Sunday, February 28, 2010

For whom did Christ die for?

Ok, in light of discussions I have had on other blogs, and the maniacal way I sometimes just jump into the deep end of the pool with no idea how to swim, I decided to post this long apologetic from John Piper on limited atonement.

The debate over whom Christ died for (among extremely large brains) has spurned heated debates, split churches and ruined friendships.

I am not posting this work of Piper's for any of those reasons.

The arguments for limited atonement and unlimited atonement are many and each side have supporting Scripture that appears to justify either sides position.

I have studied both sides of the issue for about a year now. I have been on both sides of the fence and now I'm sitting on that fence.

I have prayed on this.

I have read many books and listened to many sermons from both sides. Do I think this post and the subsequent comments will help me off the fence and settle into the pasture of either side?

Maybe....maybe not.

I'll leave this post up for a while. Feel free, no matter which side you fall on, to offer your take on this doctrine of limited attonement.

Here is John Piper from

For Whom Did Christ Die?
& What Did Christ Actually Achieve on the Cross for Those for Whom He Died?

By John Piper

The atonement is the work of God in Christ on the cross whereby he cancelled the debt of our sin, appeased his holy wrath against us, and won for us all the benefits of salvation. The death of Christ was necessary because God would not show a just regard for his glory if he swept sins under the rug with no recompense.

Romans 3:25-26 says that God "put Christ forward as a propitiation by his blood...This was to demonstrate God's righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

In other words the death of Christ was necessary to vindicate the righteousness of God in justifying the ungodly by faith. It would be unrighteous to forgive sinners as though their sin were insignificant, when in fact it is an infinite insult against the value of God's glory. Therefore Jesus bears the curse, which was due to our sin, so that we can be justified and the righteousness of God can be vindicated.

The term "limited atonement" addresses the question, "For whom did Christ die?" But behind the question of the extent of the atonement lies the equally important question about the nature of the atonement. What did Christ actually achieve on the cross for those for whom he died?

If you say that he died for every human being in the same way, then you have to define the nature of the atonement very differently than you would if you believed that Christ only died for those who actually believe. In the first case you would believe that the death of Christ did not actually save anybody; it only made all men savable. It did not actually remove God's punitive wrath from anyone, but instead created a place where people could come and find mercy -- IF they could accomplish their own new birth and bring themselves to faith without the irresistible grace of God.

For if Christ died for all men in the same way then he did not purchase regenerating grace for those who are saved. They must regenerate themselves and bring themselves to faith. Then and only then do they become partakers of the benefits of the cross.

In other words if you believe that Christ died for all men in the same way, then the benefits of the cross cannot include the mercy by which we are brought to faith, because then all men would be brought to faith, but they aren't. But if the mercy by which we are brought to faith (irresistible grace) is not part of what Christ purchased on the cross, then we are left to save ourselves from the bondage of sin, the hardness of heart, the blindness of corruption, and the wrath of God.

Therefore it becomes evident that it is not the Calvinist who limits the atonement. It is the Arminian, because he denies that the atoning death of Christ accomplishes what we most desperately need -- namely, salvation from the condition of deadness and hardness and blindness under the wrath of God. The Arminian limits the nature and value and effectiveness of the atonement so that he can say that it was accomplished even for those who die in unbelief and are condemned. In order to say that Christ died for all men in the same way, the Arminian must limit the atonement to a powerless opportunity for men to save themselves from their terrible plight of depravity.

On the other hand we do not limit the power and effectiveness of the atonement. We simply say that in the cross God had in view the actual redemption of his children. And we affirm that when Christ died for these, he did not just create the opportunity for them to save themselves, but really purchased for them all that was necessary to get them saved, including the grace of regeneration and the gift of faith.

We do not deny that all men are the intended beneficiaries of the cross in some sense. 1 Timothy 4:10 says that Christ is "the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." What we deny is that all men are intended as the beneficiaries of the death of Christ in the same way. All of God's mercy toward unbelievers -- from the rising sun (Matthew 5:45) to the worldwide preaching of the gospel (John 3:16) -- is made possible because of the cross.

