Oct 8, 2012

Definite Atonement VI

In previous postings it was shown that Christ gave his life as an atonement for the sins of a particular people, for the sheep and for the church, for many, for the people of God.  In this posting I will give further scriptures that show that Christ died for believers and for them only.

"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."  (Rom. 5: 8-10)

Who is referenced by the apostle by the pronouns highlighted in the above passage?  Can anyone deny that they refer to Christians?  To the believers in Rome?  Again, the only thing that the promoters of a general atonement can do is to say, "yes, but it is not for us only."  And, again, I respond by saying that believers only is clearly the meaning of the apostle. 

Those who believe in general atonement insist that "Christ died for us" cannot be limited to believers or to the elect.  But, again, consider that the ones denoted by the pronouns are they who are justified and who shall be saved from wrath.  Is this true of any other than believers?  Is it not true of believers "only"?  If one argues that "Christ died for us" cannot exclude unbelievers, then they may also argue that "we shall be saved" and "we were reconciled" are not limited to believers.

Granted, Paul's use of the Greek preposition "huper" does not necessarily denote substitution in every passage where it is used, but clearly it includes both ideas of "in the stead of" and "for the benefit of" in the above passage.  Further, the benefits mentioned are not of the kind that all men enjoy as a result of the death of Christ, but are justification, reconciliation, and salvation. 

Shedd, in his Dogmatic Theology, said (emphasis mine):

"The atonement of Christ is represented in Scripture as vicarious. The satisfaction of justice intended and accomplished by it is for others, not for himself. This is abundantly taught in Scripture. Matt. 20: 28, "The Son of man came to give his life a ransom for (anti)) many." Matt. 10: 45, " This is my body which is given for (anti) you." In these two passages the preposition anti indisputably denotes substitution. Passages like Matt. 2 : 22, "Archelaus reigned in the room (anti) of his father Herod;" Matt. 5: 38, "An eye for an eye;" Luke 11: 11, "Will he for a fish give him a serpent," prove this.

In the majority of the passages, however, which speak of Christ's sufferings and death, the preposition huper is employed. Luke 22: 19, 20, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is shed for (huper) you." John 6: 51, " The bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world." John 15: 13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Rom. 5 : 6-8, " Christ died for the ungodly; while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Rom. 8: 32, "He delivered him up for us all." 2 Cor. 5: 14, 15, "If one died for all then all died." 2 Cor. 5: 21, "He made him to be sin for us." Gal. 3 : 13, "Being made a curse for us." Eph. 5 :2, 25, "Christ gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God." 1 Tim. 2: 5, 6, "The man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom for all." Heb. 2: 9, Christ " tasted death for every man." 1 Pet. 3: 18, Christ "suffered the just for the unjust."

The preposition huper, like the English preposition "for," has two significations. It may denote advantage or benefit, or it may mean substitution. The mother dies for her child, and Pythias dies for Damon. The sense of "for" in these two propositions must be determined by the context, and the different circumstances in each instance. Christ (John 15 : 13) lays down the proposition: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for (huper) his friends." The preposition huper, here, may mean either "for the benefit of," or " instead of." In either case, the laying down of life would be the highest proof of affection. The idea of substitution, therefore, cannot be excluded by the mere fact that the preposition huper is employed; because it has two meanings. In 2 Cor. 5: 20, 21, huper is indisputably put for anti. "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead (huper), be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him who knew no sin to be sin for us (huper)." In Philemon 13, huper is clearly equivalent to anti. "Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead (huper) he might have ministered unto me." In 2 Cor. 5: 14, it is said that "the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge that if one died for all (huper), then all died." Here, the notion of substitution is plain. If Christ died in the room and place of the " all," then the "all" are reckoned to have died. The vicarious atonement of Christ is regarded as the personal atonement of the believer. It would be nonsense to say, that "if one died for the benefit of all, then all died."  (pg. 378-79)

It is to be further observed how the justification, reconciliation, and salvation in the above passage comes as a direct result of Christ dying vicariously for sinners.  Definite atonement that invariably secures the above benefits is clearly taught in the above passage.  But, this is what is denied by those who teach universal atonement. 

