Home > False Doctrine > Arminian Errors Pt 5

Arminian Errors Pt 5

(iv) THE ATONEMENT

The Atonement is the satisfaction which the Lord Jesus Christ by His obedience unto death gave to all the claims of God’s law and justice in the room and stead of all given Him by the Father. It is on the ground and basis of Christ’s atonement—the work which He finished and the sacrifice which He offered—that sinners are reconciled to God. It is the sacrifice which God Himself in His infinite love, mercy, and wisdom provided whereby in a way consistent with the righteousness of His nature, sinners, lost, guilty and hell-deserving would be saved with an everlasting salvation. ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins’ (1 John 4:10). The love of the Son in coming to suffer and die is equal to the love of the Father Who sent Him. Christ’s sacrifice is the one and only sacrifice for sin. It is of infinite value and merit, because the sacrifice of God in our nature. ‘The blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanseth us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7). And to Christ alone as the propitiation through faith in His blood are we as sinners directed to look for salvation, ‘for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12).

Arminians believe in a Universal Atonement, that Christ died for all and every man alike, for Judas as well as for Peter, and in support of their view they appeal to certain passages in Scripture, which on the surface appear to teach that Christ died for the whole world of mankind. It is evident from Scripture that the term ‘world’ has a variety of meanings, and that it must always be interpreted according to the context in which it is found. This also applies to the word ‘all.’ The texts used by the Arminians to support their theory of a Universal Atonement can all be explained in the light of the context as setting forth an atonement for all the elect and the elect only. They do not in the slightest way contradict the Scriptural and Calvinistic doctrine of a Definite or Limited Atonement—limited in its design, limitless in its efficacy. According to the Word of God, Christ by His death infallibly secured the salvation of the elect, those chosen in Him and given Him by the Father before the foundation of the world. Those for whom Christ suffered and died are called ‘His sheep’ (John 10:11,15); ‘His Church’ (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25-27); ‘His people’ (Matthew 1:21); ‘His elect’ (Romans 8:32-35). If Christ died for all, then all would be saved, for it is impossible that they for whom Christ died and whose guilt He expiated, should be condemned and lost on account of that guilt. In His intercessory prayer Christ prays for all for whom He offered Himself as a sacrifice. ‘I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me: for they are Thine’ (John 17:9). And on these alone He bestows eternal life. ‘As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him’ (John 17:2).

The Universal Call of the Gospel and a Definite Atonement

If Christ’s death was only for the elect, how can pardon and salvation be offered to all?

“The preachers of the gospel” says Dr. John Owen, “in their particular congregations, being utterly unacquainted with the purpose and secret counsel of God, being also forbidden to pry or search into it, (Deut. 29:29) may justifiably call upon every man to believe, with assurance of salvation to every one in particular upon his so doing; knowing and being fully persuaded of this, that there is enough in the death of Christ to save every one that shall do so; leaving the purpose and counsel of God on whom He will bestow faith and for whom in particular Christ died, to Himself. When God calls upon men to believe, He does not in the first place call upon them to believe that Christ died for them: but that there is none other name under heaven among men, whereby we must be saved, but only of Jesus Christ, through whom salvation is preached. (Death of Death. Bk. 4, Ch. 1).

In Vol. 3, p. 295 of his Works, Dr. Owen also says, “Preachers of the gospel and others have sufficient warrant to press upon all men the duties of faith, repentance, and obedience, although they know in themselves they have not a sufficiency of ability for their due performance; for (1) It is the will and command of God that they should do so, and that is the rule of their duties. They are not to consider what men can do or will do, but what God requires. To make a judgment of men’s ability and to accommodate the commands of God unto them accordingly, is not consistent unto any of the sons of men… such are God’s commands, and such are the duties required in them. In and by them God doth use to communicate of His grace unto the souls of men: not with respect unto them as their duties, but as they are ways appointed and sanctified by Him unto such ends.”

John Calvin says, “As ministers of the Gospel are messengers between God and men, the first duty devolving upon them is to make free offer of the grace of God, and the second is to strive with all their might that it may not be offered in vain.”

