C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Is There Any Way Around Limited Atonement?

Realizing that the very mention of the words, election, foreknowledge, and predestination seem to bring with them great controversy, I pray with this topic to show what I find seems to be a similarity that few may wish to acknowledge exist. Maybe I am way off base or grasping at straws, but I find this very interesting and would indeed like to see the comments of those much more versed in Scripture and in the things of God than I.

I will first define each word from Noah Webster’s 1828, American Dictionary of the English Language:

· Elect – One chosen or set apart
· Election – The act of choosing; choice; the act of selecting one or more from others
· Foreknow – To have previous knowledge of
· Foreknowledge – Knowledge of a thing before it happens
· Predestinate – To predetermine or foreordain; to appoint or ordain beforehand by an unchangeable purpose
· Predestination – The act of decreeing or foreordaining events

The definition of foreknowledge appears to be the pivot point within the arguments bowing side from side between the individual(s) defining it. There seems to be two definitions concerning God’s foreknowledge when in the realm of the salvation of man. Scripture clearly teaches that we were “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world” [Ephesians 1:4], but there still remains a controversy.

1. In the beginning, God looked forward into time to see all those that would accept Him and those which would reject Him, and therefore foreknew whom would believe. Therefore He then foreknew and predestinated those to be conformed to the image of His Son, Christ Jesus, because of the foresight of knowing they would accept Him. They are His elect because of His choice to elect all that accept Christ, and He foresaw that they would make the choice to accept Him.

2. In the beginning, God choose [hand picked] those which He would save from the mist of an entire world [all of mankind] incapable of coming to know Him because of sin. Therefore He foreknew them and predestinated them to be conformed to the image of His Son, Christ Jesus, before they had done neither good nor evil. They are His elect, because He has personal chosen them individually by His choice from among others without looking into time to see what they may or may not choose.

I am sure that the above could be better worded or may slightly vary with person to person, but it should honestly show the most common views. If not, please add your thoughts.

There are the *BAD* words, Arminianism and Calvinism, and then a “middle” group which usually agree with 4 points [1-4] of Arminianism, but usually reject point 5 [the ability to lose your salvation] and almost take hold of point 5 of Calvinism; for they believe one cannot lose their salvation, yet one may not “act like a Christian” for their whole life after they accept Christ as Savior. Also, there be some which consider Total Depravity the truth over Human Ability, but will not accept the entire TULIP theology. An easy comparison chart can be viewed here.

This topic is not to consider the entire study between the two [or three], but to show what I feel to be a similarity between the three concerning salvation.

Leaving the T [Total Depravity] out, Calvinism usually gets a negative nod due to the U [Unconditional Election], for the very idea that God would choose individuals from among the entire world before the world even began and anyone was able to do good or bad. This leads further into the dislike of L [Limited Atonement – Particular Redemption], which enables only these elect to be saved and all others will be lost to hell forever. The cry is, “This leaves man without a choice and makes God a monster!” A non-Calvinist usually considers this to be heresy because it would not be fair to mankind and right for God to choose some and basically deny others salvation – although, all of mankind rejects God, so it is not really God rejecting man, but God saving a select few from an entire creation that would rather deny Him. [Isaiah 64:5-7; Romans 3:10-13]

Regardless of one’s definition of foreknowledge, God’s elect whether chosen by God before the individual’s deeds of good or bad or by His looking into the future to see whom would choose Him, Revelation 13:8 and Revelation 17:8 clearly teach that the names of the elect were written in the Book of Life “from the foundation of the world” and therefore cannot be changed. If it can, please show me a verse.

Therefore, I conclude that the very ones that shout of the Calvinist, “It cannot be so. God cannot choose some and deny others. Salvation is offered to everyone and anyone can be saved”, run into a very similar problem.

Please consider the following in fairness and without hostility before even reading it:

For the moment, let’s deny Calvinism and take the side that God looked forward into time to see all of those that would accept Him and all of those that would reject Him. He wrote all the names of those He foresaw would accept Him into the Lamb’s Book of Life [Revelation 13:8 and Revelation 17:8]. As soon as the Book was written, did this not limit atonement to those that are written and therefore exclude all others making it impossible for them to be saved? We sometimes sing the song, “There’s a new name written down in glory”, but I see no proof in Scripture that someone can be added to the Book.

So then, we come to the question at hand:

Does it not appear that both the Calvinist and the non-Calvinist teach limited atonement? The Book was written before the works of man, therefore settled before the choices of man, leaving man with the impossibility of choosing the opposite of what God foresaw [which He now foreknows]; so does that not leave man without the same choice [without “free will”] the non-Calvinist claims the Calvinist leaves man without?

Is there any way around limited atonement?


Dennis Huckaby said...

