By Tom Ross, Pastor
There is probably not a more controversial subject among Bible students than the doctrine of particular redemption. Even those who profess to believe the doctrines of grace often shy away from this precious truth. Yet, an individual's view concerning the death of Jesus Christ is the acid test of their theology. As we attempt to study this most ardent subject we must do so with reverential awe and a sense of our own unworthiness.
A.W. Pink wrote:
"To touch the very fringe of the Holy things of God ought to inspire reverential fear, but to take up the innermost secrets of His covenant, to contemplate the eternal counsels of the Blessed Trinity, to endeavor to enter into the meaning of that unique transaction at Calvary, which was veiled with darkness, calls for a special degree of grace, fear, humility, faith and heavenly teaching." 1
The most significant event in all of human history was the death of Jesus Christ. The entire realm of Scripture revolves around the sacrifice and blood shedding of the Lord Jesus Christ. All of the blood slain on Jewish altars in the Old Testament pointed to a day when the true Lamb of God would come and offer Himself as a spotless and holy sacrifice to bear and take away the sins of His people. All the events recorded in the Gospels center around the Lord Jesus Christ and culminate in His death on Calvary and His glorious resurrection from death and the grave. The Epistles explain the sacrifice of Christ as the foundation for all true worship and service. The Revelation of Jesus Christ points us to the future day of glory when the blood-washed saints of God surround the throne of the Lamb: "And they sung a new song, saying, thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth... Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing" (Rev. 5:9-10,12).
Jams Haldane rightly said:
"The Atonement made by the Son of God, is the beginning of the ransomed sinner's hope, and will be the theme of his exultation, when he shall cast his crown before the throne, singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb." 2
In light of these facts it is essential that we entertain scriptural views concerning the death of Jesus Christ.
There are basically two questions which must be answered to determine the intent and extent of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. The first is: For whom did Christ die? For every individual without exception? Or only for the elect who would in time believe on Him? The second is: What exactly did Christ's death accomplish? Merely to provide a chance for sinners to be saved? Or to actually purchase and secure the salvation of all that the Father had given Him? The answers to the questions are found in several passages of Scripture, but there are two that stand out in my mind. Matthew 1:21 states: "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." Hebrews 10:14 declares: "For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Matthew 1:21 answers our first question. Jesus was sent to die for His people in order to save them from their sins. Jesus Christ did not die for those who ultimately go to Hell in their sins. Hebrews 10:14 answers our second question. The offering of Jesus Christ was not merely provisional, it actually secured the perfection and glorification of all those whom the Father set apart in sovereign election, and the Spirit set apart in regeneration. The non-elect can claim no interest in the saving work of Christ in light of these passages of Scripture.
Particular redemption, or limited atonement as some call it, simply stated is the truth that when Jesus Christ died on the cross He was acting as substitute and surety only for the elect. He did not die to redeem fallen angels or reprobates who die in unbelief and go to Hell forever. His blood was shed with a specific design and purpose in mind, to actually obtain salvation for those whom the Father had given Him. This truth is taught in Hebrews 9:12 which states: "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
There are basically three views held concerning the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. The Arminian view is that Jesus died for the whole world, every individual without exception, including Esau and Judas. This is commonly referred to as the teaching of general atonement. They teach that Christ's death paid for the sins of all men, but didn't actually secure the salvation of any man.
Lorraine Boettner wrote:
"When the atonement is made universal its inherent value is destroyed. If it is applied to all men, and if some are lost, the conclusion is that it makes salvation objectively possible for all but that it does not actually save anybody... If the Arminian theory were true it would follow that millions of those for whom Christ died are finally lost, and that salvation is thus never applied to of those for whom it was earned." 3
Sad to say, the Arminian view is the most popular view in our day of watered down theology. Scores of Catholics, Protestants, and Baptists believe in a general atonement. The second view is broken down into two classes. The first class believes in the other four points of the doctrines of grace but reject particular redemption. They teach that Christ died for all men provisionally. The second class believe that Christ's death was sufficient to save all men but efficient only for the elect. This is called the sufficiency- efficiency view.
T.P. Simmons wrote:
"All of these statements amount to the same thing--a general atonement with a limited application or design. This we believe and hope to prove is a contradiction of terms, contrary to reason, repugnant to the nature of God, and not according to a consistent interpretation of Scripture...This theory provides no real satisfaction of God's justice, or it involves God in the injustice of punishing those for whom justice has been satisfied. Here is a dilemma, and each advocate of a general atonement may choose which horn he chooses to hang on. One of these propositions must be true." 4
Among Baptists, Andrew Fuller, Alvah Hovey and J.M. Pendleton were chiefly responsible for promulgating this view. The inconsistency of this view is that it fails to see the inseparable link between election and particular redemption. Lorraine Boettner rightly said:
It will be seen at once that this doctrine necessarily follows from the doctrine of election. If from eternity God has planned to save one portion of the human race and not another, it seems to be a contradiction to say that His work has equal reference to both portions, or that he sent His Son to die for those whom He had predetermined not to save, as truly as, and in the same sense that He was sent to die for those whom He had chosen for salvation. These two doctrines must stand or fall together. We cannot logically accept one and reject the other. If God has elected some and not others to eternal life, then plainly the primary purpose of Christ's work was to redeem the elect. 5
The third view is the one that has already been stated, that Christ's death was for the elect only. This is the scriptural view, which will be taught in the pages that follow. Particular redemption was taught by the Waldenses who were ancient Baptists. In 1120 AD they issued a confession of faith which stated in article 7:
"That Christ is our life, and truth, and peace, and righteousness--our shepherd and advocate, our sacrifice, and priest, who died for the salvation of all who should believe and rose again for their justification." 6
The London Baptist Confession of 1644 states in articles 12 and 21:
"Touching his Priesthood, Christ being consecrated, hath appeared once to put away sin by the offering and sacrifice of himself, and to this end hath fully performed and suffered all those things by which God, through the blood of his Cross in an acceptable sacrifice, might reconcile his elect only ... That Christ Jesus by his death did bring forth salvation and reconciliation only for the elect, which were those which God the Father gave him ..." 7
John Gill and C.H. Spurgeon also believed in particular redemption as did most Baptists until the mid-1800s. David Benedict wrote:
"The doctrine of the atonement has been differently understood. The old churches pretty uniformly held that it was particular; that is, that Christ died for the elect only, and that in His stupendous suffering no respect was had to, nor any provision made for, any others of Adam's ruined race." 8
John 6:38-39 states: "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." From the above Scripture it is clearly evident that Jesus Christ came from the bosom of His Father to earth with a specific purpose and design in mind. He came first and foremost to do the will of the Father, which had sent Him. Secondly, He came to rescue from sin and glorify those whom His Father had given Him before the world began. If either of these designs were not met when Jesus Christ came, then His work must be viewed as a miserable failure. If even one who the Father had given Him to redeem was finally lost, then we can only conclude that Jesus did not finish the work His Father gave Him to do. He would have to forfeit His title as the Good Shepherd if one of His sheep, for whom He laid down His life, perished in their sins. All of these conclusions dishonor God and cast reproach upon the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Yet, these are the logical conclusions that are drawn from a merely provisional or general atonement theory.