The Sinner’s Warrant to Believe in Christ

“Let no sinner exclude himself from the benefit of the gospel, by saying either I know not if I be elect, or I know not if I be a believer and so I know not if Christ died for me and gave Himself for me in particular. This is to mistake the ground and object of faith: for as salvation in God’s purpose to the elect is not the ground of faith, and salvation in possession of the believer is not the ground of faith, but salvation in the Word of grace and in the gospel offer: this is the glad news that comes to the sinner’s ears, upon which he may build his faith and hope of salvation.

“The question then is not, are you an elect person or not? nor is it are you a believer or not? But the question is, are you a sinner that needs a Saviour? It is not Christ in the decree of election that you are to look to, while you know not that you are elected, that is to go too far back; nor is it Christ in the heart or in possession you are to look to, while you are not a believer, this is to go too far forward; but it is Christ in the Word. You know that you are a sinner, and Christ a Saviour held forth to you there, saying, “Look unto Me and be ye saved all ends of the earth, for I am God and beside Me there is none else.” (Ralph Erskine).

An Erroneous Presentation of the Gospel Call

“In giving the gospel call, take heed to the warrant wherewith you accompany it,” said the Prof. R. Watts, D.D., LL.D., an eminent Calvinistic theologian of his day in an address—’The Gospel Call’ which he gave to divinity students of the Assembly College, Belfast, in 1867. “In calling upon men to believe, beware that you give no other warrant than what God’s Word authorizes you to give…. The warrant of faith which consists in assuring all men that Christ died for them, is, in view of the awful fact that all men are not saved, utterly derogatory to the work of the Redeemer, as well as to the honour, the justice, and the truth of the everlasting Father. You will be led to conclude that the professedly unlimited atonement is really so limited as to be no atonement at all. The giving of such a warrant, in view of the unquestionable fact that millions of those for whom it is alleged the satisfaction was made, have perished, involves an impeachment of the love, and truth, and justice of the Father, or of the all-perfect righteousness of Christ. Whatever difficulties you may feel in giving the gospel call, you must not attempt to obviate them by the adoption of a theory of the atonement which strips it of all its glory and abstracts from it all that renders it efficaciously redemptive, or that really constitutes it a ground of the faith of God’s people and a guarantee for their full and final salvation. A desire for success has led many an ambassador to fall into the error. Commissioned to ‘preach the gospel’—to preach Christ and Him crucified— to proclaim the unsearchable riches which are treasured up in His person and work—the ambassador has reduced the gospel, the inexhaustible theme to one sentence, and shriveling up his message, has discharged it in the one utterance—’Christ has died for you!’ Out of this prime error has arisen all his embarrassment. Such a warrant of faith requires, as its background, either a special revelation in regard to the parties addressed or a universal atonement. Not being possessed of the former, the herald has endeavoured to find relief by adopting the latter.

“The preaching of the gospel does not consist in the utterance of one or two concise invitations to come to Christ. The object of preaching is to ‘produce both faith and repentance, and such invitations are fitted to produce neither. You are to expound and proclaim to all men the way of life, by exhibiting Christ in the infinite dignity of His person and grace of His official relations and work; you are to urge upon men the duty of accepting the salvation offered by God in Him, and of submitting to be saved in the way which, in the infinite mercy of God, has been provided. In doing this, you are to ply those you address with all the arguments furnished by the worth of the soul, the bliss of heaven, the unutterable woes of the lost, the justice and wrath of God, revealed in His law and in the history of its administration, and by His love and mercy exhibited in Christ and His work. This done, you can assure them that all who obey this call shall be saved. This done, your work as an ambassador is done. You have said all you have authority to say. In the execution of such a commission, the question will come to you again and again—Can these bones live? But in your felt incompetency to quicken the dead which strew the valley of vision into which the Head of the Church may carry you, call to mind the truth to which attention has been already directed; remember that you are a co-worker with God; that whilst you have charge of the external call, there is another—an internal call—given by the Omnipotent, lifegiving Spirit, whose it is to shine into the hearts of men, and give them to behold that glory of God in the face of Christ which it is yours to display before the minds of men in their natural estate.” (Free Presbyterian Magazine, Vol. 37:1).

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel

 

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