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Jesus Died for All, Not Just For a Select Few
Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries ^ | Ron Rhodes

Posted on 05/24/2002 8:27:55 PM PDT by xzins

UNLIMITED ATONEMENT Definition of Unlimited Atonement: "A reference to the doctrine that Christ's redemptive death was for all persons."

"Representative Passages Offered in Support of Unlimited Atonement

(Note: To clarify my position on a few of these verses, I have added some expositional text and quotations from various biblical scholars.)

Luke 19:10: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (The "lost" seems to refer to the entire world of lost humanity, not just the lost elect.)

John 1:29: "The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.'"

What is the "world" here? Exegete B. F. Westcott says: "The fundamental idea of kosmos [world] in St. John is that of the sum of created being which belongs to the sphere of human life as an ordered whole, considered apart from God....the world comes to represent humanity in its fallen state, alienated from its Maker."

John Calvin says of this verse: "He uses the word sin in the singular number for any kind of iniquity; as if he had said that every kind of unrighteousness which alienates men from God is taken away by Christ. And when he says the sin of the world, he extends this favor indiscriminately to the whole human race."

Ryle similarly states: "Christ is...a Savior for all mankind....He did not suffer for a few persons only, but for all mankind....What Christ took away, and bore on the cross, was not the sin of certain people only, but the whole accumulated mass of all the sins of all the children of Adam....I hold as strongly as anyone that Christ's death is profitable to none but the elect who believe in His Name. But I dare not limit and pare down such expressions as the one before us....I dare not confine the intention of redemption to the saints alone. Christ is for every man....The atonement was made for all the world, though it is applied and enjoyed by none but believers."

John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

The Greek lexicons are unanimous that "world" here denotes humankind, not the "world of the elect." John 3:16 cannot be divorced from verses 14-15, wherein Christ alludes to Numbers 21 with its discussion of Moses setting up the brazen serpent in the camp of Israel, so that if "any man" looked to it, he experienced physical deliverance. In verse 15 Christ applies the story spiritually when He says that "whosoever" believes on the uplifted Son of Man shall experience spiritual deliverance.

John Calvin says: "He has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term world which He formerly used [God so loved the world]; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet He shows Himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when He invites all men without exception [not merely 'without distinction'] to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life."

John 4:42: "They said to the woman, 'We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.'"

It is certain that when the Samaritans called Jesus "the Savior of the world," they were not thinking of the world of the elect.

Likewise, when Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world" (John 8:12), He was not thinking of Himself as the Light of the world of the elect. "The sun in the heavens shines on all men, though some, in their folly, may choose to withdraw into dark caves to evade its illuminating rays."

When Jesus called His disciples "the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14), He did not mean they were the "light of the elect."

Likewise, the "Savior of the world" in John 4:42 cannot be limited to the elect.

Acts 2:21: "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Romans 5:6: "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly."

2 Corinthians 5:14-15: "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."

1 Timothy 2:3-4: "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

1 Timothy 2:5-6: "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men - the testimony given in its proper time."

1 Timothy 4:10: "We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe."

Titus 2:11: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."

Hebrews 2:9: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."

The word "everyone" is better translated "each."

Henry Alford comments: "If it be asked, why pantos (each) rather than panton (all), we may safely say that the singular brings out, far more strongly than the plural word, the applicability of Christ's death to each individual man."

2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

1 John 2:2: "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (Note the distinction between "ours" and "the whole world.")

1 John 4:14: "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world."

"Arguments Set Forth in Favor of Unlimited Atonement

There are certain Scripture passages that seem very difficult to fit within the framework of limited atonement. For example:

Romans 5:6 says: "At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." It doesn't make much sense to read this as saying that Christ died for the ungodly of the elect.

Romans 5:18 says: "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men."

Regarding this verse, John Calvin says: "He makes this favor common to all, because it is propoundable to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all [i.e., in their experience]; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God's benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive Him."

Regarding the two occurrences of the phrase "all men," E. H. Gifford comments: "The words all men [in v. 18] must have the same extent in both clauses."

1 John 2:2 says: "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." A natural reading of this verse, without imposing theological presuppositions on it, seems to support unlimited atonement.

Isaiah 53:6 says: "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6).

This verse doesn't make sense unless it is read to say that the same "all" that went astray is the "all" for whom the Lord died.

