Particular Redemption

Reposted in whole from “A Puritan’s Mind

Limited Atonement

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is not limited in its power to save, but in the extent to which it reaches and will save certain individuals.

Limited atonement is a theological term that has been used for centuries to define a very important aspect of the Gospel. It is a fundamental Christian doctrine which states that Jesus Christ came and died for a limited number of people. He did not die, or redeem, every individual for all of time, but for some individuals, i.e. His sheep and His church. This does not mean that the power of His death could not have saved all men if He wanted to. The power and efficacy of His death in and through one drop of His blood could have saved a million-billion worlds. That was not what God intended. The Scripture does not dabble in “possibilities.” It does, however, state that the scope of His death is limited.

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Quotes (9)

Nothing is a greater bar to a minister’s usefulness, or renders him more contemptible than a known attachment to money, a gripping fist and a hard heart.

A day will come when mercenary preachers will wish they had begged their bread from door to door or had been chained to the oar of a galley for life rather than have presumed to intrude into the church such base and unworthy views.

– John Newton

1725 – 1807

God's Sovereign Work in Salvation

37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. – John 6:37-50

The following excerpts are taken from “DAILY READINGS FROM THE LIFE OF CHRIST” by John MacArthur; pages 154~159 (May 25th ~ May 30th daily devotions).

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Jesus was not discouraged, even though the crowd responded negatively to Him. The all-powerful sovereignty of the Father anchored Jesus’ confidence in His mission’s success. He was certain that everyone whom His Father gave Him – the collective body chosen before the foundation of the world – would come to Him. The story of redemption is one of calling this bride (the church) for the Son as a love gift from the Father. Every soul given by God to Christ is an expression of the Father’s irresistable love; thus everyone given “will come” to the Son.

From the perspective of human responsibility, “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30; cf Rom. 10:13). Yet salvation does not depend on “the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13; cf. Rom. 9:16). God is the One who grants both repentance (Acts 11:18) and faith (Eph. 2:8-9). If that were not so, nobody would come to Him, since “there is none who seeks for God” (Rom. 3:11; cf. Eph. 2:1-3).

God’s sovereignty in salvation is foundational to Christianity:

When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).

[He] has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity (2 Tim. 1:9; cf. John 6:44; Rom. 8:28-30)

“…whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

Jesus describes the one whom the Father gives to Him as “the one who comes to Me”. From God’s view, He sovereignly gives us to the Son; from our view, we come to Christ. Jesus would never reject anyone who comes as a love gift from God, thus the words “I will certainly not cast [that one] out.” True saving faith never works in vain because it is divinely prompted (cf. Eph. 2:4).

Though the concepts of divine sovereignty and human responsibility seem to us impossible to harmonize, there is no such conflict in the mind of God (cf. Deut. 29:29). For example, both are at work in the Christian’s mission of evangelism (e.g., Matt. 24:14; 28:19; Acts 8:25; 14:15; 16:10).

The disunity within the Godhead of Christ’s rejecting any part of God’s gift to Him is inconceivable, as Jesus’ statement “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” shows (cf. 4:34; 5:30; Matt. 26:39). In His High Priestly Prayer Jesus told the Father, “I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (17:4; cf. 14:31). The truth that Jesus came to earth to fulfill the Father’s purposes thus guarantees salvation for members of the elect and ensures their eternal security.

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”

God’s sovereign oversight in the entire salvation process is evident in the promise that it’s the Father’s will “that of all that He has given” to the Son, Christ will “lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” It is a wonderful reality to know with absolute certainty, based on the infallible promises of the Father (cf. 6:40, 44, 54), that no part of His chosen group – which He assigned to Jesus Christ in eternity past and gives to Him in historical time – will ever be lost. This is an ironclad guarantee to all true believers that their salvation is eternally secure. Jesus repeated this comforting promise in the strongest terms when He told the disciples:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)

In His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus underscored the safety of His own when He told the Father, “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition [Judas Iscariot], so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” (John 17:12)

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

The letters of the New Testament support Jesus’ teaching on the perseverance and protection of believers. Paul instructed the Romans:

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many bretheren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified (Rom. 8:29-30)

This passage is called by some the “golden chain of salvation”. The apostle adroitly connects the whole salvation process from eternity past to eternity future with a series of indestructible links of the divine chain. None whom God brings into His family will be lost along the way (cf. 8:31-39), but they will persevere until the day of Christ (Phil. 1:6; cf. Col. 3:3-4; Rev. 19:14).

