This sermon excerpt on limited atonement is from Reformed Theology by Adrian Rogers. (Archived by Louisiana College) Read the full sermon.
We’re going to tighten the focus a little bit more. Here’s the third thing…and that is LIMITED ATONEMENT… the idea that Jesus died for only some people. I want to give you a verse right now that gives the hyper-Calvinist fits. I want you to turn to 1 John 2:1-2: “My little children, these things I write unto you that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” He’s talking about the Lord Jesus who pleads our case before the Father. And now, notice verse 2: “And He is the propitiation for our sins.” Now, that’s a big word that simply means that He is “satisfaction” for our sins that is the Lord Jesus who paid our sin debt and satisfied the righteous demands of the Law. He is the propitiation for our sins. Now watch this…“And not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” I believe that Jesus died for the whole world. I can’t help but believe that. There’s no other way to say what black print means on white paper.
What will a hyper-Calvinist say about this verse? Well, he’ll say “Oh, the whole world of the elect.” And he’ll put a little codicil down there. He’ll write something in that’s not there. “Well, the whole world of the elect.” He’s not talking about the elect when he says the whole world. By the way, any text taken out of its context is a pretext…you know that, don’t you?
Alright, what kind of a “world” is he talking about? Verse 16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life is not of the Father but of the world.”
He’s not talking about the world of the elect. He’s talking about an ungodly world. And he’s saying that Jesus died for that ungodly world! And he’s not talking about Jesus dying for the elect only. He says that He is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only…not just for the “chosen frozen”…He is the propitiation for the whole world. Now, I could not pick up my Bible and read it…if there were no other verse in the Bible but this one, I could not be a hyper-Calvinist…I could not be a five-point Calvinist, let me put it that way.
Let me give you another verse. Turn to 2 Peter 2:1. Peter here is talking about apostates and if you know anything about apostates you know they’re on their road to hell. They deny the Lord. Look if you will at 2 Peter 2:1: “But there were false prophets also among the people even as there shall be false teachers among you who privately bring in damnable heresies even denying the Lord that bought them,” “The Lord that bought them.” They were bought with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, they are heretics! They are bringing damnable heresies, going to hell but bought with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ!
How could a person therefore believe in a limited atonement? What’s the first verse you probably learned? John 3:16: “For God so loved the elect?” No? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that if the elect would believe on Him?” begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
No, I don’t believe in limited atonement, and I’ll tell you why. While we’re in 2 Peter, go to chapter 3 verse 9. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” It’s not God’s will that any man go to hell. God’s will is not always done. Did you get the idea that because God is sovereign that God’s will is always done? Do you think rape is God’s will? Do you think sodomy is God’s will? Do you think blasphemy is God’s will? No, God gave man a will. God Himself is not willing that any should perish, but God gave man a will and some do perish but the love of God will follow that man to that hell with tears if he goes.
Now here’s the way hyper-Calvinist explains it. Here’s a farmer, he has a swimming hole on his farm. He puts up a sign that says “NO SWIMMING UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES – PRIVATE PROPERTY – STAY OUT!” Three boys come in and begin to swim. They get out in the middle and they’re drowning. He drives by on his tractor, looks over there and there are the three boys. Do they deserve to drown? Yes. Is he obligated to save them? No. Did he put up the sign? Yes. Is he unjust if he lets them drown (I’m talking about hyper-Calvinism, now)? No. No, he’s not unjust. He said “Don’t do it.” They did it. They chose. Could he be blamed if they drowned? No, so if he wants to,
he can be perfectly just by riding right past on his tractor.
But suppose he says, “Oh, I’m going to have mercy on the boy in the blue trunks,” so he throws him a line. After all, he doesn’t have to have mercy on any of them. So he just decides that he’s just going to choose “that one.” What if he just chooses “that one” and says to the other two, “You can drown. You deserve to drown. I choose that one,” and he throws that one a line because he is “elect” and he’s the one that is saved.
Someone says, “Now, see, that’s consistent with the nature of God. God’s still perfectly just if He does that.” That’s not consistent with the nature of God because not only is God just…God is love. God is love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish…” Do you think that God, a God of love, would not choose to save all three of those boys?
Now, suppose the farmer throws a line to all three boys? And two of them say, “No thank you, I think I can make it to shore.” He says, “No, take the line.” They say, “I’m going to do it myself.” And they perish. Now does that mean that his love was not real and ineffectual? Not at all!
Look if you will in John 1:29. John the Baptist saw the Lord Jesus Christ coming and he said, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the elect.” No! “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.” Do you know what motivated the Apostle Paul? Do you know what made Paul the greatest missionary-soul-winner that ever lived? It wasn’t hyper- Calvinism. I’ll tell you what it was. Turn to 2 Corinthians 5:13. Now, they said that Paul was crazy. They said, “Paul, you’re out of your mind. You’re beside yourself.” And he says, “Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constrained us because we thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead.” How many did Jesus die for? ALL! All the dead! “If One died for all, then were all dead that He that died for all that they which live
should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto Him that died for them and rose again.” What Paul is saying is “This is what motivates me…I’m not crazy…they were all dead…and Jesus died for ALL.” He died for all. And if you don’t say that Jesus died you might as well say with the same logic that all were not dead. That in Adam all did not die. But the Bible says that in Adam all died, even so in Christ are all made alive. Friend, the hyper-Calvinist will say, “If you say that Jesus’ death was for all and all don’t get saved, then that makes his death ineffectual…it means He’s not sovereign.”
I want to ask you a question. When God fed the children of Israel with manna in the wilderness, do you think all the manna was eaten? Do you think some of it lay on the ground and didn’t get picked up? Of course! Did that mean God didn’t do it or that God was not showing love and mercy just because some manna was not taken? If God offers His love and His love is not received, that doesn’t mean God has failed, that means man has failed. God is love!
I reject their belief of limited atonement because of these Scriptures that are so clear and so plain. He is the propitiation for our sin and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
(Stay tuned for PART FIVE…)