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by Jerry Dodson, Sr.
Please consider the subject of Particular Redemption. I am a Particular Baptist. By that I mean that I believe in a "limited atonement;" that Christ's atonement at Calvary was for a particular people. Perhaps one might think, "aren't you a bit arrogant, preacher, to believe that God saved you and didn't save others?" No, not at all. In fact I am humbled to know that God would even save a wretch like me.
Limited atonement is the most difficult of the five points of the doctrine of grace to embrace. There are those who profess to believe in the Sovereignty of God and the doctrine of His Sovereign Grace, who often shy away from this most precious and God honoring truth. Such will argue, "did not God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life?" What about 1 John 2:2 that says, "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Such will also call attention to 2 Peter 3:9 and say, "see here, God is not willing that any man should perish." They contend that we can't honestly and with sincerity present the gospel to the world at large unless we are convinced God really desires the salvation of all men equally.
Yet they fail to take the context of such passages into careful consideration, and doing so would reveal quite the opposite. For example, Jesus, in His discourse with Nicodemus, was talking to a religious Pharisee that believed salvation was only for the Jews. Jesus was telling Him not only was salvation a work of the Spirit of God, but that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son. He was not speaking of the world without exception, but the world without distinction. God would save both Jews and Gentiles. He would save a people out of every nation, kindred and tribe. The Context of 2 Peter 3:1-10 is centered around God's judgement and those who took it lightly, saying, "Where is it? Things will be just like they have always been." Peter is saying that God is not slack in his promise of divine judgement. He is longsuffering to "usward," speaking about the elect of God, not wishing that any should perish. The context limits itself to a specific people.
Scripture itself seems to go out of its way to declare a limited atonement
Matthew 1:21, And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save HIS people from THEIR sins.
John 10:11, I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for THE SHEEP.
Galatians 1:4, Who gave himself for OUR sins, that he might deliver US from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
Galatians 3:13, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for US: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Hebrews 9:28, So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of MANY and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
I would that you also pay close attention to Jesus' High Priestly prayer in the Garden just prior to His arrest and subsequent crucifixion.
John 17:6, I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. 11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
John 17:14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
John 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
Notice the distinction that Jesus made between those whom the Father had given Him and the world. He spoke of those whom the Father had given him "out of the world." They were the Fathersí before He gave them to Christ. He gave them to His Son before they were redeemed. What belonged to the Father belonged to the Son. Christ made it clear that the world hated them. Who? Those the Father had given to the Son. Why? Because those whom the Father had given to the Son out of the world were not of this world. Did He not make a distinction? "I pray not for the world" He said, but "I pray for them." Who? Those whom the Father had given to Christ. "I pray not for these alone," he said. He is speaking of the eleven disciples for Judas had been separated from the group. "I PRAY NOT FOR THESE ALONE, BUT FOR THEM ALSO WHICH SHALL BELIEVE THROUGH THEIR WORD." That was a reference to the WORD OF GOD.
Again I ask you, does not our Lord, Himself, make a distinction between the world at large and a particular company of people? Does that not speak of an atonement that is limited to a particular people?
We see it in types and figures
Did not God call Abraham out of paganism? According to Joshua 24:2, Abraham's father, Terah, worshipped other gods. Yet God was pleased to make His unconditional covenant with Abraham, who was like all the rest. Though Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, did not God also limit the atonement when He said, "through Isaac shall thy seed be called," Genesis 21:12. Was not that promise limited to the descendants of Jacob and not Esau? AGAIN WE SEE IT WHEN GOD DELIVERED HIS PEOPLE FROM EGYPTIAN BONDAGE ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT HE HAD MADE WITH ABRAHAM.
The Passover lamb was for a specific people. It was not intended for the whole land of Egypt which is a symbol and picture of the world. It was intended for God's chosen people. When divine judgment passed over the whole land of Egypt on the night of the Passover, God saw the blood of the sacrificed lamb, and redeemed His people from that judgement. They were sinners just like the Egyptians. They too had broken the Law of God but God had put a difference between the Egyptians and the Israelites. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission, Hebrews 9:22. AGAIN WE SEE THAT ATONEMENT IS LIMITED TO A PARTICULAR PEOPLE.