"In the first of these statements, the general apostasy of men is declared; in the second, the particular deviation of each one; in the third, the atoning suffering of the Messiah, which is said to be on behalf of all. As the first 'all' is true of all men (and not just of the elect), we judge that the last 'all' relates to the same company."

Theologian Millard Erickson comments: "This passage is especially powerful from a logical standpoint. It is clear that the extent of sin is universal; it is specified that every one of us has sinned. It should also be noticed that the extent of what will be laid on the suffering servant exactly parallels the extent of sin. It is difficult to read this passage and not conclude that just as everyone sins, everyone is also atoned for."

1 Timothy 4:10 says: "...we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe."

There is a clear distinction here between "all men" and "those who believe."

Erickson notes that "apparently the Savior has done something for all persons, though it is less in degree than what he has done for those who believe." In 2 Peter 2:1, it seems that Christ even paid the price of redemption for false teachers who deny Him: "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them - bringing swift destruction on themselves." Millard Erickson notes that "2 Peter 2:1 seems to point out most clearly that people for whom Christ died may be lost....there is a distinction between those for whom Christ died and those who are finally saved."

John 3:17 says: "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

Regarding this verse John Calvin says: "God is unwilling that we should be overwhelmed with everlasting destruction, because He has appointed His Son to be the salvation of the world."

Calvin also stated: "The word world is again repeated, that no man may think himself wholly excluded, if he only keeps the road of faith."

Many passages indicate that the Gospel is to be universally proclaimed, and this supports unlimited atonement.

Matthew 24:14: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

Matthew 28:19: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..."

Acts 1:8: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Acts 17:30: "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent."

Titus 2:11: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men."

In view of such passages, it is legitimate to ask: "If Christ died only for the elect, how can the offer of salvation be made to all persons without some sort of insincerity, artificiality, or dishonesty being involved? Is it not improper to offer salvation to everyone if in fact Christ did not die to save everyone?"

"How can God authorize His servants to offer pardon to the non-elect if Christ did not purchase it for them? This is a problem that does not plague those who hold to General [Unlimited] Redemption, for it is most reasonable to proclaim the Gospel to all if Christ died for all."

Those who deny unlimited atonement cannot say to any sinner, "Christ died for you." (After all, he may be one of the non-elect.)

Reformed counselor Jay Adams comments: "As a reformed Christian, the writer believes that counselors must not tell any unsaved counselee that Christ died for him, for they cannot say that. No man knows except Christ himself who are his elect for whom he died."

Louis Berkhof, a defender of limited atonement, admits: "It need not be denied that there is a real difficulty at this point."

Theologian Robert Lightner comments: "Belief in limited atonement means that the good news of God's saving grace in Christ cannot be personalized. Those who hold to such a position cannot tell someone to whom they are witnessing that Christ died for him because that one may, in fact, not be one for whom Christ died." Such Christians believe the gospel must be presented in very general terms, such as: "God loves sinners and Christ died for sinners."

"To believe that some are elect and some nonelect creates no problem for the soulwinner provided he is free in his convictions to declare that Christ died for each one to whom he speaks. He knows that the nonelect will not accept the message. He knows also that even an elect person may resist it to near the day of his death. But if the preacher believes that any portion of his audience is destitute of any basis of salvation, having no share in the values of Christ's death, it is no longer a question in his mind of whether they will accept or reject; it becomes rather a question of truthfulness in the declaration of the message." 2 Peter 3:9 says: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." How can this be if Christ died only and exclusively for the elect?

Romans 5 indicates that through Adam's act of disobedience the entire human race became the recipients of sin. And through one act of obedience the last Adam made provision for the gracious gift of righteousness for the entire human race. The disobedience of the one was co-extensive with the obedience of the other.

Scripture says that Christ died for "sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15; Rom. 5:6-8). The word "sinner" nowhere is limited to the elect or to the church. It is used exclusively in the Bible of lost humanity. Scripture tells us that Christ died for sinners, not penitent sinners, and for the ungodly, not for just some of them.

Seemingly restrictive references can be logically fit into an unlimited scenario more easily than universal references made to fit into a limited atonement scenario.

"The problem that both groups face is the need to harmonize passages that refer to limited redemption with passages that refer to unlimited redemption. To the unlimited redemptionist the limited redemption passages present no real difficulty. He believes that they merely emphasize one aspect of a larger truth. Christ did die for the elect, but He also died for the sins of the whole world. However, the limited redemptionist is not able to deal with the unlimited redemption passages as easily."

