Limited Atonement Is A Hindrance To Missions and Evangelism

September 26, 2012

A Selective Review and Critique of Whomever He Wills – Part 3F

Dr. Tom Ascol’s chapter “Calvinism Foundational For Evangelism and Missions” by David L. Allen


Carey’s work on the mission field would have been virtually impossible were it not for the indefatigable labors of the pastor/theologian Andrew Fuller. Ascol appeals to Fuller in an effort to discredit my claims in Whosoever that limited atonement is a hindrance to missions and evangelism. He quotes Fuller:

There is no contradiction between the peculiarity [sic] of design in the death of Christ, and a universal obligation on those who hear the gospel to believe in him, or a universal invitation being addressed to them. If God, through the death of his Son, have promised salvation to all who comply with the gospel; and if there be no natural impossibility as to a compliance, nor any obstruction but that which arises from aversion of heart; exhortations and invitations to believe and be saved are consistent; and our duty, as preachers of the Gospel, is to administer them, without any more regard to particular redemption than to election; both being secret things, which belong to the Lord our God, and which, however they be a rule to him, are none to us (284-85).

It is important to note at this juncture that this quotation is from the second edition (1801) of Fuller’s famous The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation (the first edition was published in 1785). It is also important to note Fuller’s use of the word “design,” and his mention of “no natural impossibilities.” These points will become important in a moment.

Ascol follows this quote with the statement, “The reason that some do judge particular redemption to be a hindrance to evangelism stems from an unbiblical understanding of what the message of evangelism actually entails. As noted above, David Allen is representative  of many who think that it is essential to say indiscriminately what no evangelist in the New Testament is ever recorded as having said to unbelievers, namely, that “Christ died for your sins’” (285). Ascol continues, “If the Bible required or even exemplified such evangelistic language then the charge that particular redemption undermines evangelism would have some merit. [See above on 1 Corinthians 15:3.] Again, Fuller acknowledges this point in exposing the error of those who make it” (Ibid.).

Ascol quotes Fuller again from Gospel Worthy:

If that which sinners are called upon to believe respected the particular design of Christ to save them, it would then be inconsistent; but they are neither exhorted nor invited to believe anything but what is revealed, and what will prove true, whether they believe it or not. He that believeth in Jesus Christ must believe in him as he is revealed in the gospel, and that is as the Savior of sinners. It is only as a sinner, exposed to the righteous displeasure of God, that he must approach him” (Ibid.).

Ascol concludes: “The call of the gospel is ‘believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved,’ not ‘believe that Jesus died for your sins in particular and you will be saved’” (Ibid.).

Dr. Ascol presumes he has sufficiently answered my point by his appeal to Fuller. He also presumes Fuller affirms limited atonement in the sense of a limited substitution of Christ only for the sins of the elect. Ironically, neither presumption is accurate. Let’s begin with the latter – the suggestion that Fuller held to limited atonement. At this point, space will only permit the briefest sketch of Fuller’s view on the extent of the atonement. For more information, including some of the primary and secondary sources verifying Fuller’s position, consult my “Preaching for a Great Commission Resurgence” in Great Commission Resurgence, eds. Chuck Lawless and Adam Greenway (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010), 291-96.

At the time of Fuller’s publication of the first edition of his Gospel Worthy (1785) he held to limited atonement. However, after his debates with the General Baptist Dan Taylor, Fuller was persuaded that limited atonement did not comport with Scripture. Taylor had argued the position that the only proper ground for universal invitations for sinners to believe the gospel was in a universal provision in Christ’s death. If limited atonement were true, there was no provision for the non-elect in the death of Christ. Fuller felt the brunt of this argument and could not answer it. He later confessed in 1803: “I tried to answer my opponent  . . . but I could not. I found not merely his reasonings, but the Scriptures themselves, standing in my way” (Fuller’s Works, 2:709-10). Fuller stated his new position clearly in Works, 2:488-89; 496; 550. As a Calvinist, Fuller’s concept of redemption was still “particular” in the sense that the particularity was located not in the extent of the atonement, but in the design and application of the atonement. This shift can also be observed in a careful comparison of the first and second editions of Gospel Worthy. The section on “particular redemption” in the first edition is almost completely rewritten in the second edition. (1st edition, 132-39; 2nd edition, Works, 2:373-75). Fuller said, “The only subject on which I ought to have been here interrogated is, ‘The persons for whom Christ was a substitute; whether the elect only, or mankind in general’” (Fuller’s Letter III, “On Substitution,” January 12, 1803). Notice the date of this letter: 1803. Fuller in the context answers the question that Christ was a substitute for mankind in general. Fuller believed that Christ died for the sins of all people.

