Promoting Limited Atonement and Missing the Gospel

 

Scott Price

“For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified” Hebrews 10:14

The doctrine of the death of Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of the gospel of grace. Those who seek to debunk freewill, works religion (Arminianism and Pelegianism) will readily assert the doctrine, which is commonly called limited atonement. This is taught up against the false gospel and damnable heresy of Universal Atonement that says Christ died for everyone without exception, including, of course, all those who will end up in hell.

The problem is that many times when trying to teach this doctrine of limited atonement, the focus is misplaced and the gospel is blurred. The fact that the atonement is limited in its extent is not the most important part of the doctrine, which points to numbers, matching the amount of the elect with the amount that Christ died for. Even though that fact is true it is not the focal point of the gospel of grace. While the extent should never be unclear or held back, the effect is where the good news is seen.

Not one elect sinner for whom Jesus Christ effectually died for will ever perish. Christ’s accomplishment of redemption insures their eternal salvation. The merit of the life and death of Christ ALONE is the only saving difference between saved and lost or heaven and hell. In other words the merit of His Person and work is BY ITSELF is what does the saving and His life and death is EFFECTUAL in and of itself. His precious blood and righteousness automatically excludes everything else as the ground of justification and acceptance to God. The Lord Jesus Christ’s whole work resulted in the justification of His people. Christ, as Mediator of the Everlasting Covenant of Grace, brought in and established an everlasting righteousness which is imputes to His people and makes them to be accepted by the Father on that very basis.

The good news in the atonement of Christ is that it was effectual without any help from the sinner to make it so. If there were certain laws or conditions to fulfill on our part for our righteousness, then “Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:21). Yes, Christ died only for the elect in a particular fashion, but let us show the glory of the blessed effect of His death! “God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14)

An Unnecessary Question Raised of the Atonement’s Sufficiency

Many today in “sovereign grace, Calvinistic, Reformed” circles, in attempt to soften the offence of the cross, raise an unnecessary question concerning whether the atonement of Jesus Christ is sufficient enough for any for whom it was not intended for. The question is; Are the merits of Christ’s life and death in any way sufficient to save anyone other than the elect? Some who would say yes to this question state their position; “Christ died sufficiently for all men and efficiently for only the elect.”

Let me add just a few things that must be asserted here in reference to the excuse to use the above unscriptural phrase. God is not unjust if there is no universal provision for salvation in the atonement since mercy and grace are always particular and are not obligated to the non-elect. God does not have to “offer” salvation to all to be fair, but rather commands all to repent. The non-elect are inexcusable at judgment even if there is no provision for them since unbelief is only one of many sins they are guilty of. These ideas are basic to the understanding of the doctrines of sovereign grace.

The atonement is not sufficient for the non-elect in any way because it was not willed, decreed, or purposed for them in any way. It was not intended for them in any way. It was not extended to them in any way. There is no propitiation, no substitution, no representation, no redemption, and no reconciliation for them at all whatsoever, because there was no love, no mercy, no grace, and no election unto eternal life for them at all whatsoever. These are undisputed theological facts of sovereign grace and reprobation.

In short, the atonement of Jesus Christ is NOT sufficient for all without exception who has ever been born or ever will be born because it simply did not happen for them all. This point is made to stress the fact that the atonement is real or actual, not imaginary, hypothetical, potential, or even conditional (on man). It is a finished work with a particular purpose and for a particular people. The atonement is ONLY sufficient for who it was for, the elect, loved of God. So, sufficiency is NOT extended in any form to the non-elect.

The idea of universal sufficiency does not broaden the love of God but rather makes it not effectual. The idea weakens all the attributes of God. The idea does not help the gospel message but rather hinders and perverts it. It takes away the offense of the cross, which states the merits of death of Christ in and of itself is what makes the difference between saved and lost, heaven and hell. Universal sufficiency is an attempt to make the cross of Christ of none effect. It is an attempt to make the work of Christ out of harmony with the will of the Father in election and purpose of the atonement. Universal sufficiency, when taken to its logical conclusion is universal atonement, plain and simple.

In conclusion, we are commanded to preach the gospel of Christ’s successful atonement to all without exception. No appeal is made to the flesh at all, but repentance is commanded of any thoughts of leaning on the self righteous “arm of the flesh”. No assurance is given to anyone who has not believed the gospel that they are of the elect. While evangelizing sinners, they are to be addressed as unbelievers not elect or none elect. They are not to be told God loves them or Christ died for them or the Spirit wants to save them. They are to be told of an effectual work done by Jesus Christ to establish an everlasting righteousness, which is the ground of justification, showing Him to be both a just God and a Savior. Faith in that gospel evidences them as being the elect of God who God loved and Christ died for. That gospel glorifies God. The elect will believe it and the non-elect will not.

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