||2016-07-08 13:11:06, 조회 : 855, 추천 : 204
| The Truth of the Cross |
R. C. Sproul
Chapter 9 - A Secure Faith
Hello to another beautiful day that has been given to us today! Today, we will continue our book, The Truth of the Cross, by the author R. C. Sproul. And we look at chapter 9, A Secure Faith.
Starting from way back in history, there has been a great controversy in the history of the church concerning the intent of God the Father and of God the Son in the act of atonement. The question of concern is, “Who did Jesus Christ die for?” Many will be quick to state that Christ died for “everyone.” However, in the Reformed branch of the church, the answer is founded in the doctrine of limited atonement, also known as the doctrine of particular redemption. And this is deeply rooted into the theology of John Calvin, better known as Calvinism.
The doctrine of limited atonement is easily known to us to be a part of the 5-points of Calvinism. In a very clever way, these five singular points of Calvinistic doctrine are often summarized by the acronym TULIP, with each letter standing for one of the five points. T stands for total depravity; the U stands for unconditional election; the L stands for limited atonement; the I stands for irresistible grace; and the P stands for the perseverance of saints.
While each of these points and doctrines have been debated to reach the points it is today, there probably hasn’t been a bigger controversy with the letters except the letter L, limited atonement. This is probably why there are so many who consider themselves, instead of 5-point Calvinists, as 4-point Calvinists, minus the L. The author makes the correct suggestion that if we come into contact with anyone who claims that they’re a 4 point Calvinist, we should correct them and tell them that they’re Arminian instead. This is because most 4-point Calvinists do not properly understand the TUIP, because the whole TUIP changes when you remove the L. It becomes illogical to remove a string and cut it and expect it to still be the same as before. While each acronym represents a specific doctrine, there are all connected to one another. One alteration changes the whole theme, and no longer makes it Calvinism anymore.
How to easily become a 4-point Calvinist? Easy, misunderstand the doctrine of limited atonement. We first look at the question of the value of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Calvinism teaches that the atonement of Jesus is sufficient for all men. What that means is that the sacrifice that Christ offered to the Father is of infinite value. There is enough merit in the work of Jesus to cover the sins of every human being who has ever lived and ever will live. There is NO LIMIT to the value of the sacrifice He made. There is no debate on this very point.
Rather, the debate arises with the question, was Jesus’ death efficient for everybody? In other words, did the atonement from Jesus Christ result in everyone being automatically saved? Calvinism here makes the distinction between the sufficiency and the efficiency of the atonement. Which led to the very debate, Jesus’ work on the cross was valuable to save all men, but did His death actually have the effect of saving the whole world?
How great and easy the world would be if it was the latter! Those that believe that Jesus’ death on the cross did have the effect of saving the whole world are referred to as Universalists. Calvinism disagrees strongly with such believes, and surprisingly also Arminianism. Both major beliefs agree that Christ’s atonement is particular and certainly not universal in the sense that it works or effects salvation only for those who believe in Christ, so that the atonement does not automatically save everybody. With no difference being shown between Arminianism and Calvinism, we must ask ourselves another important question.
“What was God’s intent or His design in sending Christ to the cross?” The two final decisions came about in these two reasonings. First, was God’s purpose in sending Christ to the cross simply to make salvation possible? OR did God from all eternity plan to send Christ to die a substitutionary death in order to bring about an actual atonement to the certain elected few?
Calvinist believes that God had a plan from all eternity to redeem a people for Himself. That plan consisted of only saving a selected few; it was never God’s intention to redeem the everyone. We are to keep in mind while listening to all of this that, given our sins and His justice, God was under no obligation to save anyone. Rather, for him to be extremely fair, He should have sent us all to hell for eternity, but instead he chose to save some. In the case that God did want to save everyone, then everyone would be saved. However, God’s purpose in redemption was to a save only a select few of the human race from the wrath we earned for ourselves and cannot deny that we deserve. Some will receive God’s mercy, the rest will receive God’s justice.
