Did Jesus Die for Every Person?

Yes He did. But how if all are not saved?

Payment for all...

Payment for all…

Commercial/Pecuniary Model

This high-Calvinist model of the atonement defines the doctrine in commercial, or pecuniary terms. The word “pecuniary” is derived from the trade of cattle, and in regard to the atonement, refers to Jesus’ blood being just so efficacious so as to purchase all of the elect, but not one more person than that. Yet the Bible does not unambiguously define the atonement in such language.

So then in what way did He die for those who will end up in hell for eternity? We see that He died to propitiate the wrath of God, “not for our sins only, but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2), and that in His death, He effectually purchased His entire elect people (Matt. 1:21; Eph. 5:25 et al).

We see that He “tasted death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9), but the atonement, we see, results directly in the salvation of the elect (Heb. 9:23-28).

So then does the effectual redemption of the elect preclude His having made a redemptive payment for all people? Scripture does not seem to draw the line of limitation here. The limiting of the atonement, rather, is in how it was designed to be applied – “to all who believe” (Rom. 1:16). If we pay careful attention to each passage that teaches us about what happened in the atonement, we nowhere see that the effectual redemption of the elect necessarily means a payment has not been made for the sins of all individuals at all times. The Calvinistic “L” in TULIP is a logical construct, but it fails to regard the full picture of redemption Christ accomplished.

The Surety

The difference from the pecuniary model is that Christ’s payment is infinite, and it covers all sin for all humankind. The reason for this is that it is an infinite atonement by virtue of an infinitely valuable life paid to the account of infinite wrath for a world of sin. It is in the application that God exercises His sovereign, limiting prerogative.

The Scriptures teach that Jesus pushed away the wrath of God for every last person, elect or not. That’s called propitiation (Rom. 3:21-25; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2, 4:10). Jesus placated the holy anger of God against a sinful world by Himself standing in the place of God’s judgment, absorbing the judgment for human sin unto Himself.

How then could someone still be punished for their own sins in eternal hell, if Jesus absorbed the wrath of God for them? Simply put, God retains the right to pour out that same wrath on any or all who have died in their rebellion against Him. The death of Jesus paid the penalty of all sin, including unbelief, but in rejection of God’s terms for salvation, that penalty may be recalled. The only argument I know of against this is to claim language from human courts of justice: “He cannot put anyone through a double jeopardy. The penalty paid at Calvary is forever paid, and cannot be paid again by the sinner in hell.” Show me one verse, friend.

Scripture and Christian tradition indicate that in actuality Jesus did cover the sin debts of all individuals, elect or not. His blood shed does not have a pecuniary value in it as in a calculated efficacy that runs out as the last sinner atoned for is received into the presence of God. The efficacy is actually, totally real in the eyes of the Father – for all people, everywhere, always – until death.

Click here for helpful articles that define these terms in detail, with historical sources.

And so… Atonement refused is wrath aroused… 

Why couldn’t God punish someone eternally for the sins Jesus already atoned for? Is not their guilt all the more heightened by their refusal to receive this truly offered gift?

In other words, the atonement is truly made for those who refuse it, yet God then applies its benefits to the elect only, according to the election of grace, actuated by the sovereign regeneration of the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of dead sinners to the glory and grace of Christ Jesus.

Scripture teaches that salvation is all of the Lord, from start to finish (Phil. 1:6; Heb. 12:2). Repentance and faith are gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the atonement of Christ purchased the juridical latitude of the Spirit to give its blessings to whomever He wills.

I believe there is a marked difference between efficacy and application – and so many good Calvinists would even go as far in agreeing with me as to affirm that common grace is an effect of the atonement. Think about it – Jesus’ death for sin somehow purchased common benefits for the reprobate (God’s immediate wrath somehow placated for the just and the wicked – Matt. 5:45). How does that work?

Has not God withheld His just wrath from us, the bride of Christ, before we came to Christ in repentance? How was His wrath upon us before we were saved, if indeed Christ had already paid for our sins and placated the Father? In the pecuniary TULIP model, this is a very sticky question:

Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Here Paul shows that the Christian, saved by the atonement of Christ, was still under the real, dangerous wrath of God before justification by grace through faith. If Jesus extinguished the wrath of God in a pecuniary, strict commercial payment, then from whence was this wrath upon the elect?

Not that 5-Point Calvinism is Heresy

It is not. It is just a lesser, incomplete expression of the full picture of Jesus’ cross-work. Where the Calvinist assigns to the cross the direct effect of regeneration for the individuals who make up the elect, I agree but go further to point out nothing in Scripture demands God apply the atonement to all for whom it is made, besides a perceived logical necessity.

I am the greatest friend in the world to 5-point Calvinists, and I see in the high-Calvinist Limited Atonement doctrine nothing but logical purity and Christocentric glory, but I cannot fully embrace a limited efficacy of propitiation and redemption in light of the Scriptures.

Atonement refused is wrath aroused.

Please, let us discuss. I am sure there are much more learned brothers and sisters who can add helpful points to what I have written.

In Christ,

-Justin

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81 thoughts on “Did Jesus Die for Every Person?

  1. Is refusing the atonement (which you say arouses wrath from God) a sin? If so, didnt Jesus pay for that sin? How can it arouse the wrath of God if Jesus was the propitiation of all people? Propitiation removes God’s wrath so how can it be re-aroused? There really are only 3 options; Christ died for SOME of ALL PEOPLE’S sins (not dying for unbelief or as you put it “refusing atonement”), Jesus died for ALL sins of ALL people (which is universalism), or Jesus died for ALL the sins of SOME PEOPLE (The ELECT ONLY).

    • Thanks for the reply brother. You are assuming that if Jesus died for a sinner, then that sinner must be saved, but you are merely expounding the pecuniary model I outlined above. This is a logical construct that does not take into account all that Scripture tells us about the atonement. We agree the atonement is limited by God’s sovereign plan, but what I am saying is that in His secret counsel, He has placed the sin of the whole world on Christ’s account at the cross.

      In order to understand what I am saying, you have to make room for a new category: Christ died for ALL sins of ALL people and God APPLIES the benefits of it to the elect. The reprobation of those who suppress the knowledge of God in unrighteousness is heightened by the fact that He has made atonement for them.

      There is nothing in Scripture that demands God save every person for whom Christ died, or that He cannot pour out His wrath on one for whom atonement has been made. That is simply a logical syllogism that we Reformed-types lean on to complete our system. Yet Scripture seems to break those neat, tidy lines. Read my post again very carefully – I think you’ll see what I’m saying. It’s taken me almost 5 years to move away from the classical LA model to a more biblically informed position. The uncomfortability of it is in the fact that what I am saying does not comport with a crisp, rational explanation for everything.

  2. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them (Acts 14:16-18). I do not think God’s common grace is an effect of the atonement. I believe from the text above it’s as a result of his goodness and divine forbearance. it says God did not leave them without witness He did good by giving…. Paul did not make a reference to the atonement or anything outside of God’s goodness to exercise His common grace. Yes God withheld His wrath from us before we came to repentance but He did so out of His divine forbearance. “This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” (ROM 3:25). He did not let sin slide, a holy God never will. Limited atonement does not mean the elects were never by nature children of wrath, rather that not one elect will go into eternity as a child of wrath.

    • Great, thanks for your addition to the post, bro.

      I reply by asking, How does a holy God NOT pour out His wrath the instant a sinner sins? Think of the legal framework of Reformed theology here: We cannot stand in His presence for one moment, and He cannot forbear even one sin without becoming unjust, unless He makes a just way for Himself to shed His grace upon His enemies. Paul makes this clear in Romans 3:26 that God’s actions of kindness towards sinners must be justified, otherwise His actions would be unjust and therefore out of step with His holy, perfect character.

      Now think with me here. Since we agree that we, the elect, were the objects of God’s actual, dangerous wrath before we were saved, how do we explain the presence of that wrath on us if Jesus already paid the penalty for our sin? The answer is that God always holds the sovereign right to show His wrath to anyone, but that in the atonement of Christ He applies its full, eternal benefits to the elect only. You see that? I am talking about a limited atonement as well, but in a different sense: limited application. This is not like Arminianism, where the sinner sort of “activates” the atonement by their will and choice, but rather bold, beautiful mondergism; God saving His elect people as He sees fit. Yet nothing in Scripture demands that the payment for sin was not made for all people. All that demands that conclusion is our desire to form logical explanations for what we see… but we would all agree the infinite life of the Son of God being laid down in place of the sin of all who would ever believe is something that cannot be contained in our logical construct, no matter how clear the Scripture is. His infinite payment per an infinitely worthy life cannot be limited to a certain number of sins paid for, as the Scripture does not warrant such in clear, unambiguous language.

      • I disagree with your first paragragh brother, and also your second paragraph 🙂 but i wanna address the first. You said “How does a holy God NOT pour out His wrath the instant a sinner sins?” because He reserves the right to be gracious to whomever He wills and to withold His wrath, for a period of time, from whomever He wills “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Proverbs 16:4) God has use for even the reprobates, and thus He reserve the right to withhold His wrath from a reprobate for a period of time to accomplish His will through the reprobate (Please let Pharaoh pop in your head lol)

        Does that mean He ignores sins? Absolutely not! rather He’s patient. God being patient towards a heathen does not mean He ignores their sins, rather He will punish the heathen for his sins in eternity unless he repents and believes. if we look through the OT we will see various instances where God was patient towards wicked sinners but eventually exercised His wrath on them. An example is Queen Jezebel, who led King Ahab into idol worship (Baal) and thus allowed temples of Baal to operate in Isreal. she did this for years, during and after the reign of Ahab, yet God withheld His wrath from her until He finally exercised it. was it unjust for God to be patient? No. Injustice would be if God had let Jezebel into Heaven without repentance. Forbearance does not mean ignorance, and so it isn’t unjust. God is not obligated to justify His forbearance. His forbearance could be for any purpose, like accomplishing His secret will.

        Also Paul did not make that reference in ROM 3:26, you might wanna exegete that text again. Paul repeated the sentence “It was to show his righteousness.” twice in verses 25 & 26, Paul was speaking on God putting Christ forward as a propitiation.

