Dr. S. Lewis Johnson concludes his in depth discussion of the purpose of the atoning work of Christ by expounding Scriptures that support the concept of a definite, or limited, atonement.
[Message] This is the last in our series of studies on “The Design of the Atonement or For Whom Did Christ Die?” And I must honestly say that if I really were to do justice to the subject tonight, we should take at least two times, but I believe it’s better that we go ahead and wind up our topic and from our time tonight, I think you will gain an idea of the way in which you and I may approach the topic in further study. I’m going to read for Scripture reading Romans chapter 8, verse 31 through verse 34, Romans chapter 8, verse 31 through 34. Paul writes, right after the section in which he has spoken of the eternal plan beginning with foreknowledge in the sense of election and which concludes with glorification,
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? Shall God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? Shall Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
Now we’re concluding our lengthy study of, “The Design of the Atonement,” and we have put the question in two ways. First, did Christ die to save all men indiscriminately or did he die to save his elect? That’s one way we put the question. Did he die to save all men indiscriminately or did he die to save his elect? Then we put it this way, did Christ die to save a people or did he die to render savable all without exception? Did he die to save a particular people or did he die to render savable all men without exception? The questions, as you can see, concern the definiteness of the atonement, the design of the atonement. And we sought to find answers both from theology and Scripture.
Now just to review for one moment, we began by studying the state of the question. We tried to outline the various positions, the Wesleyan position, the Lutheran position, and the Reform position. And then we tried to state the issue exactly, and we’ve been doing that in our introduction every time. Then, we discussed the history of the problem. We discussed the Arminian challenge, both in Holland, particularly as it centered around James Arminius, the Arminians who followed him, who carried his doctrines, a good deal farther than he, himself, would have carried them. And we discussed the Synod of Dort. That was the highlight of the controversy between the Calvinists and the followers of Arminius and, in a sense, was the high watermark of the struggle between Arminianism and Calvinism in the land of Holland and also in some other lands too. We made reference to the controversy as it appeared in England.
And then we spent some time on the Calvinistic Universalists, that is, the four point Calvinists. We spoke about the School of Saumur where this four point Calvinism was. If it did not originate there, it became popular there. Remember it originated with a Scot by the name of John Cameron who went down to Saumur in France and began to teach. And it was there that Moses Amyrault, or Amyraldus which was his Latin name, became involved in Calvinistic Universalism, teaching total depravity, unconditional election, irresistible grace, the perseverance of the saints, but at the same time teaching unlimited atonement. Now he himself believed in a twofold purpose of God. That is, that God intended that Christ should die for all men, but since, of course, no man can respond apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, Amyraldus was that much of a Calvinist, he saw that. Then he said that God had a special purpose for the elect and, by virtue of the work of the Holy Spirit applied to the elect, even though Christ died for all, redemption ultimately became limited in the application of the redemption by the Holy Spirit — Calvinistic Universalism.
Now then, we then launched into a discussion of the theological and Scriptural answers to the problem. We looked at the theological arguments for Universal Atonement, the argument from the Universal Gospel preaching, probably the most popular argument for Universal Atonement. We sought to answer that, I think we answered that very plainly and cogently. We also discussed the argument from the grace of God. We discussed the argument from the sin of unbelief, the argument from faith as a second saving instrumentality, and the argument from the evangelists’ message, these five theological arguments that have been put forward for Universal Atonement.
Then we discussed the Scriptural arguments for Universal Atonement. We spent most of our time here, looking at the individual texts. I tried to unearth all of the problems that have been used to any great degree by those who believe in Universal Atonement. We discussed the argument from the term, “all” or “every.” And we saw that “all” does not always mean “all” without exception, that “every” does not always mean everyone without exception. We discussed argument from the term “world.” We saw that the New Testament has different senses for the term “world.” We discussed the argument from passages said to teach a Universal saving will, such passages as 1 Timothy chapter 2, verse 4, 2 Peter chapter 3, verse 9, these familiar passages which have often been used to support the idea that Jesus Christ died for all men. And then fourth, we discussed the argument from passages said to teach that some for whom Christ died may parish, passages such as 1 Corinthians chapter 8 verse 11, Romans chapter 14, Hebrews chapter 10 verse 29, and then we spent a little time last time on the most important text, in fact, if this text were eliminated from the Bible, a great many of those who hold to Universal Atonement would have nothing to stand on because this is really about the only text that they really stand upon with any sense of conviction at all, 2 Peter chapter 2 and verse 1.
