bible refs

Limited Atonement

The key issue in limited atonement is the extent of the atonement. Is the atonement only limited to the elect, or is it for all people? The death of Christ could have paid (and did pay) for the sins of the whole world but Calvinists teach that it was limited to the elect, predetermined before the foundation of the world. However, the Bible teaches the death of Christ paid for the sins of all people and was not just limited to an elect few, per Calvinism.

Atonement is what God did in Christ through His obedience, death, and resurrection which paid our debt of sin. Atonement means to cover. Calvinists believe in a limited atonement. Limited atonement is tied in with the Unconditional Election belief of Calvinism's TUPLIP. Because Calvinists believe in an unconditional election they cannot have unlimited atonement, the fact that Christ died for everyone and paid for the sins of all mankind. Calvinist thinking is that God would not have Christ to waste His sacrifice on those that were not part of the elect. So, Christ died only for the elect.

On the other hand, the Bible always mentions the death of Christ with universal sin. No scripture can be found that limits the atonement to the sins of the elect. The Bible says in Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Notice that "ALL" have gone astray and the iniquity of us "ALL" was laid on Christ. In other words, Christ paid for ALL the sins of ALL people. This means that all people can be saved after hearing the gospel in the Word of God. As explained in Unconditional Election ALL mankind is given the opportunity to accept or reject Christ. John 1:9 says, "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." John did not say every elect man but EVERY MAN.

In 2 Corinthians 5:14 we see Paul saying, "that if one die for all, then were all dead:" So Paul knew that Jesus died for all and that all people were spiritually dead. Then in 2 Corinthians 5:15 Paul says, speaking of Jesus, "And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."

The Bible says in Mark 16:15-16, "15, And he said unto them, Go ye into ALL THE WORLD, and preach the gospel to EVERY CREATURE. 16, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." This does not say that God will regenerate them first then make them believe and repent as Calvinism teaches. This is why John 3:16 says that God gave His Son so that "WHOSOEVER" "BELIEVETH" in Him will have everlasting life. For salvation, one only has to believe, have faith, in Jesus Christ and what He did to pay for our sins. People have faith in Christ by hearing the gospel preached (Romans 10:17), not by being regenerated or being born again and then God gives them faith as per Calvinism.

Some verses that teach unlimited atonement:

  • Luke 19:10. "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

  • John 1:29. "God, who is the Saviour of ALL MEN"

  • John 3:16. "WHOSOEVER believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

  • John 3:17. "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that THE WORLD through him might be saved".

  • John 12:32. "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL PEOPLES to Myself."

  • Romans 5:18. through " one Man's righteous act the free gift came to ALL MEN"

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15. "He died FOR ALL,"

  • 1 Timothy 2:5, 6. "Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom FOR ALL…"

  • 1 Timothy 4:10. "God, who is the Savior of ALL MEN"

  • Hebrews 2:9. "He, by the grace of God, might taste death for EVERYONE."

  • 1 John 2:1, 2 "for the WHOLE WORLD."

  • John 3:16, Christ died for the WORLD.

  • 1 John 4:14. "the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of THE WORLD.

A corresponding word is "propitiation" (1 John. 2:2; 4:10; Romans 3:25), which means satisfaction of a debt. The word Propitiation is mentioned in the KJV three times. Looking at 1 John 2:2; 4:10 we see that Christ is said to be the propitiation for our sins. What does the word "Propitiation" mean? Let's look at a few passages that will shed some light on the use of the word "propitiation". Remember that Romans 3:23 tells us that we have all sinned. Then Romans 6:23 gives us the penalty of that sin and says, "the wages of sin is death", referring to the second death which is eternal separation from God in a lake of fire.

Then we are told how to pay for those wages of sin in Romans 3:25 which says, "Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;" Christ is here called the propitiation for our sins. How is that? He becomes our substitute and takes on the wages of our sin covering them by the punishment which He endured. This verse also tells us that Jesus Christ is to be a propitiation through faith in His blood which means faith comes before being regenerated.

John also tells us that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2, "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the WHOLE WORLD. We need to remember that propitiation is a two-part act. It is satisfying the wrath of God and being reconciled to Him.

The Calvinist teaching of limited atonement is the direct opposite to the Bible's teaching that Jesus died for all, John 12:32, and that God desires all people to be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4. It would be difficult to devise anything that would be more out of touch with plain Biblical teaching that the doctrine of Limited Atonement. The doctrine of Limited Atonement stands in direct opposition to the death of Jesus for all (John 12:32) and the Father's desire for all to be saved. (1 Timothy 2:4)

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