Ernest Reisinger on the Importance of the Doctrine of Limited Atonement to Gospel Proclamation (part 1)

”All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16-17 NIV).

Based on verses such as the above verse, it is my firm conviction that doctrine should be useful. That is, when we summarize our beliefs about what Scripture teaches, we should always be asking “so what?” Why does this or that doctrine make a difference, specifically in regards to salvation and sanctification? God in His Scriptures certainly does not just indulge our curiosities; rather, He has a very specific purpose in condescending to speak to sinners and in acting to preserve His words. Scripture’s main purpose is soteriological, given to proclaim the message of reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ (see John 3:16 and John 5:39). It is through Scripture alone we have a right knowledge of God and our means of a right relationship with Him. Therefore, the testimony of Scripture is crystal clear in all matters concerning salvation (see Psalm 19:7 and Psalm 119:130).

Many people, when learning of the Doctrines of Grace, take special exception to the Reformed teaching concerning the extent of Christ’s atonement– i.e., that Christ’s work on the Cross was intended specifically for the benefit of the elect. The primary objection to this teaching is that some verses speak of Christ dying for “all” or for the “world.” These verses may seem, then, to teach that Jesus’ substitutionary death on Cross was intended to benefit more than just the elect. As I’ve previously addressed these unlimited atonement proof-texts before in articles such as That “All” Is Always Defined By Context, On Spurgeon’s Understanding of “All”, and The Proof-Texts, I’ll not repeat those arguments here. Suffice it to say, once people start to see that there are cogent arguments from Reformed Theology that explain the “all” and “world” passages in their proper contexts, they often cease their confident denial of definite atonement, but instead they raise a secondary objection. This objection is two-fold: That Scripture is not clear concerning the extent of the atonement, therefore the extent of the atonement is not a doctrine that is soteriologically important.

The purpose of this post is to demonstrate an argument that Scripture is extremely clear in its teaching on the extent of the atonement and that this doctrine is of vital soteriological import.

The late Pastor Ernest C. Reisinger, whose work in educating Southern Baptists regarding their historical-theological foundation eventually provided a crucial impetus to the formation of Founders’ Ministries, wrote the following in his book Today’s Evangelism:

For whom did Christ die? The Bible is very clear on this answer, though many preachers are not.

The atonement that we are considering is a planned atonement– the cross was not an accident. God planned it. He was not sleeping or caught off guard at the cross. He had an unchangeable, immutable plan, and it was being carried out. The apostle Peter preached this as part of his first message: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” Acts 2:23).

The apostles not only preached it; they prayed it. Hear their prayer in Acts 4:27-29: “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” God was the master of ceremonies at the cross.

Jesus also taught that God the Father had an unchangeable, immutable plan:

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day (John 6:38-39).

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep (John 10:11).

Jesus makes clear why some do not believe on Him.

Have you ever wondered why some do not believe?

Well, Jesus answers that question here:

But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you (John 10:26).

He describes two characteristics of His sheep:

My sheep hear my voice[a disposition to know His will], and they follow me [a disposition to do His will] (John 10:27).

This truth, that the atonement was for the sheep, is underscored by our Lord’s prayer in John 17. Hear His prayer: “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him” (John 17:2). “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine” (John 17:9). “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

This view of the extent of the atonement makes the cross a place of victory, because what the Father planned, the Son purchased, and these He prays for. This is consistent with the great declaration in that messianic prophesy of His coming: “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).

Jesus teaches the same thing in John 6:37: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me…” Not, maybe they will come, or, it would be nice if they came, or, if they decide they will come, but rather, “shall come.” This, then, is an important element of the message of the cross, the message of evangelism. This means that Christ’s death was not in vain, but rather, everyone for whom He savingly died, will come. It is interesting to note that when the angel announced His birth to Joseph, the angel was straight on this point: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Please note the text says, “save his people,” not every single individual, but His people– the sheep.

God used the fact that He had some people, some sheep, to encourage the evangelizing of that wicked city of Corinth. The great apostle was afraid to go to Corinth, and God encouraged him by saying, “…Be not afraid… For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10).

Reisinger summarized some of the major points made in the section quoted above with the following:

  1. [Christ’s] coming was for His people (Matthew 1:21): “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
  2. His purchase on the Cross was for the sheep– His people (John 10:11-15): “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
  3. His prayer was for all that the Father gave Him: “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him” (John 17:2). “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine” (John 17:9).

Reisinger then posed the following probing questions:

Is this the message of the cross that you have heard– Christ whose death is not in vain and will not fail to accomplish all that was intended? Or, have you heard the message of a poor, impotent, pathetic, and sometimes, effeminate Jesus who died just to make salvation possible and who is standing idly and impotently by, waiting to see what these mighty, powerful sinners are going to do with Him?

I hope that the presentation above helps readers to see why the Reformed doctrine concerning the extent of the atonement is one major focus of Strange BaptistFire. This is not some merely scholastic dispute over a doctrine vaguely hinted at in Scripture; rather, the purpose of Christ on the Cross– His work specifically on behalf of those previously chosen to be His people– is clearly proclaimed and is foundational to a right understanding of the Gospel. If this pillar of the biblical foundation is removed, then the majestic Gospel of Grace will eventually crumble.

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55 Comments on “Ernest Reisinger on the Importance of the Doctrine of Limited Atonement to Gospel Proclamation (part 1)”

  1. Nathan White Says:

    If this pillar of the biblical foundation is removed, then the majestic Gospel of Grace will eventually crumble.

    Amen to that. Simply put, Calvinist press this doctrine not because it fits our system nicely, but because it reveals a truth about the atonement that is vital to a proper understanding of the gospel. Understanding this truth will lead to a fuller understanding of our God and deeper communion with Him.

    It’s definitely not about defining ‘the world’ and the use of ‘all’, it’s about directing others to deeper, more intimate worship in ‘the knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness.”

  2. Mike Cheek Says:

    I can only respond briefly while on my lunch hour. The Puritan Richard Baxter says it well:

    “Now I would know of any man, would you believe that Christ died for all men if the Scripture plainly speak it? If you would, do but tell me, what words can you devise or would you wish more plain for it than are there used? Is it not enough that Christ is called the Saviour of the World? You’ll say, but is it of the whole World? Yes, it saith, He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole World. Will you say, but it is not for All men in the World? Yes it saith he died for All men, as well as for all the World. But will you say, it saith not for every man? Yes it doth say, he tasted death for every man. But you may say, It means all the Elect, if it said so of any Non-Elect I would believe. Yes, it speaks of those that denied the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And yet all this seems nothing to men prejudiced.”

    We must first start with the biblical texts and build up a coherent theology from the data. It is my judgment that especially with Limited Atonement we have a case of developing a systematic theology first, and then forcing certain Scriptures into that theology.

    The Atonement flows from and is an outworking of the Incarnation. A limited atonement implies a limited incarnation. It is my understanding that the Greek Fathers saw Jesus as identifying wholly and fully with all of humanity. The Incarnation should be the starting point for a theology of the Atonement.

    I realize this isn’t going to change anybody’s minds one iota, nor is it offered in any other way but irenic, but I guess I wanted to speak briefly. Well, I’ve got to get back to work. Peace.

  3. Simon Says:

    Mike,

    While I appreciate your irenic tone, you might have a chance of changing minds if you offered some exegesis. Have you ever read a Reformed exegesis of 2 Peter 2:1 or 1 John 2:2? If Jesus was the propitiation for every human who ever lived, can you please explain why some are in Hell? The unversalist rightly criticizes the Arminian (and Amyraldian) for his eisegesis when interpreting verses such as 1 John 2:2. Have you read puritans other than Baxter on the extent of the atonement? I’m still waiting for someone to refute John Owen’s “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ”.

    You said “The Atonement flows from and is an outworking of the Incarnation. A limited atonement implies a limited incarnation.” This is an assertion, not an argument. I would like to see you flesh this out.

    Thanks.

    Simon


  4. What is wrong with the Amaryldian concept
    He died sufficient for all but efficient only for the elect, otherwise we can become hesitant ot offer Christ to all as of course all are sinners but not all repent and believe


  5. Amen to Mike Cheek’s reply.

    The Bible, for example St Paul in Romans, clearly says that CHrist died for ALL, and there is no context which defines “all” as “all the Elect and only the Elect”. But the Bible is equally clear that not all are saved, but only a “remnant”. Contextually, one would have to say that the mere” remnant” who are saved are a remnant out of the Elect, implying that there can be many amongst the “elect” who are not saved – if the “all” as when Scripture says that Christ died for all is not all but only all-of-a-few-Elect. You cannot apply one logic and method of interpretation to one verse and not apply to all verses which have similar contexts.

    St Paul, for example in Acts, said of some that they “counted themselves unworthy of eternal life.” The Gospel had been preached, and they rejected it. In Paul’s letters, and more clearly in Hebrews (author unknown) we have the Midrashic illustration of those who had all the blessings and call of God, but THROUGH UNBELIEF failed to enter into GOd’s rest. Instead, they angered God and were condemned and destroyed.

    I follow the example of John Wesley amongst others because they start with SCripture. As he said, “Let me be a man of one book”, speaking of the Bible, and of comparing SCripture with SCripture. And from THE BIBLE, he believed that Christ died for all even though many are not saved. He also believed that our salvation is totally the work of God, and that we can contribute absolutely nothing to our salvation. He believed in the sovereignty of God, the necessity of a work of God in our hearts before we can believe, and many other points which some calvinists have claimed to be exclusively calvinistic doctrines and condemned Wesley as in error by not believing them.

    As Mike said, we MUST START WITH THE BIBLE and develope our theology from the plain sense of the whole of Scripture. If we do so, we must reject as contradictory to the Bible the notion of “limited atonement” just as we must also reject the “universalism” which (equal and opposite error) says that all are saved.

    (Glossary – Midrash – the Bible-believing method of interpretation of SCripture used by 1st century Jews. 7 Principles were formulated by Rabbi Hillel, whose grandson Gamaliel taught the Apostle Paul. Paul’s letters reveal a clear pattern of midrashic commentary on the Old Testament to illustrate (but never to derive in a vacuum) doctrine.)

  6. Nathan White Says:

    “The Atonement flows from and is an outworking of the Incarnation. A limited atonement implies a limited incarnation.”

    All who are under the headship of Adam die. All who by the new birth are under the headship of Christ live. This is the federal headship. Jesus came and represented His elect, His sheep, His bride, His church on the cross. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”

    Thus, when you say that a limited atonement implies a limited incarnation, from what I think you mean, you are correct. Christ came to give life to HIS people, all who are IN HIM. He did not come to give life to those who have been left in Adam. For Christ talked repeatedly about saying ‘His own’, and ‘His sheep’, and that ‘He shall save His people from their sins’. All who were ‘given’ to Him, all who are ‘born of God’, etc.

    Therefore, I don’t think that the ‘limited incarnation’ makes an argument, for those who believe in a limited atonement certainly believe in a limited incarnation, that is, in the sense that is summarized by the Federal Headship.

  7. Tony Says:

    Nathan said:
    “All who are under the headship of Adam die.

    True. But those under the headship of Adam are those in him by generation, i.e. those born of his seed, i.e. humans that exist.

    Nathan said:
    “All who by the new birth are under the headship of Christ live. This is the federal headship.

    Notice what you’re saying here. You’re saying that those who have experienced the new birth are under the headship of Christ, i.e. those born of his spiritual seed (regenerated by the Spirit). Not all the elect are born again, but of course they shall be. Once they are born again, they are in Him or in Christ. This is federal headship.

    Nathan said:
    “Jesus came and represented His elect, His sheep, His bride, His church on the cross.

    The fact that Jesus came and represented His elect, His sheed, His bride and His church does not mean that he ONLY came for them. That’s your presupposition. You want to say that he ONLY came and ONLY represented His elect, His sheep, His bride, His Church. There is a tertium quid between the view that Jesus ONLY represented His elect and the view that He EQUALLY represents all mankind with no qualifications. There is the view that He came ESPECIALLY for his elect, but also for the rest of mankind. This would do justice to the view that Christ suffered sufficiently for all, but especially or efficaciously for the elect.

    You cite this passage:
    NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

    You seem to be reading it as follows:
    “For as in Adam (all humanity as an abstract class, whether existing or not) all die, even so in Christ (all the elect, whether existing or not) all (the elect) shall be made alive (regenerated).”

    I think it’s better to view the verse this way:
    “For as in Adam (i.e. all humans born by his seed, i.e. existing humans) all (existing humans) die, even so in Christ (all those regenerated by the Spirit, i.e. those in REAL union with Him) all (believers) shall be made alive (physically resurrected unto everlasting glory).”

    The Pauline concept of being “in Christ” or “in Him” here refers to REAL union, not to virtual union as you’re taking it. Also, the concept of being made alive in the passage has to do with the future physical resurrection/glorification (as the context indicates) and not with initial regeneration.

    Nathan said:
    “Thus, when you say that a limited atonement implies a limited incarnation, from what I think you mean, you are correct.

    Nathan is saying that Jesus is only the last Adam for the elect. That’s false. As the last Adam, he represents all those who he shares a nature with and suffers the curse of the law in the stead of all lawbreakers. He suffers the penalty of the law of works which all sinful humanity is under. It’s not only the elect who are under the penalty of the so called Covenant of Works. As the Heidelberg Catechism says regarding Question #37:

    Q. What does it mean that He suffered?

    A. That all the time He lived on earth, but especially at the end of His life, He bore, in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race, in order that by His passion, as the only atoning sacrifice, He might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation and obtain for us the grace of God, righteousness, and eternal life.

    Nathan said:
    “Christ came to give life to HIS people,”

    Nathan’s Assumption = ONLY His people, rather than ESPECIALLY His people.

    Nathan said:
    “all who are IN HIM.”

    Nathan’s Assumption = “In Him” references virtual union (all the elect as a class) instead of real union (the believing elect enjoying vital union with Christ).

    Nathan said:
    “He did not come to give life to those who have been left in Adam.”

    Where’s the proof for this? Is this merely a deduction from a presupposed theological system? Or are you inferring this proposition from the idea that not all are “made alive” (which goes back to your assumption that being made alive references regeneration rather than physical resurrection)? All that Christ represented are not made alive because all do not believe. Only the elect believe by virtue of the Spirit’s regenerating power using the quickening seed of the word of God, and thus they alone obtain the benefit unto a glorious resurrection.

    Nathan said:
    “For Christ talked repeatedly about saying ‘His own’, and ‘His sheep’, and that ‘He shall save His people from their sins’. All who were ‘given’ to Him, all who are ‘born of God’, etc.”
    Again, your inserting an “only” into those references and then you seek to make a deduction. You might consult the words of R. L. Dabney who saw this argument as an “Inconclusive Proof”:

    “In proof of the general correctness of this theory of the extent of the Atonement, we should attach but partial force to some of the arguments advanced by Symington and others, or even by Turrettin—e. g., That Christ says, He died “for His sheep,” for “His Church,” for “His friends,” is not of itself conclusive. The proof of a proposition does not disprove its converse. All the force which we could properly attach to this class of passages is the probability arising from the frequent and emphatic repetition of this affirmative statement as to a definite object.”

    Nathan said:
    “Therefore, I don’t think that the ‘limited incarnation’ makes an argument, for those who believe in a limited atonement certainly believe in a limited incarnation, that is, in the sense that is summarized by the Federal Headship.”

    I don’t think you’re properly understanding Federal Headship. You seem to be making the virtual to be actual and the actual to be virtual. You’ve blurred the distinction between virtual and actual union. The text you cited from 1 Cor. 15 has to do with ACTUAL or REAL union.

  8. Tony Says:

    Simon says:
    “If Jesus was the propitiation for every human who ever lived, can you please explain why some are in Hell?”

    Some are in hell because they are in the same condition the unbelieving elect were in prior to faith. They have failed to believe in Christ so as to obtain the benefit of what Christ did in suffering sufficiently for all. Even the elect were once children of wrath and justly exposed to divine displeasure, even as the rest (Eph. 2:4), despite the fact that Christ died for them. If your position is correct, then how can the unbelieving elect be justly exposed to divine wrath and sincere hellfire threatenings when Christ died for them? Are you aware of how your Double Jeopardy argument backfires? You’re stuck with either 1) denying that the elect are ever under divine wrath (which is patently unbiblical) or 2) abandoning the Double Jeopardy argument as so many solid Calvinistic thinkers have, such as C. Hodge, R. L. Dabney and W. G. T. Shedd.

