The TULIP’s Petals and Sepals, part 3

May 8, 2013

by Ronnie Rogers

3. Limited Atonement: Christ’s death is of infinite value, but He died salvifically only for the unconditionally elect.

Calvinism understands limited atonement to mean that Christ’s death did not in any eternally meaningful way pay for the sins of the non-elect. Thus, there is not even the remotest possibility of even one of the unconditionally non-elect experiencing salvation in spite of such opportunity being so lucidly and compellingly commanded and presented in the simple call of the gospel for everyone to repent and believe; correspondingly, this point, along with the aforementioned points, gives rise to the need for and creation of the extra-biblical “good faith offer.”

Four-point Calvinists reject this point in order to avoid trying to reconcile the idea that Christ died only for the sins of the elect with what they believe to be the clear, consistent, and undeniable teaching Scripture; which is that Christ’s death paid for the sins of the human race. This frees the four-point Calvinist to make an actual offer of the “good news” to all as is so vividly portrayed in the gospels. As a result, the position of four-point Calvinism is understood to eliminate the need for a good faith offer.

However, if a four-point Calvinist believes in the previous two points as defined by Calvinism, it seems to me that their offer to the non-elect is actually as salvifically hollow as is the offer of the five-point Calvinist. To wit, they may be free to speak more consistently with the gospel’s message of God’s salvific love for all of the lost, but they still offer no real hope to the non-elect. This is particularly true, and I believe unavoidably true, for anyone who embraces unconditional election (even if they call themselves a one-point Calvinist and the one point is unconditional election).

To state it differently, if a person does not fully embrace unconditional election (where unconditional really means unconditional), he should doff the title “Calvinist.” Lastly, limited atonement is organically related to God’s pleasure in limiting His salvific grace, love, mercy, and compassion. Additionally, I do not believe any reference to God providing temporal grace, e.g. rain, temporal life, other earthly blessings, etc., or “God loves the lost differently” allays this reality in the slightest—voluminous attempts notwithstanding.

Therefore, if a person believes the Scripture teaches the following, he cannot be a Calvinist: God really does love His humanity as evidenced by His declarative statements, God gave His Son to die for the sins of the world, the gospel being His power unto salvation for everyone whether they are Jew or gentile, and He sent the church to every nation with this gospel because He truly loves and desires everyone who hears it to repent and be forever forgiven and delivered from their just desert; that Christ passionately desires for everyone whom he commanded “repent and believe in the gospel,” to do what He so commanded them to do; and further believes that all of these scriptural attestations  quite obviously disallow the likelihood that the God who does these things also devised a plan that inviolably precludes the remotest possibility for the vast majority to obey His gospel. These truths are embraced by other biblical approaches but not Calvinism.

Ronnie is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla., and is the author of  “Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist.”

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Ron F. Hale

Thanks for shining the searchlight of God’s love on this horrible belief that the precious atoning death of Jesus does not extend to all people but that justifying faith is only extended to the elect and the rest of humanity is and was eternally damned before the foundation of the world.

One can put lipstick on a pig by calling this doctrine …particular redemption or definite atonement but it is what it is – that God is not all-loving. I believe that our God is all-loving and holy and just. I believe the word “world” in JN 3:16 is not talking about the elect but salvation is offered to whoever believes.

Thank you for you work in these matters.



    What about those in hell? Are their sins paid for?

      Norm Miller

      You have asked this question before, and you have been answered. Please cease from asking it.
      Instead, ask yourself how is it that people in the OT will be in heaven. I suspect that will ease your mind regarding this question you continue to ask (as if the question somehow invalidates that Christ died for the “sins of the whole world” as God states in his word). — Norm


    I love your lipstick on a pig remark. That’s how feel about all the petals! LOL

    Randall Cofield

    Hi Ron,

    I believe that our God is all-loving and holy and just.

    Is God being “all-loving” in Rev. 19:20, 20:14-15, and 21:8?

    Or all-holy and all-just?

    Grace to you, brother.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      All-loving, all-holy and all-just. Just not in a way all will appreciate.

      I wrote a paper on this titled “Hell: A Fair Place Made From God’s Love”, arguing that Hell is a place made from ultimately from God’s love. Got an A on it from a Reformed professor by the way. ;)

      Though, maybe it was because in the paper I cited a portion of Nazareth’s “Love Hurts” and he happened to be a fan of the song. LOL


JB, those in Hell are paying for their sins right now. If Jesus paid for them and then they pay for them, too, then does God require double payment for their sins? That’s not “unfair”; that’s UNJUST.


This is how one beloved baptist brother put it…..

“1 John 2:2…..

‘And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.’

And that of course, I taught years ago – that when Christ finished the work of the cross, He was able to forgive the whole human race. They’re forgiven. But it does them no good until they appropriate it by faith. God has reconciled the whole world. He has told every human being that has ever lived everything that needs to be done to bring them back. It’s finished. But, it can’t be done until they believe. And never forget that. The work of the cross was total in the forgiveness of mankind’s sin.

