?? You must have more trust in yourself to choose Christ, than I do in mine. I am such a wicked depraved sinner that even my good works are as filthy rags. Isaiah's words, not mine.

    Stand back and read scripture without your preconceived ideas. Trust me, I struggled with this one. I just don't know how you can read scripture and not see it. God choosing Israel, God choosing Jacob. Look at Romans 9, Ephesians 1, etc. Even read Hosea.

    Sorry if I am a little excited about this issue. It is not about being forced, it is about being lavished with His grace, something that is not a choice.

    There is freedom in understanding the sovereignty of God in all things.

    Sad to me is to hear protestants even debating this issue. The Reformers would be horrified if they saw American Protestantism.

    Soli Deo Gloria.

  7. Basically, the Scripture that Arminians (or those who disagree with the Calvinist position on election) will point to is Romans 8:29 – “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers,” (ESV).

    Those coming from that position will take that verse and say, “God foresees those who believe and that is the basis of His predestination.”

    Problematic for a couple of reasons:

    1. In this sense God foreknows everybody and everything, but Paul is referring to a particular group – “those who are called according to his purpose,” (Romans 8:28, ESV).
    2. If God predestines people because they are going to believe, then the ground of their salvation is in themselves and their merit, instead of in God and His mercy. Paul's emphasis is solely on God's free initiative of grace.

    The Hebrew and the Greek verb “to know” goes beyond just an intellectual knowledge – it denotes a personal relationship of care and affection.

  8. In light of the total depravity of man, predestination makes total sense. God predestines otherwise no one would be saved, because in our depravity we flee the cross not run to it.

  9. Shane, do you know not me well enough by now to know that I was asking a rhetorical question?? I am glad you explained that for other peoples sake.

    I was watching some news show with a bunch of talking heads on it, asking myself, if there is anything that I know so much about I could answer questions on the spot.

    Not out of arrogance for sure, but rather because I have studied this stuff so much, this would be it.

    But it occurs to me that most people here have never met me. So I guess you wouldn't know that.

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