All the sacrifices offered upon Jewish altars were types and figures of Christ. There at that Jewish altar, a sacrifice without spot or blemish was placed. The offerer would place his hands upon the victim's head. The word conveys the idea of leaning heavily upon the sacrifice as if to place weight upon the victim, signifying the weight of personal sin. With the other hand a sharp knife was taken and the throat of the victim was cut. Blood was being shed and as the offerer stood there by the altar with his hands pressing heavily upon the victim, he could sense life leaving his sacrifice until finally there was no life at all. Then he knew that it symbolized a transferring of his sins to an innocent victim. He knew that sacrifice was his substitute; dying in his place and bearing his judgement. He knew as well that the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins or else there would have been no further need to continue offering them, Hebrews 10:1-3. THE OFFERER LOOKED AHEAD TO THE TIME WHEN MESSIAH WOULD HIMSELF COME BEARING THE SINS OF HIS PEOPLE ONCE AND FOR ALL.
Was Christ Victorious At Calvary?
We often sing the song "Victory in Jesus." The chorus to that song goes like this, "O VICTORY IN JESUS, MY SAVIOUR FOREVER. HE SOUGHT ME AND BOUGHT ME, WITH HIS REDEEMING BLOOD. HE LOVED ME ERE I KNEW HIM AND ALL MY LOVE IS DUE HIM. HE PLUNGED ME TO VICTORY, BENEATH THE CLEANSING FLOOD." Question? What kind of victory would it be if the vast majority of whom Christ died for suffered eternal punishment in hell? If what the Arminians say is true, and God intended the atonement of Christ at Calvary to be unlimited, it would of necessity follow that untold millions for whom Christ died would be eternally damned. If Christ died for all, paying every man's sin debt, then God is either unwilling to make Christ's death sufficient to save every man or is unable to do so.
THIS POSES ANOTHER MATTER TO BE CONSIDERED. If Christ paid sins debt for every man, yet the unbelieving are to be judged and condemned to eternal damnation according to scripture, the law of God is being satisfied twice. First, at the hand of Christ at Calvary, then at the hand of each individual to be condemned on judgement day. In other words, payment for sin will be made twice. WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURE? When sin's debt was paid, the debt was cancelled. There remained nothing else to pay. That is why Christ cried out "it is finished" before He died at Calvary.
There remains another matter to be considered. If Christ purchased the redemption of every person and if just one for whom Christ died entered into the portals of hell, then Christ has failed to accomplish his purpose and His death at Calvary failed. Consider the words spoken by Isaiah the Prophet.
Isaiah 53:10, "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities."
Please note that God was pleased to bruise Him. That literally means to crush him. That word is written in what is known as the "piel" stem in Hebrew grammar. This is of great significance because the "piel" stem is the most descriptive of all the "Hebrew stems". One might say, he broke it but if it is written in the "piel" stem it would convey that be broke it indeed, but he broke it by smashing it to pieces. Isaiah said that it pleased God to smash him to the uttermost; to the highest degree possible under the weight of our sin. He put Christ to grief when He made His soul an offering for sin and He shall see the travail of His soul, whether speaking from the Father's vantage point or that of the Son, the result is the same. HE SHALL SEE THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL AND SHALL BE SATISFIED.
God was satisfied with what took place at Calvary. The Son was not disappointed with the outcome. The atoning Death of Christ accomplished exactly what God intended, nothing more or nothing less. That is why Christ said "it is finished" just prior to his death. That phrase is translated from the Greek word "tetelestai." In that day, a man's debt was recorded on a clay tablet. When the debt had been paid...the word "tetelestai" was inscribed upon it, it is finished; paid in full; not to be collected again.
THE ACID TEST CONCERNING THE MATTER OF A LIMITED AND PARTICULAR REDEMPTION is centered around two very important considerations.First, FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE? Was His atoning death limited to a particular people or did He die in the place of every person in the world without exception? Second, WHAT WAS GOD'S INTENTION AND DID CALVARY BRING ABOUT GOD'S PURPOSE? Did the death of Christ merely make salvation possible or did it accomplish something specifically, and if it did, what? First, consider why Christ came into the world as a man. 1 Timothy 1:15 says that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Our Lord spoke three parables in the fifteenth chapter of Luke's Gospel to illustrate this truth. He came to seek and save that which was lost. In the fourth verse, He spoke of a man having 100 sheep, and having lost one, he left the ninety and nine to seek the one which was lost until He found it. When he found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. In the eighth verse, we see a woman, who having ten coins, lost one and searched diligently until she found it. There was again rejoicing when that which was lost was found. Finally, in the eleventh verse, a certain man had two sons. The younger demanded his inheritance and went into a far country and wasted it on riotous living. Again, we see that which was lost, found, and again there was rejoicing.
The writer of Hebrews better helps us to understand this most important truth.
