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LIMITED ATONEMENT DEBATE PT. 2

This is a continuation of the first part of my debate material: https://answeringallah.com/limited-atonement-debate-pt-1/

OTHER VERSES RELATED TO THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT AND THE NECESSITY OF FAITH TO APPROPRIATE IT

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.” Romans 3:21-31

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:1-11

“to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:12-23

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near;” Ephesians 2:1-7

TEXTS PROVING THAT JESUS MADE ATONEMENT FOR ALL CREATURES

HEBREWS 10:29

“How much severer punishment do you think HE will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which HE was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

COMMENTS

I will let reformed Calvinist scholar Thomas R. Schreiner explain the import of this verse:

The author emphasizes the heinousness of apostasy with three phrases. First, if they sin deliberately and shun the gospel they trample under their feet the “Son of God.” “The verb recalls the trampling of the temple by the pagans in Maccabean times.” Jesus’ sonship points to his divinity and his special relationship with God, and Hebrews often designates Jesus as God’s Son (1:2-3, 5, 8; 3:6; 4:14; 5:5, 8; 6:6; 7:3, 28). Clearly those who trample Jesus under their feet reject him fully and scorn him. As L. Johnson says, “The full title [Son of God] emphasizes the shocking character of apostasy; it not only falls from grace, it mocks the giver of grace.”

Second, they consider “the blood of the covenant” as “profane” (koinon). The word “profane” refers to what is unclean in both Judaism (1 Macc 1:47, 62) and the NT (Mark 7:2, 5; Acts 10:14-28; 11:8; Rom 14:14; Rev 21:27). The author has argued throughout the letter that Jesus’ blood secures “eternal redemption” (9:12), cleanses the conscience (9:14; cf. 12:24), removes sin (9:25-26), gives access to God’s presence (10:19), and sanctifies (10:29; 13:12). It is the blood of the covenant (cf. 13:20), in the sense that Jesus’ death inaugurates and ratifies the new covenant between God and his people, securing forgiveness of sins (8:13). Those who reject Jesus, however, do not seek purification by his blood. They reject his blood as unclean, tossing it aside as one would throw a menstrual cloth into the garbage.

Third, if they reject Jesus, they insult “the Spirit of grace.” The Lord promises to “pour out a spirit of grace” on David’s house and Jerusalem in the last days so that they will acknowledge the one they pierced (Zech 12:10). The phrase “Spirit of grace” here probably means the Spirit who grants and gives grace… Again the language is remarkably strong. Those who reject the blood of Jesus do not merely sin against the Spirit. They insult and despise the Spirit. In a culture where honor and shame were so prominent, the horror of the sin is featured. The sin here is another way of speaking of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:31-32; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10) or is manifested in the resistance to the Spirit in Stephen’s hearers (Acts 7:51; cf. also Acts 5:3). The author leaves no doubt that apostasy is egregious since it involves rejecting the Son who is greater than Moses (3:1-6).

We should also note that the author speaks of the blood “by which” the readers were “sanctified” (hegiasthe). Here is powerful evidence that those addressed are truly believers, confirming what was argued in 6:4-5 for Jesus by his once-for-all offering “perfected forever those who are sanctified” (10:14). Sanctification here is definitive and positional rather than progressive. It is AWKWARD AND UNNATURAL to see a reference to Jesus in the pronoun instead of believers, for it makes little sense to say Jesus was sanctified by his on blood. Jesus is the one who sanctifies in Hebrews (2:11), not the one who is sanctified. Indeed, in chapters 10 and 13 the author clearly states three times that the death of Jesus sanctifies believers (10:10, 14; 13:12). Nor is it persuasive to say that the sanctification is not saving, comparing it to the sanctification under the old covenant (9:13), which only sanctified externally. The argument fails to persuade, for the point in Hebrews is that Jesus’ sacrifice stands in contrast to the sacrifices of the old covenant. His sacrifice is effective and truly brings sanctification. To say that his sacrifice only sanctifies externally, like the sacrifices of the old covenant, misses one of the major themes of the letter. Contrary to OT sacrifices, Jesus’ sacrifice truly cleanses the conscience. (Schreiner, Commentary on Hebrews (Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation) [B&H Publishing, Nashville, TN 2015], pp. 326-327; bold and capital emphasis mine)

LUKE 22:19-23

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for YOU; do this in remembrance of Me.’ And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for YOU is the new covenant in My blood. But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!’ And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing.” Luke 22:19-23

COMMENTS

What makes Luke’s account rather interesting is that one of those who were present and who actually partook of the Lord’s Supper was Judas himself!