But it does them no good until they appropriate it by faith. And that’s what must just tear the heart of God – that His love was so great, His suffering beyond human comprehension to pay the sin-debt for every human being, and yet so few cash in on it. Now that must be heartbreaking to think that He has done so much and only so few respond. But for those of us who are responding, we can go to this One Who is the propitiation for our sin. Remember for salvation today, in this Age of Grace, a person must believe in their heart that Jesus died for their sins, was buried, and rose again. God calls it a free gift, and the moment we believe that for salvation He saves us. Now I can prove that Paul uses this same word ‘propitiation.’ Come back with me to Romans, chapter 3, and verse 25. Christ Jesus again in verse 24.

Romans 3:25a…….

‘Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.…’

The Lord Jesus Himself is the propitiation and it is again accomplished through our faith. That’s what appropriates it. Now when I say ‘appropriate’ I guess I should use an everyday example. Congress will pass a law and they will put so many billions of dollars into – we’ll say a highway building fund. It goes into a fund and it sits there in Washington UNTIL… What does the individual state have to do? Well, they have to make application. They have to appropriate money for highways out of that fund in Washington. But until the state asks for it, and makes application for it, it stays there.

Well, it’s the same way with the plan of salvation. God has done it all. It’s just sits there waiting for the appropriation of the individual by faith. And oh it’s so simple, it blows people away, and they can’t buy it. But that’s where it is.

All right, now this word propitiation is that total work, as well as place of sacrifice, that was probably pictured the best back there at the Tabernacle where they had the brazen altar. And as that sacrificial animal was laid on that brazen altar, the animal was the sacrifice. The altar was the place of sacrifice. Christ is all of it. The Lord Jesus is all of it! He is not only the sacrifice, He is the place of sacrifice. He’s the mercy seat. He’s the Ark of the Covenant, He’s everything and we appropriate it all by faith when we believe Paul’s Gospel for salvation.

Now I can’t understand it all, and I don’t expect anybody else to, but what little I understand, I take by faith. ‘God, You said it, and I believe it.’ And that’s why it is so thrilling, and that’s when you can pass it on to others. That’s the only reason I teach. My, there’s nothing more thrilling than to be able to see somebody come to a knowledge of all this and accept it by faith. The Lord Jesus became our everything in that finished work, and that’s why no one is going to come up before the Great White Throne and have an argument. They will immediately recognize that they deserve the eternal doom to which they’re going – because then they’ll recognize that, yes, their sins have been paid for, but they never appropriated it. They never cashed in on what our precious Lord had done on their behalf.”

Randall Cofield

Could someone state a definition of Christ’s atonement?

What exactly does the atoning work of Christ accomplish for those who, in the end, refuse to believe the testimony God has given us concerning His Son?


    Here is an interesting question to your answer. Calvinistas argue that it is God’s effectual calling that accomplishes the finished work of the atonement while I believe the Bible teaches that it is the exercise of man’s faith that accomplishes the finished work of the atonement…

    What exactly does the atoning work of Christ accomplish for those who in the end refuse to believe the testimony God has given them concerning His Son??? Nothing.

    As most will acknowledge, it is not that God cannot forgive every man’s sin; He DOES not forgive every man’s sin. Why? Because unbelievers have not repented and by faith believed in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

    Preach Blackman Preach

    It has accomplished future reconciliation of the lost world, that refused to repent and will fail to repent, to appear before the Him who sit upon The Great White Throne. For it is written, If I be lifted up (that is in Judgment) I will draw “all” men unto ME. The answer to the age old question is, “What is the the world coming to? The answer is The Lord Jesus Christ dead or alive, lost or saved. The same atonement can save the lost sinner when “faith” is applied or “deliver” the “unbelieving”, hell deserving, lake of fire doomed sinner in Judgment to Him whom every knee shall bow and tongue confess. Ether or the atonement deliverers to Him, whom we all “have” to do.


    Hey Preach… I have never thought of the atonement in the way you have presented it… I think I like it… but need to give that end result some more thought… but that is good…

    Shoot me a line at bob at bobhadley com

Is unbelief a sin, and was it paid for on the cross? If so, then everyone goes to heaven. If not, then only those who God grants grace to will be saved for His glory. The latter is the only view in which no one can boast before God, because no one would have EVER chosen Him based on the condition of their hearts. This view that exhaults the love and mercy of God in the face of those who hated Him to begin with.


    Of course it was paid for on the cross. Paul was an unbeliever. So were we until we came to belief. There is no such thing as being saved before you are a believer. Nevertheless as a believer you’re forgiven of all.

    God has granted salvation to ALL: Acts 11:18. It’s all His grace.

    Election unto salvation is not found in the Scriptures.


      Election is found nowhere in scripture??? Really??

      God elects:
      His angels 1Tim 5:21
      His peculiar people, Israel Exo 6:7; Deu 7:6-8; Deu 10:14-15; Psa 33:12; Isa 43:20-21
      Individuals to salvation Psa 65:4; Mat 24:24; John 6:37; John 15:16; Act 13:48; Rom 8:28-30; Rom 9:10-24; Rom 11:5-7; Eph 1:3-6; Eph 1:11-12; 1The 1:4; 1The 5:9; 2The 2:13-14

      nowhere, except these scriptures!


