Atonement 2: Re-visiting my thoughts on the Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ

What is recorded below, is a synopsis of a two part talk recently given at a small think-tank. I was asked to attend and bring something to the group of how my understanding of the doctrine of the atonement had changed. Why I no longer hold to the more typical conceptions and formulations surrounding the idea of “Limited Atonement” – and yet do not surrender one iota of ground on the realities of God’s sovereignty in salvation, nor His own sovereign election of men unto to salvation, nor His power and action in predestination.

If you would prefer to hear the audio of these two presentations, you can click HERE: REID’S AUDIO and once there, click on the two sessions bearing my name. They were a bit stream-of-consciousness, but also cover some other areas which might be helpful and/or of interest.

For a tremendous amount of research into this topic regarding Calvin’s own statements on the atonement, as well as many other of the Reformers and Puritans – CLICK HERE FOR CALVIN & CALVINISM

I will freely admit that I remain in process in this discussion. My research, study and analysis is far from over. And I believe I can say in all honesty, I do not have a need for my final thoughts on this topic to end in a specific place, save for those things which it is already clear from Scripture cannot possibly be the case – such as a universal salvation.

Due to time constraints I was forced to omit an historical survey of the debate over Limited Atonement in the Reformed & Calvinistic camps, and a plethora of quotations establishing the wide scope of views and nuances within the debate.

In answer to one questioner who asked how this view differed from the Arminian view of the atonement? I had two brief responses.

1 – I can no more deny the statement “Jesus died for all men” because it is also said by Arminians, than I can deny the doctrine of the Trinity because it is held as a dogma by Roman Catholicism.

2 – Arminian theology posits that Jesus in fact had no elect He fully intended to save, who were predestinated before the foundation of the world unto salvation. The atonement merely made salvation a possibility. James Arminius’ foundational issue was with the doctrine of predestination. He simply could not admit it. Scripture in my view cannot be clearer on the subject. Nor can a sovereign election unto salvation by God not based upon mere foreknowledge be denied. These are Scriptural givens.

But neither do I feel the need to posit that because these two things are true, somehow they require a doctrine of the atonement that denies that Jesus died for the sins of all men, paid the penalty for all, died in their place, and yet they are not sovereignly brought to salvation and will justly perish in their own sins. I will freely admit there is a mystery in it. But also assert it is the Bible’s teaching upon the subject. Nor do I find any reason to try and controvert the clear Scripture record that God genuinely loves all men, sincerely desires the salvation of all, and sincerely invites all to it on the basis of Jesus’ atonement, and yet does not sovereignly work in all to accomplish it. Same mystery. Same need to leave it with God.

So as not to exhaust you, my basic plan was to cover several key points.

1. Quoting Carson from the “Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God”, and R. C. Sproul in “What is Reformed Theology?”, I dealt with the inadequacy of the term “limited Atonement” itself. That it is not the atonement as an act which is limited in any way, excepting that, it was what it was – an atonement, and not something else. No one except a very narrow Hyper-Calvinist would say the atonement is limited in sufficiency. And thus the term (coined I believe by Loraine Boettner in 1942 when he first published the acronym T.U.L.I.P.) is a poor one to work from. I advanced my preference for the term “objective” atonement – though I’m not married to it.

My second issue with the term LA is that it also gives rise to ideas like: Jesus died one way for one group, and another way for another group. The truth is, this isn’t a Scriptural use of atonement language, it is confusing and introduces a very artificial idea into it all. Christ died. Period. He didn’t die different ways. To say He died one way or another is to move us away from the real questions like: What comes of His death? What does it mean? What does it accomplish? Does it do what it does all at once? How does a man gain an “interest” in it? etc.

I added briefly here a reminder that Christ dies – died, but once, for all. He did not die as many times are there are elect persons. He died but once. That one and the same death, is applied to all who believe. But it is nonetheless but one death. It is applicable to all. It is this one death the Father willingly receives in the place of all the just deaths of those who believe. There is no limitation in this death in the sense sometimes applied to it.

