Thursday, 25 August 2011

Limited Atonement (Part 1)

This short series of blog posts is in response to a request made on one of my blog articles. It was a request to explain the doctrine of limited atonement. This doctrine handles the redemption of Christ and it considers the intent of the Triune God in the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many voices contend today that doctrine is not important but these kind of claims are totally unbiblical. Our view of the atonement impacts the message that we preach, the way we approach worship, evangelism, missions and the methods that people employ to build churches. Therefore let us consider this sobering subject most seriously.

The apostles all considered that God's purpose in the atonement was something central to Christianity and it must not be neglected or usurped by the latest wind of doctrine. Listen to the apostle Paul:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Cor. 2: 1-2.

There has been much debate concerning the Person of Jesus and also the work of Christ Jesus and we would fully expect sinful men, Satan and the worldview of the inhabitants of this world to 'muddy the waters'. However, the church must be clear minded concerning this subject. In essence, much of the discussion boils down to one simple question, even though there are many threads. The question is this: Who has the casting vote regarding the salvation of a sinner: Is it the sinners free will to choose the gospel or is it God's free grace to choose the sinner? It cannot be both and we need to examine ourselves and ask two further questions: How do I answer the preceding question? and secondly, what does the Bible teach concerning the answer to this question?

The coming blog articles will attempt to cover these topics, Lord willing.

* Two Systems Contrasted: Arminianism and Calvinism.
* The Synod of Dordt's Answer to Limited Atonement.
* The Answer of the Westminster Confession on this Matter.
* How should the biblical doctrine of limited atonement be applied practically?

One final comment is that the doctrine of limited atonement is sometimes called particular redemption or definite atonement. As a taster for the coming weeks, let me suggest that you read the sermon of the Lord Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum, recorded in John 6: 22- 71. One of the statements made by our Lord was this:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:44).

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