Now you see up to this time we have not considered the theological or Scriptural arguments for Definite Atonement. We have spent most of our time in answering objections. So tonight I want to try to cover all of this and really if I wanted to prove my case, so that when I finished and ask for a decision so that I could get all of you to come down to the alter and make your public decision for Definite Atonement, I would rather to spend three or four weeks on this so you could forget any strong points that the other side may have in the light of the strong points that we’re going to look at in our message tonight.
By the way, last week, in connection with 2 Peter chapter 2, verse 1, I really was rushed a little, and I do want to, just for a few moments, review what I said about that particular text. That text, remember, is the one in which the Apostle Peter says that just as there were false prophets in Old Testament times among the people, “even as there shall be false teachers among you, who secretly shall bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” Now the force of this text for Universal Atonement, of course, is that it seems to say that these false teachers, surely not Christians, although some Calvinists have contended that they were Christians, surely not Christians, and yet the Bible says that they were “bought.” How is it possible for it to be said of ones, who are not Christians, that they were “bought?” Does not this say then that the death of Jesus Christ was for them?
Now I sought to show two things in answer to this particular text. Number one, I sought to show that if we accept Universal Atonement as the meaning of this text, then it becomes very difficult to account for the use of the term “buy” because you see this term in the New Testament when it is used soteriologically, that is in connection with salvation, always has a price mentioned. Now in this case, there is no reference to price. Now that’s not a convincing argument. But five out of six occurrences when it is used soteriologically have referenced a price. But second, these five occurrences of the word “to buy” in the New Testament are always of believers. In other words, this would be the only place in which it is said of an unbeliever that he was bought. It would seem to imply from the usage of the word that we must say that these men are bought, that they are believers, if we lay stress upon that word bought and take it soteriologically.
Another thing I pointed out in connection with this was that this word is always used in contexts in which the buying takes place in reality, that is in which there is a real purchase made in which something is transferred to another person. Now that meaning does not suit Universal Atonement. So while Universal Atonement advocates like to point to this text, and I admit that it’s the most difficult text for me to explain, I also like to point out to them that it’s not an easy text for them to explain either.
I suggested secondly as another interpretation that we may understand this text as saying that they were bought according to their profession. They were not really bought, but Peter accepts their testimony to the fact that they had been bought. They were false teachers who mixed among the people. They would have said, of course, that we do belong to Jehovah. We are truly ones who belong to God. So they would have made that profession. And so Peter, this interpretation says, accepts them at their profession. This has been called the Christian Charity View in the sense that Peter accepts their own testimony to their salvation. The rest of the passage, of course, as it unfolds, makes it plain that they are not really Christians at all.
I also suggested, just as something to think about, that since the false teachers are probably Jewish and claimed a relationship to the people of God, and since in this passage, there is definite reference to Deuteronomy chapter 32 in which it is stated that God acquired Israel by bringing them out of the land of Egypt through temporal redemption, that it might be that this buying referred to here is simply a temporal deliverance of which the teachers were professedly a part.
In other words, they claimed to be related to the true Israel of God as a result of what God had done for Israel in the past, and true descendents of believing Israel and taking it as a temporal deliverance out of the land of Egypt, Peter accepts their testimony to that fact, acknowledges it and says they deny the Jehovah who actually brought Israel out of the land of Egypt, and with whom they have identified themselves. But when I concluded I said it remains a difficult text. It remains a text about whose interpretation we are somewhat uncertain and for that reason, it probably is not wise for us to be overly dogmatic about its interpretation and perhaps, we also ought to, in the light of it, not be overwhelmingly dogmatic about our interpretation of this question that we’ve been discussing for eight weeks, tonight’s the night.
Well let’s look now at the theological arguments for Definite Atonement. I want to wind up on the positive note, and first the argument from the Priesthood of Christ. Now, in case there are one or two of you here who have not been here, I think I notice one or two, when we say Definite Atonement, we are talking about Jesus Christ dying for a definite people, the elect. We do not like, I do not like, the term limited because I do not think that those who believe in Definite Atonement limit the atonement. I think that those who believe in unlimited atonement, but who nevertheless affirm that Jesus Christ’s death only makes salvation possible, but does not really save anybody, that it is they who limit the atonement. So Definite Atonement is a term that refers to Christ’s death for a particular people, Definite Atonement.