Now if the Lord wanted to exclude Judas he could have easily done so by qualifying his statements, much like he did in John’s Gospel when washing his disciples’ feet, which included Judas as well:

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him,Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, ‘Lord, do You wash my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Never shall You wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.’Jesus said to him, ‘He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, BUT NOT ALL of you.’ For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’ So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you?You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’” John 13:1-18

Christ’s statements that not all of his followers were clean, or that he wasn’t speaking about all of them, show that our Lord had no qualms about making sure that his audience knew he wasn’t referring to all of them. Yet no such qualification appears in our Lord’s words to the disciples when offering them the bread and the cup as a token of his sacrificial death on their behalf.

This, perhaps, explains why Biblical scholars readily admit that Judas personally partook of the Lord’s Supper:

Verse 21

The hand of him that betrayeth me, etc. – What can be desired more, says Dr. Lightfoot, as a demonstration that Judas was present at the eucharist? And, whereas the contrary is endeavored to be proved out of John 13, nothing is made out of nothing; for there is not one syllable throughout that whole chapter of the paschal supper, but of a supper before the feast of the Passover. (Adam Clarke’s Commentaryhttp://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?bk=41&ch=22; bold emphasis mine)

Verse 21

But behold the hand of him that betrayeth me,…. By the “hand” is meant, not figuratively the counsel, contrivance, and conspiracy of Judas to betray him, as the word is used in 2 Samuel 14:19 but literally the hand of Judas, which was then dipping in the dish with Christ, Matthew 26:23 and it follows here, is with me on the table; and is an aggravation of his sin, that one that sat with him at his table, ate bread with him, and dipped his morsel in the same dish, should be the betrayer of him, according to the prophecy in Psalm 41:9 as well as describes and points at the person that should do this action, even one of his disciples; for which disciples, he had just now said, his body is given, and his blood is shed. The phrase, “with me”, is left out in the Syriac and Persic versions. From Luke’s account it appears most clearly, that Judas was not only at the passover, but at the Lord’s supper, since this was said when both were over. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Biblehttp://www.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?bk=41&ch=22; bold emphasis mine)

“… By referring to Judas’s betrayal after the Lord’s supper rather before (Mark 14:18-21; Matt 26:21-25), Luke revealed that participation in the Lord’s Supper does not guarantee membership in God’s kingdom. Compare John 13:26 and 13:27-30. Luke presented similar teachings elsewhere (see comments on 8:4-15; 13:22-30, ‘The Lukan message’).” (Robert Stein, Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (New American Commentary) [B&H Publishing Group, 1993], p. 546; bold emphasis mine)

“The introduction of a betrayer in v 21 is pregnant with significance. First, it is stunning simply that the inner circle of Jesus’ followers, those who constitute the kin group with whom he has chosen to share Passover, includes a betrayer (cf. 21:16). Though Luke does little linguistically to point his audience in this direction, we may nonetheless hear reverberations of the tragedy detailed with respect to the suffering righteous, including the travesty of treachery by a table intimate (Ps 41:9). Second, although ‘hand’ often has the transferred sense of ‘power,’ this term has also been used in reference to those who stand over against Jesus, those seeking his demise. That such a person is present even at Passover with Jesus is illustrative of the openness of his practices of table fellowship, but is also reminiscent of his earlier warning: Sharing table fellowship with Jesus, even listening to his teachings – these are no guarantee of entry into eschatological redemption (13:22-30)…” (Joel b. Green, The Gospel of Luke (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997], pp. 764-765; bold emphasis mine)

2 PETER 2:1

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them (kai ton agorasanta autous despoten ‘arnoumenoi), bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”

COMMENTS

Ironically, John Calvin affirmed that this verse is referring to persons whom the Lord Jesus actually redeemed!

Even denying the Lord that bought them. Though Christ may be denied in various ways, yet Peter, as I think, refers here to what is expressed by Jude, that is, when the grace of God is turned into lasciviousness; for Christ redeemed us, that he might have a people separated from all the pollutions of the world, and devoted to holiness and innocency. They, then, who throw off the bridle, and give themselves up to all kinds of licentiousness, are not unjustly said to deny Christ BY WHOM THEY HAVE BEEN REDEEMED. Hence, that the doctrine of the gospel may remain whole and complete among us, let this be fixed in our minds, that we have been redeemed by Christ, that he may be the Lord of our life and of our death, and that our main object ought to be, to live to him and to die to him. He then says, that their swift destruction was at hand, lest others should be ensnared by them. (164) (Calvin’s Commentaries https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/2peter-2.html; bold and capital emphasis mine)

One objection raised is that Peter doesn’t use the typical word for Lord here, namely Kyrios, and doesn’t say that these unbelievers were purchased by the blood of Christ.