The two sets of passages noted earlier - one set seemingly in support of limited atonement, the other in support of unlimited atonement - are not irreconcilable. As Elwell puts it, "It is true that the benefits of Christ's death are referred to as belonging to the elect, his sheep, his people, but it would have to be shown that Christ died only for them. No one denies that Christ died for them. It is only denied that Christ died exclusively for them."

Millard Erickson likewise says that "statements about Jesus loving and dying for his church or his sheep need not be understood as confining his special love and salvific death strictly to them....It does not follow from a statement that Christ died for his church, or for his sheep, that he did not die for anyone else, unless, of course, the passage specifically states that it was only for them that he died....Certainly if Christ died for the whole, there is no problem in asserting that he died for a specific part of the whole. To insist that those passages which focus on his dying for his people require the understanding that he died only for them and not for any others contradicts the universal passages. We conclude that the hypothesis of universal atonement is able to account for a larger segment of the biblical witness with less distortion than is the hypothesis of limited atonement."

Robert Lightner similarly argues: "The task of harmonizing those various Scriptures poses a far greater problem for those who hold to a limited atonement than it does to those who hold to an unlimited position. Those who hold to an unlimited atonement recognize that some Scriptures emphasize the fact that Christ died for the elect, for the church, and for individual believers. However, they point out that when those verses single out a specific group they do not do so to the exclusion of any who are outside that group since dozens of other passages include them. The 'limited' passages are just emphasizing one aspect of a larger truth. In contrast, those who hold to a limited atonement have a far more difficult time explaining away the 'unlimited' passages."

The fact is, the Scriptures do not always include all aspects of a truth in any one passage. "If these texts are used in isolation to 'prove' that Christ died only for the elect, then it could be argued with equal logic from other isolated passages that Christ died only for Israel (cf. John 11:51; Isa. 53:8), or that He died only for the Apostle Paul (for Paul declares of Christ, 'Who loved me, and gave himself for me,' Gal. 2:20). As well might one contend that Christ restricted His prayers to Peter because of the fact that He said to Peter, 'But I have prayed for thee' (Luke 22:32)." Let us examine in greater detail some passages that speak of Christ being the Savior of the Israelites. Acts 13:23 says: "From this man's descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised."

This verse indicates that Jesus was the proffered Savior to Israel, not that every Israelite had placed faith in Christ and was saved by the Savior.

"What ground have we for thinking that all of these persons received the salvation? None, whatever. Yet, plainly, it was put within their reach." In Matthew 1:21 we are told that Jesus "will save his people from their sins."

Throughout the Old Testament God speaks of the Israelites as "My people."

Seven times God tells the Pharaoh, "Let My people go" (Exod. 5:1; 7:16; 8:1, 20; 9:1, 13; 10:13).

(I urge the reader to check a concordance to see for himself that God continues to refer to the Israelites as "My people" throughout the entire Old Testament.)

The last occurrence is Zechariah 13:9: "They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.'"

Now, in Luke 1:68 Zacharias said: "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people." Zacharias is using the phrase "his people" in the standard Old Testament sense.

In Matthew 1:21, when an angel told Joseph, "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins," the words "his people" seem to be referring specifically to the people of Israel, not the entire company of God's elect (which includes non-Israelites or Gentiles). Yet, as Norman Douty asks, "Who believes that the Jewish people have a monopoly on Christ's saving grace? All hold that it goes beyond their confines to the Gentile world as well."

Likewise we read in John 11:50: "You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation [i.e., Israel] perish." In none of these passages do the advocates of limited atonement insist that the Jewish people exclusively are the objects of God's saving grace. Similarly, when Christ is said to have purchased the church with His blood (Acts 20:28), we cannot limit Christ's atoning work to the church alone.

Galatians 2:20 declares that Christ loved Paul and gave Himself for him ("The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me"). But this does not mean that Christ gave Himself only for Paul.

To sum up, Christ did not give Himself in the atonement only for Paul, or only for Israel, or only for the church, but for all men.

Universal terms like "world" should not be restricted in contexts which speak of the atonement.

It is true that words like "all" and "world" are sometimes used in the Bible in a restricted sense. But context is always determinative. Robert Lightner comments: "Those who always limit the meaning of those terms in contexts that deal with salvation do so on the basis of theological presuppositions, not on the basis of the texts themselves."