        Please re-read what I said: “Election unto salvation” And none of the verses you cite have anything close to that, except 2 Th 2:13, but that verse does not have the same Greek word for “elect”, so it’s a calvinistically biased mistranslation and it that verse not come close to the meaning of Election of the believers.


          Your clearly wrong about 2 Thessalonians ?????? means to choose. It doesnt have to be the same word because they are synonymns. The direct object of the verb is ???? and the preposition ??? indicates the purpose of the action. Namely ????????. Thus God does choose unto salvation. Same preposition modifies the participle ????????? in ephesians 1:5 indicating the purpose is unto adoption which is another metaphor of salvation.


            So i guess the unicode greek font did not work?


            2 Th 2:13 has the word haireomai => “prefer” not “choose”, shade of difference perhaps, but fundamentally the word is NEVER used for election where another word (eklegomai) is used so consistently that one cannot be equated to the other. In addition, from this verse it is clear that it this act of God cannot be congruent with for instance His choosing in Eph 1:4, where it is “before the foundation of the world” and in 2 Th 2:13 it is “from the beginning”. There is a big difference when I say “before the beginning” or “from the beginning”. Also, it is doubtful whether this verse should be “from the beginning” (ap arches) or “the firstfruits” (aparchen) which occurs in many manuscripts as well. I think the contextual evidence would point to the use of “firstfruits”, because Paul thinks often in terms of geography linked to “firstfruits” and Thessalonica was distinct region where the gospel had not be heard, until Paul came to them.
            There is more that can be said about this, vere, but it is certainly not a verse on which a doctrine of “election unto salvation” should be build, because pf the intrinsic difficulties, that will be doomed from the start.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Well, I think most people misunderstand 2 Th. 2:13, because I don’t think salvation here means “conversion/being saved-saved” (i.e. soteriology proper) at all in this passage.

          Rather, it means deliverance (like the use in Philippians 1:19).

          I don’t think this verse is about soteriology. It is about the church (the plural “you” brethren) being chosen to making it through (deliverance) the coming tribulation (lower case “t”) by means of sanctification and belief. .

          Hence the encouragement to stand firm in verses 14-15.

          But, that’s just me. Soteriology proper isn’t on offer in 2 Thessalonians, but tribulation and deliverance is what it is about. But, people see the Greek word soteria and think it must always mean soteriology and “saved” saved, as in conversion.

          But, like in Philippians 1:19, I don’t think it carries that sense here, because of the context, and it is the only occasion of the word in the entire book.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Being called to that through the Gospel is more than simply a call to convert and then die and go to heaven. The Gospel encompasses more than that, so that bit in v. 14 doesn’t mean soteriology proper (conversion) any more than soteria does.

            The context is the church being delivered, and called to this endurance through the Gospel to obtain glory and thus the need and encouragement to stand firm (i.e. through the end of the chapter).




Adam Harwood

“I agree with three of the points of TULIP: total depravity, unconditional election, and perseverance of the saints. The biblical evidence seems clear enough. But the Bible also presents a genuine desire on the part of God for the salvation of all humanity and declares a real offer of the gospel to everyone who hears it. In addition, the biblical case for limited atonement and irresistible grace is shockingly weak. This means that ‘L’ and ‘I’ must go. Limited atonement and irresistible grace cannot be found in the Scriptures unless one first puts them there.”
– Ken Keathley, _Salvation & Sovereignty_ (B&H, 2010), 1-2.

Notice that last sentence.

This reminds me that Southern Baptists are “all over the map” regarding Calvinism; some fully affirming and others fully denying the system and others (like this SEBTS prof) accepting some points and denying others.


In Him,

Jim P

I’m new here and hope I can add to the discussion.
Challenge and be Challenged. “Iron sharpening Iron.”

“Knowledge makes arrogant:” whether it is true knowledge or false knowledge.
Men long to be arrogant before longing for God. Limited atonement along with many other doctrines deludes men into thinking they have some ‘special knowledge,’ that sets them apart from the rest of confused humanity, unbelievers or believers.


Randall, it adds to thier punishment in Hell….that God would make a way for them to be saved…that the atonement was made and offered…and THEY rejected it….they spit in the face of God, as it were, by rejecting God’s gracious gift…and they will pay for it in Hell….


    Randall Cofield


    Try defining atonement from scripture…then overlay that definition on what you state here.

    See my point?

    Grace to you, brother


I still have no idea why my comments do not post under the reply I was making to Randall, and others…but instead, my comments always go to the bottom of the thread… scratching my head…am I doing something wrong?




I continue to ask the question, because nobody gives a reasonable answer. By claiming that all men’s sins are paid for, you make God unjust; requiring double payment of those in hell. You also put the Trinity at odds with each other. The Father chooses and predestines, the Spirit Converts those the Father chooses, but the Son died for everyone?