Now read the Ascol quotes above in light of Fuller’s shift. Note Fuller’s use of the word “design” in the first sentence of Ascol’s first quotation of Fuller. As a Calvinist, Fuller did believe the “design” of the atonement was to bring about the salvation of the elect. But he also had come to believe that Jesus died for the sins of all people and this fact guaranteed the well-meant gospel offer to all (Fuller’s “universal obligation” and “universal invitation” language). Notice in Ascol’s second block quote of Fuller the word “design” appears again in the first sentence. Later in the quote he speaks of how people are called upon to believe in Jesus as He is revealed in the Scriptures, namely, the Savior of sinners.

Now we see that Ascol’s conclusion, “The call of the gospel is ‘believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved,’ not ‘believe that Jesus died for your sins in particular and you will be saved’” is also unfounded. 1 Corinthians 15:3 and Andrew Fuller become “exhibit A” for why it is biblically, theologically and practically important to believe in a universal atonement for the sake of missions and evangelism.

 

 

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Ron Hale

Thanks Dr. Allen for this post and revealing information … like:

“At the time of Fuller’s publication of the first edition of his Gospel Worthy (1785) he held to limited atonement. However, after his debates with the General Baptist Dan Taylor, Fuller was persuaded that limited atonement did not comport with Scripture. Taylor had argued the position that the only proper ground for universal invitations for sinners to believe the gospel was in a universal provision in Christ’s death. If limited atonement were true, there was no provision for the non-elect in the death of Christ. Fuller felt the brunt of this argument and could not answer it. He later confessed in 1803: “I tried to answer my opponent . . . but I could not. I found not merely his reasonings, but the Scriptures themselves, standing in my way” (Fuller’s Works, 2:709-10).”

Joseph Spurgeon

I think this whole infighting among Calvinists (I am one) and Non-Calvinist Arminiens is a bigger hindrance to missions and evangelism.

    Adam Harwood

    Joseph,
    My engagements in this discussion are not to “fight” but to discuss the doctrine of salvation. This has implications for how we understand the work of Christ and ministry in His name. It’s also helpful when brothers can clarify their own views. For example, I regard myself to be neither Calvinist nor Arminian. Your comment conflates non-Calvinism with Arminianism.
    My intention is that this will be a helpful and constructive comment.
    Blessings, brother.
    In Him,
    Adam

      Jacob Hall

      Adam,

      You said “My engagements in this discussion are not to “fight” but to discuss the doctrine of salvation.”

      Discussions involve both sides. Why not invite a Calvinist, (Or better yet, Dr. Ascol himself) to comment on this blog. If you don’t have representation from both sides (the men, not selected writings from their work). Until you have genuine discussion, meaning both parties partake, its not a discussion at all.

      Do what you want with your blog, just don’t confuse discussion with one sided argumentation.

        TCF

        May I remind the readers that Mr. Jerry Vines appealed on his BLOG for a ‘conversation’ following the posting of the now infamous statement of “Traditional” etc. When anyone attempted to post a comment you received a message that said “Comments Closed” even before there were any. That is duplicitous at best and certainly does not indicate a genuine and sincere desire for irenic dialog among brothers in Christ.

        I appeal for genuine irenic, accurate and substantive exegesis, line upon line and precept upon precept. While it is important and has value from a historical perspective, secondary sources mean little compared to an accurate exegetical treatment of the text. The Law of Non-Contradiction applies. One may be correct and the other incorrect, vice versa, both incorrect – BUT – both cannot be correct with differing interpretations. The Holy Spirit had/has one and only one correct interpretation for any given passage of God’s Word. We do well to search that out with deep humility and apply it to life and ministry.

        Lydia

        I am not a big reader of the Founders blog so I am not aware if he has non Calvinists guest posts or not. Al Mohler does not take comments at all.

        volfan007

        Jacob,

        The last time I checked…this comment thread is open to anyone, who wants to comment. Thus, any Calvinists, who want to engage the topic, can do so. So, why do you keep bringing this arguement up?

        David

    Ben Simpson

    Joseph seems to have made a rookie mistake. He’s yet to learn that here at SBC Today, only 5-point Arminians are “Arminian” and only 5-point Calvinists are “Calvinist.”

