Limited Atonement

For Whom Did Christ Die?

Like the doctrine of predestination, the doctrine of limited atonement is highly controversial. It seeks to answer the question, “For whom did Christ die?” The Bible teaches that Jesus died on the cross in order to make an atonement for the sins of people. That is, to make-up or pay the price for transgressions against God.

We know from the Scriptures that not all people go to heaven. Many go and will go to hell. And they do so because their sins were not atoned for. Therefore, all Christians believe in a limited atonement. Otherwise, he or she would be a Universalist (believing that all go to heaven).

Since only those who repent and believe will be saved, the real question is this: To whom and by whom is the atonement limited? One view says that humans limit the atonement. They argue that Jesus died on the cross to make the payment of sins possible. And by doing so, they limit the effect of the atonement. They argue that Jesus died for the whole world – meaning all people. But not all people have faith in His work. So people limit the power of His atonement.

Another view says that God limits the atonement. They argue that Jesus died on the cross to actually save those whom He predestined to save. And by doing so, they limit the extent of the atonement. They argue that Jesus died for those whom He elected – meaning some people. So God limits the reach of His atonement.

So the response is either of the two. God limited the extent of the atonement to those whom He predestined or man limited the effect of the atonement to those who are special enough to believe.

So the response is either of the two views. If man limited the atonement, than the effect and power of the work of Jesus is limited but the extent and reach is for all. Thus, those who are special enough to repent and believe do so. God shares the glory of salvation with man.

If God limited the atonement, than the effect and power of the work of Jesus was actual and certain but the extent and reach of such work was limited to some. Thus, those who repent and believe do so because of God’s work. God deserves the glory.

Historically, this doctrine has been referred to a Calvinistic belief, but as mentioned, all Christians must identify a limitation in some sense. To say otherwise is heretical for God is not saving all people.

Verses for further reflection:
Isaiah 53:4-6
Matthew 1:21; 20:28
John 10:27-30
Acts 20:28
Romans 8:30
John 10:14-15
Ephesians 5:25

Posted by Jacob Abshire on August 17th, 2009 - 8:19 pm
Categories: Doctrines,Soteriology
Tags: , , ,

2 Comments on “Limited Atonement”

  • Dr Kaeni Agiomea, December 18, 201310:58 pm

    The atonement made by Christ on the cross was complete. There is no sin so great that the blood of Christ will not atone for. Christ’s atoning death was made for the sins of all people of all times in all places since the days of Adam and Eve.

    The fact that some people will not be saved is not because the power of the blood of Christ is limited to save or that God has any favourites whom He has predestined to be saved above others. Any one who is lost has only himself to blame. The only sin that God will not forgive is the sin we love so well and refuse to give up despite the promptings of the Holy Spirit to do so. It is that sin that will separate us from God forever and take Eternal life away from us.

    It is us who make the decision to hold on to the sins for which Christ’s blood has been shed. Christ’s death may have covered for those sins but it does not automatically take them away from us. We are given the choice to give them up and be saved or continue in them and be lost forever. We are not saved against our will.

    Christ’s death is sufficient to save but we choose not to be saved if we continue in the sins for which Christ has already died. Repentance on our part is just as important as the death of Christ for the remission of sins.

    The popular believe that we do not have any role to play regarding our Eternal Salvation is not supported by the Bible. When the Rich young Ruler asked Jesus as to what he should do to have Eternal Life, the Lord Jesus Christ told him to keep the commandments. He could have said to the young man ” do not worry, I am here to die for your sins so just believe me and you will have eternal life.” There is a work for us to do and it is according to our works of obedience to the Law of God that we will be judged fit or unfit for Heaven. In the book of Revelation, all the seven Churches are judged based on their works. The Angel’s to all the Churches all say ” I know thy works” when they were addressing them.

    Eternal Life is not given to us unconditionally just as it was not given to Adam and Eve unconditionally. Remember that this condition was given to them even before sin entered the world.

    The condition for our first parents was, “Obey and Live”, “Disobey and Die.” They chose death instead, but God in His great Love, mercy and grace decided to take on that death to give Adam and Eve and their posterity including us a second chance to learn obedience again. His death was not meant to cancel out the condition for receiving Eternal Life, which was and is and always will be “Obey and Live.” Of course the strength to obey will be given to us by God to assist what is left of our strength.

    We have a role to play. The word of God says that we need to love the Lord our God with all our heart , soul and MIGHT or STRENGTH. We use our strength and might to do work, Therefore, works is just as important as faith in so far as our Eternal destiny is concerned.

    In short, the blood of Christ is mighty to save any one and everyone; but the decision to be saved eternally is for each individual to make. All the conditions for our eternal salvation has already been provided by our loving God but the choice to accept those conditions rests squarely on our shoulders.

    May God Bless us all.

  • Dane, December 31, 20138:11 pm

    Dr Kaeni’s post reeks of Arminianism and works-based salvation.