Category Archives: atonement

Atonement: Particular Redemption

Often the extent of atonement has been a confusing question for Christians who otherwise generally appreciate the biblical teaching on the sovereignty of God in salvation. In light of this, I thought I would post some notes with a bit of commentary for folks to use as a guide to studying the issue for themselves. The notes are meant as a guide so they are not exhaustive, but I do attempt to point to a few of the key points that have to be considered.

Atonement: Particular Redemption

What is the Extent of the Atonement? A Biblical & Reformed View

 First, a God-centered, perspective-setting thought to lay the overarching groundwork for this study:

“What Christ acquired by this sacrifice is beyond description. For himself he acquired by it his entire exaltation, his resurrection (Eph. 1:20), his ascension to heaven (1 Pet. 3:22), his seating at the right hand of God (Eph. 1:20; Heb. 12:2), his elevation as head of the church (Eph. 1:22), the name that is above every name (Phil. 2:9-11), the glory of the mediator (John 17:5; Heb. 2:9), power over all things in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:22; 1 Cor. 15:24ff.), the final judgment (John 5:22, 27). In addition he acquired for his own, for humanity, for the world, an interminable series of blessings.” [1]

 Summary statement: The atonement of Christ has a covenantal design (as does his entire priestly ministry). In the covenant of redemption, a particular group of people was marked out by God to be saved by the Son.

 The covenantal design of the atonement:

  • Covenant of Redemption: (John 6:37-39, 44, 65; 10:26, 28-29; 15:16; 17:1-2, 6, 9, 19, 24)  – John’s Gospel teaches:
  1. In eternity past, the Father has given a certain group of people, out of the mass of humanity, to the Son to be saved.
  2. The Son reveals himself to, prays for, dies for, keeps and guards these people in a way that he does not do for those outside the elect of the covenant.
  3. All who the Father gives to the Son in eternity, will come to the Son in saving faith in time. “Whosoever” comes to the Son in faith, is welcomed and will be saved by the Son.

Various additional texts to consider:

Emphasis on the saving intent of the atonement:

  • Eph. 5:25-26
  • Acts 20:28
  • Luke 22:19-20
  • Exodus 28:17-21; 39:10-14 – “As Tom Ascol says, ‘Just as the high priest under the old covenant wore the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on his breastplate when he performed his sacrificial service, so our great High Priest under the new covenant had the names of His people inscribed on His heart as He offered up Himself as a sacrifice for their sins.’”[2] 

Emphasis on effectual nature of the atonement:

  • Hebrews 9:12
  • Rom. 8:32
  • John 10:11, 15; 15:13 – Christ dies for his sheep and some are not his sheep (John 10:26)
  • 2 Cor. 5:14; cf. Rom. 6:1-14

 Where does disagreement rise? What, if any, benefits are there for the non-elect in the atonement?

Emphasis on the extensive nature of the atonement:

  • Isaiah 53-5-6; Col. 1:19-20; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 4:10; 1 John 2:2; John 3:16

 In light of these texts, can we say that there is some sense in which Jesus died for the non-elect?

  • Every blessing that the non-elect receive is also on the basis of the atonement of Christ. Common grace extends to the non-elect in the form of family relationships, gainful employment, warmth of the sun, air in the lungs, any measure of heath or life, etc. The saving benefits of the atonement are limited to the elect. The innumerable benefits that the non-elect receive in this life do not include a new heart.

Points of agreement with evangelicals who hold to an unlimited or universal atonement: [3]

  1. Jesus’ atonement is infinitely valuable.
  2. There are benefits of the death of Christ for all people.
  3. Not all people will be saved.
  4. The atonement must be limited one way or another. “Either it is limited in its effects (Christ died for all, but not all get saved), or it is limited in its scope (Christ did not die for all, but all for whom he died will be saved).” [4]

Discussion of disagreement: How is the atonement limited?

  • Sufficient for all, efficient to atone for the sins of the elect:The atonement was adequate to atone for the sins of all people but only the elect have the saving benefits of the atonement applied to them.
    • “The Reformed said that Christ’s work by itself was completely sufficient for the atonement of the sins of the whole world so that, if he had wanted to save a smaller number, it [the number of people saved] could have been less, and if he had wanted to save a higher number, it [the atonement] would not have had to be greater.” [5]
    • Yet, “If God planned from eternity to save one portion of the human race and not another, which is what election affirms, then it is a contradiction to say that he sent his Son to die for those he had previously determined not to save in the same way that he sent his Son to die for those he had previously determined actually to save.” [6]

How does this relate to evangelism?