DB

If I may expand upon the quote from “Six Letters to Ryland,”

“The truth is, I tried to answer my opponent without considering the sufficiency of the atonement in itself considered, and of its being the ground of gospel invitations; but I could not.
I found not merely his reasonings, but the Scriptures themselves, standing in my way. After some serious thought upon the subject, therefore, I formed my judgment; and it was some relief to find all the old Calvinists defending the doctrine upon the same ground.” The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume 2: 709-10.

Fuller was not moving from 5 point Calvinism to 4 point Calvinism. He was continuing his move from Hyper-Calvinism to evangelical or “Strict” Calvinism. Fuller even cites The Synod of Dort as evidence that his position is consistent with true Calvinism.

I would encourage any interested parties to read “Six Letters to Dr. Ryland” or a number of Fuller’s other works and judge for yourself his positions and their relation to the Modern Missions Movement. I am sure Dr. Allen would encourage the same.

    TCF

    Thank You DB for bringing clarity to Fuller’s posture on this important issue. Context and integrity in quotes are important to secure accuracy.

peter lumpkins

The more Dr. Allen writes, the more evident it seemingly becomes that those who hold to Limited Atonement simply cannot biblically or historically sustain their case. Rather their strongest advocacy comes in the form of a priori theological reasoning. Strict Calvinism appears to require Limited Atonement in order to make theological sense.

With that, I am…
Peter

    Max

    “Strict Calvinism appears to require Limited Atonement in order to make theological sense.”

    Good “point” Peter! Calvinist R.C. Sproul would agree with you, when he says “There is confusion about what the doctrine of limited atonement actually teaches. However, I think that if a person really understands the other four points and is thinking at all clearly, he must believe in limited atonement because of what Martin Luther called a resistless logic.” http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2007/08/17/sproul-on-four-point-calvinism/

      Lydia

      Let us not forget what Martin Luther had to say about “reason”.

      Shane Dodson

      Or it could be that one believes in “limited atonement” when one understands what atonement actually IS.

Shane Dodson

“Taylor had argued the position that the only proper ground for universal invitations for sinners to believe the gospel was in a universal provision in Christ’s death.”

So…Christ’s commands are not “proper ground” for a universal call to all men to repent?

Acts 17:30 – “…but now He commands all people everywhere to repent,

Acts 17:31 – BECAUSE…”

Continue reading the passage and the “because” will become evident, and it is not “because” Jesus Christ supposedly died for everybody who ever lived and everybody who will ever live in the history of the world.

I preach the Gospel to the lost not because I know Jesus died for every single person who ever lived and who will ever live, but because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.

God’s word always accomplishes the purpose for which He sends it out, and it isn’t always to regenerate a soul (John 10:38-40).

    Don Johnson

    Shane,

    You are correct. God sends out His word that people may believe as you correctly pointed out with John 10:38. Of course after one believes the word, God will regenerate that person making him a child of God.

      Shane Dodson

      Sorry. I meant John 12:38-40.

        Don Johnson

        Shane,

        John 12:38-40 is probably the best text in the Bible that proves man does indeed have a free-will. Thanks

          Shane Dodson

          “John 12:38-40 is probably the best text in the Bible that proves man does indeed have a free-will. Thanks”

          What on earth are you referring to specifically?

          A text that explains that God hardens individuals hearts is a text that “proves man does indeed have a free-will?”

          Given the context and who Jesus is quoting, upon what exactly do you make that assertion?

            Don Johnson

            Shane,

            The quote is from Isaiah and only pertains to certain Jews. The context is why the people did not believe, even though Jesus have done many miracles before them.

            Verse 40 tells us why they could not believe. Please note the text. Is wasn’t because they had “total inability” and it wasn’t because they needed to first be “regenerated.”

            The reason they did not believe was God blinded and hardened their hearts so they could not believe. They had the “ability” and the free-will to believe but God prevented them from doing so. Again this only pertains to certain Jews

            Shane Dodson

            “The reason they did not believe was God blinded and hardened their hearts so they could not believe. They had the “ability” and the free-will to believe but God prevented them from doing so. Again this only pertains to certain Jews.”

            Waitasec…if one is prevented from exercising their “free-will” to believe, then one doesn’t have “free-will” in the sense that they can freely choose God outside a sovereign work of Him.

            Thanks for making my point.