Lorraine Boettner correctly said:
"No rational being who has the wisdom and power to carry out his plans intends what he never accomplishes or adopts plans for an end which is never attained. Much less would God, whose wisdom and power are infinite, work in this manner. We may rest assured that if some men are lost God never purposed their salvation, and never devised and put into operation means designed to accomplish that end." 9
Those who believe in particular redemption heartily affirm that Jesus Christ actually accomplished the work that His Father gave Him to do. We believe that the life and death of Jesus Christ left nothing undone in God's wondrous plan of redemption. Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice to satisfy the claims of justice, to reconcile the elect to God, to redeem them from the curse of the law, to appease the Father's wrath against them, and to purchase all spiritual blessings in heavenly places for them. Thus, Jesus was not telling a falsehood on the cross when He exclaimed: "It is finished." It is only in this light that we can understand Hebrews 12:2 which states: "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God." There is great joy when a difficult task is carried out in its entirety and completed according to plan. How could Christ have any joy if even one who He had endured the cross for, were finally lost and suffering in Hell for sins which He had supposedly paid for?
The Scriptures are very clear as to the purpose of Christ's death on the cross. Romans 11:36 declares: "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things to whom be glory for ever. Amen." This was the chief design in the death of Christ, to exalt and glorify God by carrying out His divinely ordained plan. Jesus prayed in John 17:4: "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." His work was to give eternal life to as many as the Father had given Him through his death on the cross (John 17:2). If He had done anything short of that we way logically concur that He would not have glorified His Father. Yet, we know that is not the case. God was glorified and satisfied with the covenant blood that was shed on Calvary's tree.
A.W. Pink commented:
"Through Christ's obedience and death God magnified His law: Isaiah 42:21. The law of God was more honored by the Son's subjection to it, than it was dishonored by the disobedience of all of Adam's race. God magnified His love by sending forth the Darling of His bosom to redeem worthless worms of the earth. He magnified His justice, for when sin (by imputation) was found upon His Son, He called for the sword to smite Him: Zechariah 13:7. He magnified His holiness: His hatred of sin was more clearly shown at the Cross than it will be in the lake of fire. He magnified His power by sustaining the Mediator under such a load as was laid upon Him. He magnified His truth by fulfilling His covenant engagements and bringing forth from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep: Hebrews 13:20. He magnified His grace by imputing to the ungodly all the merits of Christ." 10
Another purpose in the death of Christ was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning His sufferings. The promise of a virgin-born Savior was given immediately following the fall of Adam in Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." It was on the cross that Jesus Christ defeated and spoiled Satan and the hordes of Hell. I John 3:8 states: "...For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." Colossians 2:14-15 states: "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it." The blood shedding of Christ delivered the death knell to the dominion and bondage of Satan on behalf of the elect. It is inconceivable to me, in light of these Scriptures, how Christ could have defeated Satan on the cross, and yet not deliver those who He died for from Satan's bondage. There would be no victory or triumph unless Christ's death actually secured the deliverance of those who He died for. All of the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were in essence, prophecies that pointed to the day Christ would come to put away sin. Each time an innocent victim was slain it reminded the people that there was a barrier of sin between them and God. It showed them that the only way sinners could approach God was through an acceptable sacrifice. This is what they saw in the slaying of the Passover Lamb, and in the sacrifices and offerings of the priests. The Psalmist spoke plainly of one who would come and suffer in Psalms 22 and 69. The prophet Isaiah gave a detailed description of the sufferings of the Messiah in chapter 53. Zechariah prophesied of the sword of God's justice smiting the Good Shepherd who was to give His life for the sheep. When John the Baptist saw Jesus Christ he cried out: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Jesus told the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: "...O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? "
The final purpose of God in the death of Jesus Christ was to deliver the elect from the quilt and penalty of their sins. God's purpose in the death of Christ was not to redeem every individual without exception as so many preach today. Christ's precious blood was not shed to merely provide a way for sinners to be saved; it actually secured the salvation of all for whom it was shed.
The following Scriptures attest to this truth:
Galatians 1:4 states: "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." According to this verse, whomever Christ gave Himself for shall be delivered from their sins, and this present evil world. Can this be applied to all men? Obviously not, because there are multitudes in Hell who are not delivered.
Galatians 3:13 states: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." According to this verse, redemption has already been accomplished for a particular people through the blood sacrifice of Christ on the cross, whereby He bore their penalty and removed the curse of the law on their behalf. Can this verse be applied to every individual without exception? Obviously not, because there are multitudes who die under the condemnation of the law and suffer the consequences of their transgressions forever in the Lake of Fire.
Titus 2:14 states: "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." According to this verse, those who Christ died for are His special treasure (peculiar, cf. Ex. 19:5), who are redeemed from all iniquity, purified, and zealous of good works. Can this verse be applied to all men? Obviously not, because Jesus Himself will pronounce condemnation upon the unredeemed. Matthew 7:23 declares: "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Revelation 22:11 declares that there are some who will remain impure and filthy throughout eternity: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still..."
I Peter 3:18 states: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." According to this verse, those who Christ suffered and died for in the flesh are in time brought to God. Can this verse be applied to every person without exception? Obviously not, because there are many whom God will cast away from His holy presence, thus denying them the privilege of communion and fellowship with Him because of their sins.
