Clearing Up Some Common Misperceptions of "Particular Redemption"

This artice is not origonial with me, however I do not know where I found it. It was arcived on my computer. I thought it was helpful so I am posting it here.


Here are some areas all evangelicals (including Reformed) have in common with regard to Christ's atonement.

1) Both Calvinists & non-Calvinists affirm that the atonement is only effectual to a limited number of persons. The question is, therefore, is not if the atonement is limited (it is) but rather, who does the limiting. One believes it is "limited" by the will of fallen man and the other by the perfect will of God. It is not at issue among evangelicals as to whether all people will be saved. All Christians affirm that, when all is said and done, some persons will be redeemed by the blood of Christ and others will not leading unbelievers to a resurrection of judgment in which each individual who rejects Christ will personally bear the full wrath of God for their sin. Since all evangelicals believe some will be eternally lost, then it follows that the work of Christ on the cross does not bring to salvation the whole of humanity, and in this way all Christians, in some way, limit the atonement to a distinct number of persons. So Reformed persons do not limit the atonement any more than other evangelicals. Any person who denies universal salvation affirms some limits in the atonement. Therefore I believe "limited atonement" is a poor name choice for this beautiful doctrine. That is why we prefer to call it particular redemption - this describes God's revealed intent to redeem a particular people for Himself.

2) Particular Redemption is not a question about the value of Christ's work on the cross. Christ came and did exactly what he set out to accomplish. All evangelical Calvinists affirm that the value of Christ's death is so vast that, in itself, is more than sufficient to cover the sins of the whole world and a billion more worlds if there were such a thing. In other words, Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike all believe that Christ's blood is of infinite value.

3) Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike believe there are some benefits in the atonement to all persons, and redemptive benefits only to some. Because of Christ Calvinists have traditionally affirm that we must herald the command of the gospel indiscriminately to all men, and proclaim that all who believe will enjoy the redemptive benefits of union with Him such as the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Calvinists affirm other benefits to non-believers: that the work of Christ has prolonged the forbearance of God toward all of us who justly deserve His wrath. In other words, there has been a postponement of punishment and this because of Christ. Calvinists, or those who affirm particular redemption, do not affirm that Christ's work was only for the elect, but has universal implications. They affirm that the redemptive benefits are only for the elect, i.e. those who will believe the gospel. Christ may love all persons in some ways but he only loves his bride in all ways.

So, then, what is at issue in particular redemption and why is it important? What is at issue is the intent of the atonement. What is it that the Holy Trinity had in mind in sending Christ to earth? We all agree that the Father sent the Son to be a vicarious substitutionary atonement. But for who did Christ die? When he came to earth, which names did he have carved in his heart to redeem? Did he have the whole human race in mind, or was it those who were elect in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1: 4,5) Non-Calvinists will answer that it was for all humanity ... but Calvinists affirm that the redemptive benefits of Christ were only intended for those the Father has given the Son (John 17:9, 6:37, 39). Calvinists affirm that the Persons of the Trinity act in harmony: The Father elects, the Eternal Son is sent to live and die for those the Father have given Him and the Holy Spirit applies the benefits to the same by bringing them into union with Christ.

It is the grace in the work of Christ itself that we even have the desire to pray or believe the gospel. No person will put faith in Christ who does not first have their heart changed by the Holy Spirit. The Apostle affirms that no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' apart from the Holy Spirit" The work of Christ is, therefore, effective toward all He intended to save. In other words He fully accomplished what he set out to do. His effectual drawing of the elect is itself one of the benefits of the atonement. To separate this grace from Christ would be to embrace a grace to be found outside the work of Christ which is an impossible supposition for all spiritual blessings flow from Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3).

Here are some passages for further study of the effectual work of Christ in the atonement

(Exodus 28:29, John 17:9, 20; Rom 8:34; Eph 5:25; Rev 5:9)

While all may not agree with conclusions reached by those who embrace particular redemption
my hope is that this has made some clarifications of what we believe.


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