Friday, June 08, 2007
For Whom Did Christ Die? Introduction
They [many divines] believe in an atonement made for every body; but then, their atonement is just this. They believe that Judas was atoned for just as much as Peter; they believe that the damned in hell were as much an object of Jesus Christ's satisfaction as the saved in heaven. . . . Now, such an atonement I despise—I reject it. I may be called Antinomian or Calvinist for preaching a limited atonement; but I had rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than an universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of man be joined with it. . . . Oh! glorious doctrine! I would wish to die preaching it! What better testimony can we bear to the love and faithfulness of God than the testimony of a substitution eminently satisfactory for all them that believe on Christ?[1]

These words were preached by the 19th century Baptist pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Clearly recognizing the importance of properly answering the controversial question “For whom did Christ die?,” Spurgeon defended the doctrinal position normally called “limited atonement.” This view understands Christ’s redeeming death to be for his chosen people alone. Jesus’ atoning work was not universally made for every individual; it was made specifically for his own people. He strenuously argued against the opposite position, usually labeled “unlimited atonement.” Those holding this view maintain that Christ died for all of humanity. His atoning work makes salvation possible for every person, but it only comes to those who believe in him. Was Spurgeon correct in his denunciation of unlimited atonement?

Christians must turn to Scripture to discern the extent of Christ’s death. And when one takes all biblical teaching into account, he or she should recognize that Spurgeon was indeed right. Limited atonement is a precious truth revealed in the Word of God. By examining the atonement’s purpose, nature, and result, believers will see that the Bible is not silent on the atonement’s extent. Christ died for his people. This truth needs to be contrasted with the belief that Christ died for all people equally. Additionally, objections must be considered. Nevertheless, in this weekly series of posts we will see that the sufficiency and efficacy of Christ’s death prove the doctrine of limited atonement.

[1]C. H. Spurgeon, “The Death of Christ,” in vol. 4 of The New Park Street Pulpit.


posted at 3:00 PM  
Comments (3)

At 7:21 PM, Blogger Arthur Sido said...

Looking forward to reading your posts. I take great pains in my preaching to state that Christ came to save His people from their sins. It boggles the mind that people can hold to the other four points of Calvinism and not see the logic and Scriptural basis for limited atonement.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Granny said...

As one who has in the past 15 years walked the road toward the doctrines of grace, I can attest to the fact that limited atonement was the most difficult to understand and accept, and remains as the most difficult "stumblingblock" for those still on that road. We can be grateful that for HIS people, the obstacle will not be one that causes them to stumble to their deaths but into the truth that sets them free.

Thank you for addressing this!

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Keith Walker said...

John, I will look forward to this series. I'm not sure when I'll be able to get to some of it because I'll be in Utah tomorrow for the Mormon Miracle Pageant, but I'll read it all when I get back.

I'm one of those 4 1/2 pointers who boggles the mind of Arthur above. I see the logic of the system, but not the explicit doctrine in Scripture. From my view, it is more of a theological construct.

I've talked with lots of people about limited atonement and Bill McKeever keeps trying to beckon me "to the dark side." (his words, not mine) ;-) I always enjoy those conversations so I look forward to reading what you have to say.


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