A.W. Pink comments:
"That he might bring us to God; is the most comprehensive expression used in Scripture for stating the design of Christ's Satisfaction. It includes the bringing of His people out of darkness into marvelous light: out of a state of alienation, misery and wrath, into one of grace, peace and eternal communion with God." 11
It is crystal clear to the writer that only those who Christ suffered for will be brought to God in a saving relationship. If a person is not brought to God, Christ did not suffer in their stead. These are simple deductions drawn from a literal interpretation and application of the Scriptures.
J.E. Cobb defined the Golden Rule of Interpretation in the following way:
"When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise." 12
If the general atonement theory is true, then Jesus Christ did not accomplish what the fore- going Scriptures declare. His mission was not completed and the will of God was thwarted if He did not in reality save those who He died for. only when the doctrine of particular redemption is believed can the purpose of God be seen as having been carried out and achieved through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah 46:10-11 remains forever true: "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: ... yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it."
Nehemiah 8:8 states: "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. "
In order to understand the doctrine of particular redemption it is essential to define the terms that are employed by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures to describe what Jesus actually accomplished on the cross. Most people know that Christ died on the cross for sinners, but few realize what that sacrifice actually entailed. Terms such as redemption, ransom, reconciliation, propitiation, substitution, and remission are words used or implied in the Bible to explain the nature and results of the sacrifice of Christ. When these words are defined in their scriptural context the teaching of particular redemption or limited atonement is clearly established.
Redemption and ransom are words that are intricately linked together in the Scriptures. To redeem simply means to buy back through the payment of an acceptable ransom. A ransom is the price required to effect the deliverance.
Lorraine Boettner wrote:
"The nature of a ransom is such that when paid and accepted it automatically frees the persons for whom it was intended. Otherwise it would not be a true ransom. Justice demands that those for whom it is paid shall be freed from any further obligation. If the suffering and death of Christ was a ransom for all men rather than for the elect only, then the merits of His work must be communicated to all alike and the penalty of eternal punishment cannot be justly inflicted on any. God would be unjust if He demanded this extreme penalty twice over, first from the substitute and then from the persons themselves." 13
In the Scriptures redemption implies captivity and bondage. Every natural man is a slave to sin as John 8:34 states: "...Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." He is under the bondage and condemnation of the inflexible law of God as Galatians 3:10 states: "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Romans 3:19 declares: "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." He is also a captive to the will of Satan as II Timothy 2:26 states: "And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." The only hope for deliverance is in the blood of Jesus Christ which was the ransom required by God to deliver the captives from sin and bondage. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 20:28: "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Isaiah 61:1 declares the purpose of the life and death of Jesus Christ: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me: because the LORD hath anointed m to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."
When Jesus died on the cross redemption was actually accomplished on behalf of His people. He purchased them out of the slave market of sin through the merits of His blood. His people are declared to be "bought with a price." Zechariah 9:11 states: "As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water." Psalms 111:9 states: "He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name." Galatians 3:13 declares: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Hebrews 9:12 states: "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
From the definition of the words redeem and ransom and their use in Scripture it is evident that redemption was secured on the cross, and that the ransom of Christ's blood actually freed and delivered those for whom it was shed. The meaning of the words necessitate a conclusion that the extent of Christ's redeeming work is limited to those who actually enjoy the benefits of deliverance from the curse of the law, the slavery of sin, and the captivity of Satan.
John Owen said:
"Redemption is the freeing of a man from misery by the intervention of a ransom. Now, when a ransom is paid for the liberty of a prisoner, does not justice demand that he should have and enjoy the liberty so purchased for him by a valuable consideration? If I should pay a thousand pounds for a man's deliverance from bondage to him that detains him, who hath power to set him free, and is contented with the price I give, were it not injurious to me and the poor prisoner that his deliverance be not accomplished? Can it possibly be conceived that there should be a redemption of men, and those men not redeemed? That a price should be paid, and the purchase not consummated? Yet all this must be made true, and innumerable other absurdities, if universal redemption be asserted. A price would be paid for all, yet few delivered; the redemption of all consummated, yet few of them redeemed; the judge satisfied, the jailer conquered, and yet the prisoners enthralled." 14
To reconcile means to bring together again those who are alienated, to reunite those who are at variance, to restore to amity and friendship by removing that which hinders agreement and fellowship.
Robert Morey defines reconciliation thusly:
"Reconciliation is that sovereign work of God the Father in which His alienation from sinners is removed through the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Reconciliation flows out of and is based upon propitiation." 15
Man in his original state was the friend of God. He enjoyed communion with his Creator. Through disobedience and sin man became an enemy of God. He became hostile to the law of God as Romans 8:7 states: "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." God also became hostile toward the natural man and his sin. Psalms 5:5 states: "The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity." John 3:36 states: "...and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
Because of the hostility that exists because of man's sin and God's holiness each man is said to be "...alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart." (Eph. 4:18) Man's inward thoughts as well as his outward works manifests the enmity and warfare that exists between himself and the Creator. The ultimate end of all those who are not reconciled to God through the blood of Christ is an eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire where the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever. Jesus Christ did not intend to reconcile all men without exception through the shedding of His blood. This fact is evident because there are multitudes among the fallen sons of Adam who have never been restored to the favor of God.
The source of reconciliation is found in the love of God as Romans 5:8-10 states: "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."
The means by which reconciliation is brought about is through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross as Ephesians 2:13, 16 states: "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace ... And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby."
The result of reconciliation is a complete restoration to the favor of God, being accepted by Him through His beloved Son. Colossians 2:21-22 declares: "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight." There is no sense in which the non-elect enjoy the benefits of reconciliation such as the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and the liberty of fellowship with God. We must therefore concur that Christ did not die and shed His precious blood to reconcile all men.
Reconciliation is presented as an accomplished fact, not a provisional hope. II Corinthians 5:18-19 states: "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." The elect were reconciled to God positionally when Jesus Christ died on the cross. The scope of reconciliation is limited and cannot exceed the actual imputation of the elect's sins to Christ, and His righteousness to them.
Again, the definition of reconciliation and its use in the Scriptures necessitates adherence to the doctrine of particular redemption.
