Ernest Reisinger on the Importance of the Doctrine of Limited Atonement to Gospel Proclamation (part 2)

The great crisis within the Church today is a crisis of worldview. Instead of forming ideas about life “to the glory of God alone” with Christ at the center of their thinking, many Christians have become profoundly affected with a worldly mindset– a pattern of thought that is self-centered, with personal interests and human rationality both providing the starting line and setting the course for how life is to be conducted. We see this with the rise of “Christian psychology” in the place of biblical counseling and with the rise of “pop Christianity”– the tendency for many within the Church to gravitate toward whatever new popular book promises some kind of deeper experience with God– rather than a solid focus on the biblical spiritual disciplines.

Most alarmingly, we see this worldly mindset infecting how the Gospel is preached. Biblically, the Gospel message is centered on Jesus Christ– particularly, on His work in saving sinners by dying on the Cross and being raised again from the grave:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NIV)

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25 NIV)

Commonly, however, we hear the Gospel proclaimed as if it was not focused on what Jesus has done, but on what we must do. In sacerdotal systems, such as the Roman Catholic Church, the work of Jesus is presented as if it were background information, with the most crucial aspect of the “Gospel” message centered on whether or not a person has actively appropriated God’s grace through the sacraments. In modern evangelicalism, the work of Jesus is likewise relegated to the background, with the most crucial aspect of the “Gospel” message being whether or not a person is willing to “accept Jesus” by praying a scripted prayer not found in the Bible.

To insure that the work of Jesus retains its rightful prominence in Gospel proclamation, we must have a biblical view of just exactly what it is His work entails. As Pastor Ernest C. Reisinger noted in his book Today’s Evangelism:

Just what happened at the cross? What did Christ accomplish? And, how is that which He accomplished applied in time?

1. Did He die savingly for all the sins of all men?


2. Did He die savingly for all the sins of some men?


3. Did He die for some of the sins of all men?


4. Did He just die to make salvation possible and now stands idly by, waiting for man’s decision?

If the first is true, why are not all men free from the punishment due them for their sins? You answer, “because of unbelief.” I ask, “Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? Then Christ suffered the punishment for this unbelief. And if He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not die for this sin of unbelief, then He did not die for all their sins.”

If the third were true, all men would have some sins to answer for and no one would be saved.

If the fourth were true, no one would be saved because without the powerful work of the Spirit, men will always make the wrong decision.

Therefore, the second is the true biblical view. Christ suffered for all the sins of all His sheep in the whole world, and none of them will be lost. This view will make the difference between God-centered and man-centered evangelism.

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)

But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:26-28)

Again, note the phrase, “This view will make the difference between God-centered and man-centered evangelism.” Why is this the case? Because “if Christ suffered for all the sins of all His sheep in the whole world, and none of them will be lost,” then God alone– through the work of Christ– will receive all glory when sinners are saved through faith in Jesus. This Cross-centered doctrine is the death-knell for any worldly, Man-centered “evangelistic” messages such as “God did 99% of the work in saving you, leaving only 1% for you to do– you must accept Jesus” (a message I’ve heard from a famous evangelist in the past) or “God has cast a vote for you, the Devil has cast a vote against you, and you must cast the deciding vote” (an old distortion recently noted by Timmy Brister). Notice that if God has left 1% of the work of salvation up to Man or if Man must cast the deciding vote, then it is Man’s work or Man’s vote that becomes the most important consideration in salvation. As I said before, this demotes Christ’s work to mere background information. On the other hand, if Christ’s death on the Cross assures the salvation of those who will believe on Him– if His work even assures the faith of those who will be saved (as Jesus is declared to be the author and perfecter of our faith in Hebrews 12:2)– then we truly have a basis for praising God for salvation, which salvation is all of grace.

Explore posts in the same categories: Doctrinal Issues, Soteriology

4 Comments on “Ernest Reisinger on the Importance of the Doctrine of Limited Atonement to Gospel Proclamation (part 2)”

  1. 4ever4given Says:

    Amen… well written and to God alone be all the glory.

  2. Thanks, 4ever4given,

    I’m assuming everything presented in this post to be absolutely unassailable, seeing as how everyone’s arguing over the first post, but no one else has commented here. 😉

    In Christ alone,

  3. 4ever4given Says:

    Methinks it is both succinct and ironclad.

  4. […] Strange BaptistFire shares some thoughts from Ernest Reisinger on the doctrine of limited atonement […]

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