Atonement Sufficiency Examined
by Oscar B. Mink (1924-2004)
(Romans 5:11), "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."
Voluminous are the writings of sovereign grace advocates under the
heading of limited atonement or particular redemption, and this is as it
should be; for in this great truth, God’s attributes of omnipotence and
omniscience are gloriously manifested. There is near to perfect accord
in the school of sovereign
grace as to the salvational
effectuality of the atonement, but there is at the same time a
disconcerting measure of discord in the ranks of sovereign grace
believers as to the extent of the sufficiency of the atonement. Was
Christ’s expiatory sacrifice sufficient to remit the sins of mankind, or
was it restricted in atonement sufficiency to those chosen of God from
the Adamic race? This question poses a dark enigma to many, and has been
the basis of much debate throughout the history of Christendom.
Nevertheless, our feeble efforts in this treatise shall be expended in
an attempt to magnify the truth as relates to the question. If by
God’s grace our endeavor is rewarded with a small token of success, a
measure of darkness will be lifted from the question and our efforts
brethren whom I esteem very highly, and whose friendship I am determined
to keep in constant repair, espouse what I consider an unorthodox view
of the sufficiency of the atonement; namely, atonement sufficiency is
equal in extent to human evil, but not in intent. This view is commonly
referred to by theological scholars, as, the sufficiency-efficiency view
of the atonement, and is today, by far, the most popular view being
propagated by Calvinists and Baptist. However, there are today among
God’s elect people, as there have always been, and shall ever be, a
large and concerned number who take a more conservative view of the
atonement of Christ; that view being, all that was wrought in and by
the atonement was and is
limited to the elect of God. This view magnifies the Majesty of God more
than the other, for in it there is no undersigned sufficiency.
position on atonement sufficiency, which I contend is the Scriptural
one, and which I purpose to defend in this writing, can in brief be
described thusly: Atonement sufficiency and efficacy are equal in extent
and application. This position, some would say, "Allows for
deficiency in God, in that He was notable to provide a sufficiency
adequate to the Adamic transgression." Inability and deficiency are
incongruous to the nature of God, for with Him all things are possible,
and they who would charge us with teaching that God’s throne has a dim
shade of insufficiency over it need to learn that it is the "design" of
atonement sufficiency we are concerned with; and that the sovereignty of
has never been questioned by New Testament Baptists. The deficiency in
sufficiency supposition is an absurdity that needs no further refutation
I will strive vigorously for Scriptural accuracy in this treatise, but it is needful to be understood by all, that the ultimate literary skills this side of Divine inspiration can, only with so great a theme, develop an abstraction of it. However, an abstraction can be more than the sharing of theory. It can be and should be an enlargement of face, and this is my aim, and by divine enablement, the end which shall be accomplished. So, let us embark henceforth.
the purpose of this treatise, as stated above, the following three
sub-headings are prescribed:
In introducing this point, I will set down a maxim, i.e., God is the only absolute infinity. Therefore, all things are subject to metamorphosis or transformation except the essential glory of God. God’s essential glory is not capable of more or less. Addition and diminution have to do with God’s manifestive glory, and not with that glory which is inherent in His nature. All of creation is sovereignly appointed to serve God’s intrinsic glory, but some things of creation are designed by Him to declare or display a greater manifestation of His glory than are some others.3. The design and sufficiency of Christ’s atoning love is limited to the elect of God (Jeremiah 31:3 ; John 17:23 ; Romans 9:13).
stars of heaven are an infinite host, but God knows "the
number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names" (Psalms
147:4). The universe is an infinity, but to the dismay of the
pantheists, it is not the absolute infinity; for only God is omnipresent
and nondimensional. Atonement efficiency and sufficiency
are infinite, but both are
limited in design by the covenant of redemption (Hebrews 13:20).
This covenant knows nothing of sufficient grace that does not suffice.
the eternal covenant God decreed to save a number of Adam’s fallen
posterity by the vicarious sufferings of Christ, and the rest He left in
their sins to their just condemnation. Seeing that this covenant is
eternal, that there can be no new thought with God, and what He does He
always determined to do; I ask, Why would God make Christ’s atonement
sufficient for those whom He had already passed over in the covenant of
eternal favor? What is the purpose of a sufficiency beyond that of
Divine satisfaction? The design of the sacrifice of Christ was to
reconcile the elect unto God, and the sufficiency of that glorious and
infinite sacrifice was limited to that infinite sum, beloved of the
Father and given to the Son in the covenant of redemption.
value of the blood of Christ is not diminished by what it does not do.
