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 Clearing Up Some Common Misperceptions of "Particular Redeption"

Clearing Up Some Common Misperceptions of "Particular Redeption"

Monergism Copyright © 2007 by John W. Hendryx. All rights reserved

In any discussion of particular redemption it is of first importance that we define what is at issue. This is because many persons misperceive what Reformed persons actually affirm in the doctrine.

Here are some areas all evangelicals (including Reformed) have in common with regard to Christ's atonement.

1) Both Calvinists & non-Calvinists affirm that the redemptive benefits of the atonement will only be applied to a limited number of persons. The question is not, therefore, if the atonement is limited or not (this has already been determined) but rather, the question is who does the limiting? One believes it is "limited" by the will of fallen man and the other by the perfect will of God. It is not at issue (among evangelicals) as to whether all people will be saved. Christians of all stripes affirm that, when all is said and done, some persons will be redeemed by the blood of Christ and others will not; believers to eternal life and unbelievers to a resurrection of judgment where they will personally bear the full wrath of God for their sin.

Since all evangelicals believe some will be eternally lost, then it follows that the work of Christ on the cross does not bring to salvation the whole of humanity, and in this way all Christians, in some way, limit the atonement to a finite number of persons in the world. Those in the Reformed Tradition, therefore, do not limit the atonement any more than other evangelicals. Any person who denies universal salvation affirms some limits in the atonement. Therefore we believe "limited atonement" (perhaps a poor name choice for this beautiful doctrine) should preferably be called particular redemption - this describes God's revealed intent to redeem a particular people for Himself.

2) Particular Redemption is not a question about the value of Christ's work on the cross. Christ came and did exactly what he set out to accomplish. Those in the Reformed tradition affirm that the value of Christ's death is so vast that, in itself, is more than sufficient to cover all the sins of all the people in the whole world and a billion more worlds, if there were such a thing. In other words, Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike all believe that Christ's blood is of infinite value.

3) Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike believe there are some benefits in the atonement that are applicable to all persons, with redemptive benefits going only to some. Because of the work of Christ, Calvinists have traditionally affirmed that we must herald the gospel indiscriminately to all men, and proclaim that all who believe will enjoy the redemptive benefits of union with Him such as the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Calvinists even affirm other benefits to non-believers, such as: that the work of Christ has prolonged the forbearance of God toward all of us who justly deserve His wrath. In other words, there has been a postponement of punishment and this because of Christ. Those who affirm particular redemption, do not affirm that Christ's work was only for the elect, but has universal implications for the gospel. However, Calvinists affirm that the redemptive benefits of Christ's crosswork is only intended for, and applied to the elect. Christ may love all persons in some ways but he only loves his bride in all ways.

So, then, what is at issue in particular redemption and why is it important? What is at issue is the intent of the atonement? What is it that the Holy Trinity had in mind in sending Christ to earth? Evangelicals agree that the Father sent the Son to be a vicarious substitutionary atonement. But for whom did Christ die? When he came to earth, which names did he have carved in his heart? Did he have the whole human race in mind, or was it those who were elect in Christ before the foundation of the world? (Eph 1: 4,5) Non-Calvinists will answer that it was for all humanity ... but Calvinists affirm that the redemptive benefits of Christ were only intended for those the Father has given the Son (John 17:9, 6:37, 39). Calvinists affirm that the Persons of the Trinity always act in harmony: The Father elects, the Eternal Son is sent to live and die for those the Father have given Him and the Holy Spirit applies the benefits to the same by bringing them into union with Christ.

It is in the grace of Christ itself that we even have the desire to pray or believe the gospel. No person will put faith in Christ who does not first have their heart changed by the Holy Spirit. The Apostle affirms that "no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' apart from the Holy Spirit" Effectual grace is not possible apart from the cross. The work of Christ is, therefore, effective toward all He intended to save. In other words, He fully accomplished what he set out to do. His effectual drawing of the elect is itself one of the benefits of the atonement. To separate this grace from Christ would be to affirm some kind of grace could be found outside the work of Christ, which is an impossible supposition -- for all spiritual blessings flow from Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3).

Here are some passages for further study of the effectual work of Christ in the atonement

(Exodus 28:29, John 17:9, 20; Rom 8:34; Eph 5:25; Rev 5:9)

While all may not agree with conclusions reached by those who embrace particular redemption
my hope is that this has made some clarifications of what we believe.

Note: Four-point Calvinism fails the test of Christ-centered interpretation because this view tends to see the TULIP as an abstraction. But the TULIP only works when we see Christ at its center. Consider the TULIP as a chiasm with the "L" at the top of the pyramid. It is Jesus Christ which makes sense of all the doctrines of grace. Four-point Calvinists who reject particular redemption but embrace irresistible grace must consider this: Irresistible grace is not some abstract doctrine but must be seen in relation to Jesus Christ, specially in relation to the grace purchased by Christ upon the cross. The Spirit of Christ illuminates, regenerates and effectually brings to faith his elect. And this enabling, effectual grace is, from first to last, Christ-centered. It does not come out of a void, nor from some hidden source of grace in God the Father. Therefore Christ must have died for the elect so as to purchase that grace in a way - a redemptive way - that he did not die for the non-elect. That is why we often call it particular redemption. Irresistible grace is one of the redemptive benefits purchased by Jesus Christ ... and it was never granted to the non-elect nor intended for them. Jesus Christ is central to the TULIP and unless seen as the fountain of all blessings then irresistible grace will be seen as an Christless abstraction, rather than a benefit of our union with Christ.

 2007/9/5 2:55
rookie
Member



Joined: 2003/6/3
Posts: 4803


 Re: Clearing Up Some Common Misperceptions of "Particular Redeption"

Quote:
Jesus Christ is central to the TULIP and unless seen as the fountain of all blessings then irresistible grace will be seen as an Christless abstraction, rather than a benefit of our union with Christ.



How is it then that Scripture teaches...

Jer. 2:13 “For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.

In Christ
Jeff


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Jeff Marshalek

 2007/9/5 4:03Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: Clearing Up Some Common Misperceptions of "Particular Redeption"

Quote:
Both Calvinists & non-Calvinists affirm that the redemptive benefits of the atonement will only be applied to a limited number of persons. The question is not, therefore, if the atonement is limited or not (this has already been determined) but rather, the question is who does the limiting?

Since all evangelicals believe some will be eternally lost, then it follows that the work of Christ on the cross does not bring to salvation the whole of humanity, and in this way all Christians, in some way, limit the atonement to a finite number of persons in the world.



I think there is a missing step in your argument. Calvinists apparently believe in a 'limited atonement'; non-Calvinists believe in a 'limited application of atonement'. These are very different issues. They both contain the word 'limited' but what is limited is very different. For the Calvinist God has, apparently, only loved 'some' of the world that those who 'were chosen to' believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. The non-Calvinist believes God had the 'whosoever' in mind when he gave his Son as a propitiation for sins; as John's letter comments...

[color=0033FF]And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1John 2:2 NKJV)[/color]

Only the the Universalist will hold that Christ's atonement is automatically applied to all men but both Calvinists and non-Calvinists believe that only some receive the benefits of Christ's death. The difference lies in why this is so. The Calvinist believes that God has ordained it so thereby providing no atonement for those who are not the 'unconditionally elect'. The non-Calvinist believes that men ordain it to be so by their rejection of the gospel.

The non-Calvinist believes that the effects of the atonement are available for all men; the Calvinist believes they are only available for an unconditionally elected group. The non-Calvinist does not believe in a decreed limit to the scope of the atonement but he does believe that all benefit from the atonement.


Quote:
2) Particular Redemption is not a question about the value of Christ's work on the cross. Christ came and did exactly what he set out to accomplish. Those in the Reformed tradition affirm that the value of Christ's death is so vast that, in itself, is more than sufficient to cover all the sins of all the people in the whole world and a billion more worlds, if there were such a thing. In other words, Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike all believe that Christ's blood is of infinite value.


Particular redemption presumes that the work of Christ on the cross was only ever to have any value for the 'elect'. But the value of the 'blood' is not what men assess it to be but what God assesses it to be; when I see the blood I will pass over you. Non-Calvinists believe that Christ is provided to be the Saviour of the World not just the Saviour of an unconditionally elected group.

Quote:
Calvinists even affirm other benefits to non-believers, such as: that the work of Christ has prolonged the forbearance of God toward all of us who justly deserve His wrath. In other words, there has been a postponement of punishment and this because of Christ.


You mean that it has gained only a 'stay of execution', a mere delay in the judgment? What would be the purpose of such a delay if there is no prospect of repentance? What is the benefit of a day's delay in an eternity of lostness? How has this postponement been achieved and what justice is there in it? If God can postpone judgement why not cancel it altogether? The reason is that God can only be just in not visiting the consequence of sins upon the sinner is because another has born the penalty already, but 'limited atonement' does not believe that Christ has born the penalty of all sinners, but only of the elect. Paul is anxious to show that God is both just and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus, but on what basis does God postpone judgment to those who have no provisions of atonment.


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2007/9/5 5:54Profile









 Re:

Hebrews 1

1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:


When did Jesus purge our sins? According to this verse He did it by himself when he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

The purging of our conscience happened at the new birth.

Heb 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

You have a question that needs to be answered if you shall hold on to the universal redemption theory. What does Hebrews 1 verse 3 teach?

1. Jesus has already purged the sins of all men (universally).

2. Jesus has already purged the sins of all men (particularly).



God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for either:
1) All of the sins of all men - which means all men are saved.
2) Some of the sins of all men - which means men are still in their sins.
3) All of the sin of some men - which is the biblical position.

Arminians must grapple with the fact that Jesus does His saving on the cross. All those for whom he died will be saved in time and justified by god.


God bless you! -Abraham


edit: spell check

 2007/9/5 14:58
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged [u]our[/u] sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

Heb 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge [u]your[/u] conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

You have a question that needs to be answered if you shall hold on to the universal redemption theory. What does Hebrews 1 verse 3 teach?

1. Jesus has already purged the sins of all men (universally).

2. Jesus has already purged the sins of all men (particularly).


I have underlined two words in the verses you quote. Who is the writer referring to when he says 'our'? Not a difficult question. This is a letter, the writer is saying that Christ has purged the sins of the writer and those to whom the letter was written.

Who is 'your'? Again not a difficult question. He is referring to those to whom the letter was written.

We have quite full descriptions of those to whom the letter was written. It was written to the kind of people in mind in the following passage...

[color=0033FF]And this we will do if God permits.
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, (Hebrews 6:3-5 NKJV)[/color]

These are the kind of people whose sins are purged and whose consciences have been purged.

Quote:
Arminians must grapple with the fact that Jesus does His saving on the cross. All those for whom he died will be saved in time and justified by god.


I'm not an Arminian, just anti-Calvinism (not anti-Calvinist!! the system not the people) :-)


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Ron Bailey

 2007/9/5 17:51Profile
Logic
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Joined: 2005/7/17
Posts: 1791


 Re: Clearing Up Some Common Misperceptions of "Particular Redeption"

Quote:
Abe_Juliot wrote:
God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for either:
1) All of the sins of all men - which means all men are saved.
2) Some of the sins of all men - which means men are still in their sins.
3) All of the sin of some men - which is the biblical position.

Arminians must grapple with the fact that Jesus does His saving on the cross. All those for whom he died will be saved in time and justified by god.


God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for all of the sins of all men who will choose to put their faith in Him.
[b]1John 2:2[/b] [color=990000]And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.[/color]

Atonement is only effectual after one believes which makes the atonement of Christ a potential work, not an active work, inclusive and not exclusive.
This doctrine of Limited Atonement misinterprets the word atonement to be the salvation of man, when, in actuality, the true meaning is that it is only the taking away of sin, it is the forgiveness if sin, thus making peace between God and man (Col 1:20). Christ's work makes redemption possible for all but guaranteed for only those who take advantage of it and apply it to their selves. They claim that the atonement saves man instead of the relationship with Christ. The actual salvation is eternal life (John 17:3).

Furthermore, if mankind is not created with a hope for redemtion, then God must have created some for heaven and created some for hell by contraposition.
This makes God out to be a devil.

Quote:
Abe_Juliot wrote:
Arminians must grapple with the fact that Jesus does His saving on the cross.

Jesus saves by His grace through our faith, the cross only made a way for salvaltion.
Jesus does His saving by relationship.

 2007/9/5 19:39Profile
rookie
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Joined: 2003/6/3
Posts: 4803


 Re: Clearing Up Some Common Misperceptions of "Particular Redeption"

Quote:
The Spirit of Christ illuminates, regenerates and effectually brings to faith his elect. And this enabling, effectual grace is, from first to last, Christ-centered. It does not come out of a void, nor from some hidden source of grace in God the Father.



Does your view of God include Christ in the OT?

Here are some Scriptures to ponder...

Job 6:10 Then I would still have comfort;
Though in anguish I would exult,
He will not spare;
For I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.

Prov. 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Is. 12:6 Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!”

How "centered" is your understanding of the Holy One?
In Christ
Jeff


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Jeff Marshalek

 2007/9/6 0:37Profile
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Joined: 2007/1/30
Posts: 926


 Re:

Philologus said:

"I have underlined two words in the verses you quote. Who is the writer referring to when he says 'our'? Not a difficult question. This is a letter, the writer is saying that Christ has purged the sins of the writer and those to whom the letter was written.

Who is 'your'? Again not a difficult question. He is referring to those to whom the letter was written."

I do not understand your reasoning, sir. Your observation does not remove the fact that the verse says "when" and points to "their" purging having taken place when Christ sat down at the throne. Thus, even if this speaks of the writer's sins being purged, it still places the purging at sometime prior to some or all of his audience having any saving knowledge of the gospel.

Basically I believe that Christ bore the wrath of God for sinners on the cross, and as high priest He has every right to sprinkle the value of His own blood upon all who the Father gives Him. John 6.

What I perceive to be biblical soteriology in a nutshell:

All who come shall be saved. All who come are called. All the called come. All the called are saved.

 2007/9/6 3:09Profile
RobertW
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Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
Basically I believe that Christ bore the wrath of God for sinners on the cross, and as high priest He has every right to sprinkle the value of His own blood upon all who the Father gives Him. John 6.



Matthew 22:

And Jesus answered and spake again in parables unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king, who made a marriage feast for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were [u]bidden[/u] to the marriage feast: and [u]they would not come[/u].(ASV)


Clearly not all that are called, 'come'. Christ came to His own, but His own received Him not. Truly the call was genuine. The tears of our Lord as He wept over Jerusalem were not play acting. He really did 'come to His own' and 'called' them to come to Him. When they did not- He wept over them. It is nonsense to assume that He wept over them for doing His will (rejecting Him). It makes sense to know that He wept because they refused to do His will and rejected their invitation.



Again he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them that are bidden, Behold, I have made ready my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come to the marriage feast. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his merchandise; and the rest laid hold on his servants, and treated them shamefully, and killed them.

Again, the call goes out. This time with more urgency than ever. They made light (lite) of the call and the King was very wroth. Not only had they rejected the call to the wedding- but had killed the messengers.

Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but [u]they that were bidden were not worthy.[/u] Go ye therefore unto the partings of the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage feast. And those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was filled with guests.,

In what sense were these that were bidden 'not worthy'. Were they really ever 'worthy' to come to this wedding? They were made worthy by virtue of the invitation or the provision God had made to make them worthy. What made them '[u]un[/u]worthy' was their rejection of the [i]invitation[/i] (bidding, calling, etc.).


But when the king came in to behold the guests, he saw there a man who had not on a wedding-garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding-garment? And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him out into the outer darkness; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

If we might mix pssages for a moment we would say that many of His own were 'called' but few were 'chosen'. This is two steps in the process. The man in the passage with no garment was still lost though we could argue that he had been called [i]and[/i] chosen. He was cast into outer darkness though he 'responded' to the call. So what is missing?

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Rev. 17)

Many are called and reject that call outright. Hence, [u]many[/u] are called , but [u]few[/u] are chosen. Of the few that are clled and chosen we could argue that even fewer are called [u]and[/u] chosen [u]and[/u] faithful. Those who are faithful have tasted of the heavenly gift and the powers of the world to come. They have had a 'taste' of eternal life (John 17:3). Some having had the 'taste' did not esteem fellowship with the Lord a thing to grasp and left off of fellowship with Him for fellowship with this world. Demas comes to mind. He simply wanted fellowship with this world and rejected fellowship with God. He may have wanted golden streets, jasper walls and mansions bright, but he obviously wanted this old world also. Heaven is not about the 'material' things- it's about eternal communion with God. This is what Adam lost in the Garden when dying He died. He was separated from God. Now God offers man fellowship again- this IS eternal life (John 17:3). This is what folk either outwardly or unwittingly reject. This is why many on that day will be bound hand and foot. Not just that they tried to get in on their own merits- but that they never wanted God to begin with.


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Robert Wurtz II

 2007/9/6 7:51Profile
Nile
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Joined: 2007/3/28
Posts: 403
Raleigh, NC

 Re:

Quote:
God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for either:
1) All of the sins of all men - which means all men are saved.
2) Some of the sins of all men - which means men are still in their sins.
3) All of the sin of some men - which is the biblical position.



Your underlying premise that Christ suffered the wrath and pains of hell needs inspection.
You should read the Atonement by Albert Barnes.


_________________
Matthew Miskiewicz

 2007/9/6 8:05Profile





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