Edwin Palmer wrote:
"Did Christ truly, actually, really reconcile Esau to the Father by His death (Rom. 5:10), or didn't He? Did He by His substitutionary death actually remove the enmity so that God is no longer alienated from Esau, or didn't He? It is one or the other. If Christ did reconcile Esau, if He did become a curse for Judas, if He actually endured the torments of hell for all men--in other words, if He died for all--then no one is lost. All are reconciled and redeemed. But to say that all men are redeemed is contradictory to the Bible." 16
To propitiate means to placate, pacify, or appease. In the Bible propitiation is used in relationship with a sacrificial offering for sin. Propitiation describes that aspect of the saving work of Christ whereby He appeased the Father's wrath against the elect through the merits of His blood. Christ's propitiatory sacrifice is the basis of our acceptance with God.
Propitiation is used exclusively in the New Testament. The Old Testament counterpart for propitiation is the Hebrew word kapher, which is translated atonement. Both words express essentially the same meaning. The only way God's justice and wrath against sin can be appeased is by means of an acceptable sacrifice.
This truth is illustrated in the oldest book of the Bible. Job 42:7-8 states: "And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job." According to these verses, in order for God's wrath to be appeased two specific things are set forth. First, a sacrifice appointed by God had to be slain and offered as a burnt offering for sin. Second, the offering was associated with the intercession of righteous Job on behalf of his three friends.
This passage typifies the propitiatory sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. God's wrath is appeased by the blood of Christ and the sacrifice is associated with His priestly intercession. I John 2:1-2 states essentially the same truth: "And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (Jewish and Gentile believers). The Bible declares that sinners are saved from God's wrath through Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:9).
Romans 3:24-25 states: "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." This passage declares that the place of propitiation is in the blood of Jesus Christ. According to this passage, propitiation is limited to those who have faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. Believers are limited to those who have been ordained to eternal life by God (Acts 13:48), and given the gift of faith (Eph. 2:8-9).
According to the definition of the word propitiation and its use in scripture, it is impossible to believe that Christ's death appeased the wrath of God for all men without exception. If that were true God could not justly send anyone to Hell to suffer for sin. Either Christ propitiated the Father's wrath for the elect only, or we must conclude that the wrath of God no longer abides on anyone which is unscriptural and dishonoring to God.
Augustus Toplady wrote the following poem which expresses this truth beautifully:
"Payment God cannot twice demand
"Complete atonement thou hast made,
"How then can wrath on me take place
"Turn, then, my soul, unto thy rest,
"Trust in His efficacious blood,
When Jesus Christ instituted the observance of the Lord's Supper He told His disciples: "For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." In essence He told His disciples that the covenant blood which He was about to shed would insure the remission of sins for many.
A.W. Pink comments:
"Remission is a judicial term, and signifies the annulling of guilt, the removal of all ground of punishment. "Once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb. 9:26). Christ has so put away all the sin of His people that they are perfectly and finally acquitted in the high court of God so that no charge can evermore be laid against them (Rom. 8:33). Blessedly and gloriously has the Old Testament type been fulfilled, "On that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord" (Lev. 16:30). Thus are God's believing children able to say, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us f ram all sin" (I John 1:7). This was one of the chief ends of Christ's Satisfaction saintwards: to take upon Him the sins of His people, and so atone for them that an end was made of them." 17
One of the results of Christ's sacrifice was the remission of sins. By His death He put away our sins. Because Jesus bore our sins in His body on the tree he freed us from the guilt and penalty of those sins. Psalms 103:12 states: "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." Acts 10:43 states: "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."
It is clear from the Scriptures that Jesus Christ did not die to remit the sins of all men without exception. Jesus himself told the scribes and the Pharisees in John 8:21; 24: "I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he ye shall die in your sins." It is obvious from these verses that those who do not believe, die in their sins and therefore must pay the penalty for them. He was speaking to a group of people who He did not die for, whose sins would never be remitted or put away. If they must bear the penalty and guilt of their sins then it is obvious that Jesus did not die to remit or put away their sins. Every sin that Jesus died for must of necessity be remitted, put away, blotted out, and forgiven in order to prove that His sacrifice was perfect in all respects. Again, the meaning of the word remission and its use in the Scriptures supports the teaching of particular redemption.
Though the term substitution is nowhere used in the Scriptures it is often implied in relation to Christ's redemptive work. A substitute is one who is put in the place of another. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, suffering the wrath of God for our sins, He was acting as our substitute. Instead of God's wrath falling upon me for my sins, it fell upon Jesus Christ who acted as my replacement or substitute. Instead of the sword of God's justice smiting me to Hell it fell upon the head of my blessed Saviour. He was acting in my stead, suffering what I justly deserved, and dying the death and punishment that I had merited.
A.W. Pink defined Christ's substitution in the following way:
"Vicarious suffering is suffering endured not only on behalf of others, but in the stead of others, in the actual place of others. It therefore carries with it the exemption of the party in whose place the suffering is endured. What a substitute does for the person whose place he fills, absolves that person from the need of himself doing or suffering the same thing. Thus, when we affirm that the sufferings of Christ were vicarious we mean that He substituted Himself in the room of sinners and satisfied the law in their behalf, and that, in such a way, the law can now make no claim whatever upon them ... The Scriptures teach that Christ was in a strict and exact sense the Substitute of His people, i.e., that by Divine appointment and of His own free will, He assumed all their liabilities, took their law-place, and bound Himself to do in their stead all that the law demanded, rendering to it that obedience upon which their wellbeing depended, and suffering its penalty which their sins deserved. Christ became their vicarious Sponsor, assuming their obligations and undertaking to satisfy Divine justice on their behalf." 18
The substitutionary work of the Lord Jesus Christ was foreshadowed in Israel's ritual on the Day of Atonement. The High Priest was to select two goats to be presented unto the Lord. One goat was to be slain as a sin offering and his blood sprinkled upon the mercy seat seven times (indicating perfection) to make atonement for the transgressions of the children of Israel for that year. Then Aaron was to place both of his hands upon the head of the live goat and confess the iniquities of the children of Israel. This goat was then led out in to the wilderness by a fit man bearing away the sins of Israel into a land not inhabited. The sins of a specific people were transferred or imputed to the head of an innocent victim who was to bear them away. This is precisely what Jesus Christ did for His people. He was slain in their stead, and He also bore away their sins to a place uninhabited, namely death and the grave. He was our Divine scapegoat appointed by God to act as our substitute. Isaiah 53:6 declares: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Milburn Cockrell wrote:
"The Father laid the sins of all believers on Christ, as the sins of the offerer were laid upon the sacrifice and those of all Israel upon the head of the scapegoat. How comforting this statement should be to us! When the Father took them away from us and put them on Christ, then we no longer have them. The Father can spare us because He "spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all" (Rom. 8:32). Nothing can be laid to the charge of God's elect because God the Father has justified us "freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24). 19
How the teaching of Christ's substitutionary death ought to humble the hearts of God's people! Everything He suffered was because He was acting on our behalf. He was born in poverty because we are spiritually bankrupt. He was made under the law because we had violated it. He took upon himself a body of flesh in order to be judged for our sins and to "condemn sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3). He was falsely tried and accused of blasphemy because we were guilty before God of wicked crimes. He was humiliated, beaten, and spat upon in order to endure the shame of our sins. He was nailed to the cursed tree because we were cursed with a curse. He cried, "I thirst", because that would have been our lamentable woe in the Lake of Fire. He was forsaken by His Father because that would have been our eternal fate. He suffered the equivalent of the second death so that we could enjoy the blessedness of eternal life. What love and grace is manifested in the substitutionary death of our Lord! "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (II Cor. 5:21) When the teaching of Christ's substitutionary death is rightly understood, the theory of a universal or provisional atonement must be abandoned as worthless and dishonoring to our blessed Lord. How foolish it is to suppose that Christ would bear the sins of all men and suffer the wrath of God on their behalf and yet not secure the salvation of any. Such an idea casts reproach upon the character of God and His justice.