      • Although we could talk more about forbearance with the reprobate, my entire argument is relying on the Ephesians 2 passage in the article. The Scripture makes it abundantly clear: before you and I were saved, we were the children of wrath. God’s holy hatred for His enemies was upon us before we received Jesus – now reconcile that fact with the LA idea that once Jesus has propitiated the wrath of God for His people, that there is no longer any just wrath left for them in God.

        In other words, how is it “just,” according to TULIP’s L, for God to hold the elect under His wrath before they are saved?

        The answer, again, is that God reserves the right to exercise His wrath against sinners for whom Christ has died, elect or not.

        If we are at a stand-still in our discussion, don’t feel like you absolutely have to respond again. I don’t expect everyone to abandon the perfect TULIP set-up – I’m just looking for the discussion and glory for Christ that we can bring Him.

  3. I would like to thank you for writing a very thought provoking piece and then inviting us to exchange ideas with you. I would begin by saying that I do not believe you gave serious thought to the implications of the “double jeopardy” scenario you presented. I would say you passed over it with a minimal amount of concern. I myself would definitely argue that if Christ’s death actually paid for the sins of every person that ever lived, then logically there is no penalty for anyone to pay, and it necessarily follows that all people would be saved, without exception. For God could not condemn to eternal punishment anyone whose sins have already been paid for. That would demand double payment and would therefore be unjust. I would also like to mention that fact of the eternal covenant of redemption between the trinity that was agreed upon before the foundations of world. Those whom God planned to save are those same exact ones that Christ came to die for. I believe your reasoning fails to take this eternal covenant into consideration. In reference to the covenant and the work on the cross Christ says “it is finished”. Christ came for a specific purpose and that was to secure the salvation of His people as stated din Matthew 1:21. In this verse it plainly states that He will save his people. Not that he may or might but will and that salvation was accomplished on the cross by the atonement. What God the father purposed from all eternity, God the Son and the Holy Spirit will carry out and accomplish. This atonement is the definitely applied to the elect. If in this article you are just sort of altering your position slightly to sound more inclusive then I really do not see an issue. I agree that Christ’s atonement is sufficient for all but only effective for the elect. I have several verse that I can use and I’m sure you are familiar with them.
    John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
    Who are his sheep. He purchased redemption for his sheep, not for those who may be his sheep. In response to God not being able to stand or even tolerate a sinner I would point you to Romans 3:23-26.
    John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
    Once again I point to the eternal covenant and the fact that God knows who His sheep are and that He gives them to God the Son..I will state again that If all you are saying is that Christ’s atonement was sufficient for all but only effective for the elect then we agree. I can not imagine a scenario where Christ died for someone and then end up in hell. I believe that if Christ died for you then you are elect. I also believe the elect are whoever call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, repents, and trust in Christ(atoning work) for the forgiveness of their sins

    • Allow me to reply to your comments here:

      I would begin by saying that I do not believe you gave serious thought to the implications of the “double jeopardy” scenario you presented. I would say you passed over it with a minimal amount of concern. I myself would definitely argue that if Christ’s death actually paid for the sins of every person that ever lived, then logically there is no penalty for anyone to pay, and it necessarily follows that all people would be saved, without exception. For God could not condemn to eternal punishment anyone whose sins have already been paid for. That would demand double payment and would therefore be unjust.

      I didn’t mean to pass over it with minimal concern. My central argument derives from Ephesians 2 (see above post), wherein God maintains the sovereign prerogative to exercise His wrath upon us, the elect, before we are saved. We agree Jesus made perfect satisfaction for us with God, yes? Then how was it just for God to hold you and me in His wrath and holy hatred for sinners before we received Jesus? The only biblically consistent answer is that He is “allowed” to do that – it is consistent with His perfectly just nature. You appeal to logic – yes, TULIP is logical, but that is not the sole measure of the correctness of a doctrine. As a matter of fact, what I am describing is also logical, while it perhaps does not comport with a rational framework the way we desire. Think of the hypostatic union, or the Trinity. Logical? Yes. Rational? Hmmmm…

      I would also like to mention that fact of the eternal covenant of redemption between the trinity that was agreed upon before the foundations of world. Those whom God planned to save are those same exact ones that Christ came to die for. I believe your reasoning fails to take this eternal covenant into consideration.

      No, sir. We believe the same thing in regard to the “agreement” within the Trinity to redeem an elect people.

      In reference to the covenant and the work on the cross Christ says “it is finished”. Christ came for a specific purpose and that was to secure the salvation of His people as stated in Matthew 1:21. In this verse it plainly states that He will save his people. Not that he may or might but will and that salvation was accomplished on the cross by the atonement. What God the father purposed from all eternity, God the Son and the Holy Spirit will carry out and accomplish. This atonement is the definitely applied to the elect.

      And we agree in all of these points. Nothing I am purporting to be biblical doctrine above would contradict these truths. Even Lutherans would agree with everything you just stated, and they hold a similar view to mine regarding the atonement.

      [snip]

      I have several verse that I can use and I’m sure you are familiar with them.
      John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
      Who are his sheep. He purchased redemption for his sheep, not for those who may be his sheep.

      Jesus does not here say He does not lay down His life for those who are not His sheep.

      [snip]
      I’ll leave it at that. Much thanks, Eric, for the time and care you took to interact with me. I hope I have helped you to become a better monergist and TULIPist 😉

    • Thank you for the well thought out article it has given me much to think about especially as a young member of a reformed congregation. Much of what you are saying i can connect to having come out of a Armenian evangelical way of looking at atonement and coming to grips with the doctrine of election however in my studies of the Belgic confession and reformed theology i do take issue with the final conclusion of you’re argument.

      Whereas i do agree heartily that Christ’s death and atonement was fully sufficient to save all men and all the world as it was perfectly infinite in nature as was his punishment that does not necessarily mean that he in fact forgave all sin. John 10:11 Jesus says that he lays down his life for his sheep. it is inconsistent to consider this verse and John 3:16 to be saying something different.

      Having said this i can understand you’re position. In the parable of the treasure of great worth, the man sells his entire fortune to purchase the whole field just for the one treasure which gives merit to you’re argument that the whole world be redeemed but i, possibly from simple lack of understanding must hold to what you are calling the “double jeopardy scenario”. In psalms 103, the psalmist describes God’s mercy saying that “as far from the east as to the west He has removed our transgressions from us.” if all men have had their transgressions removed and not just his children, as the psalm addresses believers as, then how is it that God returns transgressions to the unregenerate man? In Isaiah 1, the Prophet speaks of God turning the sins of evil men white as snow. This talk is not just the act of sanctification but is equally and firstly talk of justification. It is impossible for a person to be justified and then lose that justification as Romans 8 says “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Though we talk in terms of forgiveness we should not, at least from my limited understanding, be separating forgiveness from justification. to do so makes the claim that even a fully reprobate heart is forgiven, they are just not made righteous.

      I apologize for my ramblings as i try to make sense of this issue and i thank you for both the thought provoking article as well as you’re patience. to conclude i would say that if what you are trying to say is that we should not believe that Christ’s blood is limited in value and in fact, if it were God’s will, save all men then i would fully agree with an amen. however i do not see how it is possible for Christ’s blood to have forgiven all sin of all men and for regeneration to be absent.

      you’re brother in Christ
      Sheldon

      • Sheldon, thanks for your ramblings 😉

        Where Christ says “I lay down My life for my sheep,” that passage establishes one thing: He dies willingly for His people. It does not establish for whom He does not lay down His life.

        You also asked:

        if all men have had their transgressions removed and not just his children, as the psalm addresses believers as, then how is it that God returns transgressions to the unregenerate man?

        Notice I have not stated that all men have had their transgressions removed. Psalm 103’s language has glorious application to the elect only – our transgressions are removed eternally (see my posts from the past week on perseverance of the saints). Yet what we are not saying is that Christ’s atonement for an individual removes their transgressions and gets them forgiveness, automatically, so to speak.

        God reserves the sovereign right as King to apply the full benefit of His Son’s atoning work to whomever He pleases, but until He does (i.e. regeneration, repentance and faith in Christ), the sinner is no more forgiven than Satan.

        You’re making a simple category error, implying that if Christ died for someone, then that someone *is* forgiven, but again, Ephesians 2 shows us that this is not so – God’s “use” of the atonement to forgive whom He will make be exercised or not, according to the glory of His grace.

  4. Calvinism doesn’t reduce the atonement of Christ to a mere pecuniary “transaction”, but simply seeks to utilize the sense of the understanding of the biblical terms “redeem” and “purchase” and “ransom” to maintain the integrity of the meaning conveyed by Scripture when it speaks of the design of the atonement.
    Hence why you will find this a bit more concisely termed (when speaking of the atonement) as a “penal substitutionary atonement”.
    The idea was that Christ Jesus redeemed/purchased those whom God has set His love upon as His own inheritance, but who are sold under slavery (to sin). He is the “Boaz” of His people; their Kinsman Redeemer.

    I would recommend you read a book written by John Murray, entitled “Redemption; Accomplished and Applied.”
    For the intent & design of the atonement definitely defines the extent & application of the atonement.
    And God applies the atonement to exactly whom He accomplished it for; that is, for those whom He intended to save and chose in His Son and ordained from all eternity He would be their salvation.

    • Thanks for your reply – I’ve been a monergist for 6 years of my 10 years as a Christian, so I am familiar with these arguments, and have many times used them myself. Pray for me, that if I have moved into error, that the Holy Spirit would lead me back. Pray also that if I have moved closer to a biblical model of the atonement, that you brothers would receive it in time. Grace to you.

  5. I have a couple of thoughts.

    First, thanks, Justin for the post. Clearly you have been thinking about this topic for a while.

    Second, in response to some of the objections of the view, it should be known that this is a view within Reformed theology. There is nothing new here except perhaps that the idea is new to 21st century American Reformed/Baptist/Evangelical Calvinism. In this time, we’ve been taught that there is only 1 acceptable, right, biblical and historically Reformed view of the atonement. Particulary we’ve been taught it in the form of Owen’s (false) trilemma formula and Boettner’s “TULIP” acronym. But ideas about the atonement have been an intramural discussion among solid Reformed and Baptist theologians for centuries, as far back to Dordt and before. In fact, the Heidelberg Catechism, which pre-dates Westminster by over 100 years, allows for this view, if not supporting it outright. It is Ok if you don’t know the history; I didn’t either until a few years ago. But it is englightening and worth the effort. Even if you don’t end up agreeing with this view, at least you’ll know this is a valid view, one worthy of consideration, and you’ll see how the objections are handled. For more on the historical discussion, in addition to calvinandcalvinism.com that Justin referenced in his post (“Click here for helpful articles that define these terms in detail, with historical sources.”), I also recommend http://theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com/. What is so good about these sites is that they cite original works, in context. So you can read for yourself what Charles Hodge, W.G.T. Shedd, R.L. Dabney, Charles Simeon, J.C. Ryle, and John Davenant (just a few) thought about the topic. There’s more to the “L” than we’ve been taught.

