Posts Tagged ‘Particular Redemption [Limited Atonement]


Atonement: A Response to Leighton Flowers Misrepresentation.

Atonement: A Response To Leighton Flowers’ Misrepresentation. By Randy Seiver

The Gospel of Limited Atonement

I have been listening to a number of messages on YouTube about limited atonement. I only use that term because it is so common in the parlance of our time. I perfer the term “effectual redemption” to refer to Jesus’ redeeming work. I have become more convinced than ever before that differing views on this subject represent two different gospels. One is a false gospel and the other is the true gospel. The controversy is not unimportant and a matter for discussion among “ivory tower theologians.” It is a controversy that concerns the souls of men and women.

I would like to recommend for your consideration one of the best messages I have ever heard on this subject. It is a message by Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson.

Among other things, he shows that the issue is not over the number of those for whom Jesus died, but over the effectiveness of his redeeming work.

Faith does not complete the work of redemption. Jesus “sealed my pardon with his blood, Halelujah, what a Savior!”


Arminian Presuppostion #5 Refuted

Arminian Presuppostion #5. Sinners are not condemned because of sin, but only because of unbelief.

In his book, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, John Owen posited only three possibilities regarding the design and extent of Christ’s death. He died for:

1. All the sins of all men, or

2. Some of the sins of all men, or

3. All the sins of some men.

Assuming Christ’s death was, as the Scriptures uniformly represent it to have been, an accomplishment and not a mere provision, he could not have died for all the sins of all men else all would be saved, and the Scriptures clearly teach us that will not be the case. If he died for some of the sins of all men, then there are some sins remaining for which the sinner himself must atone. In such a case, no one would be saved since sinners cannot make atonement for their own sins. If he died for all the sins of some men, namely, the elect, then all for whom he died would be effectively redeemed.

The presupposition we are considering here is based on the assumption that Jesus’ intention in sacrificing himself was either to save all sinners or to make all sinners savable by satisfying God’s wrath for all their sins. If he satisfied for all their sins, the question remains, why are they not all saved? The answer of the Arminians and their Amyraldian friends is that Christ’s work of redemption was universal, but is limited in its application to only those who believe the gospel. In the case of the Amyraldians, that application was guaranteed by God’s decree of election. According to both these views, the work of Christ was a mere provision, and not an accomplishment. That, incidently, is the real issue that separates Calvinists and Arminians, not the sufficiency of Christ’s death. It follows, then, that the issue between the sinner and God is no longer sins, but only the sinner’s refusal to believe the gospel.

There are several questions I feel compelled to ask in regard to this presupposition:

1. What is it that sinners must reject in order to be condemned? If it is the gospel sinners must reject to become condemned, we would do them a favor by withholding the gospel from them.

2. Do sinners become condemned when they are confronted with a divine self-disclosure and reject it, or were they already condemned? There was an evangelist named Oliver Green from Greenville, S.C. who popularized the phrase, “It is no longer the sin question; it is now the Son question.” He based his view on John 3:18, “. . .whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” The implication of this teaching is that sinners are condemned by an act of Christ rejection. What he failed to take into account is that it is the sin question that makes the Son question necessary. What the text actually teaches is not that an act of rejecting Christ condemns sinners but that a sinner continues in a state of condemnation (perfect tense–he already stands condemned) because he continues in a state of unbelief. Sinners are already condemned because of sin apart from any exposure to the gospel. Through faith in Christ, believers are justified because they are united to him who came under condemnation and satisfied all God’s righteous demands. If sinners already stand condemned apart from exposure to the gospel, what is it that condemns them if not their sins?

If you will permit me an illustration–Suppose with me there is an inmate on death row who has been found guilty of numerous crimes by a jury of his peers. He has exhausted all his appeals and is scheduled for execution within hours. Now suppose the governor of the state in which he is imprisoned grants him a full pardon. If he accepts the pardon, he will no longer be under condemnation, but will be a free man. The problem is, there are a couple of issues preventing his acceptance of the pardon. The governor is his bitter enemy whom he does not trust and fears he has an ulterior motive in granting his pardon. Additionally, he is afraid his acceptance of the pardon will be an implicit admission of his guilt. As unreasonable as it sounds, the man refuses the governor’s pardon and goes to his death by execution. Here is the question–Since he has refused the pardon, is he now no longer under condemnation for and being executed for his original crimes but only for refusing the pardon? No, he already stood condemned for those crimes. Nothing changed when he refused the pardon. He simply remained under the sentence the court imposed on him for his crimes.

In the same way, those who refuse the free offer of the gospel, though now under an aggravated condemnation for rejecting even greater light, continue in the same state of condemnation they were in prior to rejecting the gospel.

3. If, as the Arminian believes, God foresaw the faith of those who would become believers and chose [decreed] to save them on that basis, why would Jesus give himself, contrary to the Father’s decree, to satisfy God’s righteous demands and propitiate his wrath for those he knew would perish in unbelief. Did God intend what he did not decree? Even if we granted that the Arminian is correct in his belief that election is based on foreseen faith, we would still be left with a decree of election. The only difference is that in the Calvinistic system God knows what he has decreed and in the Arminian system God decrees what he knows or foresees. Either way, the outcome is determined beforehand. If God knows something will happen before it occurs, is it not certain to occur? Did Jesus really give himself to provide something he knew full well was contrary to the Father’s decree?

4. Since unbelief is a sin, and sinners can perish as a result of it, is it not a sin for which Jesus did not make satisfaction? In that case, he could not have died for all the sins of all sinners. Does the sinner make satisfaction for it by believing, and, if so, does not his faith become a meritorious act? Unbelief is not a one time act but a state of existence. A simple act of faith cannot atone for a lifetime of unbelief.

