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The reasoning behind the idea of a  limited atonement goes something like this.   God is sovereign and all powerful.  Since many people will be eternally lost, they must be lost because chooses not to save them.  Since the atonement of Christ  saves,  the atonement must be limited to those who are saved, the elect, or the atonement is limited in effectiveness.  I would like to present a different view for your consideration.


What is the atonement?

The atonement is the redeeming effect of Christ’s incarnation, suffering and death; also reconciliation between God and men, especially through Christ.

Others point out that the atonement involves not only reconciliation but also ransom and propitiation, all of which flow from God and His holiness.


What ideas are evoked by the concept of atonement?

They are:

The first two are the Calvinist and the modified-Calvinist position.  The last is, I believe,  the Scriptural position.  Check out Robert Shank’s book, Elect in the Sun.


Is God sovereign?

Certainly God is sovereign in all of His Being and works.  This means that He can act in any way He chooses that is not inconsistent with His nature.  God, in His sovereignty, has chosen to present man with a choice, much to the consternation of some.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.  So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants (Deuteronomy 30: 19).

And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24: 15).

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it (Matthew 7: 13, 14).


Does God desire that certain ones be lost?

Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2: 4)

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3: 9)


Is the atonement limited in extent or effectiveness?

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit  (Matthew 28: 19).

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach  the gospel to all creation”(Mark 16: 15).

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotton Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3: 16).

And He (the Holy Spirit), when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment (John 16: 8).


Is the efficacy of the atonement limited?

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world (1 John 2: 2).

But we do not see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2: 9).

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men

(Titus 2: 11).

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men , especially of believers (1 Timothy 4: 10).

Who gave Himself as a ransom for all, and the testimony borne at the proper time (1 Timothy 2: 6).

Namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5: 19).

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself

(John 12: 32).


But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves (2 Peter 2: 1).

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1: 29)!

For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to all men……I am the living bread  that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread which I give for the life of the world is My flesh (John 6: 33, 51). 

And we beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world (1John 4: 14).

So then as through one transgression there resulted  condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men (Romans 5: 18).


What do we mean when we say the atonement is objective?

The atonement is objective rather than subjective, only taking place in the heart and mind of the individual.  The atonement was made in a certain place, Jerusalem, at a certain time, the first century, by a historical individual, Jesus of Nazareth, in fulfillment of the will and purpose of God.


If the atonement is not limited in extent  or efficacy, why are the many lost?

There are two things we must keep in mind. First, God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud.  Second, God pours out His grace upon all men.  Even though God pours out his grace upon all, most are unable to receive it.  This is not because God withholds it, but because of the inability of the proud.  If you can picture man as a vessel, the natural man is so full of himself, so absorbed with himself that there is no space to receive anything else, including grace.  Most are filled with Self.  Jesus said if anyone would come to Him, he must first deny himself.


Since Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all, to whom is the ransom paid?

Some have said to Satan, others have said to God.  Satan is owed nothing except judgment even though he is the prince of this world.  God needs no urging to complete the atonement, He is the initiator of the atonement.  No, I believe, Robert Shank is correct.  It is not to whom; it is to what?  “He (Jesus) obtained redemption in the sense of creating it, as once-for-ever act of atonement whereby He vindicated and satisfied the inexorable necessities of the moral economy ordained of God.”  If you sin, you shall die.  The death of the Sinless-One for our sins, allows God to justify us and yet remain just.



The atonement is available for all and is capable of removing every sin.  God invites us all to partake.


God Bless.


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Last Update   09/26/12