    Third, as Justin pointed out, this is a logical argument. There is nothing in the pages of Scripture that demands the strictly limited, one-dimensional, single intent view of the atonement. Is it not possible that there were many intents in the atonement? Our reading of Scriputre through TULIP-colored glasses subsconsciously inserts words like “onlY” and “the elect” in places they don’t exist, thus causing us to see limitation where none is stated and wrongly infer it. For example, takes Jesus’ words on the cross, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” If I ask, “For whom was Jesus praying? Who is the ‘them’?”, most Calvinists will reply, “the elect.” But the verse doesn’t say that. It doesn’t even infer it, in my opinion. And nothing around the verse gives any light on it either. But a typical TULIP reading of that verse is this, “Father, forgive them [the elect], because they don’t know what they are doing.” It is subtle, but if you are honest with yourself (as I’ve had to be) that is what you do when you read this verse. The TULIP construct logically interprets the verse that way, but there is nothing in the passage that demands it.

    The same can be said of how we interpret John 17. Simply because Jesus prays specifically for a group of people in this passage does not mean he has no regard for others. Say for example I have 2 kids, Johnny and Suzie. Say I say to you one day, “Boy, I love that Johnny. He’s such a cute kid.” Can you logically infer that I don’t love Suzie also, or that I think she is not a cute kid too? I hope not! No. All I’ve done is make an active statement about 1 of my children in that moment. Any conclusion you draw about my feelings toward Suzie are simply inferences, fallacious logical conclusions. The argument from silence is a logical fallacy. As bible students, we need to be careful here not to add to a text what isn’t there, and not to take away from a text what is there.

    Fourth, I love illustrations to help me grasp a concept. If they are biblical illustrations, all the better.

    Go with me back to the wilderness wanderings of Israel and the fiery serpent incident (Numbers 21). Notice the provision from God is for “everyone who is bitten.” Second, notice the command, “when he sees it.” And third, notice the promised result, “(he) shall live.” Here’s the last verse from that story, “And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.” So provision was made for every one/any one that was bitten, and the promise of life was for all who were bitten and would look. But only those who were bitten AND looked at the bronze serpent pole would live. (Hypothetical question: do you suppose there were some who were bitten and didn’t look?) Are not each of us those who have been bitten by sin, and are dying? Has not provision been made for life, if only we (each/any) would look to the raised cross and live? Doesn’t John 3:16 mirror this scene, that anyone who believes in Jesus will have eternal life?

    Another illustration I’ve used to help myself understand this better is the veil in the temple being ripped when Jesus died. Holes weren’t poked in it for only a select few (the elect) to pass through; the whole veil was torn making access to the Father (salvation) through Jesus universally available to everyone. Will everyone be saved? Of course not. No dispute there. The bible is precise on that point. But that is not because a means of salvation was not provided for them; but because they won’t appropriate that cure for sin for themselves.

    OK. I’ve said enough. Thanks again, Justin, for the forum to discuss this topic intelligently.

  6. Regarding the historical precedence for a universal _aspect_ to the atonement:

    “Here is the Heidelberg commentary attributed to Ursinus, the main author of the Catechism:

    “In this sense it is correctly said that Christ died in a different manner for believers and unbelievers. Neither is this declaration attended with any difficulty or inconvenience, inasmuch as it harmonizes not only with scripture, but also with experience; for both testify that the remedy of sin and death is most sufficiently and abundantly offered in the gospel to all; but that it is effectually applied, and profitable only to them that believe.”

    (Zacharias Ursinus, The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, translated by G.W.Willard D.D., Did Christ Die for All)”

    -HT Jim Charnock

    • Scott,

      I appreciate your additions – I had forgotten some of those historical sources over the past 4-5 years of study. Here’s to drawing nearer and nearer the biblical testimony!

    • Bryan, you wouldn’t have to guess too much if you read the post. I understand you labeling me as “confused,” as the view I am propounding is not mainstream these days. That doesn’t mean it’s not known throughout church history.

    • I understand your confusion with what I have written. It may be a new category for you. I affirm with the Scriptures that God’s intent(s) [see Scott’s longer comment above] in the atonement are never frustrated at all.

      Do not assume that because God made atonement for all that He necessarily intended to apply the benefits of it equally. The application of the atonement is in God’s sovereign prerogative, as I make clear in the post.

  7. Justin,

    There are two points I would like to mention. First, for people who lived before Christ’s death, is it possible to believe He died with the intention of saving them when their eternal destiny was already sealed when they died, when they were already in hell?

    Second, your statement of “Atonement refused is wrath aroused” seems to imply Universalism to a certain extent. That all people are saved unless they arouse God’s wrath by rejecting the gospel. If this were true, would it be better to avoid evangelizing in order to avoid putting people in a position to reject the gospel?

    Just my thoughts. I appreciate your thought provoking article…

    Tony
    @New Geneva

    • Thanks Tony. To your first point, you are asking the question incorrectly, if you don’t mind me saying so. His intention was not to make saveable the lost, but in the atonement God makes provision for common grace, as well as heightening the guilt of the reprobate. Saveability is an Arminian/Open Theist position, but the Scripture knows no such idea. Christ’s atonement accomplishes all it was meant to accomplish: salvation of the elect, and real culpability of those who refuse Him (as well as justified common grace as I discussed in the post).

      To your second, no. I affirm with the Scriptures and Reformed confessions that all are fallen in Adam, under the wrath of God until born from above, forgiven, and adopted by the Father. Think in this category: God is able to make true atonement for the sins of all people, and also to hold them under His just wrath without compromising His perfect, just nature. Again, see the Ephesians 2 points above.

      Thanks for your visit and comments, brother.

  8. If the decision to be saved as a result of God’s grace rests upon the sinner (even a little), then God cannot get all of the glory. Jesus says in the gospel of John:

    John 10:11
    I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

    Is it possible that Paul could have denied Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus?
    Does ‘sheep’ refer to every single human being?
    Who exactly are the ‘goats’ in the parables?
    Can sheep turn into goats?
    How do you explain these implications?

    John 10:28
    I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

    • You have not interacted with my post whatsoever. I would use your very questions in refuting Arminian doctrine. [edit] Please read the post again, and note that both you and I believe in a limited atonement – God’s sovereign prerogative being the limiting agent in what you believe the Scriptures teach, and in what I believe the Scriptures teach. The difference? Extent vs. application.

  9. Let me briefly point out that the “double jeopardy objection” doesn’t properly take into account the divinity of Christ. That God the Son has propitiated the wrath of God the Father does not preclude the Son from pouring out wrath Himself. This could even make sense on the pecuniary model. We could say that Christ has paid the debt for all, but only forgives the elect and requires payment from the reprobate – hence no double jeopardy. It is the “wrath of the Lamb” (Rev 6:16) which must be feared.

  10. Although I disagree with this article everyone commenting are missing the Ephesians 2 question. He’s waiting for a reply and it’s being ignored. I’m very staunchly a 5 pointer but I’m curious for a answer to Eph. 2

    • This was a well written article and I did my best to read it slowly and carefully. I’m still not in agreement with the author though and would prefer to advocate for a definite atonement rather than an unlimited.

      Concerning Ephesians 2 though….I’m not sure what the problem here is. Think about it – why is this text only a problem now – since the blogger brought up a position that isn’t advocated much (granted – it’s the best position that isn’t LA that I have heard).

      That said, wouldn’t the answer simply be that Eph 2:1-3 is true and the elect are in fact “by nature, children of wrath” because we remain that way until we are regenerated (when our nature is changed). Jesus’s atonement didn’t automatically regenerate us (obviously) – it made it a certainty (for the elect) of course, but we still are in need of being born again, in time, having being effectually called.

      Isn’t that it…or am I missing something?

    • Joel the answer seems obvious to me, which is why I ignored it. Just as a hyper-Calvinist would deny having to evangelize because God is “going to regenerate them anyways!”, the point misses the fact that God acts in time, through means. Of course we were sinners and under the wrath of God before we heard the gospel. God decrees that we would hear the gospel and be regenerated in time, by different means. He wasn’t confused or surprised by this because He knows all events in time. When Christ died on the cross, He died for all the elect throughout history knowing the moment which it would be made effectual upon their regeneration. Did that make sense?

      • Jamison, you’ve made a valiant effort, but let me push back a bit. The fact that we are not Open Theists, and that we recognize God acts in time actually presents the main problem for your position. Look: God knew from eternity past up through the time of the cross that you would be His elect child, covered under the blood of His Son.

        Thus in time, Jesus died for your sins, He was buried, He was raised, He is at the right hand now. You were born, almost 2,000 years later – after Jesus extinguished the wrath of God for you in the distant past. Now in the time of your young life before you were saved, you were as Paul puts it, “a child of wrath.” If God worked in time those two millenia past to expiate your sins, for what was He wrathful towards you in your life before Christ? How was His wrath both upon Christ 2,000 years ago, and then again on you before salvation?

        The clear answer must be that He reserves His sovereign prerogative to exercise that wrath, or to apply the full benefit of the atonement. The fact that, like you said, “He died for all the elect throughout history knowing the moment which it would be made effectual upon their regeneration,” shows that from God’s perspective working within His own time construct, it was perfectly just to hold you and me under His wrath – the same wrath Jesus absorbed on the cross – until He was pleased to reveal His Son in us. I’ll look at your other comment, too.

      • Justin –
        Jamison replied to Joel in pretty much the same fashion that I did concerning Eph 2:1-3 but your response puzzles me further.

        Why are we putting so much focus in advocating for an UA 2000 years ago – because that is when it happened “in time”?

        Is not Christ “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world”?

        Do you agree with covenant theology – specifically the covenant of redemption?