            Don Johnson

            Shane,

            NO! The people did not need a sovereign work of God in order to believe, as Calvinists proclaim. They needed a sovereign work of God so they (at least temporarily) could not believe. Thanks for making my point.

            Calvin S.

            Don writes: “The context is why the people did not believe” and “Verse 40 tells us why they could not believe.”

            Jesus made it clear why people don’t believe: “You do not believe, because you are not of My sheep”. (John 10:26)

            You have to be one of Jesus’ sheep in order to be able to believe. That is what Jesus taught. Those who do not believe where never His sheep in the first place. You have to be given to Christ by the Father in order to be able to believe. (John 6:44) That’s what Jesus taught.

            It is really not that complicated. It just takes a willingness to believe what the Scriptures (and the Savior) says.

            Don Johnson

            Calvin,

            Why didn’t you comment on John 12.

            According to John 12:26 if you witnessed to a person and that person does not believe, is that person one of Christ’s sheep? Now let’s suppose years latter you again witness to that person and this time he believes and gets saved. Is he now one of Christ’s sheep? Remember, make sure your answers agree with John 10:26.

Steve Martin

Limited atonement is wrong and denies Holy Scripture. And “free-will” Arminians are wrong and deny Holy Scripture (on the subject of free-will, instead of a Scripture described, bound-will).

God even uses them (Calvinists and Arminians) for His purposes.

He even uses me once in a while. (So He’s not too picky) :D

    Alan Davis

    Me too Steve…proving He isn’t to picky at all! Good think He likes us broken vessels.

    Alan

Alan Davis

“Taylor had argued the position that the only proper ground for universal invitations for sinners to believe the gospel was in a universal provision in Christ’s death.”

I assume the point for using this statement was that one should not make a universal call for all men every where to repent and believe the gospel unless one believes that all men everywhere will be saved? or can be saved? This is a question not a statement.

Even the statement is based on supposed hypothetical results. We know for a fact that ALL men are not saved. Hell has a large congregation already. To write and talk of this subject and put forth the idea that all men will respond is really not logical for we are told already all men will not respond and actually Jesus uses the word few that find that narrow path. I for one as more of a Spurgeonist can issue a call for all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel for 1. I am commanded to do so. This is the most important, to obey God. 2. Be cause I firmly believe that God’s elect will respond to that call (for whatever reason you want to ascribe to that, I have my own) 3. We are commanded (there is that command thing again) to Love the Lord our God first and love our neighbor as ourselves (Jesus set the neighbor standard), if I truly love my fellow man I will issue a call to repent and believe the gospel to all even though I know all will not respond. Their response is not up to me, just the message. If one says it is disingenuous to offer a call to all men every where to repent and believe the gospel if one doesn’t believe that all men will (or can?) respond then it would (seem to me) to stand to reason that to issue the same call knowing all will not respond for whatever reason (even free will) is just as disingenuous. However, I do not believe that either is disingenuous but both are following God’s command to issue the call while seeing the end results worked somewhat differently.

To illustrate: Many on here are pastors and preached this past Sunday morning (at least) and I am quiet sure we all issued a call to repent and believe the gospel based on the gospel we just preached (or I hope so!). How many of us saw every last sinner in the building come to faith in Christ? None of us… (though there can be a setting where this happens, but not every time) Now was it disingenuous for the Calvinistic pastor to issue that call with His belief that some will not respond based on his view of election? Was it not just as disingenuous for the non-Calvinistic pastor to issue the same call knowing full well Jesus has told us that not all will respond? I personally see neither as disingenuous and will continue to issue the call with a clear Christian conscience and stand back and watch God work through His Word and Spirit saving the elect.

I have Fullers works and will now get to reading them for the first time. Thank you Dr. Allen for the interesting article.

Pastor Alan Davis

    Alan Davis

    “To write and talk of this subject and put forth the idea that all men will respond is really not logical for we are told already all men will not respond ”

    My statement above was not meant to say that Dr Allen put forth that idea but was a general statement, forgive me for any mis-communication.

    Alan Davis

    Don Johnson

    Alan,

    When you tell people to believe the Gospel, do you tell them that “Christ died for their sins” without any qualifiers?