The Argument from the Priesthood of Christ, in the Old Testament the work of the priest generally centered around two works. First, the work of sacrifice, we’re all familiar with that. The priests of the Old Testament were individuals who carried on the sacrificial worship of the nation Israel. It was they to whom the people brought their lambs, or their bullocks, or their birds, or whatever they were sacrificing, they brought them to the priest. The priests slew the animals. They preformed the sacrifice. The second work that the priest did was the work of intercession. Now this is stated in the Old Testament. It is stated in the New Testament. They preformed the works of sacrifice and intercession.
Now two things are important in connection with the work of the priests. First, he secured the certain remission, not remissibility, of the sins of all for who he acted. In other words, if I brought an offering to the priest and he took my offering and slew the animal because I had committed a certain sin, the texts of the Bible say, for example, in Leviticus chapter 4, it said over and over again in connection with the sin offering, the sin shall be forgiven him. The sin shall be forgiven him. In other words, the offering that the offerer brought did not make it possible for his sin to be forgiven, the offering brought about the forgiveness of the sin. In other words, the offering actually saved from the guilt. It did not make it possible for the person to be saved from the particular guilt. In other words, the sacrifice absolved the person who brought it.
Now the second thing that is important, the high priest offered intercession for precisely the same persons who brought the offerings. In other words, the intercession was always directed to the same persons who brought the offerings. There were not peoples who brought offerings, and then a more limited number for whom the priest prayed. The number of those who brought the offerings and the number of those for whom intercession was made are the same, the same people.
Now Jesus Christ is our great high priest. The New Testament makes that plain. I don’t have to argue that. He does these two works. He makes intercession. He makes expiation. He makes the sacrifice. He performs the sacrifice, and he also makes intercession. Now you need not look up these two texts because if I wait for you to find them, we will waste a few seconds. Since I already know what I am looking for, I’m just going to read the two. The two that I’m going to read are Hebrews chapter 9 verse 12 and verse 24, or three I’m going to read, and then I’m going to read Hebrews 7:25.
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us,” (verse 24) “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”
Now, you can see in one of these texts, it states that he offered his own blood and by virtue of the offering of his own blood, entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Then, in verse 24, it is stated that he now is in heaven to appear in the presence of God for us. So those for whom he made expiation are the same individuals for whom he makes intercession. In chapter 7 and verse 25, we have a similar text on intercession, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” So our Lord Jesus performs the two works. He offers expiation. He makes intercession.
Now this is the striking thing about our Lord’s high priestly work. It is only for the elect. He only makes intercession for the elect. Now remember that our Lord’s prayers are always effectual. He says in John chapter 11, “I thank Thee that Thou hast heard me. And I knew that Thou hearest me always.” I know that you always hear me. The only reason I offer my prayer audibly is that others may perceive the relationship that exists between us. He says in John chapter 17 and verse 24 in his great high priestly prayer that was John 11 verse 41 and 42. And John 17 and verse 24 he says, “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which Thou hast given me: for Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” That, of course, is a petition that is to be granted to our Lord Jesus.
So he makes intercession only for the elect. The evidence for this is that his prayers are always effectual. If he were to pray for some who were not elect, they would become saved. If he should pray for some who were not saved, they should be saved. His prayers are always answered. He always prays within the will of God. And yet, he expressly says that he does not pray for the world. We read in John chapter 17 and verse 9, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given me; for they are Thine.” Our Lord’s intercessory work is not directed to all. It is directed to some in the world, not all, directed to some. We read also in verse 20, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” So he prays for believers. He prays for the present believers. He prays for future believers, but he only prays for believers. In John chapter 10 verse 16 he said, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring.” Never does the Bible say he prays for any but unbelievers, and in fact, he states it himself, “I do not pray for the world.”