        You asked “If God worked in time those two millenia past to expiate, for what was he wrathful to you in your life before Christ? How was his wrath both upon Christ 2,00 years ago and then again on you before salvation?”

        Certainly, God is omniscient – he isn’t surprised by anything that happens – in fact he is ordaining all that comes to pass (not meaning to pander you). So if God chooses, for his glories sake, to have one who is numbered among the elect “be born in sin” just like the reprobate so that God can “in time” to regenerate that person (who was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world even – let alone 2000 years ago), how does that have anything to do with the extent of the application of the atonement? I don’t think it does. It is just simply the means that God has chosen to bring glory to his name. You mine as well be arguing that God should have no place for wrath for his elect at all since “Christ is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world” – it was as good as done from God’s view at that point even. He knows the end from the beginning.

        But what I think Scripture is telling us, is that God so chooses let us be born in our sins (and therefore – by nature, children of wrath – until we are given a new nature – also in time), so that he can work the miracle of salvation in our lives, in time, for his glory.

        Am I missing something, or am I way off?

  11. Interesting article, in the sense that articles like this make us all think through our theology, and that is a good thing.
    Justin I would like to see you interact with the exegesis of not only these texts you quoted, but the many other ones made by James White in The Potter’s Freedom. (Not that you have to do this in all one post!) It seems to me (I’m using logic here) that your main thrust is that the classic limited atonement model is too logical?
    In Hebrews it talks about how the atonement made by Jesus was paralleled with that of the OT high priest, both in role of priest and that of sacrifice.
    So my question for you is: when the OT high priest sacrificed the lamb before the time of Christ on the day of Atonement, were the Egyptians and Amalekites (whom God sent no prophet to declare they repent of their sins) also included in the sufficiency of the sacrifice, but somewhere in God’s secret will he didn’t make it efficacious?

    To put it as Shai Linne did:
    If God the Father elects only those who will be saved, and the Holy Spirit only regenerates those who will be saved, then why would the Son die for everyone, including those that won’t be saved? Is the Trinity not completely unified?
    Thanks for your time in reading this.

    • Christ dies to save only the elect, but he also dies to bring judgment upon the reprobate – reconciling all things to himself (Col 1:20). Some are reconciled as children to a father, others as defeated enemies before a conquering king – “making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” So the Trinity is completely unified, but in a broader way than your (and Shai’s) portrayal.

      • @BC I don’t really understand your response. I’m speaking of the purpose of the Trinity in salvation, if you say the Son dies for everyone but that the Father and the Spirit don’t save those people, then why is the Son suffering the wrath of God for people who will be damned?
        Also, I don’t fully comprehend how you tie your concept of “He dies to bring judgement upon the reprobate” with Col 1:20. Where in the context do you draw that connection between the cross and judgement?

      • Second question first: Col 1:20 states that Christ reconciled *all things* to himself through the cross. This universalistic language leaves a few soteriological options available to the systematic theologian: [1] absolute universalism, [2] hypothetical universalism, [3] eschatological universalism, and [4] particularistic universalism. Most Calvinists will reject [1] and [2], so there’s no need to discuss them here. Justin is advocating one variety of [4], which has a long, but not well-known place in the Reformed tradition (as Scott’s comments above pointed out).

        However, many Calvinists (like you, Jamison) also argue for a fifth option: [5] pure particularism. In this view it is argued that universalistic terms (i.e. “the whole world,” “all people,” “everyone,” “all things,” etc.) are reducible to purely particularist meanings (i.e. “the elect alone”). This is linguistically and exegetically tenuous. It often appears that a prior commitment to a particular doctrinal conclusion (strict Limited Atonement) drives the exegesis of the text, rather than the language of the text forming one’s doctrinal conclusions.

        B.B. Warfield recognized this tension and maintained [5] by incorporating [3]. He argued that the universalistic texts are universalistic in an eschatological sense, meaning that the “whole world” on a future day would be co-extensive with “the elect alone,” i.e. postmillennialism.

        So the Calvinist can adopt a particularistic universalism [4] as Justin has or incorporate a postmillennial eschatology [3] as B.B. Warfield did or maintain [5] and embrace the error of letting systematics supercede exegesis. For my part, I have difficulty adjudicating between [3] and [4] so I’ve adopted both, just to be safe. 🙂

      • (I can’t reply to your other reply lower, for some reason, so I am replying to this one. Sorry for possible confusion!)
        Col 1:20 actually says:
        …” reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross;”…
        Having made peace, not judgement. This was my question, how do you draw the line from cross to judgement? It is not in the text. If you are saying that by reconciling He first punishes or judges all the reprobate I would agree with you, but I would also argue that those who have peace with God – have peace with God. If you are dividing that up into categories then I would ask you to also consider your adherence to doctrinal categories. But then again I am ignorant of the categories you discuss. I will write them down and read on them, but you kind of lost me because you never defined them; not even the one (or two) that you adhere to. Perhaps you may have a moment to clarify? Thanks for the response.

      • You: “Having made peace, not judgement.”

        These are not mutually exclusive. What happens at the end of war? Peace. And judging war criminals is a part of that peace process. As I said before, conquered people are at peace with the victorious king, but not in the same way that his children are at peace with him. They are all reconciled, but not in the same way.

        You: “If you are dividing that up into categories then I would ask you to also consider your adherence to doctrinal categories.”

        I’m sorry, I have no idea what this sentence means.

        You: “Perhaps you may have a moment to clarify?”

        The taxonomy of categories I presented is intended to be broadly exhaustive. Multiple views may fall under these categories (i.e. some Arminian and some Saumur theologies have been categorized as hypothetical universalism, but their soteriologies are still distinctive).
        [1] Absolute universalism – all are saved.
        [2] Hypothetical universalism – all are saveable.
        [3] Eschatological universalism – postmillennialism.
        [4] Particularistic universalism – a combination of [2] and [5].
        [5] Pure particularism – the atonement is purely salvific and has reference to the elect alone.

        The OP is about [4], I didn’t think defining [1] and [2] was necessary (because the terms seem to me to be sufficiently clear and aren’t under discussion) and I clearly described [3] and [5] in my comment.

        Clearer?

      • Thanks for the reply BC. The definition of categories was clearer and helpful.

        In response to your other answer, I don’t know if I would identify those in hell currently as having peace with God, since His wrath is being poured out on them continually for all eternity. This is what I meant by identifying the word “reconciled” and the phrase “making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” somehow to mean judgement or hold judgement language. Sorry if I was unclear, its probably because it is a difficult concept to work through. Thank you for your replies and patience. We still disagree, but I will think on what you said and discuss it with my pastor. Grace and peace to you brother.

    • The Potter’s Freedom is a favorite book of mine. I may very well dig into the LA section and interact with it here – be sure to subscribe to keep up with my work. “Too logical”? No – logic is an outflow of God’s nature as being consistent within Himself as the holy one, so too logical is not possible.

      Rather, simple consistent logic does not necessarily indicate biblical truth (think Watchtower theology wherein Jesus is created as an angel etc – a logical position that is absolutely unbiblical). LA per the high Calvinist model (TULIP) is a logical outflow of a specific reading of the texts, yet fails to accommodate the greater scope of the biblical witness. While what I am propounding is logical as well, the rational comfortability of it is difficult for those of us who have cherished the TULIP. I know, I’ve been there.

      The animal sacrifices of the OT never took away sins, but rather covered them until the time of reformation (Heb. 9). While the Scripture does not directly address it, I believe the Egyptians, Amalekites, and Cain himself were all shown mercy and common grace in every breath they took… as made possible through the atoning work of Jesus in their future.

      • Thanks for the reply Justin. Sorry if this is reaching you late, I am only coming back to this Saturday night.
        I will look to see how you respond to the arguments displayed in The Potter’s Freedom. Many times when people post an opposite view to Limited Atonement it’s almost like I can feel the eyes rolling in all the calvinists. Mostly because many very good and strong arguments have been made by “professional” theologians (we are all theologians technically) and apologists; and when people post views without interacting with the strongest arguments it feels like I, the commenter, need to somehow summarize it in a few paragraphs. Very daunting.
        I made the logic comment simply because I’ve heard a few Lutherans make the claim that logic can’t account for the argument, the atonement is simply: for all, and only saves a few. Don’t try to make that consistent. I reject this view for exactly the reason you state. Thank you for clearing that up, and I’m glad we are on the same page.
        The part I still struggle on in your argument is that you only exegete one text (kind of) but that’s not the one that concerns me.
        Let me quote this:
        ..”The Scriptures teach that Jesus pushed away the wrath of God for every last person, elect or not. That’s called propitiation (Rom. 3:21-25; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2, 4:10).”
        Now this is the crux for me. You need to make the connection that God has pushed away the wrath of all people. First Rom 3:21-25. Follow the pronouns!

        The first pronoun or group is “all who believe”, then the pronouns do not change through the entire passage. All are either Jew or Gentile, all have fallen short and Jesus shed his blood for all these who believe. Not once does it change to everyone without distinction. So you need to walk through the text and prove that it does, because I don’t see that.
        Likewise Hebrews 2:17 simply says:
        17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
        So how does this prove your point? My point is that the High Priest only makes atonement for the people of God. Either Israel in OT or the Church in NT. The Amalekite does not receive either the covering in the OT, nor does God extend the promise from the future fulfillment.
        I go with the generic interpretation of 1 John 2:2. The whole world being “all elect in the world yet and not yet brought to salvation”. I believe this can be justified by looking at the other generic statements in the context. Are you going to argue that anyone that breaks a commandment while claiming they are a christian is a false brother? (1 John 2:4) Or that anyone that struggles with a worldly love for a time is a false brother? (1 John 2:15) I would point you to anyone who has a sport obsession or watches too much T.V.
        The means God used to make me a Calvinist was the power of the exegete walking through the texts. When you make an assertion and just put verses after it, this isn’t interacting with the texts, and I would encourage you to do so. Thank you again for the interaction. I will definitely subscribe to see how you develop this.

    • Hey Jamison, It’s hard to argue against a rapper, since I can’t rap. Often unity in the trinity is argued by high-Calvinists in an attempt to demonstrate that their view of strict limited atonement is correct. But consider this:

      In terms of sufficiency
      God wills all to be saved by his will of disposition & will of precept (2 Pe. 3:9)
      Christ’s sacrifice is for the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29)
      There is a general call of the gospel (Matt. 22:14)

      In terms of efficiency
      God wills that the elect be saved by his will of decree (Acts 13:48)
      Christ intended to save His people by his sacrifice (Matt. 1:21)
      The Holy Spirit calls the elect inwardly (2 Cor. 4:6)

      Among each there is agreement, harmony, unity, and theological consistency. Nor does the one argue against the other.