It did not procure repentance and faith for all men, it did not stay the
retributive justice of God against the non-elect, and it did not provide
salvational sufficiency for all men. The preciousness of the work of the
Holy Spirit is not lessened because He does not once convict the
non-elect of their sins, and does nothing to alter their hatred of God,
but leaves them in their utter rebellion against all that is holy, just,
and good, which culminates in their eternal suffering.
is the value of the blood of Christ? Surely, no redeemed person
would say it is less than infinite, but it borders on Arminianism to
contend that the blood of Christ sufficiently atoned for the sins of
mankind. The blood of Christ cannot be overvalued, but in the thinking
of finite creatures, its value can be misapplied; and this is precisely
what the universal sufficiency theory does. The atonement of Christ
cannot be denuded of any of its parts, and neither can it be made to
bear more than what omniscience designed for it to bear.
blood of Christ was shed to satisfy the just demands of the law brought
against the elect people of God, and when satisfaction is attained, it
asks no more. God’s atoning love is equal to the condemnation of
His people, and when His justice was satisfied, He had no further
quarrel with the elect. God’s law is the basis or standard of His
judgment, and the demands of the law levied upon the elect have been
substitutionarily satisfied by the death of Christ, and the Righteous
Judge has taken His legal pen and has written "justified" on their
record, (Romans 8:33). But the atoning sufficiency of
Christ’s death was not redundant. It did not exceed what was necessary
to satisfy the debt which His people owed to His law,
and now Divine justice
looks for satisfying sufficiency beyond the covenant of sovereign mercy
and finds none, except in merited damnation of the non-elect.
the equitable and incontestable verdict rendered by the court of Heaven
against all who die in there sins reads: "… I
never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew
7:23). They were fully known by God’s omniscience, but they were
total strangers to the covenant of love; and their namesbeing omitted
from the Lamb’s book of life, no redemptive sufficiency was provided for
them by the atoning blood of Christ.
sufficiency which satisfaction does not require is alien to His
Scriptures and to the experience of all rational creatures. So it is, in
realizing satisfaction, sufficiency and efficiency are co-extensive; for
sufficiency is measured by the effect it renders. The old adage which
says: "It is better to have too much than too little" is true in the
general sense, but it can never apply to God, for He never has too much
or too little; just the perfect measure.
value of the blood of Christ is infinite, but it is a divinely
pre-assigned infinity, and is restricted in its atoning worth and
utility to the elect of God. Wherein is the wisdom in purchasing a
sufficiency for a people whose sins are inexpiable and were reprobate
before the foundation of the World? Wherein is the
wisdom of God in extending
the value of the blood to those whom He hated before the ages were born?
Wherein is the wisdom of God in subjecting His beloved Son to infinite
suffering in order to purchase a sufficiency for a people who would
never receive the least benefit from it? Most certainly we would not
think of questioning the wisdom of God, but the universal sufficiency
view is a mooted one, and raises many questions.
did not, by the shedding of Christ’s blood, obtain a universal
sufficiency for the curse of sin, but His sacrificial blood was the
means of ratifying the covenant of redemption (Hebrews 13:20),
which covenant beneficially precluded the non-elect.
4. The design and sufficiency of Christ’s justification is limited to the elect of God. (Romans 8:33).
5. The design and sufficiency of Christ’s meditorial office is limited to the elect of God (Romans 8:34 ; Hebrews 7:25).
6. The design and sufficiency of the eternal covenant is limited to the elect of God (John 5:21 , 6:63 ; II Timothy 1:9).
7. The design and sufficiency of regenerative grace is limited to the elect of God (John 17:6; Hebrews 13:20).
8. The design and sufficiency of Heaven is limited to the elect of God (I Peter 1:2-4).
term "sufficiency" in the eight postulates enumerated above could be
replaced with the word "Efficiency" and it would not change the design
or results in the least. As defined by Webster, both terms mean
adequacy. The primary distinction between the terms is
chronological, for sufficiency begets efficiency; but God is the author
of both, and He, being omniscient, would not appropriate a sufficiency
beyond the suitability of
His designs for efficiency.
bled, suffered, and died as the substitute for His people, and the value
of His blood was equal to their sin debt, for the Father would not
charge one farthing more than that which was owed. "…The
Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I
John 1:7). Forgiveness cannot extend beyond the offense; and
the blood of Christ, though infinite in value, did not procure a
sufficiency beyond that which was equal to the sinfulness of His people.
"Where sin abounded, grace did much more
abound" (Romans 5:20), but this abounding grace has not to
do with a redemptive sufficiency for the non-elect, but with the
bestowal of sonship on the atoned-for ones, whereby they become "joint
heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17).
is no question as to the capability of God. He could have, had He been
pleased, provided satisfaction for the devil and his angels; but we know
this was not His pleasure. It is the design of God’s sovereign
grace we are concerned with, and redemptive sufficiency is a product of
the omniscient Designer. To talk of atoning sufficiency without forelove
runs counter to the tenor of Scripture. Such terms as
"uncovenanted mercies," "heathen virtue," and "universal sufficiency,"
should arouse infinite skepticism in the minds of all who hold the truth
of God’s sovereign grace.
was God’s eternal design to "bruise"
His Son (Isaiah 53:10) and by His infinite suffering provide
atoning sufficiency for all whom He represented in His suffering.