    Norm Miller

    I beg to differ, JB. If 1 John 2.2 is true, then Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the “whole world.” There is the fact. The Greek word “whole” excludes nothing. So, the man-made cleverness of questions that would attempt to controvert this verse are in themselves a slap in the face of God, and show contempt for the scriptures. The price for all sin has been paid. Therefore, the atonement is efficacious for all. However, the atonement is efficient for only those who repent and believe.
    If I exercise a prima facia acceptance of 1 John 2.2, then in now way possible do I, as you say, “… make God unjust; requiring double payment of those in hell” or “put the Trinity at odds with each other.”
    I do nothing of the sort because I take God at his word. I suggest you do the same.
    Further, your question has once again been answered. If you deem it not a “reasonable answer,” that is on you. If you seek an answer that will reinforce your system of theology, I suggest you query any number of other blogs. — Norm


    The problem lies in the word “paid for”. There are different meanings to that.
    Christ purchased the world (the entire field was purchased; only the treasure was what he wanted). The field = the world. Only the believers are said to be “redeemed”, a different term, which means they are loosened (from their previous owner). Being purchased means you have a new owner; being redeemed means that you’re free. The false teachers were bought by Christ (2 Pet 2:1), but not saved. Purchase is universal. Redemption is partial.
    Another interesting comparison is between the “ransom for all” in Tim 2:6 and “ransom for many” in Mat. 20:28. Here the meaning of the first term is that the ransom price is available to all (the sum of money is there, if you will) and the second term means that the ransom is effective for many (the sum of money is transferred, if you will).
    We have again another difference in the thoughts on propitiation and substitution as expressed in the 2 goats on the Great Day of Atonement. In propitiation Christ’s sacrifice makes God propitious towards the entire world: because of that God now wants the good of all men. But there is also the substitution aspect: only the believer can say that Christ bore his sins, was made sin in our stead. Unbelievers don’t have that, despite that God desires them all to come. Unbelievers never came in repentance to lay their sins on the goat that was never seen again.
    If you don’t believe, you will die in your sins. Jn 8.

    The work of “Atonement” has many different aspects to it. The confusion about “limited Atonement” mainly stems from not distinguishing all the aspects.


    JB, will you cite a verse that says Jesus died only for the elect?

    I have been pondering your judgment of God’s justice system and would like to pose a question. If we are going to ignore Scripture and look at atonement only through reason, then would not some Catholics be in good standing? After all, would it be unjust for God to condemn a person for eternity when they may have been only 13 years old when they died and maybe understood sin for 8 years or so? Following your reason that they are paying for their sins in hell, after so long they will have paid for those sins and will be set free from punishment. No, God’s Word teaches one unatoned sin = eternal punishment and we can’t change that with reasoning. That same Word teaches Jesus died for the sins of the world and you don’t get to change that with reasoning.



You wrote, “By claiming that all men’s sins are paid for, you make God unjust; requiring double payment of those in hell.” That unfortunately is your position. I dare say you would agree to the same reasoning concerning the question of reprobation and God being the One who predestines the lost to hell. May be you would as it is actually a necessary conclusion to calvinism. However, your original question is not and here is why.

There is a marked difference in God making provision FOR the forgiveness of all sin and the application of those provisions for the actual forgiveness of sin. So as in the case you question, those who spend eternity in hell do so because no application of the provisions available to them were appropriated to them but that has absolutely NOTHING to do with the reality of the provision.

Here is a very simple example. Lets say Joe owes the bank a half a million dollars and his personal assets are less than 50K. I would say he is in BIG trouble. If a billionaire came up to Joe and said here is a check for $500K… endorse it and go pay your bills, would it be fair to say that the gift is available and the provisions are enough to satisfy the debt in full? The only condition is that Joe endorse the check, deposit it and pay off the debt. If Joe does not do so, does that render the billionaire unjust?

I say no. The fact is, the billionaire is more than just for being wiling to pay Joe’s debt in full in the first place.

I am so grateful that God is such a GREAT God!



Could I ask what is the spiritual equivalent of “endorsing the check, deposit it and pay off the debt?” In spiritual terms, what is Joe doing?

I would say that your illustration falls short in one area. Payment was made on the cross. God does not wait for the sinner the pray a prayer in order accept Christ’s payment. In your illustration the payment could not be made until Joe endorsed the check. And by your illustration you do admit that you believe there are men in hell whose sins are paid for; that absolutely makes God unjust.

    Preach Blackman Preach

    Abraham answered this question when the Rich Man who was in Hades, begged him to send Lazarus to his fathers house where 5 of his brothers were just “dying” to go hell. Abraham said they have “Moses” and the “prophets”, let them hear them. As a theologian any other interpretation that doesn’t include 1.)Moses, the prophets including The Lord Jesus Christ who is The Prophet Moses spoke of who would come and 2.)”hearing”, for “faith” by ‘hearing” and 3.) the command to “repent” and obeying the gospel is just someone’s opinion.