2. I talked about our tendency to speak of atonement as though it were purely ex opere operato (in the doing, it is done). Scripture is clear that it is on the basis of the atonement that we enjoy the realities of salvation. Nevertheless, it is by faith we are justified, not by the atonement in the abstract. Eph. 2:3 demonstrates without contradiction that prior to faith, the elect “were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind”. This was entered into again later as I developed the difference between paying for sin, and justifying someone. This is a crucial distinction. To utilize Bruce Ware’s thoughts on this, if even the elect remain children of wrath until we are justified, Scripture has revealed how it is Christ could pay for a man’s sins, and a man still be lost. I’ll did come back to this issue again.

At this point I did note how that there was an “automatic” aspect of the atonement. This aspect has to do with propitiating the Father. Upon Christ’s death, the Father in effect said: “I am satisfied with this death, this blood, this sacrifice. All who come to me by means of this same Lamb, I will freely and lovingly accept. I am satisfied with Him as a substitute for any and all who will come in His name. I will not accept them alone, nor with any other substitute. With Him alone am I satisfied.”

Now, each one is required to appropriate the Lamb for himself. Each one must bring the same blood. Each one must believe that the Father is satisfied with Christ, and that if I come in Him, He will be satisfied with me.

Though the analogy is a mean one, nevertheless idea of escrow is useful here. An idea not altogether foreign to the Word either. I believe it can easily be substantiated in the symbol of saving up of the ashes of the red heifer (see: Numb. 19). Christ’s sacrifice satisfied the Father, so that He would be willing to take in any who come by virtue of it, and it is sufficient for all. All are invited to take advantage of it by faith. The payment is made. What remains is to have our guilt removed. And this, is a function of justification. Justification is on the basis of the atonement for sure – but yet to be properly distinguished. Otherwise, we open ourselves up to a charge that John Owen tried (unsuccessfully I believe) to clear himself of – arriving at some form of eternal justification. A man may well make full restitution for his crimes – such does not alleviate His guilt. He is nonetheless still guilty of having committed the crime. Even if someone else were caught, tried, convicted and executed for his crime. He is still guilty. He must somehow be made righteous.

Christ has paid for the sins of all. Restitution (if you will) has been accomplished as well. The glory of God has been restored. Perfect obedience has been lived out. A perfect sacrifice has been slain. But until I can be declared “not-guilty” – “righteous”, I am still liable to my death. There are those in Hell now for whom Christ paid the just penalty for every sin. But they remain unjustified, still in their guilt, and therefore are still punished accordingly.

Is this double jeopardy? No. It would be double jeopardy if THEY paid the penalty twice. But not if He laid up a satisfaction which fully recompensed the Father, which the Father would be pleased to receive as well if they would but come by virtue of it – owning Christ as THEIR sacrifice by faith. The problem isn’t that He didn’t satisfy the Father, but in a way, that He doesn’t satisfy US! We must appropriate Him by faith.

Thus we have the Scripture declaring the Father was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, but we are still plead with to “be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:18-20) He offered up His lamb to cleanse the Temple that we might be able to be received into it. We must offer up ours, that we might be declared just so that we CAN enter. We both offer the same Lamb. The Father will only be satisfied with Christ alone.

3. Growing out of the problem of #2, we discussed the need to recognize again the agency of the Spirit in applying salvation. That it is not “automatic.” He applies the benefits of Christ’ death to us in space and time. “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3 & 5). Upon the queries after salvation, no one in the Scripture is ever directed to see if they are elect, and then just realize their status and the salvation that comes with it. All are directed to repent and believe. Apart from faith there is no justification, regardless of the work done at Calvary. That does not diminish Christ’s atoning work there, it is to appropriate Scripture language and sequence in terms of how one comes to partake of it savingly. If anything, this emphasizes the need for the work of the Spirit to use the Word of Christ preached to create faith in the soul (Rom. 10:17)

4. Painful as it is (for a systematics guy that is, as I am) I addressed very briefly the problem of our systematizing doctrines based upon a view of the “order of the decrees” which in fact we cannot know – for God has not revealed them. Calvin assiduously avoided this where his heirs ran rampant with it. This is neither safe nor wise. With this, I spent a short bit on why we must beware our own logical conclusions. We can be flawlessly logical, and yet wrong, if our conclusion contradicts revelation. It is logical to assume that if God gets glory from forgiving my sin, that increasing my sin increases His glory. But Paul’s “may it never be!” is the only appropriate response to what is actually pretty sound reasoning. Sound, except that revelation contradicts it. Paul confronts this problem of arriving at a logical but incorrect conclusion several times in Romans. We cannot safely extrapolate beyond revelation in concretizing doctrine. We must be held captive to what He was pleased to reveal – which belongs to us and our children (Deut. 29:29). While letting the hidden things remain with Him. No matter how logical it seems.

