|Statement of Doctrine
In the intention and secret plan of God, Christ died for the elect only,
and His death had only an
incidental reference to others in so far as they are partakers of common
If God elected some and not others to eternal
life, then it logically follows
that Christ's primary purpose was to redeem the elect.
Luke 19:10 (note to save, not to make possible); Isaiah 53:8; John 10:10-11, 14-18, 25-29; Mark 10:45; Luke 1:68; Matthew 26:28; Hebrews
9:28; Galatians 1:3-4; Matthew 1:21; Acts 20:28
The Infinite Value of Christ's Atonement
- The Atonement is an infinite transaction between the Father
and the Son for the salvation of the elect.
It is "limited" only in a theological sense because its benefits are
applied to the elect only through redemption.
- The value of the Atonement depends upon the dignity
of the person making it. Since Christ
suffered as a Divine-human person, the value of His suffering is
- Calvinists do not teach that Christ would have suffered more
were the elect a larger number than it is. Christ would have suffered
the same for one soul as for a large number or all mankind.
- A sinner by transgressing God has offended a Person
of infinite dignity, has been sentenced to suffer eternally, and needs an
atonement of infinite value to save him.
The Atonement's Limited Purpose and Application
- The value of the Atonement was sufficient to save
all mankind, but it was
efficient to save only the elect.
- We are not fully told why God does not choose to save
- If the Atonement's application is universal, then the
inherent value of the Atonement is destroyed since some men are lost.
- The conclusion would then have to be that Christ's
Atonement does not save anyone, but only
makes it possible for all men to co-operate with divine grace and save
- Arminians limit the work of Christ as certainly as the
- Calvinists limit the extent -- it does not apply to
all but effectively saves some (a quantitative limit).
- Arminians limit the power -- it does apply to all but
effectively saves none (a qualitative limit).
A Perfect Fulfillment of the Law
- God demanded perfect obedience of Adam. Adam's failure to
obey placed the entire race under the curse of sin, but it did not change
God's demand: He still requires perfect obedience.
- If the benefits of the atonement were universal and
unlimited, then the atonement must have been simply a sacrifice to blot
out the curse which rested on Adam's race. Therefore,
- the atonement must not have been a perfect
satisfaction of the demands of justice,
- God now offers salvation on lower terms than
perfect obedience, and
- God removes the legal obstacles of salvation
and accepts whatever faith and obedience a person chooses to offer.
- Calvinists believe that God has never done anything
to convey that the law was too rigid, too severe, or in need of fixing.
Divine justice demands that the sinner shall be punished (either in
himself or in a substitute).
- Christ acted in a substitutionary way for His
people (the elect). He made full satisfaction for their sins, blotting
out Adam's curse and all their temporal sins.
- Christ's merits are imputed to His people as
the only basis of their salvation. Thus, grace is not a lowering of
salvation's requirements but is Christ's substitution extended to His
- If Arminianism is correct, then Christ has died for many who
- What value is Christ's death for anyone, saved or
not, if in the end many are lost for whom He suffered and died?
- "If God punished Christ for your sins, He will not
- Christ is said to be a ransom for His people -- "The Son of
Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give His life
a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28)."
- The nature of a ransom is such that when paid and
accepted it automatically frees the persons for whom it was intended;
otherwise, it would not be a true ransom.
- If the sufferings and death of Christ was a ransom
for all men rather than for the elect only, then the merits of His work
must be communicated to all alike and the penalty of eternal punishment
cannot be justly inflicted on any.
The Divine Purpose in Christ's Sacrifice
- If God's purpose was to save all men by Christ's sacrifice,
then He is unable or unwilling to accomplish His purpose.
- However, God's purposes are neither mutable nor fallible.
- God's purposes were chosen with infinite wisdom and
power behind them. They cannot fail and do not need to be altered.
- Christ Himself limits the purpose of His death when He said,
"I lay down my life for the sheep." (John 10:14-15)
- Christ laid His life down for the sheep, His friends
(John 15:13), and the Church (Acts 20:28; John 15:13). This cannot
include the reprobate.