13 thoughts on “Atonement 4: Lecture Notes on The Atonement

  1. Phil’s work in this is excellent, as I am sure you found out. While we are not identical in our approach, we share a lot of the same moderating concerns. It is a resource I recommend often. I “think” I do so in my first paper, where I was just beginning to sort through all of this more thoroughly.

    Phil also mentions Curt Daniel’s indispensable work “The History and Theology of Calvinism.” It really is a must read for anyone wanting to get their head around these issues in a comprehensive way.

    Thanks Renee!

  2. It’ll be interesting to hear where you two differ. I’m looking forward to learning a lot in the next few weeks. As to “wrapping my head around the issue”……..I don’t know if that’s even possible 🙂

  3. Phil just has a slight more emphasis on the limitation of the atonement than I do. He believes it is limited in some way – using language like – Christ died one way for the elect, and another way for the non-elect. But that seems to not be Bible language. I don’t believe the Scripture speaks of Christ actually dying more than one way, but that the death He died is applied to some savingly, and not to others. That’s about it.

  4. Sir,
    Though I do not have Spurgeon’s notes on 1 Timothy 2:4 at my disposal at present – “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” – If I remember correctly Spurgeon argues that we ARE TO TAKE THAT VERSE AT FACE VALUE. (I whole heartedly agree, btw.) Question: Do you think that in light of his comments on that verse that Spurgeon’s thinking was close to where you are now coming from? I know that Hodge was one of his favorites.

  5. Mark,just saw your comment and that you might like this sermon I remembered quoting Spurgeon on the verses you mentioned. Can’t give the link here,but I think it’s called ‘does God desire the salvation of all men’by Brian Anderson in Milpitas Bible Fellowship’s online library. -Phil-not-Johnson.

  6. I know the sermon’s not meant to be a doctrinal statement,but just wanted to say I think Reid’s view that Christ just died in one way,ordained to be received by whosoever will,ordained to be applied to the elect,is simpler and better. But the overall point is there.

  7. Hey Mark – good to hear from you! And two good questions.

    First off, his sermon on this text is one that I really love. I think he is so right in making sure we understand there are layers or dimensions to God’s will, even as there are in our own. No one has a WILL to give themselves into the hands of a relative stranger, become unconscious, and have that man cut his body open and remove parts of it. BUT – we DO want rid of the tumor. So we will what we would not. As made in God’s image, we must make some room for a similar faculty in God, or we are forced to bring His entire will into the realm of an absolute decree – which inevitably leads to making His the author of sin. It robs of any category of true disobedience – after all – isn’t everyone just doing what God has ordained? If we make it all that simple, we ruin any true sense of human responsibility, and any true sense of God interacting with us in a meaningful way. Spurgeon labors hard to protect those realities.

    Now I’ve also read enough of Spurgeon to know he sticks to a very limited atonement at the same time. Others have done that too, like James Montgomery Boice and others. In Boice’s preaching, he does not hesitate to tell sinners God loves them and died for them and paid for their sins – and yet holds to limited atonement. So we would need to get his definition of Limited Atonement to know his mind on it completely. Nevertheless, he seems to just accept the paradox.

    I would be father away from Spurgeon and closer to Hodge on this. I posit a dual reality in the atonement. A genuine love for all men, and a genuine provision for all men, and some benefits even for all men, and yet that God in His sovereign choice only grants the added grace of saving faith to the elect alone – and had such special intent for them all along. Hence we can simply accept the universal passages like this one in 1 Tim., and the particularistic passages which which speak of His special intent toward the elect. Making the limitation to be in the atonement itself does not seem to be how the Bible handles the issue. There is no passage to be found which says that Jesus died ONLY for the elect. FOR the elect, yes. ONLY? No. The limitation (I believe) is in whom God sovereignly applies it to, and how.

    Does that make sense?

  8. Sir,
    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

    I guess where I am coming from is that I see all of the benefits of the atonement contained only within the descriptions of the New Covenant, as seen in Hebrews 8:6-13; 10:16; Jer.31:31-34; Ezek.36:25-27. I see God showing the world His power in the “I will’s” of the New Covenant versus the the exhibiting of human weaknesses under the Old Cov. I think that what is on display here is His life-changing grace in taking dead slaves of sin, and, through/because of Christ’s crosswork, changing/transforming these into slaves of God.

    On the other hand I do not see any concrete scriptural data to support the idea that Chhrist’s cross-work in any way benefits the non-elect.


  9. Mark – I absolutely love the emphasis on the New Covenant. That is an area we need to explore more and more.

    Where I (and others) see benefit for the non-elect in the atonement have more to do with what most would call “common grace”. In other words, if God were just, (and He is) then there is no basis for not condemning and damning the entire race from the moment Adam fell – and sending us all to Hell right then. What has stayed His hand from the final execution of justice – without making Him unjust in His waiting, saving the elect, making the Gospel call to all – and allow mankind to have any kind of joy or pleasure whatever – all springs from the Cross. The Cross is the only means whereby God can justly exercise mercy and grace to any.

  10. I have a method of studying the Bible most people consider strange, but it is the only method I have actually found taught in the Bible. This simple method uses the Bible to explain the Bible.

    Your study uses the word atonement in connection with the work of Christ. How did you come to this conclusion? Can you show me the Bible verses you used?

    The word atonement is found only once in the New Testament. It is not safe to establish doctrine based on one verse. Atone basically means to make one aware. This is the context the Bible uses the word atone. To understand how the Bible uses the word atone we need to look at verses using the word.

    KJV Exodus 29:36
    36. And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it.

    KJV Exodus 30:15
    15. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls.

    KJV Exodus 32:30
    30. And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.

    It only takes a few verses to see and understand the proper use of the word atonement. We know an animal, money or Moses can never bring forgiveness of our sins. Therefore atonement cannot and does not mean forgiveness of sins. Only Christ can forgive sin.

    In the OT the sacrifices were used only to remind people of their sins.

    KJV Leviticus 1:4
    4. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.

    KJV Leviticus 5:5-6
    5. And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing:
    6. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.

    KJV Leviticus 5:13
    13. And the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: and the remnant shall be the priest’s, as a meat offering.

    KJV Leviticus 5:16
    16. And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him.

    As we study the Bible we need to be respectful of the word of God. We use this phrase in the singular form in conversation but seldom do people take the time to give God due respect by studying His word, one word at a time, allowing God to show the meaning of each word.

  11. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    You wrote: “Your study uses the word atonement in connection with the work of Christ. How did you come to this conclusion? Can you show me the Bible verses you used?”

    In fact, the entire sacrificial system is “typical” of Christ and His single sacrifice provided to deal with sin in all of its ramifications.

    Lev. 4:31 (with many others) directly connects atonement with the forgiveness of sins. Hence the confessing of the sins of the people on the Day of atonement. Atonement is only necessary due to sin. It is not used in any other context.

    I would heartily agree that one cannot make a doctrine out of one verse. But the mass of atonement / redemptive / forgiveness language is all wrapped up in the OT sacrificial system.

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    It’s crystal clear for the Bible. The King James version is what is used as Biblical “calibration” but as long as you understand this you have come a really long way from your regular non believer. Genuine Christian Sermons will always verify or validate this.

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