      Alan Davis

      Hey Brother Don,

      You know, you made me really have to think hard here as to the many times I have offered the gospel (and thinking hurts me sometimes). Anyway, I actually cannot remember a time that I worded it exactly as you have it worded in your post, “Christ died for their sins”. Most of the time it is worded from me as “Christ died for sinners and if you will repent and believe the Scriptures say you will be saved” but many times worded somewhat differently (actually a dump truck may not be able to haul away the different ways I have said this…maybe in someways wrong if I listened to all the sermons I have preached). I would not shy totally away from saying what you said above but being honest, I don’t think I have ever said exactly that and only that. I wouldn’t shy away from saying that if everyone in the world would repent and believe Christ would save them, however I know that it isn’t so that everyone will repent and believe.

      Don, I believe anyone that has the desire for true salvation may be saved…I think we can agree on that though we may disagree on exactly what and the exact mix of what it takes for one to desire true salvation…and I will take it a step further, I personally believe that one will be saved. I know you may not and that’s fine with me. We can both still preach the gospel and call all men to repent and believe the gospel and God will still work saving human beings.

      But the answer to your question is, no I have not said it exactly like that (I don’t think) but I in a personal case of counsel in the right circumstance (not any particular circumstance in mind) wouldn’t be against it no.

      Alan

        Alan Davis

        After talking with one of my associates I can remember saying many times that “Christ died for our sins”. Personally I believe that if anyone truly repents and believes the gospel that it absoluty true of them…so it appears the “our” would mean to me (as I state that) those who will repent and believe…

        Now before I get jumped on like a bear on opening day of bear season here in the mnts…. I believe that the power of the blood of Christ could save the whole world if the whole world would repent and believe…noone is going around wanting to be truly saved by God that God is going to leave behind… from my stand point in ministry of the gospel and being a farmer myself; I can’t harvest what hasn’t grown though the field COULD have grown more all I can harvest is what has grown up so to me the COULD isn’t as important in the harvest work as what DID grow up. Now sometimes these human analogies aren’t the best in the world and have holes and mine may well be one of those so i am aware of my shortcoming there.

        Alan Davis

          Don Johnson

          Alan,

          You said Christ died for sinners. Is that some sinners or all sinners?

            Alan Davis

            You know Don, I would say He died only for those who will repent and believe no matter the sinner since Christ knows exactly each and everyone that will repent and believe. As to the ‘world”, I believe that the power of the Blood would be enough to save the whole world.

            Alan

            Don Johnson

            Alan,

            If you told an unbeliever that Christ died for sinners, are you not leading the unbeliever to think that Christ died for him. I’m sure you tell the unbeliever that all are sinners. If you state that Christ died for sinners after stating all are sinners, doesn’t that imply Christ died for all sinners? I know you don’t believe Christ died for all sinners, but isn’t that what you are conveying to the unbeliever?

            Alan Davis

            Hey Brother Don,

            Yes it would imply the way you have stated it, that Christ died for him…and in the practical, Christ did die for him if he will but repent and believe.

            I believe the blood of Christ was enough to save every man in the world, however I know for a fact every man will not be saved and that Christ knows exactly who and who will not. The fact (and I do believe it is a fact) that the blood of Christ is powerful enough to save every man in the world if every man would repent and believe does not change the Omniscience of Christ and the limited number that He knows will respond to the gospel (be it by free will, bound will, or predestination) Therefore, based on the perfect knowledge and sovereignty of Christ and the Scriptures I would say He came to “save His people from their sins” Jew and Gentile alike.

            I believe that God is sovereign over all including in salvation and that man has a responsibility to respond to the gospel and as brother Bob put it, everyone who hears the gospel makes a decision of some kind. What some may see as a contradiction is really just the work of God yet beyond our comprehension (not that we shouldn’t be studying and attempting to understand)

            Sorry Don, long way around answering your question I guess, sorry for being long winded.

            Alan Davis

Bob Hadley

Alan,

You wrote:

If one says it is disingenuous to offer a call to all men every where to repent and believe the gospel if one doesn’t believe that all men will (or can?) respond then it would (seem to me) to stand to reason that to issue the same call knowing all will not respond for whatever reason (even free will) is just as disingenuous.

Perhaps I am wrong but it seems to me there is a MAJOR difference in a theological position that says “the elect WILL respond” in conjunction with “the non-elect WILL NOT respond” because they cannot respond for at least 3 reasons:

1. Jesus did not die on the cross to pay the penalty for their (the non-elect) sins.
2. Unless God regenerates the unregenerate, his sin nature will not allow him to respond positively to the gospel.
3. The elect, those God has chosen before the foundation of the world to be saved, WILL be saved at His efficacious calling.