      The high-Calvinist’s strict limited atonement view introduces theological inconsistency in the sufficiency side. It introduces inconsistency between the atonement and the genuine offer and God’s revealed will that all be saved.

      • Thanks for the reply Jim. It’s good to get some interaction with other people on this.
        Your last paragraph seems to be your main point, which is that the 5 point calvinist’s view is inconsistent on the “sufficiency side”. I would disagree, even Justin above said it’s perfectly consistent, just doesn’t account for “the whole biblical witness”. I assume this to mean the texts that seem to contradict it. I haven’t seen exegesis so far that convinces me of that.
        In relation to the texts you provide, I would encourage you to read 2 Peter 3. Start at verse 1 and walk through the text. Follow the pronouns. There is distinctive changes from “beloved”(v.1) to those being judged (the mockers v.3) , back to the “beloved”.

        “But do not let this one fact escape YOUR notice, BELOVED, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward YOU, not wishing for any –
        [any of who? any of YOU] to perish but for all –
        [all of who? all of YOU] to come to repentance.
        Emphasis to show my point. Look at the context of the passage. Peter is talking time periods here. Why aren’t all believers teleported into heaven the moment that they believe? It’s because the salvation of God’s people happens through and in time! God uses people to preach the gospel through time to save other believers, but it’s not as through He is slow, it’s that he is being patient towards humankind till the day the full number of God’s elect are saved. And thank the Lord! If he wasn’t patient I don’t think this evil world would have lasted 2000 years and we would never have been born!
        Your other two points are obviously generic and yes, there is a general call. It’s like the parable of the Soils. The seed goes out, but only one kind of soil grows plants. In the same way, the call goes out and God uses this means to grow his church. This does not however, prove somehow that God propitiated the wrath of all people in Christ on the tree for some reason.
        I would still ask my question, WHY would Christ suffer the wrath of God on the cross for those He is not saving? Notice I said WHY. I believe that Christ could redeem everyone if He wanted. His blood is completely and utterly sufficient for that task. The reason why it doesn’t is because as High Priest He is not making atonement for everyone.

      • Hey Jamison,

        I consider myself a 5-point Calvinist and believe in the “L” – properly defined, that is. The acrostic TULIP is fairly recent and even folks like RC Sproul would rather see it as RUPIP – substitutlng Radical Depravity for Total Depravity and Particular Redemption for Limited Atonement.

        High-Calvinism is the proper term to describe those who hold to limited expiation – i.e. strict limited atonement.

        On 2 Pe. 3:9 you should recognize that the will of disposition is at least a possible interpretation. Nevertheless, that is not the only text thar shows that God wills the salvation of all. I could have just as easily pointed to Acts 17:30 which shows that God wants everyone to repent. Or the texts which speak about the requirement of all to obey the gospel. These clearly demonstrate God’s will of precept that these be saved.

        I know high-Calvinists disagree about what is seen as inconsistencies with their view of the atonement and the sincere offer of the gospel. But, for most of us, it is apparent that a limited expiation would make an offer of forgiveness to all dishonest.

        But, my point is that the unity in the trinity is actually best supported by classic moderate Calvinists; not high-Calvinists.

  12. I think the Ephesians 2 argument is a sound one. I’m inclined to agree..which is a bummer, because I really like the double jeopardy argument. John Owen was a theological beast. I actually heard John Piper handle this question not too long ago during a live stream covering TULIP. His answer was basically that God reserves the right to wait to apply the affects of the atonement until the conditions he has required have been met. Therefore we are children of wrath until he regenerates our hearts and faith results. He then applies the atoning work of Christ to the one who believes.

    When it is put this way, perhaps it doesn’t necessarily deny an atonement that is limited in both value and application… one would just have to agree to the idea that a just application can be carried out overtime. The problem with speculating this way is that we appear to have long departed from the text. I may have to think about it more.

    One practical question for you Justin, given the nature of the way you (and perhaps I) make a distinction between the value and the application of the atonement, would you still call yourself a 5 pointer since there is still a certain limitation? Or would you find this a tad misleading given the explanation that might be required. I’m still sorting out how I might go about labeling this system (if I should) if I were to come to hold it.

    • I would call Justin a five-pointer. He’s affirming the classic Calvinist view of an atonement sufficient for all but efficient for the elect that dates to the Synod of Dordt: “The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin; is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.”

  13. Hi Justin, terrific post. This may get lost in all the responses you’re tryin to deal with. Just want to connect – you have my email address, I’d love to touch bases. There are others of your ilk that warmly welcome you and look forward to some iron-sharpening as we get to know each other.

    It’s been in the last few years that I’ve moved from classic, Banner-of-Truth, confessional 5-point Calvinism to the classic, moderate Calvinism I see represented by many stalwarts in the faith – and it has resolved so many Scriptural tensions and gut-reservations. Anyway, great article brother – I’ll wade through your interactions with many that will rail against you. Know that you’re in good company. Press on, and be faithful. /Bob Schilling, pastor of Grace and Truth Community Church in Vancouver, WA.

    • Pastor, thank you so much for your enthusiastic response. I hope to become a professor of biblical theology at the seminary level, so your connection is most appreciated. I want to be able to vet myself and my conclusions on numerous subjects with men who are seasoned in the church. Grace to you, and please subscribe to keep in touch.

  14. Okay so let me stab away at this. 🙂

    cut

    Paul A, says:
    Why are we putting so much focus in advocating for an UA 2000 years ago – because that is when it happened “in time”?

    Is not Christ “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world”?

    David: Thats the classic misreading of the verse from the KJV. Modern scholars generally believe given the wider textual data that it’s the names written before the foundation of the world. See some modern translations.

    Either way, lets grant that Christ by divine ordination was decreed to be slain.

    All we need to say is that Christ was not slain in eternity, which would be a bizarre idea.

    Cut

    Paul: You asked “If God worked in time those two millenia past to expiate, for what was he wrathful to you in your life before Christ? How was his wrath both upon Christ 2,00 years ago and then again on you before salvation?”

    David. Sure. Think about this as if you were a limited satisfaction advocate. You could say that in some sense, Christ satisfied the demands of the law against you, as a past tense action, and yet you as a sinner, unbelieving were still subject to the curse of the law in life (unless you are a hypercalvinist).

    So there is a sense where we all say that sin was satisfied for, and yet where it is not. Parsing that out is the tricky bit. Most TULIP proponents do not try to go any deeper than that.

    Classic-Moderate Calvinism says that Christ satisfied the demands of the law, objectively for all men, just like did for the elect in the case of TULIP. They would also use the word “expiated”, etc. Christ sustained an objective “covering” and satisfaction to the law which God unconditionally accepted. That is, Christ’s work need no additional supplementation. We don’t add it by our merit or anything. For us, tho, the application is conditional; faith.

    So all sides can believe that in some sense, sin was objectively dealt with on the cross, and yet not subjectively dealt with in the person until the time of faith.

    Moderates just extend the first category to all men.

    Paul: Certainly, God is omniscient – he isn’t surprised by anything that happens – in fact he is ordaining all that comes to pass (not meaning to pander you). So if God chooses, for his glories sake, to have one who is numbered among the elect “be born in sin” just like the reprobate so that God can “in time” to regenerate that person (who was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world even – let alone 2000 years ago), how does that have anything to do with the extent of the application of the atonement? I don’t think it does.

    David: Okay…

    Paul: It is just simply the means that God has chosen to bring glory to his name. You mine [might; DP] as well be arguing that God should have no place for wrath for his elect at all since “Christ is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world” – it was as good as done from God’s view at that point even. He knows the end from the beginning.

    David: Well no. The verse does not say that, unless you want to follow a minor variant. And besides, its clearly metaphorical language which should only be taken to imply that by the certainty of decree, Christ was to be slain. The metaphor seeks to make emphatic the idea of certainty, much like Paul does when he says in Romans, those he predestined… he glorified. We are not all glorified in actuality, but if Paul Abeyta is right, you might as well say we are. What Paul the apostle is doing is glueing certainty to each link in his chain such that the outcome is certain. And so for Rev 13:8 the result was a most certain result.

    So on both fronts I would say Jesus was not slain in eternity and we were not justified in eternity.

    Paul: But what I think Scripture is telling us, is that God so chooses let us be born in our sins (and therefore – by nature, children of wrath – until we are given a new nature – also in time), so that he can work the miracle of salvation in our lives, in time, for his glory.

    David: Okay, fine. No issue here.

    Paul: Am I missing something, or am I way off?

    David I would say apart from the problematic idea that Christ was slain in eternity, there is nothing here that disagrees or should be seen as problematic relative to the essay posted.

    David.

    • Thanks David. I wasn’t meaning to convey that Christ was literally slain in eternity past – I agree as you say – the Apostle Paul was meaning to speak of it’s certainty.

      My point in bringing that up is to say that God is not tricking or surprising himself. We are not Open Theists here. So when Christ c. 2000 years ago “[sacrificed] once for all when he offered himself up” (Heb 7:27), it was for all that he intended to save from before the foundation of the world as they were elected in him in the covenant of redemption between the Godhead.

      The original author of this post seems to be hinging his main argument on Eph 2 (I could be wrong about that) in saying that Christ’s death on the cross wasn’t truly effectual in that it is only effectual when the individual displays faith (saying this so that he can justify God being related to the elect us as children of wrath prior to being regenerated).

      My point being that I think God can be free to fully satisfy his wrath against his elect (which he did at Calvary) and yet still consider a person to be a “child of wrath”, all the well knowing that at his own determined point, this person will be regenerated and believe.

      Justin though writes –

      “Here Paul shows that the Christian, saved by the atonement of Christ, was still under the real, dangerous wrath of God before justification by grace through faith. If Jesus extinguished the wrath of God in a pecuniary, strict commercial payment, then from whence was this wrath upon the elect?”