Therefore, Peter, in speaking to the elect, says: "Rejoice,
inasmuch as ye are partakers, of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His
glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy"
(I Peter 4:13). Are the non-elect in any sense or measure
partakers of the suffering of Christ? To affirm the universal
sufficiency view of the atonement is to say Christ’s substitutionary
suffering was at least in part for the reprobate world, for there can be
no atoning sufficiency apart from the sufferings of Christ.
atonement of Christ is a very special and infinitely gracious work which
is limited to the elect (John 10:11), but a general sufficiency
which is common to all mankind would destroy the particularistic nature
of the atonement, and put a wider dimension on the atonement than is
God’s love for His people is infinite, yet it is a fixed love; and it can never be more or less than what it has eternally been (Jeremiah 31:3 ; John 13:1 ; Hebrews 13:8). God’s infallible justice has drawn a demarcation line between the elect and the non-elect, and His love honors the line and limits which He has set for it. God is not divided in Himself. God’s love will not manifest itself, even infinitesimally, toward any person whose name is not written in the Lamb’s book of life. Why then, I ask, take atoning sufficiency and set it apart from God’s love? Why make Christ’s atoning sufficiency to go beyond His sufferings, beyond the covenant of redemption, and beyond God’s restrictive design for it? The answer is simply because the universal sufficiency doctrine is ill conceived.
"All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine …" (II Timothy 3:16). This text most assuredly includes the Old Testament and its many and various types, for the New Testament was not yet in existence. A type has been aptly defined as "A Divinely appointed illustration of some spiritual truth." A better definition would be hard to come by and because of the sameness of meaning of type and symbol, I will use them interchangeably in this writing. Typical teaching permeates the Scriptures. Everywhere we turn in the Bible we are confronted with types and they are there for our profit.
First let us look at the Ark of Noah, a vivid type of Christ. I Peter
3:20-21 is a
clear and unmistakable reference to Noah and the Ark passing through the
judgmental flood in connection with the atoning death and justifying
resurrection of Jesus Christ. The design of the Ark was given to Noah in
minute detail by the omniscient Designer and Architect of the universe (Genesis
5:14-16). Now the question is, was the ark sufficient in size
to accommodate all who were living on the earth at that time?
Surely, this question is answered in the asking.
was not the divine purpose to save all the antediluvian posterity of
Adam in the Ark, but only Noah and his family, and seeing there is no
negligible quantity in God, all the space and sufficiency sovereignly
vested in the ark for flood survival was fully and gloriously utilized.
Noah was "a preacher ofrighteousness,"
and "while the ark wasa preparing,"
Noah preached Christ by symbol and sermon; for to preach righteousness
is to preach Christ, for He is the believer’s justifying righteousness (I
doubt during this exceeding period of one hundred and twenty years of
Ark preparation, Noah warned others as he was warned of God (Hebrews
11:7). However, only seven believed his report and they were
of his own house (Genesis 7:1). Then God brought judgment
upon the world of the ungodly and theyperished in the flood (II Peter
2:5). The Noachian family is a type of the household of God (Ephesians
2:19), and Christ, the antitype of the Ark (Acts 4:12) and
Head "over His own house" (Hebrews
3:6), has made sufficient room for His family and none else. Christ
is the Sovereign Sufficer, and having eternally loved His family, He
made room for them and them alone in the storm swept citadel of His
grace. The Ark as a type was not given to us in shorthand, but in minute
detail, and every detail speaks of Christ.
Atonement sufficiency is anchored in God’s forelove, and Christ loves
only those who were given to Him by the Father in the covenant of
redemption (Jeremiah 31:3; John 13:1, 17:6;
Romans 8:37). In the redemptive scheme there is no such thing as
uncovenanted love, and hence no universal atonement sufficiency.
Ark was a divine provision made before the waters of judgment fell from
heaven, and in construction of the Ark, Noah followed the heavenly
specifications with unvarying exactitude. "Thus
did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he" (Genesis
6:22). There was not one extra cubic inch in the fullness of the
Ark, nor was there any unused or wasted space. The sufficiency of
the Ark was according to God’s purpose, and His elective purpose was to
save only eight souls from the flood (I Peter 3:20).