If propitiation means a removal of wrath from sinners then the use of the term “the whole world” cannot mean every single person. If it did, then every single person would be saved and we no that is not true. The language is paralleled in John 11:51-52. Double payment is unjust and if Christ died for someone’s sins then they will be saved. And my original question was this; Are there people in hell whose sins are completely paid for? This is a yes or no question.

    Norm Miller

    “If propitiation means a removal of wrath from sinners then the use of the term “the whole world” cannot mean every single person. If it did, then every single person would be saved and we no that is not true.”

    This is complete speculation on your part to the utter ignorance to what the verse states. Such speculation calls God a liar. Are you comfortable with that? Why must you insist on dissecting the Word to support your system? Oh, wait, you’re a Calvinist. That’s why.

    You, like so many other Cals, make the accusatory jump from universal propitiation to universalism. This is the feeble attempt to rebut an argument I am not making (and is a frequent Cal tactic). I am not vying for universalism. And it is not logical to go there from how I read 1 Jn. 2.2 — plainly, simply, and at face value.

    For the last time, the answer to your question (previously answered 3 times now) can be found in your answering this one: How was it that people in the OT got to heaven? Whatever that answer is will tell you how they got to hell.

    I must insist that you move on, JB, and stop repeating this question. If you insist on doing so, you will do it for the last time on this blog. — Norm


      Norm your a jerk and your ignoring the point. He isnt dissecting a word he is looking at what the work means. If it means takes away wrath then your universal atonement theory leads to universalism. This is why Paul ground the inability for the elect to be charges with the fact that Christ death was for the elect see roman 8:33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
      34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

      And if one had died with Christ on the cross he will be raised with him see roman 6:5
      For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
      Its called substitutionary atonement. If christ died as a substitutes for every person that ever lived then Christ has received their punishment as a substitute and they will not receive punishment. Calvinist take seriously propitiation and its meaning.


        Btw i am writing from my phone and i cant type very well at that

        Norm Miller

        Stephen: Trads take propitiation just as seriously as you. What seems apparent is that some Cals do not take “whole world” just as seriously.
        You see, when someone reads 1 John 2.2 “propitiation … for the sins of the whole world,” and then says something like, “The whole world could not possibly be in view here because [blah, blah, blah]”; at that point such a person has taken a left turn away from biblical exegesis and has employed eisegesis.
        How is that any different that the mindset evident in Gen. 3.1? “the serpent … said to the woman, “Did God really say, … ?”
        So, did God really say, “the whole world”? Yes, he did.
        This is what I meant by dissection — focusing on one word in an attempt to explain away the clear meaning of another in the same verse. But in order for some Calvinists to maintain their house of cards, they must ask, “Did God really say, ‘the whole world?'” — Norm
        P.S. Sorry to come off like a jerk. After a 14 hour work day, and after reading the same question repeatedly asked and then repeatedly answered by others and myself, I do tend to grow impatient.


God does not wait for the sinner the pray a prayer in order accept Christ’s payment.

I agree. God forgives one’s sin when that person repents of his sin and turns to Christ and the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Here is another problem with your “paid in full at the cross” scenario… if God “does not wait for the sinner to repent… and He accepted Christ’s payment on the cross then there is no need for repentance on the part of the unregenerate because as you frame it, there never is a time that a person is lost because there never is a time that his sins are not forgiven for all who have died after the cross.

I do agree that God has made provision for every sinner who has ever or will ever live. You are correct. Those who are in hell did not repent and God did not forgive their sin and no provision for their sin was appropriated to their account. The provision was there it simply was not applied.

Understand something else; the illustration I used is not perfect but adequate to illustrate my point. I see you did not respond to the issue of reprobation and double predestination… which is the flip side of your own circular argument.

Don Johnson


The answer is YES.



    That’s what the Trad. answer has to be…and that’s a sad statement.

Jim P

I have come to the place where I feel much of our understanding of the future state is very traditionally and academically driven. Yes, Calvinism is behind much as is much Catholic and sensational driven literature like Dante’s inferno. It is near impossible to look and think objectively.

David R. Brumbelow

Is the concept of a “double payment” for sin found in the Bible?

Jesus died for all.
But only those who believe, receive, call on Him in faith are saved from their sin.
It seems pretty simple and understandable to me.
David R. Brumbelow


    David, the blood has to be applied just like the Passover.

    The debt has been paid but the payment has to be credited to our account.


We will never debate limited atonement again as soon as a person shows a passage that says Jesus died for only the elect. There are many passages that says Jesus loved and died for the sins of the whole world. When one declares the Bible to mean something other than what it plainly states it is contingent upon them to give overwhelming proof. We will never debate limited atonement again when honest exegesis shows I John 2:2 and others to mean something other than entire world. LA is a matter of reason and it is flawed. There is nothing illogical in saying Jesus died for the sins of the world and for those who call on His name will be saved. A former church member who was a banker told me that when an account is dormant for so long they have to forward that money to the government. The government has a clearing house with all that unclaimed money. If you owned one of those dormant accounts the government has your money, it is in an account with your name on it. However, you must claim it. The totality of the New Testament teaches something very similar concerning the atoning work of Jesus.