A word study of the word "world" - particularly in the apostle John's writings, where it is used 78 times - indicates that the world is God-hating, Christ-rejecting, and Satan-dominated. Yet this is the world that Christ died for. Particularly in John's writings, interpreting "world" as "world of the elect" seems a great distortion of Scripture.

Among the scholarly lexicons, encyclopedias, and dictionaries that know nothing of the meaning "world of the elect" for the biblical word "world" (kosmos) are:

Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament.

Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.

Souter's Pocket Lexicon of the New Testament.

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

The New Bible Dictionary.

Baker's Dictionary of Theology.

Arndt and Gingrich's A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.

Walter Martin, founder of the Christian Research Institute, observes: "John the Apostle tells us that Christ gave His life as a propitiation for our sin (i.e., the elect), though not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2)....[People] cannot evade John's usage of 'whole' (Greek: holos). In the same context the apostle quite cogently points out that 'the whole (holos) world lies in wickedness' or, more properly, 'in the lap of the wicked one' (1 John 5:19, literal translation). If we assume that 'whole' applies only to the chosen or elect of God, then the 'whole world does not 'lie in the lap of the wicked one.' This, of course, all reject."

We must also ask, How can the Holy Spirit have a ministry to the whole world in showing men their need of Jesus Christ (John 14-16) if the death of Christ does not make provision for the whole world?

John 16:8-11 says: "But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned."

Notice in this passage that "the world" is clearly distinguished from "you" and "your."

Yet the Holy Spirit is said to bring conviction on the world. And one of the things the Spirit convicts "the world" of is the sin of not believing on Christ (v. 9).

We are not to conclude that "the world" that is convicted of unbelief is the world of the elect, are we? (If so, then Satan, the "prince of this world" [v. 11, same context], must be the "prince of the elect.") Calvin says of this passage that "under the term world are, I think, included not only those who would be truly converted to Christ, but hypocrites and reprobate." Though God is completely sovereign over all things, this does not mean He brings into reality everything He "desires."

Norman Douty offers this insight: "Consider the beginnings of human history. God told our first parents to refrain from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Did He want them to eat of it, or did He not? Plainly, He did not want them to do so. Yet they ate of it. Was He frustrated? Of course not. He was not frustrated because, by His efficient grace, He could have induced them to refrain. Yet He chose to withhold that grace and to permit the fall. Nevertheless, the full responsibility for that sin belonged to Adam and Eve, who had sufficient grace to refrain, but did not use it."

Consider Matthew 23:37: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." What Christ desired was not what came about.

Douty concludes: "As God could have induced our first parents to refrain from eating of the tree, so He could have induced...the resistant Jews of Christ's time to have received His gracious ministry of salvation. But He did not choose to effect these desirable ends. Yet this in no wise means that He wanted evil to befall any. He merely allowed the violation of His desires in order to carry out a hidden purpose He had in mind."

One further example relates to Jesus, who told some Jews in John 5:34: "I say these things that you may be saved." But "saved" they were not. Why? Because Christ added in verse 40, "You are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life." Here is a clear case of "but ye would not," despite the clear offer of salvation.

"There are reasons which are based on the Scriptures why our sovereign God might provide a redemption for all when He merely purposed by decree to save some. He is justified in placing the whole world in a particular relation to Himself so that the gospel might be preached with all sincerity to all men, and so that on the human side men might be without excuse, being judged, as they are, for their rejection of that which is offered to them."

That one rejects limited atonement does not in any way mean that one lessens or diminishes the clear scriptural doctrine of the sovereignty of God.

Any who make such an allegation are simply uninformed.

"Without the slightest inconsistency the unlimited redemptionists may believe in an election according to sovereign grace, that none but the elect will be saved, that all of the elect will be saved, and that the elect are by divine enablement alone called out of the state of spiritual death from which they are impotent to take even one step in the direction of their own salvation. The text, 'No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him' (John 6:44), is as much a part of the one system of doctrine as it is of the other."

Matthew 26:28 says, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." The reference to "many" in Christ's words do not support limited atonement but rather support unlimited atonement.

One must keep in mind that earlier in Matthew Jesus had said that few find eternal life (Matt. 7:14) and few are chosen (22:14). But Christ did not say His blood was poured out for a few, but for many.

John Calvin thus declares of this verse: "By the word many He means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race."