Give these three statements and the claims of calvinism where conversion is concerned, it can be said that it is rather disingenuous for those who believe the 3 statements above to be Scripturally true to issue an open call for people to repent, knowing and believing that only those God calls will do so.

Your statement is not logical: that “it would (seem to me) to stand to reason that to issue the same call knowing all will not respond for whatever reason (even free will) is just as disingenuous.” Here is why; there is a HIGH difference is believing that only a few CAN respond as opposed to only a few WILL respond. Just because one believes that the gospel is available to EVERY MAN and that ALL may be saved, does not mean that ALL WILL BE SAVED.

This is an argument that I have read over and over again made by those who seek to defend their calvinistic Limited Atonement position. The FACT that all do not come to Christ in conversion does not mean that they did not have the opportunity or ability as Total Depravity/Inability contends. The truth is, ALL who hear the gospel DO MAKE A CHOICE… they make a choice to choose Life or choose Death! If I preach to 300 or 3000, EVERY PERSON makes a choice as to WHAT they will do with this man called Jesus. The fact that many will choose self over the Savior and the promises of the world over the promises of the Word, has nothing to do with the efficacy of the offer presented! The promises are to BOTH those who choose life as well as those who choose death… that is why Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life!” We all have the choice to make.

God is indeed sovereign; He has indeed made His choice. He will give life to those who choose the Son and those who choose any other way, He will keep His promise for there is no other name under heaven whereby men may be saved and come to life but by Jesus!

Praise God for His glorious gospel message to ALL who will hear it and respond to it!

><>”

    Alan Davis

    Hey Brother Bob,

    “This is an argument that I have read over and over again made by those who seek to defend their calvinistic Limited Atonement position. The FACT that all do not come to Christ in conversion does not mean that they did not have the opportunity or ability as Total Depravity/Inability contends.”

    I wasn’t trying to make an argument but was just stating my position. Also where you put my quote I would like to add as I did in my post that I do not consider either way off the offer being disingenuous at all.

    I hear what you are saying brother. I still put forth the idea that it is not disingenuous to make the offer for all men to repent and believe the gospel whether one believes all men will not based on a Calvinistic view or just on a view that all have not nor will not. We know from our studies and I think can agree that all will not come. Jesus said “few” and Jesus knows those few by name before they come so those outside the few will not respond (wheather by free will, bound will, or predestination; take your pick). So we (we being all gospel preachers) preach the gospel and follow the Lord’s command to call all men to repent and believe the gospel and God saves those “few” that Jesus tells us of. Whether it be a Calvinistic preacher, Arminian preacher or the third tear now, a traditionalist preacher. So in some sense of the word limited the atonement is limited in all three views, it isn’t going to be applied to everyone that’s for sure. Just my stance brother.

    Alan Davis

    To call all men to repentance in our hearing knowing all will not come (for whatever reason) is not disingenious

      holdon

      Listen to the Greatest Evangelist of all times:

      “Strive with earnestness to enter in through the narrow door, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter in and will not be able.”
      “For narrow the gate and straitened the way that leads to life, and they are few who find it.”
      “You must be born again”

      Alan Davis

      Brother Bob,

      I do agree with and stand with some of the things you said please know that.

      “The truth is, ALL who hear the gospel DO MAKE A CHOICE… they make a choice to choose Life or choose Death! If I preach to 300 or 3000, EVERY PERSON makes a choice as to WHAT they will do with this man called Jesus.”

      I agree with you here brother, and probably some other points, so please do not view me as an enemy or opposer to a gospel brother and preacher.

      Alan Davis

        Bob Hadley

        Alan,

        Thanks for the last statement; I assure you I do not consider anyone enemies as we discuss theology; obviously the devil is our enemy and even when I disagree with someone theologically that does not mean I do not respect them for taking a stand on their particular position. It is certainly clear where I stand with respect to mine!!!

        Also, I try to differentiate what people say and what the theologies say. There are times when calvinists will preach, teach and believe one thing but the theology itself does not really say what the individual is saying. That is really the thrust of my original statement…

        Just because someone may say they are a calvinist but believes or states something else that does not mean their position is consistent with the tenets of the theology they espouse. This seems to be a growing problem for some…

        I think that is where the potentiality of being disingenuous is found… in the theology and not the individual… if that makes sense.

        Thanks for your follow-up both to my comment and to make sure that I did not mistake your position. May I assure you and stand in complete agreement with you where my statements are concerned as well!