"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 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 any thing 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."  (Rom. 8: 31-34)

Again, we must ascertain who is denominated by the pronouns in these words.  Who is the "us" in the statement "but delivered him up for us all"?  Those who believe in general atonement agree that it refers to "God's elect" but will again say that it does not mean them "only."  But, again, we must ask whether the other statements about the "us" means us only?  In the first statement - "if God be for us" - the "us" cannot possibly include unbelievers or those not of the "elect" for this would force us to accept Universalism.  Is God "for" unbelievers?  If so, then who can be "against" them?  Further, the "us all" for whom Christ died cannot possibly include unbelievers.  If unbelievers or the non-elect are included in "us all," then they will certainly be given all things. 

Clearly Paul identifies the "us all" (or "all of us") as being "God's elect."  And, he argues that no one can condemn the "us" for whom Christ died, for they are justified by Christ dying for them.  The logic is irrefutable.  Paul argues that no one can condemn the "us," or "God's elect," for the very reason that Christ died for them.  Paul affirms definite and successful atonement.  Those for whom Christ died are justified by his dying for them and cannot therefore be condemned.  Those who believe in general atonement cannot accept the argumentation of the apostle.  They cannot affirm that the reason why any are saved is because Christ died for them.  If Christ dies for Paul and Judas equally, and in the same sense, and Judas goes to Hell but Paul goes to Heaven, it cannot be argued that Paul goes to Heaven because Christ died for him. 

Also, again the apostle uses the Greek preposition "huper" twice, when he says God is "for" us, and when he says God delivered up Christ "for us all."  But, again, the benefits are specifically identified, benefits that only God's elect receive.

"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."  (Titus 2: 13-14)

"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour."  (Eph. 5: 1-2)

Again, we must ask - "who is denominated by the pronouns in the above passage?"  Those who believe in particular and definite atonement affirm that the elect, or believers, are referred to, and them only.  But, again, this must be denied by those who uphold a general atonement.  It is the "dear children" of God, his "peculiar people," who Christ gave himself for and his sacrificial and atonement offering was accepted by God on their behalf.  The result of this sacrifice being accepted by God those for whom it was offered must be then viewed by God as justified and reconciled. 

"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. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 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: 18-21)

Again, we ask - "who is denominated by the personal pronouns?"  Christ was made sin "for us."  Who is this "us"?  Those who uphold general atonement insist that all men without exception must be included and say that this is clear because the text says that God was "reconciling the world" and the "world" must include everyone.  But, the "world" cannot mean every individual because all are not reconciled.  All those who are in fact reconciled are the world.  The text does not say that reconcilation was simply made possible, but was actually made. 

Reconciliation, in Scripture, goes in two directions.  There is the case of God being reconciled towards sinners, whereby his wrath against them is appeased and removed, but also the case of sinners being reconciled, in their minds, towards God.  God, because of sin, is an enemy towards sinners, and likewise, because of sin, sinners are enemies toward God.  The first is accomplished by the work of Christ upon the cross and is the basis for sinners becoming reconciled to God in the work of conversion.  (See Col. 1: 21)  In the above text we have God being reconciled to us and us being reconciled to God.  In sinners being now reconciled towards God the sacrifice of Christ is the basis and the Gospel is the means.

"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."  (Gal. 1: 4)

"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us..."  (Gal. 3: 13)

Again, it cannot be successfully denied that a particular people are denoted by the personal pronouns.  Paul is not addressing the total body of lost sinners, but believers in Jesus.  Further, Paul advocates a successful atonement, one that accomplished its purpose.  All those for whom Christ died are redeemed and delivered. 

"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. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."  (I Peter 2: 24-25)

"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."  (I Peter 3: 18)

Again, it is not possible to say that these verses are applicable to every man.  Clearly they are applicable only to the elect, or to believers. 

"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures."  (I Cor. 15: 3)

Again, this Scripture is addressed to the believers of the church of Corinth and cannot be made to apply to those who die in unbelief.  Some of the advocates of general atonement insist that the message that "Christ died for our sins" was preached to the Corinthians before they became believers, and thus proves that this is what Paul announced to every men.  But, this is an assumption without proof.  There is in fact no Scripture to show that the Apostles told unbelievers that Christ died for them personally.  Also, Paul says that he testified to all that Christ died for our sins "according to the scriptures," which must certainly include Isaiah 53 which we previously saw limited the atoning work of Christ to the "many," or to the chosen people of God, among Jews and Gentiles. 

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