This is the same meaning as in Romans 5:15: "For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Note that the "many" of verse 15 is clearly defined in verse 18 as "all men": "...just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men."

Notice that in this verse Paul speaks of Adam's sin, and of the resultant death coming upon all his descendants. But then the apostle goes on to speak of the grace of God and of its resultant gift (of life), abounding to the same company.

I say, "to the same company," because "the many" in the second clause of the verse is coextensive with "the many" in the first clause.

"Answers to Three Common Questions

1. If Christ died for those who go to hell, what benefit have they from His death? Answer: "We may as well ask, What good did the bitten Israelites get from the brazen serpent to which they refused to look? None, of course, but God got the glory of being a God generous enough to provide for them."

2. If satisfaction has been made for all, how can any go to hell? Answer: "Though God has provided atonement for all, He has also stipulated that none get the good of it, except through repentance and faith. Deliverance from doom was not contingent on the atonement itself but on the reception of it. Men can starve in the presence of a free feast, if they refuse to partake of it."

3. Why would God have Christ die for those whom He, in His omniscience, knew would never receive His provision? Answer: "Why did God richly endow the angels who subsequently sinned, when He knew they would not use His gifts to their everlasting good? Why did He bestow valuable gifts on our first parents, to be employed for their and our advantage, when He knew they would not so employ them? Why did He send Noah to preach to people He knew would not receive His message? And why did He send the prophets to Israel, when He knew they would continue in their apostasy? There is such a thing as the divine benevolence."

"Reply to Some Criticisms Made By Proponents of Limited Atonement

The charge that unlimited atonement leads to universalism is special pleading. "Just because one believes that Christ died for all does not mean all are saved. One must believe in Christ to be saved, so the fact that Christ died for the world apparently does not secure the salvation of all. Those who assert this are simply wrong."

God makes the provision of salvation for all men, but it is conditioned by faith. Thus, salvation becomes actual only for the elect, although it is potential and available to all. "Our inheriting eternal life involves two separate factors: an objective factor (Christ's provision of salvation) and a subjective factor (our acceptance of that salvation)."

Moderate Calvinists distinguish between the provisional benefits of Christ's death and the appropriation of those benefits by the elect.

Although the provision of atonement is unlimited, yet the application of it is limited.

In his book The Death Christ Died, Robert Lightner explains: "[Moderate Calvinists] believe the cross does not apply its own benefits but that God has conditioned His full and free salvation upon personal faith in order to appropriate its accomplishments to the individual. This faith which men must exercise is not a work whereby man contributes his part to his salvation, nor does faith, in the moderate Calvinist view, improve in any way the final and complete sacrifice of Calvary. It is simply the method of applying Calvary's benefits which the sovereign God has deigned to use in His all-wise plan of salvation."

God is not unfair in condemning those who reject the offer of salvation. He is not exacting judgment twice. "Because the nonbeliever refuses to accept the death of Christ as his own, the benefits of Christ's death are not applied to him. He is lost, not because Christ did not die for him, but because he refuses God's offer of forgiveness."

The electing purpose of God is not complete until the elect are in glory. Since this is true, and since the cross provides salvation dependent on faith for its reception, and since the cross does not secure salvation apart from that faith, there is no contradiction with God's sovereignty.

Unlimited atonement has been held by a majority of scholars throughout church history.

Millard Erickson points out that unlimited atonement has been "held by the vast majority of theologians, reformers, evangelists, and fathers from the beginning of the church until the present day, including virtually all the writers before the Reformation, with the possible exception of Augustine. Among the Reformers the doctrine is found in Luther, Melanchthon, Bullinger, Latimer, Cranmer, Coverdale, and even Calvin in some of his commentaries....Is it likely that the overwhelming majority of Christians could have so misread the leading of the Holy Spirit on such an important point?"

Robert Lightner addresses Calvin's position on the issue: "Those who subscribe to a limited atonement generally argue that that is the position espoused by Calvin. But it is highly debatable that he did, in fact, hold that view....Whereas some scholars have attempted to show that there is harmony between Calvin and later orthodox Calvinism, others have argued that contemporary Calvinism has veered significantly from Calvin's teaching, including his teaching on the extent of the atonement."

(The reader will recall that a number of Calvin's citations in this paper show him favorable to unlimited atonement.)

"Quotations from the Early Church Fathers

Clement of Alexandria (150-220): "Christ freely brings...salvation to the whole human race."

