Nov 6, 2012

Definite Atonement X

"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Gal. 2: 21)

Did Christ die in vain? Those who affirm a universal atonement and teach that most of those for whom Christ died will be lost, do in fact, as a logical deduction, affirm that Christ died in vain for those who are lost. 

John Gill wrote:

"Now, if some for whom Christ gave His life a ransom, are not ransomed then that shocking absurdity follows...namely, that Christ is dead in vain, or that so far He gave His life a ransom in vain; wherefore it will be rightly concluded that He did not give His life a ransom for every individual man" (John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth, p. 98).

Charles Spurgeon said:

"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." ("Jesus the Substitute for his People," Metropolitan Tabernacle, 21:160)

J. P. Boyce said of the general atonement view - "This theory makes it possible that Christ should have died in vain." (Abstract of Theology)

Others have said the same thing.  Advocates of definite and successful atonement see the doctrine of universal atonement as affirming that Christ died in vain.  Is this true? 

Clearly Paul rejects the idea that Christ "is dead in vain."  Paul believed that to teach salvation by law keeping would involve one in the conclusion that Christ died in vain, or for nought.  Clearly he believes that any proposition that would logically lead to such a conclusion cannot be true.  I do not think the advocates of universal indefinite atonement would explicitly affirm that they believe that Christ died in vain.  But, the question is, does their view on the atonement support such a logical conclusion? 

Just as Paul did not say that those who believe in salvation by keeping Torah actually affirmed that Christ had died in vain so the advocates of definite atonement do not explicityly affirm that Christ died in vain.  But, just as Paul, Christ dying in vain is a logical deduction for the position that Christ died for those who go to Hell as it is for those who believe that salvation is by law keeping.

Paul spoke of Christ as "the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."  (Gal. 2: 20)  But, the advocates of universal atonement must say that this is true of every man, as much for those who go to Hell as for those who go to Heaven.  Though the Son of God's love and atonement for Paul was not in vain, yet it must be in vain for the vast majority for whom Christ died. 

Successful Atonement

"He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law."  (Isa. 42: 4)

"He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities."  (Isa. 53: 11)

"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 the throne of God."  (Heb. 12: 2)

Not only is it a logical deduction of the universal atonement view that Christ has died in vain for many people, but it is another logical deduction of that view to say that it makes Christ's atoning work a failure and disappointment to a large degree.  Though the prophesies speak of Christ not failing or being discouraged, yet who could deny that he failed to atone for the sins of most of those for whom he died according to the general atonement scheme?  If Christ died on the cross for every man, with the intention of saving them, and yet only a few of them are actually saved, who can fail to see that Christ has failed?  Who can deny that he was discouraged and disappointed?  How could Christ see the results of his atoning work and be satisfied and happy when most of those for whom he died are lost in spite of his sacrificial death?

The above verses speak of Christ as successful in his purpose in dying.  How happy can Christ be in failing to save most of those for whom he died to save?  The only view that one can take, in view of the above verses, is to affirm that all for whom Christ died will in fact be saved by his death.

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