Nov 7, 2012

Definite Atonement XI

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."  (Eph. 1: 3-6)

"But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."  (II Thess. 2: 13-14)

The doctrine of election supports the doctrine of particular redemption and special atonement.  If God has chosen to save a particular people, it would not be consistent for him to send Christ to die for those not chosen to salvation.  This does not mean, however, that God does not desire, in any degree, or in any sense, the salvation of those not chosen.

If the Father unconditionally willed and determined the salvation of only some of the human race, it would be a contradiction for him to send Christ to save more than he willed.  If the Father willed that Christ save the elect and Christ wills to save more than the elect, then the Father and the Son are not one, are not in agreement and this would overthrow the unity of the Trinity.  But, Jesus is in agreement with the Father.  Notice these words of Christ.

"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 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."  (John 6: 37-39)

Jesus says that he came down from Heaven, being sent by the Father, to save those who the Father had given to him.  Who were these people?  Doubtless they are the ones the Father had chosen and predestined to salvation. 

"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. 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. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one."  (John 10: 14-15, 27-30)

When Jesus says that he and his Father "are one," he surely includes the idea that he and his Father are in agreement regarding who they both have willed and determined to save.  It is the sheep, those who were given to Christ, in eternal covenant, by the Father.  They are in Scripture said to be "the elect." 

"Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 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: 30-34)

These verses speak of those who are "God's elect."  They are the ones God predestined to salvation before the world began.  They are the ones for whom Christ died and cannot therefore be condemned.  Thus, the work of Christ is in perfect agreement with the eternal will of God.

God's General Will

"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."  (I Tim. 2: 4)

"For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye."   (Eze. 18: 32)

"Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"  (Eze. 33: 11)

"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."  (II Peter 3: 9)

These verses speak of God as being "willing" that all be saved.  But, if this is so, how is this consistent with those verses which speak of God willing only that the elect be saved?  Paul gives us the answer. 

God's Special Will

"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe."  (I Tim. 4: 10)

The word "specially" is significant.  It shows that God is the Savior of all men in a common or general sense, but only of some men specially, particularly, or chiefly.  That is, God is the Savior of some men in a greater way.  But, not only is this true of God as Savior, but also as regards his loving and desiring the salvation of men.  We may say that God wills the salvation of all men but of some men he specially wills it.  God, in this sense, is not different from us.  We will things in degrees.  We may will something and yet will something more. 

Even the advocates of universal atonement cannot deny that this is so.  They admit that God wills all men to be saved, but does not will it for unbelievers to they same degree for believers.  It is perfectly scriptural to say that God wills the salvation of all men, but specially the salvation of the elect.

Obviously, whether we use the term "believer" or "elect," God's general willing of salvation does not guarantee the salvation of any.  God not taking pleasure in the eternal destruction of a given sinner does not assure the salvation of that sinner.  All it affirms is that God is willing to save any man who calls upon him to do so through faith in the blood of Christ. 

God's special willing of the salvation of a man is different from his general willing.  Unlike his general will, his special will guarantees that a man will be saved.  We can think of many illustrations of this principle.  Obviously God's special willing of a man to be saved moves God to do for him what his general willing does not move him to do.  God's special willing causes God to do something for a man that his general willing does not do for him.  God's general willing says that God will save any man who desires for him to save him from his sins.  But, God's special willing moves God to actually cause the man to desire God for salvation.  God's general will says that he will save any man who has faith but his special will actually gives the man faith.

Was the atonement of Christ the result of God's general or special willing?  It cannot be the former for it would assure that all would be saved and then, in such case, there would be no distinction in willing, or no special willing. 

The preaching of the Gospel and the offer of salvation to all men is the result of God's general willing, but his actually giving faith and repentance is the result of his special willing.  Some think that God cannot make a general offer in the Gospel to all unless an atonement is made to all, but this is false reasoning, as I shall show in my next posting.

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