(DRAFT) Limited Atonement #3: Locking it Down

Here are eight further ways to approach, understand, and lock down the doctrine of limited atonement.

1) Limited atonement be proven from Christ’s headship

Christ is the federal head or representative of believers.

Romans 5:12–21 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

This is further emphasized in God’s use of the word “seed/Seed” in the Scriptures to signify both Christ Himself and the spiritual offspring procured by His death. Seed is a definite thing in Scripture. There is one Seed, Christ. And there is one particular offspring, the people of Christ.

2) Limited atonement can be proven from the nature of the substitutionary or vicarious death of Christ

Christ died a vicarious, substitutionary death. If we understand that correctly, we understand that Christ died as a substitute for someone or something. That entity for which He was a substitute must be defined! And we find that Scripture always ties Christ’s substitute death to a particular group of people for whom Christ was the substitute. Indeed, Christ died a vicarious death for a specific group of people.

2 Cor 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Heb 7:25 “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Rev 5:9–10

Matt 1:21

John 10:15

Eph 1:4

John 6:37–40 and 65

3) Limited atonement can be proven in terms of promise

This is the most satisfactory argument for the present writer. What we mean here is that the strength and power of God is glorified in limited atonement. God speaks from Genesis 3:15 onward about showing Himself strong on behalf of His people. Will He now in the atonement accomplish a death for absolutely everyone, and then fail to apply that saving death to a multitude? No! God has made numerous promises to His people, and in the atonement He follows through on them. Moreover, God has made numerous promises about saving, justifying, and redeeming His people – and only His people – and in the atonement, He both accomplishes and follows through on those promises. There is no guess work in God’s promises. There is no black space on God’s venn diagram. He promises to save a people, and He saves that people – precisely, exclusively, and fully.

Read Romans 4 for an extensive treatment of the promise-keeping character of God on display in the vicarious death and resurrection of Christ:

Romans 4:13–25 “For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

It is in the faithful, covenant-keeping character of God that He does what He says He will do. It is in the omnipotent character of God that He effectively accomplishes what He sets out to do. It is in the just and righteous character of God that answers the “divine dilemma” in a precise way that satisfies both God’s justice and God’s grace (see Romans 3). Our God’s power and faithfulness to keep specific promises is glorified in His redemption of a specific people.

As said in point #2 above, the relationship between God’s promise-keeping power and His particular redemption is further emphasized in the His use of the word “seed/Seed” in the Scriptures to signify both Christ Himself and the spiritual offspring procured by His death. Seed is a definite thing in Scripture. There is one Seed, Christ. And there is one particular offspring, the people of Christ.

4) Limited atonement can be proven in terms of the Trinity

Particular redemption is grounded in the harmonious work of the Persons of the Trinity. The work of the Persons of the Trinity is always harmonious and unified. We can think of this broadly as the harmony of: i) the Father’s work in electing a specific people, ii) the Son’s work in redeeming a specific people, and iii) the Spirit’s work in calling and regenerating a specific people.

i) The Father has elected His people in Christ before time began

Rom. 8:30–34; Eph. 1:4–13

ii) The Father then “gives” these people to the Son

John 6:38–39; 15:16; 17:9; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4–5, 7, 15

iii) The Spirit then regenerates and calls this chosen people to Christ

John 1:12–13; 6:44; 15:16; Rom. 8:30; 9:6–24; Eph. 2:8; 2 Thess. 2:13

At all stages, we see the Triune God working redemption on behalf of the same specific group of people.

All of this explains why, with the preaching of the gospel, the following work of particular redemption occurs before the very eyes of the apostles: “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

5) Can be proven in terms of Christ’s High Priestly Office

Heb 7 (esp 7:5?)

Both offering on behalf of and interceding for

AND Christ is the offering Himself

Rom. 8:32–35 “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? / Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. / Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. / Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

6) Can be proven by terms of “covenant”

The atonement is intimately linked the the New Covenenant. In fact, the atoning blood of Christ is called “the new covenant in His blood” Mark 14:24, Matt. 26:28

In a sense, He died for the new covenant in His blood

Heb 9:15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Heb 13:20 “the blood of the eternal covenant”

1 Peter 1:2 “chosen…unto obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling with his blood”

Heb 6:17–18

Luke 1:68 NASB: He has…accomplished redemption for his people

7) Can be proven in terms of Predestination unto Election and reprobation

Rom. 9:22

Rom. 9:1–21

8) Can be proven using logic

When defining anything, we need a genus and a species. Or in other words, we need a general category and a specific category. The general category in itself is not enough to define anything. For example, if I want to talk about what a bear is, saying that it is part of the category mammalia is true but not helpful. When we start to let the specific differences of “Ursus” Command our understanding of this breed of mammal, we then can begin to define what a bear is. If we were to find a specific trait like fins or gills on the bear, we would then have to reconsider if this animal is even a mammal. Likewise, when seeking to define something like the extent of the atonement, we must let the specific things said in the Scriptures command and define the more general things said in the Scriptures.

9) Can be proven from an understanding of the word “atonement” itself

Much confusion around limited atonement could come from the word atonement itself. The word carries a vague notion of reconciliation, becoming one with God. But the Hebrew is simply covering, and that no leaves no room for confusion between Christ atoning for the sins of all but then only applying that atonement to some. If we think of Christ covering our sins, He covers what He covers. You can’t put a blanket over two people and say you’ve only covered one. In covering, there is no distinction between redemption accomplished and redemption applied.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: