butter light

is the Atonement limited?

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The Atonement (Christ’s work on the Cross) is limited in the sense that…

–         it is not automatically applied to all

(Rom 3:10-26)

–        it’s realization is dependent on biblical faith and repentance

(Mark 1:15)

–         it is sufficient for all, but efficient only for some

(John 3:14-18)

–         it is infinite in its value, but particular in its fruition

(I John 2:1-3, I Tim 4:10)

–        it is not a universal means for “ultimate restoration” of all men

(Rev 20:11-15)

–         it is not now in process nor conditioned on other factors

(Rev 13:8)

–        it is not governed by the determinations of man

(Eph 2:8-9)

–         it is for the sole glory of God; not a ½ ounce of glory going to man

(Rm 11:36, Eph 1:1-14)

–        it is substitutionary for the individual

(Gal 2:20, II Cor 5:21)

–         its efficacy is not lessened by those who reject it

(I Tim 1:3-6, Rom 14:9)

–        it is administered by Christ alone in the power of the Godhead

(Heb 9:11-15)

–        the Church is not an agent of the Atonement nor within its processes

(Acts 20:28)

–         it is definite only for the elect

(Rom 8:31-34, II Tim 2:10, Act 13:48)

–        it is the penalty for sin, not just an ethical metaphor

(I Peter 2:14)

–        it is the only sacrifice that can fully satisfy the wrath of God

(Is 53, Gal 3:13)

–        it is the means by which there is no other possible means to save souls

(Heb 10:14)

–         it is the whole work whereby we are justified by faith; no more is needed

(Heb 10:12)

–        it is not a mutual project between God and myself.  I cannot contribute to the

Atonement for my sin.  God did enough and more to give men a way back to Him.

(I Peter 3:18)

The above list brings together truths revealed throughout Scripture on this subject.  This list helps us see that the Atonement is not a magic wand that we shape to whatever purpose suits us.  Thus, the Atonement of the Cross is limited not in a minimizing sense.  It is limited in the grand sense.  The Atonement is limited in the grand sense from being controlled by man-centered ideas – ideas that try to reshape it like universalism or Roman Catholic synergism or emotional methodologies like that of Charles Finney and the seeker-sensitive stress on pop vox (‘the voice of the people’).  A proper understanding of ‘limited atonement’ keeps in check the notion that the Gospel is mostly for us, when in truth it is nothing but from God, of God and for God.

Also, we must never forget that in such detailed theological discussions doctrine should not serve itself.  Doctrine is for doing {as we talked about in the lessons on “Christian Manhood.”}  AND most definitely doctrine is for delight.  We may disagree on various ways of expressing the doctrines of grace, but we can passionately delight in the power of the Cross to save.  The Good News is that the glorious Atonement of Christ is at the center of God’s free-offer of salvation.  Let’s delight in this.  Let’s live the Gospel.  Don’t let the Gospel be in the past tense.

“Sovereign grace o’er sin abounding; waves of love in power swell;

‘Tis a deep that knows no sounding; who its breadth or length can tell?

On its glories, on its glories, let my soul forever dwell.”

(John Kent, 1766-1843)

this post copyright2010Mark Olivero all rights reserved.


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