Mar 3, 2009

Limited Atonement

Yes, the serpent on the pole was provided for the bitten Israelites. But, I dare anyone to read the story and prove to me that it was provided for every bitten Israelite. It was not. Many had died BEFORE the serpent was placed on the pole. These who died before the serpent was placed on the pole had no opportunity! Read the story!

19 comments:

Bruce Oyen said...

Stephen, it seems to me the point to be learned from the Lord's reference to the serpent on the pole is not the extent of the atonement, though I believe in a general atonement, but the simplicity of obtaining eternal life: It comes to us by simply looking in faith to Christ for it.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Pastor Bruce:

Most who believe in particularity in the atonement believe also in some kind of generality to it.

I have written on this topic a good bit and plan to write more upon it, the Lord willing.

I do not believe, as my friend recently said, that the serpent was provided for "every Israelite who was bitten." That is simply not true if one reads Numbers 21. Many had died before a provision was made and who did not benefit from it.

One serious problem for the general atonement advocates is the fact that not all hear the gospel. How can one be said to have had opportunity for looking to Calvary if they never heard of Calvary?

I do not like the idea of hypothetical atonement.

I do not like any system that has the second person in the Trinity coming to save more than the Father had elected to save.

I do not believe that Christ died in vain. If Christ died for me specifically, with the purpose of atoning for my sin, and yet, my sins are not atoned, then Christ failed and died in vain for me.

Further, I believe that Christ did not die in any sense to make it possible for God to damn a sinner. I do not believe Christ had to die for an individual in order to offer him terms of pardon.

Christ did not die for anyone who is in Hell.

Yes, his death made salvation possible for anyone who hears the gospel, but made it certain for the elect by dying specifically for them as a divine substitute.

What I am anxious to protect, as a believe in particular redemption, is the victorious nature of the atonement and of seeing that Christ can in no way be said to have died in vain.

Thanks for you input.

God bless,

Stephen

Bruce Oyen said...

Stephen, as we both know, one of the difficulties for 5-point Calvinists is that their assurance of election to salvation is a very subjective thing, and they must assume, alo,that Christ died for them. But, they have no real way of knowing they are among the elect, or that Christ died for them. The Bible does not say who the elect are, and, therefore, it does not say who Christ specifically died to save. All one can do is speculate about it. As i said, it becomes a very subjective thing, and this makes it very unsafe to say one knows Christ died for Me, but maybe not for someone else .

FolloweroftheLamb said...

I would respectfully disagree with you that the Bible does not say who the elect are. The Bible is replete with examples of how to identify them.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Follower:

Where did I say what you say I said?

God bless

Stephen

FolloweroftheLamb said...

Bro. Stephen,
I was speaking to pastor Bruce's comment that "they have no real way of knowing they are among the elect, or that Christ died for them."
Sorry for the confusion!

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Follower:

Whether Calvinist or Arminian, one cannot be assured of election outside of calling and faith. Those who believe may be assured that they are chosen.

God bless,

Stephen

Bruce Oyen said...

Stephen and Follower, I agree with the following statements from George Zeller of Middletwon Bible Church:

If Christ did not die for all, then we don't have good news for all, and Mark 16:15 becomes meaningless ("Preach the gospel to every creature.")

"Perhaps Christ died for you."

"Maybe God so loved you."

"Christ shed His blood for you, perhaps."

"Salvation has been provided for you, maybe."

"Possibly God commendeth His love toward you."

"Hopefully He’s the propitiation for your sins."

"There is a possibility that Christ died as your Substitute."

"I bring you good news, maybe."

"It’s possible that Christ died for you. If you get saved then we know that He did die for you, but if you continue to reject Him then He did not die for you."

"Christ died for you only if you believe that Christ died for you (thus proving you are elect), but if you do not believe this and if you continue in your unbelief until the day you die, then Christ did not die for you."

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Bruce:

I have been busy lately and have not had time to respond to your last e-mail nor to your comments. But, I will try to do so soon.

But, I will ask you to consider this this question: Do you not think that I can come up with conclusions, reductio ad absurdum, for the general atonement view, as you have done against the particular view?