Likewise, Jesus Christ was provided by God before the foundation of the
world to deliver His people from the storm of judgment upon sin (II
Timothy 1:9). Christ’s mission to this earth, as with
the Ark, was according in every detail to the need of His people, and
not one thing wrought by the atoning death of Christ was extended beyond
those for whom He died. The sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s
sacrifice was eternally shut up to the elect of God, and there was no
redemptive sufficiency left over. The purpose of atoning sufficiency
must be measured by its accomplishments, and it has none beyond "the
people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand ..." (Psalms
95:7). To contend otherwise is to argue for an unsure curse upon the
sins of the non-elect, for who can say how long a sovereign sufficiency
will remain in protraction? The universal sufficiency theory has the
rudiment of universal restoration of mankind in it.
The second type we want to consider is that of the Passover Lamb of
Exodus 12 . The pure, free, and infinite grace of God provided
Israel with the passover lamb; and in this sacrificial lamb was their
redemption and sufficiency. However, let it be clearly understood
that the taking of the lamb from the flock, the slaying of it, and the
roasting of it with fire was not sufficient to save Israel from the
imminent judgment upon Egypt. The blood must be sprinkled
upon the posts and lintel of the door of
each Israelitish home. God
emphatically declared that "When I see
the blood, I will pass over you" (Exodus 12:13). This He
said to Israel, and not to Egypt.
the common concurrence that Israel in slavery to Egypt is a type of
God’s elect in their pre-regenerate state, in which state they "walked
according to the course of this world" (Ephesians 2:2), or
like ancient Israel in bondage, walked according to the course of Egypt.
It is also uniformly held by students of the Scriptures, that Egypt is a
type of this present evil world, a tyrant to whom man in his native
state pays perfect allegiance. However, the powerful tyranny exercised
by the world over man does not in any degree lessen his responsibility
to denounce the world and come out of it.
Christ said of all who have owned His Lordship over them, "They
are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John
17:16). There is no spiritual commonality between the regenerate
person and the world, and Divine sufficiency is certainly spiritual.
Redemptive sufficiency is a product of God’s love and was purchased by
Christ’s sacrificial blood. In view of this glorious truth, I ask, Does
God’s atoning sufficiency extend beyond His love? Are they not both
co-extensive, retrospectively and prospectively, and have as their
objects the same number of people, i.e., the elect of God?
Apostle Paul said, speaking of the antitype of Israel’s Passover lamb,
"… For even Christ our passover is
sacrificed for us" (I Corinthians 5:7). To universalize
the pronoun "us" in this text and
make it apply in any sense to the reprobate world is to bedim the
glory of the atonement. A sufficiency, the generality of which is such
that it makes no distinction whatsoever between the people of God and
those of the devil, is far too general for the Scriptures. God does not
deal with the non-elect world through sufficient grace, but with
sufficient and unadulterated justice, which provides no measure of
atoning sufficiency, but eternal and merited suffering.
counsel is eternal and so are all His decrees. Thus, the decree of
unpardonableness against the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is
eternal (Matthew 12:31-32). Does it not follow then, seeing that
contradictory decrees cannot emanate from God, that He would not decree
an atoning sufficiency for a sin that He decreed never to forgive?
Pharaoh is an unmistakable type of Satan. He was bent on the elimination
of Moses, a type of Christ, and on the annihilation of Israel, a type of
God’s elect. His reprobation was glaringly manifest, and it was God’s
eternal intention to drown him in the Red Sea (Romans 9:17); as
it is God’s purpose to cast Satan, the antitype of Pharaoh, into the
lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
view of this, I ask, Did the atoning sufficiency of Israel’s Lamb extend
Knowledge of the importance and purpose of the lamb was limited to
Israel. Sprinkling of the blood of the lamb was limited to Israel. The
promise of God, wherein He said, "When I
see the blood I will pass over you," was limited to Israel. All
redemptive or atoning benefits, including sufficiency, were limited
toIsrael. Conversely, the death curse of the firstborn was visited upon
the household of Pharaoh and all the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:29).
God’s infinite holiness and inflexible justice sees the non-elect as
unatoned for sinners, and has provided for them smiting rather than
sufficiency. The only thing God ever does with sin is smite it, and
God’s atoning Lamb was not smitten with as much as one stripe for any
beyond the limits of His shed blood.
Christ, the antitype of Israel’s Passover lamb and antitype of Israel’s
High Priest (Hebrews 9:7), having obtained eternal redemption for
His people (Hebrews 9:11-12), entered into the tabernacle not
made with hands. In the heavenly tabernacle behind the veil, the
blood of Christ was sprinkled and accepted to the full satisfaction of
the Father for the sins of His covenant children (Hebrews 6:19,
10:24, 13:20). Therefore, the guilt of God’s elect is forever
removed from heaven’s court docket and the sovereign verdict now reads,
"Their sins and iniquities will I
remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17).