    Simon says:
    “The unversalist rightly criticizes the Arminian (and Amyraldian) for his eisegesis when interpreting verses such as 1 John 2:2.”

    As you said to Mike, “This is an assertion, not an argument. I would like to see you flesh this out.” This assertion is built on the assumption that your Double Jeopardy argument (going back to Owen) is not only valid but also sound.

    Simon says:
    “I’m still waiting for someone to refute John Owen’s “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ”.”

    One wonders if you’re looking very hard. Just for starters, you might try reading Neil Chamber’s A Critical Examination Of John Owen’s Argument For Limited Atonement In “The Death of Death In The Death of Christ.”


  9. BTW, Jacobus Arminius was, I understand, giving voice to some of Melancthon’s theology.

    When we say “The Reformed ” doctrine on any issue, it is a bit like saying “the Amrican viewpoint ” on some issue where Democrats and Republicans differ.

    The Reformers differed, and at the same time as upholding the Five Solas the century of the Reformation finished in 1615 with a spectrum of doctrines, all supporting the central teaching of Salvation By Faith in contrast to the Papist mixture amounting to salvation by works.

    Martin Luther thought he was totally biblical in his teaching on the Jews which allowewd Hitler to think that the anti-semitism in Mein Kampf was a Christian teaching. In this, he (Luther) forgot that Romans 9 – 11 teaches the Gentile Church as grafted in to the Jewish rootstock, not uprooting and replacing them. (And Romans 10 gives a clearly Arminian basis for individual salvation, paralleling John 3, applying equally to Jews and Gentiles who take their place in the corporate identity of the People Of God through faith.) And Baptists, who in my opinion recovered the true Scriptural doctrine of Believer’s Baptism, were persecuted by almost all the other Reformers – which may have contributed to their becoming a fringe group and having some questionable doctrines.

    We are in danger of magnifying the differences between the various strands of Reformed doctrine by focussing on the issue of LIMITED atonement rather than the work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the Atonement.

    Sola SCriptura. Starting point and finishing point in doctrine.

  10. Simon Says:

    Reading your comment (#8), I have to wonder if you even understand
    the well-known and biblical idea that God works through means.

    Tony said:
    If your position is correct, then how can the unbelieving elect be
    justly exposed to divine wrath and sincere hellfire threatenings when
    Christ died for them?

    My answer: God works through hellfire threatenings and other warnings as means to draw the elect to himself, so that they might repent and believe,
    and, I might also add, to keep them from falling away. I’m hardly the first person to give that answer.

    Tony said:
    Are you aware of how your Double Jeopardy argument backfires? You’re stuck with either 1) denying that the elect are ever under divine wrath (which is patently unbiblical) or 2) abandoning the Double Jeopardy argument…

    You false dichotomy fails to topple Double Jeopardy. I hold to neither 1) nor 2). The burden of proof is on you to show that my position necessarily implies 1) or 2).

    I said:
    “The unversalist rightly criticizes the Arminian (and Amyraldian) for his eisegesis when interpreting verses such as 1 John 2:2.”

    Tony replied:
    As you said to Mike, “This is an assertion, not an argument. I would like to see you flesh this out”. This assertion is built on the assumption that your Double Jeopardy argument (going back to Owen) is not only valid but also sound.

    Which part of the argument is unsound? Demonstrate specifically where Owen’s biblical argument breaks down.

    I said:
    “I’m still waiting for someone to refute John Owen’s “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.” ”

    Tony replied:

    One wonders if you’re looking very hard. Just for starters, you might try reading Neil Chamber’s A Critical Examination Of John Owen’s Argument For Limited Atonement In “The Death of Death In The Death of Christ.”

    Apart from the exposure you have given this obscure seminary thesis, it would be quite hard to find, IMO. For those of use who don’t want to fork out the money to purchase it, perhaps you can enlighten us as to the author’s arguments. Unless they are the same as yours, in which case his work adds little to the debate.

    Simon

    Calvin against the Lutheran Heshusius in The Clear Explanation of Sound Doctrine Concerning the True Partaking of the Flesh and Blood of Christ in the Holy Supper, wrote:

    “It is worth while to observe in passing, with what acuteness he disposes of my objection, that Christ cannot be separated from his Spirit. His answer is, that as the words of Paul are clear, he assents to them. Does he mean to astonish us by a miracle when he tells us that the blind see it? It has been clearly enough shown that nothing of the kind is to be seen in the words of Paul. He endeavors to disentangle himself by saying, that Christ is present with his creatures in many ways. But the first thing to be explained is, how Christ is present with unbelievers, as being the spiritual food of souls, and, in short, the life and salvation of the world. And as he adheres so doggedly to the words, I should like to know how the wicked can eat the flesh of Christ which was not crucified for them? And how they can drink the blood which was not shed to expiate their sins. I agree with him, that Christ is present as a strict judge when his Supper is profaned. But it is one thing to be eaten, and another to be a judge. When he afterwards says that the Holy Spirit dwelt in Saul, we must send him to his rudiments, that he may learn how to discriminate between the sanctification which is proper only to the elect and the children of God, and the general power which even the reprobate possess. These quibbles, therefore, do not in the slightest degree affect my axiom, that Christ, considered as the living bread and the victim immolated on the cross, cannot enter any human body which is devoid of his Spirit.”

  11. Simon Says:

    Nathan is far more knowledgeable and gifted than I, and he certainly doesn’t need me to defend himself. Nevertheless, I’ll respond to a few of Tony’s replies to him in post #7.

    Nathan said:
    “Jesus came and represented His elect, His sheep, His bride, His church on the cross.”

    Tony replied:
    The fact that Jesus came and represented His elect, His sheep, His bride and His church does not mean that he ONLY came for them. That.s your presupposition. You want to say that he ONLY came and ONLY represented His elect, His sheep, His bride, His Church. There is a tertium quid between the view that Jesus ONLY represented His elect and the view that He EQUALLY represents all mankind with no qualifications. There is the view that He came ESPECIALLY for his elect, but also for the rest of mankind. This would do justice to the view that Christ suffered sufficiently for all, but especially or efficaciously for the elect.

    Here is a common argument from those who deny particular redemption. Yet it ignores the substance of what the particular redemptionist says. I cannot speak for Nathan or others, but when the Bible says Jesus gave His life for His sheep, His church, etc., I do not immediately insist that the word “only” be inserted in these verses so that I can uphold my theological system, as Tony supposes that I would. Rather, I study the context of these verses. If they refer to specific benefits given to the recipients of Christ’s sacrifice, and such benefits cannot be applied to the non-elect, I would conclude that the verses are unlikely to be saying Jesus’ life was given also for those not of His sheep/church/etc. A case in point:

    Eph 5:25 (NASB): “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her”.
    Now could this verse also teach that Christ loved those outside the church in the same way, and gave Himself up for them also? Let’s read on to see the result of Christ giving himself for the church:

    Eph 5:26-32: 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband>

    So a benefit of Christ’s death is that the church was sanctified and presented to Him holy and blameless. Are the non-elect also sanctified and presented to Him holy and blameless? Does Jesus, in addition to loving his bride because he loves Himself, also love others who are not His bride? If you said to your wife that you love her and would give yourself up for her, would you expect her to then ask you whether you meant you love only her, and whether you would give your life up for only her, the person with whom you became one flesh?

    Tony replies to Nathan by claiming:
    The Pauline concept of being “in Christ” or “in Him” here refers to REAL union, not to virtual union as you’re taking it.

    and

    Nathan’s Assumption = “In Him” references virtual union (all the elect as a class) instead of real union (the believing elect enjoying vital union with Christ).

    A reading of Ephesians 1 shows that Paul is quite capable of describing the elect as being “In Him”.

    Simon

  12. Andrew Says:

    Recently, a commenter named Michelle posted a response to my article, Was the Death of Christ a Failure? I’ve now replied to her. I’m noting this here in case Michelle looks at this more recent post, rather than the older one.


  13. Simon Says:
    February 9th, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    Have you ever read a Reformed exegesis of 2 Peter 2:1 or 1 John 2:2? If Jesus was the propitiation for every human who ever lived, can you please explain why some are in Hell? The unversalist rightly criticizes the Arminian (and Amyraldian) for his eisegesis when interpreting verses such as 1 John 2:2.

    Taking the second question, 1 Corinthians 10 makes a comment.

    1Co 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
    1Co 10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
    1Co 10:3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
    1Co 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

    We could suppose (for the sake of argument) that all who left Egypt with Moses were Elect, “In Christ”. But only 2 made it to the Promised Land. And of those who died, most were destroyed for unblelief, and Hebrews tells us that God swore that they should never enter His rest. (Hebrews 2:18 ; and remember that the use of SCripture is not “proof texts” out of context, but the whole Chapter, or in this case, Chapters 2 and 3.) (Even Moses died for unbelief, Numbers 20, but in his case it was not unbelief leading to hell ; his sin was disobedience to a word from God which midrashically figured whether Christ died once and once only, or again and again as in the Papist mass.)

    Now 1 John 2:2 has been pointed to.

    1Jo 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

    Isaac Watts (a calvinist) wrote
    My faith would lay her hand
    On that meek head of Thine
    While as a penitent I stand
    And here confess my sin.

    According to what some people have suggested in other debates, Watts was advocating “salvation by works” in the action of laying his hand, by faith, on the head of the Sin Offering, as prescribed so often in Leviticus.

    Or to re-phrase it, the plain sense of 1 John 2:2 (the A.V. above is a reasonably literal translation of the Greek here) is that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Hilasmos, “propitiation”, for the sins of the whole world. So why are not all saved? Because most people do not have the least desire to confess their sin and let their faith lay a hand on the head of their sin-offering. Pride and unbelief are the barrier. And the arminian says that, until God comes and awakens the sinner to his lost condidtion, and gives the grace of repentance, and gives the faith by which to believe (as John Wesley taught, “the faith by which we believe is itself a gift from God”), then the sinner remains dead to God and alive to sin.

    Now in closing, I am unable to deduce what “eisegesis” the arminian is criticised for regarding 1 John 2:2. This is one of a significant number of Scriptures whose plain sense is that of the “General Atonement” rather than “Particular Atonement” (to use Baptist nomenclature). Do you mean the “eisegesis” of reading into this verse that Christ died for all?

  14. Mike Cheek Says:

    Friends, thanks to all for your replies. They would all deserve a careful reply, but time does not permit. I will try to read everyone’s response more carefully offline, but this will take some time. On a personal note, I want to make sure no one thinks I was just posting and then stepping back just to watch the “fireworks” After I posted, I checked back once or twice and there was no activity, and so I went home for the weekend and haven’t checked back until now.

    My intent was to try to step back and look at the bigger picture from a higher altitude on this issue. Also, sometimes you just need to put something down in writing in order to clarify your thinking.

    I do feel the Incarnation should serve as the starting point for our theology. (I know I am in good company with many when I say this.) In the Incarnation the Son reveals the Father to us. Being co-equal and one in essence with the Father, the Son’s forgiveness is the Father’s forgiveness. And the Son, being the second Adam, represents humanity to the Father. It is my understanding that the Greek Fathers (the guys who gave us Nicea) emphasized Christ’s solidarity with all mankind. And if the Incarnation demonstrates Jesus’ solidarity with humanity, well, then, I think this should inform our understanding of the nature of the Atonement.

    I do joyously affirm the mirifica commutatio, “the wonderful exchange” that Calvin and Luther spoke of. Jesus has taken what is ours, our enmity, our sin, our death and given us what is his in exchange (love, righteousness, eternal life) Perhaps on this we can all agree.

  15. David Ponter Says:

    I normally dont post at blogs, but I thought I might butt in here. This might help.

    Simon said:

    “Have you ever read a Reformed exegesis of 2 Peter 2:1 or 1 John 2:2?”

    David comments: there are many “Reformed” readings of the first verse, let alone the second verse.

    For example:

    Though Christ may be denied in various ways, yet Peter, as I think, refers here to what is expressed by Jude, that is, when the grace of God is turned into lasciviousness; for Christ redeemed us, that he might have a people separated from all the pollutions of the world, and devoted to holiness ,and innocency. They, then, who throw off the bridle, and give themselves up to all kinds of licentiousness, are not unjustly said to deny Christ by whom they have been redeemed. Calvin, 2 Peter 2:1.

    “The only Lord God,” or, God who alone is Lord. Some old copies have, “Christ, who alone is God and Lord.” And, indeed, in the Second Epistle of Peter, Christ alone is mentioned, and there he is called Lord. But He means that Christ is denied, when they who had been redeemed by his blood, become again the vassals of the Devil, and thus render void as far as they can that incomparable price. Calvin, Jude 4.

    You might want to check out the comments by Poole, Henry, Symson and Adams, all of which follow Calvin there.

    Hope that helps,
    David P

  16. Simon Says:

    Robert,

    You referred to 1 Cor 10:1-4 and Heb 2,3 to answer my question “If Jesus was the propitiation for every human who ever lived, can you please explain why some are in Hell.” I don’t think I understand your answer, although you refer to the sins of unbelief and disobedience, so let me ask you about that. Would you not say that Christ died for the sins of unbelief and disobedience for every person who ever lived, including those in the desert, elect or not? If so, is God going to judge and punish those sins again?

    You also said:
    Or to re-phrase it, the plain sense of 1 John 2:2 (the A.V. above is a reasonably literal translation of the Greek here) is that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Hilasmos, “propitiation”, for the sins of the whole world. So why are not all saved? Because most people do not have the least desire to confess their sin and let their faith lay a hand on the head of their sin-offering. Pride and unbelief are the barrier. And the arminian says that, until God comes and awakens the sinner to his lost condidtion, and gives the grace of repentance, and gives the faith by which to believe (as John Wesley taught, “the faith by which we believe is itself a gift from God”), then the sinner remains dead to God and alive to sin.

    Yes, as you said, most people do not have the least desire to confess their sin, but to repeat my question above, did not Jesus die for their sins anyway, including their sins of pride and unbelief? If so, why are they punished for these sins?

    Then Robert said:
    Now in closing, I am unable to deduce what “eisegesis” the arminian is criticised for regarding 1 John 2:2. This is one of a significant number of Scriptures whose plain sense is that of the “General Atonement” rather than “Particular Atonement” (to use Baptist nomenclature). Do you mean the “eisegesis” of reading into this verse that Christ died for all?

    I was referring to the fact that some immediately assume the words pas (all) and kosmos (world) must refer to every human being who ever lived. You called this the “plain sense” of Scripture, but this is begging the question. We interpret Scripture by studying its context, and remembering that it cannot contradict other Scripture. I assume you would agree with this, since I could cite other verses in which we would both agree that “all” and “world” do not refer to every human being who ever lived.

    —-

    Mike said in post #14:

    I do joyously affirm the mirifica commutatio, “the wonderful exchange” that Calvin and Luther spoke of. Jesus has taken what is ours, our enmity, our sin, our death and given us what is his in exchange (love, righteousness, eternal life) Perhaps on this we can all agree.

    Yes, we can all agree that this is true for the elect. However, if one holds to unlimited atonement but not universalism, then he is forced to say that the wonderful exchange is only one-sided for the non-elect. Viz., Jesus took the enmity and sin of the non-elect upon himself, yet He has not given them His righteousness and eternal life.

    Simon


  17. Simon.

    Thanks for having noted my comments.

    Interestingly, (the Holy Spirit through) John wrote Holou tou kosmou in 1 John 2:2 – “The whole world.” Maybe to give us pause for thought when we run too quickly after the idea of Pas, “All”, also translated “Whosoever” (for example in John 3:15, 16) where the context and grammar of the verse points to a sub-set, “All who believe” rather than all regardless of whether or not they believe. While in John 3, John 3:13 gives an important example of a type of Christ Crucified, being made sin on our behalf. The Brass Serpent could have healed all who had been bitten, but only those – all those who looked were healed. “My faith would lay her hand … ”

    Taking kosmos in 1 John 2, there is obviously a different shade of meaning later in the chapter, “Love not the world … ” (v. 15-17) pointing to that which captivates our affections and becomes an idol.

    Theologians tell us that kosmos is a characteristic word of John the Gospel Writer (whom I accept as the writer of the 3 letters). So I am happy to conclude that in 1 John 2:2 kosmos is more likely to carry the same shade of meaning as it does in, for example, John 1:29, or John 3:16 where we read the extent of GOd’s love for the kosmos.