5. I spent some time on how we ask the questions around atonement debates in ways which are designed to produce certain answers. When we ask “did Jesus die for all men, or only for the elect” – our presupposition is that there can be no other alternatives. This is a dishonest approach. Who says it can only be one or the other? We face this tension in a number of crucial doctrinal areas. Is Jesus human or Divine? Yes. Is the Bible written by the Holy Spirit, or men? Yes. Is God one, or three? Yes. Did Jesus die for all men, or only for the elect? Yes! The requirement of a strict antithesis robs the Bible of its use of both/and language in this regard. It lays revelation captive to logic, rather than the other way around.

From this I ventured into the problem too of asking “what was God’s intent in the atonement?” The problem being the question will only admit of an answer in the singular, and forces us to cram all of the Biblical data into that paradigm. It leaves no room for asking if God might have had more than one intent. Here I brought up Dr. Ware short scheme of 5 intents, and went on to establish multiple intents in God by way example from the Law. It is incontrovertibly God’s intent that “thou shalt not kill.” Yet it is manifestly incontrovertible that in God’s sovereignty, men are permitted to kill one another all the time. We dare not posit a lack in His sovereignty. We dare not posit self-contradiction. But we can indeed see more than one intent working at one and the same time. These are not a contradiction. They allow God to be God. Why in the mystery of His being, He does not save all, when He earnestly expresses His desire to have all saved, and makes provision accordingly is something He must unravel, not me. We must fulfill our ambassadorial roles in pleading with all men as though it were God’s own voice – “be reconciled to God.” Let the mystery rest with Him. Do not try to resolve it.

6. I did then go back and develop the first pictures of atonement in Gen. 3. These initial observations of Man’s Fall and the Promise of th Redeemer ought to be crucial to our understanding of how atonement themes are to be understood. Sadly, they are nearly completely ignored. As a quick digest, I would note the following things from a reading of Genesis 3:

Let me also preface this with several needed contextual comments initiated by Bunyan in his work on Reprobation. Things needed to inform our overall interpretation of what comes after.

NOTE: All are created upright in Adam / Elect & non-Elect.

NOTE: All are created in the image of God / Elect & non-Elect.

NOTE: All are created for His glory / Elect & non-Elect.

NOTE: All fall together in Adam / Elect & non-Elect.

Now – Observe in the narrative:

a. The NEED for atonement is created by human sin. Man wanting to BE God.
b. Atonement is INSTINCTIVELY perceived as need by fallen man on some level. Hence the creation of all human religion, and man’s attempt to cover himself.
c. Atonement was first humanly ATTEMPTED apart from God by fabricating cover. It was not received by God as sufficient.
d. Atonement is seen as humanly UNACHIEVABLE.
e. God’s act of atonement first addresses NAKEDNESS (the need for cover).
f. God’s act of atonement secondly addresses their FEAR of God (due to guilt).
g. Atonement is God initiated.
h. Atonement is humanly resisted.
i. The second human attempt at atonement was BLAMESHIFTING.
j. Atonement was for the human race ONLY – no angelic provision.
k. Atonement was for BOTH sexes. The woman was not subsumed by the man as in the Mosaic covenant.
l. Atonement was for “unintentional” sins or sins of ignorance – Eve was deceived.
m. Atonement was for “intentional” sins – Adam was not deceived. Note that under the Mosaic code, a sacrifice had to be brought for such sins, but that the person also had to die.
n. Atonement was for COLLECTIVE sin – The RACE was covered.
o. Atonement was for INDIVIDUAL sin – EACH were covered.
p. Atonement was SUBSTITUTIONARY.
q. Atonement required a substitutionary DEATH.
r. Atonement FORESTALLED immediate FINAL judgment.

s. The promise of the Seed who was to come to bruise the Serpent’s head is made to all mankind in Adam & Eve.

I also expanded on how the sacrificial system retained a dual aspect in sacrifice (as above). The lamb on the Day of Atonement was slain to cleanse the Temple, not the people. The scape goat demonstrated expiation. But each was still responsible to bring his own sacrifices in due time. All three of these are types of Christ (as as others) and cannot be ignored with out flattening out the atonement portrait or collapsing all of it into only one aspect. Christ is always the only sacrifice God will accept etc. But He is appropriated one way by the Father, and another way by us.