Peter, speaking of the glorious and exclusive offering of the blood of
Christ within the veil of heaven’s tabernacle, says "Elect
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification
of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus
Christ: grace unto you , and peace be multiplied" (I Peter 1:2).
"Grace" and "peace"
are blessings purchased for the elect by the shed and sprinkled blood of
Christ, and every other purchase made by the vicarious sufferings of
Christ shall be realized by the elect of God, and by them only; for His
intercession on the cross was eternally and sovereignly restricted to
them. "... the good shepherd
giveth His life for the sheep" (John 10:11). In no
sense did He die for the goats.
blessing the redeemed of God shall ever experience in time and eternity
was procured for them by the sacrificial blood of Christ. On the other
hand, all the suffering and grief which the non-elect shall ever know,
is owing to their infinite hatred of the blood of God’s Lamb (Hebrews
10:29), and not to an ill-supposed sufficiency.
is typically true of the lamb of Exodus 12 is equally true of all
the God ordained animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, for they all
were typical of the all-concluding sacrifice which God would make upon
Calvary. The institution of animal sacrifices must reach its terminus,
for the offended and infinite justice of God could never be satisfied
with the blood of a beast as the means of expiation for the sins of
utterly depraved men. Every sin is an infinite insult to the honor and
holiness of God, and when the offense is infinite, so must the sacrifice
be by which the sin is expiated. Hence, the incarnation and crucifixion
of Christ. Christ "... appeared to put
away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26).
by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified"
(Hebrews 10:14). "Sanctified",
i.e., set apart by the covenant of eternal redemption. The saints’
perfection is not of personal character, but of legal standing before
the bar of God’s inflexible and just law. The saints’ perfection has not
to do with personal righteousness, but with imputed righteousness which
was appropriated for them in the covenant of eternal and unconditional
election, and merited not by them, but by the precious blood of Christ (I
justification or declaration of the saints’ legal righteousness is
eternally anchored in the sovereign, holy, and active love of God. The
love of God is infinite, but exclusive. It does not reach all
mankind, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of
life. Thus it is seen that Christ is God’s beloved Son, and singular
channel of His blessings. All the blessings of the atonement come to the
elect of God through Christ, the Mediator of the covenant of grace, and
no good thing shall be withheld from them for whom it was purchased.
surely, atonement sufficiency is infinitely good, and no good thing
wrought by the propitiation of Christ shall ever be voided. Therefore,
atonement sufficiency is limited to the elect, and they are made more
than conquerors through Him that loved them (Romans 8:37). All
that was purchased by the atoningblood of Christ will be infallibly
applied to all those for whom the purchase was made. To say otherwise is
to change God with vanity, and the universal sufficiency view of the
atonement gives credence to this baseless allegation. BEWARE!
The Passover Lamb of Exodus 12 is not a picture of universal sufficiency, but of particular protection. Atonement sufficiency equals deliverance from the curse. Christ did not die to provide a sufficiency that would go eternally wanting for a people to protect, but His shed blood has provided a covering for thepeople of God, and Paul says: "Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered" (Romans 4:7). It irrevocably follows: all whose sins are not covered, Calvary’s atonement has no value for them.
"... the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified of them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified ..." (Leviticus 10:3) "... My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." (Isaiah 46:10) All of God's purposes and pleasures are rooted and grounded in His determination to glorify Himself. God has never done anything, nor shall He ever do anything that is not subordinated to this one supreme end; that is the manifestation of His personal glory.
manifests His attributes and in so doing magnifies His person. God is
holy; so are all of His works. God is infallible; so are all His
designs. God is omniscient; so all of His works are perfectly wrought.
God is just; so are all His ends. "If my soul was sent to hell, God's
righteous law approves it well." God is immutable; so His sufficiency
changes not. God is sovereign, and so is His sufficiency.
Maxim: There is no such thing as a powerless power. God has sent forth
His sufficiency, not inertly, but with power to achieve His purpose for
which it was sent. Salvational sufficiency is a product of Divine love,
and God's love cannot be other than effective. God's love is sovereign
and so is the sufficiency which is sent to manifest that love. There is
no such thing as an unpremediated or purposeless sufficiency emanating
from God, as would be the case with salvational sufficiency for the
non-elect; for it never suffices. Neither God's love nor His sufficiency
can fall into a void, and neither of them know any disturbing
influences, but run sovereignly to the goal appointed of Him "Who
worketh all things after the counsel of His own will."
worth is atoning sufficiency to a people who were already in hell when
the price of it was paid? Abel's lamb had no sufficiency for Cain.