But now if he only makes intercession for believers and if the intercessory work of the high priest is coexistent in number with the expiatory work of the high priest, then of course, he must have died only for those for whom he makes intercession, that is what is stated in Romans chapter 8, verse 34 in the text that we read for our Scripture reading. Can he offer for those for whom he does not intercede when his intercession is nothing but the presentation of his offering for them for whom he suffered and the claiming of the good things purchased by it? That’s what our Lord’s intercession is. When he intercedes with the Father, what does he do? He says, “Oh, Father, on the basis of what I did at the cross at Calvary, I ask that these benefits may be conferred to these for whom the sacrifice has been offered. So it is impossible by the theology of the priesthood of our Lord Jesus as compared with the priesthood of the Old Testament to believe anything other than the fact that his intercession, as well as his expiation are for the elect. Would he refuse to pray for those for whom he had died? That would be, of course, the question that we would have to answer if we should take another view. So the argument from the priesthood of Christ is a very strong argument, it seems to me for a Definite Atonement.
Second, the Argument from the Objects of Election and Redemption, now, you’ll notice that I have put here the Argument from the Objects of Election and Redemption, not the objects of election and atonement because, of course, that’s the issue. What are the objects of the atonement? We know the objects of the redemption are the saved. Is it not unthinkable that he would come to remove legal obstacles out of the way of the non elect when it was already determined that other obstacles would not be removed?
Let me show you what I mean by this, the Argument from the Objects of Election and Redemption. Now I assume, of course, that my opponents would believe in the Doctrine of Election, if they do not believe in the Doctrine of Election then, of course, we would have to attack them from the stand point of the Doctrine of Election, prove that doctrine first. But I’m having in mind in our study those who do accept the Doctrine of Election but do not accept Definite Atonement.
Now, is it not unthinkable then that he would come to remove legal obstacles out of the way of the non elect when it was already determined by his election in eternity past that certain obstacles would not be removed, so far as their salvation is concerned? For you see we must think of election as that which took place in eternity past in which God sent his special love upon the group of the elect, and in so doing passed by others.
Now if in his eternal councils he has determined to elect some and pass by others, is it not inconceivable that when the second person of the Trinity who entered into the councils of eternity with the Father should then come and remove obstacles in the way of the salvation of all, by dying for all when it had already been determined that that would be an ineffectual work? So the Argument from the Objects of Election and Redemption, they are the same, leads us, it seem logically, to prefer Definite Atonement.
Third, the Argument from the Nature of the Atonement, Jesus Christ acted as a substitute. Now in order for a person to act as a substitute, he must enter into definite personal relations. Our Lord entered into definite personal relations with those for whom he was the substitute. He was our representative, a specific representative of certain people. That’s not all. He offered a complete satisfaction to the justice and holiness of God. Further, he purchased repentance and faith for those for whom he died. Now that is stated in passages such as Ephesians 2:8 and 9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” that is, the whole work of salvation by grace through faith, salvation, it all is the gift of God purchased by the blood of Christ. Now that text is familiar. I want to turn to another one that’s not so familiar that teaches the same thing. It’s Acts chapter 5 and verse 31, and here we read, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken,” that’s chapter 4 verse 31, chapter 5 verse 31, Peter says, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” “To give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” so that the work of expiation is a work that includes the conferring of faith upon the elect, it is not that he made our salvation possible, as we have been saying. He came to save. He has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
A. A. Hodge comments at this point, I’m going to read this comment, “It is not we who teach a limited atonement, but our opponents. That must be a limited redemption indeed which leaves the majority of those for whom it was designed in hell forever.” Now we’re not at all sure that that is true. But, I think, if we look back over past history, we can see that there have been countless millions of people who not only have not been saved, but who have not even had the gospel presented to them, which introduces some very interesting problems in connection with Universal Atonement: why Jesus Christ should die for all and yet the gospel is not even sent to great multitudes of people.”
I continue with Hodge however, “It’s not we who teach a limited atonement, but our opponents. That must be a limited redemption indeed which leaves the majority of those for whom it was designed in hell forever. Which only makes salvation possible to all men in such a sense that it continues absolutely impossible to all until by sovereign grace which is antecedent to and independent of all redemption, it is made subjectively possible to a few.”
Now if it is true that Jesus Christ came as a substitute, if it is true that he died for a group of people, if it is true that he rendered a complete satisfaction for them, and if it is true that he also purchased faith by his saving work, then why are not all saved? For all debts are paid. Is it that we are going to suffer twice; once in our substitute if we refuse and once ourselves? So from the Nature of the Atonement as a finished complete work, as a redemption in which the price has been paid, then, those for whom it is paid must go free.