I conclude this section with a quote from the Prince of Preachers, C.H. Spurgeon:
"They [certain 'divines'] believe that Judas was atoned for just as much as Peter; they believe that the damned in Hell were as much the object of Jesus Christ's satisfaction as the saved in Heaven; and though they do not say it in proper words, yet they must man it, for it is a fair inference, that in the case of multitudes, Christ died in vain, for He died for them all, they say; and yet so ineffectual was His dying for them, that though he died for them they are damned afterward. Now, such an atonement I despise--I reject it. I may be called Antinomian or Calvinist for preaching a limited atonement; but I had rather believe in a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than an universal atonement that is not efficacious, except the will of man be joined with it." 20
Those who believe in the scriptural doctrine of particular redemption contend that Christ died only for the elect. In the previous chapters this point has been proven by examining the purpose, the nature, and the results accomplished in the redemptive work of Christ. We now want to examine the express declarations of Scripture which prove that Jesus died for the sins of specific individuals as opposed to every individual without exception.
Whether a person believes in a particular or a general redemption; both limit the death of Christ in some way. Arminians limit the power or efficacy of the blood; whereas Calvinists limit the extent of Christ's sacrifice.
Steele and Thomas wrote the following observation:
"The Arminians also place a limitation on the atoning work of Christ, but one of a much different nature. They hold that Christ's saving work was designed to make possible the salvation of all men on the condition that they believe, but that Christ's death in itself did not actually secure or guarantee salvation for anyone. Since all men will not be saved as the result of Christ's redeeming work, a limitation must be admitted. Either the atonement was limited in that it was designed to secure salvation for certain sinners but not for others, or it was limited in that it was not intended to secure salvation for any, but was designed only to make it possible for God to pardon sinners on the condition that they believe. In other words, one must limit its design either in extent (it was not intended for all) or effectiveness (it did not secure salvation for any)." 21
C.H. Spurgeon stated this truth in the following way:
"We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is, that, on the other hand our opponents limit it: we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, "No, certainly not." We ask them the next question--Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer "No." They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say "No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if"--and then follow certain conditions of salvation. We say, then, we will just go back to the old statement--Christ did not die so as beyond a doubt to secure the salvation of anybody, did he? You must say "No;" you are obliged to say so, for you believe that even after a man has been pardoned, he may yet fall from grace, and perish. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as to infallibly secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ's death; we say, "No, my dear sir, it is you that do it. We say Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it." 22
Because Jesus Christ did not die for every individual without exception, but for the elect only we can expect to find statements in the Word of God that would indicate that He died for groups smaller than all mankind. Often we find statements relating to the death of Christ that declare that He died for "many", "His people "His sheep", and "His friends". These distinctions would not be at all necessary if Christ had died for all men without exception or every individual in the world. The words "all" or "world" would suffice every time.
A.W. Pink stated: "Every assertion that Christ died for 'His people', is a repudiation of the theory that He died for all mankind."
Isaiah 53:11-12 states: "He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities ... because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." The Prophet Isaiah is describing the sufferings that the Messiah would endure- and the results of those sufferings. By virtue of Christ's sufferings and death many would be justified and He would bare the sins of many. The use of the word "many" necessitates the interpretation that He did not bear the sins of all men, but many men.
Matthew 20:28 states: "Even as the Son of man cam not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Jesus Christ himself told His disciples the purpose and the extent of His life-giving sacrifice. He would give His life's blood as a ransom to redeem many from the bondage of sin and the captivity of Satan. Christ paid a particular ransom price in order to set free a particular people. The nature of the word ransom necessitates a deliverance of the person for whom it was paid.
Matthew 26:28 states: "For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Jesus plainly tells His disciples that His blood was not shed for all, but for many. The results of that blood- shedding would be the putting away of the guilt and penalty of sins for the many He would die for.
Hebrews 9:28 states: "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice to bear the sins of many. He did not come to bear the sins of all men. The fact is, because Christ bore all my sins I will never have to bear them because He paid the penalty for them and put them away. I Peter 2:24 declares: "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." It may be inferred that if Christ did not bear your sins, you must bear the quilt and punishment for them throughout all eternity in the Lake of Fire.
To prove that the word "many" does not mean all, I refer the reader to Matthew 7:22-23 which states: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Here many false professors are judged and cast out of the presence of Christ. I no more believe in a universal damnation than I do a universal redemption. Many among mankind will be cast into the Lake of Fire, but not all. Christ died for many people, but not all people.
Isaiah 53:8 states: "He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people was he stricken."
Matthew 1:21 declares: "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins."
Luke 1:68 and 77 state: "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeem his people ... to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins."
