Why I believe in the Doctrine of Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Redemption)
I am well aware that Christians are all over the board in their views about what the substitutionary death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ actually accomplished. I am familiar with most views out there. The purpose of this little study is to show why I believe the Bible teaches what is called the doctrine of Limited Atonement or sometimes referred to as Particular Redemption.
I have not always believed this way. I was originally taught the doctrines of free will and that Christ died for everybody - every man, woman and child who ever lived or who would be born. But several years ago God started to open my eyes to the truth of His sovereign election unto salvation and this in turn led to what I believe is a biblical explanation of the doctrine of Limited Atonement.
I believe the Scriptures clearly teach that Christ died only for His people and that His death was in no way intended for the benefit of those who are not among His elect.
1. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: FOR HE SHALL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS.” Matthew 1:21
Notice that Jesus saves His people, and they are called His people even before He dies to save them.
2. “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd GIVETH HIS LIFE FOR THE SHEEP.” John 10:11
3. “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: AND I LAY DOWN MY LIFE FOR THE SHEEP. OTHER SHEEP I HAVE, which are not of this fold: THEM ALSO I MUST BRING, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 10:15-16.
Jesus lays down His life for the sheep, not the goats. They already ARE His sheep even before He dies for them and before they hear His voice. The “other sheep I have” refers to the elect of God among the Gentiles who would hear His voice and believe. But they are already His sheep and it is for them that He lays down His life.
4. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of US all…for the transgression of MY PEOPLE WAS HE STRICKEN.” Isaiah 53:6-8
We are His sheep and He was stricken for His people and not those who are not and never will be His people.
5. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ LOVED THE CHURCH, AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR IT.” Ephesians 5:25.
It is for the church that Christ gave Himself. He did not give Himself for those who never would become part of His church.
6. “…the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, WHO LOVED ME AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME.” Galatians 2:20
Every elect child of God can say that Christ loved me and gave Himself for me. How do I know I am among the elect? By the simple fact that I believe He died for me. And who gave me this saving faith? Christ Himself did.
See Where does saving faith come from?
7. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved US, Even when we were dead in sins, HATH QUICKENED US TOGETHER WITH CHRIST, (by grace ye are saved;) AND HATH RAISED US UP TOGETHER, and made us SIT TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS.” Ephesians 2:4-6
The Bible clearly teaches in several places that when Christ died, we died; and when Christ rose from the dead, we also rose from the dead TOGETHER WITH HIM. This is not presented as a “potential” or a mere possibility IF you only have faith, but as an accomplished reality of redemption, even before most of us were ever born. This is what Christ did for His people at the cross. It is taught as an accomplished fact.
8. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore WE ARE BURIED WITH HIM by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if WE HAVE BEEN PLANTED TOGETHER in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, THAT OUR OLD MAN IS CRUCIFIED WITH HIM, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Romans 6:3-6
Many people see “water baptism” in these verses, but it does not fit the context nor is it true that water baptism accomplishes the things spoken of here. Rather, it was His “baptism into death” that we His elect were included in.
See references to this Baptism in Matthew 20:23 and Mark 10:39 - “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with”.
Luke 12:50 “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished.”
9. “BURIED WITH HIM IN BAPTISM, wherein ALSO YE ARE RISEN WITH HIM through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, HATH HE QUICKENED TOGETHER WITH HIM, having forgiven you all trespasses, Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, NAILING IT TO HIS CROSS.” Colossians 2:13-14.
10. “If YE THEN BE RISEN WITH CHRIST, seek those things which are above…FOR YE ARE DEAD, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3.
The Bible itself clearly teaches that Christ gave His life for His sheep, and we were His sheep before He calls us by name (John 10:3 “He calleth his own sheep by name”). When He died on the cross of Calvary, we died together with Him; and when He rose, we also were raised together with Him. We were in Him positionally when He died and we were in Him when He was raised from the dead. These are presented as accomplished FACTS, not as “only potentially true if and when you believe of your own free will.”
Question to Ask Every Free Willer -
Do you believe that ANYBODY at all was in fact redeemed to God by the blood of the Lamb and reconciled to God by the death of his Son at the cross and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Yes or No?
Free willer's really believe that NOBODY was in fact actually redeemed or reconciled to God SOLELY by what the Lord Jesus did on the cross. They think that Christ did his part and that was ONLY to provide a POTENTIAL redemption and reconciliation, but that all that he did is of NO VALUE at all UNLESS AND UNTILL you make your own free will decision to accept Christ as your personal Saviour.
Otherwise his death has no value and no effect on anyone.
Free willers believe that the crucial, necessary and critical deciding factor in their redemption is their own free will choice to believe. Otherwise the sacrifice of Christ is of no effect.
Do you agree with this teaching or not? Yes or No?
That IS what free willers believe, and it ends up making Jesus Christ out to be Liar and a Failure.
Here is why-
Who is Lying? The Lord Jesus Christ or the "Free Willers"?
Here are the typical arguments against the doctrine of Limited Atonement.
John 3:16 God so loved the world
2 Peter 3:9 God is not willing that any should perish
1 Timothy 3:2-5 God will have all men to be saved
"Limited Atonement"? or "Particular Redemption"? See this 2 and 1/2 minute Youtube response by Charles Spurgeon. Which side really limits the atonement? According to free-will Arminian theology, the death of Christ actually saved no one!
Keep in mind that the Bible cannot contradict itself. You cannot pit one clear verse against another one the way you understand it. If our understanding of a verse contradicts another one, then it is our present understanding that is in error, not the King James Bible.
“To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:6
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C.H. Spurgeon on God's Electing Grace
Here are some great quotes by Spurgeon, all found in just one of his sermons - " I cannot understand the reason why I am saved, except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine grace. If I am not at this moment without Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have His will with me, and that will was that I should be with Him where He is, and should share His glory. I can put the crown nowhere but upon the head of Him whose mighty grace has saved me from going down into the pit.”
"Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this.”
"John Newton used to tell a whimsical story, and laugh at it, too, of a good woman who said, in order to prove the doctrine of election, "Ah! sir, the Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else He would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards." I am sure it is true in my case; I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that great Biblical doctrine.”
"I am bound to the doctrine of the depravity of the human heart, because I find myself depraved in heart, and have daily proofs that in my flesh there dwelleth no good thing."
You can see it along with many other of his thoughts about God’s electing grace here.
The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith Chapter III: Of God's Decree
3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.
4. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
5. Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him thereunto.
6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so he hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
7. The doctrine of the high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election; so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.