From “Systematic Theology – An Introduction to Christian Belief” by John Frame, p. 905:
If the atonement is unlimited, universal, then it would bring salvation to everybody. For, as we have seen, the atonement is a substitutionary sacrifice. Jesus’ atonement takes our sins away, bringing us full forgiveness. So if the atonement is universal, it guarantees salvation for everybody. But we know from Scripture… that not everyone in the world is saved. Some people spurn Jesus’ blood. They trample it down. So they receive swift destruction.
If you believe in a universal atonement, therefore, you must hold a weaker view of what the atonement is. It must be something less than a substitutionary sacrifice that brings full forgiveness. What could that be? Some theologians have suggested that the atonement does not actually save anybody, but that it takes away the barrier of original sin, so that we are now free to choose Christ or reject him. So the atonement does not actually save; it only makes salvation possible for those who freely decide to come to faith. In the end, it is our free decision that saves us; the atonement only prepares the way, so that we can make a free decision. And in this context, free decision refers to the idea of libertarian freedom that I rejected…
The trouble is, however, that Scripture never hints at any such meaning for the atonement. In Scripture, the atonement does not merely make salvation possible. The atonement actually saves. It is not merely a prelude to our free decision. It brings to us all the benefits of God’s forgiveness, and eternal life. Those who say that the atonement has an unlimited extent believe it has a limited efficacy, a limited power to save. Those who believe the atonement is limited to the elect, however, believe that it has an unlimited efficacy. So everyone believes in some kind of limitation. Either the atonement is limited in its extent or it is limited in its efficacy. I think the Bible teaches that it is limited in its extent, unlimited in its efficacy.
Therefore, mainly because I believe that Scripture teaches the efficacy of the atonement, I hold to the view that the atonement is limited in its extent. It doesn’t save everybody, but it fully saves everybody that it does save. The fundamental point here is not the limited extent of the atonement, though that is a biblical teaching. The fundamental point is the efficacy of the atonement.
- John Frame
Tullian Tchividjian’s latest book, “One Way Love – Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World” has been released.
Here are a few excerpts (lots more where these came from – may post a few more in the coming days):
“Cheap law weakens God’s demand for perfection, and in doing so, breathes life into … [our] quest for a righteousness of [our] own making.… It creates people of great zeal, but they lack knowledge concerning the question “What Would Jesus Do?” Here is the costly answer: Jesus would do it all perfectly. And that’s game over for you. The Father is not grooming you to be a replacement for his Beloved Son. He is announcing that there is blessing for those who take shelter in his Beloved Son. Cheap law tells us that we’ve fallen, but there’s good news, you can get back up again.… Therein lies the great heresy of cheap law: it is a false gospel.”
“Christians often speak about grace with a thousand qualifications. They add all sorts of buts and brakes. Listen for them! Our greatest concern, it seems, is that people will take advantage of grace and use it as a justification to live licentiously. Sadly, while attacks on morality typically come from outside the church, attacks on grace typically come from inside the church. The reason is because somewhere along the way, we’ve come to believe that this whole enterprise is about behavioral modification, and grace just doesn’t possess the teeth to scare us into changing, so we end up hearing more about what grace isn’t than we do about what grace is. Some would even say that “Yes grace, but …” originated with the Devil in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3), that the biggest lie Satan wants the church to believe is that grace is dangerous and therefore needs to be kept in check. Sadly, the church has believed this lie all too well.”
“Guilt and fear can be powerful motivators in the short run. What they cannot do is change a heart from self-seeking to self-sacrificing.”
“…if we’re not careful, we can give people the impression that Christianity is first and foremost about the sacrifice we make for Jesus rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us.; our performance for Him rather than His performance for us; our obedience for Him rather than his obedience for us.”
“The hub of Christianity is not “do something for Jesus.” The hub of Christianity is “Jesus has done everything for you.””
“Don’t get me wrong – what we do is important. But it is infinitely less important than what Jesus has done for us.”
“But remember, the Gospel only sounds good to a heart that knows it is bad.”
A few excerpts from J.D. Greear’s latest book, “Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart”:
“Salvation comes not because you prayed a prayer correctly, but because you have leaned the hopes of your soul on the finished work of Christ.”
“Shorthand phrases for the gospel can serve a good purpose, insofar as everyone knows exactly what they mean. But in light of the fact that so many in our country seem assured of a salvation they give no evidence of having because of a prayer they prayed, and so many others are unable to find assurance no matter how often they pray that prayer, I believe it is time to put the shorthand aside and preach simply salvation by repentance toward God and faith in the finished work of Christ. Or, at least, to be careful to explain exactly what we mean when we call for a response to the gospel.”
“How can you stand against a hostile world if you are not assured of the God whom you are leaving it all for? How can you take up the cross if you’re not convinced of your resurrection?”
“You’ll never have the courage to embrace the cross until you have the confidence that you own the resurrection.
You will never have the strength to say “no” to sin until you realize the unconditional “yes” that God has given to you in Christ.
You’ll never give up your life in radical obedience until you are radically assured of His radical commitment to you.”