Moses' lamb had no sufficiency for Pharaoh, and most certainly the blood
of Calvary's Lamb did not provide salvational sufficiency for those who
were already in hell when Christ died. To contend for the universal
sufficiency view of the atonement is to charge God with designing a
sufficiency to no avail, and raises the question: how can God be just
and withhold from any person that which was purchased for them by the
precious blood of His own Son?
universal sufficiency theory and Christ's words, wherein He said; "... I
pray not for the world ..." (John 17:9) have an element of
incongruity in them. This incongruity causes some to wonder why Christ
would not pray for those for whom He would suffer the shedding of His
blood to provide them with salvational sufficiency, and what the design
of that sufficiency is, seeing that the blood purchased sufficiency does
not prevail in behalf of all its objects.
exclusiveness of Christ's mediatorialship, both on the cross and on the
throne, was and is solely for the elect of God. Christ's mediation
cannot be empty or futile, and all for whom He interceded on the cross,
He now intercedes for with the crown of all majesty. There is in God a
sufficiency toward the non elect, but it is one of indignation, and not
salvation. God says: "... Esau have I
hated." (Malachi 1:3; Romans 9:13), and God's
hatred knows nothing of salvational sufficiency, but only eternal
damnation. If this truth seems harsh, it is not in the least so; for
truth cannot adorn itself in any defective robe.
have often read the following analogy from various sources, and in every
instance it is set forth in an effort to support the erroneous doctrine
of universal sufficiency of the atonement. The analogy: "The sun
necessarily gives off as much heat even if only one plant is to grow,
Christ necessarily suffered as much even if only one person was to be
saved." This analogy brings honor to God when properly considered, but
when used to try and support the contention that the atonement of Christ
purchased salvational sufficiency for the non elect, it breaks down.
analogy is expounded thereby: Christ would have suffered as much for one
of His elect as He did for all of them. He would have also suffered as
much for one elect person had his sin been but one (James 2:10).
Sin in any measure or nature is an infinite insult to the holiness of
God, and therefore an infinite atonement is necessary to reconcile the
sinner unto God. If the "plant" of this analogy is one of God's
planting, then the grace of God's Son will shine just as brightly as if
He was the only one whom the Lord planted. But the truth is: Christ
never suffered in any degree or sense for the non elect, and the
salvational sufficiency of the Son has never shined upon any plant the
heavenly Father has not planted (Matthew 15:13).
analogy, if applicable at all, must be restricted to God's elect
people, for the solar sun does nothing for rocks, but hardens them, and
the salvational sufficiency of the Son of God does nothing for
spiritually reprobate rocks, but hardens them. The "stony
ground" hearers of Matthew 13 were not benefited by the
gospel seed, for the simple reason the gospel was not endowed with
sufficiency to convict them of their sins, and they were left with their
hard and stony hearts. "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have
mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." (Romans 9:18 ). The
conviction sufficiency of the gospel is by omniscient design restricted
to the elect of God.
part and parcel of atonement favor was a ransom paid, i.e., the blood of
Christ. Surely it is agreed that sufficiency, as well as efficiency,
was purchased by the vicarious punishment of Christ. How then can the
non elect be objects of salvational sufficiency, seeing no ransom was
paid for them? Only the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ, and
only for the elect "many" did He
give His life as a ransom (Matthew 20:28). Therefore, the ill
supposed atonement sufficiency for the non elect adds up to universal
cannot be efficiency without sufficiency, and there can be no atoning
sufficiency or efficiency without the suffering of Christ upon the
cross. Therefore, it unavoidably follows that the advocates of the
universal sufficiency theory of the atonement have Christ suffering for
the non elect on the cross. A most grievous error!
readily and gladly admitted that the power of Christ's blood is greater
than all sin, yea, of angels and men. However, we need to remember that
His atoning blood is the "blood of
theeverlasting covenant" (Hebrews. 13:20), and that it is
shut up in redemptive exercise to all whose names are written in the
Lamb's Book of life (Revelation 13:8, 21:27). Surely, none would
say that Christ in His atonement purchased salvational sufficiency for
the fallen angels, but if not, why not, seeing the power of His blood is
greater than all sin? The answer is simply that God never intended to
save the fallen angels, nor reprobate men, so He limited the atoning
power of Christ's shed blood to His elect.
say God's love is greater than all the fires of hell is to speak the
truth, but it does not mean that God loves a single person who is in
hell, or that shall ever go there. God's love for one of His elect is as
great as it is for all of His elect, for His love is never less than
perfect, and every elect person is as a "firebrand"
plucked from the burning by the love of God. God's love is sufficient to
quench every infernal blaze, but all who enter those dread gates enter
because Christ in His substitutionary and loving death merited no
atonement sufficiency for them. The Apostle John, speaking of the
atoning death of Christ, says: "... Having
loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end"
Christ went to Calvary with infinite love for His people. He suffered
their infinite penalty, and in so doing, He purchased for them a
sufficiency that is infinitely superior to the infinite condemning power
of sin. "For where sin abounded, grace
did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). The Lord laid upon
Him all the iniquity of all His sheep and He, in His death, atoned for
their every transgression, but He did not take to Calvary one sin of the
infinite sum of the sins of the non elect, and He suffered not in any
sense or measure for the sins of the goats. Consequently, no blessing
was purchased for them by the blood of Christ.