The problem with this assertion is that the epistle of Jude, which is believed to be the parallel to this section in 2 Peter, employs Despotes for Christ:

“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (kai ton monon Despoten kai Kyrion hemon ‘Iesoun Christon ‘arnoumenoi).” Jude 1:4

Secondly, there are other passages where believers are said to have been bought or purchased without mentioning the blood of Christ:

“For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

“You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” 1 Corinthians 7:23 in all English translations

“And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.” Revelation 14:3-4

However, which Christian would deny that these individuals were ransomed by the blood of Christ, especially when there are other texts that specifically state this?

“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.’” Revelation 5:9-10

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.’ Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘My lord, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.’” Footnotes: Revelation 7:9-17

“and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—” Revelation 1:5

Peter himself affirms this in his first epistle:

“This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,” 2 Peter 3:1

“knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.1 Peter 1:18-19

LUKE 19:41-44

“When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation (episkopes).’” Luke 19:41-44

COMMENTS

Christ weeps over Jerusalem’s rejection of him, resulting in the nation losing out on the peace that he had come to grant them. Luke’s Gospel explains what Jesus meant by Israel’s time of visitation:

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited (epeskepsato) us and accomplished redemption for His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant—… And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; To give to His people the knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins, Because of the tender mercy of our God, With which the Sunrise from on high will visit (episkepsetai) us, To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:68-69, 76-79

Christ, therefore, came to redeem people from their sins who, instead of experiencing salvation, ended up being punished for their rejection of the Lord who had visited them.

John Calvin agreed:

  1. And wept over it. As there was nothing which Christ more ardently desired than to execute the office which the Father had committed to him, and as he knew that the end of his calling was to gather the lost sheep of the house of Israel, (Matthew 15:24,) he wished that his coming might bring salvation to ALL. This was the reason why he was moved with compassion, and wept over the approaching destruction of the city of Jerusalem. For while he reflected that this was the sacred abode which God had chosen, in which the covenant of eternal salvation should dwell — the sanctuary from which salvation would go forth to the whole world, it was impossible that he should not deeply deplore its ruin. And when he saw the people, who had been adopted to the hope of eternal life, perish miserably through their ingratitude and wickedness, we need not wonder if he could not refrain from tears. (Calvin’s Commentary on the BibleChapter 19; bold, capital and underline emphasis mine)
  2. O if even thou hadst known! The discourse is pathetic, and therefore abrupt; for we know that by those who are under the influence of vehement passion their feelings are not more than half-expressed. Besides, two feelings are here mingled; for not only does Christ bewail the destruction of the city, but he likewise reproaches the ungrateful people with the deepest guilt, in rejecting the salvation WHICH WAS OFFERED TO THEM, and drawing down on themselves a dreadful judgment of God. The word even, which is interwoven with it, is emphatic; for Christ silently contrasts Jerusalem with the other cities of Judea, or rather, of the whole world, and the meaning is: “If Even thou, who art distinguished by a remarkable privilege above the whole world, — if thou at least, (I say,) who art a heavenly sanctuary in the earth, hadst known ” This is immediately followed by another amplification taken from the time: “Though hitherto thou hast wickedly and outrageously rebelled against God, now at least there is time for repentance.” For he means that the day is now at hand, which had been appointed by the eternal purpose of God FOR THE SALVATION OF JERUSALEM, and had been foretold by the prophets. Thus (says Isaiah) is the accepted timethis is the day of salvation, (Isaiah 49:82 Corinthians 6:2.) (Ibid.; bold, capital and underline emphasis mine)
  3. For the days shall come upon thee. He now assumes, as it were, the character of a judge, and addresses Jerusalem with greater severity. In like manner the prophets also, though they shed tears over the destruction of those about whom they ought to feel anxiety, yet they summon up courage to pronounce severe threatenings, because they know that not only are they commanded to watch over the salvation of men, but that they have also been appointed to be the heralds of the judgment of God. Under these terms Jesus declares that Jerusalem will suffer dreadful punishment, because she did not know the time of her visitation; that is, because she despised the Redeemer who had been exhibited to her, AND DID NOT EMBRACE HIS GRACE. Let the fearful nature of the punishments which she endured now alarm us, that we may not, by our carelessness, extinguish the light of salvation, but may be careful to receive the grace of God, and may even run with rigor to meet it. (Ibid.; bold, capital and underline emphasis mine)

I have more examples in the next installment: https://answeringallah.com/limited-atonement-debate-pt-3/

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