      My concern/hang up is that God knew who would be redeemed from eternity past because he chose them according to the counsel of his own will. Yes “we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (eph 2:3) but this is highlighting the fact that we were in need of being saved and a new nature – not that “we were under the real dangerous wrath of God” in the sense that we could by some chance – not be saved and thereby lost (is that what Justin is saying…??? – here is my confusion I think). How could it be that, if we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and also – Christ is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world (asserting the certainty of our redemption) could there be some “real dangerous wrath”. God would have been good to kill me a thousand times over before he revealed himself to me, but he didn’t for his own glories sake.

      Justin also wrote that “repentance and faith are gifts of the Holy Spirit”. Is that what you think too? I think that is where you are at too David, but you write – “For us [moderate calvinists], tho, the application is conditional; faith.” Isn’t that a condition that God meets by giving us faith (yes we exercise it, but that shows we have been given a living faith).

  15. “How then could someone still be punished for their own sins in eternal hell, if Jesus absorbed the wrath of God for them? Simply put, God retains the right to pour out that same wrath on any or all who have died in their rebellion against Him. The death of Jesus paid the penalty of all sin, including unbelief, but in rejection of God’s terms for salvation, that penalty may be recalled. The only argument I know of against this is to claim language from human courts of justice: “He cannot put anyone through a double jeopardy. The penalty paid at Calvary is forever paid, and cannot be paid again by the sinner in hell.” Show me one verse, friend.”-Justin

    Hi, I found it interesting that you asked for a verse defending double jeapordy, when you haven’t in fact shown one verse supporting this “new category” you are supposing…specifically the part where you say “God retains the right to pour out that same wrath on any or all who have died in their rebellion against Him.” You also said, “that penalty may be recalled.” Can you explain this from scripture please?

    • Hi Tyrell. Although I was working on a reply to you, David from Calvin & Calvinism has provided his more senior analysis before I could mine. Regarding our mutually exclusive claims, you’ll note the language of the Reformed confessions, that we draw “good and necessary inference” from the Scripture. My rhetorical statement “show me one verse, friend,” is my attempt at a brotherly poke in the ribs – to gin up some conversation. I don’t literally expect one verse to come forward as a proof text which defeats all arguments!

      So with that said, we are dealing with the same Scriptures, but with different assumptions/inferences drawn from the greater context. I encourage you to take some time thinking through David’s reply from this past hour, and then write back with further pushback to our position.

      Grace in Christ.

  16. Hey Tyrell,

    There may be some confusion here. Double jeopardy is not the same as double payment. In classic limited satisfaction literature the argument is double payment. Today, tho, folk often convert this to the phrase double jeopardy.

    One of the core rules of double jeopardy is that you cant punish the same person twice for the same crime.

    Double payment refers to a debt or a fine. If a Smith borrows money–say $50–from Jones, and Green pays Jones the $50, Jones cant seek a second monetary satisfaction from Smith. Note too, double payment has nothing to do with who pays.

    There are two things to say to all that:

    1) The death of Christ does not work like a literal debt payment or fine payment. That would be to convert a penal satisfaction into a pecuniary or commercial satisfaction.

    2) In the case of double jeopardy argument, no one person is being punished twice for the same sin. Christ is reckoned a sinner and so suffers the curse of the law as tho he had committed our sins. All the while we remain sinful, guilty and law-cursed. In life the living unbelieving elect are subject to the punishing wrath of God (Eph 2:3 Rom 1:18). The punishing wrath of God is removed when a person has faith: Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    And so Christ can suffer the curse of the law for a man and yet if that man fails to be saved, he will suffer the curse of the in his own person.

    No double jeopardy. And of course, double payment is to be rejected because the satisfaction does not have the internal causality a debt or fine payment has.

    Now I think Justin could tighten up some of his language for sure, It is not that the penalty is recalled, as if Christ reverses his suffering, or anything like that. May be Justin is thinking in terms of punishment transferred to Christ and then transferred to the sinner if she or he does not believe. The thing is, nothing is “transferred.”

    For whole bunch of refutations of the double payment argument and the lesser used double jeopardy argument, go here: http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=7323

    I hope that helps,
    David

  17. Hey Paul,

    Thanks for the clarification.

    You say:
    My point in bringing that up is to say that God is not tricking or surprising himself. We are not Open Theists here. So when Christ c. 2000 years ago “[sacrificed] once for all when he offered himself up” (Heb 7:27), it was for all that he intended to save from before the foundation of the world as they were elected in him in the covenant of redemption between the Godhead.

    David: First a basic point. The atonement does not actually save in and of itself. It provides the legal platform whereby God can save a person. Salvation is a work of the whole Trinity. The Son sustains the legal basis by which God can justify a man. The Spirit effectually calls the elect. Through faith, the Father justifies the penitent sinner.

    So when we say that the death of Christ saves, it is through all those other causal agents and conditions. For example and this may help explain what I mean: we were not saved on the cross. We were not saved by the cross irrespective of faith.

    With that in mind, I would say that according to the plan of salvation, namely the elective intention of God, Christ died so has to lay down the legal framework whereby the Father may forgive a sinner.

    In my opinion, Christ died to lay down a legal framework wherein God may pardon every man, and also providing a basis for the offer of the gospel.

    I would not say that the one can rightly argue that the plan of salvation, or election simply considered delimits the scope of the satisfaction, as if election entails that Christ suffered for the sins of the elect alone.

    You say: The original author of this post seems to be hinging his main argument on Eph 2 (I could be wrong about that) in saying that Christ’s death on the cross wasn’t truly effectual in that it is only effectual when the individual displays faith (saying this so that he can justify God being related to the elect us as children of wrath prior to being regenerated).

    David: I think he would be right. There is a big assumption behind the doctrine of limited satisfaction that argues that all for whom Christ died cannot fail to be saved. The problem is proving that. Is that where you are heading?

    On the other hand, faith the instrumental means by which salvation is applied, aka causa sine qua non, the indispensable means. Like this, I give you a ticket to see a movie. You didnt earn it or merit it. The ticket was my free gift to you. However, in order to see the movie, you must produce the ticket at the door of the cinema. Faith works like the ticket, a gift one the one hand, but the means of salvation on the other, such as, no faith, no salvation.

    So one cant say that the death itself saves.

    For sure if you want to discuss this further I am more than willing to followup on it with you, if Justin has no objection, given that it is his website.

    You say: My point being that I think God can be free to fully satisfy his wrath against his elect (which he did at Calvary) and yet still consider a person to be a “child of wrath”, all the well knowing that at his own determined point, this person will be regenerated and believe.

    David: Sure. But that means Owen’s double payment argument is false. God can punish a sin twice, first in Christ and then in the person of the sinner.

    Look at this from Dabney and tell me if you agree or not and why:

    Nor would we attach any force to the argument, that if Christ made penal satisfaction for the sins of all, justice would forbid any to be punished. To urge this argument surrenders virtually the very ground on which the first Socinian objection was refuted, and is incompatible with the facts that God chastises justified believers, and holds elect unbelievers subject to wrath till they believe. Christ’s satisfaction is not a pecuniary equivalent, but only such a one as enables the Father, consistently with His attributes, to pardon, if in His mercy He sees fit. The whole avails of the satisfaction to a given man is suspended on His belief. There would be no injustice to the man, if he remaining an unbeliever, his guilt were punished twice over first in his Savior, and then in Him. See Hodge on Atonement, page 369. Dabney, Lectures, p., 521

    Each line is full of import.

    You say: Justin though writes – “Here Paul shows that the Christian, saved by the atonement of Christ, was still under the real, dangerous wrath of God before justification by grace through faith. If Jesus extinguished the wrath of God in a pecuniary, strict commercial payment, then from whence was this wrath upon the elect?”

    David: I am sure Justin means saved by means of the atonement and not saved on the cross.

    You continue: My concern/hang up is that God knew who would be redeemed from eternity past because he chose them according to the counsel of his own will.

    David: Well yes he knew who would be redeemed in eternity, I would agree and I can say that even tho I believe Christ by his death redeemed all men (even tho I am not a universalist). I think what you mean is that God knew whom he would redeem, namely the elect… Something like that. If I am reading you correctly, you would say only the elect are redeemed?

    You say: Yes “we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (eph 2:3) but this is highlighting the fact that we were in need of being saved and a new nature – not that “we were under the real dangerous wrath of God” in the sense that we could by some chance – not be saved and thereby lost (is that what Justin is saying…??? – here is my confusion I think).

    David: Well there are two things there. Yes we were under real dangerous wrath. Paul only knows only one wrath, even tho it has two phases, in life and in eternal death. The living unbelieving elect are really objects of punishment for their sin. Paul is clear, they are children of wrath, *even as the rest are.” Logically he means this: “As they are now, we once were.”

    The second layer is the elect, for sure, could not fail to be saved. But the certainty comes from election through all the means noted above, the death of Christ AND election AND the effectual call of the Spirit. The death itself does not supply certainty: see Dabney above. Charles Hodge says the same, that Christ could suffer for a man and that man fail to be saved. See his comments on the linked page I posted earlier today.

    You say: How could it be that, if we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and also – Christ is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world (asserting the certainty of our redemption) could there be some “real dangerous wrath”.

    David: Because Paul says “even as the rest are.” For example, for our sin, we are really damnable. God could damn us and justly so. You have to think on two levels. On the level of sin, we are damnable. On the level of election we cannot fail to be saved.

    You say: God would have been good to kill me a thousand times over before he revealed himself to me, but he didn’t for his own glories sake.

    David: Better, God could have killed you a 1000 times over. Hence you were really subject to dangerous wrath.

    You say: Justin also wrote that “repentance and faith are gifts of the Holy Spirit”. Is that what you think too? I think that is where you are at too David, but you write – “For us [moderate calvinists], tho, the application is conditional; faith.” Isn’t that a condition that God meets by giving us faith (yes we exercise it, but that shows we have been given a living faith).

    David: Yes.

    Hope that helps and thanks.

    David

  18. Hey Jamison,

    I am trying to figure out what you are saying here.

    Jamison says:
    July 21, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Now this is the crux for me. You need to make the connection that God has pushed away the wrath of all people. First Rom 3:21-25. Follow the pronouns!

    The first pronoun or group is “all who believe”, then the pronouns do not change through the entire passage. All are either Jew or Gentile, all have fallen short and Jesus shed his blood for all these who believe. Not once does it change to everyone without distinction. So you need to walk through the text and prove that it does, because I don’t see that.