7. I developed ever so slightly the idea that the atonement picture in Adam and Eve is one of GENERAL atonement – a promise made to all mankind. The picture in Cain & Able of INDIVIDUAL atonement. Each needing to bring a sacrifice by faith commensurate with God’s. And the 3rd picture in Noah & the Ark (kopher being the first use of atonement in the “pitch”) and how the emphasis there is upon the GRACE aspect of atonement.

And I closed with this quote from J. C. Ryle.

“I will give place to no one in maintaining that Jesus loves all mankind, came into the world for all, died for all, provided redemption sufficient for all, calls on all, invites all, commands all to repent and believe; and ought to be offered to all—freely, fully, unreservedly, directly, unconditionally—without money and without price. If I did not hold this, I dare not get into a pulpit, and I should not understand how to preach the Gospel.

But while I hold all this, I maintain firmly that Jesus does special work for those who believe, which He does not do for others. He quickens them by His Spirit, calls them by His grace, washes them in His blood—justifies them, sanctifies them, keeps them, leads them, and continually intercedes for them—that they may not fall. If I did not believe all this, I should be a very miserable, unhappy Christian.”

J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of John (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1880), 3:186.

I have omitted a large section I did on arguing that part of our view is errant because we are looking at it only from inside the perspective of the Mosaic covenant community. A bit like trying to describe what your house looks like to someone coming to visit – only by descriptions of the inside. We have to back up before the Mosaic covenant, and even the Abrahamic covenant and see how God revealed concepts of atonement from the get go.

I also spent time on how we must also ascertain where God is going in redemptive history if we are to get a clearer understanding of the trajectory of all things since Adam. Based upon 1 Peter 2:9-10 & Rev. 20-21, it looks like His final goal is the divinely ultimate manifestation of His mercy and grace through eternal, familial society with a redeemed humanity. Paul’s logic? The more that get saved, the more glorious He is. The doctrine of the atonement ought to blast us into evangelism, never dampen it.

Bruce Ware’s “multiple intentions”.

“God’s intentions in the death of Christ are complex, not simple; multiple, not single:

1. Christ died for the purpose of securing the sure and certain salvation of his own, his elect.

2. Christ died for the purpose of paying the penalty for the sin of all people, making it possible for all who believe to be saved.

3. Christ died for the purpose of securing the bone fide offer of salvation to all people everywhere.

4. Christ died for the purpose of providing an additional basis for condemnation for those who hear and reject the gospel that has been genuinely offered to them.

5. Christ died for the purpose of reconciling all things to the Father.”

42 thoughts on “Atonement 2: Re-visiting my thoughts on the Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ

  1. According to the set purpose of God that each man MUST give a direct confession to God regarding the loss of a man’s life by bloodshed, the crucifixion of Jesus is the sin of murder caused by bloodshed. Gen. 9:5b NIV. Therefore the only Way possible to obey the command in Acts 2:38, is by the faith of confessing directly to God that you are sorry Jesus has been crucified. The law of God has been changed Heb. 7:12, but only in regard to the sin of Jesus’ crucifixion. For by the law having had the word Repent added to it, the sin of Jesus’ crucifixion has been increased as the aditional basis for condemnation. For any man who does NOT by faith obey this command in the Way it must be obeyed is guilty of all the law.

    Evidently you have assumned that the contemporary theories of salvation you cite have merit. None of these theories are valid interpertations. The mistake made is the conjecture that an offering for sin is a possible resolution. However salvation is only by a satisfactory offering of sin that is the basis for changing God’s law. Hense “he became sin for us” does not mean in place of, it actually means he became the sin we all must repent of. This is the small narrow gate into the kingdom of God Jesus has perfected by his crucifixion.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Theodore. I found your comments interesting, though confusing in parts. That we are all guilty of the death of Christ is a foregone conclusion. A man must own his own guilt deserved the cross, and that Christ took that punishment in our place. We must trust His death on our behalf. The stress on confession the way you use it has me confused, as the context of Gen. 9 spells out what is meant by the “reckoning” for killing a man: 6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man,
    by man shall his blood be shed,
    for God made man in his own image.
    In other words, murder requires a punishment of death. I do not know that the way you presented it is not strained beyond the text.

