Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why #Christ Died For All Men, Not Just The Elect ( #Salvation )

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17).  The Bible says we are saved by faith in the gospel that Christ died for our sins, and rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1ff.).  Thus a believer's faith is based directly on the objective fact that Christ died for his sins, as stated in the Bible.

What the Bible teaches, and a sinner can know about his relationship to God before he becomes saved, is that he is a "sinner", not that he is "elect".  Paul, for example, reasoned not that Christ died for the "elect", but "for sinners, of whom I am chief", and said this was a "faithful" saying (1 Tim. 1:15). The sinners faith is based on the objective, Bible fact that he is one of the sinners for whom Christ died and rose, not that he is one of the elect.

On the other hand, telling someone Christ died only for the elect is not telling him that Christ died for his sins, and robs him of any objective, Scriptural basis for believing He did.  You can't know you are elect, unless you first believe Christ died for your sins, and you can't know He died for your sins unless the Bible tells you He did.  By trying to limit the value of Christ's atonement to only the elect, Calvinists seem to reveal a gospel of faith in one's own subjective, arbitrary assumption he is elect, rather than objective faith that the Bible says Christ died and rose for his sins.

The Calvinist will object that to teach universal atonement is to claim universal salvation.  But this is not the case.  Since faith is the method by which God applies the value of Christ's atonement to the account of the elect, the lost perish not because Christ's atonement failed to pay for their sins (including the sin of unbelief), but because God never applied the blood to the doorpost of their soul, through faith  (Ex. 12:7, 12-13).

I agree God is sovereign in electing sinners to salvation. Romans 9 makes it clear that only the elect will be saved, not everyone, and that this is done according to God's sovereign purposes in election, not because of man who wills or runs. John 1:13 shows those who believe are born not of the will of man, but God.  But universal atonement, does not necessitate universal salvation.  

For example, John 12 teaches

47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 
48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

Here, Christ says the world He came to save, includes those who reject Him and His words.  Christ will not judge these people, because He came to save them. The word He spoke to them, however, will judge them, because they rejected the offer of salvation. This shows both that Christ died for all men, yet that not all men will ultimately be saved.

The Bible makes clear, in no uncertain terms, that Christ tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9), is the Savior of all men, specially them that believe (1 Tim. 4:10), is the propitiation not only for our own sins, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 Jn. 2:2), and even bought the false teachers who deny Him as Lord (2 Pet. 2:1).  Further, John 12 clearly identifies the "world" Christ came to save as including those who ultimately reject Him. 

Thus, the objection that if Christ died for all men, then all men must be saved, is based on erroneous logic, not exegesis. Fact is, it is not enough that blood atonement is made for sins.  It still has to be applied to the doorpost of a persons's house, before it becomes effective and the angel of death passes over, even among those who are elect (Ex. 12:7, 12-13).  Faith is the method by which God puts the benefits of atonement to an individual's account, and God only gives faith to the elect (Eph. 2:8-9). The lost, therefore, perish not because no atonement was made for them, but because the blood was never applied to the doorposts of their souls through faith.

A limit cannot be placed on the value of Christ's death. As God, He is infinite, and as man, He died. Death is the penalty for all sin (Rom. 6:23), and Christ died. Therefore, the penalty for all sin has been paid. The idea that you could fix a finite limit on the value of Christ's death is ridiculous, and implies that sin itself, and God Himself, is finite.  

Further, the limited atonement theory may actually be a false, damnable heresy. Fact is, we are saved by faith in Christ's atonement, not faith in election. You cannot have objective faith in Christ's death as a payment for your sin, if you believe His death only paid the price for the elect. Otherwise, how could you know He died for you, unless you start from the assumption you are elect?  That would be seem to be placing faith in election, rather than Christ's death and resurrection, and to be putting the cart before the ox.  

Paul didn't say Christ died for the elect, of whom He was chief, but for sinners. All men are sinners, and Christ died for all men. The benefits of this atonement, however, are only applied to the souls of those who are elect. Thus the universal atonement of Christ does not necessitate universal salvation.

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The Gospel


Have you heard Christ died for our sins, and God raised Him from the dead? Did you know God saves you from hell and gives you eternal life through faith in this finished work alone, not your merits (Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-3; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 1:8-9)? This is so man cannot boast, and God alone gets the glory (Eph. 2:8-9).

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