    As you said, I was referring to the fact that some immediately assume the words pas (all) and kosmos (world) must refer to every human being who ever lived. You called this the “plain sense” of Scripture, but this is begging the question. We interpret Scripture by studying its context, and remembering that it cannot contradict other Scripture. I assume you would agree with this, since I could cite other verses in which we would both agree that “all” and “world” do not refer to every human being who ever lived.

    Now we clearly agree on the importance of i) Context ; and ii) Comparing Scripture with Scripture. But I guess we shall continue to disagree on this verse. I have yet to be shown any reason to doubt the plain sense of holou tou kosmou since there is neither immediate context (in the 5 chapters of 1 John) nor other Scripture with which this verse is not consonent to interpretet it differently. (I have shown a different meaning of kosmos later in the same chapter, but the sense of the verse is different, immediate context shows the distinction.) (Romans 5:18 goes so far that we must take it in the context of the whole book. But in the context of the chapter, eis pantas anthrwpous, to all men, has to mean all descendents of Adam. The clear teaching of Salvation by Faith over-rides the possible interpretatoin of universal salvation.) To reach any other conclusion than the plain sense where that sense is clear, we must import (eisegesis) an alternative and less obvious meaning from elsewhere. John has clearly and unambiguously stated that Jesus Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. Whence the interpretation that Holou means “half”? or that tou kosmou means other than the world? Those who would esiegete other than the plain sense should argue their case. However, since we are unlikely to agree, it may be more profitable for the Moderator to close this thread to new comments. And it is way past my bed-time.

    We could also take the example of Exodus 12. The Passover Lamb was killed for the whole household. Yet a Firstborn might still suffer the judgement simply by being outside his dwelling where his Lamb had been killed, and where the blood was applied to the doorposts.

  18. Nathan White Says:

    Tony,

    I was not surprised when I read your comments. I have read many of your comments on other reformed blogs that discuss this subject, and it seems you love to jump on those who hold to John Owen’s views on the ‘L’. You have said nothing new that I haven’t read before, and the text that seems most dear to your heart, Eph 2:3 and ‘children of wrath’, does nothing to discredit Owen’s thesis, in my opinion of course.

    Simon answered very well above, and I am content to let his comments stand as a defense of my position as well. I have read pages and pages where you have interacted with others on this subject, and I do not wish to enter into a similar conversation with you. I have heard what you have to say, and I disagree. That being said, I will briefly clarify a few things from my position and give summary statements without the long discourse of explaining each point:

    -Particular Redemption (PR) does not affirm that the death of Christ has absolutely no benefit for the reprobate.

    -PR does not consistently lead to eternal justification.

    -PR affirms that Christ came to save, that is what He did, and that scripture is crystal clear in that He did not come to make salvation merely possible.

    -PR affirms that Christ’s death was not a failure. There was no dissention in the Godhead between the Son offering a sacrifice for an individual only to be rejected by the Father on the basis that there was no faith. Christ accomplished for the elect the task He was given by the Father. He was given a bride to redeem, and that is what He accomplished.

    -PR affirms in salvation by ‘nothing but the blood’. That is, if Christ died for Judas in the exact same manner as He did for Peter, what differs in that Judas is cursed and Peter is redeemed? Certainly nothing but the blood causes them to differ.

    -PR says that Jesus has a special, intimate love towards those whom He was entrusted by the Father to save. This sacrificial love was evidenced in His atoning death, and is not evidenced in the creatures who will spend eternity under everlasting punishment.

    -Unbelievers who reject Christ cannot say with Paul that they have been ‘crucified with Christ’, as in His death having any specific application to them whatsoever.

    -The Elect were chosen before the foundation of the world; God’s work of redemption was ‘completed’ before the foundation of the world; Christ was slain before the foundation of the world, which ultimately led to the specific names of the elect being written in the book of life before the foundation of the world: Eph 1:4, Heb 4:3, Rev 13:8. If you’re worried about eternal justification, you’ve got bigger problems than just the ‘L’. If your stuck on Eph 2:3 as if it someone hurts the double-jeopardy position, I would only suggest that a closer look at God’s sovereign control over all the events of life, and how He has chosen to accomplish His redemption within the space of created time –even though His decrees are fixed and determined from before time began.

    “For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” –That is what Christ’s death accomplished, and who it accomplished it for.

  19. David Ponter Says:

    G’day Nathan,

    You don’t know me. I’ve read some of your posts on various blogs. If I may ask you a couple of questions/comments. You said this:

    “Simon answered very well above, and I am content to let his comments stand as a defense of my position as well.”

    David: I went back and found this from above, from Simon:

    “My answer: God works through hellfire threatenings and other warnings as means to draw the elect to himself, so that they might repent and believe, and, I might also add, to keep them from falling away. I’m hardly the first person to give that answer.”

    David: I don’t see how that is an answer. What it does seem to communicate that is that the living unbelieving elect are only under the wrath of God only insofar as they are subject to threatenings of punishment.

    But then we also have this:

    Tony had posted this Tony said:
    “Are you aware of how your Double Jeopardy argument backfires? You’re stuck with either 1) denying that the elect are ever under divine wrath (which is patently unbiblical) or 2) abandoning the Double Jeopardy argument?”

    Then to that, Simon simply said:

    “You false dichotomy fails to topple Double Jeopardy. I hold to neither 1) nor 2). The burden of proof is on you to show that my position necessarily implies 1) or 2).”

    David: okay that reads to me, that he does not deny that the living unbelieving elect are the wrath of God.

    Apart from that, Nathan, I must be missing how he answers Tony, unless he means only that the living unbelieving elect are under the wrath of God only in this way: insofar as they are threatened with wrath.

    But now I say to you, is that a credible interpretation of Eph 2:3: “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

    The structure there seems to be this: ‘we were under the wrath of God, even as the rest are.’ That tells me that the nature of the wrath we predicate as being upon “the rest” is of the same kind that we were also under. Right?

    Would it not be very very odd to insist that the living unbelieving elect were only threatened with wrath, even as ‘the rest’ are likewise only threatened with wrath?

    Paul is saying more than that, I think all would agree. The rest are under the actual punishment of God (albeit temporal Roms 1:18).

    But then is this other option plausible: we were threatened with wrath, even as the rest are actually under the wrath of God? That does not make intuitive sense, does it? Not to me.

    I think the point is, many today are avoiding the force of the passage. The end result of Simon’s limited input is that the living unbelieving elect were never actually objects of actual punishment. This seems contrary to Dort, the WCF and classic Reformed theology.

    The question of justification flows from this.

    So to sum up this long post, I havent seen anyone offer a plausible explanation of the clause “even as the rest are”. Can one seriously justify the claim that Eph 2:3 only tells us that the living unbelieving elect were merely threatened with divine wrath?

    Of course I have not even mentioned that this is Semitic idiom which speaks to being subject to punishment.

    The answer has to elsewhere, rather than this way of seeing Paul. The answer has to be in some strategy that admits the force of the verse–that the living unbelieving elect were truly and meaningfully objects of punishment–but that God, yet, was not obtaining two satisfactions for any sin.

    That being so, the question now seems to be in the other person’s court, not Tony’s. But any attempt that disconnects the connection between us as we were formerly, and “even as the rest are” does the same thing I’ve mentioned above. The issue Simon needs to answer, I think is the wrath of God that lies upon the rest, mere threatenability, or actual punishing wrath?

    I am not trying to be combative here. Its just that I see so many folk seemingly miss the force of Paul’s point.

    The piont is, I think for good reasons, as I’ve just outlined, Simon has _not_ answered the dilemma Tony posed: unless of course he seriously proposes that Paul actually did mean to say, we too were subject to the threats of wrath, even as the rest are subject to threats of wrath.

    If Simon rests with that, I can no more, other than its clearly a false and superficial gloss upon the text. I can only walk away at that point.

    Make sense?

    Thanks
    David

  20. David Ponter Says:

    I should have worded that last better:

    “The point is, I think for good reasons, as I’ve just outlined, Simon has _not_ answered the dilemma Tony posed: unless of course he seriously proposes that Paul actually did mean to say only: we too were subject to the threats of wrath, even as the rest are subject to _________.

    Fill in the blank. Ive chosen to word it that way so that Simon does not think I am trying to unfairly box him in on that point.

    David

  21. Simon Says:

    Robert,

    Thanks for your reply (comment #17), but if I am not mistaken, you have still not directly answered why if Jesus died for all sins of a non-elect person, those same sins are to be judged again at the final judgment?

    You interpret John 3:13 and Exodus 12. Without getting into a debate over these verses also, I do not believe they address the issue at hand.

    As for the Johannine usage of kosmos (and its cognates), you agreed that in 1 John the word can have meanings other than the one you assign in 1 John 2:2. Now would you consider that in 1 John 5:19 kosmos can be understood as a reference to a certain number of individuals (in contradistinction to the “we” in that verse)? If so, it surely cannot refer to all men who ever lived.

    Regarding 1 John 2:2, my problem is that you appeal to the “plain sense” of the verse, but in fact you are importing into the verse an assumption that “whole world” plainly must refer to every person who ever lived. This assumption is under dispute. In addition, if you are correct, then this verse would contradict other scriptures that indicate certain sinners will be judged on the basis of their sins, and that they will be found guilty and undergo punishment for them in Hell. Revelation 5:9 shows how the “whole world” can be understood with respect to the extent of the atonement: Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. I would also point to the close parallel John makes between 1 John 2:2 and John 11:51-52, as Gene Bridges has ably laid out:

    1 John 2:2
    And
    He Himself
    is the propitiation for
    our sins
    and not for ours only
    but also
    for
    the world

    John 11:51-52
    he prophesied that
    Jesus
    would die for
    the nation
    and not for the nation only
    but also
    that He would gather together in one
    the children of God scattered abroad

    Who, then, composes “the whole world” in 1 John 2:2? Answer: “the children of God scattered abroad.” Thus “our” refers to Jewish Christians and “the whole world” to those who are Gentiles scattered abroad or, more broadly, “our” refers to “all believers alive at the time John wrote his epistle,” and “the whole world” could refer to “all believers yet to come.” Either way this is the whole world of believers.

    Simon

  22. David Ponter Says:

    Hey Simon,

    Let me try this.

    Let me try and answer some of these questions and points you have:

    Simon says: Thanks for your reply (comment #17), but if I am not mistaken, you have still not directly answered why if Jesus died for all sins of a non-elect person, those same sins are to be judged again at the final judgment?

    David says: That’s an argument that assumes one or more of these premises: God can’t punish sin twice, God can’t demand two payments, two satisfactions.

    Lets put the onus back on you. You make this claim, a claim which has some implicit and undeniable assertions, can you sustain this claim? Can you show why God is not able to punish sin twice, first in the satisfaction of Christ, and then in the impenitent sinner?

    Tony has proffered what’s called a counter-factual to your claim here. God does punish the living unbelieving elect with temporal punishment. And yet with regard to the elect, Christ satisfied for all the sins of the elect. I gather you want to say something like this: “No God does not actually punish any of the living unbelieving elect…” But as I have said, I don’t think this does justice to Eph 2:3. So we do have at least one instance of sin being punished twice.

    Simon says: You interpret John 3:13 and Exodus 12. Without getting into a debate over these verses also, I do not believe they address the issue at hand.

    David says: If the world of 3:16 is all mankind, then the provision of salvation is for all mankind.

    Simon says: As for the Johannine usage of kosmos (and its cognates), you agreed that in 1 John the word can have meanings other than the one you assign in 1 John 2:2. Now would you consider that in 1 John 5:19 kosmos can be understood as a reference to a certain number of individuals (in contradistinction to the “we” in that verse)? If so, it surely cannot refer to all men who ever lived.

    David says: this is a false dilemma fallacy. One need not be committed to saying that world for John means, always and all times, every single person, who has lived, lives and will live. Clearly in 1 Jn 5:19 it does not have this meaning. There is no need to try and impose this meaning on anyone, therefore. World in 5:19 means the same as in 2:2, and that is apostate mankind, the world, those in rebellion outside the church, the gathered community. Now there is no alleged contradiction. Can you tell me what whole world means in 5:19?

    Simon says: Regarding 1 John 2:2, my problem is that you appeal to the “plain sense” of the verse, but in fact you are importing into the verse an assumption that “whole world” plainly must refer to every person who ever lived.

    David: I wont and can’t speak for the other fellow. But I can say for myself, even for Tony there, that world in John does not have to mean every single person who has lived, lives and will lives. Would you concede that if this premise is removed, world for John means apostate mankind? We can add: apostate mankind alive at any given point. Yes, no?

    Simon says: This assumption is under dispute. In addition, if you are correct, then this verse would contradict other scriptures that indicate certain sinners will be judged on the basis of their sins, and that they will be found guilty and undergo punishment for them in Hell.

    David says: That’s the double jeopardy/payment assumption again. It seems to me that you have fundamentally misunderstood the nature of a penal substitution versus commercial substitution. Or as Packer well states it, it’s the confusion of civil law verses criminal law. Packer points out that many in the early Reformation tradition would conflate the two types of legal suits (see his dissertation on Baxter “The Redemption of Mankind” p., 276). I would encourage you to read Dabney or C Hodge on the true nature of a penal satisfaction.

    Simon says: Revelation 5:9 shows how the “whole world” can be understood with respect to the extent of the atonement:

    David says: But kosmos is not even used in Rev 5:9 is it? What is more, the logic is a little dodgy. It dangerously says something like this: the last in accomplishment was the limited original intention. There are tacit fallacies here. One cannot reason back from a limited result to a limited intention in any sense. 10 guests show up at the wedding. One cannot infer from that, that only 10 guests were invited. Right?

    Simon says: Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

    David says: See above. You cannot reason back from an actual result to a limited intention like that. Its simply fallacious to do so.

    Simon says: I would also point to the close parallel John makes between 1 John 2:2 and John 11:51-52, as Gene Bridges has ably laid out:

    David says: the parallel overlay, as I like to call it is fun.

    1) Do you know that the only point of contact between the two verses is the word but, “alla”. The overlay is purely in the eye of the English beholder.

    2) The only other similarity is the form of the expression: not only ours, but theirs also (my paraphrase). Maybe John just likes expressing things that way to make a point. But that should never be taken as evidence of subject-matter identity. Remember, no italics, no bold, no underline in the first century, so emphasis has to be made by way of style, idiom and expression.

    3) Next, the problem is, there is no evidence from the text that by the terms “the people” “the nation” either the priest, or John meant the elect or the true believers. There is no evidence that John didn’t see “the nation” as exactly that, the nation of Israel. The overlay just assumes something else without a shred of internal textual evidence.

    4) And conversely, there is no evidence in any of John’s epistles that he used kosmos to denote the children scattered abroad. Rather, he consistently uses it as a place of apostasy and darkness.

    5) When parallelisms in Scripture are identified, more markers or keys are used. For example, the second common references in the synoptics give clear indicators in their respective use of metaphors, topics, subject matters, common words, common speakers, common audiences. But we don’t have anything comparable here, do we? Nothing.

    cut

    Simon says: Who, then, composes “the whole world” in 1 John 2:2? Answer: “the children of God scattered abroad.” Thus “our” refers to Jewish Christians and “the whole world” to those who are Gentiles scattered abroad or, more broadly, “our” refers to “all believers alive at the time John wrote his epistle,” and “the whole world” could refer to “all believers yet to come.” Either way this is the whole world of believers.

    And this leads in to the next problem.

    Dabney says:

    6) 1 John 2:2, it is at least doubtful whether the express phrase, “whole world,” can be restrained to the world of elect as including other than Jews. For it is indisputable, that the Apostle extends the propitiation of Christ beyond those whom he speaks of as “we,” in verse first. The interpretation described obviously proceeds on the assumption that these are only Jewish believers. Can this be substantiated? Is this catholic epistle addressed only to Jews? This is more than doubtful. It would seem then, that the Apostle’s scope is to console and encourage sinning believers with the thought that since Christ made expiation for every man, there is no danger that He will not be found a propitiation for them who, having already believed, now sincerely turn to him from recent sins. Lectures, p., 525.

    The overlay argument was originally proposed on the false assumption that 1 John was written to a mostly Jewish audience, which was also then coupled with the false idea that John uses kosmos to denote the Gentiles. (See the image emerging? The overlay argument could have only been birthed on those two critical assumptions.) Both of these ideas are now largely seen as untrue by modern critical scholarship. Thus the overlay argument unravels.