    Salvation is clearly spelled out as the complete acknowledgement of one’s personal guilt which deserved the cross, and faith that Christ died in our place, and rose from the dead for our justification. Substitutionary, penal atonement. That is basic orthodox Christianity from the start. Are you saying something different?

  3. I do not see that Paul’s response to the Philippian jailer for instance to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” embraces your requirement regarding one’s sorrow re: Jesus’ cricifixion as you put it.

  4. I would add, I always have an immediate skepticism regarding statements indicating one thinks everyone else’s view is errant, and their own is the only true one.

  5. There are only a few that ever find (understand) what the small narrow gate perfected by the crucifixion of Jesus actually is. A stake in the majority’s opinion in this case is not wise.

  6. Well let’s look at this way. You evidently think that God has selectively chosen beforehand who is to be born of God, as in born again, and thereby he would have selectively chosen beforehand those who would not be born of God. If this hollow philosophy is correct why is there any reasonable reason for Jesus’ crucifixion? But natural birth has a rider on it. None of God’s children are natural descendants. Jn. 1:13. In item 4 at the end of your article you recognize a rider relative to Jesus’ death of additional condemnation do you not? In other words the proposition he has perfected for an escape from eternal death is also recriminatory.
    Now as you’ve implied it is not reasonable for you to be required to give God an account regarding that the loss of Jesus’ life was caused by bloodshed. However God in Gen. 9:5c NIV makes it very clear that each man too must give him an account regarding the life of at least one man whose life has been taken by bloodshed. So then are you saying “Not me. I don’t have too!”
    With that said let me remind you that there are some who have been predestinated by God to serve the destiny of disobeying the message. 1 Pt. 2:8b Is it God who has put you in this class or is it your self?

  7. Thanks again for stopping by and contributing Theodore. I must confess once again I have trouble following some of your logic. For instance, God’s predestinating some to salvation while passing over others (Eph. 1:5) seems incontrovertible given certain explicit Scriptural statements – do see Eph. 1;5.

    How election unto salvation would somehow negate the need for the cross escapes me. The cross is the only means whereby God can forgive a sinner his sin and yet remain just so that sin is actually dealt with.

    My point in number 4 is simply that all men are RESPONSIBLE to believe the Gospel and be saved – since the only thing which prevents them from it is their own obstinance. They are unwilling to believe, not void of the capacity TO believe – else they could believe nothing at all. Their problem is moral, not physical or psychical.

    Your statement regarding giving an account regarding the loss of Jesus’ life is a bit confusing to me. We DO give an account as He was crucified for our sins, and the chief of those sins is rejecting Him and murdering Him. His blood avails for that as well. So I’m not sure what your point there exactly is.

    The 1 Pet. passage as I understand it refers to all the disobedient who since the fall have all been destined to stumble and will do so apart from God’s intervening grace.

  8. “Men ought to obey God.” The Gospel of God expressly demands that God be obeyed or the man who does not does not save himself. Regarding that a man’s salvation is predicated upon hearing the correct information it does resonate that what you conjectured to be the gospel is information which is not correct relative to the fact that “few find it” is not a falsehood. Co-resonate with your conjecture, and contrasted by the truth that it is God’s set purpose for each man to give a direct account to only him by one man’s life taken by bloodshed, the truth of your conjecture is that it is not the Gospel of God.

  9. Thanks for stopping by again Theodore. The very nature of a salvation by grace through faith is located in the fact we CANNOT obey the law sufficiently to equal the righteousness we need to be acceptable to God. This righteousness is Christ’s righteousness and it is imputed to us when we believe the Gospel. That is why it is such GOOD NEWS! One must believe Christ has died for their sins, and trust Him as their sin bearer – hence the core of substitutionary atonement.

  10. Regard that the law of God has been changed by an addition, refs. Rom. 5:20 & Heb. 7:12b
    “It is not those who hear the law who
    are righteous in God’s sight, but it is
    those who obey the law who will be
    be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13
    The word law in this verse is relative to that addition. By Gen. 9:5 NIV God has specifically ruled that it is not possible that a direct benefit for others is obtained by any man loosing his life by bloodshed, but this oath of God does not rule out the possibility of a man’s life if taken by bloodshed to become an indirect benefit for all by a change of God’s law. Ref. Heb. 6:18 “two immutable things” an oath and a law. Truthfully your above statement is a direct contempt of what God has said.

