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Limited Atonement

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
August 11, 2022 12:01 am

Limited Atonement

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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August 11, 2022 12:01 am

Jesus did not make salvation possible for everyone; He made it certain for His people. Today, R.C. Sproul explains what Christ accomplished on the cross.

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Was it the father's intent to send his son to die on the cross to make salvation possible for everybody but also with the possibility that it would be effective for nobody is one of the questions.jerseys grow to be addressing today on Renewing Your Mind. I'm doing well thank you for joining us. Did Christ make his atoning sacrifice of the cross so that salvation would be possible for everyone.

Or did he die only for the elect. I've heard more people say that when they began to study and embrace reformed theology, limited atonement was the last domino to fall. I've also heard many people say that RC is the teacher who helped them understand it best to list what Mel as he explains this important faith building doctrine. Three.

Continue now with our study of the four doctrines of reformed theology, and we been looking at the controversy all five points of Calvinism and we've already looked at the T in tulip in the you in tulip and all that's left of the toilet.

Now is the lip part and were going to start today by looking at the owl of tulip which stands for limited atonement and I think of all of the five points of Calvinism.

This is the one that is most controversy will and engenders perhaps the most confusion and consternation of them are friends in the dispensational us to Have a tradition by which they tend to call themselves four point colonists and if you heard that expression of four point Calvinism that usually means that there is a willingness to affirm four out of the five in tulip and the one in which they do mirror is the L or limited atonement. As I said, there's a lot of confusion about limited atonement and to try to straighten the confusion out let me say what limited atonement does not mean it does not mean that there is a limit to be placed upon the value or the merit of the atonement of Jesus Christ. It's traditional to say that the atoning work of Christ is sufficient for all that is that it's meritorious value is sufficient to cover the sins of all people, and certainly anyone who puts their trust in Jesus Christ will receive the full measure of the benefits of that atonement and also is important to understand that the gospel is to be preached universally. We talk about a universal offer of the gospel and that's another controversy will point because on the one hand, the gospel is offered universally to all who are within earshot of the preaching of it, but it's not universally offered in the sense that it's offered to anyone without any conditions. It's offered to anyone who believes it's offered. Anyone who repents and obviously the merit of the atonement of Christ is given to all who believe and to all who repent of their sin no.

One of the traditional ways of talking about this is the say that the atonement is sufficient for all but efficient for some. That is, not everyone actually receives the full benefits that are wrought by Christ saving work on the cross, mainly those who do not believe but so far all of those distinctions do is distinguish our theology from universalism and all who are particular risks that is all Christians who are not Universalist would agree that Christ's atonement is sufficient for all, and efficient only for some answer that distinction between sufficiency and efficiency doesn't really get to the point of this doctrine. What this doctrine is concerned about chiefly is this what was the original purpose plan or design of God in sending Christ into the world to die on the cross. Was it the father's intent to send his son to die on the cross to make salvation possible for everybody but also with the possibility that it would be effective for nobody, that is, did God simply send Christ to the cross to make salvation possible.

Or did God from all eternity.

Have a plan of salvation by which according to the riches of his grace and his eternal election. He designed the atonement to ensure the salvation of his people so that's what it has to do with was it limited in its original design.

That's why again I'm going to have to full run with a little acrostic tulip as I did with the TV and with the you I'm going to mess with the L as well is why we prefer not to use the term limited atonement because it is so misleading and rather to speak of definite redemption for definite atonement, meaning that God the father designed the work of redemption. Specifically, with a view to providing salvation for the elect and the Christ. Though his death is valuable enough to meet the needs of everybody that there was a special and unique sense in which he died for his sheep that he lay down his life for those whom the father had given him.

Now the problem that emerges from this technical point of theology in terms of God's eternal decrees in his ultimate design and purpose for the atonement is often discussed in light of several passages in the New Testament. For example, when it says that Jesus died for the sins of all the world and so on, which incidentally these difficult questions I think have been masterfully treated in what I think is the best treatment of this doctrine ever written, and that by the Puritan theologian John Owen in his book the death of death. If you have never read John Owens the death of death, I strongly commend it to you. It is a magnificent treatment of the grace of God, and it is rich in biblical exposition and deals in great detail and with great brilliance with some of the difficult passages that we encounter in the New Testament. No one of those texts that we hear so often uses an objection against the idea of definite atonement is found in the book of second Peter if will look at second Peter chapter 3, beginning at verse eight we read these words. But, beloved, do not forget this one thing that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Do you feel the weight of this text. With respect to this idea that in some sense from all eternity.