Eusebius (260-340): "It was needful that the Lamb of God should be offered for the other lambs whose nature He assumed, even for the whole human race."

Athanasius (293-373): "Christ the Son of God, having assumed a body like ours, because we were all exposed to death [which takes in more than the elect], gave Himself up to death for us all as a sacrifice to His Father."

Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386): "Do not wonder if the whole world was ransomed, for He was not a mere man, but the only-begotten Son of God."

Gregory of Nazianzen (324-389): "The sacrifice of Christ is an imperishable expiation of the whole world."

Basil (330-379): "But one thing was found that was equivalent to all men....the holy and precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He poured out for us all."

Ambrose (340-407): "Christ suffered for all, rose again for all. But if anyone does not believe in Christ, he deprives himself of that general benefit." He also said, "Christ came for the salvation of all, and undertook the redemption of all, inasmuch as He brought a remedy by which all might escape, although there are many who...are unwilling to be healed."

Augustine (354-430): Though Augustine is often cited as supporting limited atonement, there are also clear statements in Augustine's writings that are supportive of unlimited atonement. For example: "The Redeemer came and gave the price, shed His blood, and bought the world. Do you ask what He bought? See what He gave, and find what He bought. The blood of Christ is the price: what is of so great worth? What, but the whole world? What, but all nations?"

He also stated, "The blood of Christ was shed for the remission of all sins."

Cyril of Alexandria (376-444): "The death of one flesh is sufficient for the ransom of the whole human race, for it belonged to the Logos, begotten of God the Father."

Prosper (a friend and disciple of Augustine who died in 463): "As far as relates to the magnitude and virtue of the price, and to the one cause of the human race, the blood of Christ is the redemption of the whole world: but those who pass through this life without the faith of Christ, and the sacrament of regeneration, do not partake of the redemption."

He also said, "The Savior is most rightly said to have been crucified for the redemption of the whole world." He then said, "Although the blood of Christ be the ransom of the whole world, yet they are excluded from its benefit, who, being delighted with their captivity, are unwilling to be redeemed by it."

TOPICS: General Discusssion
KEYWORDS: all; atonement; limited; love; unlimited
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This is from a calvinist who believes in unlimited atonement. That makes him a 4 point c'vist. I'd guess that he also rejects "double predestination." As P-Marlowe would say, "That makes him a 3.5 point Calvinist." This guy gets credit for doing his homework.
1 posted on 05/24/2002 8:27:56 PM PDT by xzins
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To: all
Oh yeah, I cut some of this to shorten it. I should have cut it more, but I tried to get to the point about Jesus dying for all. Go to the link for the entire article.
2 posted on 05/24/2002 8:30:55 PM PDT by xzins
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To: Corin Stormhands; fortheDeclaration; winstonchurchill; ShadowAce; P-Marlowe; Revelation 911...
This article is written by a calvinist and has some other calvinist comments in it that I wouldn't accept. It is a good exposition, however, of the case for Jesus dying for unlimited atonement.
3 posted on 05/24/2002 8:33:26 PM PDT by xzins
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To: xzins
In view of such passages, it is legitimate to ask: "If Christ died only for the elect, how can the offer of salvation be made to all persons without some sort of insincerity, artificiality, or dishonesty being involved? Is it not improper to offer salvation to everyone if in fact Christ did not die to save everyone?" "How can God authorize His servants to offer pardon to the non-elect if Christ did not purchase it for them? This is a problem that does not plague those who hold to General [Unlimited] Redemption, for it is most reasonable to proclaim the Gospel to all if Christ died for all."

Romans 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

Here Paul establishes a context for a scripture much like those above appearing to be universally applied. Notice Paul interprets a scripture here by explaining that "whosoever" used in this prophetic quote defines not simply a "world" of "all" but the amazing turn of events in human history of God offering eternal salvation to both Jew and Gentile. This is a very important point I pray isn't lost.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

In the context Paul provides, the significance of this as not nessessarily universal salvation to all men but that now both Jew and Gentile both can call upon that name to obtain salvation. This is a fine point but I think extremely important.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

Certainly our context is firmly established at this point as stated, the complex relationship between God and His world defined as two distinct peoples, Jew and Gentile.

Romans 11 1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying,

3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

(Who says God does not use deception to accomplish His purposes?)