    David: The text is: Romans 3:21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

    David: So are you saying that when Paul says “all have sinned” he meant only all who have believed? If you are, then you should know that its probably the case that no academic commentary would support that reading. The same holds for the standards in Reformed theology. On the assumption that Paul means all, as in all Jews and all Gentiles, have sinned, the following remarks follow naturally, that the sacrifice of propitiation was a public display and work. That Paul means to broaden the “all” there to all men without exception fits best with the whole narrative.

    That aside.

    You say: Likewise Hebrews 2:17 simply says:
    17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

    David: When it verses like this speak of propitiation they most probably point back to the sacrifice of propitiation.

    Jamison: So how does this prove your point? My point is that the High Priest only makes atonement for the people of God. Either Israel in OT or the Church in NT. The Amalekite does not receive either the covering in the OT, nor does God extend the promise from the future fulfillment.

    David: I guess I would say let’s assume that “the people” means the church, the body of Christ. Then a statement that says Christ makes a sacrifice of expiation for the people of God, means exactly that. What you would need to prove is that the term “people” means something other than the body of God, believers, etc, and that the sacrifice was *only* made for this other group.

    It seems like a small point, but it is important in that the point is that because an expiation has been obtained for you, and me, for all the people of God, we can be assured that upon coming, Christ will not only intercede for us, but finally and completely save us.

    Jamison: I go with the generic interpretation of 1 John 2:2. The whole world being “all elect in the world yet and not yet brought to salvation”.

    David: The problem is, John does not use “kosmos”in this manner in 1John, or even in John. Kosmos John means the apostate world mankind in opposition to God and his Church. And the only other instance of “holos kosmos” is in 1 Jn 5:19 where it has this exact meaning. On what textual grounds could you argue that world in 1 Jn 2:2 means the elect in the world, who have been brought to salvation? And as Dabney suggests, that would imply redundancy, because its already covered by the “our” in the verse.

    Jamison: I believe this can be justified by looking at the other generic statements in the context. Are you going to argue that anyone that breaks a commandment while claiming they are a christian is a false brother? (1 John 2:4) Or that anyone that struggles with a worldly love for a time is a false brother? (1 John 2:15) I would point you to anyone who has a sport obsession or watches too much T.V.

    David: I am not sure why you posit these questions. For John its all about the seed of faith which he opposed to those who habitually sin. But by sin he means those who continue to live in and abide in sin. He sets out some contrasts, 1 Jn 1:18, 1 John 3:4 especially: Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. David: here the translation is trying to capture the import, the constant sinner. 1 Jn 3:8-9.

    So there is a distinction between someone who sins, as in 1 Jn 5:16 and the practicing or habitual sinner. John is trying to set out two ways of live, one characterized by love, one characterized by sin. So for sure, one who “struggles” the operative word with sin is not automatically disqualified from being a brother. Indeed, if that were the case then we would all have to say our brothers are those who have no sin: If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

    World for John denotes, then, the world outside of the church and opposed to God. It is characterized by its opposition to God and his people. On this check out some modern commentaries as this is now the general direction in modern academic scholarship.

    Hope that helps.
    David

    • Thanks for the reply David.
      In terms of Rom 3:21-25 I think Paul has made abundantly clear that all have sinned in various ways so that’s not an issue for me. It talks throughout the passage with language that seems related to believers, but I could see how it could mean what you say. Even so, I still don’t think how you have explained it supports the thesis, which is “God pushes away wrath from all people”.

      In terms of Heb 2:17, you may have mis-typed, because it looks like you are repeating my argument to me. 🙂
      quote:
      David: I guess I would say let’s assume that “the people” means the church, the body of Christ. Then a statement that says Christ makes a sacrifice of expiation for the people of God, means exactly that. What you would need to prove is that the term “people” means something other than the body of God, believers, etc, and that the sacrifice was *only* made for this other group.

      I believe that “people” means the elect. But in order to support the thesis, it would need to mean other people that are not elect. So this is something that Justin has to prove.

  19. Hey Jamison,

    I think I see where and how you are thinking on some of this.

    Simplest
    short answer is perhaps read this essay by a friend of mine: http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=12652

    The nutshell is that an indefinite pronoun does not need to be limited by a previous pronoun.

    Cut cut

    You quote 1 Peter 3:9: but is patient toward YOU, not wishing for any – [any of who? any of YOU] to perish but for all – [all of who? all of YOU] to come to repentance.

    David: sorta redundant tho, cos the “you” by your terms are already saved. But simply. the indefinite pronoun is not limited by the presence of previous second person pronouns.

    Jamison: Emphasis to show my point. Look at the context of the passage. Peter is talking time periods here. Why aren’t all believers teleported into heaven the moment that they believe? It’s because the salvation of God’s people happens through and in time! God uses people to preach the gospel through time to save other believers, but it’s not as through He is slow, it’s that he is being patient towards humankind till the day the full number of God’s elect are saved. And thank the Lord! If he wasn’t patient I don’t think this evil world would have lasted 2000 years and we would never have been born!

    David: But there is the equivocation. You have to think about this carefully. Peter is writing to Christians, in Asia Minor,Christians called elect (he is not to the elect as whole). That is the group to whom the letter is addressed. If you want to say something like the second person pronouns are limited to the addressees in the epistle, then don’t suddenly convert the subjects of the pronouns to another group called the elect, ie the class of elect.

    Remember, elect as a class includes living, not-yet-living, dead, believing and not-yet believing members. The epistle is not written to the elect as a class, but the believing elect in Asia Minor. So if the addressees limits the pronouns, then it must do so consistently.

    In other words, this would inconsistent given the claim about the audience: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you [the believing addressees], not wishing for any [the elect] to perish but for all [the elect] to come to repentance.

    You have to be consistent. If “any” is delimited by the previous pronoun, then its any of you believers. If “all” is also delimited by the previous pronoun, then its all of you believers.

    But given that “any” is perfectly indefinite, it is not instantly limited by the previous second person pronoun. Rather, Peter is expanding the scope, going beyond the “you”, and then even further saying “all”. Now all talk that such pronouns must be limited to audience of the epistle breaks its own rule as soon as it branches out into terms like elect as a class.

    Cut

    Jamison: I would still ask my question, WHY would Christ suffer the wrath of God on the cross for those He is not saving? Notice I said WHY.

    David: At the first level that is given as a rhetorical question. Let me match one rhetorical question with another: Why not, why must it not be possible that Christ could suffer for the sins of all men?

    Keep in mind, we do not have exhaustive access to all of God’s reasons and motivations. Also, why not so that he could sincerely offer forgiveness to all men?

    Like this, on the terms of limited satisfaction, only the sins imputed to Christ are forgivable. Right? That so then this follows:

    1) Only those sins imputed to Christ are forgivable.
    2) Only the sins of the elect are imputed to Christ.
    3) Therefore only the sins of the elect are forgivable.

    So on the terms of limited satisfaction, how could Christ sincerely offer to forgive the sins of the non-elect?

    Jamison: I believe that Christ could redeem everyone if He wanted. His blood is completely and utterly sufficient for that task. The reason why it doesn’t is because as High Priest He is not making atonement for everyone.

    David: He could only redeem all men NOW hypothetically, because in this space and time, only the sins of the elect were reckoned to Christ (Christ can only die once). Only their sins are forgivable. That being so, only they are redeemable. All you could say is that it could have been otherwise: had Christ suffered for the sins of all men, then all men would have been redeemable. But given that Christ did not suffer for the sins of all men, therefore, not all men are forgivable and so not all men are redeemable.

    Think about the syllogism I’ve tabled and it should become clear to you whats going on.

    David.

    • In terms of 2 Peter 3:9, you definitely see my flow, because it is the same as James White’s argument. I read your post you provided, and it was pretty good. The question “why does all/any need to modify the antecedent” is a good one and I would like to see James address it. It might flow from a Greek construction. He reads and understands the original language so there might be something more there. I would like to see him prove it of course. Perhaps I could track it down the response he made that you mention in your post.
      In terms of the indefinite pronoun, I don’t see the issue. I refer the “YOU” as an indefinite pronoun, that is, the elect “beloved” that Peter addresses, likewise I don’t limit it to the church that first received the letter because I always thought of the letters of Paul, Peter and the rest of the apostles being copied and distributed to all believers. Paul addresses many letters in terms like …”To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia…” (2 Cor 1:1). First local, but not limited to local. I might be wrong on this, but I don’t think its a stretch. The textual history shows the letters were copied much and quickly (this from my reading of The King James Only Controversy). So I believe I am being consistent with the use of pronouns.
      In terms of the syllogism, I don’t see the issue here either. I asked the question of “why” because the unification of the Trinity seems to being in redeeming a particular people for the glory of God. It doesn’t make sense to me logically, that the Son would suffer the wrath of the Father for sins he knows he will not forgive. That’s why I asked the question.
      The rhetorical you asked confuses me, are you saying that by making the “general call of the gospel” somehow there exists a promise to unbelievers that God would forgive their sins if they repent? Well if that is your question, I guess the answer is “yes”, but since God regenerates hearts in the first place I would place that under revealed vs decreed will. To summarize my somewhat scatted thought; God sincerely makes a general call, at the same time knowing He will only redeem a particular people.

      Thanks for your response. I will think on what you said.

  20. Hey Jamison

    You say:
    In terms of Rom 3:21-25 I think Paul has made abundantly clear that all have sinned in various ways so that’s not an issue for me.

    David: But it is an issue here. If the “for all have sinned” only refers to believers, a lot standard historic interpretation of Paul is overturned right then and there.

    Jamison: It talks throughout the passage with language that seems related to believers,

    David: Well in the context Paul is rebuking Jews and then Gentiles. And in 3:9, he begins a discourse delineating that all men either as Jews or Gentiles are sinners.

    When he comes to v22 “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” he is not actually changing his target audience. What he is doing is this, first he condemns the Jews, then he condemns the Gentiles, and then he condemns both together as the represent the sum of all men vs10-18, and then a little later he comes to this line: ““even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” he is saying that Christ is the way to obtain righteousness is through faith, not of your own law-keeping, etc. He is still talking to the same groups, namely all of us, but he telling us all that if we want to have true righteousness that can only be by way of Christ. And thats why he drives him, all have sinned.

    Sincerely, I would encourage you to grab a good academic commentary and work through it.