Four, the Argument from the Purchase of Faith, General Atonement advocates cannot believe that he purchased faith for all for whom he died. Otherwise, they would repent and believe. But he did because men have no natural power to believe, and faith and redemption is said to be gifts. The consequences are that the atonement must be definite and special.
Five, the Argument from the End Accomplished, now, I want you to be sure and get this. I think this is of some significance. The Definite Atonement harmonizes the design of the atonement with the end that was actually accomplished. Those who are saved are those for whom Christ died. In the case of the Arminian, the atonement was designed for all but only saved some. There is no harmony between the design and the results. Furthermore, according to the Arminian, not the Calvinistic Universalist, not the four point Calvinist, it saved only some since it was an atonement dependent on the self determined choice of sinful man. The choice being left wholly to man, not a choice induced by God, motivated by God, initiated by God, but a choice that is dependent on the self determined will of sinful men. Of course, by this doctrine, the God-head is baffled and frustrated, for the atonement secures the salvation of no one. It does not really secure the salvation of anyone.
You see the salvation depends upon that self determined choice of man plus what Jesus Christ did. In fact, according to the Arminian view, it may well be that no one would have been saved because the atonement secured the salvation of no one, only the possibility of salvation, everything else left to the self determined choice of man. Hypothetically, it could have come to pass that Christ should die for all and that no one should be saved. And that those who are saved trace their salvation to what Christ did plus what they did. And it doesn’t take a beginning theologian any time at all to see that that is not grace, but salvation by human activity.
Now it may be that we call it grace. It may be that we shout loudly that it is grace. It may be that we mix up grace with the self determined choice of man, but it is not grace. The Roman Catholic church, for example, most of you would grant in this room, does not teach salvation by grace, but their theologians constantly use grace, but their sense of grace is not the biblical sense of grace. And so the use of the term grace does not mean that we are preaching grace. I hope if there’s anything you get, that you at least get that so that you’re suspicious when you listen to messages to be sure that what is being preached is the Gospel. In other words, according to the Arminian, there is a mysterious ward of conformity between God’s dispensation of redemption and his dispensation of providence, as Professor Hodge has said.
Now, in the case of the Calvinistic Universalist the atonement is designed for all, as far as possibility is concerned, but the conditions are designedly impossible. That is, the Calvinistic Universalist is not as confused as the Arminian. He realizes that man cannot come to God by a self determined choice so he must have the work of the Holy Spirit. But he insists that the design is for all which is possibility of salvation. But when it comes to actual salvation, the conditions are designedly impossible to natural man. Thus there must be a second purpose by which the Holy Spirit works on the hearts of the elect alone bringing them out of their condition of impossibility into actual possession of salvation. In other words, the election is unconditional, the redemption is conditional, and the application is unconditional. Again we have lack of harmony between the design and the results. The salvation of all is objectively possible, subjectively impossible because no man can come to faith.
Now this, of course, leaves one open to the objection, and I don’t know that there has ever been a successful answer to this question. If you say to me, “I believe that Christ died for all, but I accept all of these other doctrines you’re talking about, I just believe in unlimited atonement.” And if I should say to you, “Do you believe it is necessary that the Holy Spirit work in order that a man be saved, otherwise no one would be saved?” And you say, “Yes.” I say, “You are a Calvinistic Universalist.” And so I ask you the question then, “God loved the world enough to give his only begotten son for the world, but did not love the world enough to give the Holy Spirit to bring the world to faith in Christ? Is that what you believe?” Now you don’t like to answer that. But that in effect is what you are saying. God loved the whole world enough to give Christ to die for it but not enough to apply the salvation to all men. And so that’s a vein kind of death for all, for it is meaningless. And as we pointed out earlier, not one person more is saved through Calvinistic Universalism than through Definite Atonement.
Six, the argument from Special Love: the love which led to the gift of the Son, according to Universal Atonement, is a general philanthropical love. According to those who believe in Definite Atonement, it is the highest most peculiar and personal love directed toward a certain number of people. Now I think the later is the better definition for the love of God for these reasons. First, this is suggested, that is that God has special love for the elect is suggested by the fact that Christ does not pray for the world, that suggests a special relationship to his own. Second, a special love relationship is suggested by the fact that he does not give the spirit to all to create faith. He only gives the spirit to create faith in those who have been given to the Son by the Father.