    The fact that the overlay argument relies on outdated assumptions about John’s use of world and his audience, and that the only common word is a but, along with a simple similarity of form, its very very iffy to try and posit strong exegetical conclusions based on such tenuous alleged identity markers. The fact that the only common word in Greek is a “but” should send up red flags, to say the least. 🙂

    The charts are pretty, but unimpressive and generally only work if one looks at the verses in English and imagines that’s a simple repetition in sentence form entails an identify in subject matter, but thats is a really dangerous way to proceed.

    In the end, given that the overlay argument is uncompelling at best, false at worst. Its best to let the normal rules applied: what determines meaning is usage. The normal usage of kosmos by John in the epistles is apostate mankind, the world out there, consisting of all unbelievers. He does not use it to denote all who have lived, will live, and live, but sinners out there in rebellion, alive at any given point of time. With that behind us, Dabney’s read on 1 Jn 2:2 makes the best sense.

    I’ll probably leave it that, unless I get some feedback or see somthing else that I think should be addressed.

    Hope that helps.
    DavidP

  23. Tony Says:

    Hi Nathan,

    You said:
    “I have read many of your comments on other reformed blogs that discuss this subject, and it seems you love to jump on those who hold to John Owen’s views on the ‘L’.”

    Well, I don’t “love to jump on” Owenists any more than those who hold to John Owen’s views on ‘L’ “love to jump on those” who do not. It just seems like you favor or “love” Owenists “jumping” on non-Owenists rather than the reverse, hence your complaint.

    You said:
    “You have said nothing new that I haven’t read before, and the text that seems most dear to your heart, Eph 2:3 and ‘children of wrath’, does nothing to discredit Owen’s thesis, in my opinion of course.”

    Eph. 2:3 is dear to me like the rest of the word of God, but that text is dear to me insofar as it defeats the bogus double jeopardy argument. I am just echoing Dabney (not exactly an obscure criticism of Owen here Simon) on the point:

    “Nor would we attach any force to the argument, that if Christ made penal satisfaction for the sins of all, justice would forbid any to be punished. To urge this argument surrenders virtually the very ground on which the first Socinian objection was refuted, and is incompatible with the facts that God chastises justified believers, and holds elect unbelievers subject to wrath till they believe. Christ’s satisfaction is not a pecuniary equivalent, but only such a one as enables the Father, consistently with His attributes, to pardon, if in His mercy He sees fit. The whole avails of the satisfaction to a given man is suspended on His belief. There would be no injustice to the man, if he remaining an unbeliever, his guilt were punished twice over, first in his Savior, and then in Him. See A. Hodge on Atonement, page 369.”

    You said:
    “Simon answered very well above, and I am content to let his comments stand as a defense of my position as well.”

    Simon didn’t answer. He just condescendingly brought up the issue of secondary causation/means (which is beside the point) and then moved on to dozens of other arguments/assertions (as if I have the burden of proof after he made the assertion), such as that Calvin quote that has alread been thoroughly dealt with. If I started to reply to what Simon has said and asked, I would have to now produce an entire doctoral thesis on this blog (and this response is long enough already). We started with the Double Jeopardy issue and now he has brought up dozens of other subjects.

    You said:
    “I have read pages and pages where you have interacted with others on this subject, and I do not wish to enter into a similar conversation with you.”

    That’s fine, but unfortunate. I don’t know you very well and I would like to engage you sometime on this theological matter and related areas, especially since people like Simon think you’re more theologically refined in this area than they are.

    You said:
    “I have heard what you have to say, and I disagree.”

    I would ask what you disagree with, but you don’t “wish to enter into a similar conversation”. I guess my questions following this will merely be rhetorical and for the readers.

    You said:
    “That being said, I will briefly clarify a few things from my position and give summary statements without the long discourse of explaining each point:

    -Particular Redemption (PR) does not affirm that the death of Christ has absolutely no benefit for the reprobate.”

    I didn’t say that it necessarily does. Some who hold to a strict particular redemption view think there is no benefit for the reprobate, but others do not. I am aware of the difference of opinion on the point. I don’t know why you would think I was unaware of that, since you have apparently read so much of my words.

    You said:
    “-PR does not consistently lead to eternal justification.”

    I didn’t say that it does. I would, however, say that the double jeopardy argument logically entails eternal justification. I could turn Owen’s own dilemma around to that end. Why aren’t the elect justified when Christ died? You will tell me that it’s due to their unbelief. I will ask, “but did not Christ die for that unbelief?” etc.

    You said:
    “-PR affirms that Christ came to save, that is what He did, and that scripture is crystal clear in that He did not come to make salvation merely possible.”

    When you say that Christ came to save and that is what he did, who were saved when he died? The elect? Or the believing elect? Christ death by itself saves no one. The work of the Holy Spirit is necessary to apply His cross-work through the instrumentality of belief in the gospel in order for one to be saved. While your either/or dilemma sounds convincing to your average Calvinist today, it’s actually misleading. It’s not my position that the salvation of men is “merely” possible and is just dependent on their free will choice (the non-Calvinist view). That argument won’t work against my classical Calvinistic/Augustinian position. Of course it’s the case that Christ came with the special intent to save the elect, but he also came for the salvation of the world. Scripture is “crystal clear” on that. If the salvation of the non-elect is not possible in any sense, then we run into a denial of the well-meant gospel offer. Charles Hodge admits that there is a sense in which the salvation of all men is possible:

    “The righteousness of Christ being of infinite value or merit, and being in its nature precisely what all men need, may be offered to all men. It is thus offered to the elect and to the non-elect; and it is offered to both classes conditionally. That condition is a cordial acceptance of it as the only ground of justification. If any of the elect (being adults) fail thus to accept of it, they perish. If any of the non-elect should believe, they would be saved. What more does any Anti-Augustinian scheme provide? The advocates of such schemes say, that the design of the work of Christ was to render the salvation of all men possible. All they can mean by this is, that if any man (elect or non-elect) believes, he shall, on the ground of what Christ has done, be certainly saved. **But Augustinians say the same thing.** Their doctrine provides for this universal offer of salvation, as well as any other scheme. It teaches that God in effecting the salvation of his own people, did whatever was necessary for the salvation of all men, and therefore to all the offer may be, and in fact is made in the gospel.”
    So then, the “merely possible” antithesis in your either/or dilemma does not describe my position. In my case, it’s a straw man. In the case of free will theologians, it may be accurate.

    You said:
    “-PR affirms that Christ’s death was not a failure. There was no dissention in the Godhead between the Son offering a sacrifice for an individual only to be rejected by the Father on the basis that there was no faith. Christ accomplished for the elect the task He was given by the Father. He was given a bride to redeem, and that is what He accomplished.”

    It’s not my view that Christ’s death is a failure any more than God’s preceptive will is a failure when it does not come to pass. The failure involved concerns the reprobate who does not take hold of the sufficient sacrifice of Christ as their only remedy. The lifted up serpent didn’t fail when some did not look to it to be healed. It was abundantly sufficient to heal all of those bitten by sin.

    Furthermore, your disunity in the Godhead argument fails to account for the revealed will of God in addition to the secret will. You presuppose that there is dissention in the Godhead if the Son has a general intent to save and a special intent to save. The Father also has such a general intent. In fact, if Christ’s death is REALLY sufficient for the salvation of the whole human race, then it must have been intended to be that why since God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. Your disunity in the Godhead argument will only work if you deny that Christ’s death is actually sufficient for all, which is 1) contrary to scripture and 2) undermines the basis for the well-meant gospel offer.

    Again, you repeat your negative inference fallacy. It’s assumed that just because the text says he came to redeem a bride that he ONLY came to redeem his bride. That doesn’t follow. It’s as bogus as inferring that because Paul said that Jesus died for him in Galatians, therefore he ONLY died for Paul. Or, it’s just like saying that because God loves his elect, he therefore ONLY loves his elect. The truth of the matter is that Christ died for all, but ESPECIALLY for his elect, just as it’s the case that God loves all but ESPECIALLY his elect.

    You said:
    “-PR affirms in salvation by ‘nothing but the blood’. That is, if Christ died for Judas in the exact same manner as He did for Peter, what differs in that Judas is cursed and Peter is redeemed? Certainly nothing but the blood causes them to differ.”

    Salvation by “nothing but the blood”? So belief in the blood is not crucial and required for “salvation”? I’ve never head of justification or salvation apart from faith. Where’s that in the bible? The difference between Judas and Peter was in the fact that one spurned the sufficient savior and the other did not, by the grace of God. There is no difference “in the blood” in the sense that his infinite sacrifice can be proportionately measured. Hodge, again, is helpful here:

    “…all mankind were placed under the same constitution or covenant. What was demanded for the salvation of one was demanded for the salvation of all. Every man is required to satisfy the demands of the law. No man is required to do either more or less. If those demands are satisfied by a representative or substitute, his work is equally available for all. The secret purpose of God in providing such a substitute for man, has nothing to do with the nature of his work, or with its appropriateness.

    In other words, the nature of what Christ did on the cross is indivisible. It wholly satisifies the claims of the law against the whole human race. The distinction between the elect and the non-elect is not in the blood, but in the intent in Christ shedding his blood. There is a special and general intent. It’s not a case of EITHER the special OR the general intent. The particularity is in the special decree and the application, not in the blood sacrifice itself.

    If there’s absolutely nothing in the blood for Judas (or any other non-elect person for that matter) to save him, then why did Jesus say to him at the Table that “this is the cup of my blood that was shed for you?” Also, isn’t it the case that Jesus’ blood was sufficient for Judas? If it was sufficient to save Judas, then it must have been intended to be sufficient for Judas since God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. The blood does not make men to differ, but the grace of God that effects the salvation of the elect alone.

    You said:
    “-PR says that Jesus has a special, intimate love towards those whom He was entrusted by the Father to save. This sacrificial love was evidenced in His atoning death, and is not evidenced in the creatures who will spend eternity under everlasting punishment.”

    I agree that Jesus has a “special, intimate love towards those whom he was entrusted by the Father to save.” I also agree that His sacrificial death is a manifestation of that special love, but not to the exclusion of a general love for all. Of course it’s not the case that those in hell were loved as the elect are loved, but that doesn’t negate the fact that Christ suffered sufficiently for all, does it? You’re arguments seem to presuppose even a limited sufficiency, not just a limited efficacy.

    Even Calvin acknowledged that Christ suffered to save those who perish:

    “3. Now if we demanded here, whether it be not lawful to be conversant with the wicked and froward to win them: I answer, yes, verily, until a man find them to be past remedy. For to give over a man at the first dash when he has done amiss, or when he is as it were in the highway to destruction: is a furthering of the destruction of the wretched soul that was redeemed by the bloodshed of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, Sermon 119, 20:16-20, p., 731.

    “However, St. Paul speaks here expressly of the saints and the faithful, but this does not imply that we should not pray generally for all men. For wretched unbelievers and the ignorant have a great need to be pleaded for with God; behold them on the way to perdition. If we saw a beast at the point of perishing, we would have pity on it. And what shall we do when we see souls in peril, which are so precious before God, as he has shown in that he has ransomed them with the blood of his own Son? If we see then a poor soul going thus to perdition, ought we not to be moved with compassion and kindness, and should we not desire God to apply the remedy.” Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians, Sermon 47, 6:18-19, pp., 684-5.

    “You should have kept silence, says Pighius. It would have been a treacherous and abominable silence by which God’s glory, Christ, and the gospel were betrayed. Is it possible? So God shall be held up as a laughingstock before our eyes, all good religion shall be torn apart, wretched souls redeemed by the blood of Christ shall perish, and it shall be forbidden to speak? …shall the church be plundered by the thieving of the ungodly, shall God’s majesty be stamped under foot, shall Christ be robbed of his kingdom, while we watch and say nothing?” Calvin, The Bondage and Liberation of the Will, p., 19.

    You said:
    “-Unbelievers who reject Christ cannot say with Paul that they have been ‘crucified with Christ’, as in His death having any specific application to them whatsoever.”

    By “unbelievers” I suspect you mean the non-elect. So what if the non-elect cannot say about themselves what Paul said of himself in Galatians 2:20.

    NKJ Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

    Not even the unbelieving elect can say of themselves what Paul says of himself in the passage, yet Christ died for them as well. Only those who can also say “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” can affirm what Paul says of himself. Again, this text has to do with REAL UNION, just as I argued concerning that 1 Cor. 15:22 text. Simon (who admits that he’s less studied than you are on the point) seemed to think I am denying that there are other passages (such as one in Ephesians) that speak of our virtual union with Christ. That’s false. It’s just the case that the passages you are citing concern real union, or those who believe.

  24. Tony Says:

    Nathan said:
    “-The Elect were chosen before the foundation of the world; God’s work of redemption was ‘completed’ before the foundation of the world; Christ was slain before the foundation of the world, which ultimately led to the specific names of the elect being written in the book of life before the foundation of the world: Eph 1:4, Heb 4:3, Rev 13:8. If you’re worried about eternal justification, you’ve got bigger problems than just the ‘L’. If your stuck on Eph 2:3 as if it someone hurts the double-jeopardy position, I would only suggest that a closer look at God’s sovereign control over all the events of life, and how He has chosen to accomplish His redemption within the space of created time –even though His decrees are fixed and determined from before time began.

    “For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” –That is what Christ’s death accomplished, and who it accomplished it for.”

    God’s work of redemption was “completed” before the foundation of the world??? Was his work of creation already completed before the world was created? That would be a serious already/not-yet confusion that results in the eternality of matter. Certainly God’s PLAN of redemption was completed from all eternity, but his work of redemption is ongoing throughout human history. There is redemption accomplished (when Christ died) and redemption applied (when his work is enjoyed by believers). This work is still going on today.

    With respect to Revelation 13:8, there is some question as to the translation. Does the phrase “before the foundation of the world” refer to the lamb that was slain or to the names written? Here are different translations that illustrate the point:

    NAU Revelation 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

    NRS Revelation 13:8 and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.

    Now, whether you take the foundation of the world phrase to refernce the lamb or not (and there is some question there), it’s still the case that the Lamb was not ACTUALLY slain prior to 33 AD, or thereabout. The Godhead had determined that Christ should die in the stead of sinners from all eternity, but he was not actually slain until he shared a human nature and suffered. Incidently, some hyper-Calvinists had so many already/not-yet confusions in their minds that they believed Jesus actually had a human soul prior to his incarnation. This is called Pre-Existerianism. How could Christ actually be slain prior to history if he wasn’t human in some sense? One can see how there’s a tendency to push the not-yet into the already until a thorough distortion of virtual/actual distinction occurs. If you have had disputes with hyper-preterists, you know what I am talking about.

    What I am “worried” about are people’s lives being damaged (as well as a sound interpretation of Scripture) by false systems and logic. Eternal justification is just a symptom of a much largeer problem. How do you think people arrive at the view of EJ? They press commercial views or arguments concerning Christ’s death to it’s logical conclusion. They say that “Christ saved all those he came to save when he died.” You’ve used similar language. The term “saved” refers to justification or conversion in scripture, or to what follows therefrom (sanctification and glorification). Anyone who speaks of people being “saved” prior to thier existence is opening the door to sheer nonsense that damages the church, and these already/not-yet confusions spread like gangrene.

    Why bring up the issue of God’s sovereign control over the events of life and how He has chosen to accomplish his redemption, and how His decrees are fixed and determined before time began? I thought you said you have read my posts. Are you under the false impression that I deny such things? It’s as if you think you’re speaking with an Arminian. I am a classical Calvinist, if you can’t tell already.

    You go on to cite Hebrews 10:14:

    NKJ Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

    Again, who are those being sanctified and made perfect? It’s not the elect as such, but the elect who have believed. It’s as if you’re reading it as saying that His death, intrinsically considered, perfects all of the elect forever prior to their existence, or even prior to their believing. That’s not what the text is saying.

    In closing, here’s a quote by James Ussher that I think is so fitting for those seeking to persuade non-Calvinists:

    “Neither is there hope that the Arminians will be drawn to acknowledge the error of their position, as long as they are persuaded the contrary opinion cannot be maintained without admitting that an untruth must be believed, even by the commandment of him that is God of truth, and by the direction of that word, which is the word of truth.” James Ussher

    In your case, Nathan, it’s the untruth that Christ did not come to die for the salvation of all mankind. You’ve gone considerbly higher than scripture and considerbly higher than Calvin in your sovereignty views. This only serves to harden and cause overreactions on the other side of the theological fence. Arminianism is historically a reaction to high Calvinism. You will not like this accusation, but there’s a sense in which you’re helping to create the very thing you’re fighting against.