    John 10:11-15

    11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

    John 17:9

    9 I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours


      JB, you are imposing LA on verses and not practicing exegesis. No exegesis of these verses listed will declare Jesus died only for the elect – none. You have a logical fallacy as well. You believe because Jesus laid down His life for His sheep that He did not lay down His life for those who are not His sheep. The following is flawed. A loves B and gave his life to save B therefore A did not give his life for C. This logic is flawed and it is contingent on you showing a verse that teaches expressly Jesus died for only the elect because it is apparent in dozens of places He loved the world and died for the world.

        Norm Miller

        I continue to be dumbfounded by Cals who ignore the plain meaning of these verses: John 1.29; 3.16 and 1 John 2.2.
        Each verse notes that Christ paid the price for the sins of the world. However, Cals react differently among themselves in this regard (the meaning of cosmos), and many also respond indifferently to the plain meaning of the verses. If some Cals simply would lay aside their presuppositions and take the Bible at face value in these verses (instead of re-interpreting cosmos to mean eklektos), then they would understand that all the sins of all time are paid for, thus making salvation available to all while not also necessitating universalism. — Norm

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Yes, Jesus died for his sheep. Though, him dying for his sheep, and how one comes to be his sheep, are not the same thing.

        Let’s see how this idea of your logic holds up. You seem to think the following.

        1 John 2.2 “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.”

        …is somehow narrowed, conditioned, or negated by:

        John 10:15 “as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.”

        If this is so, that the whole world is narrowed to a limited group because sheep narrows world. Thus to be consistent, you need to narrow even further from Sheep. If your logic holds up, and to be consistent, then you must consider this verse:

        Gal. 2: 20 “and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

        So if whole world in one verse becomes only sheep in another, because in your reasoning, one verse narrows other verses, then sheep in one verse must become even more narrowed to just Paul because of another verse.

        Hence, according to your logic, Jesus only died for Paul. ;)

        Or, perhaps your logic and use of verses and interpretation is extremely flawed.

        Yeah, that’s probably it.

        Also, you left out a whole lot of what Jesus meant in 17:9, especially 17:17-23 which allows us to understand what he meant in that particular prayer, in which verse 9 doesn’t apply as a prayer for you and I either. But the disciples…you and I come into view in verse 20, which is situated in 17-23.

        So I am not quite sure what your citation of 17:9 has whatever to do with the extent of the atonement.

Don Johnson


No, it’s not a sad statement. It shows God’s love for even His enemies. Which is why He commands us to love our enemies, because He died for His.


I like to post a link to this very short article by Dr. John Hammett of SEBTS whenever a logical argument is presented against General Atonement. Dr. Hammet has transitioned to a self-professed Four-Point Calvinist. One thing I love so much about this short article, is how you can feel his angst as he struggles between the logic of Limited Atonement (within the structure of Calvinism) and the text of Scripture.


Pastor Rogers does not believe that all people will be saved (he does not appear to be an Universalist). In addition, Pastor Rogers seems to believe that Christ’s death was of infinite value sufficient for the salvation of each and every person. To this point, he has no quarrel with the Calvinists.

The issue here is God’s intent. Did God intend to save only the elect and is now in the process of fulfilling that purpose or did God intend to save everyone and is He being frustrated in gaining this result?

We know that God knew the identities of the elect and the non-elect when He created the universe. God knew that He would send Christ to die on the cross and then, He would disperse His evangelists and pastors throughout the world to proclaim the gospel. God knew that these efforts would result in the elect, known to Him, coming to Christ and the non-elect, also known to Him, rejecting salvation.

Could God have intended an outcome that He knew was not to be? Calvinists have concluded, No.

So, did God “…devise a plan that inviolably precludes the remotest possibility for the vast majority to obey His gospel.” Calvinists conclude that God actually did create a world that “…precludes the remotest possibility for the vast majority to obey His gospel.”

Did God plan it that way? If God is sovereign, He did? If Pastor Rogers can take away God’s sovereignty, then God is off the hook.

What about the good faith offer of the gospel? Pastor Rogers knows that all will not respond to the preaching of the gospel. He knows that God already knows who will respond and who will refuse. So, why does he preach if even he knows (but may be in denial) that some will reject the gospel and that it is a settled issue that there is not the remotest possibility that they will believe the gospel? He preaches because of the certainty that God is using him to draw His elect to Christ.


Rhutchin, thank you for taking the time to try to reason out LA. You have illustrated wonderfully why Cals and non/Cals will never be able to have harmony on LA. I do not mean to insult you at all but you have elevated your reason and logic above the authority of Scripture. We sit here month after month, year after year and do share passage after passage that says Jesus died for the world and that He loved the world. You say it cannot be that way because… We are waiting for a passage that states Jesus died only for the elect. One does not exist. How many would you like for us to offer that says His atonement is a general atonement. Here is one that I haven’t seen any Cal deal with in a while. II Peter 2:1 “But there were false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves.” It is apparent that Peter is describing a lost person who is a false teacher who is going to be judged and destroyed WHO HAS BEEN BOUGHT.