Christ made no satisfaction for the sins of the non elect, so their sins
remain; and the atonement sufficiency which some claim for them is of no
value to them; and the proponents of the universal atonement sufficiency
theory are left with a sovereign and omniscient sufficiency which has
lost its way. Perish the thought! Wherever divine efficacy is limited,
so is divine sufficiency. Even the thought of a sufficiency which
affects not its designs is ridiculous, for sufficiency manifests itself
by the fruit it produces. There is no such thing as a fruit without
root, and there is no such thing as a sufficiency without fruit.
and over in the Scriptures Christ is metaphorically referred to as the "root"
of His people (Isaiah 11:10, 53:2; Romans 15:12)? and by
inspiration, Paul says: "... If the root
be holy, so are the branches" (Romans
11:16). But of the non elect, the Lord says: "These
have no root" (Luke 8:13). Saying they "have
no root" is equal to saying "they have no Christ", and saying
this is to say they have no atoning sufficiency, for this sufficiency is
of Christ. Paul says to the church at Corinth: "... Our
sufficiency is of God" (II Corinthians 3:5).
is eternal and perfect harmony between all of God's attributes. His love
never interferes with His holiness, for His love is holy. His justice
has no argument with His grace, for it is by His grace the elect are
justified (Titus 3:7). His sufficiency and His efficiency know no
variance. His sufficiency is not more or less than His efficiency and
vice versa. They are equal in strength and design. Salvational
efficiency makes manifest the trophies of God's sovereign and sufficient
grace, but they travel hand in hand in bringing to pass this glorious
end, for where one is, so is the other.
a true premise from God's Word that the expression of one thing excludes
all else unless otherwise specified by the Scriptures. Many
illustrations could be cited from Scripture which affirm this premise,
but I will refer only to the all important one, and that is blood
redemption. The blood of Christ is the Biblically specified remedy for
sin. Therefore, every other pretended remedy has been precluded by the
blood of the everlasting covenant, and is nothing more than Satanic
quackery. Hence, all but the elect of God are excluded from the
sufficiency of the atonement, for nowhere in holy Writ is it even
inferred that the blood of Christ was shed to make an atonement for the
non elect. So that which follows is not universal atonement sufficiency,
but a limited atonement; for God will not provide a sufficiency for sins
apart from the shed blood of His Son. (I John 1:7; Hebrews.
9:22; Revelation 1:5).
are no passive attributes in God. His love is ever reaching forth to
bless its objects. His love and His redemptive sufficiency cannot be
separated, and His love and redemptive sufficiency infallibly follow the
lines set out for them in the covenant of election. Jesus was the
personification of I truth. He said "I
am the truth" (John 14:6). However, He said to the
reprobate Jews: "... My word hath no place in you" (John 8:37).
The Lord's salvational sufficiency cannot be separated from His truth.
Lord's inflexible justice never quits its search for satisfaction.
Therefore we read: "Be sure your sin
will find you out" (Numbers. 32:23). God's loving
sufficiency provided a substitute for" His people in the person of
Christ (II Corinthians 5:21), and His just law, yet looking for
satisfaction from all those who were not represented by Christ on the
cross, provided hell to serve that end. Salvational sufficiency and
condemnatory sufficiency have had, by eternal decree, two classes of
people to work with in satisfying God's justice, i.e., the elect and the
reprobate; and these two distinct functions of God's sufficiency are
is holy. "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord
of hosts" (Isaiah 6:3). Salvational sufficiency is holy
sufficiency, and clothes the people of God with robes of righteousness (Isaiah
61:10), but leaves the non elect destitute of the prescribed garment
(Matthew 22:12). The military wardrobe of salvational sufficiency
has provided every piece of armor the elect shall ever need in their
warfare with the world, the flesh and the devil; and makes them more
than conquerors through the Captain of their salvation (Romans 8:37
; Ephesians 6:11; Hebrews 2:10). However, no
salvational sufficiency is provided for those not subject to Holy Spirit
conscription (John 5:40, 6:44; Romans 8:7-8), and
consequently, no protection from the penalty of the just and holy law of
defined by Webster both terms, sufficiency and efficiency mean
"adequacy." The synonymy of the two terms is so exact that a
distinction between them is virtually nonexistent, and if a distinction
would be allowed, it would be one of chronology rather than design.