This is the implication of Romans 3:25 where the cross is presented as the basis of God's righteousness in passing over sins. Every breath that an unbeliever takes is an act of God's mercy withholding judgment (Romans 2:4). Every time the gospel is preached to unbelievers it is the mercy of God that gives this opportunity for salvation.

Whence does this mercy flow to sinners? How is God just to withhold judgment from sinners who deserve to be immediately cast into hell? The answer is that Christ's death so clearly demonstrates God's just abhorrence of sin that he is free to treat the world with mercy without compromising his righteousness. In this sense Christ is the savior of all men.

But he is especially the Savior of those who believe. He did not die for all men in the same sense. The intention of the death of Christ for the children of God was that it purchase far more than the rising sun and the opportunity to be saved. The death of Christ actually saves from ALL evil those for whom Christ died "especially."

There are many Scriptures which say that the death of Christ was designed for the salvation of God's people, not for every individual. For example:

John 10:15, "I lay down my life for the sheep." The sheep of Christ are those whom the Father draws to the Son. "You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep." Notice: being a sheep enables you to become a believer, not vice versa. So the sheep for whom Christ dies are the ones chosen by the Father to give to the Son.

In John 17:6,9,19 Jesus prays, "I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me...I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom thou hast given me, for they are thine...And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth." The consecration in view here is the death of Jesus which he is about to undergo. His death and his intercession us uniquely for his disciples, not for the world in general.

John 11:51-52, "[Caiaphas] being high priest that year prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad." There are children of God scattered throughout the world. These are the sheep. These are the ones the Father will draw to the Son. Jesus died to gather these people into one. The point is the same as John 10:15-16, "I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice." Christ died for his sheep, that is, for the children of God.

Revelation 5:9, "Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." In accordance with John 10:16 John does not say that the death of Christ ransomed all men but that it ransomed men from all the tribes of the world.

This is the way we understand texts like 1 John 2:2 which says, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." This does not mean that Christ died with the intention to appease the wrath of God for every person in the world, but that the "sheep," "the children of God" scattered throughout the whole world, "from every tongue and tribe and people and nation" are intended by the propitiation of Christ. In fact the grammatical parallel between John 11:51-52 and 1 John 2:2 is so close it is difficult to escape the conviction that the same thing is intended by John in both verses.

John 11:51-52, "He prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad."

1 John 2:2, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

The "whole world" refers to the children of God scattered throughout the whole world.

If "the whole world" referred to every individual in the world, we would be forced to say that John is teaching that all people will be saved, which he does not believe (Revelation 14:9-11). The reason we would be forced to say this is that the term propitiation refers to a real removal of wrath from sinners. When God's wrath against a sinner is propitiated, it is removed from that sinner. And the result is that all God's power now flows in the service of his mercy, with the result that nothing can stop him from saving that sinner.

Propitiated sins cannot be punished. Otherwise propitiation loses its meaning. Therefore if Christ is the propitiation for all the sins of every individual in the world, they cannot be punished, and must be saved. But John does not believe in such universalism (John 5:29). Therefore it is very unlikely that 1 John 2:2 teaches that Jesus is the propitiation of every person in the world.

Mark 10:45, in accord with Revelation 5:9,does not say that Jesus came to ransom all men. It says, "For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Similarly in Matthew 26:28 Jesus says, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

Hebrews 9:28, "So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." (See also 13:20; Isaiah 53:11-12.)

One of the clearest passages on the intention of the death of Christ is Ephesians 5:25-27. Here Paul not only says that the intended beneficiary of the death of Christ is the Church, but also that the intended effect of the death of Christ is the sanctification and glorification of the church. This is the truth we want very much to preserve: that the cross was not intended to give all men the opportunity to save themselves, but was intended to actually save the church.

