Nov 5, 2012

Definite Atonement IX

"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: 2)

For whom did Christ give himself as an offering and sacrifice?  Paul says it was for believers, for those who are styled "elect."  The apologists for universal atonement respond by saying - "yes, for Christians, but not for Christians only."  But, those who argue this way are not consistent in affirming this, for they will not say "but not Christians only" in regard to other verses in the Ephesian epistle where Christians are addressed or are the subject.  For instance, two verses prior to the above verse, Paul said - "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."  Will the advocates of universal atonement say that this does not apply to Christians only?  Why affirm that Eph. 4: 32 means Christians only but Eph. 5: 2 does not mean Christians only?

What the new testament teaches about the sacrificial nature of Christ's death upon the cross was first revealed in the old testament through the sacrificial system, spelled out chiefly in Leviticus and the Torah.  The writer of Hebrews says that the old testament priestly and sacrificial system was a type, pattern, or example of the priesthood of Christ and of his sacrificial death.  In other new testament writings there is also application made of the type to the antitype of Christ's death and sacrifice for sin and sinners. 

"Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."  (I Cor. 5: 7-8)

Christ is here pictured as the antitypical "passover lamb" and points one back to the first Passover sacrifice.  The institution of the Passover is first recorded in Exodus chapter twelve.  This sacrifice was to be made for the Israelites, or to those who were part of "the election."  (Isa. 45: 4)  The Passover lamb was sacrificially killed for Israelites, and the blood was to be applied to the houses of the chosen people.  No lamb was ordered to be killed for Egyptians and no blood was to be applied to the houses of the Egyptians. 

Paul speaks to Christians as being the true antitypical elect/Israel.  They are to keep the feast, to eat of the sacrifice of Christ, for he says, "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us."  Who is the "us"?  Is it all men without exception?  Again, the advocates of universal atonement insist that Paul does not mean "for us" only.  But, again, will they consistently affirm that the things Paul says to the Corinthians believers in his epistle does not mean them only?  Further, do they invite unbelievers to come and keep the feast? 

Sacrificial Typology

"And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the Lord commanded Moses." (Lev. 16: 34)

"And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually." (Exo. 28: 29)

The atonement was to be made "for the children of Israel," for a particular and chosen people.  Aaron represented them when he went into the holy place to apply the atoning blood on the mercy seat.  He did not make an atonement for all men, but for the chosen people.  So also Christ did not make atonement for the sins of every man but for those who had been chosen to salvation.  (Eph. 1: 4; II Thess. 2: 13; I Peter 2: 9)

Those who advocate universal atonement will respond by 1) denying that the atonement of Israel was typical of the atonement of Christ, and 2) saying that those Israelites who were represented in the atonement were not all saved. 

In reply it must be said that it is clear that the atonement of Israel's sins was typical of the sacrifice of Christ as the book of Hebrews and the statements of the new testament writers affirm.  Paul wrote:

"Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself."  (Heb. 7: 27)

Christ offered up himself as a sacrifice "for the people's" sins.  What people?  Was it not for the chosen people?  Was it not limited to them? 

In reply to the second objection, it is not true that some of the Israelites were not forgiven.  Though the typical atonement only blotted out sins for one year, it did in fact blot them out.  Of course the typical atonement did not pertain to eternal forgiveness of sins and it is true that some of the Israelites were not truly spiritual Jews.  (See Rom. 2: 28-29; 9: 6-7)  The atonement was "for the children of Israel," for all of them, not for some of them.  That is the point.  It was for every Israelite though not for any others.

"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.  For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."  (Heb. 10: 10-14)

"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 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."  (Heb. 9: 11-12)

"...but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."  (9: 26)

These verses speak of Christ fulfilling, as the antitype, what the typical sacrifice of the Day of Atonement pictured.  They speak of a definite and successful atonement, one that accomplished what was intended, namely, the salvation of the elect people.  They do not speak of salvation simply being made possible by the atonement of Christ, but as actually being accomplished.  The sacrifice of Christ, on behalf of the true Israel of God, did in fact sanctify and perfect them.  Eternal redemption was obtained for the chosen people.  In offering himself a "sacrifice for sins" Christ did "put away sin" by his sacrifice.  It is therefore not possible that any for whom Christ died to be lost. 

"I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."  (John 17: 9)

Christ, in his priestly functions, not only offers himself as a sacrifice for sin, but also mediates on behalf of his chosen people, "for them which thou has given me."  If he does not pray for the world, for those not given, then why would one think that he gives his life for them? 

Charles Spurgeon said:

"While justice survives in heaven, and mercy reigns on earth, it is not possible that a soul condemned in Christ should also be condemned in itself. If the punishment has been meted out to its substitute, it is neither consistent with mercy nor justice that the penalty should a second time be executed."  ("Jesus, the Substitute for His People," Metropolitan Tabernacle, 21:159)

"Now, beloved, when you hear any one laughing or jeering at a limited atonement, you may tell him this. General atonement is like a great wide bridge with only half an arch; it does not go across the stream: it only professes to go half way; it does not secure the salvation of anybody. Now, I had rather put my foot upon a bridge as narrow as Hungerford, which went all the way across, than on a bridge that was as wide as the world, if it did not go all the way across the stream."  (Particular Redemption," New Park Street, 4:135, 136)

"We declare that the measure of the effect of Christ's love, is the measure of the design of it. We cannot so belie our reason as to think that the intention of Almighty God could be frustrated, or that the design of so great a thing as the atonement, can by any way whatever be missed of."  (ibid)

"It is quite certain, beloved, that the death of Christ must have been effectual for the removal of those sins which were laid upon him. We cannot conceive that Christ has died in vain. "He was appointed of God to bear the sin of many," and it is "not possible that he should be defeated or disappointed of his purpose. Not in one jot or tittle will the intent of Christ's death be frustrated. Jesus shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied. That which he meant to do by dying shall be done, and he shall not pour his blood upon the ground in waste in any measure or sense."  ("Jesus the Substitute for his People," Metropolitan Tabernacle, 21:160)

"Some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say, "It is so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself," they say, "to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty." I admit there is, but beauty may be often associated with falsehood. There is much which I might admire in the theory of universal redemption, but I will just show what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before he died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins. Once again, if it was Christ's intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own testimony that there is a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit of woe have been cast some of the very person who, according to the theory of universal redemption, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Saviour died for men who were or are in hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain. To imagine for a moment that He was the substitute for all the sons of men, and that God, having first punished the Substitute, afterwards punished the sinners themselves, seems to conflict with all my ideas of Divine justice. That Christ should offer an atonement and satisfaction for the sins of all men, and that afterwards some of those very men should be punished for the sins for which Christ had already atoned, appears to me to be the most monstrous iniquity that could ever be imputed to Saturn, to Janus, to the goddess of the Thugs, or to the most diabolical heathen deities. God forbid that we should ever think thus of Jehovah, the just and wise and good!"  (Autobiography, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1962)

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