  • The evangelism of the Church is guaranteed to be successful: Those whom the Father planned to save, the Son died to save and the Spirit will effectively save. The evangelism of the Church will be fruitful.
  • All sinners can and should be welcomed to believe in Christ and receive the saving benefits of the atonement.
    • “The design of Christ’s death being to secure the salvation of his own people, incidentally to the accomplishment of that end, it comprehends the offer of that salvation freely and honestly to all men on the condition of their faith. No man is lost for the want of an atonement, or because there is any other barrier in the way of his salvation than his own most free and wicked will.”[7]

[1] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation In Christ, p. 339.

[2] Joel Beeke, Living For God’s Glory: An Introduction To Calvinism, p. 97.

[3] James Montgomery Boice and Philip Graham Ryken, The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel, Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2002, p. 115-16.

[4] Adapted from Boice and Ryken, p. 117.

[5] Herman Bavinck,Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation In Christ, p. 401.

[6] Boice and Ryken, p. 114.

[7] A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology, London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972, 419-20.

Conference: “The Effectual Atonement of Christ”

If you have the opportunity, check out a conference that is going on this week in Md on the atonement of Christ. Rick Hensley and I will be speaking, along with a few other men, some of whom I know and others that I look forward to meeting. It should be an excellent time considering the great redemptive work of Christ for the salvation of sinners and I look forward to seeing you there! 

Location: First Baptist, Marydel, Maryland

Theme: The Effectual Atonement Of Christ

Date: Sunday, June 12- Wednesday, June 15th. All evening services starting at 7pm.

Here is the batting order:

Sunday, June 12

  • Chris Williams, Pastor, Covenant Family Church – “Can the Effectual, Substitutionary Atonement Fail?”
  • Ramzan Hosein, Pres., Trinidad & Tobago Bible College – “Does God Give Faith as a Gift to Man or Does Man Give Faith As a Gift to God”

 Monday, June 13

  • Jason Anderson, Pastor, Faith Reformed Baptist Church – “Romans 2: 1-10 as Relates to the Atonement”
  • Dr. David Depp, Professor, Pastor, Missionary, Greenville, SC – “Universal Terms (All, Every, World) Applied to the Atonement”

 Tuesday, June 14

  • Bob Phillips, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marydel – “Is Saving Faith a Condition For, or a Fruit of Regeneration”
  • Rick Hensley, Pastor, Grace & Truth Community Church – “Christ’s Imputed Righteousness (active & passive obedience) As It Relates to The Atonement”

 Wednesday, June 15

  • Billy Rosano, Pastor, Grace & Truth Community Church – “Christ’s Atonement As It Relates to The Old Testament”
  • Ramzan Hosein, President, Trinidad & Tobago Bible College – “Foreign Missions As It Relates To The Atonement”

Nothing but the Blood of Jesus

As the snow piled higher and higher yesterday, the Rosanos were busy building a masterfully crafted snow igloo/fort from which to fight off our enemies who were quickly approaching from land, air and sea. The delightful sounds of children at work in this way were many: squeals with delight as the walls were going up, startled crying with the occasional face-plant in the snow, eager expressions of “look at this!” or “”help me over here!” But as we were busy about our duties in the defense of our home, there was one sound that I noticed which warmed my heart in a way the others hadn’t. A child, lost in her work, was humming and singing. As she sung, the appropriateness of the words sunk deeply into my heart. The music and additional lyrics are here.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain:

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What defense has the soul of man? What garrison will provide refuge from the wrath of the Almighty? Under what embattlements will we hide, and what armor will we don that will extinguish the missiles of accusation launched by Satan? No barricks, bullworks or defenses of any kind erected by the sinner will prove to be a safe haven for the soul, satisfy the justice of God and remove the guilty stain of sin.

And so my distracted daughter, imagination lost in her wintery wonderland, was singing, “What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

On a day when home-bound saints can’t sing together, I pray that there is a gospel song in your heart and in your home. When we experience separation in life, know that the Bible points us to one who sticks closer than a brother.

“But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers.” (Heb. 2:10-11)

When you marvel at the mystery of the incarnation, consider also the purpose of God in it.

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not the angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Heb. 2:14-17)