In each of these verses Christ's redemptive work is said to be for the people of God specifically. It is interesting that they are called "His people" before Christ actually purchased them on the cross. Before Christ ever went to the cross the elect were considered "His people" because the Father had given them to Christ in the Covenant of Grace to redeem, before the foundation of the world. Only when this is understood do the following Scriptures make any sense: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out ... And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day" (John 6:37;39). "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him ... I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word" (John 17:2;6). Christ did not come to redeem the entire world, but those whom the Father had given him as Revelation 5:9 affirms: "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood OUT OF every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.
John 10:11, 14-16 state: "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep...I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." In this passage Jesus narrowly defines who He was laying His life down for--His sheep, those for whom He had a special knowledge of, and those who would most definitely hear His voice and be brought into His fold. Furthermore, by giving Himself the title of the Good Shepherd, He must of necessity save all the sheep that He died for. Not one of them could be finally lost if He truly is the Good Shepherd. In verse 26 He plainly tells His listeners: "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
Two conclusions may be drawn from the Scriptures in John 10. First, Christ knew exactly who He was laying His life down for. Second, not all men are His sheep, so He did not lay down His life for all men without exception. His sheep are marked by the ear and the foot according to verses 27 and 28 which state: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." Certainly no one would affirm that these verses apply to all men without exception!
The fact that He laid down His life for the sheep (elect) only is further evidenced by the scene at the Judgment of the Nations recorded in Matthew 25:33 and 41 which state: "And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left ... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand (goats), Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." The sheep enter into the glorious millennial kingdom of the Son of Man, whereas the goats (unbelievers) are cast into everlasting fire. It is interesting to note that the sheep enter into the kingdom because Christ became a curse for them (Gal. 3:13), whereas, the goats are said to be cursed implying that Christ was not made a curse for their sins. They are responsible to bear their transgressions in the eternal fire of Hell.
John 15:13-14 states: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do what- soever I command you." In verse 16 He clearly defines who His friends were, namely those whom He had chosen, and called to be fruitful: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you." Jesus is talking to His disciples that had believed on Him. Jesus did not die for any who die in their sins and remain rebellious enemies in the Lake of Fire throughout eternity.
Christ's friends and enemies are further distinguished in Nahum 1:2 and 7 which state: "God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies ... The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth (cf. John 10; II Tim. 2:19) them that trust in him."
Romans 8:32-33 states: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth."
Christ's redeeming work cannot go beyond the extent of God's election. John Gill, the Baptist theologian, expressed the following observations on Romans 8:
"The inspired writers seem to delight in using the pronoun us, when speaking of the death of Christ, and redemption by it; thereby pointing at a particular people ... The objects of election and redemption are the same; Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?--It is Christ that died! Died for the elect: so the same, us all, for whom God delivered up his Son, are those whom he foreknew, and whom he predestinated; and whose calling, justification, and glorification are secured thereby, Rom. 8:30-33, and the same us, who are said to be chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world, have redemption in him through his blood, Eph. 1:4,7. Election and redemption are of equal extent; no more are redeemed by Christ than are chosen in him; and these are a special people: what is said of the objects of the one is true of the objects of the other. Are the elect the beloved of the Lord? And does the act of election spring from love? Election presupposes love: so the redeemed are the beloved of God and Christ; and their redemption flows from love. Are the elect a people whom God has chosen for his peculiar treasure? The red are purified by Christ, to be a peculiar people to himself." 23
Jesus used the word beloved interchangeably with the word elect in Matthew 12:18 which states: "Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; MY BELOVED, in whom my soul is well pleased; I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles." He was quoting from Isaiah 42:1 which states: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; MINE ELECT, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles." Hence, the terms elect and beloved are of equal force. This truth brings much light upon the extent of Christ's propitiatory sacrifice in I John 4:9-11 which states: "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. BELOVED, if God so loved us we ought also to love one another." The pronouns "us", and "we", and "our" in this chapter have reference only to those whom John calls beloved! (See also verses 1; 4; 6; and 7.)
The redemptive work of Jesus Christ does not extend beyond those for whom He acts as High Priest. John 17:9 states: "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me (the elect); for they are thine." Christ in no way intercedes for the world that lies in wickedness (I John 5:19). The fact that He doesn't intercede for the whole world necessitates a conclusion that He did not die for the whole world. He died for and intercedes for those whom the Father had chosen and given Him before the world began (Eph. 1:4-7). Romans 8:33-35 further illustrates this blessed truth: "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"
Christ's intercession for the elect insures their safe arrival in Heaven as Hebrews 7:26 declares: "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that corn unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
A.W. Pink comments:
"The success of Christ's intercession is fully assured by the fact that nothing, in, of, from, or by His people can possibly countervail it. If Christ has once taken a person into His prayers, He will never, under any circumstances, cast him out ... How infallibly certain it is, then, that Christ shall "see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied" (Isa. 53:11). He sees to it Himself that nothing which He purchased by His obedience unto death shall be lost. He is Himself constantly engaged in maintaining the interest of those for whom He died." 24
It is because of Christ's unfailing intercessory work on behalf of the elect that we can be assured that Jude 24-25 is a reality: "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
John 11:51-52 states: "And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only (elect Jews), but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad." Here Christ's death is not to extend beyond the adopted members of the family of God. It is stated specifically that He would die for the children of God and gather them together which is precisely what Jesus prayed for in John 17:22 and 24 which states: "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one ... Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they my behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
Christ did not come to redeem strangers. He came to redeem and secure the sons of God who were the objects of God's mercy in His eternal decree of adoption. There is an eternal union that exists between Christ and his brethren, the sons of God, that can never be severed. Hebrews 2:10-11; 13 states this truth beautifully: "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren ... And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me (cf. Eph. 1: 3-7). "
Christ not only shed His blood particularly for the elect, He also purchased His kind of church. Acts 20:28 states: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." In this verse the Apostle Paul is exhorting the elders of the local church at Ephesus to feed that particular flock of blood-bought saints. The local, New Testament Baptist church; therefore is a blood-bought institution. This truth is further illustrated in Ephesians 5:25 which states: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also love the church, and gave himself for it." Just as Christ loved and died particularly for the members of the family of God, He also died for His particular kind of church.