    Norm Miller

    RevDean: The reason Cals cannot cite a verse explicitly/exclusively stating that Jesus died for the elect is because there isn’t one. This makes sense b/c God (the Holy Spirit) would not be divided or self-contradictory. God already has stated that Jesus takes away the sins of the world, loved the world, and is the propitiation for the sins of the “whole world.” What would motivate God to say anything differently than that? Fact is, God cannot. — Norm


    Hello Dean,

    You make two very good points concerning the atonement debate between non-Calvinists (who hold to unlimited atonement) and Calvinists (who hold to limited atonement) in your post.

    Your first point is:

    “I do not mean to insult you at all but you have elevated your reason and logic above the authority of Scripture.”

    The reason Calvinists/limited atonement proponents have to resort to attempted logical arguments (a perfect example being John Owen, whom many contemporary Calvinists like J. P. parrot in presenting the double jeopardy argument, etc.) is they have no direct bible verse that explicitly teaches limited atonement.

    There is no such verse that states that Jesus DIED ONLY FOR THE ELECT.

    In light of this glaring lack, they have to resort to all sorts of invented syllogistic arguments that ignore what the Bible actually teaches, all in the hopes of arguing for limited atonement. What Calvinists such as J. P. seem to be ignorant of is that these attempted logical arguments fail and have already been shown to fail.

    Dr. Allen did a fantastic series on the atonement here at SBC a while back. Dr. Allen wrote an excellent chapter in the book: WHOSOEVER WILL: A BIBLICAL THEOLOGICAL CRITIQUE OF FIVE POINT CALVINISM, “Chapter 4 – “The Atonement Limited or Universal”.
    Because they have no such Bible verses presenting limited atonement, theological determinists such as J. P. who are five pointers have to resort to Owenesque type arguments like the double payment argument. But as Dr. Allen points out in his chapter, there are major problems with Owens’ arguments for limited atonement. So much so, that even other Calvinists have written arguing against Owen and showing the problems (for example Dr. Allen brings up [footnote 64 p. 79] the especially good one by N. Chambers titled “Critical Examination of John Owen’s Argument for Limited Atonement,”)

    Secondly, you note correctly that:

    “We sit here month after month, year after year and do share passage after passage that says Jesus died for the world and that He loved the world. You say it cannot be that way because… We are waiting for a passage that states Jesus died only for the elect. One does not exist.”

    What is particularly sad is that these theological determinists, their owenesque arguments already having been refuted and found wanting, and lacking any direct Bible verse presenting limited atonement. Just keep pushing their false limited atonement view over and over. Not only does this demonstrate that they have an extremely weak argument for their position: it also shows that their commitment to limited atonement is not based on scripture or the available evidence. Instead it is based on their personal and emotional commitment to their Calvinistic system. The system leads them to limited atonement not the scripture.

    It is the “system uber alles” for them.



    “It is apparent that Peter is describing a lost person who is a false teacher who is going to be judged and destroyed WHO HAS BEEN BOUGHT.”

    Wow, good catch. I never thought of that one.


    “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1

    I understand the antecedent to “them” is “people” and people to be the believers in the church. So, “But there were false prophets also among the people…even denying the Lord that bought [the people], and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”


      Rhutch, thank you for your comment. I appreciate your attempt. Again it is reading the Bible through the grid. Paul identifies the saints with “you” a few words earlier. I am convinced no one without a prejudice would read this passage that way. In mid sentence the “you” becomes “them” and then the “themselves” ceases to be the “you”and refers to “them” again. Brother I will be glad to post such passages all day. I enjoy the efforts people make to support LA. Again Hutch you are allowing your logic to trump Scripture.


      If you had understood the “you” (which is plural) to be the antecedent, I could understand a bit. But people is singular and the “them” (that are bought) is plural. However, the immediately preceding antecedent is false teachers, therefore all translations make it so that the false teachers were bought by the Master.
      The problem is that these were among the people back then as they are today among us as in Jude :4. They are from among us, but are not of us as John would say. Externally, they are all bought and under the Master’s ownership, but they are the tares in the kingdom of heaven.

Randall Cofield

Definition of the atonement……..anyone??

    Norm Miller

    It’s your world. Go for it!

      Randall Cofield

      Somehow I don’t think my definition would carry any weight around here, Norm….


        Norm Miller

        How could a theological heavyweight’s comments not have gravity? Sure, we don’t always agree, but I have observed of late the depth of your scholarship and have developed increased appreciation for you. — Norm


    The problem with your request Randall is that we may present definitions of words. For example we could share that the term “kippur” means “covering.” But that really does not say much in regards to one’s atonement theory because in the Bible multiple and diverse analogies and metaphors(ransom, substitution, etc.) are used for atonement. Rather than trying to come up with or present a single **definition** it is better to examine the various passages on atonement and come up with a theory that accommodates all of the available evidence.

    For example we have data that clearly presents that Jesus died for all, of the world, or the whole world. That leads to the conclusion that the atonement has a universal aspect.

    We also have data that clearly presents that not all are saved. This leads to the conclusion that while the atonement may have a universal aspect it also has a particular aspect.