Paul says, "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor."

Similarly in Titus 2:14 Paul describes the purpose of Christ's death like this: "He gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds." If Paul were an Arminian would he not have said, "He gave himself to redeem all men from iniquity and purify all men for himself"? But Paul says that the design of the atonement is to purify for Christ a people out from the world. This is just what John said in John 10:15; 11:51f; and Revelation 5:9.

One of the most crucial texts on this issue is Romans 8:32. It is one of the most precious promises for God's people in all the Bible. Paul says, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?"

The crucial thing to see here is how Paul bases the certainty of our inheritance on the death of Christ. He says, "God will most certainly give you all things because he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for you." What becomes of this precious argument if Christ is given for those who do not in fact receive all things but instead are lost? The argument vanishes.

If God gave his own Son for unbelievers who in the end are lost, then he cannot say that the giving of the Son guarantees "all things" for the those for whom he died. But this is what he does say! If God gave his Son for you, then he most certainly will give you all things. The structure of Paul's thought here is simply destroyed by introducing the idea that Christ died for all men in the same way.

We can conclude this section with the following summary argument. Which of these statements is true?

1. Christ died for some of the sins of all men.

2. Christ died for all the sins of some men.

3. Christ died for all the sins of all men.

No one says that the first is true, for then all would be lost because of the sins that Christ did not die for. The only way to be saved from sin is for Christ to cover it with his blood.

The third statement is what the Arminians would say. Christ died for all the sins of all men. But then why are not all saved? They answer, Because some do not believe. But is this unbelief not one of the sins for which Christ died?

If they say yes, then why is it not covered by the blood of Jesus and all unbelievers saved?

If they say no (unbelief is not a sin that Christ has died for) then they must say that men can be saved without having all their sins atoned for by Jesus, or they must join us in affirming statement number two: Christ died for all the sins of some men.

That is, he died for the unbelief of the elect so that God's punitive wrath is appeased toward them and his grace is free to draw them irresistibly out of darkness into his marvelous light.

©Desiring God Ministries
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do NOT alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 1,000 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be explicitly approved by Desiring God Ministries.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©Desiring God Ministries. Website: Email: Toll Free: 888-346-4700.


Ok, there you go.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Newton on the Law

. . . . . The law is lawfully used as a means of conviction of sin: for this purpose it was promulgated at Sinai. The law entered, that sin might abound: not to make men more wicked, though occasionally and by abuse it has that effect, but to make them sensible how wicked they are. Having God's law in our hands we are no longer to form our judgments by the maxims and customs of the world, where evil is called good, and good evil; but are to try every principle, temper and practice, by this standard. Could men be prevailed upon to do this, they would soon listen to the Gospel with attention.

On some, the Spirit of God does thus prevail: then they earnestly make the jailer's inquiry," What must I do to be saved?" Here the work of grace begins, and the sinner, condemned by his own conscience, is brought to Jesus for life.

John Newton

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lost hymn of the week - Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Frances J. Crosby

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The business of the church

“She is a traitor to the Master who sent her if she is so beguiled by
the beauties of taste and art as to forget that to ‘preach Christ...
and Him crucified’ is the only object for which she exists among
the sons of men. The business of the Church is salvation of souls.”

C.H. Spurgeon

Monday, February 22, 2010

Grace is not a "Thing"

From Reformation Theology

It is legitimate to speak of “receiving grace,” and sometimes (although I am somewhat cautious about the possibility of misusing language) we speak of the preaching of the Word, prayer, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as “means of grace.” That is fine, so long as we remember that there isn’t a thing, a substance, or a “quasi-substance” called “grace.” All there is is the person of the Lord Jesus — “Christ clothed in the gospel,” as Calvin loved to put it. Grace is the grace of Jesus. If I can highlight the thought here: there is no “thing” that Jesus takes from Himself and then, as it were, hands over to me. There is only Jesus Himself.

