Particular Redemption

        The doctrine of limited atonement, sometimes more appropriately called particular redemption or definitive         redemption, declares that Christ died for the purpose of actually and certainly saving the elect and the elect         only. This doctrine does not teach that Christ's death is insufficient for the salvation of all men, as those who         oppose it often assert. The Reformed formula regarding this, is that "Christ died sufficiently for all,         efficaciously for the Elect."

        Proofs for the doctrine of particular redemption:

          1.God's decree is efficacious. Whatever God decrees shall certainly come to pass (Ps 33:11, Prov              19:21, Is 46:10). The doctrine of particular redemption is a logical progression of the doctrine of divine              election, that God, according to his eternal decree and plan, chose a certain number of persons to be the              recipients of His special grace, enabling them to repent and believe unto salvation. If God's decree is              efficacious, then it also applies to his purpose of saving men through the death of Christ. That is, that in              the death of Christ, God accomplished exactly what he intended to accomplish, the certain salvation of              his people. It follows then, that Christ did not die equally for all mankind, but that He gave himself for his              people and their redemption.           2.The testimony of Scripture. Scripture repeatedly qualifies those for whom Christ laid down His life.              In John 10:11 & 15, Christ speaks of laying down his life "for his sheep." In Acts 20:28, Paul speaks of              "the church of God, which he has bought with his own blood" - the blood of Jesus, (who by the way is              referred to unequivocally as God) redeems those who are redeemed, that is the church of God. In              Ephesians 5:25-27 we read, "...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy...              and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy              and blameless." In Matt 1:21, "...and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his              people from their sins."           3.The limitation of his intercession. The sacrificial work of Christ and His intercessory work are              simply two different aspects of his atoning work. These two aspects of atonement are seen in Rom              8:33-34, "... It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that,              who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." Christ's death, his              resurrection, his exaltation at the right hand of God, his intercession, all these events together form the              complete act of redemption. Since Christ's death and his intercession are both part of redemption, it              stands to reason that the scope of the one can be no wider than that of the other. Now Christ very              definitely limits his intercessory work, when he says in John 17:9, "... I am not praying for the world, but              for those you have given me, (and the reason for limiting his prayer to them is given next:) for they are              yours." Divine election explains Christ's limited intercession, which implies a limited atonement. Why              should he limit his intercessory prayer, if he had actually paid the price for all?           4.The alternative leads to absolute universalism. The only alternative to the view that Christ died for              the effective and actual salvation of some, is to hold that Christ died for the effective and actual              salvation of all, a view referred to as absolute universalism. This view is clearly contradicted by many              Scriptures, but notably by Matt 7:13&14, "... wide is the gate and / broad is the road that leads to              destruction, and many enter though it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and              only a few find it."

        One of the five Arminian articles states that "Christ died for all men, not just for the elect, but no one except         the believer has remission of sin." What is meant here is that the atonement was universal, but that the         application of it was particular; that God made salvation possible for all, but actually saves only a limited         number. There is no basis for splitting up the divine work of atonement in this way. There is an inseparable         connection between the purchase of redemption and the bestowal of redemption. The Bible clearly teaches         that the design and effect of the atoning work of Christ is not merely to make salvation possible, but to actually         rescue men from their sins and reconcile them to God, i.e. to put men in actual possession of eternal salvation.

        Gal 1:3&4 - "... the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age ..."

        Rom 5:10 - "... we were reconciled to him (God) through the death of his Son ..."

        Eph 1:7 - "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins ..."

        WARNING! One should never interpret the doctrine of limited atonement or particular redemption in such a         way as to exclude oneself, thereby using it as an excuse for unbelief. The language of Scripture is, "whosoever         believeth shall be saved." This invitation is intentionally general, authorizing anyone one to come to Christ. A         person's unbelief is what excludes one from the invitation, so that it is impossible that anyone, who wishes to         come to Christ, should be prevented by the fact that Christ's atonement does not extend to him.

        Objections to the doctrine of limited atonement:

          1.There are passages which teach that Christ died for the world.

             Jn 1:29 - "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

             Jn 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son ..."

             2Cor 5:19 - "... God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ ..."

             The objection based on these passages comes from the unwarranted and false assumption that the              world as used in them means, "all the individuals in the human race." But it is perfectly evident from              Scripture that world (Gr. kosmos) has a variety of meanings, as it does in English. It can refer to the              universe (Phil 2:15 - "... shine like stars in the universe ..."), the planet (Jn 11:9 - "... A man who walks              by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light."), or mankind (Mt 5:14 - "You are the light of              the world ..."). Even when referring to mankind it does not always mean all of mankind. Sometimes it is              a hyperbole, only referring to part of mankind. The Pharisees used the term in a hyperbole when they              said concerning Christ in Jn 12:19, "Look how the whole world has gone after him." In Rom 11:12, the              world refers to Gentiles and not the nation of Israel. The expression "all men" in Rom 5:18, "... the result              of one act of righteousness was justification that / brings life for all men", is obviously not referring to all              men, but to all in Christ. So, we ought not to interpret Scriptures which speak of Christ dying for the              world as dying for all men.

             It should be noted that there is a universalism being conveyed in expressions such as 'God so loved the              world', or 'the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world', but it is not absolute universalism.              What it is declaring is that God's love extends beyond the borders of Israel, to every language, tribe, and              nation. Dr. Shedd suggests the word kosmos should be translated 'all nations' in such passages as Jn              3:16.

          2.If Christ only died for the elect, how is it that God can freely invite all men to be saved? The              offer of salvation is a promise of salvation to all those who accept Christ by faith. This offer is always              conditioned by faith and conversion. It is contingent on a repentance and faith which can only be              accomplished by a work of the Holy Spirit. The universal offer of salvation does not consists in the              declaration that Christ made atonement for every man that hears the gospel, or that God intends to save              everyone. It consists in:                a.a declaration of the atoning work of Christ which is in itself sufficient for the redemption of all                   men,                b.a description of the nature of the repentance and faith that are required in coming to Christ, and                c.a declaration that all who come to Christ in true faith and repentance will obtain salvation.

        Finally, what did Christ's atonement accomplish, for the elect as well as the non-elect?

          1.The purchase of the full and assured redemption of all the elect, that is all believers, with all the              blessings that accompany salvation.           2.A reprieve of doom for every sinner of Adam's race. Though every sinner deserves to die every time              he sins, the judgment of God is deferred.           3.A justly enhanced condemnation of those who reject the Gospel.           4.A disclosure of the infinite mercy, holiness and justice of God to all rational creatures (men and angels).