The very design of the atonement was that Christ would go to the cross to provide salvation for God’s elect. To put it in a nutshell, Reformed theologians teach that Jesus Christ went to the cross for the elect, and only for the elect. That is the one way you can simply summarize the doctrine of limited atonement.
Using the word elect is the proper way to state it, simply because if I might use the word ‘believer’ people might think that the act of believing brought forth the atonement on themselves. However, such an objection would be certainly unbiblical in logic and thinking, simply because you couldn’t possibly imagine that a true believer isn’t elect or an elected person isn’t a true believer.
Now, one of the largest objection against this doctrine, which possibly some of you might have brought forth when hearing all of this, is that Jesus Christ clearly said in Scripture that he had died for “the world.” And I certainly agree with the Scripture that Jesus Christ died for “the world.” However, “the world” isn’t to be interpreted as “everyone.” There is a reason that we know that Jesus Christ died for “the world” and not “everyone.” This is because, the point New Testament writers wanted to bring forth the fact that Jesus is not the Savior for only Jewish people, but literally for the world of people. Jesus is the Savior of every tongue, every race, and every nation, and that there is NO DISCRIMINATION.
Another objection we look at against the doctrine of limited atonement is that it appears to take away from the greatness of the work of Christ. However, objectively speaking, it’s the Arminians that take away from the greatness of the work of Christ. Simply put, Arminians state that salvation is possible for all but certain for none; stating that it isn’t enough and requires you to work; Christ only did 50%, you need to do the other 50. However, Calvinists stress the point that what Christ accomplished on Calvary was what He set out to accomplish, the job the Father had sent him to do. God’s sovereign will is not in the hands of our personal and individual responses to it, as the Arminians believe to be so. Rather, in the Calvinist position, salvation is certain, 100%, for those that have been elected by God!
Another objection we review is that the doctrine of limited atonement undermines evangelism. However, all orthodox Christians, Calvinists included, believe that the atonement of Jesus Christ SHOULD BE proclaimed to all people. We are to say that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not parish but have everlasting life. There are some who accuse Calvinists that because they believe in the doctrine of limited atonement they lack passion to really preach the cross to everyone.
However, the doctrine of limited atonement is helpful in evangelism. The Calvinists knows that not everyone will respond to the gospel message, but also knows with certainty that some will respond, but don’t know who. In this effort to find all of those who are elect, and with great joy to meet our brothers and sisters across all nation, the Calvinist sets journey.
Now, when we see past all these perceived problems with the doctrine of limited atonement, only then are we able to get to the real beauty of it. The fact that the atonement Christ made on the cross was real and effectual. Jesus came down to lay down his life for His sheep, to die for His people, and He makes this point clear in John 17:6-9:
“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You… They have… known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them.
From this passage, instead of Jesus praying for everybody, he prays specifically for His disciples, and for those who are elect. And when Jesus came down, to the very moment He died on the cross, till even now, Jesus was making atonement for everyone for whom He intended it to be effective for. If we are a part of the flock of Christ, one of His lambs, then we can know with certainty that an atonement has been made for our sins. We may wonder how we can know if we are elect, and unfortunately, I can’t read your heart, only God can. But we can really look into ourselves, and if we put our trust in Christ’s death for our redemption and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then we can be sure that the atonement was made for us. Unless we’re elected, we won’t believe in Christ; we won’t embrace the atonement or rest on His shed blood for our salvation.
This concludes chapter 9, A Secure Faith, in which I hope you have been able to understand our atonement in light of the doctrine of limited atonement. Our salvation has been accomplished by a Savior Who did for us what the Father wanted him to do. Jesus Christ is our Mediator, our Substitute, our Redeemer, and our Lord. And for those that are elect, he atoned our sins on the cross. And we close with one the sweetest words ever said to those who are elect. Matthew 25:34, “’Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” AMEN!