  25. The issue of PR is an issue about the nature of the atonement not the extent. And the nature in question is whether or not the atonement was substitutionary or not. Was Christ dying for Pharaoh who was already in Hell or was He dying for those in Abraham’s bosom? Was Jesus actually a substitute or just a generic sacrifice?

    C.H. Spurgeon proclaimed, “Now, mark: when you see Christ going up the Mount of Doom, you see man going there: when you see Christ hurled upon his back, upon the wooden cross, you see the whole company of his elect there; and when you see the nails driven through his blessed hands and feet, it is the whole body of his Church who there, in their substitute, are nailed to the tree. And now the soldiers lift the cross, and dash it down into the socket prepared for it. His bones are every one of them dislocated, and his body is thus torn with agonies which cannot be described. ’Tis manhood suffering there; ’tis the Church suffering there, in the substitute. And when Christ dies, you are to look upon the death of Christ, not as his own dying merely, but as the dying of all those for whom he stood as the scapegoat and the substitute.”
    “It is true, Christ died really himself; it is equally true that he did not die for himself, but died as the substitute, in the room, place, and stead of all believers. When you die you will die for yourselves; when Christ died, he died for you, if you be a believer in him. When you pass through the gates of the grave, you go there solitary and alone; you are not the representative of a body of men, but you pass through the gates of death as an individual; but, remember, when Christ went through the sufferings of death, he was the representative Head of all his people.”
    “Here is the glory of the matter: it was as a substitute for sin that he did actually and literally suffer punishment for the sin of all his elect.”
    [Spurgeon, C. H.—The Death of Christ: Spurgeon’s Sermons: Volume 4: #173]

    A denial of PR is a denial of the substitutionary nature of the atonement and the sovereignty and wisdom of God’s election.

    As Irving Kristol once said, “When we lack the will to see things as they really are there is nothing more mysterious than the obvious.”

  26. Greg Gibson Says:

    First of all, I believe limited atonement is true. Second, it wasn’t
    part of the apostles’ gospel proclamation in Acts.

    Why does it matter? Because ministries who preach a gospel to
    the lost, with advanced, systematic theology, see few
    conversions. But, ministries that preach the apostles “simple”
    gospel in Acts, see more conversions, just like the apostles.

    Jon Hendryx of Monergism.com said it well…

    “Here is another area that these two systems share in common.
    Both Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism make the extent of the
    atonement a part of all gospel presentations to the lost.
    Hypercalvinists make sure that the unbeliever understands all of
    the theological implications of limited atonement before they can
    be saved. The Arminian, on the other hand, erroneously teaches
    that Christ’s died for all men…”
    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/HyperArmin.html

    Dr. C. Matthew McMahon, a 5-point Calvinist, agrees…

    What the Hyper-Calvinist is really saying is this: Hyper-Calvinism
    believes that knowledge of the extent of the atonement is a
    prerequisite for faith in the work of Christ.
    http://www.apuritansmind.com/PuritanWorship/McMahonABriefCritiqueOfHyper-Calvinism.htm

    1. Arminian’s gospel preaching: “Christ died for you.”
    2. Hyper-Calvinist’s gospel preaching: “Christ died for the elect.”
    3. The apostles’ gospel preaching in Acts: “Christ died.”

    Examples of the Apostles Gospel Preaching of the Cross:
    “Him…you…have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:23)
    “and killed the Prince of life” (Acts 3:14)
    “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified” (Acts 4:10)
    Etc.

    “The Importance of the Doctrine of Limited Atonement to Gospel Proclamation”

    I think the author of this one really needs to rethink his title,
    depending on which definition of “gospel” he’s using. If he means
    the “comprehensive gospel” (Mark 1:1), then he’s right. But, if he
    mean the evangelistic gospel (Acts and 1 Cor. 15:1-4), then he’s
    wrong.

    In the book of Acts, in the reports of the apostles 49 gospel
    proclamations, they never once preached limited atonement.
    http://www.loveintruth.com/amf-docs/gpia-appendix.htm

    “…rather, the purpose of Christ on the Cross– His work
    specifically on behalf of those previously chosen to be His
    people–is clearly proclaimed and is foundational to a right
    understanding of the Gospel. If this pillar of the biblical
    foundation is removed, then the majestic Gospel of Grace
    will eventually crumble.”
    http://strangebaptistfire.com/2007/02/07/ernest-reisinger-on-the-importance-of-the-doctrine-of-limited-atonement-to-gospel-proclamation-part-1/#comments

    Not so! Peter preached predestination in Acts 2:23, not limited
    atonement. Beware of “logicizing” non-explicit implications into
    fundamentals of the faith.

    I’m not saying that it’s wrong to preach limited atonement or
    any other Bible truth with the gospel. I’m just saying, beware
    of making it a “foundation.”

    Plus, if limited atonement is a “foundation of the gospel,” then
    Arminians deny a foundation of the gospel, and thus can’t be
    saved!

    In fact, (and this may surprise you) but the apostles never taught
    the truth of limited atonement explicitly. Like the Trinity, limited
    atonement is true from implicit logic, not explicit exegesis. Try as
    you will, but you’ll never find one verse of Scripture stating that
    Christ died only for one set of people, or that He didn’t die for
    another set of people.

    Again, Dr. McMahon observes rightly…

    But never do we find Jesus preaching on the hillside His limited
    atonement for some men in any explicit manner. He never says,
    “I only died for the elect.”…Is it a prerequisite for faith in Christ?
    Here I must give a resounding, NO! Understanding the theological
    ramifications of the Limited Atonement of Jesus Christ was not the
    prerequisite for faith in the thief on the cross, the jailer, the Jews
    listening at Pentecost, and millions of other Christians since their
    time. Faith and belief in the work of Christ is always a prerequisite
    for salvation, but that is not the same thing as preaching the
    Limited Atonement of Christ to the lost.
    http://www.apuritansmind.com/PuritanWorship/McMahonABriefCritiqueOfHyper-Calvinism.htm

    So, how can a truth the apostles only implied, never stated, be
    a foundation to the gospel? This would require ignorant sinners
    to understand logic before they could be saved.

    Brothers, if we want to see the apostles results, then we must
    reclaim the apostles’ gospel to the lost: Christ lived, died, rose,
    reigns, and is coming again.

    Greg Gibson
    http://www.JesusSaidFollowMe.org

  27. Nathan White Says:

    Tony,

    You said many things that I would like to respond to, but there is way more material above than I have time to address. I will but post a few things in reply.

    In my last post, I briefly stated a few points of ‘PR’ to better understand where we differ. I was not assuming your position nor defending mine, but simply stating my position for clarification. This will explain why a good part of your reply was aimed at a straw man. Also, I was not attacking you when I made the comment about you loving ‘to jump’ on Owen’s double-jeopardy advocates. I only meant to communicate that it seems as though you have an axe to grind given how vocal you are on this one issue.
    And by the way, it occurred to me that Gene Cook must have been referring to you when on The Narrow Mind last week, as he made a comment about ‘Tony’ and Amyraldians. I see Jason has commented above as well. But I would encourage you to call into the show this Thursday when they deal with your arguments. For others reading this, go to unchainedradio.com for details.

    Now, just a few things:

    You said:

    “I would, however, say that the double jeopardy argument logically entails eternal justification. I could turn Owen’s own dilemma around to that end. Why aren’t the elect justified when Christ died? You will tell me that it’s due to their unbelief. I will ask, “but did not Christ die for that unbelief?” etc.

    Eternal justification seems to be the heart of your concern. But Owen’s view doesn’t lead to eternal justification any more than the doctrine of unconditional election leads to eternal justification. Your position is rooted in a confusion of the relationship between redemption accomplished and redemption applied (hey, someone should write a book with that title).
    God’s purposes in redemption were decreed before the world was made. Once it was decreed, it is set and stone, and as good as accomplished. Obviously, we see this in the fact that Abraham was justified before the cross, as he didn’t have to wait until 33ad to enter God’s presence. My point being, God has the freedom to work as He pleases within the space and time boundaries He has created for man. I assume that you would agree that Abraham and the other OT saints were justified at the time of their faith, before 33ad, and subsequently went to be with the Lord at their death? Why would you allow God to work ‘outside’ of our concept of time in regards to justifying OT believers (since Christ had yet to die) and yet you will not allow Him to work ‘outside’ of time in declaring the elect ‘children of wrath’ before saving faith?

    No, the elect were not eternally justified, but that does not mean that Christ did not fully atone for every single one of our sins on the cross (even unbelief). Faith must be planted within us, and the Holy Spirit must complete the work at regeneration. Just as God justified OT believers on the basis of Christ’s death before it actually took place here on earth, He likewise reserves the right to declare all unbelievers ‘children of wrath’ before the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them. Christ’s death perfected all whom He was given from the Father, but this perfection is still bound by the time factors of A), OT believers long dead were perfected by it even though they received the benefits of His death before it actually happened, B) most of His elect were yet to be born, and C) the righteousness of Christ made possible only through faith still must be granted to those who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

    You said: It’s not my position that the salvation of men is “merely” possible and is just dependent on their free will choice (the non-Calvinist view). That argument won’t work against my classical Calvinistic/Augustinian position. Of course it’s the case that Christ came with the special intent to save the elect, but he also came for the salvation of the world. Scripture is “crystal clear” on that. If the salvation of the non-elect is not possible in any sense, then we run into a denial of the well-meant gospel offer..

    Have you responded to claims that you are inconsistent? If so, I haven’t seen them, for your inconsistencies seem fairly clear to me, though I’m sure you’ve addressed them elsewhere. For example, in saying that ‘If the salvation of the non-elect is not possible in any sense, then we run into a denial of the well-meant gospel offer’, must you not deny unconditional election and faith as a free gift from God? How can there be a ‘well-meant’ offer if God must elect and grant faith in order for that to even be a possibility?

    You said: It’s not my view that Christ’s death is a failure any more than God’s preceptive will is a failure when it does not come to pass.

    This is a non-sequitur. A declaration of God’s will given to sinful men to obey is not exactly the same as Christ interceding on behalf of a people who He knows will not believe and who will not be granted belief. The thought that Christ interceded and *attempted* to justify those whom the Father ‘prepared for destruction’ is certainly baffling to rational, biblical thought.

    You said: NKJ Hebrews 10:14 ‘For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.’ Again, who are those being sanctified and made perfect? It’s not the elect as such, but the elect who have believed. It’s as if you’re reading it as saying that His death, intrinsically considered, perfects all of the elect forever prior to their existence, or even prior to their believing. That’s not what the text is saying.”

    No, I am not affirming the position you state here. I quote this verse to show a few things:

    A) He PERFECTED forever. In His work as High Priest and Mediator of the new covenant, He perfects. You, however, said above that ‘Christ death by itself saves no one’. What you miss here is the fact that yes, Christ in His death perfected those whom He died for. No, that does not mean that this perfection is eternal and universal, but it does mean that all whom He died for have been or will be ‘perfected forever’. That is what He accomplishes. Your position, however, in that Christ’s death didn’t actually save anyone and that Christ’s death is universal in its application to all men, is in direct contradiction to the fact that Christ ‘perfected’.

    B)Heb 10:14 is simply an extension of a previous thought which says:“and every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

    Notice something here, in verse 12 it says that Christ offered ‘a single sacrifice for sins’, and then verse 14 uses the same language in ‘a single offering’. Thus, it is clear that the sacrifice ‘for sins’ in verse 12 is the same ‘single offering’ in verse 14, and verse 14 shows us that this ‘offering’ perfects! Therefore, your ‘general’ offering for the ‘sins of the whole world’ is clearly in error as Christ’s offering for sin is of perfecting power. What you must do is say that the ‘sacrifice’ in verse 12 is something different than the ‘offering’ in verse 14, which is clearly faulty exegesis.

    C)Heb 9:11-12 is an extension of this thought– “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

    Praise God! Christ’s death secured an eternal redemption! It does save! It does perfect! It is special in that it is a momentous testimony to God’s intimate and lavished love for His elect.

  28. Greg Gibson Says:

    P.S.

    Since church audiences today are often a mixture of believers
    and unbelievers, sometimes it’s hard to address them separately
    with your preaching. So, to clarify the issue, please apply my
    above post to evangelizing the lost in private, not preaching to a
    mixed audience in church. Pretend you’re evangelizing people in
    their homes on workplace.

    Would you tell them limited atonement, or just the fact that Christ died?


  29. Greg said, “…ministries that preach the apostles “simple”
    gospel in Acts, see more conversions, just like the apostles.”

    This statement, Greg, seems to be the driving motivation of your comments. Yet, this assertion is first of all anecdotal and thus faulty as a foundation for what should and should not be preached. Secondly, it is absolutely false. Third, it assumes that making the Gospel “simple” has a salvific effect upon the lost. Edwards and Spurgeon and Piper and MacArthur and Whitfield all prove that preaching the whole counsel of God’s Word never hindered the Evangel.

    I addressed this issue with you in another venue so you added to your comments here the following: “…please apply my
    above post to evangelizing the lost in private, not preaching to a
    mixed audience in church.” Well, friend that still doesn’t make your assertions true. Most Calvinists do not try to teach “PR” or many other details of systematic theology when witnessing privately. But most all of us who witness on a regular basis find that many who are investigating our faith asks questions that lead to discussions about issues like “PR.” And when such discussions reach this point I do not believe we should cower from proclaiming the truth.

    In such situations I have seen some get saved and some not. The question you are causing us to ask is “Did our discussions of “PR” hinder their chances for getting saved or not?” I contend that “His sheep hear His voice.” God’s truth sets some men free and condemns others. I say be truthful and trust God to do whatsoever He has desired. I think we can neither keep any of the elect from being saved or save any of the non-elect with “simpler” gospels.

    Trust the Evangel.

  30. Simon Says:

    A lot has happened here since I last posted, and to be honest, I don’t think I can respond to everything that has been addressed to me. But within the next few days I’ll try my best to answer as much as I can.

    In comment #19, David Ponter brought up Eph 2:3, and asked whether I believe that the “wrath of God that lies upon the rest [is] mere threatenability, or actual punishing wrath?”

    My understanding of Eph 2:3 is that by nature we are sinners. As humans fallen in Adam, we were all born in sin, and since God is holy and just this sin must be punished by Him. This helps to explain the term “children of wrath”. Paul is saying that the elect (“we” in Eph 2:3) are no longer children of wrath once the benefits of Christ’s death are applied to them. (Would you agree with that Robert?) I would also say that the nonelect are always children of wrath because Christ never died for their sins; He neither accomplished nor applied redemption for them.

    As for the “force of the verse” that PR-ists are supposedly avoiding, consider the biblical truth that “unless one believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, he will spend an eternity in Hell”. Is this warning of Hell for elect and nonelect alike? Certainly. Will any of the elect spend an eternity in Hell under the “actual punishing wrath” of God? Certainly not. I think you are trying to impale the PR-ists on the horns of an already/not yet dilemma. I believe that God determined from eternity past the elect to everlasting life. That does not mean God can never threaten us with Hell. Neither does it imply eternal justification.

    Simon


  31. Greg:

    I think some of your objections are due to us using the term “foundation” differently. I was thinking that “L” was a foundation of the Gospel in a similar way as a particular block of stone could be important to the foundation of a house. Now, we all here believe in the free offer of the Gospel, so in our illustration, to proclaim the Gospel is kind of like trying to give away a building. (For anyone worried that this analogy would destroy the Gospel call to repentance, I may add, that if someone accepts the building, then they must dedicate their lives to serving the Master of the building, or something like that.) Anyway, if you’re trying to give away a building, you would tell the prospective owner some of the most important features of the building. (And here’s the most relevant part of the analogy): You wouldn’t necessarily have to describe every stone of the foundation, nor would you have to dig down and show the prospective owner every stone. On the other hand, if the person you were speaking to asked you about the stones of the foundation, you should be able to give an account of them, and if any of the stones of the foundation were actually taken away from the building, then the building would begin to crumble. Likewise, if I encounter someone dying on the street and he asks me, in his last minute of life, how his soul can be saved, I’m probably not going to take the time to explain the foundation stone of “L” to him in any detail other than perhaps saying, “if you trust in Christ, then you can be sure that You are one of His people; He has paid the penalty for all your sins and you will be accepted by God the Father on His behalf,” at the end of the conversation. (I wouldn’t necessarily mention “L” in any brief evangelistic encounter other than in this cursory way.) On the other hand, when I have a co-worker to whom I’m explaining the Gospel, and one of his objections is, “I can’t believe that God would just forgive peoples’ sins without their doing good works, because I knew of a guy in jail who had killed people and shortly before he died he said he trusted in Jesus and became a Christian- it’s not fair that he shouldn’t suffer for his sins,” (this really happened), my explanation to him includes (though not using these terms) an explanation of the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, which necessarily includes the mention of the “L.” In this regard, I have no idea how I would answer my co-worker if I believed in general atonement. If I couldn’t confidently say, “the murder’s sins will either be fully punished by God on the Day of Judgment, or they have been fully punished by God on the Cross,” because this explanation would make no sense if each and every individual ever to live has had his sins fully punished on the Cross. In other words, in light of a specific question, without the foundation stone of “L,” you could see how my Gospel presentation would begin to crumble.