Hebrews 10:6, "In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come in the volume of the book it is written of me, to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
We see that Christ came into the world to do the will of God who sent Him. What was God's will for Christ? To save sinners one might say. Indeed that is true, but as we have already seen, He came to save a particular people.
John 6:38, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
So here, we see clearly that the Fathersí will concerning Christ coming into the world, to provide an atonement for those whom the Father had given Him through the offering of His own body once for all. This is a clear reference to all that the Father has given Him. HE DECLARED EVERYONE GIVEN TO HIM WOULD BE RAISED UP IN THE LAST DAY, SPEAKING OF THE RESURRECTION of the SAINTS.
WELL, FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE? We have already seen that He shall save His People from their sins, Matthew 1:21. HE GIVETH HIS LIFE FOR THE SHEEP, John 10:11. He justified many for He shall bear their iniquities, Isaiah 53:11. It is interesting that Christ, when He said in Luke fifteen, that the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost; and that which was found was something which was already his. The shepherd had 100 sheep. He left the ninety and nine to find that which was already His. The coin was already His. The son already belonged to the father, else he would not have been a son.
Christ came with a specific objective in view. To offer Himself as a lamb for a burnt offering; to die a substitutionary death in the place of everyone whom the Father had given Him. This was illustrated when Abraham took Isaac unto the mountain to offer him as a sacrifice for a burnt offering unto the Lord.
Genesis 22:7, And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here [am] I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where [is] the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
Genesis 22:13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind [him] a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
Remember that through Isaac shall Abraham's seed be called. That Ram was a type and figure of Christ who died in Isaac's stead and we who are numbered among the elect people of God, being called through Isaac, likewise are saved by the substitutionary death of Christ. He satisfied the law for the elect of God. He paid sins debt for that same people and in the last day that people would be raised up.
What did Christ's death accomplish? Did it make salvation merely possible or did it make salvation certain. What saith the scripture?
John 6:37, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
Romans 8:29, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who [can be] against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Notice, all that the Father "giveth me shall come" to me. He did not say they might come, or I hope they come. Never! There is a certainty here. Jesus said that nothing shall be lost. Not a one shall fail to be saved. HE WILL SEEK AND SAVE THAT WHICH IS HIS. Everyone which the Father knew before the world was made was given to the Son; predestinated to be conformed to His image. Everyone He predestinated was called. Everyone that was called shall be justified. He that is justified shall be glorified. There is a certainty here!
This is not a popular teaching. It is a most misunderstood doctrine. Yet We, who do understand it and believe it, rejoice in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. This precious truth like all the other points of the doctrine of grace honors God but puts man in the dust of the ground where he belongs. To imagine that God would save any of us is indeed "amazing grace."
Christ knows who belongs to Him. He knows where they are and in due time they will hear His voice and come to Him according to the scripture. NOT ONE OF THEM WILL REMAIN LOST. NOT ONE OF THE ELECT OF GOD, WHOM WERE GIVEN TO THE SON SHALL PERISH, FOR CHRIST FINISHED THE WORK THE FATHER HAD GIVEN HIM TO DO AT CALVARY. He shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied. The Father is satisfied with what took place at Calvary. The Son is satisfied with His work at Calvary. Indeed God knows His own. He has called us with an effectual calling that always brings about His desired effect. He has commissioned His church to preach HIS gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe. WE DO NOT KNOW WHO ARE NUMBERED AMONG THE ELECT OF GOD. WE PREACH THE GOSPEL TO ALL MEN BELIEVING THAT WHEN IT PLEASES GOD, THE SHEEP WILL HEAR THE VOICE OF THE SHEPHERD AND WILL COME TO HIM THROUGH FAITH.
Dear sinner, this doctrine should cause the fear of God to reign in your heart; to know that there is absolutely nothing you can do to be saved. God will receive nothing from you and except God have mercy upon you; except Christ died for you, there is no hope of eternal redemption. But dear friend, herein is hope, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. The real issue is, did He die in your place; bearing your guilt and sin; taking your just punishment upon Himself. Did He pay your sin's debt at Calvary? Is there a conviction of sin in your heart? Has God given you an awareness of your present condition? Do you see Christ as your only refuge and safety from divine wrath? If these things are true, it could very well be that the Father is drawing you to the Son. Flee to Christ for safety, believing that He will save you from your sins. Jesus said that he who comes to him, He will in no wise cast out. You must come to Him in Faith. Has he given you faith to trust in His Son? Let him who hath ears to hear, listen.
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