Peter’s first letter further elaborates on the theme:

[Those] chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood…[will] obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for [them], [because they] are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:1-2, 4-5; cf. Jude 1, 24-25).

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

These solemn words of Jesus underscore humanity’s inability and utter helplessness to savingly respond to Him apart from God’s sovereign call. If God through the Holy Spirit did not efficaciously draw sinners to Jesus Christ, no person would ever come to Christ on his own strength and will (cf. 6:37).

There are plenty of scriptural reasons for fallen mankind’s complete inability to come to Jesus by human power or wisdom. The unregenerate are dead in sin (Eph. 2:1), slaves to unrighteousness (Rom. 6:6), alienated from God (Col. 1:21), hostile to Him (Rom. 8:7), spiritually blind (2 Cor. 4:4), trapped in Satan’s kingdom (Col. 1:13), powerless to change their sinful natures (Jer. 13:23), unable to please God (Rom. 8:8), and incapable of understanding spiritual truth (1 Cor. 2:14).

The human will must be at work in someone’s coming to Christ, because God does not save anyone apart from the person’s believing the gospel (Mark 1:15; Rom. 1:16; 10:9-15). But sinners can’t come to Jesus completely of their own free will; the Holy Spirit instead effectively draws to the Son only those whom God chose from eternity past (Eph. 1:4-5, 11).

Jesus here again repeats the marvelous promise that He will raise all the elect on the last day (cf. vv. 39-40,54). As believers, we can know that as those who have come to Him, the Father will perfectly keep us. Not one of us will be lost.

Quotes (7)

Some of God’s dear people may suppose that it would be presumptuous to set themselves up as judges of what they hear or read—but that is a serious mistake, being both a false humility, and a shirking of duty. The Apostle rebuked the Hebrews because their senses (spiritual faculties) were not developed so as to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:13).

It is often a long time before God’s children are able to account for this. They blame themselves; they are exceedingly loath to say, “This message is not of God.” They are afraid to act in the spiritual, as they do in the natural, and condemn and discard that which is worthless.

“Take heed what you hear” and read! More than forty years ago the saintly Adolph Saphir wrote, “I think the fewer books we read—the better. It is like times of cholera, when we should only drink filtered water.” What would he say if he were on earth today and glanced over the deadly poison sent forth by the heterodox, and the lifeless rubbish put out by the orthodox? Christian reader, if you value the health of your soul, cease hearing and quit reading all that is lifeless, unctionless, powerless, no matter what prominent or popular name be attached thereto. Life is too short to waste valuable time on that which does not profit. Ninety-nine out of every hundred of the religious books, booklets, and magazines now being published, are not worth the paper on which they are printed!

To turn away from the lifeless preachers and publishers of the day—may involve a real cross. Your motives will be misconstrued, your words perverted, and your actions misinterpreted. The sharp arrows of false report will be directed against you. You will be called proud and self-righteous, because you refuse to fellowship empty professors. You will be termed censorious and bitter—if you condemn in plain speech—the subtle delusions of Satan. You will be dubbed narrow-minded and uncharitable, because you refuse to join in singing the praises of the “great” and “popular” men of the day. More and more, you will be made to painfully realize—that the path which leads unto eternal life is “narrow” and that FEW there are who find it. May the Lord be pleased to grant unto each of us—the hearing ear and obedient heart! “Take heed what you hear” and read!

– A.W. Pink (1886 ~ 1952)