    Hope this helps.

    In Christ,
    -Andrew


  32. BTW- I’m such a slow typist, that last comment took me about 30 minutes to publish, so I hope y’all see why I’m not responding to more of these.

  33. David Ponter Says:

    G’day Simon

    Simon says:

    My understanding of Eph 2:3 is that by nature we are sinners. As humans fallen in Adam, we were all born in sin, and since God is holy and just this sin must be punished by Him. This helps to explain the term “children of wrath”. Paul is saying that the elect (”we” in Eph 2:3) are no longer children of wrath once the benefits of Christ’s death are applied to them. (Would you agree with that Robert?) I would also say that the non-elect are always children of wrath because Christ never died for their sins; He neither accomplished nor applied redemption for them.

    David says: You send out mixed signals here. You start off by saying Paul means in Eph 2:3 that by nature we are sinners. Then you close off by saying the non-elect are always children of wrath.

    There about 2 strategies modern high Calvinists may adopt to avoid the problem that God does actually punish the living non-believing elect. One is to say Paul only means we are liable to threats of punishment. Another is to try and say Paul meant to say we were angry children, like the rest are.

    The first strategy is untenable given the very point Paul was trying to make. We were, even as the rest are. Whatever the rest are, determines what were. Right? Thats the most natural reading of Paul. Paul’s point is that whatever you predicate regarding the wrath of God to the rest, you must likewise predicate to us as we once were.

    Its impossible to reduce the wrath of God upon the rest as mere liability to threats. So that is not one predication one can intelligently table. For Paul is setting out a certain sameness, albeit former sameness in the case of the believer.

    The other “angry children” option is just as untenable. You can modify my phrase there, sinners by nature, children full of wrath, whatever. But that is not sustainable because here we have idiomatic language. I would encourage folk to scope out some modern critical commentaries, like Bruce, or the Word Biblical Commentary Series. They will document for you the nature of the idiomatic force and also give a brief outline of what being subject to temporal wrath meant for Paul.

    So back to you Simon, Paul is saying more than that we were once sinners by nature. He is saying we were subject to discipline, to punishment, even as the rest are.

    What is ironic here is that this always was the major confessional position and the position of the best of the Reformed.

    Thus, here we have a solid counter-factual to your tabled double jeopardy-payment argument Simon. Its just one counter argument for sure, but it is one that works. For you to avoid its force, you have to deny the intuitive meaning of Eph 2:3. I am not trying to insult you, its just strikes me as the truth of the matter.

    Simon says: As for the “force of the verse” that PR-ists are supposedly avoiding…

    David says: Well to be clear here, I didnt actually say that.

    I said this: “I think the point is, many today are avoiding the force of the passage. The end result of Simon’s limited input is that the living unbelieving elect were never actually objects of actual punishment. This seems contrary to Dort, the WCF and classic Reformed theology.”

    David says, please be more careful to not put my words into a mischaracterised light. I am sure there are many limited expiation folk out there who really do believe that the living unbelieving elect are punished by God with temporal punishments.

    Simon says:

    …consider the biblical truth that “unless one believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, he will spend an eternity in Hell”. Is this warning of Hell for elect and non-elect alike? Certainly. Will any of the elect spend an eternity in Hell under the “actual punishing wrath” of God? Certainly not. I think you are trying to impale the PR-ists on the horns of an already/not yet dilemma.

    David: So basically you just dont want to admit that Paul’s point is that the elect were actually subject to punishment as the rest are?

    If thats its Simon, there is not much more I can say, other than, scope out some good critical commentaries. And this: if your reading is right, then it is never true, never will be true, that the elect were once children of wrath even as the rest are. The rest in this life are objects of divine wrath Rom 1:18, John 3:36.

    I would caution you tho, when any doctrine has to go about denying the prima facie evidential value of critical texts, red flags should go up.

    Simon says: I believe that God determined from eternity past the elect to everlasting life. That does not mean God can never threaten us with Hell. Neither does it imply eternal justification.

    David says: I dont know what to say about that. I agree with the first, the second and the third there. But nonetheless, Paul says the unbelieving living elect were objects of punishment in this life, before conversion. We know from Paul that upon conversion, the believer is transferred from the sphere of divine wrath, to the sphere of grace, Roms 8:1, for example.

    So in the end, some of us will never find your argument convincing because we are not prepared to negate, what seems to us, to be the obvious point in Eph 2:3. No Arminian, I might add, should ever be convinced by your claims either for this reason.

    Thats it from me.

    Take care,
    David

  34. David Ponter Says:

    Im a streams of consciousness writer most of the time.

    A small correction:

    The first strategy is untenable given the very point Paul was trying to make. We were, even as the rest are. Whatever the rest are, determines what we were. Right?

    DavidP

  35. Simon Says:

    David,

    I don’t think I have the appetite that you do to write volumes on Eph 2:3. I thought I laid out my position, but you are obviously dissatisfied and have repeated some of your questions. So I’ll try again.

    I said:
    My understanding of Eph 2:3 is that by nature we are sinners. As humans fallen in Adam, we were all born in sin, and since God is holy and just this sin must be punished by Him. This helps to explain the term “children of wrath”. Paul is saying that the elect (“we” in Eph 2:3) are no longer children of wrath once the benefits of Christ’s death are applied to them. (Would you agree with that Robert? [Sorry, I meant David]) I would also say that the non-elect are always children of wrath because Christ never died for their sins; He neither accomplished nor applied redemption for them.

    David replied:
    You send out mixed signals here. You start off by saying Paul means in Eph 2:3 that by nature we are sinners. Then you close off by saying the non-elect are always children of wrath.

    Sorry, but I am not seeing the mixed signals here. Do you disagree with these two statements? Are they inconsistent?

    David said:
    There about 2 strategies modern high Calvinists may adopt to avoid the problem that God does actually punish the living non-believing elect. One is to say Paul only means we are liable to threats of punishment. Another is to try and say Paul meant to say we were angry children, like the rest are.

    Passing over the use of the false and pejorative “modern high Calvinist” label, I do not understand where your notion of “angry children” came from. I am saying we were sinners, born in sin, as the rest are. And our sins incur the wrath of God, as do the sins of the rest.

    David said (inserting his correction from post #34):
    The first strategy is untenable given the very point Paul was trying to make. We were, even as the rest are. Whatever the rest are, determines what we were. Right? Thats the most natural reading of Paul. Paul’s point is that whatever you predicate regarding the wrath of God to the rest, you must likewise predicate to us as we once were.

    I’ll say it again. The sins of the elect incur the wrath of God… as do the sins of the nonelect.

    David said:
    Its impossible to reduce the wrath of God upon the rest as mere liability to threats. So that is not one predication one can intelligently table. For Paul is setting out a certain sameness, albeit former sameness in the case of the believer.

    The other “angry children” option is just as untenable. You can modify my phrase there, sinners by nature, children full of wrath, whatever. But that is not sustainable because here we have idiomatic language. I would encourage folk to scope out some modern critical commentaries, like Bruce, or the Word Biblical Commentary Series. They will document for you the nature of the idiomatic force and also give a brief outline of what being subject to temporal wrath meant for Paul.

    So back to you Simon, Paul is saying more than that we were once sinners by nature. He is saying we were subject to discipline, to punishment, even as the rest are.

    We were subject to wrath because all sin must be—and actually is—punished by God, regardless of whether it was committed by an elect person or a nonelect person. (Forgive me if I’m sounding like a broken record.)

    David said:
    What is ironic here is that this always was the major confessional position and the position of the best of the Reformed.

    “best of the Reformed” &lt chuckle &gt
    Would these “best of the Reformed” all agree with you on particular redemption? Who are these men anyway? (You are not going to omit the good doctor are you? 🙂
    It is interesting that you and Tony have repeatedly asserted that a number of major Reformed writers/confessions are against me.

    Are they against me on PR? No; in fact your position on PR is a minority position among the Reformed. Where are the Reformed confessions that support general redemption?

    Are they against me on the elect and nonelect alike being subject to wrath? If they are, why do so few of them hold to your position of general redemption? Perhaps you need to deal with their understanding of God’s wrath if it is different from mine. I do not see what you gain by shifting the focus from my views to those of the “best of the Reformed”.
    (Personally I believe you are on much weaker ground than I am, confessionally and historically, but my intention was to argue that “PR is biblical” rather than “PR is Reformed”, so I chose not to bring it up.)

    David said:
    Thus, here we have a solid counter-factual to your tabled double jeopardy-payment argument Simon. Its just one counter argument for sure, but it is one that works. For you to avoid its force, you have to deny the intuitive meaning of Eph 2:3. I am not trying to insult you, its just strikes me as the truth of the matter.

    I don’t see your “solid counter-factual” at all. Unless I’m missing something, you have not even tried to present an argument that your exegesis of Eph 2:3 necessarily negates PR.

    I said: As for the “force of the verse” that PR-ists are supposedly avoiding…

    David replied
    Well to be clear here, I didnt actually say that.
    I said this: “I think the point is, many today are avoiding the force of the passage. The end result of Simon.s limited input is that the living unbelieving elect were never actually objects of actual punishment. This seems contrary to Dort, the WCF and classic Reformed theology.”

    and then said
    please be more careful to not put my words into a mischaracterised light. I am sure there are many limited expiation folk out there who really do believe that the living unbelieving elect are punished by God with temporal punishments.

    I don’t see how I misrepresented you. Are you not referring (at least) to PR-ists, even if you’re not referring to all PR-ists? Having said that, do you not claim that the “temporal punishment PR-ists”, to be consistent, actually have to believe in eternal justification? Since I think you would agree that eternal justification is contrary to Dort, the WCF and classic Reformed theology, then I think you are in effect aiming your criticisms at all PR folk.

    I said:
    Consider the biblical truth that unless one believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, he will spend an eternity in Hell. Is this warning of Hell for elect and non-elect alike? Certainly. Will any of the elect spend an eternity in Hell under the “actual punishing wrath” of God? Certainly not. I think you are trying to impale the PR-ists on the horns of an already/not yet dilemma.

    David:
    So basically you just dont want to admit that Paul’s point is that the elect were actually subject to punishment as the rest are?

    I will admit everything Paul admits. I have already affirmed over and over again that the elect are children of wrath, and I explained how this could be understood in the same sense that the nonelect are children of wrath. Do you agree with my statement that the elect do not spend an eternity in Hell under the “actual punishing wrath” of God? If so, with what do you disagree?

    Now David, I want to you to spell out precisely what your understanding of Eph 2:3 is, and why it must imply general redemption.
    If you cannot establish this implication, then what difference does my faulty (in your view) interpretation of Eph 2:3 make? Also, please explain precisely what you mean by “God does actually punish the living non-believing elect”, if you believe that is true. I admit fault for letting you equivocate on this for so long.

    I said:
    I believe that God determined from eternity past the elect to everlasting life. That does not mean God can never threaten us with Hell. Neither does it imply eternal justification.

    David replied:
    I dont know what to say about that. I agree with the first, the second and the third there. But nonetheless, Paul says the unbelieving living elect were objects of punishment in this life, before conversion. We know from Paul that upon conversion, the believer is transferred from the sphere of divine wrath, to the sphere of grace, Roms 8:1, for example.

    If God decreed in eternity past the elect to everlasting life, then can you explain the biblical threatenings of Hell for them? Were they in danger of Hell? How so?

    David said:
    So in the end, some of us will never find your argument convincing because we are not prepared to negate, what seems to us, to be the obvious point in Eph 2:3. No Arminian, I might add, should ever be convinced by your claims either for this reason.

    I find that it is folks like yourself and Tony who bring this up, not rank Arminians. If you don’t find my arguments convincing, what about these of the others PR-ists, including those who are the “best of the Reformed”? I don’t think us PR-ists are going to find your argument from Eph 2:3 convincing because there are far too many biblical evidences for PR, and we fail to see why your argument should overturn them.

    With all due respect David, I don’t think you are trying to understand what I am writing. Of course you may disagree with it, but I do not think my stated interpretation of Eph 2:3 is overly complicated, and you seem like an intelligent guy. Perhaps the problem is that it doesn’t fit into one of your two “modern high Calvinist understandings”?

    As I asked a while ago, how do you reply to Owen, who said if general redemption is true, why then are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins?

    Simon

  36. David Ponter Says:

    G’day Simon,

    Ill cut this back to bare bones… [well I tried…]

    David,

    Simon says: And our sins incur the wrath of God, as do the sins of the rest.

    David says: I still am not sure what you mean here. Incur can be just another word for bare liability. I can incur wrath, that is be liable to wrath, and yet not actually be a recipient of wrath. You’ll have to forgive me if I would like some clarity there.

    Simon says:
    I’ll say it again. The sins of the elect incur the wrath of God… as do the sins of the nonelect.

    Dictionary.com:

    1. to come into or acquire (some consequence, usually undesirable or injurious): to incur a huge number of debts.
    2. to become liable or subject to through one’s own action; bring or take upon oneself: to incur his displeasure.

    Simon says: We were subject to wrath because all sin must be—and actually is—punished by God, regardless of whether it was committed by an elect person or a nonelect person. (Forgive me if I’m sounding like a broken record.)

    David says: so its settled? … well… yeah you say all that, putting on my analytical cap, I might believe that no elect is every actually punished, and still I could affirm what you just say there.

    But Ill assume, until you state otherwise, that you do mean to say that the living unbelieving elect are actually recipients of the punishing wrath of God, before conversion. With that assumption: The double jeopardy/payment argument you used earlier does not work. God can punish sin twice. My sin, its guilt, as an unbelieving elect incurred punishment in this life, and yet that same sin, its guilt, was punished in Christ.

    Simon says: “best of the Reformed” Would these “best of the Reformed” all agree with you on particular redemption? Who are these men anyway? (You are not going to omit the good doctor are you?

    David says: Whats that about, sarcasm?

    Simon says: It is interesting that you and Tony have repeatedly asserted that a number of major Reformed writers/confessions are against me.

    David: On the issue of wrath yes. But lets be clear here. I said that in the context of you apparently saying that the import of the living unbelieving elect are under the wrath of God, only insofar as they are subject to threats of punishment, then yes, then critical confessions are against you, as they go further than that.

    Simon says: Are they against me on PR? No; in fact your position on PR is a minority position among the Reformed. Where are the Reformed confessions that support general redemption?

    David: Did I say our position was the majority position? No. You need to be focused on what you are attacking here, Simon.

    David: well I was going to cut this down… but

    Simon: Are they against me on the elect and nonelect alike being subject to wrath? If they are, why do so few of them hold to your position of general redemption?

    David: What am I supposed to say to that? It seems to assume that I think that cos the confessions speak of the living unbelieving elect are being subject to mere than threats alone, but actual objects of punishment, I should be expect that they likewise hold to my position on the expiation? I can see now how you have misunderstood the nature and intent of my criticism.

    Simon says: Perhaps you need to deal with their understanding of God’s wrath if it is different from mine. I do not see what you gain by shifting the focus from my views to those of the “best of the Reformed”.
    (Personally I believe you are on much weaker ground than I am, confessionally and historically, but my intention was to argue that “PR is biblical” rather than “PR is Reformed”, so I chose not to bring it up.)

    David: My point is, the best of the Reformed are able to say that the living unbelieving elect are subject to the punishing wrath of God. You, however, seemed to hedge at this. There is no need to hedge.