9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:

10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

Continuing true to context, Paul teaches that the fall of the Jew is the riches of the world, one of the terms used to define a universal salvation above. How would their fall be riches to the whole world? By grafting the wild olive branch of the Gentiles into the olive tree as Paul explains below.

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

Again the "world" is defined as reconciled by the casting away of the Jew and even "life from the dead" is implied as directly related to their casting away.

16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.

20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graff them in again.

24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes.

29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:

31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.

32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Here is the word "all" twice yet I hope and pray you can see the fine distinction Paul applies to what might be called "universal salvation". Paul teaches here that the mercy extended to "all" is a result of God having concluded "all" (of the Jews!) in unbelief. This is how God's mercy and salvation is extended to "all" mankind and not to the Jew of the old covenant only. This is how Christ's blood applies to "all" mankind but it is always within the context of having been once only the province of the Jewish covenant and that salvation is a result of the operation of being "grafted" into the original root. That is another subject indeed. Food for thought I hope, I leave you from my ramble with Paul carrying on rather unusually joyful! God bless "all" in the "world"!

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

4 posted on 05/25/2002 4:43:31 AM PDT by vmatt
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To: xzins
5 posted on 05/25/2002 7:12:25 AM PDT by maestro
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To: vmatt


Now you guys have done stirred up the hornets nest AGAIN!
6 posted on 05/25/2002 3:50:31 PM PDT by Elsie
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To: maestro, vmatt, Corin Stormhands; fortheDeclaration; winstonchurchill; ShadowAce; P-Marlowe...
ftD, on the thread "Jesus Died for All, Not Just for a Select Few," we have a calvinist proving an unlimited atonement beyond a reasonable doubt. It was a nice touch having a calvinist DISPROVE point 3 of the tulip construct.

1. T - Everyone's flippin' crazy and corrupt.
2. U - God's picks some for heaven and some for hell.
3. L - Then he died ONLY for the ones he picked.
4. I - Then he forced them on the busride to heaven.
5. P - And he ain't lettin' any of 'em off 'til they get there.

Given their system, it makes sense SINCE he picked some for heaven and some for hell, that he dies ONLY for those that he picked for heaven.

But now we got a calvinist saying that ACTUALLY the bible DOES SAY that Jesus died for EVERYONE.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why God would die for someone he provided no remedy to; someone he would unerringly throw into hell ... with no hope that that could be changed. That doesn't make sense....outside of God being schizoid.

It makes sense if he died for those he had some hope for. And since the c'vist scholar I quoted says Jesus died for all, then that only makes sense if EVERYONE has a fair and equal shot at a real, unprogrammed hope.

7 posted on 05/25/2002 5:40:32 PM PDT by xzins
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To: Elsie
See #7. (why worry about rats and hornets?)
8 posted on 05/25/2002 5:41:24 PM PDT by xzins
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To: xzins
New box of crayolas, xzins?
9 posted on 05/25/2002 5:42:05 PM PDT by drstevej
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To: drstevej
I was going for a rainbow but you c'vists left me two points short: indigo and violet. LOL (don't have 2 points up your sleeve, do you?)
10 posted on 05/25/2002 5:51:06 PM PDT by xzins
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To: xzins
don't have 2 points up your sleeve, do you?

Let me look..... Nope, sure don't.

My views and perspective are included in this post. I neglected to list you in the distribution list, sorry.

11 posted on 05/25/2002 6:34:46 PM PDT by drstevej
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To: drstevej,xzins
New box of crayolas, xzins?

Actually, I think xzins has another career as interior decorating awaiting. I thought it was a neat touch to write the limited atonement prong (not accepted by 4-pointers, but accepted by 5-pointers) in a nearly unreadable 'yellow'. It kinda gave the impression of invisible ink. Good choice.

Actually, all of the Tulip is written in fading ink. Going, going, almost gone.

12 posted on 05/25/2002 6:49:46 PM PDT by winstonchurchill
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To: drstevej
I believe the application of the atonement is limited to the elect only

The above is from the post you provided the link for: I don't understand what you mean. (It appears to say that the atonement ONLY applies to the elect, but that it was FOR everyone.) HOW is it for everyone, if that is what you mean?

13 posted on 05/25/2002 6:50:19 PM PDT by xzins
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To: xzins
14 posted on 05/25/2002 6:50:35 PM PDT by maestro
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To: xzins
Note my private reply.
15 posted on 05/25/2002 6:53:05 PM PDT by drstevej
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To: xzins
#1- the man who wrote this is not a Calvinist or he would believe in limited atonement.