    In addition to these universal aspects and particular aspects of the atonement we also have data that suggests that the atonement of Christ is only **applied** to believers.

    Most Christians looking at this data have concluded that it appears that while Jesus is given as an atonement for all: this atonement is only applied to believers.

    So rather than asking for a single definition, when diverse data is present, the much better approach is to devise a theory that covers (pun intended) all the bases (i.e. a theory that accommodates all of the available data). If you look at church history you find that multiple theories of atonement have been presented. In my examination of them it seems as if they all seem to contain some truth and yet leave other things out.
    This leads me to hold an eclectic theory (i.e. whatever is true in various theories needs to be included in our understanding of the atonement: note there was a four views book on the atonement where various authors presented their theory of atonement, most of the authors emphasized one element over all others, one author emphasized them all, I agree with the author that said all of the various analogies and metaphors must be part of one’s theory). So my theory of atonement includes that the death of Christ is intended to save all and capable of saving all. And yet the atonement of Christ is only applied to believers. I also see a strong substitutionary element in the atonement (Jesus took our place on the cross, died in our place). I also see a strong element of the ransom analogy, that God paid a price for our atonement, that price being the blood of Christ. I have only mentioned some elements of what a proper atonement of theory will include, there are others.
    So rather than asking for a definition, ask for a person’s theory of atonement and what elements are part of their theory of atonement.


      Johnathan Pritchett

      Inclusive theory of atonement suits me best. Most Protestants (Reformed or not), until recently, trumpeted penal substitution and all other theories as secondary. I don’t think one trumps all others, and each of the orthodox views have equal merit.

      Many Reformed folks who know knowing of the Ancient Near East, collectivist societies, corporate in-group, etc. assume penal substitution atonement demands individual election. This doesn’t even square with Covenant theology. That would mean God and Christ made a “multitude no one could number” amount of covenants (one for each individual elect person) in eternity in order to be consistent.

      To get around this, they say one Covenant that incorporated a specific, particular set of people…hence, it unwittingly and inconsistently slides into corporate election.

      The good news is that this inconsistency causes them to find some agreement with the non-Reformed on the efficient/sufficient distinction, which then knocks the argument back to how soteriology works.

      The atonement, whatever else, is automatically corporate in nature one way or the other. But to say that only certain sins are imputed to Christ and others aren’t totally misrepresents and misunderstands the atonement and also collapses the efficient/sufficient distinction they want to affirm (and have to affirm, less they weaken the power of the cross).

      In Paul, God condemned sin in the flesh of Jesus, in John, Jesus took away the sins the sins of the world.

      A corporate penal substitution (satisfaction) in which the efficiency is appropriated by faith to effect the removal is the model best fits all the data.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        “Many Reformed folks who know knowing of the Ancient Near East…”

        Should read:

        “Many Reformed folks who know NOTHING of the Ancient Near East…”

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Do you want a systematic theology answer, a Biblical theology answer, or a dictionary/lexical answer?

      Norm Miller

      Oh, please.
      Why apply such specificity when dealing with the intricacies of such matters?
      Your pal,
      Norm ;^>

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Quite right brother. My bad. ;)

        May as well answer like, “da atonement B dat thang Jezuz dun on tha cross. We sinnas B like whoop-whoop!”

        On a serious note, serious people like Randall know better than to ask a short, general question to a big, multifaceted topic.


More insight from a beloved baptist brother…….

“John 1:9…….

‘That, (that is Jesus) was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.’

Now there’s a verse I’ve said before – I can’t comprehend it. I don’t expect any human being to comprehend it. I don’t know how He did it, but He did because the Book says so. And there again, this fits right with what I said in the last program. When Christ finished the work of the Cross, He was able to offer forgiveness to the whole human race. A done deal. He was able to offer reconciliation to the whole human race. It was done. But it didn’t do them any good until they appropriated it by faith. Well, the ‘Light’ is the same way. This Light lighted every human being that has ever lived. And don’t ask me how, but that’s what the Book says. Read it again. Speaking of Jesus Who was the True Light ‘Which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.’

Now that doesn’t take away our need for missionaries. But on the other hand, it explains why Paul says what he says in Romans chapter 1. Now I guess I’d better go there. Keep your hand in John, I’m not through there. Come back with me to Romans chapter 1 where, before I saw John 1:9, I again was up against it with this verse. Romans 1 verse 20. And I still can’t explain it except for what John says.

Romans 1:20a…..

‘For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead….’

Every human being has some sort of an understanding of that. I couldn’t understand for the longest time, consequently:

Romans 1:20b……

‘…so that they are without excuse.’

Awesome, isn’t it? That’s why the masses of humanity out there in darkness are lost. They’re going to eternal doom. I don’t care what the Universalists say – I don’t care what anybody else may say. The Scripture teaches that they’re going to an everlasting doom. But they don’t have to! Because they’ve had the Light. And since they’ve had the Light, God, in total justice, as Paul says, can send them to that doom and they don’t have a word of excuse.”

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