However, let us remember that God is not subject to chronology as finite
men are. He is not such a one as we. God is not subject to the rules of
mathematics, and more often than not the equations of men run counter to
the omniscient counsel. The chronology of Holy Spirit regeneration comes
under the heading of language accommodation, for with God there are no
prerequisite functions in bringing to pass the new birth of His people.
the eternal mind, atonement sufficiency and efficiency have never known
a distinction in design, function, or results. God is the sovereign and
omniscient author of both, and He would not appropriate a sufficiency
beyond the suitability of His designs for efficiency. The universal
sufficiency theory does not as much as produce one straw of mercy upon
the infinite ocean of God's everlasting judgment, but this lack of favor
toward the non elect does not in any wise vitiate the sufficiency of
God, for it is immune to negation.
me reiterate. Every person whom God intended to be saved by the
atonement shall be saved. So it follows by inevitable deduction, that
God never meant the infinite power of the atonement would prevail for or
provide a propitiatory sufficiency for the non elect, seeing, none of
them are ever saved. Both the unlimited power and design of the
atonement are seen by the fact that some of every kindred, tongue, and
people are saved.
the elect are made willing by the power of God (Psalms l10:3),
but all who are left to their own will are eternally beyond the scope of
God's atonement designs. God is the sovereign discriminator, and the
difference He has put between His people and those of the devil (John
8:44) is manifested by atonement sufficiency and efficiency. This
divinely placed difference allows for no spiritual communion between the
saved person and the world, for there is no communion between light and
darkness (II Corinthians 6:14). And atonement sufficiency being
spiritual, it cannot be held in common by all mankind; for all are not
included in the covenant wherein atonement sufficiency is mandated.
Abraham's lamb (Genesis 22:13) had no atoning sufficiency for the
cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, for they had already perished under the
fiery indignation of God (Luke 17:29). Did Israel's typical
sacrifices picture a general sufficiency which included the pagan
nations round about Israel? If so, it was a vain sufficiency, for they
perished in their own ways (Acts 14:16).
good is the digging of a sixty foot well, when the same measure and
quality of water may be had at thirty feet? The answer of course is,
none. God is infinitely more wise than the wisest of His creatures, and
He would not send forth a universal atonement sufficiency when a
particular sufficiency would accomplish the same end.
good is a belt and buckle that never meet? What good is an atonement
sufficiency for a people who are never benefited by it? Are reprobates
divinely appointed to both eternal wrath and eternal sufficiency? Or
could it be the sufficiency purchased for them by the atoning death of
Christ finally exhausts itself? Perhaps this atonement sufficiency loses
interest in some of the people for whom Christ died in order to procure
it for them, and finally enters an abeyance that can never be broken.
Atonement sufficiency is a benevolent work of God, and there is not nor
shall ever be such a thing as a disinterested benevolence emanating from
not mean to satirize, nor to try to rationalize the Scriptures, and
would never knowingly tamper with the Word of God. But it is my purpose
and aim to alert the reader of this treatise to the fact that in many
cases what we want to believe is not necessarily the truth. Where is the
one among us who does not love broad and spacious theological horizons?
Is not the doctrine of the universality of the gospel appealing? Surely
it is, and rightfully so.
not the doctrine of the universality of God's family appealing? Surely
it is, and rightfully so. Is not the doctrine of the universal
sovereignty of God appealing? Surely it is, and rightfully so. But where
is the one among us who will not say that the doctrine of the universal
sufficiency of the atonement that does not suffice for all whom Christ
died to provide it is appalling? Surely none, for so it is.
atonement sufficiency of Christ is definite and absolute; and it is
limited in its designs, operations, and effects. To say this is not to
question the sovereignty of God's sufficiency, nor is it to question His
omniscience from which the redemptive scheme was formulated. But it is
said to magnify both God's sovereignty and omniscience; for a
sufficiency which is particular, and infallibly accomplishes all of its
designs, is more honoring to God than an atonement sufficiency which
leaves part of the people for whom it was purchased to perish in their
doubt what I have said herein will become grist for the mills of
theological controversy, and some polemicists may seem to turn it to
their advantage but that disturbs me not. It might be at the mercy seat
of Christ, I will say: "I wish I had not written that." But until I look
upon the face of Him who atoned for my sins upon the tree of Calvary, I
am confident I shall be contented with the position contended for in
this treatise. One thing for sure, the sending forth of this writing has
for now erased all the wonder as to whether I should have written it or
Either way, I am convinced that the disturbance of theological quiet, is more honoring unto God, than what some dear brethren refer to as: "Respectful Silence."
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726