God wills that only the elect will receive the benefits of the atonement, which is what definite atonement teaches near the taxing to suggest that God is not willing that any should perish but that obviously he's willing the salvation of everybody. Now this text is handled in different ways by different theologians.

I've a friend who's a theologian in another camp who has popularized the idea that God, in fact sayings as many people as he possibly can. He's done everything that he can do to affect the salvation of the entire human race.

He's provided and atonement in Christ and is provided an offer of the benefits of that atonement to all who believe. But in the final analysis whether the atonement of Christ affects their salvation rests upon some kind of human response and God will not intervene to in any way sovereignly bring a person to faith in Jesus Christ. And again, the appeal is made to this text that God is not willing that any should perish now in dealing with this difficult text. There are some ambiguities with it that have caused the scratching of the heads of many biblical scholars and interpreters. In fact, if you get 10 commentaries on second Peter and James Arriaga 10 different interpretations of this particular passage and the problems have to do with understanding precisely to different words in this text.

The first is the word willing and the second is the word any.

Let's look at the first one.

God is not willing that any should perish. Here is a specific reference to the will of God. And we know that in the New Testament, there are two Greek words, both of which can be translated in English by the word will unfortunately each of these words is capable of several different nuances. So when were asking specifically what kind of willing is in view.

You can't settle the question simply by looking up the Greek text and looking at your Greek lexicon to find out what is being used here. There are six or seven different ways in which the Bible speaks about God's will, or his willingness for purposes of saving time and let me just take a few minutes to look at the three most frequent ways in which the Bible speaks of the will of God.

The first way the Bible speaks of the will of God is in terms of what we call the creative will of God or some people call it the sovereign efficacious will of God. Others call it the ultimate will of God and what we mean by this meaning for will or willingness has to do with that will of God by which God brings to pass sovereignly whatsoever. He chooses to do when God wills the world to come into existence. His willing of it makes it so it is a sovereign decree that must needs come to pass. It can't not come to pass, and it cannot be frustrated by any outside force in us were talking about when were talking about the sovereign decree of will. Let's suppose that this text is using this meaning or nuance for the will of God, what would it mean that God is not willing that any should perish if the entity refers to any person and if we translated to mean that God decrees that no human being will perish. What would be the obvious conclusion. If God sovereignly decrees that no human person ever would perish, then manifestly no human person would ever perish.

And this text would then become the classical proof text for universalism. But again, the debate about the text is not between particulars and universalists it's between parties who both affirm particularism, namely that not everybody is say and so then we look to other possible nuances to the word willing how the second most frequent way in which the Bible speaks of the will of God is what we call the priests active will of God and a precept is a law or command and the precept of will of God refers to the commands that God gives to people the 10 Commandments would be an expression of the precept of will of God. When God says thou shalt not have any other gods before me.

And so on. He setting forth his law now. We cannot disobey the precept of will of God with impunity. But we do have the power and the ability to break this law so that there is a sense in which the precept of will does not always come to pass because people don't always obey now again, let's apply this possible meaning to this text that God is not willing in the precept of sense that any should perish, meaning he doesn't allow or give his sanction or his moral permission on people when they perish in others a sense in which that's true because since he commands all people to come to Christ. Manifestly, the failure to obey that command would be to violate his precept of will. So I would say that that's a possible interpretation of this text and there are reputable theologians who assume this meaning of willingness to this particular verse.

I personally think it's somewhat awkward.

This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to say you're not allow the parish and in the context of even seems all the more awkward.

The third way in which the term willing is used biblically with respect to God's will recall his will, of disposition and here.

This is one of those anthropomorphic expressions that talk about the emotions of God, what pleases God. What causes God to be delighted and what causes God to grieve and that sort of thing and were told elsewhere in Scripture. For example, that God is not the light in the death of the wicked. That is, he doesn't get some great personal thrill out of sending people to hell, even though he wills to do it justice.

A judge in a court may, for the sake of maintaining justice be required to send his own son to a life term in prison he would do it because it was the right thing to do, but he would do it tears.

That is, he wasn't getting any personal pleasure out of it, other than the pleasure that justice was being maintained in southern this case it would be a reflection of God's disposition, meaning as the Bible says elsewhere that he takes no delight in the death of the wicked that here God is not willing in a dispositional sense that any should perish but that all would come to repentance. For those of the three basic ways in which this word willing can be used for me which of these is most appropriate will be determined by the reference to the second questionable word. The word any. If in fact Peter is talking about any as referring to all human beings in this world that I would come to the conclusion that it could only mean the dispositional will of God, but I don't think that he is talking about any in this absolutely on restricted sense.