    Simon says: I don’t see your “solid counter-factual” at all. Unless I’m missing something, you have not even tried to present an argument that your exegesis of Eph 2:3 necessarily negates PR.

    David: It does seem to me that you have missed my point. I never said that accepting that the living unbelieving elect are under the punishing of God somehow negates particular redemption. Where did you get that from?

    You made the claim, at least once “If Jesus was the propitiation for every human who ever lived, can you please explain why some are in Hell?”

    And later you said this:

    “I don’t think I understand your answer, although you refer to the sins of unbelief and disobedience, so let me ask you about that. Would you not say that Christ died for the sins of unbelief and disobedience for every person who ever lived, including those in the desert, elect or not? If so, is God going to judge and punish those sins again?”

    David says: the last there carries the force of a rhetorical question. It supposes, rhetorically, that God cannot punish the guilt of sin twice.

    Need I go on? The point is, its not true. There is at least one example where God does punish the same guilt of sin twice. Thus your original objection against an unlimited reading of 1 Jn 2:2 (and 2 Pet 2:1) does not stand examination. Your counter to Mike way back up there fails. You are back at square one, in terms of the argument.

    Delete some stuff cos I think its obvious what I meant. But now I know why you said what you said.

    Simon says: Having said that, do you not claim that the “temporal punishment PR-ists”, to be consistent, actually have to believe in eternal justification? Since I think you would agree that eternal justification is contrary to Dort, the WCF and classic Reformed theology, then I think you are in effect aiming your criticisms at all PR folk.

    David says: Why should I say that? Why should I insist that anyone who holds to particular redemption must hold to eternal justification? I’ve never made such an assertion or implication. And you see how you insert “all” before “PR folk.” It looks like you want to allege certain claims coming from me, when I’ve never made such claims.

    Simon says: I will admit everything Paul admits. I have already affirmed over and over again that the elect are children of wrath, and I explained how this could be understood in the same sense that the nonelect are children of wrath. Do you agree with my statement that the elect do not spend an eternity in Hell under the “actual punishing wrath” of God? If so, with what do you disagree?

    David says: I agree the elect never spend any time in hell. But at the same time, I affirm that the living unbelieving elect are actually punished in life for their sins.

    Simon says: Now David, I want to you to spell out precisely what your understanding of Eph 2:3 is, and why it must imply general redemption.

    David says: I cant oblige because I have never argued that. Stay focused Simon. Focus on what I actually do say, and not on what you think I should or may be saying. 🙂

  37. David Ponter Says:

    Delete…

    Simon says: If God decreed in eternity past the elect to everlasting life, then can you explain the biblical threatenings of Hell for them? Were they in danger of Hell? How so?

    David: Because until such a time as they are not believers, they are subject to, liable to, recipients of divine wrath.

    Simon says: I find that it is folks like yourself and Tony who bring this up, not rank Arminians. If you don’t find my arguments convincing, what about these of the others PR-ists, including those who are the “best of the Reformed”? I don’t think us PR-ists are going to find your argument from Eph 2:3 convincing because there are far too many biblical evidences for PR, and we fail to see why your argument should overturn them.

    David: Again the confusion. I am not sure why you think that my raising Eph 2:3 was proffered to somehow disprove particular redemption. I raised it to challenge your claims way back up there against Mike.

    Simon says: With all due respect David, I don’t think you are trying to understand what I am writing. Of course you may disagree with it, but I do not think my stated interpretation of Eph 2:3 is overly complicated, and you seem like an intelligent guy. Perhaps the problem is that it doesn’t fit into one of your two “modern high Calvinist understandings”?

    David: Thats fine. I now see that it’s the case that you have misunderstood the nature and object of my argument. I hope that is clarified now.

    Simon says: As I asked a while ago, how do you reply to Owen, who said if general redemption is true, why then are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins?

    David: Because Owen’s trilemma argument, which I am sure you are familiar with, is false. Its unsound. The example of divine punishment upon living unbelieving elect is one counter-factual example. But furthermore:
    The trilemma assumes 1 and/or 2 things. It assumes that the expiation functions like a debt payment, and so carries the same sort of remissive efficacy a debt payment carries. Thus, if John owes you $10, my paying you the 10 ipso facto remits the debt. You have to think about this.

    Just about whenever Owen tries to describe the expiation he does so by way of commercial metaphor, not penal. The other day, at the my blog, I posted Packer on the difference between a civil suit and a penal suit. Check it out.

    If you want to talk more about it, feel free. See also Tony’s posts here:

    http://theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com/2005/11/john-davenants-reply-to-double.html

    and here

    http://theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com/2005/09/double-jeopardy.html

    http://theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com/2007/01/clifford-on-owens-triple-choice.html

    I don’t know if Tony has listed Polhils rebuttal to Owen’s trilemma.

    Ill leave #2 for later.

    Hope that helps,
    David

  38. Greg Gibson Says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for the clarification. It sounds like you and I present the same gospel message.

    I think you can see why I was offended at the word “foundation.” It seems to imply L.A. is an essential part of the gospel, and a “fundamental” of the faith. I think you could have worded it much better. And, I still don’t agree with your conclusions here…

    “L.A….is clearly proclaimed and is foundational to a right understanding of the Gospel. If this pillar of the biblical foundation is removed, then the majestic Gospel of Grace will eventually crumble.”

    Greg Gibson
    http://www.JesusSaidFollowMe.org

  39. David Ponter Says:

    It looks like some of my trailing comments got truncated. Ill try and post it tomorrow. My saved copy is at work.

    Thanks for the conversation btw.
    David

  40. Simon Says:

    David,

    I asked several questions of you, but have not managed to get some straight answers.

    In my last post I implied you do not hold to PR. If I am wrong, I apologize. As you can see, the commenters here have varying views on the extent of the atonement, and I am having a difficult time keeping everyone straight. (I already confused you with Robert in one of my posts.)

    Can you help me understand your views better by telling me:
    (a) what your understanding of Eph 2:3 is;
    (b) do you believe in particular redemption?
    (c) when and how were “the living unbelieving elect actually punished in life for their sins.”?

    Until I can get straight answers to (a) and (c) I am reluctant to use the exact categories you have created. It is difficult to respond to your views if you don’t clearly spell out what you actually believe.

    Thanks.

    Simon

  41. David Ponter Says:

    G’day Simon,

    Sorry I must have missed these questions.

    While I type this one part of my post is still awaiting the moderators. I try and answer these as best as I can.

    Simon says: In my last post I implied you do not hold to PR. If I am wrong, I apologize. As you can see, the commentators here have varying views on the extent of the atonement, and I am having a difficult time keeping everyone straight. (I already confused you with Robert in one of my posts.)

    David says: Okay this is going to get tricky. I hold to the classic Lombard construction of the sufficiency-efficiency formula.

    Here is Lombard:
    “He offered himself for all as far as the sufficiency of the price is
    concerned, but, as far as efficacy is concerned, for the elect only,”
    Peter Lombard, Libri Sententiarum Quatuor, in J. Migne (ed.), Cursus
    Completus Patrologiae, Paris 1845.

    This version of the formula was THE verion for a good few hundred years. Musculus held to it, Calvin, Bullinger, Zwingli, Ursinus and Paraeus and others. It also has its roots in Augustine, Prosper, Ambrose and Cyril.

    It was modified by Beza and then others of the Protestant Scholastic tradition. This modified version says that while the expiation intrinsically infinite as it its value, extrinsically its not suficient for all mankind. The wording is very subtle. The reconstructed formula says: Had God elected more, worlds upon worlds in fact, then the satisfaction of Christ would have been sufficient for them too. In English that “would have been” is called a contrary to fact hypothetical subjunctive. Like this: Oh that she had studied her maths, then she would have been given a pass grade…”

    Edwards, Shedd, C Hodge, and Dabney returned to a version of the Lombard formula. But they in their turn modified it at points. AA Hodge, Warfield and others returned to the Bezarian version.

    I agree with Calvin. I cited Calvin on 2 Pet 2:1 and Jude 4 above. What Calvin says there is perfectly Lombardian.

    What the Lombard version does is to affirm both propositions as true: there is a sense where Christ died to secure a sufficient redemption of all, and yet also an efficient redemption of the elect. For the classic Lombardian construction, its not about negating some point, but affirming two truths.

    For what its worth, here is Calvins friend Wolfgang Musculus:

    Now we must in redemption consider by degrees, who it is that is redeemed, from whence, by whom, how, when, and to what purpose and end. Touchyng this matter we have in hand, the very title of this place, speaketh of the redemption of mankinde. Mankinde comprehendeth not once or two nations, but the universal world, that is, all the nations of the whole world, all men from the first to the last. Israel was redeemed sundry tymes out of the power of hys enemies, out of Egypt, sometimes from the tyranny of the Cannanites out of Babylon. But here is not meant of some special redemption of any people, but of the same which is generally of all. We know that all be not partakers of this redemption, but the losse of them which be not saved, doth hinder nothing at all, why it should not be called an universal redemption, which is appointed not for one nation, for all the whole world…

    for it is not for lacke of the grace of God, that the reprobate and desparatly wicked men do not receyve it: nor is it right that it should loose his title and glory of universal redemption because of the children of perdition, seying that it is ready for all men, and all be called unto it. So he redeemed the worlde, what soever do become of the reprobate, is most iustly called the Saviour of the worlde… And this redemption is also universal for this cause, it is so appointed unto all men, that without it no man is, nor can be redeemed. [Wolfgangus Musculus, Common Places of Christian Religion, trans., by Iohn Merton (London: Henry Bynneman, 1578), p., 305.]

    Simon says:
    Can you help me understand your views better by telling me:
    (a) what your understanding of Eph 2:3 is;

    David says: the living unbelieving elect are recipients, objects, subjects of temporal punishment for their sin, even as the rest are. Paul is saying, our former state was the same as the rest. See C Hodge on this verse.

    Simon says: (b) do you believe in particular redemption?

    David says: I do. Tho I know that some may insist I dont. I just dont believe in the Beza-Owenic version. I agree with the ealier version of folk like Calvin, Bullinger, Zwingli, Muisculus, Oecalampadius, and some of the 3rd and 4th generation Reformation thinkers like Usher, Polhil, Ursinus, Paraeus, Preston, Bunyan, Howe, etc. We totally endorce what Dort says on the special design of the expiation.

    We say there is a direct sense where Christ died for all mankind, and there is a special sense where he died for the elect alone: as to special design.

    Simon asks:

    (c) when and how were “the living unbelieving elect actually punished in life for their sins.”?

    David says: When? While in a state of unbelief. Roms 1:18, and Jn 3:33. Do you think 1:18 only refers to all non-elect ungodliness? Temporal punishments, often characterised by sword, famine and plague in the Bible.

    Simon says: Until I can get straight answers to (a) and (c) I am reluctant to use the exact categories you have created. It is difficult to respond to your views if you don’t clearly spell out what you actually believe.

    David says: And there I thought I had missed these questions. This is the first time you have asked them of me. 🙂 You must have meant other questions.

    I would encourage you to think about this cos most folk just blow this off without careful thought. There are different traditions within the historic Reformed expression on this. The tradition I accept is the minority tradition (I fully accept that). The trouble is, most folk dont even know about these other traditions. Folk dont have to agree with it, but they should be honest about it.

    I really hope that helps.

    Take care,
    David

  42. Simon Says:

    David,

    I’ll respond to comment #36 now. I appreciate comment #40 though. That did clear up some things.

    I affirm that the elect do undergo punishments of various forms for sins in their lifetime, but this can happen not only before, but also after they are justified. Take for example, David’s adultery. It seems that he would be considered a “believing elect person”, as you would put it, but he suffered punishment for that adultery: his next son died seven days after birth. So the example of David would, I think, fall into your category of the elect actually being a recipient of wrath. If so, I think we have resolved that issue, although, as I pointed out, at the time of the sin David was a believer.

    I said: It is interesting that you and Tony have repeatedly asserted that a number of major Reformed writers/confessions are against me.

    David replied: On the issue of wrath yes. But lets be clear here. I said that in the context of you apparently saying that the import of the living unbelieving elect are under the wrath of God, only insofar as they are subject to threats of punishment, then yes, then critical confessions are against you, as they go further than that.

    Now that I better understand what you are asking for, I would affirm that the unbelieving elect are not “under the wrath of God, only insofar as they are subject to threats of punishment”, so I don’t think your claim has force. (Whether this “wrath” is the same as that in Eph 2:3 is another issue.) If you think I am still in disagreement with “critical confessions”, can you provide me with a citation from the WCF to support your claim?

    Simon says: Perhaps you need to deal with their [i.e., the confessions’] understanding of God’s wrath if it is different from mine. I do not see what you gain by shifting the focus from my views to those of the “best of the Reformed”. (Personally I believe you are on much weaker ground than I am, confessionally and historically, but my intention was to argue that “PR is biblical” rather than “PR is Reformed”, so I chose not to bring it up.)

    David:My point is, the best of the Reformed are able to say that the living unbelieving elect are subject to the punishing wrath of God. You, however, seemed to hedge at this. There is no need to hedge.

    If you think I am hedging, it is because (a) you had not defined your terms adequately, including “the best of the Reformed” :), and (b) even after you define your terms, I’m not sure I want to assert one way or another that “the best of the Reformed are able to say that the living unbelieving elect are subject to the punishing wrath of God.” This is your assertion and you use it in your arguments. I don’t.

    David, the point I was making with regards to historical/confessional Reformed beliefs here was twofold.
    (1) Even if I grant your claim that the confessions (significantly) disagree with me on wrath (which I do not), they generally disagree with you on PR (when they discuss it).
    (2) I am now unsure if you are (or have been) positing an inconsistency between believing your ideas on wrath and my ideas on PR (without believing eternal justification). If you are, you should address why the confessions did not see this inconsistency.

    I said a long time ago:
    I don’t think I understand your answer, although you refer to the sins of unbelief and disobedience, so let me ask you about that. Would you not say that Christ died for the sins of unbelief and disobedience for every person who ever lived, including those in the desert, elect or not? If so, is God going to judge and punish those sins again?

    David replied: the last there carries the force of a rhetorical question. It supposes, rhetorically, that God cannot punish the guilt of sin twice.
    … Need I go on? The point is, its not true. There is at least one example where God does punish the same guilt of sin twice. Thus your original objection against an unlimited reading of 1 Jn 2:2 (and 2 Pet 2:1) does not stand examination. Your counter to Mike way back up there fails. You are back at square one, in terms of the argument.

    David also said:
    But Ill assume, until you state otherwise, that you do mean to say that the living unbelieving elect are actually recipients of the punishing wrath of God, before conversion. With that assumption: The double jeopardy/payment argument you used earlier does not work. God can punish sin twice. My sin, its guilt, as an unbelieving elect incurred punishment in this life, and yet that same sin, its guilt, was punished in Christ.

    My reply:
    There are some implicit facts about Christ’s death that perhaps I should have spelled out. For example, Christ did not merely accept the punishment of the sins of His people. His righteousness was imputed to those same people. The wrath of God the Father was forever appeased. Benefits of His death included the purchasing of regenerating grace (are the elect going to regenerate themselves and bring themselves to faith?) That is why Jesus’ death is so much more than the punishing of some sins, just as people such as David were temporally punished for their sins. I don’t reason from the temporal punishment of sin to the sin Jesus died for. Rather, I reason from the latter to the sin judged on Judgment Day. If Jesus propitiated the wrath of God for sins at the Cross (cf. 1 John 2:2), then the wrath of God will not be poured out against those same sins on Judgment Day. I think this may be where we are talking past each other.

    Jer 31:34: … for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more
    Rom 4:8: BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.

    This naturally leads to Owen’s question: “why, then [if Christ died for all sins of every man], are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins?”

    I do not think that what you call temporal punishments for the unbelieving elect blunts the force of this question. In fact I do not think you have answered it yet. If you think it includes a faulty presupposition, simply tell me (a) whether Christ’s death for the nonelect would free them from the punishment of all their sins, and (b) whether the sins punished at the Cross can be punished again at Judgment Day.

    Finally, just to get a better understanding about what exactly you are critiquing (I probably should have asked this a long time ago):
    Do you believe it is inconsistent to hold to your view of wrath in Eph 2:3 and my view of PR? Or is it merely inconsistent to hold to your view of wrath in Eph 2:3 and Owen’s double-jeopardy claim.

    Thanks.