  11. Actually, Paul’s statement as you cite it is in the midst of his argument as to why one cannot possibly be justified by the law – hence his remarks flow from verse 2:1 “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” This is why Paul gos on to argue 20 “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Ro 3:20).

    There is no change in the law which makes it somehow “obeyable” so that one can indeed be justified by it, or Paul’s words are nonsense.

    As to imputed righteousness – this is in fact precisely how Scripture describes it: 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (Php 3:8-9).

  12. ‘And from EACH man too I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.” Gen. 9:5c NIV.

    Are you in the classification of EACH man too? Yes or No?

  13. I did not make the statement, friend, God did. So it is not me that you do not understand.
    Are you in the classification of EACH man too? Yes or No. Regarding that you are limited by a command to yes or no and imperatively commanded to “Give to the one who asks you.”
    Now answer the question or become in contempt of a binding oath stated by God and two other commands stated by the Lord thy God. Is this clear?

  14. I have never in my life, and at this time a great grandfather twice, locked horns with a Presbyterian and it not resulted in the Presbyterian absolutely refusing to obey the direct commands of the Lord Jesus. Never. So do not dare tell me or anyone else for that matter that that you are in the remotest sense associated to Jesus Christ. It is not possible that you are. For the measure of the man who actually is a disciple of Jesus can only prove that fidelity by obeying what Jesus has commanded no matter what he says about himself. No personage in the hierarchy of the Reformed, Presbyterian, or whatever label your philosophy is embraced by always and without exception does display the characteristic of instinctively of disobeying the Lord thy God. And without exception those whom you teach are exactly the same. For the student cannot be other wise than like his teacher, Lk. 6:40. You people who make up the hierarchy of the Reformed, Presbyterian or, whatever else, who believe as you do, could be backed up to the opening of hell, your clothes burning off your backsides, and facing all the guns of all the armies of the of the world loaded, cocked, and going to fire if you do not obey one of Jesus’ commands. All of you to a man, and even a woman now, would jump into hell to avoid complying to what Jesus has commanded in order to serve the destiny for which God has chosen you, disobey the message. And mark my words predestinated or not “Men ought to obey God.”, or they most assuredly will not be saved by God and justifiably perish. Answer the question man. Are you by God’s oath in the classification of EACH MAN TOO? Yes or NO?

  15. Well, I asked for clarification, but failed to get much. And just for the record, I am not a Presbyterian. Not that I would mind being one mind you.

    Since the Scripture never poses the question the way you have, I’ll just take a stab at trying to answer it the way I “think” you are asking it.

    Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, since the Bible concludes that all are born dead in their trespasses and sins, and since Jesus died so as to provide a universally applicable remedy for human sin through faith in His blood: All of us are guilty of the sin which He died for at Calvary. The very same death which provided the glorious atonement by which all who trust Him as their sin-bearer receive the benefit of.

    Does that answer your question?

  16. As to Presbyterianism, it’s the philosophy of Calvinism that’s the problem. “Glorify God and enjoy Him for ever” is a sin of presumption with the codependent of predestination. The mental construct of these two leads into the faulty conclusion of “since I am predestinated by God already”, with which I do not disagree, the imperative “ye must be born again of God” is an objectionable imperative relative to a self who has assumed the philosophical reasoning of Calvinism. The rule is no natural born person can also be a child of God, as to offspring, only by natural birth. Ref. Jn. 1:13 The natural comes first then the spiritual, ref. 1 Cor. 15:46 is a corroboration of Jn. 1:13. The entry way of churches contaminated with any aspect Calvinist philosophy have a multiplex of gates, infant baptism, conformation and adult baptism and perhaps even more, but the entry Way into the church of God of which Jesus Christ is head is small, narrow is only found, located in the Scriptures that is, by a few. Therefore the salvific constructs of these types of churches are error for significant to them are no spiritual gifts and the “gifts” which are displayed are both sold and bought. Any diplomas on your wall from a Bible school, Bible college or seminary? To make disciples of Jesus it is mandatory to teach them to obey his commandments. But I do not know of any contemporary church that even has a “Jesus commandment class”. So whom are they making disciples of?
    “Give to the one who asks you” is a command and it’s relative command limits you to answering Yes or No on order from the Head.
    Now whom do you think I am attempting to make a disciple of? The crucifixion of Jesus is a guilt offering an in this regard He has made it fully clear that guilt relative to a sin is the remaining and outstanding issue to be resolved AFTER his crucifixion and it is that sin which you MUST by a mandate of law and a binding oath of God be a participant of due process to resolve it. Believe me friend, disobey this law and there is, as absolute, no forgiveness possible from any source.
    Are you in the classification of EACH MAN TOO!? Yes or NO?