Anytime we use the word any where.

Assuming some reference any what any of which group.

Certainly Peter doesn't say that God is not willing that any person perish.

We had to supply that person as if it were tacitly understood, but is there any other possible reference to the Annie besides any human being. Well obviously there are other possibilities, not the least of which is a particular class.

You have a class here of people and that word people makes up a distinctive class and if I said any of that class.

I would mean any person or I can have another class a class called Jews and if I spoke of any of that class, it would refer to anyone who was Jewish or American or whatever other group I would incorporate within that circle. I think frankly that what Peter is talking about here is that group that is mentioned frequently in his epistle, by the designation elect. Certainly the Bible speaks frequently of the elect and the elect make up a distinctive group and the question is, is Peter here speaking about people is he speaking of the body of disciples which peters, a member is speaking of the whole number of the elect.

We remember in John's Gospel how Jesus mentions that none of those whom the father has given him will perish and that they will all come to face so that everybody in that group of those who are the elect are certainly going to be redeemed now again Peter is not specific here about what group he's referring to with the word any but he's not utterly silent if we look back at the text and look at it carefully.

We read this in verse nine of chapter 3 the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward whom he is long suffering toward us. He is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance not grammatically the immediate antecedent here on the word any is the word pass and I think it's perfectly clear that what Peter is saying here is that God is not willing that any of us should perish but that all of us should come to salvation but were still not finished with the problem are we. Because now we have to ask who's the us again in the broader context of his epistle.

The us, I don't think he speaking of all mankind indiscriminately, but the us or the we is a reference to the believers to those people to whom Peter is speaking which are the believers in Jesus Christ, so I don't think that this text gets rid of the idea that God designed the atonement for a purpose which purpose by his design must needs come to pass. I don't think we want to believe in a God who is a spectator of the drama of redemption who sends a Christ to dine the cross and then stands there crossing his finger, hoping that someone will take advantage of it. Our view of God is different from that our view is that the plan of redemption was an eternal plan of God in which plan and which design was perfectly conceived and perfectly executed so that the will of God to save his.

In fact, is accomplished by the atoning work. I hope you can see there how much this can strengthen your faith in God. God is sovereign. Therefore, he is sovereign over salvation. He's the author of history and not in the dark regarding the future. Our salvation is his from start to finish it today on renewing her by Dr. RC Sproul is made that clear from his series, what is reformed theology over the course of 12 lessons.

RC offers a comprehensive introduction to the theology that came out of the Reformation of the 16th century. This is a topic worthy of our study. That's where were making this three DVD set available to you for your donation of any amount you can request the series when you call us at 800-435-4343 or when you go online to Renewing Your and once you've completed your request will also add the digital study guide for the series to your online learning library is a great help for your personal study work you plan to use this in a Sunday school class.

Perhaps at your church. So request.

What is reformed theology for your gift of any amount.

Our number again is 800-435-4343 and her online address is Renewing Your to call your attention to one of our podcast is asked Liggett here and it's a great resource for difficult topics like limited atonement was Nathan W. Bingham sat down with Dr. John MacArthur in.

Here's how he addressed it fully know he's a Savior of the world because that there is only one savior for the world world is only one save but we also know the atonement is limited will know that right. The atonement is limited because people would help. But Jesus said in the sermon on the mount. Many will say to me Lord, Lord, and I will say to them, depart from me, you workers of iniquity and never knew you. Jesus talk more about hell they did about heaven that we know that hell is a reality, and we know people go there and perish forever. So we all believe in a limited atonement right. Not everybody can be save you either believe in limited atonement. We believe in universal atonement. And if you believe in universal atonement need to be logically consistent then there is no hell and no one will be in hell, everyone will be in heaven. If you affirm an unlimited atonement than you really are going to end up as universalist, because if he actually died for the whole world. Then the whole world is saved so we don't. We can't go there because there is a hell and it's full of people. In fact, most people so the atonement is limited, then the question is, who limited the we limited or does God limited in the answer that question biblically is crystal clear. God limited the limited to the elect either God determined whom he would save and take the glory or God just threw atonement out there is some nebulous option and hope some people would grab hold of it and become a part of his redeeming purpose file does not allow for that. So you just need to remind yourself you believe in a limited atonement that you asked the question, are men sovereign or is God sovereign God sovereign that he limited and we appreciate Dr. MacArthur's explanation that as well. God sent his son to die for those.

The father gave tomorrow. Dr. Strobel to address another of these doctrines that is faith building but still controversial among some Christians irresistible grace.

I hope you'll join us tomorrow Renewing Your Mind

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