#2 Your comments on this thread are very unbecoming for a minister of the gospel. Not only are you misrepresenting Calvinism, but even the title is a misrepresentation of what we believe. We have no idea how many God elected. He could have elected everyone for all we know. Your "select few" terminology is a deliberate misrepresentation, no, it is a lie and I am quite frankly getting very tired of the Arminians misrepresenting Calvinism with their ugly Satanic venom (what else can you call the mean spiritedness in comments. NOTE: Calvinists can yield to the flesh and the devil just as well as Arminians. I'm just calling them as I am seeing them at the current moment). You had better pray you are right about everything because you are not engaging in debate or discourse but insults and deliberate devisiveness of which the Christ who called for unity would not be pleased.
16 posted on 05/25/2002 8:28:34 PM PDT by DittoJed2
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To: DittoJed2
believe in limited atonement= Your "select few" terminology is a deliberate misrepresentation

I thought this IS Calvinism!?

Select many - reject few........ is that better?
17 posted on 05/25/2002 8:35:48 PM PDT by Elsie
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To: DittoJed2; Corin Stormhands
#1. The guy is a 4 point calvinist. REad the article and see his deference toward Calvin. He is not the only calvinist around who rejects "limited atonement."

#2. I'm not trying to be divisive. I'm trying to be part of the solution that topples calvinism from the stage of Christian History. I think it's bad theology.

Please note that that is not directed at you personally. I've discussed with you in the past and find you an able combatant, one who knows her subject, and most importantly, I consider you a Christian.

18 posted on 05/25/2002 8:36:33 PM PDT by xzins
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To: Elsie
Select many - reject few........ is that better?
No, it isn't. It presumes something God didn't tell us, that is the number of people who are saved. It is better to say that He selected as many or as few as His sovereignty willed and passed over as many or as few as His sovereignty willed. He's God. He can do what He wants. He would still be just if He passed over all of us.
19 posted on 05/25/2002 9:11:52 PM PDT by DittoJed2
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To: xzins
#1. The guy is a 4 point calvinist. REad the article and see his deference toward Calvin. He is not the only calvinist around who rejects "limited atonement."

Then the guy is what is referred to as an Amyraldian, not a Calvinist. He may agree with 4 points of Calvinism, others may agree with 3 or 2 or 1, but that doesn't make them a Calvinist. A Calvinist holds to all 5 points.

#2. I'm not trying to be divisive. I'm trying to be part of the solution that topples calvinism from the stage of Christian History. I think it's bad theology.

You may have good intentions (even though I adamantly think you are wrong regarding Calvinism being bad theology), but the tone of your posts is very divisive. It is possible to argue a point without exagerating it to the point of distortion. What you are presenting is not Calvinism - it is an ugly spin on it that offends those of us who believe that the doctrine is actually beautiful.

1. T - Everyone's flippin' crazy and corrupt. 2. U - God's picks some for heaven and some for hell. 3. L - Then he died ONLY for the ones he picked. 4. I - Then he forced them on the busride to heaven. 5. P - And he ain't lettin' any of 'em off 'til they get there.
Xzins, this part is not constructive but inflamatory. In order to improve the level of discourse (cause you know some Calvinist is gonna see this and say you're flippin' crazy and corrupt for writing it), try to avoid such language in the future. It is divisive, and it is a distortion, and it doesn't become you or add anything to your argument.
It makes sense if he died for those he had some hope for. And since the c'vist scholar I quoted says Jesus died for all, then that only makes sense if EVERYONE has a fair and equal shot at a real, unprogrammed hope.
Sorry, but this statement doesn't make sense in light of God's omnipotence. God doesn't "have hope" for anyone. He KNOWS with CERTAINTY who will be saved. His atonement does not cover the sins of those who will not be saved, therefore it is limited to those who will be saved. Even YOU believe in limited atonement of some form unless you are a Universalist.

Please note that that is not directed at you personally. I've discussed with you in the past and find you an able combatant, one who knows her subject, and most importantly, I consider you a Christian.
I consider you a Christian as well, which is why I admonish you to up the level of discourse. I've called Calvinists out on their level of discourse before as well. We can debate till the cows come home, but we needn't make it so ugly that it is just an unfair representation of what the other person believes.
20 posted on 05/25/2002 9:21:19 PM PDT by DittoJed2
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