Now you remember in John chapter 6 that is stated without question. I don’t see how anyone can refute the Doctrine of Election from these texts. John 6 verse 37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me,” verse 44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me,” “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” And then verse 65 puts the cap on the proof, “Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”
Now even my mathematical friends acknowledge that that is convincing proof of election. Now that’s special love, that’s special love. We cannot say God loves all men the same way. That is just not the teaching of the Bible. We might like to be able to say it because, of course, we have difficulty with our unsaved friends who don’t understand. But remember, the word of God says, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Men do not understand the word of God. Also this special love is suggested by the fact that he has withheld the Gospel from countless myriads of people throughout the world in both Old Testament and New Testament times. That’s a very difficult question, but it is more difficult for those who hold the Universal Atonement.
And seven, the argument from the Everlasting Covenant, the duties of the God head and the Everlasting Covenant referred to in Titus chapter 1 verse 2 and Hebrews chapter 13 and verse 20 included the gift of a people to the Son by a Father. Those texts that we have read, as well as texts in the Old Testament say that the Father is giving to the Messiah a people, and further, that the Messiah would see of the travail of his soul, that is, that he would bring certain people to the knowledge of himself and of God. So in the Covenant there is the gift of a people to the Son and the promise that the Son would see these people in the sense that they would become his. When Jesus Christ was here he claimed to have finished the work which the Father gave him to do. He knows his sheep. They know him, and they shall never parish. All that the Father gives shall come. None other can come. Is there not a strong presumption that the given are those for whom he died?
Now I want to turn in our remaining moments to a couple of Scriptural arguments. The Scriptural arguments for Definite Atonement, and first I want you to turn over to our passage in Romans chapter 8, Romans chapter 8. This text is very strongly particularistic, and I think you will see that as you read through these verses. “What shall we then say to these things,” verse 31, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Who are the “we?” Who are the “us?” Why they are those who are mentioned in verses 28, 29, and 30, those who have been foreknown, predestinated, called, justified, glorified. Verse 32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,” “delivered him up for us all.” Who are the “all?” Why they are the same ones who have just been referred to as “we” and “us.” They are the ones who have been foreknown, predestinated, called, justified, glorified. The “all” is not broader than the “us,” a good illustration of the limited sense of “all.”
The scope of the sacrifice is the same as the scope of the all things, for it says, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” So as the scope of the sacrifice is for us all, so is the scope of the all things, for us all. Those contemplated in the sacrifice are also partakers of all the other gifts of saving grace, and it’s all grounded in election in verse 33 and it implies security, in verses 35, through 39, “For who shall separate us?”
Now I want to stop for a moment and want you to get the logic of verse 32. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Now you can see the greatest gift of God is the gift of his Son. I don’t think anyone would doubt that, and that’s Paul’s argument. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, the greatest of all gifts, the most that God could give, the best that he could give. Why surely if he gives the best, he’ll give the rest, or if he’s given the most, he’ll certainly give that which is the least in comparison. So he is saying that, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,” he gave the Son in death. Will he not also freely give us all other lesser gifts? Is that logic? Seem sound to you? Seems very sound to me, now then, if that is true, can we say that he delivered himself up for us all, meaning all men? And not also come to the conclusion that he must give all lesser gifts with the gift of the Son, such as the application of the work of redemption.
So if he gave his Son in a work of redemption for all, would he not give the lesser, certainly not greater, of the application of that gift to the hearts of those for whom he is suppose to have died? I don’t see how you can escape the logic of that. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” There is nothing that can compare with that gift. So in that gift there is implicitly the necessity of giving all good things that come from the saving work of Christ. But if we should say, “He gave himself for all, everybody without exception, but he did not give the work of the Holy Spirit to all, then how can we bow before the logic in verse 32? We could not. This text is an extremely strong text for Special Atonement.