“Religion commands us to change our behavior, but it cannot change our hearts. It can tell us to do what is right, but cannot give us a love for the right. Only the gospel and the assurance it yields creates a passion for the right in our hearts, because only the gospel goes deep enough to actually change the warped nature of our hearts.”
“Only confidence in God’s commitment to you will inspire confidence in your commitment to Him. Only joy in what you know you possess in Him will enable you to leave everything else behind. Only knowing the love of God for you produces love for God in you.”
- J.D. Greear
Excerpts From: Greear, J.D. “Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart.” B&H Publishing Group, 2012. iBooks.
Roger Nicole on the definite and particular atonement of Christ:
“May no one ever think that definite atonement prevents anybody from coming, harms anyone or takes from anybody anything that belongs to him or her.
On the contrary, definite atonement is a doctrine which shows a finished, accomplished salvation.
This is not some mere potential which awaits its fulfillment from the accomplishment of some unrealizable condition.
This is something concrete, effective, that has been wrought and which God in himself in his mercy offers us.
May the Lord grant us the assurance that the Saviour loves us by name.
He gave himself for the church (Eph. 5:25).
His love is a discriminating and exclusive love.
Therefore, let us not hesitate to proclaim the truth of particular redemption and rejoice in it.
It is the heart of the great jewel of the truth of sovereign grace.”
- Roger Nicole, “Our Sovereign Saviour -The Essence of the Reformed Faith”, p. 72
We have identified seven elements which distinguish the real gospel, the new covenant, from imitations.
The genuine gospel features:
- the free grace of God as the cause of salvation;
- peace with God as the result of salvation;
- Christ as the heart of salvation;
- Christ’s death and resurrection as the means of salvation;
- deliverance as the hallmark of salvation;
- the will of God as the source of salvation;
- the glory of God as the purpose of salvation.
- Edgar Andrews, “Free in Christ – The Message of Galatians”, p. 21
The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:
- All the sins of all men.
- All the sins of some men, or
- Some of the sins of all men.
In which case it may be said:
- That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.
- That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.
- But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?
You answer, “Because of unbelief.”
I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not?
If it be [a sin], then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not.
If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died?
If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!
- John Owen
“and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
“I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, “You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself.” My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will.”
Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (378). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.
Excerpted from “Back to Basics – Rediscovering the Richness of the Reformed Faith”, ed. David Hagopian;
The key question we must ask ourselves is, What exactly does the Cross of Jesus Christ do for sinners?
Christians have adopted two basic answers to this question.
The popular answer is that the Cross creates the possibility of saving everyone, while the biblical answer is that the Cross actually saves those who believe in Christ.
The popular answer holds that those who are saved can attribute their salvation to the Cross plus their decision to apply for its benefits, while the biblical answer holds that those who are saved can attribute their salvation to the Cross alone.
The Cross is a source of security because Christ died for a purpose, and not for a mere potentiality: “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate” (Heb. 13:12).
The Bible does not say that Christ died for the possibility of redemption; it says that He died to redeem – to purchase – His people as His own (Gal. 3:13; Col. 1:13-14; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:12).
He did not die for the possibility of justification; He died to justify, to put us right with God (Rom. 3:24-25; 5:8-9).
He did not die for the possibility of making propitiation; He died to make propitiation, to turn away the wrath of an all-holy and all-just God (Rom. 3:25; 4:10).
He did not die for the possibility of expiation; He died to expiate, to cleanse us from the guilt and pollution of our sin (Eph. 5:25-26; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:14, 1 John 1:7).
He did not die for the possibility of reconciliation; He died to reconcile, to restore our fellowship with God, which had been severed by sin (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-19; Eph. 2:15-16; Col. 1:21-22).
Doug Wilson, p. 44-45
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
J.V. Fesko commenting on this passage:
“This is stunning: anyone, Jew or Gentile, circumcised or not, if he is in Christ, belongs to Israel. The one who looks to Christ by faith is the Israel of God!
Paul applies this title to uncircumcised Gentiles, which any ordinary Jew would think applied exclusively to circumcised Jews. The false teachers were trying too hard to be identified as Israel, because they thought the law and adherence to it is what made them unique, but Paul drops this bomb on them.
Regardless of their efforts, only those who belong to Christ are properly called Israel. Paul had earlier made this point, when he wrote: “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7). Paul’s argument is a stroke of genius, inspired at that; falsehood collapses in the face of the truth.
Dear Christian, meditate upon your identity as the Israel of God. You were far off, aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, strangers, but now you have been brought near and adopted as God’s sons. You are Israel!
Who broke down the wall of separation? Jesus Christ. Christ poured out his Holy Spirit upon us, raised us from death to life, replaced our heart of stone with one of flesh, gave us eyes to see and ears to hear, and engrafted us into Israel.
Indeed, if Christ is the true Israel of God, then those who look to Christ by faith and are united to him become the Israel of God. We now share in all of the blessings promised to Israel because of Christ.”
- J.V. Fesko, Galatians, The Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament, pp.208-209.
Harry Reeder at PCRT:
“The gospel is not an ‘invitation to give your heart to Jesus.’ The gospel is the good news that Jesus, by his death and resurrection, gives you a new heart.”- Harry Reeder