An Exegetical Defense of Definite Atonement: Introduction

Imagine if you will a situation in which a headlight on your new car blew and you found that the design of the headlight fixture was so unusual that you needed to consult the owner’s manual of the car in order to know how to fix it. Flipping through the owner’s manual, you find that the headlights are mentioned in several different sections– sections devoted to topics like “Driving Safety” and “Your Car’s Electrical System.” Now, reading through these sections might tell you many things about your car’s headlights. But if there was a section specifically devoted to the topic “Headlights,” then it would make the most sense to turn to this section first to find out the answer to the question, “How do I change my headlights?” Relying on other parts of the owner’s manual alone, rather than examining the most relevant section, may actually lead you to wrong conclusions about how to change your headlights and cause great frustration to you and to others. In a similar way, when looking to examine a particular doctrine found in Scripture, one should begin by exploring the section of God’s Word that is most relevant to the discussion of the teaching in question and not by trying to draw conclusions from various other Bible passages.

So, when asking a specific question regarding the atonement made by Christ on the cross, we must diligently search the Scriptures for sections that explore this doctrine in depth and form our understanding of Christ’s work based on these sections and not on isolated verses. In my next few posts, it is my intention to briefly examine one passage dealing specifically with the atonement, to explore how this passage teaches the perfection of the atonement, and to explain how the teaching of the perfection of the atonement found in this passage is only consistent with the doctrine commonly referred to as the “particular,” “definite,” or “limited” view of the extent of the atonement.

Explore posts in the same categories: Doctrinal Issues, Exegetical Issues, Sermon Reviews

6 Comments on “An Exegetical Defense of Definite Atonement: Introduction”

  1. Andrew Says:

    I’m indebted to Reformed Baptist apologist James White’s ( ‘Dividing Line’ webcast for the opening illustration. Regretably, I couldn’t find the particular show on which the illustration was used in order to link to it.

  2. james Says:

    The thing that defeats any arminian is the fact that no where does the Bible teach God gave man the choice of Justification. Arminians quote Deuteronomy and Joshua saying God gave man the right to “choose” Justification.

    Deuteronomy 30: 19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    Joshua 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

    The problem is the Arminian and free will theology is taking these verses out of context. The Israelites aren’t being told to choose Justification. The Israelites are being told to choose sanctification. They already are God’s chosen people by God’s choice. God(Jesus Christ) is the author and finisher of Justification.

    Genesis 12: 1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

    Genesis 13:15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring [a] forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

    Genesis 15:12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

    Notice God is going to “make” Abraham’s descendants increase. God is “making a lot of things happen here that are beyond the will of man.

    Deuteronmy 7:6 For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. 7 The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

    Notice God chose Israel to glorify his holy name. God already Justified Israel way before Moses and Joshua told the Israelites to “choose” to be obedient to God. They were not told to choose to become God’s chosen people. God already made them his chosen people.

  3. James,

    Thank you for helpful comments concerning God’s freedom in election.


  4. Gomarus Says:

    I look forward to the next few posts on this topic. Thanks for your efforts.

  5. Max Snook Says:

    Is the thesis directed as a reply to Arminians or to Calvinists who don’t belive that Calvin taught a limited atonement? I am eager to see the argument. So far it seems that there is a bit of a paper tiger in that the argument is being proposed to argue against a position that many that oppose the limited atonement do not make. Further, there seems to be a misunderstanding of why we were even given the doctrine of election. The Arminians are not correct in their use and proposal of a doctrine of free will. I am not at all sure that free will can be defended. I am intentionally not trying to tip my hand until I see the argument. Who knows, perhaps you can do it.

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