Though John Gill did not believe in a Baptist Bride, he nevertheless had an interesting observation:
"Of that church of which Christ is the head and husband, he is the Redeemer; thy Maker is thine husband; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel! This cannot be said of all communities and bodies of men: the whore of Babylon is not the spouse of Christ; nor sects under the influence of false teachers." 25
To further prove that there are elect saints for whom Christ died, who are the children of God, yet not members of the kind of church which Jesus purchased and promised perpetuity too, I quote Revelation 18:4 which states: "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plaques." Here is a group of God's elect on the earth, who are exhorted to come out of the Roman Harlot, while the Lord's Bride is in Heaven anticipating the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9).
I realize that I have gone to great lengths to prove that Christ died for and redeemed a particular people. I have offered an abundance of Scriptures to prove this blessed and God- honoring truth. It is the desire of the writer that those who read these pages may be enlightened by the Holy Spirit to the precious truth of particular redemption.
Because particular redemption is a hated doctrine in the religious world, there are many objections raised against this precious truth. Most of the objections raised center around the passages of Scripture relating to the death of Christ where universal terms such as "world", "all", and "every" are used. In order to make any sense of the Bible, every text must of necessity be interpreted in light of its context as well as the general teaching of the Scriptures. It is not the intent of the writer to answer all the objections and philosophical questions that Arminians may pose, but simply to examine the Scriptures and attempt to explain them according to the principles of sound biblical exegesis.
It must be understood at the outset that the writers of the Bible had a Jewish mindset. For thousands of years God's salvation was limited in extent for the most part to God's chosen people, the nation of Israel. Jesus himself told the Samaritan woman in John 4:22: "salvation is of the Jews". The Jews did not believe that God's plan of salvation extended beyond their nation to the Gentile nations of the world. Even the apostles did not fully understand this concept as illustrated by the reaction of Peter in Acts 10 when God commanded him in a vision to go to the house of a Gentile centurion Cornelius to preach the gospel. Verse 17 states: "Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate." Peter did not understand why God would command him to go to an unclean Gentile. Verse 28 states: "And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." It took the supernatural power of God to convince Peter to preach the Word of God to the Gentiles! Peter acknowledges this in verse 34: "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons."
When Cornelius and his house heard the gospel of Christ they believed on Him, and the Holy Spirit of God was poured out upon the Gentiles in much the same way He was on the Day of Pentecost upon the Jerusalem church. Acts 11 records that the apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had received the Word of God. They proceeded to question Peter and required him to give an account of the incident. He rehearsed the housetop vision, the response of Cornelius, and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles. He justified his going in Acts 11:17 by stating: "Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I that I could withstand God?" The church at Jerusalem was astounded as verse 18 declares: "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." It is interesting to note that after Acts 11 there is increased missionary activity among the early churches.
Tom Wells summarizes the above passages by stating:
"Without the miracles they would have never come to this conclusion on their own! In speaking to Jews, then the emphasis on Christ's love and sacrifice for the world was necessary. In this way the Bible asserts that Christ did not offer Himself for Jews alone, but for men of every nation." 26
It is in this light that John 11:51-52 is to be interpreted which states: "And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad." Thus, the Holy Spirit inspired the Jewish writers of the Bible to use universal terms in order to show that Christ's redemptive sacrifice was not limited the Jews as a nation, but extended to the Gentile nations of the world as well. They did not use the phrases to teach that Christ died for all men without exception, but that He died for the world of His elect whether they were Jews or Gentiles.
It would prove to be very instructive and enlightening for the reader to take a concordance and check all the references to the word "world". You would find that it almost always has a limited application and meaning and rarely mans every man without exception.
A.W. Pink wrote the following observation:
"Anyone who has examined a concordance and looked up the passages where "world" occurs, soon discovers that this word is used in the New Testament in quite a number of ways and with widely different latitudes, so that nothing can be determined for certain by the occurrence of this term in John 3:16. Sometimes the "world" signifies the unbelieving as in John 15:18, in others it includes none but believers as in Romans 11:12, etc. Sometimes the "world" denotes the material system, created by Christ (John 1:10), in others it is applied to a mere handful of people as in John 7:4 and 12:19. In the great majority of instances it is a general and indefinite expression which has reference to the Gentiles in contradistinction from Israel after the flesh." 27
There are three principal passages used by Arminians to prove their doctrine of universal atonement. The passages most commonly referred to are John 3:16, 11 Corinthians 5:19, and I John 2:2 which we will consider in order.
John 3:16 states: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Arminians declare that this verse teaches that God loves all men without exception and sent His Son to die for all men indiscriminately. Yet, the context in which the verse is placed is very important to the understanding of this verse. Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, a religious leader among the Jews, who would consider the "world" of the Gentiles to be accursed and hopeless as far as God's salvation was concerned. Jesus corrects the thinking of Nicodemus by stating that God loved and gave His Son for whosoever would believe in Christ, whether they be Jews or Gentiles. It is clearly stated in the context that those who don't believe must perish in their sins in contrast with those who do believe and obtain everlasting life.
There are several questions I would like to ask my Arminian brethren. Does the "world" in this verse include Esau of whom God clearly stated in Romans 9:13: "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated"? Does the "world" in this verse include those who were already suffering in Hell when Jesus spoke these words, such as Cain, Nimrod, and Pharaoh? Does the "world" in this verse include those that hate Christ and persecute his disciples as John 15:18 states: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you"? Does the "world" in John 3:16 include "the world" who Jesus did not pray for in John 17:9 which states: "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine"? Anyone who is honest in interpreting Scripture must answer these questions with a resounding no! God loves those who believe in His Son. The only reason why anyone believes the gospel is traced back to God's eternal election as Acts 13:48 states: "...as many as were ORDAINED to eternal life BELIEVED."
II Corinthians 5:19 states: "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." The "world" in this verse cannot man every man without exception, because the Scriptures clearly teach that many men die in their sins without ever being reconciled to God. In fact there are a whole host of men and women who will have to face God with their sins at the Great White Throne Judgment. Jesus told some men in John 8:21: "I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins..." To believe otherwise would mean you would have to embrace the false teaching of universal salvation.