Grasping that thought can make a significant difference to a Christian’s life. So while some people might think this is just splitting hairs about different ways of saying the same thing, it can make a vital difference. It is not a thing that was crucified to give us a thing called grace. It was the person of the Lord Jesus that was crucified in order that He might give Himself to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

- Sinclair Ferguson

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Going to Mardi Gras!

It's an exciting day!

Tomorrow morning my ministry partner and I head down to New Orleans for a few days of street evangelism in the Big Easy!

We have been looking forward to this for quite a few weeks and many prayers have gone up (and are still going up) for this trip.

We have been blessed by a number of dear Christians who have sacrificially given us the funds to make this trip possible. We received enough money to pay for a rental car and the place we will be staying at.

Because we are meeting up with a student at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, we were able to take advantage of staying at the Providence House (don't you love that name?) across the street from the campus. While most people are paying any where from $250 to $350 a night (and more) to spend a night during Mardi Gras, we are able, through our association with the seminary student, to stay at the Providence House for only $55 a night.

With the Providence House located right across the seminary, we are only 5-10 minutes from all the popular Mardi Gras spots.

We are taking a few thousand tracts, a video camera, a digital camera and my "Are You Ready" cross.

Please pray with us that God will plow many hearts in preparation for the gospel, grant us many opportunities to do 'One to One' witnessing, and allow us to openly read from the Bible for Project Ezra. Pray that we listen to the Holy Spirit and obey what we hear. Pray that God gives us the privilege of winning souls to Christ.

Also, please be in prayer for our families that we are leaving behind to go on this mission trip.

We are greatly excited and a little scared. We know that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Back in a few days!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Capt. Phil Harris of TV's 'Deadliest Catch' dies after stroke

From CNN

(CNN0 -- Capt. Phil Harris of the Discovery Channel show "The Deadliest Catch" died Tuesday of complications from a stroke suffered late last month. He was 53.

Harris, the tattooed and gruff captain of the Cornelia Marie, was a fan favorite in the reality show about crab fishing off Alaska.

"Discovery mourns the loss of dear friend and colleague Captain Phil Harris. He was more than someone on our television screen. Phil was a devoted father and loyal friend to all who knew him," a statement from the network said. "We will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart."

Harris suffered a massive stroke on January 29 while his crew offloaded crab at St. Paul Island, Alaska.

"It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dad -- Captain Phil Harris," said a statement from his sons, Jake and Josh Harris. "Dad has always been a fighter and continued to be until the end."


Captain Phil was one of my favorites on the show. A hard worker and great fisherman who knew his way around the Bering Sea.

But it doesn't matter who you are or where you are when death comes for you.

It will come for you.

Are you ready for death?

Are you ready to face God on Judgment Day?

To find out if you are prepared to make your final stand, go to Need God and take the Good Person Test right now.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Glorious Exchange

From Banner of Truth

My mom reminds me of Jesus. Not because she always acts likes Jesus. In fact, she would be the first to admit that, in her attempts to behave the way Jesus behaved, she fails more often than she succeeds. She reminds me of Jesus because she birthed me. Let me explain.

The very process of giving birth is a beautiful picture of what Jesus Christ has accomplished for sinners like me. In his remarkable book Jesus Ascended, author Gerrit Scott Dawson puts it this way: "A child is conceived through the loving communion of husband and wife. The child grows inside the sheltering womb of the mother. But the child cannot live there forever. He is made for another world, a world of daylight and air, starlight and sky. So in the hours of her labor, the mother offers a new and living way. The way to life as a human being into the world passes through the curtain of her flesh. The curtain must be torn that the child might live and reach the daylight world. The mother is the new and living way. By her pain, the child is born."

