Posts Tagged ‘The Cross’

Anselm_of_Canterbury“Come, then, while life remains in you. In his death alone place your whole trust; in nothing else place any trust;….with this alone cover yourself wholly; and if the Lord your God wills to judge you, say: Lord, between your judgment and me I present the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; in no other way can I contend with you. And if he shall say that you are a sinner, say: Lord, I interpose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my sins and you. If he should say that you deserve condemnation, say: Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my evil deserts and you, and his merits I offer for those which I ought to have and have not. If he says that he is angry with you, say: Lord, I oppose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between your wrath and me. And when you have completed this, say again: Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between me and you.” – Anselm of Canterbury (1033- 1109) 


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So the issue of Limited atonement has come up.  Some feel insisting Christ died on the cross only for an elect few (or just some) inherently twists and does violence to other scriptures where it apears that God would save all men without distinction.  Verses like John 3:16, or even 1 Timothy 2:3-6 which reads;

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” (ESV)

Now I just want to address it in a few ways.

First, (as been has been duly noted by now) we must make distinction when we use universal terms like “all” or “the whole world.” This is done all the time.  In 1 Cor 15:27 we see even Paul does the same thing actually states that he is doing it.

“For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.”

(It is Namely God, who is excepted).

So here Paul is saying “everything” (similar to all, or all things) does not mean everything without exception and so he adds the caveat himself – Paul himself adds this caveat in the verse. He’s quoting Ps 8:6 and saying that even though it says “everything” it doesn’t mean absolutely “everything”.

Another passage: Joel 2:28a

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;”

Yet later in Acts 2, Peter cites this prophecy but interprets it as applying to those who had been filled with the Spirit at Pentecost, not just plain old everyone.

But now let’s get to the Timothy passage: I’m just going to quote some Robert Reymond for you – on 1 Timothy 2:3-6

“Paul’s statement “Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, must be interpreted in harmony with his earlier statement, “God our Savior, who will all men to be saved” (3-4). Paul’s earlier statement cannot possibly be construed to mean that God decretally wills the salvation of all men without exception, not only because such an interpretation would require the necessary implicate that all meant without exception will in fact then be saved, which is denied by such verses as Matt. 7:23, 25:46, but also because such an interpretation conflicts with several Pauline and other NT declarations to the effect that before the creation of the world God chose only some men to salvation (see Rom. 8.28-30; 9.11-23; 11.6-7; Eph. 1.4-5; 1 Tim. 1:9) . Nor is it likely that Paul means that God wishes or desires the salvation of all men without exception, for surely what God desires to come to pass, he would have decreed to come to pass. Therefore, Paul’s earlier statement is best understood t mean that God wills (that is , decrees) to save (some from) all categories of men but not all men without exception. This interpretation receives support both from the latter “all kinds of evil” in Tim 6:10 which we have already considered and from Paul’s earlier usage of “all men” in Tim 2:1, whish is also best taken this way. Not only would “prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings” in behalf if “all” men without exception be positively evil, for such prayers would then need to be offered for the dead and also for the one who has committed the “sin unto death” which John does not encourage (1 John 5:16) but also Paul’s following phrase “for kings and all these who are in authority,” indicates that he was thinking in terms of categories of men–that is, all kinds of men—even kings and governors—because God has willed all classes of men—even kings and governors—to be saved. When Paul the declares in v5-6 that Christ “gave himself as a ransom for all,” he doubtless presumes that he will be understood, against the earlier contextual background, to mean that Christ died for particular men in all those categories of men whom God wills to save. Then later, when he describes the living God as the “Savior of all men, that is, believers” (1 Tim 4:10), he doubtless presumes again that he will be understood, against the earlier contextual background, to mean that God is the savior of believers, who are found among all categories of men. – Robert Reymond, The divine Design Behind the Cross Work of Christ from “A new Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith”

I hope this helps you. And don’t be afraid to dig deeper. For even though it seems certain problems arise all the time only to confuse things, don’t be deterred. For the enemy always wants to confuse us, and preach doubt into our hearts… Doubt about God’s love, his providence, his power.  Much of this kind of teaching stems from a latent inclination to retain at least some power and control over our own lives — our free wills, our autonomy.  But this is pride and false teaching always likes to make use of our pride.  But false teaching in the end you will find is false particularly because it didn’t have as strong of a hold nor understanding of the scriptures. And this is how many are led astray into so many errors.

I just want you to know, that Armenianism (or universalism) is just one of those errors. Don’t be discouraged. Look to the scriptures, read from those who you trust (not so much from those you don’t) and then ask God to lead you into all truth by his Spirit as he has promised.

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” – John 16:13

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