The "world" in this verse must be determined by the context. It must refer solely to those who died judicially and positionally with Christ on the cross, which is evidenced in time by the fact that those for whom Christ died no longer live unto themselves, "but unto him which died for them, and rose again." This is certainly not true of those who die in their sins after living a life of gratifying their fleshly passions! The "world" in this verse refers solely to those whose lives have been changed by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit as verse 17 states: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
I John 2:2 states: "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." This verse teaches that the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ appeased the wrath of God for those whom He acts as an advocate for; namely, believers, or my little children (2:1). It also teaches that this propitiation or appeasing of the wrath of God against sin is not limited to Jews, but has also been extended to the Gentiles, hence the term "whole world" which is elsewhere used in reference specifically to the Gentiles in Romans 11:11-15.
Christ was not offered as a propitiation for any who would ultimately go to Hell and be punished for their sins. If Christ died as a propitiation for the sins of every individual without exception then he appeased the wrath of God for all men, which logically leads to the acceptance of a universal salvation. If that is true then either Christ's work must be viewed as a colossal failure because from the Scriptures it is obvious that many do go to Hell, or we must assume that the Bible has errors and contradictions. For example, how can the whole world be saved and yet some be judged?
Other examples proving that the use of the word "world" is limited by its context and rarely means every man without exception abound in the Scriptures. Luke 2:1 states: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed." Does this "world" include the American Indians and the Vikings of Greenland? No, the writer is referring to the "world" over which the R Caesar reigned.
Colossians 1:5-6 states: "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit..." Paul is referring to the then known world consisting chiefly of the Roman Empire. The continents of North and South Africa had not been evangelized at the time of this writing.
I John 5:19 states: "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." This verse does not include believers; the world that lies in wickedness is in contrast to the people of God. God's people are characterized by "departing from iniquity" (II Tim. 2:19), not lying in it!
Revelation 13:3 states: "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast." The "world" of this verse does not apply to the raptured saints in Heaven, nor does it refer to those who in the same chapter are said to have been killed for not worshipping and receiving the mark of the beast (13:15-16).
The second class of passages Arminians enjoy using to prove the general atonement theory involve the words "all" and "every". The same principles that governed the interpretation of the word "world" have equal force when examining the passages where "all" or "every are used. They often refer to all kinds of men (i.e. race, sex, culture, or status) rather than every man or all men without exception. It is blessedly true that Jesus Christ died for all kinds of men, living at different times, and dwelling in various nations as Revelation 5:9 declares: "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."
John 12:32 states: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." It is obvious from the general teaching of the Scriptures that when Christ died He did not draw all men to himself in a saving relationship. What this verse is teaching is that the power of Christ's saving work will draw all kinds of men from among many nations. To believe otherwise you must deny what happens in Matthew 25:41 when Jesus says to the goats: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
I Timothy 2:4; 6 states: "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth ... Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." It is obvious from the context that Paul is speaking of all kinds of men. In verse one he exhorts believers to pray for all types of men especially those in authority. If the "all" in verse one means all without exception then we had better order phone books for every major city in the world and begin to pray for "all men"!
A.W. Pink comments:
"What has been said above concerning the signification of the term "world" when used in connection with the objects of God's love or the subjects of Christ's redemption, applies with equal force and pertinency to the word "all". That Christ gave Himself a ransom for "all" without distinction of nationality, social status, age or sex is blessedly true; but to say that He died in the stead of "all" without exception cannot be maintained without involving the most palpable absurdities and contradictions. Nor is there anything elsewhere in Scripture which obliges us to give to "all" in this and similar verses an absolute and unlimited meaning." 28
Hebrews 2:9 states: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." The "every man" in verse 9 can be clearly detected from the context. "Every man" includes the adopted members of the family of God, the "many sons" over whom Christ is called the captain of their salvation. "Every man" includes Christ's brethren who are united to Him and consecrated to God by virtue of a divine and inseparable union in verse 11. "Every " includes the children, which God had given Christ before the world began. The context clearly indicates that "every man" in this case is limited to God's elect, Christ's brethren, the many sons who are actually and ultimately brought into a glorified state by the captain of their salvation (v. 10).
II Peter 3:9 states: "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness: but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." Arminians are famous for only quoting the last half of this verse. The all that corn to repentance are the us-ward who are identified as the beloved in verse 8. The us-ward are the "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (I Pet. 1:2). God's will can never be thwarted or overturned according to Job 23:13 and Daniel 4:35. If God had willed that all men without exception would come to repentance, then we can be assured that all men would be saved. But such is not the case, which forces us to limit the "all" in this verse to the elect of whom Jesus said: "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (John 10:16).
Other passages where the words "all" and "every" are limited in application are abundant. Mark 1:5 states: "And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins." The "all" in this verse obviously didn't include the Pharisees of whom Jesus spake in Luke 7:30: "But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him."
Romans 3:23 states: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." The "all" in this verse cannot apply to the Lord Jesus Christ "who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (I Pet. 2:22).
The list could go on and on to prove that the words "world", "all", and "every" often have a limited application according to the laws of interpretation.
One last verse must be examined which is generally considered to be an Arminian strong- hold to teach a general atonement. II Peter 2:1 states: "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." The Greek word for "Lord" in the text is one that is seldom used in the New Testament. It is despotees, and always has reference to God the Father not Jesus Christ. All who Christ purchased will ultimately enjoy the glory of eternal life, not one of them shall perish (John 10:27-28). Yet, the false teachers of II Peter 2 perish in their sins. Furthermore, whenever Christ's redemptive work is referred to with the word "bought", there is always a reference to the price of redemption which is the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:20; Eph. 1:7; I Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 5:9; 14:3-4). Yet there is no hint of the price of the supposed redemption in our text or the entire chapter for that matter. The buying of this verse indicates a temporal deliverance rather than a redemptive purchase.
John Gill made the following observations:
"The word buying regards temporal deliverance, and particularly the redemption of the people of Israel out of Egypt; who are therefore called the people the Lord had purchased. The phrase is borrowed from Deuteronomy 32:6... wherefore Peter makes use of this phrase much in the same manner as Moses had done before him, to aggravate the ingratitude and impiety of these false teachers among the Jews; that they should deny, if not in words, at least in works, that mighty Jehovah, who had of old redeemed their fathers out of Egypt, with a stretched- out arm, and, in successive ages, had distinguished them with peculiar favours; being ungodly men, turning the grace, the doctrine of the grace of God, into lasciviousness. Hence, nothing can be concluded from this passage in favour of Christ's dying for them that perish; since neither Christ, nor the death of Christ, nor redemption by his blood are here once mentioned, nor in the least intended." 29
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