  17. Without being facetious at all Theodore, I do wonder whether or not English is your native language, and if that impacts the quality of our communications. However, that aside, I will try once again to answer your concerns.

    1. I cannot agree that the Westminster statement regarding man’s chief end as to glorify God and enjoy Him forever is sin in any sense of the term. One may disagree and find some other other “end” – but the statement as it stands is not sin, nor can Scripture be marshalled to show it as one.

    2. “Ye must be born again” is NOT an objectionable imperative in the eyes of ANY Calvinistic or Reformed writer of which I am aware. Could you provide me with even one such quotation? Instead, I fear you have constructed a straw man argument from the logic you think the construct requires – which it does not.

    3. While there may be some aberrant ones out there who would imagine that entrance into to full salvific union with Christ is accomplished by some mere outward rite or ceremony (as in Romanism) such a notion was clearly refuted by the Reformers. That you may misunderstand their concept of being joined to the “covenant community” or the “visible church” by some strains by means of baptism – would seem more likely. I would suggest you once again truly read what they have to say on the matter and not run with some of the common misconceptions. I for one hold only to believer’s baptism and so would not subscribe to infant baptism et al. But the way you have stated the case, most (if not all) of my Presbyterian and Reformed friends would quickly reject that characterization. Might I recommend Dr. Kenneth Talbot’s fine book on the topic? “Conforming our Faith” is his work on the topic and I think would be helpful for you in dismissing the misconceptions on the topic.

    4. No sir – no diplomas. How about you?

    5.Is “give to the one who asks” an absolute command under all circumstances? Will you then send me all of your monetary assets should I request them? No, I didn’t think so. But your reductionistic approach would require such a response. I think you need to consider your points a little more carefully.

    6. There is no sin/guilt issue to be resolved by man AFTER Christ’s death is received as our atonement – or our being “complete” in Him is a fallacy. And believe me dear friend – we are complete in Christ, and only in Christ. That is the nature of the Gospel – that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to by faith. There is no question that such a salvation RESULTS in the saved pursuing good works “which God before ordained that we should walk in” – but they are the result of salvation, not the cause.

    7. I still have no clear idea of what you are asking in your final sentence. If you cannot make it any clearer, we’ll most likely have to suspend our discussion.

  18. RE 4 No. and in my opinion it is a mutual benefit.
    RE 6 A prior contradiction is stated. “When he comes he will convict the world (unilaterally) of guilt in regard to sin” outstanding is a unilateral issue of sin remaining to be resolved AFTER Jesus’ crucifixion or His statement is not true.
    “And from EACH man too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.” In regard to the preexisting fact that this Man’s life was taken by bloodshed. Hasn’t the crucifixion of Jesus’ caused him to loose his life by bloodshed? Yes or No? And are you not a man too? Yes or No?

    ‘It is not those who hear the law who are righteous
    in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law
    who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2 :13

    Have you obeyed this law in expectation of receiving a declaration of righteousness from God? Yes or No?

    RE. para 1. Yes I am a native of the US. I know no other language than what is used here. There is no difficulty in communication but there is a tremendous amount of equivocation of exceeding
    distrust that it is right to obey what is commanded. Clear? A man cannot live by bread alone, but only by every Word that has been spoken by the mouth of God. Clear?

  19. I’m afraid your interpretation of John 18 faulty. The ministry of the Holy Spirit in His convicting work (in THIS passage) is not addressed as sinfulness in the abstract or in general – for every man knows that he is sinful in some respect. Here, Jesus’ is referring specifically to: 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me.” It is in reference to all men being declared sinners for their failure to believe in Christ. Once we believe – we are “justified” – declared righteous with HIS righteousness.