5. If sinners do no perish because of their sins, how is it that “The wrath of God is being revealed [present tense] from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness? (Rom. 1:18). If Jesus satisfied God’s wrath for all the sins of all sinners, how can that wrath be being revealed against sinners now? Either Jesus satisfied it or he didn’t.

6. If sinners do not perish because of their sins, how could the apostle Paul write,

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Eph. 5:3-6)?

He wrote that “because of these things the wrath of God comes on the sons of disobedience.” He did not write that because of unbelief the wrath of God comes on the sons of disobedience. What are the things for which God’s wrath falls on the sons of disobedience? They are “sexual immorality and all impurity, covetousness, filthiness and foolish talking and crude joking, idolatry.

I fail to see how one could escape the conclusion that God’s wrath comes on sinners because of their sins. Disobedience and unbelief are simply symptoms of our depravity.


Throughout Christian history there have been issues that have divided the people of God. Some of those issues concerned questions that had little impact on the integrity of the gospel or the practical life of the Church. Others have been issues of such grave importance that even a seemingly insignificant departure from Apostolic instruction has led to a radical departure from the biblical gospel.
One issue about which we cannot afford the slightest error is the design and extent of the redeeming work of Christ. Sadly, in many if not most of our modern, evangelical pulpits the biblical idea of substitution, in the sense that Jesus actually took the place of and bore God’s wrath for certain favored sinners so that he actually “sealed their pardon” on the cross, is never heard. In place of that message, well-meaning but misguided preachers feel constrained to inform their hearers indiscriminately that Jesus died for their sins on the cross. Now, if they will only open their hearts and let Jesus come in, God will save them. The sad tragedy is that such a message is not the biblical gospel. One will search the New Testament Scriptures in vain looking for such language in the proclamations of gospel preachers. Never is a crowd of sinners told “Jesus died for you.” Why should we forsake the biblical pattern for gospel preaching? Additionally, we never find them saying to anyone they need to open their hearts and let Jesus come in. Instead, these biblical evangelists told their hearers Jesus died for sinners. He actually took the place of and bore the penalty that was due to vile, guilty sinners who would believe and repent.
I have often heard the charge that Calvinists would rather fly across the country to debate an Arminian than to walk across the street to witness the gospel to the unconverted. Though I am sure there are some Calvinists, just as there are some Arminians, who are only theoretical and academic in their approach biblical truth, the great majority of Calvinists are, as they have been throughout Christian history, deeply concerned about spreading the gospel. Our overwhelming concern as we engage in this debate is to guard and preserve the purity of the gospel. It makes no difference whether we walk across the street or travel around the world to witness to the lost, the message we give them must be God’s message, not ours. If we should give the impression the sinner’s decision to receive Jesus Christ forms any part of the basis for his right standing before God, we have mutilated the gospel and changed it into another gospel that is not God’s good news at all.

Years ago I read a passage in Robert Haldane’s Commentary that I found very helpful. I have modernized it slightly and present it here for your edification. Haldane wrote,

Many seem to believe if they are going to proclaim the gospel they must tell every sinner Christ died for him. Additionally, they believe that if Jesus did not die to take away the sins of every individual, they cannot preach the gospel. This is very erroneous. The gospel declared that Christ died for the guilty and that the most guilty who believe shall be saved.. ‘It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,’ even the chief of sinners. The gospel does not tell every individual to whom we addressed it that Christ died for him. Instead, it simply tells him that if he believes, he will be saved. On this basis, we can proclaim the gospel to every sinner. It is only after a person has believed the gospel that he can know Christ died for him individually. Since the Bible reveals that whoever believes shall be saved, it is quite consistent to proclaim the gospel to all sinners and declare that they will be saved if they believe. If the most guilt person in the human race should believe, it is an absolute certainty that he would be saved. If anyone feels he cannot proclaim the gospel freely and has difficulty calling everyone to faith unless he can say, “Jesus died for every member of the human race,” he does not clearly understand what the gospel is. It is the good news that Christ died for the most guilty who believe, not that he died for every individual whether he should believe or not. To the truth that every person who believes shall be saved there is no exception. The only sins that will not find God’s forgiveness are those that belong to sinners who refuse to believe the gospel; if they believe, they will be saved. . . .
Some would have a problem calling sinners to believe in Christ if His redeeming work was not intended for every sinner. This is no different from the difficulty some experience when they feel restrained in calling on sinners indiscriminately to believe the gospel because they know God will never save those he has not chosen for eternal life. Here is where they go wrong. According to the commandment of the everlasting God, we are to make the gospel known to all nations for the obedience of faith. It is certain those whom God has not graciously chosen and for whom Christ did not die will never believe. These are secret things that belong to God alone. They will be made known at the proper time. . . .We are not to inquire first, either for ourselves or others, about the identity of the chosen ones or the redeemed before we determine to whom we should preach the gospel. We must preach it to all, assured that whoever believes it shall receive forgiveness. When we believe the gospel, we come to understand for ourselves that Christ bore our sins in his body on the tree. We learn that, from the beginning, God has chosen us to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.
The work of Christ is of unlimited value. The reason all are not saved by it has nothing to do with insufficient value but simply because it was not intended to redeem all. In itself it was valuable enough to take away all the sins of mankind, had that been God’s intention. If Christ’s sacrifice had not been sufficient for all, it would not have been sufficient for anyone. Every sinner who will be saved needed a redemptive act of unlimited value; no more could be required to redeem every individual. We proclaim the all-sufficiency of Christ’s redemptive work to all who hear the gospel. We invite all to rely on it for pardon and acceptance. We address them as freely as if we knew God had designed it for them from all eternity. All who rely on it in saving faith shall surely experience its power and unlimited value.