        ><>”

          Alan Davis

          Bob,

          I think you are speaking to a real issue and I understand you even better now and would have to agree in part.

          Alan Davis

Bob Hadley

I think the point to Dr. Allen’s article is found in the last statement: “it is biblically, theologically and practically important to believe in a universal atonement for the sake of missions and evangelism.”

If conversion is 1) established in the mind of God before the foundation of the world, 2) made possible by Jesus death on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of the elect, those chosen by God from the foundation of the world THEN missions and evangelism are secondary to God’s determined plan and will and not at all affected by the meager efforts of mortal men. If 1 and 2 above are in fact true, then the elect are going to be saved because Jesus died to pay the penalty for their sin and the salvation of the elect was secured at the cross…. and even more-so when God chose the elect for what He determines to be will be.

This is a fact. This does not mean that people who are calvinistic are not evangelistic; it means the theology they hold onto does not need evangelism and missions to accomplish what God has determined will take place. Nothing or no one can thwart the will of God!

I have argued that evangelism and missions (the sharing of the gospel) cannot be the means God uses to bring about His desired end and that is the conversion of the elect. The gospel, evangelism and missions fall on deaf ears and dead hearts of lost men and women until they are regenerated by God Himself. According to calvinism, this regeneration or gift from God is what gives the gospel its power to change a person’s life. The gospel in calvinism is only effectual for sanctification; it has NO BEARING on conversion because it has NO POWER to save the unregenerate individual. NONE.

This argument reinforces Dr. Allen’s original position that “it is biblically, theologically and practically important to believe in a universal atonement for the sake of missions and evangelism.” Jesus died to pay the penalty for EVERYONE’S SIN… ALL may come to the cross and find forgiveness not JUST those that God efficaciously calls out to that are dead and unable to respond. The gospel IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO ALL WHO BELIEVE… not all who God gives the ability to believe.

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dr. james willingham

Jesus called on the rich young ruler to sell all he had, give to the poor, and follow Him. He later made it clear to Peter that He was asking for the impossible with man.(Mk.10). The fellow with the demon possessed son was asked, if he could believe. He realized he could not and begged, “Help mine unbelief.” Learning of one’s inability can bring one to cry for help. A drowning victim must cease struggling or he will drown his rescuer as well as himself. Jesus said to the woman of Canaan or so she could hear, “I am not sent but to but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Her response was to worship. Then He made reference to her depravity and reprobation with the most offensive image, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs.” She won by agreeing with Him, “Truth, Lord.” So she was a dog, a reprobate, and depraved, but she got got a blessing (Mt.15:21-28). Some people need to hear that God is moved more by His justice to deal with them than He is in His mercy. Some need to know He is Sovereign in and over salvation from start to finish. Truett summed it up well at the Spurgeon Centenary: Calvinism (Spurgeon’s theology) pressed down upon the brow of the individual the truth of responsibility. That’s a paraphrase, but you can find the exact statement in Truett’s volume on Ideals of Inspiration. Calvinism is the theology of the Awakenings and of the launching of the Great Century of Missions, and Particular Redemption could well be the point of the TULIP acrostic of truths that sparks the Third Great Awakening for which I have been praying for 39 years this fall. Every since I spoke to the ministers of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association’s Pastors’ Prayer Meeting in the Fall of 1973. I also spoke at the 5th and 10th anniversary of that meeting. The subject of the first sermon was, A Great Awakening. The second and third were on the subject, A Third Great Awakening. Sandy Creek was founded by Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall, men who had been converted in the First Great Awakening. the Association experienced the Second Great Awakening and took part in the launching of the Great Century of Missions. I got the idea that the Third Awakening might reach every soul on earth for a 1000 generations and a multitude of planets from Fuller’s Gospel Worth of All Acceptation and John Owen’s Death of Death in The Death of Christ. Both men were five point calvinists, and the latter is sometimes blamed for limited atonement. Note how today’s disbelievers in power in the blood (for that is what limited atonement or particular redemption really is about) do not believe we can every win the whole earth except Jesus comes back hodily and visibly (I believe both) but not spiritually (He comes to us every day, every step of the way, spiritually. Why not pray for another visitation like unto Pentecost…The First and Second Great Awakenings had instances of visitations like that. If you fellows would ever study and do research, you might be surprised. Our next great evangelist and Awakener is likely to be an African American. cf. Berry’s Grove Baptist Church, Timberlake, NC and my sermon for July 1.

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