    Your citing of Rom. 2:13 actually proves my point. Once we see that all men are condemned alike (apart from Christ) we see that it is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to keep the law perfectly so as to be declared righteous by means of our law keeping (16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
    The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ga 2:16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)

    This is why we need a Savior and one whose righteousness has fulfilled all the Law for us. This is the Gospel.

    Let me ask you Theodore – do YOU keep all of the Law perfectly? If you say you do, 1 John calls you a liar. And if you do not – by what means can you be righteous before God? Only through faith in Jesus Christ.

  20. I have believed in Christ in expectation of being declared righteous with His righteousness.

    I am a man – a sinner – saved by grace, guilty of the sin that took Him to the cross, and justified by faith in the sacrifice offered there.

  21. Well! get on with it’ I don’t have all day while you wonder around in the desolate wilderness you’re in.

  22. Sorry Theo – I tried to have a dialog with you, but you refuse and degenerate things to the kind of babble i just deleted. So, it ends now. If you wish to write me offline, I’ll answer, but I won’t let you use this platform for that kind of foolishness.

  23. So, what do you think about the atonement also including our works in sanctification? And, the belief that if you don’t believe that Christ also died for our works in sanctification, you believe a false gospel?

  24. Thanks for stopping and commenting Paul – but can I ask you to enlarge on your questions a bit? I am not 100% sure what it is you are asking.

  25. In a nutshell, are you saying that Christ provides an atonement which the Holy Spirit then applies to those He effectively calls; leading to faith in God through Christ?

  26. Through this lens what does the atonement itself, apart from the administration of the Holy Spirit, accomplish efficaciously?

  27. It propitiates the Father, so that He can offer forgiveness without being unjust – without skirting or perverting justice: Romans 3:21–26 (ESV)”21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

    We are not Roman Catholics – the atonement does not operate like their view of a sacrament “ex opere operato” – its simple accomplishment does nothing in terms of the individual, until applied. The Father has already received it, and by it can offer free and full forgiveness – but the text quoted above shows, for the individual, that propitiation must be received by faith for it to justify.

  28. Are both a universal atonement accomplished, and a particular redemption provided in the cross of Christ; with the spirit then going out into the world proclaiming and accomplishing that redemption among every tribe, tongue and people As a result of the completed work of Christ purchasing those the spirit calls?

  29. My apology for taking so long to get back to you Joel – I’m afraid the after-vacation catch-up was daunting. Now, to your question.

    In essence, yes, I would agree with your statement. In fact, it is the finished work of Christ (the atonement) which must be declared, for the sinner to have faith in. This is (as John Colquohone, Thomas Chalmers and John Bunyan assert) the only “warrant” for believing. Otherwise, the individual is left in the place of determining if they are elect, before they can have assurance that forgiveness and salvation are theirs if they come. It is on the basis of an atonement accomplished that we call men to repentance and faith.

    I would want to be careful in the use of the term “universal” atonement. I really don’t think that a good term since it implies that the effects or benefits of the atonement are universally applied – which they are not. Davenant’s term “universally APPLICABLE atonement” seems more precise to me. There is no one whose sins it is not sufficient for and cannot fully deal with – but only DOES actually save those who believe. This of course nothing about the sovereign means whereby one COMES to be believe through the Gospel – that is another topic.

    Even the elect were not “saved” (in the sense of regenerated and justified) at Calvary. Until the new birth, we remain “by nature, children of wrath even as the rest of mankind” Eph. 2) Justification is tied exclusively to faith, and while we are still outside of faith, we are still outside of Christ – for “by one Spirit we are all baptized INTO Christ.”

  30. The error in the concept is item 2. If the murder of Jesus paid anyone’s penalty it is a universal payment. But it is only a few that ever find out what the narrow gate is, To be saved from the wrath of God an individual must have the faith to use only that gate. Therefore the crucifixion of Jesus is not a direct benefit as the contemporary religious conjectures describe it.

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  33. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a
    colleague who was conducting a little research on this.
    And he actually bought me breakfast simply because I discovered it for him…
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  34. Thanks so much for stopping and reading – and passing the portion on! YOu are most welcome for your breakfast. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. One which the Church has debated hotly for centuries. And one which I pray we can get more light on, and less heat.

    For the best treatment on the topic I know, try to secure Davenant’s Dissertation on the Death of Christ – written after he returned from the Synod at Dordt. Stellar. Quinta press has recently done a repub and it is great.

    Blessings! Reid

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