Wednesday, April 8

Redemption and Limited Atonement

It has been some time since we have tackled here on the blog the "800 pound gorilla" of the doctrines of grace - Limited Atonement. Since most of us start out as iron clad and died on the wool Arminians who magnify the "free-will" of man or our own "decision to ask Jesus into our heart" the whole issue of particular redemption, definite redemption or limited atonement is a difficult one to accept at first. The first thought that comes to mind is a limited God or worse yet, an unloving God who refused to make salvation possible for all of humanity.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Limited atonement actually glorifies God in salvation. It takes the doctrine of salvation from being a mere possibility (and gamble) to actually being an accomplished, finished and completed fact. I'll also go this far, you actually see that along with all of the other wonderful God-accomplished facts regarding our salvation that required God's action and procurement we find that the atonement was no different. Jesus did NOT make my salvation possible on the cross...He SECURED IT, and He secured it for all who would ever believe (the elect)!

In the small little book with an incredible amount of substantial truth on the atonement John Murray in his classic work "Redemption Accomplished and Applied" spells this out brilliantly -

"If we concentrate on the thought of redemption, we shall be able perhaps to sense more readily the impossibility of universalizing the atonement. What does redemption mean? It does not mean redeemability, that we are placed in a redeemable position. It means that Christ purchased procured redemption. This is the triumphant note of the New Testament whenever it plays on the redemptive chord. Christ redeemed us to God by his blood (Rev. 5:9). He obtained eternal redemption for us (Heb 9:12). "He gave himself for us in order that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify to himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works (Titus 2:14)......Christ did not come to put men in a redeemable position but to redeem to himself a people. We have the same result when we properly analyze the meaning of expiation, propitiation, and reconciliation. Christ did not come to make sins expiable. He came to expiate sins - "when he made purification of sins, he sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high" (Heb. 1:3). Christ did not come to make God reconcilable. He reconciled us to God by his own blood."
Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1955) 63

So what is the atonement? Just an eternal "roll of the dice" or a secure and accomplished fact for all who would ever believe?

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Blogger Jim Peet said...

Two key words in this discussion would be ἐξαγοράζω (redeemed) in Galatians 3:13, 4:5 AND ἀγοράζω (bought) in 1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23.

All positions (except Universalists) believe in a limited atonement (because not all are saved!).

Did Christ actually procure the salvation of the elect or just make it available to all?

4/08/2009 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Peet said...

My position.

First, the term limited atonement is probably not the best term to use.

Better ones:

Definite atonement, actual atonement, or particular redemption.

Christ actually accomplished something on the cross ... and it was the purchase of the elect.

A good book (besides David Steele or Loraine Boettner) would be "The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel" by James Montgomery Boice & Philip Graham Ryken

4/08/2009 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your man Murry asks the question, "What does redemption mean?" And then he gives a negative and positive answer. Negatively, he says, "It does not mean redeemability, that we are placed in a redeemable position." To which we say, Phooey! Positively, he says, "It means that Christ purchased procured redemption." To which I say, Amen!

Murry asks a good question. Too bad he botches the answer.

That God has placed all men in a redeemable position is a matter of Biblical record. Redemption essentially means 'freedom by the payment of a price." It doesn't mean automatic freedom by the payment of a price. If it did, then we'd have to rename Murry's book, Redemption Accomplished IS Redemption Applied, in which case we'd have the cross applying its own benefits.

Now, contrary to Murry and a Biblically challenged Calvinism, it appears from Scripture the cross makes even Christ-rejecters redeemable: "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction (2 Pet. 2:1)."

If Murry and the Calvinists had paid closer attention to the title of his book, they perhaps would've noticed the difference between redemption accomplished and redemption applied. Indeed, in redemption accomplished the cross secures saving benefits for all men. Yet God suspends the application of those benefits upon repentance and faith (Lk. 13:3,5; Acts 16:31; 20:21).

It's obvious the cross has laid down the release price for all men (Heb. 2:9; 1 Jo. 2:2), and it's just as obvious God suspends the benefits of that release price upon repentance and faith (Mk. 16:16; Acts. 3:19). If God's plan calls for both the unconditional accomplishment of salvation and its conditional application, who are Calvinists to reply against God? Again, if the Son offered the Father a full redemptive price for the world (rendering all men saveable), and the Father then chooses to suspended the benefits of that redemptive price upon repentance and faith, who are you to question God?

