FIVE VERSES – Unlimited Atonement (2)7 min read
The subject of limited atonement is tremendously vital to refute, for it is in fact a heresy that has arisen to be “common Christian doctrine” to many, when it is actually far from Scripture. And to prove its lack of basis, we have looked at five verses that clearly show why it cannot be considered as true. But we are going to go further with that and look at five more verses, because Scripture speaks so loudly on this issue. Again, dear reader, if you believe in limited atonement, this does not mean you are a heathen or anything like that. But please, consider Scripture.
Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.”
There is no substitute for the phrase “all men”: it cannot be anything but all-inclusive. If this phrase was found anywhere else that didn’t deal with salvation, the Calvinist would agree that it literally means “all.” But for some reason, the meaning is unclear in this verse? Such reasoning doesn’t make sense – Biblically first, and also logically.
And so we have something that appeared (Greek: epephanē) to all. What was it? It was grace. But it is not just general grace: it is grace that brings salvation. It is the grace of “for by grace are you saved through faith.” This has appeared to all men in that all men are responsible to respond to it, just as all men are commanded to repent. Salvation is offered to all, and for this not to be deceptive, Christ’s atonement had to be unlimited. Salvation is only by His blood; salvation is offered to all; therefore, His blood must be sufficient for all.
1 Timothy 4:10 “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.”
This verse is enough to refute both limited atonement and universalism. One Calvinist has written “Christ’s blood inherently saves. Since not all are saved, Christ’s blood cannot be for all.” This is wrong in that the author makes no distinction in the difference between shed blood (making the provision) and applied blood (bringing salvation). But notice what else the author implies: if this statement is true, all who believe in unlimited atonement must be universalists, believing that all men will eventually be saved. But our verse is a balanced approach to refute both limited atonement and universalism.
As for our topic, notice the phrase “Saviour of all men.” Does this mean all men are saved? No. That is why Paul says “specially of those who believe.” He makes the provision broad enough to cover all, while leaving the application limited to those who believe. This is the simple truth of the gospel. This is our basis for preaching. We preach the Saviour of all in that He is the only hope for any man. He is designated and set apart as the Deliverer: this applies to all. The question of salvation, though, depends on whether they receive Him as that deliverer. It is perfectly reasonable and, more importantly, Biblical to believe in unlimited atonement, while rejecting universalism.
Romans 5:6 “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Thank God for a compassionate Saviour! He saw poor, doomed sinners as they wandered to Hell helplessly, and He did something about it. But what did He do? “Christ died.” For who? For the elect only? For Good people? For Jews (who in one sense were God’s elect in that they were chosen)? He died for the ungodly. Now, if the so-called “reprobate” are not included in Christ’s provision, this means they are godly. But Scripture says otherwise: “ALL have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.” “ALL we like sheep have gone astray.” All are ungodly; therefore, Christ died for all. There is no way around this. And even if the phrase “of the elect” was added, the verse would still not make sense. “Christ died for the ungodly of the elect”? This is not good interpretation.
1 John 4:14 “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”
This verse agrees with 1 Timothy 4:10 and John 1:29 in that the whole world is in view when it comes to Christ’s “Saviourhood.” As we have said again and again, there is no possibility of this if limited atonement is true. Notice, though, on another note, what is at stake when it comes to this subject.
- The testimony of the apostles is at stake. This was the message that was so passionately preached, that Christ was the Saviour of the world. This was especially true of John. Matthew was focused on speaking to the Jews. Luke and Mark were focused on speaking to Gentiles – Greeks and Romans. John, however, preached salvation to all, and for all who would believe. This verse was his basis for doing so, and yet limited atonement would imply that the apostles were obviously confused. A huge deal of their preaching is at stake, as is ours, if limited atonement is true. A “whosoever will” gospel is the gospel of Scripture, and we must be faithful to preach it.
- The Person of Christ is at stake. The Father sent the Son for the purpose to be the Saviour of the world, that salvation might be preached to all and His love to all men be made manifest. For Christ to have fulfilled His Father’s will and to have actually finished the work, He had to die for the whole world. It is very simple, yet it is most profound. If limited atonement is indeed true, this glorious truth is made extremely vague. It is actually quite sad. We must not look at Scripture through “what makes sense to us,” because if that were the case, how could we ever define doctrine? We must interpret Scripture according to Scripture. We do not interpret Scripture by “TULIP” or anything else. We interpret it by what it says and by what other passages say it means. We have in two parts looked at 10 verses that point to unlimited atonement: Scripture is abundantly clear on the issue. Will we believe it? Let us do so for Christ’s sake: it is His Person we are dealing with.
Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
The phrase of interest is the last one: “without the shedding of blood is no remission [of sin].” The reason we have included this verse is because it may shed light onto the trouble some have as they wonder “If Christ did indeed die for all, yet not all are saved, does this mean some of His blood was wasted?” This question comes from a misunderstanding of the purpose for the shedding of blood. It is not that His blood is divided according to what part was shed for whom: that is not Biblical. His blood was fully shed for each individual person. Even if there was one sinner on earth for whom Christ died, all of His blood would have had to be shed. The question is not of amount of blood, but of completeness and sufficiency of the sacrifice. You see, none of Christ’s blood was wasted, because the completeness of its shedding was essential anyway. If it was that each person had a small part of His blood, then it would be sufficient for Him (no disrespect intended) to have atoned by a paper cut for the sin of a few specific people. This isn’t the case. All of His blood had to be shed as a sacrifice to God, and all of God’s wrath was born by Christ. His sacrifice was an infinite one, and there is no limit to its effect. If this was understood properly, the issue of limited atonement would not be as controversial as it is today.