Wow! You covered a lot of ground in such a short post.

Let me completely side-step the issues that you addressed by saying that regardless of one's view of limited atonement or unlimited atonement, we are all(the saved)commanded to witness to every creature. No one gains entrance into Heaven without Christ.

Sean said...

Trying to figure out the mind of God is like trying to figure out an author's childhood after reading a novel they wrote in old age. It may shed some insight to read the book, but at some point we're just totally guessing what its like.

I believe that God's plan for mankind is more than just roasting most of it for eternity. If the elect are called to judge, then they are at least expected to judge better than the judges we have in the Old Earth.

Sean said...

You call this a blog. This is your one and only post. Man, you've got to get on the blogging ball!

Post some stuff!

Sean said...

Hey, I'm reading from home so check this out. How does a person know that they are the elect?

Matt 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

If you're not lead astray then your ok.

Servant's Salute.com said...

I believe that Matthew 24 is speaking of the tribulation, just as in the Revelation verses I quote above.

John 10:27 and 28 say, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

If someone follows after anyone or anything other than Christ, whether it is a person, idea, god, or idol, they are going down the broad road and do not hear the voice of the Shepherd.

This is not to say that we may not err in some of our thinking, due to pride in our own knowledge, laziness when it comes to study or slackness when it comes to the work and Word of God.

It does mean if you do not put your faith in the Christ of the scriptures, you are trusting in an antichrist.

Servant's Salute.com said...

It has been brought to my attention, in another blog [here], that there are some which believe differently about the verse Revelation 17:8, “…and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world…”.

[1] They hold that all of the names of everyone ever born were listed in this book of life before the world began. [i.e. “that this phrase describes “the book of life”, and not those who “were not written in”. It is “the book of life from the foundation of the world”.”]

[2] They associate Revelation 3:5 and Exodus 32:32-33 with the idea that although all of the names were originally in the book, the names of individuals are blotted out over time “because of their sin debt…a debt for which they never trusted Christ to be their payment and propitiation.”

Revelation 3:5, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

Exodus 32:32-33, “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin-; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. (vs33) And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.”

Here is my reply incase there is anyone reading this with the same rebuttal:

The verse [Rev. 17:8] says, “whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world”.

I do find it interesting that you “believe that this phrase describes “the book of life”, and not those who “were not written in”. It is “the book of life from the foundation of the world”.”

For the moment I will consider your belief that “ALL NAMES OF EVERYONE EVER were written in that book from the foundation of the world…mine, yours, everyone.”

If this be true, then when does someone’s name get blotted out? The scriptures clearly teach that we are all born in sin [sinners] that we are condemned already because we believe not [John 3:18], and that no one can be saved without faith in Christ Jesus.

In the case of the blotting out of names from the book [i.e. Rev 3:5], I believe Romans 8 clearly shows eternal security, whereas I consider the only names in the book are those which are Christ’s. I believe in the context of Matthew 24:24 and Mark 13:22, that whereas Rev. 3:5 says “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life” both Matthew and Mark reveal “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”. The elect will over come, not by their own strength, but by the power of God working within us, and therefore impossible to be blotted out – the verse says “if it were possible”.

As for all names initially being in the book from the foundation of the world, I can hardly reconcile to scripture when if we are born sinners by what means do we blot ourselves from the book? More sin?

John 6:37, I believe, is a clear testimony of God’s plan. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

I trust and believe that ANYONE in the world that comes to Christ, He WILL SAVE. Without a question, I believe this.

I just also believe the first part of the verse, that only the ones the Father has given Him will come.

As for your questions:

“How do you reconcile the fact that names written in the Book of Life are being blotted out? Who were they? Why were their names in the Book and now blotted out?”

I don’t see a single scripture that describes one name actually being blotted out and above I cover Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22, and Romans 8 where I believe in eternal security of the believer.

This is the “Lamb’s Book of Life”, not simply a book of life. Scripture also declares from the foundation [beginning], Christ is the Lamb slain [Revelation 13:8] and foreordained [1 Peter 1:20], the kingdom for the saved was prepared [Matthew 25:34], the elect were chosen in Christ by the Spirit [Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13].

With the Lamb slain, the elect chosen before the foundation, it follows suit that this Lamb’s Book of Life are the elect in the Lamb. What did Christ say? “I lay my life down for the sheep” [John 10:15].

Further evidence that these in Christ’s [the Lamb] book is only the elect is that He was always looking for sheep, never goats. He looked for the lost sheep of Israel [Matthew 15:24], the lost sheep outside of Israel [John 10:16], and said the sheep hear His voice and He knows them [John 10:27] – contrasted to those He proclaims “I never knew you”. He never says, “I used to know you.”

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.