This is precisely the way the Bible speaks of Christ's work on the cross. In Isaiah 53, the prophet foretold of a "suffering servant" who would one day bear the sin of many. He tells of a "man of sorrows" who would take on himself the punishment we sinners deserve. He would carry our sickness and swallow our disease. He says in v.6, "All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all." He goes on to say in v.5, "He was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed." Approximately 750 years later, the apostle Peter assures his readers that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (1 Peter 2:22-25). It was Christ who accomplished a glorious exchange: his death brings life. In the same way that we were brought into this world through the pain and suffering of another, we are brought into fellowship with God through the pain and suffering of Christ.

The way to true everlasting life passes through the curtain of Christ's flesh. Because of my sin, he had to die so that I might live. He is the one who passed through the "valley of the shadow of death" so that I might enjoy the "still waters" and "green pastures" that friendship with God brings.

So when I think about my mother, I can't help but think about the suffering she endured to give me life. I was born because, in love, my mom spent herself in pain and agony. Her blood, literally, brought me into this world. Similarly, Christ's blood brings sinners into fellowship with God. Jesus is the new and living way (Heb. 10:20). He not only provides passage to God, he is the passage to God. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

What good news!

W. Tullian Tchividjian

Thursday, February 04, 2010

US debt to hit proposed ceiling by end-February: Treasury

From Google News

WASHINGTON — The US debt is on track to hit a congressionally proposed debt ceiling of 14.3 trillion dollars by the end of February, the Treasury said Wednesday, a day ahead of a key vote to raise it to that level.

"Based on current projections, Treasury expects to reach the debt ceiling as early as the end of February. However, the government's cash flows are volatile, making it difficult to forecast a precise date," the Treasury said in a statement.

The current limit on the public debt of the United States is 12.374 trillion dollars.

The US debt exceeded 12.349 trillion dollars on Monday, according to Treasury data.

The US House of Representatives will vote Thursday on whether to raise the US debt limit to a historic 14.3 trillion dollars, allowing the United States to borrow another 1.9 trillion dollars.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said representatives would take up the measure a week after the Senate approved the higher debt ceiling in a 60-39 vote.

In December, both houses agreed to increase the debt limit by an interim amount of 290 billion dollars to ensure the US government would continue to function.

The Senate also last week passed an amendment to legislation raising the debt ceiling that requires new budget items to be paid for, dubbed "pay-as-you-go."

The measure is intended to prevent the federal government from spending money it does not have and to control the massive US budget deficit.

The House has adopted a similar measure.


I thought that this news story was interesting after Joe A's last comment on the "Ironic" post from the other day.

Joe A said, "Also, we're not going to pay off the debt, especially if we increase it. Let's not forget the unfunded liabilities of the grand government pyramid scheme known as social security and its relations. That's been estimated at around $50 trillion.

Ya, I find truth in the rhetoric of this question, to be frank: "Is America a society of law or is it simply one more corrupt and crumbling oligarchy about to collapse into the dustbin of history?"

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


From Las Vegas Now

President Obama is catching heat from Nevada lawmakers and business leaders regarding his comments Tuesday criticizing trips to Las Vegas.

During the president's town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire, he discussed the need to curb spending during tough economic times. "When times are tough, you tighten your belts," the president said. "You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college."

Rest of story HERE

(Italics and bolding mine)

Tebow versus the left -

From The Christian Post

Though people complain that the upcoming Focus on the Family Super Bowl ad is divisive and controversial, the commercial is simply allowing a family to tell its personal story, contends a theologian.

Dr. Darrell Bock, research professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, said there is a push back on the ability of someone to tell a personal story, or the right to free speech.

“Some people use the word hate speech [to describe the ad] and they haven’t even seen it,” Bock told The Christian Post Friday. “This is particularly odd in a society where all kinds of free speech that would be uncomfortable for a lot of people [are aired]. But someone tells a personal story and they try to cut that off.”

Bock said the ad should be aired and be part of the continuing conversation about the issue of abortion.

Read rest of story HERE


Why are so many on the left opposed to this commercial when they have not even seen it yet?

What could possibly be wrong with Tebow's mom explaining why she chose life over death?