The argument from 2 Corinthians 5 verses 14 and 15, now if I should seem to get a little excited over these texts, you understand it’s not because I think that a person is a doomkoff if he does not understand what I understand, it is just that I like these texts. I realize that there is a problem in all of this that I’m talking about, but I cannot help but get a little excited that God set his special love upon me. That rather thrills me. The rest of you in the auditorium are Presbyterians, and it doesn’t thrill you, well then that’s all right. [Laugher]
Now verse 14 of 2 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all,” “one died for all,” in a moment he will say God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. Let’s take this as it’s usually taken by Universal Atonement advocates as meaning “all men.” “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died.” Now wait it does not say all are reckoned to have died. It does not say that all might die if they believe, but it says if Christ died for all, the great text says simply, “Then all died.” If Christ died for all, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died.” Well, in other words, the representative acted for certain ones who really did suffer what he suffered, but that’s not all it stated in the 15th verse. It says, “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” In other words, those for whom Christ died have also themselves died in Christ. And significantly all who died in Christ rose again with him.
Now if we had time, we’d turn to Romans chapter 6 verses about 4 through 9 where Paul expounds on this in more detail, pointing out that we have been planted together with him in his death, his burial, and his resurrection, and that these things are reckoned to have happened. And there he says that this rising which he talks about here is a rising to newness of life. So those for whom Christ dies are those who die to sin and who live to righteousness. In other words, they die and they live. Now how can we say that of someone who is not a genuine believer? How can we say that he died and that he lives, that he died and he rose again with Jesus Christ? That can only be said of those who are related to him.
Now we read on a verse or two, verse 16,
“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation: namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself,”
What does Paul mean by that? Reconciling the world? Well it’s obvious that he doesn’t mean the world in the sense of everyone without exception because he goes on to say, “Not imputing their trespasses unto them,” “Not imputing their trespasses unto them,” if the world meant the world then the world would not have any trespasses. The world refers to all without distinction, and it is they for whom Christ died whose trespasses are not imputed to them. Now, of course, this becomes believers in time and that requires the necessity of preaching, which Paul speaks about in the latter part of the verse.
Well our time is just about up, and the last argument I would like to leave with you, John 10, verse 11, verse 15, and verse 26, really verse 26 through verse 29. And I would like for you some time to sit down and ponder these statements in which the Lord Jesus says that he dies for his sheep. Now, of course, when the Lord Jesus says that he dies for his sheep, that doesn’t mean logically that he couldn’t die for others more than the sheep. I don’t think it’s a very convincing argument to say because the Bible has these particular expressions, “he died for the sheep,” “he died for the church,” that therefore we must believe in a Definite Atonement because, of course, if he died for the whole world, he would be dying for the sheep, and he would be dying for the church, and, as a matter of fact, Paul says, “He loved me and gave himself for me,” individually.
But in the passage in John 10 it is stated that while he died for the sheep, his sheep are distinguished from those that are not his sheep. And further, it is said that they believe not in him, or they are not his sheep, they do not believe in him because they are not his sheep. In other words, in that text, there are those who are unbelievers who are singled out who are said to be not his sheep. Now, according to the theory that he dies for the world, of course, he dies for the sheep. You cannot have any distinction made between the sheep and the world, but the distinction is made in that passage.
And he says that some do not believe because they are not his sheep. So the passage becomes a very strong passage for a distinction in all and Jesus said he died for the sheep. So I think that when we look at this question then as we have for nine weeks now, trying to consider all of these objections, as well as the supports, I think that while we grant, and surely I’m sure you would grant, I have not solved every problem for you. I’ve not solved every problem for me. I still have some texts that puzzle me a little. I’m looking for some better explanations of some, but when the whole weight of the evidence is looked at, I think that we must conclude that the evidence stands largely, and heavily, on the side of Jesus Christ dying for a definite group, known in Scriptures as his sheep or as the elect. I hasten to point out that this particular issue does not mean that one single person, more or less, is going to be saved. This is a largely theoretical issue, and I urge you not to get so excited and worked up over it that you think it’s the most important doctrine in the word of God. It surely is not. It may be the most interesting, but it certainly is not the most important. But you know where I stand. Let’s close in a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we are grateful to Thee for the teaching of the Scriptures. We rejoice, of course, in the fact that Jesus Christ has died for us. And we do pray Lord that as we think about the great work of Jesus Christ that we may love him and worship him, express our gratitude to him for all that he has done in order that we might spend eternity with Thee. And we pray that the knowledge that Thou hast set Thy love upon…
[RECORDING ENDS ABRUPTLY]