    Simon


  43. OK guys,

    I’m considering closing down comments on this post (and on part 2) after about 50 comments, so that we at SBF can better focus on other things. (I say about 50, because I’m not planning on deleting any comments that go over 50 that get posted before I notice.) Honestly, I need some time to look over and seriously consider the comments that have aleady been posted, and with more being generated all the time, I can’t keep up.

    In Christ,
    -Andrew

  44. David Ponter Says:

    I dont have the time to proof-read all this so I cast it to the wind as the man who gambles his reputation away. 🙂

    G’day Simon,

    Simon says:
    I affirm that the elect do undergo punishments of various forms for sins in their lifetime, but this can happen not only before, but also after they are justified. Take for example, David’s adultery. It seems that he would be considered a “believing elect person”, as you would put it, but he suffered punishment for that adultery: his next son died seven days after birth. So the example of David would, I think, fall into your category of the elect actually being a recipient of wrath. If so, I think we have resolved that issue, although, as I pointed out, at the time of the sin David was a believer.

    David says: Normally folk make a distinction between penal-retributive wrath, and restorative chastisement, based on what Hebrews says. Was God seeing retribution from David, satisfaction for sin? No. David was the man blessed who sins were forgiven….

    David says: So when we speak of Paul and Eph 2:3 we speak of retributive wrath which flows from the just condemnation and curse of God upon sin. Thus Scripture says, we were once subject to that, even as the rest are. Like I said, Roms 1:18 is not a reference to only non-elect sinfulness. Jn 3:36 is not a reference to only the non-elect unbeliever.

    Simon says: Now that I better understand what you are asking for, I would affirm that the unbelieving elect are not “under the wrath of God, only insofar as they are subject to threats of punishment”, so I don’t think your claim has force. (Whether this “wrath” is the same as that in Eph 2:3 is another issue.) If you think I am still in disagreement with “critical confessions”, can you provide me with a citation from the WCF to support your claim?

    David says: If I read that right, you are saying its not true that the living unbelieving elect are merely under the possible threat of punishment. But then you say my claim does not have force? Which claim?

    Simon says: Perhaps you need to deal with their [i.e., the confessions’] understanding of God’s wrath if it is different from mine. I do not see what you gain by shifting the focus from my views to those of the “best of the Reformed”. (Personally I believe you are on much weaker ground than I am, confessionally and historically, but my intention was to argue that “PR is biblical” rather than “PR is Reformed”, so I chose not to bring it up.)

    David says: let me try it again. I thought later how I could have expressed this more clearly. The best from “your” tradition have admitted this in certain confessional statements. Does that help?

    David says: I should add, insofar as these confessions speak to the actual wrath of God upon living unbelieving elect, they are also part of my tradition. And I would add that some of the earlier confessions were, with regard to the extent of the expiation, on my side. But my point was not to count beans, but to try and show you that even from within your tradition, they have affirmed this, so there is no need to feel constrained to deny that the living unbelieving elect are objects of wrath.

    David: My point is, the best of the Reformed are able to say that the living unbelieving elect are subject to the punishing wrath of God. You, however, seemed to hedge at this. There is no need to hedge.

    Cut hope that clarifies some.

    Simon says: David, the point I was making with regards to historical/confessional Reformed beliefs here was twofold. (1) Even if I grant your claim that the confessions (significantly) disagree with me on wrath (which I do not), they generally disagree with you on PR (when they discuss it).

    David says: If you do believe that the living unbelieving elect are subject to the punishing wrath of God then you are sweet with the confessions.

    Simon says: (2) I am now unsure if you are (or have been) positing an inconsistency between believing your ideas on wrath and my ideas on PR (without believing eternal justification). If you are, you should address why the confessions did not see this inconsistency.

    David: I don’t get that. This has gotten way bogged down because I think you misunderstood the nature of my rejoinder. You had posited an argument to Mike which essentially said Christ could not have died for all men, ie paid the penalty for all, and yet God demand a second payment from some of those men: THEREFORE, 1 Jn 2:2 and 2 Pet 2:1 cannot by exegeted/interpreted along universalist lines.

    Tony tried to show you one refutation of that line of argument, but you didnt appreciate the response as I read you. I tried to explain the nature of the problem. I think then you misread where I am coming from.

    Simon says: I said a long time ago:
    I don’t think I understand your answer, although you refer to the sins of unbelief and disobedience, so let me ask you about that. Would you not say that Christ died for the sins of unbelief and disobedience for every person who ever lived, including those in the desert, elect or not? If so, is God going to judge and punish those sins again?

    David says: He suffered the curse of the law against all sin and sins. He sustained and effected a satisfaction for all sin. He suffered for the same sin of murder that was due to Judas as was due to Peter. If Judas refuses to accept the satisfaction of Christ, then Judas will have to suffer for his own in his own person. Ill post Dabney and C Hodge again after this. Read them carefully as it may help you.

    Simon says: There are some implicit facts about Christ’s death that perhaps I should have spelled out. For example, Christ did not merely accept the punishment of the sins of His people. His righteousness was imputed to those same people.

    David says: If you mean simply, Christ suffered for the sins of his people (ie elect) and also his righteousness is imputed to the same people, fine. We agree, even Tony agrees.

    Simon says: The wrath of God the Father was forever appeased.

    David: Appeased in what sense and when? On the cross? At the time of personal faith? You see the older expression was that on the Cross Christ effected a sufficient satisfaction for all sin, which removed the necessary hostility from God, making him placable. However, actual wrath was not removed, God not actually appeased with regard to a given impenitent sinner prior to faith.

    Simon says: Benefits of His death included the purchasing of regenerating grace (are the elect going to regenerate themselves and bring themselves to faith?)

    David says? Do you have any Scripture for that?

    Simon says: That is why Jesus’ death is so much more than the punishing of some sins, just as people such as David were temporally punished for their sins. I don’t reason from the temporal punishment of sin to the sin Jesus died for. Rather, I reason from the latter to the sin judged on Judgment Day. If Jesus propitiated the wrath of God for sins at the Cross (cf. 1 John 2:2), then the wrath of God will not be poured out against those same sins on Judgment Day. I think this may be where we are talking past each other.

    David says: I think the last is the critical thing here. I suspected that was your problem. You seem to want to say that Jesus effected an expiatory sacrifice that only dealt with eternal wrath, not temporal wrath. But that creates a dichotomy between temporal wrath and eternal wrath. Its not so. Temporal wrath and eternal wrath are of the same kind (retributive), with an intensification of the former in the latter. For example, as much as the expiation respects temporal sins, sins done in this life, the expiation respects temporal punishment for those sins.

    Simon says: Jer 31:34: … for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more
    Rom 4:8: BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.

    David says: Ill answer the Roms passage cos that will answer the Jer reference as well. And who is that man? The man who has the same faith of Abraham.

    Simony says: This naturally leads to Owen’s question: “why, then [if Christ died for all sins of every man], are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins?”

    David says: because the expiation is 1) not a debt payment, and 2) conditional as to its application. That was Tony’s point to you. The point is, you were not born justified. You were born under a state of condemnation and wrath. That tells us that between the death of Christ and your release from wrath, a condition must interpose itself, viz., faith. If God can still hold you under condemnation before you meet the condition, and yet Christ still to have died for you, means that its not the case that Christ could not have also died for any other, who may never meet the condition, and so always forever remain under a state a condemnation.

    Simon says: I do not think that what you call temporal punishments for the unbelieving elect blunts the force of this question. In fact I do not think you have answered it yet. If you think it includes a faulty presupposition, simply tell me (a) whether Christ’s death for the nonelect would free them from the punishment of all their sins, and (b) whether the sins punished at the Cross can be punished again at Judgment Day.

    David says: I can see that because you have made a dichotomy. Let me ask this: When you believe, does the efficacy of the expiation cancel the retributive claims of the law, which is the wrath of God, against you as they appear in the form of temporal punishments? Yes or no?

    Now, be clear here. I am not saying, when you believe, do you cease from having any afflictions in life. But are you freed from any temporal retributive wrath of God? Yes or no?

    Simon says: Finally, just to get a better understanding about what exactly you are critiquing (I probably should have asked this a long time ago): Do you believe it is inconsistent to hold to your view of wrath in Eph 2:3 and my view of PR? Or is it merely inconsistent to hold to your view of wrath in Eph 2:3 and Owen’s double-jeopardy claim.

    David: The force of Eph 2:3 refutes the Owenic trilemma. Eph 2:3 does in no way negate particular or special redemption, not even limited redemption.

    It comes to this: Dabney saw the fallacy of the trilemma and its true pecuniary assumptions. He set up is own counter-dilemma. If X (the truth of Eph 2:3) is true, Y (Owens trilemma) cant be true. Now the person who is confronted with Dabney’s counter must do is either discard Y, or somehow mute the force of X. Most moderns–from our experience–will try to mute the force of X rather than give up the beloved trilemma. 🙂

    Thus we have seen the two major strategies: Eph 2:3 means only that were once merely and barely liable to threats and condemnation, or that Paul only meant to characterise our former behaviour, angry children (ie full of wrath) or sinners by nature. Sometimes folk will just insist that the unbelieving living elect were never objects of retributive wrath, only retorative discipline. But then we came back to the case that its never the case that as ‘the rest are’ we never were.

    You seem to be asserting a little extra, that the expiation only respects eternal wrath, or something like that, it does not cancel (expiate) temporal retributive punishment.

    Thus one can be an object of temporal retributive punishment for the sins committed while an unbeliever, which sins and which punishments are not classed with the sins Christ was retributively punished for on our behalf. Right? For if Christ did retributively suffer for any of the sins which we are retributively punished for before conversion, then there would be some sins which God is punishing twice (which you must disallow for the trilemma’s assumptions to work).

    Am I reading you right?

    Take care,
    David

  45. David Ponter Says:

    In proof of the general correctness of this theory of the extent of the Atonement, we should attach but partial force to some of the arguments advanced by Symington and others, or even by Turrettin, e.g., That Christ says, He died “for His sheep,” for “His Church,” for “His friends,” is not of itself conclusive. The proof of a proposition does not disprove its converse. All the force which we could properly attach to this class of passages is the probability arising from the frequent and emphatic repetition of this affirmative statement as to a definite object. Nor would we attach any force to the argument, that if Christ made penal satisfaction for the sins of all, justice would forbid any to be punished. To urge this argument surrenders virtually the very ground on which the first Socinian objection was refuted, and is incompatible with the facts that God chastises justified believers, and holds elect unbelievers subject to wrath till they believe. Christ’s satisfaction is not a pecuniary equivalent, but only such a one as enables the Father, consistently with His attributes, to pardon, if in His mercy He sees fit. The whole avails of the satisfaction to a given man is suspended on His belief. There would be no injustice to the man, if he remaining an unbeliever, his guilt were punished twice over, first in his Savior, and then in Him. See Hodge on Atonement, page 369. Lectures, p., 521.

  46. David Ponter Says:

    This needs to be read very carefully.

    C Hodge:

    There is still another ground on which it is urged that Augustinians cannot consistently preach the gospel to every creature. Augustinians teach, it is urged, that the work of Christ is a satisfaction to divine justice. From this it follows that justice cannot condemn those for whose sins it has been satisfied. It cannot demand that satisfaction twice, first from the substitute and then from the sinner himself. This would be manifestly unjust, far worse than demanding no punishment at all. From this it is inferred that the satisfaction or righteousness of Christ, if the ground on which a sinner may be forgiven, is the ground on which he must be forgiven. It is not the ground on which he may be forgiven, unless it is the ground on which he must be forgiven. If the atonement be limited in design it must be limited in its nature, and if limited in its nature it must be limited in its offer.

    This objection again arises from confounding a pecuniary and a judicial satisfaction between which Augustinians are so careful to discriminate. This distinction has already been presented on a previous page. There is no grace in accepting a pecuniary satisfaction. It cannot be refused. It ipso facto liberates. The moment the debt is paid the debtor is free; and that without any condition. Nothing of this is true in the case of judicial satisfaction. If a substitute be provided and accepted it is a matter of grace. His satisfaction does not ipso facto liberate. It may accrue to the benefit of those for whom it is made at once or at a remote period; completely or gradually; on conditions or unconditionally; or it may never benefit them at all unless the condition on which its application is suspended be performed. These facts are universally admitted by those who hold that the work of Christ was a true and perfect satisfaction to divine justice. The application of its benefits is determined by the covenant between the Father and the Son. Those for whom it was specially rendered are not justified from eternity; they are not born in a justified state; they are by nature, or birth, the children of wrath even as others. To be the children of wrath is to be justly exposed to divine wrath. They remain in this state of exposure until they believe, and should they die (unless in infancy) before they believe they would inevitably perish notwithstanding the satisfaction made for their sins. It is the stipulations of the covenant which forbid such a result. Such being the nature of the judicial satisfaction rendered by Christ to the law, under which all men are placed, it may be sincerely offered to all men with the assurance that if they believe it shall accrue to their salvation. His work being specially designed for the salvation of his own people, renders, through the conditions of the covenant, that event certain; but this is perfectly consistent with its being made the ground of the general offer of the gospel. Lutherans and Reformed agree entirely, as before stated, in their views of the nature of the satisfaction of Christ, and consequently, so far as that point is concerned, there is the same foundation for the general offer of the gospel according to either scheme. What the Reformed or Augustinians hold about election does not affect the nature of the atonement. That remains the same whether designed for the elect or for all mankind. It does not derive its nature from the secret purpose of God as to its application. C. Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol 2, pp., 557-8.

  47. Mike Cheek Says:

    Several of the postings are so long that I at least am unable to follow, much less make intelligent comments. (Of course, when did that ever stop someone from posting on a blog before?! But I will refrain.) Given the sheer volume of writing on this subject perhaps a blog is not a helpful venue. Certainly nobody’s mind has been changed on anything. (Someone once noted that little boys fight, but grown men “contend”!) As a closing comment I would commend to anyone interested to read James Torrance’ essay “Covenant or Contract?” in the Scottish Journal of Theology, Vol. 23, Number 1, Feb. 1970 and/or James Torrance’ foreword to the book, The Nature of the Atonement by J. McCleod Campbell. Both essays are relevant to the subject of the Limited Atonement as well as the broader issue of Federal Theology. I at least find Torrance to be compelling. James was the brother of Thomas Torrance. Peace to all.

  48. Simon Says:

    Andrew:
    I’m having trouble keeping up too. David thinks/writes too quickly for me.

    Mike:
    You said that “Certainly nobody’s mind has been changed on anything. (Someone once noted that little boys fight, but grown men “contend”!)”
    If only someone had told the folks at the Synod of Dort that as they responded to the Remonstrance. 🙂
    My mind has not been changed, but David has challenged me to think more carefully on various issues relating to the atonement and punishment of sin. For this I thank him.

    David:
    Your latest post brings up some new terms/ideas, about which I think I will need clarification from you. Since the comments thread here could close very soon, would you like to take this private? I’d be happy to discuss it further.

    Simon

  49. David Ponter Says:

    G’day Mike,

    I hear what you are saying. If you are interested, there is an elist I created to specifically discuss these issues.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Calvin_and_Calvinism/

    I should say too, Athanasasian Christology and how that bears in the expiation was fairly well obscured by high federalist and lapsarian categories in the 17thC. I appreciate some of the stuff the Torrances and others are doing to try and recapture the older Athanasian insights. There are also some ways to integrate Athanasian categories with Federalist categories. I think thats where C Hodge, Dabney and Shedd were heading. Have you read any of the early Marrow anti-contractualist/conditionalist literater?

    Take care,
    David

  50. David Ponter Says:

    Simon,

    You are more than welcome to follow up at the yahoo list or at the blog I participate at, or at Tony’s theological mediations blog or privately. Nathan has already got the okay from me to forward my email addy to you.

    Going to fast?? Man I didnt know there was a speed restriction on any of this? 😉

  51. David Ponter Says:

    And it looks like the previous entry got truncated again. Oh well… Andrew, Nathan, any idea why it didnt all go through?

    And literature… ack, my auto spell checker goofed there, not me.

    David

  52. Simon Says:

    David,

    I’m opening to discussing it more either at your blog or privately.
    BTW, I tried without success to find you email address there.

    Simon

  53. David Ponter Says:

    flynn000 @ bellsouth.net

    just close the spaces

    David


  54. David,

    I’ve no idea why your entries may be getting truncated, unless perhaps your copy/pasting large sections from Microsoft Word (WordPress, our blog supporter seems to dislike Word for some annoying reason).


  55. Exploring Atonement…

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