God bless,

Stephen

Bruce Oyen said...

I'm sure you could, Brother Stephen. Neither one of us wants to go down without at least a wimper.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Brother Bruce:

I am not sure I like your insinuations or attitude. What do you mean by me "going down"? Are you trying to provoke me?

Blessings,

Stephen

FolloweroftheLamb said...

Dear Pastor Bruce,
Perhaps it would benefit you to study the scriptural usage of the word "all" in its various locations. Is it safe to assume from the scriptures that "all" always means all without exceptions, or is it used at times to refer to all of a certain group?

Dr. Trader said...

Stephen,

Did you read the comment by
Bob Ross on the lifting up
of the bronze serpent dated
3.3.09? I would like your
thoughts on it.

By the way, thanks for listing
Bob Ross on your reading list.
I enjoy his comments, as well
as his Spurgeon quotes.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Dr. Trader:

Yes, I did read it and do disagree with his statement that "EVERY bitten Israelite" had the sacrifice available to them.

I believe as the London Confession brethren, as Spurgeon, that Christ did not die for those who go to Hell. Yes, his death and sacrifice made it possible to offer salvation to any who believe, yet for the elect it made it certain.

The atonement was made for a particular people. When the high priest went into the holy of holies with the typical blood, it was for the sins of a chosen people, not for any non-elect or for any Gentile nation.

I do not believe Christ died in vain. I believe if he died for me, I am freed from sin. If Christ represented me in his death, then I shall be saved.

I love Brother Ross and our difference on the extent and design of the atonement does not stop my praise of him. He simply takes a Fullerite view of the atonement while I take a Gillite one.

Blessings,

Stephen

Bruce Oyen said...

Stephen, no I am not trying to provoke you. I was simply saying that both of us have our minds made up, and we would like to persuade others to share our views. Now that we both have expressed our opinions, I am content to drop the subject.

Dr. Trader said...

Stephen,

Thanks for your comments and
sharing your views.

I have only been reading Bob
Ross for a short time. His
comments on "The Flounders"
are interesting, especially
the history of the group.
Also, it's interesting that
he disagrees with Spurgeon
at those places.

I always enjoy reading your
blog. God bless you.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Brother Trader:

The doctrine of unconditional election is closely related, as you know, to this issue of the design and extent of the atonement.

I don't see why Christ must needs die for a man in order to be able to offer him salvation. This would make the death of Christ necessary for condemnation as well as for salvation.

I also agree with Hodge and other Calvinists that the death of Christ, like the sin of Adam, did not make salvation merely possible, but actually guaranteed it for all whom he died.

Also, I see Paul as stating, in the latter part of Romans 8, that the elect cannot be condemned because Christ died for them. But, such argumentation would be meaningless if it did not suppose that all for whom he died would be saved.

I see Paul saying in the Galatians 2 that Christ did not "die in vain," which he must do if most of whom he died for are not redeemed.

God bless and thanks for your imput.

Stephen

Dr. Trader said...

Stephen,

I appreciate you sharing your
theological views. However, I
would like to ask you about
your friend Bob Ross. How
would you describe his
theological views?

I really enjoy Bro. Bob's
historiccal accounts such
as the beginning of the
Founders. It helps me to
understand the historical
background of movements in
the church such as Founders.
The same is true for
understanding doctrine.

Anyway, thanks again for
introducing me to the Bob
Ross blog.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Dr. Trader:

I have always believed Bob Ross to be a "creedal Calvinist," holding to the London and Philadelphia Confessions, or a five point Calvinist.

That being said, he is anything but "Hyper."

He does not desire debates on certain issues, like supra vs. infralapsarianism.

I take him to agree with Spurgeon but would like to picture Spurgeon's views on the atonement as in a state of flux, sometimes saying things in keeping with a general atonement view, and then, at other times, clearly upholding the limited view.

I suppose one would need to ask brother Ross himself his views on it. I always believed he was a believer in total depravity, though not necessarily the way the Hypers do, and in unconditional election, effectual calling, etc.

I hope this helps. I am sure Bob would welcome your comments on his blog.

Blessings,

Stephen