    Jamison: but I could see how it could mean what you say. Even so, I still don’t think how you have explained it supports the thesis, which is “God pushes away wrath from all people”.

    David: Well as I said, that may be not be the best language. Push off as in made satisfaction for sin.

    Jamison: I believe that “people” means the elect. But in order to support the thesis, it would need to mean other people that are not elect. So this is something that Justin has to prove.

    David: In the OT, what did the phrase “the people” mean? Most likely it meant the people of God. In the NT it means the body of Christ. What evidence do you have that it means elect? One cannot just assume it.

    Keep in mind, there are elect who shall become The People, and there are The people who are elect. One cannot just swap those out. The elect as a class denotes all elect who lived and so are now dead, non-existent future elect, who have yet to live, and the living unbelieving elect who have yet to be converted, and the believing converted elect.

    If it means the people of God as believers, which is the normal biblical meaning, then there is no argument here for limited satisfaction. So I would like to know on what basis would argue that its the elect as a class?

    Thanks for your time,
    David

  21. Hey Jamison

    This is long, take your time to wade through it.

    You say: In terms of 2 Peter 3:9, you definitely see my flow, because it is the same as James White’s argument.

    David: Well its not James White’s argument specifically, it predates him. White just makes it worse when he says things like it’s a hermeneutical *rule* that indefinite pronouns are limited to the addressees of the latter, or whatever he exactly says. I know he has used the idea that its some sort of law of exegesis. But that is just so not correct. Grab any standard work on Hermeneutics.

    For further reading see my friend Tony’s essay on this: http://theologicalmeditations.blogspot.com/2006/04/2-peter-39-and-letterhead-argument.html

    Tony works through the possible and viable senses of “you” and “us” etc. If what I say below confuses, try reading Tony’s essay first as it should clarify what I am talking about.

    Jamison: I read your post you provided, and it was pretty good. The question “why does all/any need to modify the antecedent” is a good one and I would like to see James address it. It might flow from a Greek construction. He reads and understands the original language so there might be something more there. I would like to see him prove it of course. Perhaps I could track it down the response he made that you mention in your post.

    David: There is nothing in the syntax to indicate such a delimitation; that is, that says the indefinite pronouns must refer to the “you” or the addressees. Paul does this sort of thing elsewhere.

    Romans 14:10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, *every* knee shall bow to Me, And *every* tongue shall give praise to God.” 12 So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.

    David: So let’s ally the so-called “rule”. The Greek for “every” is “pass” (in 2 Peter 3:9 it’s the cognate “pantas”). If the rule was true we would have to think that “every” refers to his Christian Roman audience, and so Paul is saying, he and they, to the exclusion of non-Christian Romans, will have to bow the knee some day. Right?

    But that would be clearly wrong. For example, in a verse earlier: Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

    And in Phil: 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.

    Paul is easily able to move back and forth in a given text. Now anyone who really really tried to insist that the bowing in Romans 14 or in Phil 2 only respected the believers, or the elect, on the basis of this alleged “rule” should never be taken seriously.

    See the point?

    Jamison: In terms of the indefinite pronoun, I don’t see the issue. I refer the “YOU” as an indefinite pronoun, that is, the elect “beloved” that Peter addresses,

    David: But “you” is *not* an INdefinite pronoun, Jamison. It is second person, specific. Like this: “I brought YOU lunch today” is not indefinite. Even tho the Greek is a plural ‘you’ like “you all” its still not indefinite. “I brought *you all* lunch today.

    Secondly, the you cant refer to the elect as a class: he says in 2 Peter 1:1: “2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have *received* a *faith* of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

    Further: Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 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: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

    David: He writes his letter to believes in Asia-Minor who are elect, and have been sanctified, etc.

    He is not writing to unbelieving and non-existing elect, who have yet to be saved. He is not writing to the elect as a class, but to believers who have been elected. Believing elect is a sub-set of elect.

    So the “you” if delimited by the letter-header means you believers. However, it may be that “you” refers to all his possible readers there, the scoffers, those who do not endure to the end, and the true believers.

    Like this, go through the Peter epistles and spot all the critical instances of “you” (along with we and us) and ask yourself, is he speaking to believers or to the elect as a complete class? Here is an example: Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

    David: None of these predications can be properly and actually applied to the elect as a class, but only to believers who have been elected. Like I said, browse through Peter and see if you can make sense of critical passages if the “you” and the subjects of the predications represents the elect as a class.

    Jamison: likewise I don’t limit it to the church that first received the letter because I always thought of the letters of Paul, Peter and the rest of the apostles being copied and distributed to all believers.

    David: Sure. So instantly you are breaking the “law” that says pronouns are limited to the addressees of the latter. You are already “expanding” the scope of the indefinite pronouns beyond the scope of the original audience. So while the “you” may be the actual audience, the “any” and “all” could be an entirely different quantitative group.

    Jamison: Paul addresses many letters in terms like …”To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia…” (2 Cor 1:1). First local, but not limited to local. I might be wrong on this, but I don’t think its a stretch. The textual history shows the letters were copied much and quickly (this from my reading of The King James Only Controversy). So I believe I am being consistent with the use of pronouns.

    David: Sure. And each of us, as we are believers, are warranted to take all the predications (statements about something) referring the original believer-audience and apply them to ourselves. Exactly so. However, there is no “rule” or reason why “any” and “all” must be limited to the audience or even to believers. What determines that is one’s wider theology, not the so-called “rule” White proposes.

    Jamison: In terms of the syllogism, I don’t see the issue here either. I asked the question of “why” because the unification of the Trinity seems to being in redeeming a particular people for the glory of God.

    David: Well the Trinity first. Sure, the Trinity is unified in the plan of salvation. Do you believe in common grace? If so, is there any intra-Trinitarian conflict there? God gives saving grace (disposition of favour) to the elect alone, but general to all men?

    What about General Love, do you believe that God expresses a general non-electing love towards all men? If so, there is no conflict: God loves some alone with an electing love, others with a non-electing love.

    The secret and revealed will. Do you believe that God wills and expresses a desire for the salvation of all men by the revealed will, and yet also only wills and desires to save the elect alone by secret will? If so, there is no intra-trinitarian conflict.

    And so, the whole Trinity determines to elect some to life and to pass by others (reprobation). And whole Trinity determines that Christ be born, live and die so that he may sustain a general and particular redemption/expiation, and the whole Trinity determines that the Spirit shall effectually call the elect; etc etc.

    Jamison: It doesn’t make sense to me logically, that the Son would suffer the wrath of the Father for sins he knows he will not forgive.

    David: What’s illogical about it?

    Keep in mind, logic refers to laws of inference. There no problem with the standard laws of inference. So you probably mean something like this: it does not make sense to you. Well sure, I can see that, but that does not make it wrong. The Trinity does not make sense to a unitarian, but that’s not sound criteria to reject the Trinity. Right?

    Jamison: The rhetorical you asked confuses me, are you saying that by making the “general call of the gospel” somehow there exists a promise to unbelievers that God would forgive their sins if they repent?

    David: No, I just inverted yours: here it is: Why not, why must it not be possible that Christ could suffer for the sins of all men? In other words, why cant Christ suffer for the sins of all men?

    Cut cut

    Thanks,
    David.

  22. Q: Did Jesus Die for Every Person?
    A: Yes He did.

    Q: But how, if all are not saved?
    Would you like the short answer or long?

  23. Hi Paul,
    Good point (ouch!), for indeed questions can be used as a tool of rhetoric, as well as to draw one into a conversation, or to control it as with a “leading question”. In fact the Gospels record many of the like that were posed to our Lord. Is it not so?

    That said, we also know concerning this salvation (the mechanics of God’s Way), that the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to us, searched intently and with the greatest care. Even angels long to look into these things.

    As such, it seems best that before I should draw a conclusion, I should first “hear the man in order to find out what he has been doing?” So then if this opening question is rhetorical and/or he desires to come together to intently look into these things (as, in his closing appeal: “Please, let us discuss.” then it may be made known by his response (or lack thereof).

    Thank you,
    Don

  24. Hi Justin,
    As months roll on approaching a year, I have often wondered, rather than having asked you: “Would you like the short answer or long?” (which may have seemed akin to, “wash yourself seven times in the Jordan…”), had I asked you something great (that is, theologically profound), would your have responded.
    Be that as it may, If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land. So say not, “This bone (that it, this blog) is dried up, its hope is lost, and it is cut off.” Rather, hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is abundant redemption.
    Thank you,
    Don

  25. Thanks, Don. I have not been writing online for a year because of profound writer’s block. I am deeply overwhelmed with all of the difficult dimensions of Christianity as it is applied to the real world, and I often wonder if my voice is of any value in a sea of bickering and slick marketing. I feel like a drowned man.

    Yet your encouragement is sweet. Thank you. Perhaps I will begin again to blog some more.

  26. Jonah, Jonah! Oh, would that the Lord grant me to drown also as you have spoken. For people who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own– a heavenly homeland. Therefore, now, go in peace; your faith has healed you. Amen.

  27. Hi Paul,
    Long or short, let us know and understand that, to Justin, David Ponter and Michael Horton are his own friend and the friend of his father’s–whom he should not forsake, indeed. But, in this day of calamity, are you and I (though not kin–that is, of this fold), nonetheless neighbors, and therefore better than a brother’s house far off?
    Thank you,
    Don

  28. Hi David,
    I think myself happy that I may give an account of myself before you this day, especially because you are especially knowledgeable of all customs and questions which are among the Jews (that is, those who is so inwardly). Therefore, I beg you to bear with me patiently.
    I will also ask you one question. If it pleases you to answer me, I will then give some commentary on the above. Death’s reign from Adam till Moses (that is, “the command having come”)—what was its nature? Was it spiritual, or corporal?
    Thank you,
    Don

  29. Indeed, is not this a response worthy to be answered in like measure (lest we be wise in our own eyes)? And all the more because Jesus (who chooses the foolish things to shame the wise) does look at us and does love us. Yet, one thing is still lacking .

    Repentance, David. Repentance is the answer to why Paul could say that man is alive (be if from Adam to Moses, or from Moses till now for that matter) apart from the law; but when the commandment comes, sin springs to life and we are killed. Therefore there are now those who, crucified with Christ, no longer live (in death), since (in dying) Life lives in them.

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