I have always found the limitarian theory of the atonement a bit confusing in light of Christ's prayer on the cross: "Father, forgive them" (Lk. 23:34). Now, if we take this holy orison seriously, then either the Father answered it, or He didn't. If He didn't, then we have the troubling notion of an ineffectual prayer of the Son, which certainly calls into question His statement in Jo. 11:32 that the Father always hears Him and also casts doubt over the efficacy of Christ's priestly intercession (Jo. 17).

But if the Father did answer the Son, then it suggests Christ's atonement even included His crucifiers (Lk. 23:13-26; Acts 3:12-26) and enemies (Ro. 5:10) and the entire nation of Israel (Acts 3:12,13), for it would be upon the atonement God would forgive them. Thus, either the atonement included many who'd never enjoy its saving benefits, or all those for whom Christ prayed were the elect of God, which seems impossible from the Biblical data.

I must confess. I had to laugh when I read this, "Since most of us start out as iron clad and died on the wool Arminians who magnify the "free-will" of man or our own "decision to ask Jesus into our heart" the whole issue of particular redemption, definite redemption or limited atonement is a difficult one to accept at first."

You say we all start out Arminians? We could only wish. The facts appear quite otherwise. All Muslims start out rigid predestinarians; all Calvinists start out as determinists, necessitarians, and cause-and-effect fatalists; a large part of secularism opts for total fatalism; and many Roman Catholic Jansenists and Augusinians embrace predestinarianism. And, of course, there's the large contingent of fate-based Hindoos and other far eastern sects.

No, my friend, you're too funny. When three fifths of the world starts out anti-free will, you should revise your statement to read, "Since most of us start out as iron clad predestinarians, fatalists, determinists, necessitarians, pantheists, cause-and-effect secularists, and died in the wool Calvinists who magnify "absolute causation" and the mystical awareness of the divine, the whole issue of free will is a difficult one to accept at first.

Indeed it is.

Have a good one!


P.S. I should think the crap shoot is your problem, not the non Calvinists'. You have to wonder if Christ really died for you, no? After all, if He died for a limited number, He may not have died for you. And even though you may presently believe you're among the elect, you may turn out to be a reprobate, because, as Calvinists teach it, God may give some a false faith.

So, tell me, Mike: Did Christ die for you? And if He did, how do you know this? Do you have Scripture proof? And, please, don't argue subjective evidences. We know how easily sinners can slant such proofs to their favor.

(One more thing. My guess is you probably came to Christ under one of those awful freewill ministries, but later, through the influence of various Calvinists, came to see how you "really" got saved.)

4/10/2009 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Hess said...

With all of your voluminous responses to our every Calvinistic post I think it would be a great idea to actually publish your responses in a book! I’m sure you would have an army of Arminian followers who would love to have your documented responses to elevating man’s decision and trying to dethrone God’s sovereignty.

The real problem with your soteriology and what makes it so faulty is that you place man in a position that only God could be in – the absolute sovereign one. Your role actually makes God more of a heavenly gambler than the one and only sovereign agent in salvation. Be sure when you quote Hebrews 2:9 that you actually go onto quote the rest of the passage.

But please continue to respond to our posts! You are always a laughable and enjoyable piece of free entertainment. If your theology wasn’t so man-centered and aberrant it wouldn’t be so laughably sad. And seriously, give it some thought to publishing a book. Those who still consider man the final determining factor in their salvation should find anti-nomian/semi-pelagian people like you quite interesting and helpful.

Grace and peace,


P.S. I know for certain that Christ died on my behalf. Knowing that my salvation had nothing to do with my work, will, desire or prayer is a great source of assurance. Thank you for your concern though! Have a great Easter!

4/11/2009 06:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Have a great Easter.


4/11/2009 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

Calvinism, with the exception of eternal security has its origin in the pit of Hell. Satan loves your TULI part of TULIP.

I Timothy 2:4 in the Greek says, '. . .who wishes all men (people) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.'

The Greek in Acts 13:48 says, 'and as many as were inclined to eternal life believed.'

Mr. Camping is a perfect example of an apostate who is telling the world that the church age is over. He is doing Satan's bidding. The proof that we are still in the church age is because Jesus through the Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 11 that we are to give Holy Communion until He comes, and I do not see Jesus in the Heavenlies or on earth yet.

Go research this. Every major cult like JW's, Mormonism, etc. came out of the Calvinistic tradition.

Calvin and Luther came straight out of Catholicism and they never matured in faith to the point of being Biblical. Thank God we have studied to the point where we got out of all this error that has infested the church.

Everyone has an opinion; listen to the scholars.

Rev. Dr. Berrian, Th.D. & Ph.D. Summa Cum Laude
Berrian Bible Institute

6/17/2010 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

My Email address is at:

6/17/2010 05:44:00 PM  

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