Limited Atonement, Part 1 – Setting The Wrong Limits
Calvinism fundamentally changes the way one must view the entire gospel of Christ from beginning to end. It changes the meaning of why Jesus came to the earth, it changes the meaning of what the cross stands for and it changes the invitation to man given by God through His Son. Calvinism in its own twisted way essentially teaches that mankind is equal but separate. Equal in that we’re all “born sinners” and in need of salvation – but separate in that we all can’t have it because only God chooses who will get it.
Up to this point we’ve considered the error filled teachings of Total Hereditary Depravity and Unconditional Election. Now it’s time to examine a new petal on the foul-smelling flower called Limited Atonement.
Unconditional election teaches that since you’re, make that we’re born completely depraved and not able to choose God or do anything good spiritually, the decision of whether we’re eternally saved or lost has already been made for us and there’s nothing anyone on either side of the situation can do about it! Now according to this line of thinking, God’s sovereignty chooses everything, including everyone, concerning salvation, and since his sovereignty never fails concerning salvation that means Jesus could not have died for everyone, because if he did and everyone isn’t saved that would mean God’s sovereignty failed.
So in a nutshell, Limited Atonement means: that Jesus died only for the unconditionally elect, purchased only their salvation, and that there is NO benefit in the cross whatsoever for anyone else other than God’s pre-chosen and unconditionally elect.
The doctrine of “Limited Atonement” in plain language says that before Adam chose to sin and his sin became our “inherited guilt” that we’re born with, God said, “I’m going to send my son for the lost, but not for all of them.” It takes the cross of Christ and says to mankind, “Get as close as you want to the blood of the cross, but the blood of the cross won’t take you any closer to God.” It takes God’s grace and rubs it in the face of the unconditionally rejected and tells them that they have a Creator who couldn’t care less about them!
Now the reality is, according to the truth of the Gospel, and which we’ll get into a lot more in the next lesson, the statements made above are completely wrong because the Bible actually teaches there is such a thing as universal atonement – which is the exact opposite of Limited Atonement. Where the confusion comes in for Calvinistic adherents who are busy trying to unnecessarily defend “God’s sovereignty” is that they take universal atonement and equate it with universal salvation which is indeed a false doctrine.
But instead of limiting salvation to those who choose to place their faith in Jesus, as the Gospel teaches it should be done (John 3:16-17), Calvinism limits the atonement to limit the availability of salvation so “God’s sovereignty” is not controlled by whether or not someone chooses or doesn’t choose to believe. Because in case you haven’t figured it out – according to Calvinism you don’t even choose whether or not you believe (but that’s for a completely different “petal”).
So like I said, contrary to Calvinism, the Bible does indeed teach that Jesus’ atonement is universal – but universal atonement is not the same thing as universal salvation! This is where Calvinists get so confused…not because the Bible is confusing when it comes to this topic; rather they get confused because their dependence upon a manmade doctrine makes them close their eyes when they look at such a clear biblical truth right in the face.
Now that we understand what “Limited Atonement” means and how it sets the wrong limits on the redeeming power of Jesus’ blood we can move on to have a greater understanding of how the far-reaching grace of God works through the atonement of Jesus’ blood in the next lesson. EA
“And they were greatly surprised, saying to him, Who then may have salvation? Jesus, looking on them, said, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:26-27 – BBE)