Sermon # 1433 Series: Miscellaneous Notes
Title: Limited Atonement
Particular and Effectual Redemption
Text: Isaiah 53:8 and Hebrews 9:12
Subject: The Limited Scope and Effectual
Accomplishments of Christ’s Redemptive Work
Date: Saturday Evening – November 11, 2000
First Presbyterian Church – Pottstown, IL
We are dealing with issues in this conference which are matters of vital importance. The questions we are endeavoring to answer concern spiritual matters, matters directly connected with the glory of God and the salvation of our souls. I have been asked to answer the question – “For whom did Christ die?”
In this age of apostate religious confusion, a more important question cannot be asked. However, we must take care that we look for the answer in the Book of God alone. In the Kingdom of God, no opinion matters except the opinion of the King. If we are God’s people, if we are Christ’s kingdom, we must live by his Word. This is what I mean by that -- We believe and practice only that which is plainly written upon the pages of Inspiration. We preach what the Scriptures reveal, no more and no less.
I believe, rejoice in and enthusiastically preach that glorious, God honoring, soul comforting, gospel doctrine of Limited Atonement -- Particular and Effectual Redemption. If you ask why, I answer, “Because I believe this Book.”
The Word of God teaches what men commonly call limited atonement. That is to say, the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died as the Substitute for his own elect. By God’s intention, design, and purpose the atonement of Christ is limited to his own elect. And we believe according to the Scriptures, that by his one atoning sacrifice for sin the Lord Jesus Christ actually accomplished the redemption of all the elect, securing our eternal salvation.
I believe in particular and effectual redemption, and we preach it without apology, because this is plainly and clearly revealed as the doctrine of Holy Scripture.
1. In Isaiah 53:8, the Lord our God tells us that the death of his Son was for a particular, chosen people. “For the transgression of my people was he stricken.”
2. In Hebrews 9:12, the apostle Paul explains to us that the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ effectually accomplished the redemption of God’s elect – “By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
This is the very first thing God taught me when he saved my soul. I am persuaded that this is the first and most important thing God teaches all of his people in conversion. I saw that God’s own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, voluntarily took upon himself my sin, suffered the wrath and justice of God in my place, and died under penalty of God’s law; and by his one great sacrifice as my Substitute, he put away my sin.
E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.
· This is the place where the battle rages.
· This is the issue of greatest importance.
· This is the place where men are most likely to compromise.
I realize that there is a great division among religious people over the doctrine of the atonement. I am sorry that such division exists, but it does. Let me quickly add this – There is no division among God’s people concerning this matter.
The great majority of religious people believe what is called “Universal, or General Redemption.” They believe that the Lord Jesus Christ shed his blood for every person in the world, and that the intention of Christ in his death was the eternal salvation of all men. Now here are three inescapable conclusions which must be accepted by all who teach this doctrine of universal redemption.
1. If it was our Lord’s intention to redeem and save all men, and yet all men are not saved, then the purpose of Christ in his death is frustrated.
2. If the Lord Jesus Christ shed his blood for every person in the world, and some of those people for whom he died go to hell anyway, then in that measure Christ died in vain.
3. If Christ died to make an atonement for all men and to save all men, and some men yet perish in hell, then Christ failed in his mission: his work of redemption is a failure.
There are blasphemous absurdities which we cannot and will not endure. They rob Christ of his glory in redemption, destroy the foundation of our hope, and call into question the eternal Godhead of our Savior. But, if the doctrine of general, universal redemption is believed, these conclusions must be accepted.
There are some, however, among whom we are glad to be numbered, though they may be a despised few, who believe the Bible doctrine of particular and effectual redemption. We believe that the blood of Christ is of infinite value, but that the intention of Christ in his death never was the salvation of all men. Without question, if Christ had intended to save all men by his death, if that had been the object and purpose of his atonement, all men would be saved; but that never was his purpose. We believe, according to the Scriptures, that the intention of Christ’s atonement and the effects of his atonement are the same. It was our Lord’s intention to redeem his elect by the shedding of his blood, and by the shedding of his blood, all of God’s elect have been redeemed. This is clearly the doctrine of the Bible. The Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily laid down his life for a particular people. And by his death at Calvary, the Son of God effectually accomplished the eternal redemption of all God’s elect. What he intended to do, he has done!
1. Christ has redeemed all of God’s elect from the curse of the law – “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree” – (Gal. 3:13).
2. Christ has put away the sins of his people – “Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb. 9:27). “He has by himself purged our sins.” (Heb. 1:3).
3. Christ has purchased for himself a people. “Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was forordained before the foundation of the world.” (1 Pet. 1:18-10).
4. Our Lord Jesus Christ has perfected those who are sanctified, or set apart in eternal election as the objects of God’s love and grace. “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14).
Everywhere in the Bible, when the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ is spoken of and explained, it is described as a particular and effectual redemption.
Isaiah 53:10-11 – “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”
Matthew 1:21 – “Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
John 10:11, 14-18 – “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
Romans 5:8 – “God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
2 Corinthians 8:9 – “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
Galatians 1:4 – “Christ gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”
Ephesians 5:25-29 – “Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Titus 2:14 – “Our Savior Jesus Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
1 John 3:16 – “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.”
The doctrine of the Bible is particular and effectual redemption. The Lord Jesus Christ died for and accomplished the eternal redemption of his chosen people, according to the will of God the Father – “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” We must reject as heresy any doctrine that denies the efficacy of the atonement.
I lay these nine charges against the doctrine of general, universal redemption. After much thought and deliberation, I lay these nine charges at the door of every preacher who preaches the blasphemous heresy of universal redemption.
1. While pretending to enlarge the love of God for sinners those who preach universal redemption reduce the love of God to nothing!
· What kind of love is that which has the power to save, but does not save?
· Universal redemption makes the love of God no more than a fickle, mutable, changeable passion.
2. Those who preach universal redemption make the wisdom of God to be foolishness!
What man makes plans which he knows will never be carried out? Is there any wisdom in making a plan that is doomed for failure?
3. Those who preach universal redemption would destroy the justice of God!
Justice cannot and will not demand a double payment for one debt. Justice cannot require one offense to be punished twice, both in the offender and in the offender’s Surety.
Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine!
4. Those who preach universal redemption make the power of God to be impotence!
We are told that God wants to save everyone in the world, he has done everything he could to save them, but he cannot.” Can the Almighty fail? Perish the thought! Has the will of God become impotent and the will of man omnipotent? Is the eternal God subject to puny man? Is the power and will of God subject to the power and will of man? Such absurd thoughts are blasphemous!
5. Those who preach universal redemption reduce the work of Christ on the cross to nothing but a gesture of love at best!
He came to redeem, to save, and to justify; but if universal redemption is true, he only rendered men redeemable, savable, and justifiable. He failed in his work!
Universal redemption robs Christ of his soul’s satisfaction. How can the Son of God be satisfied, if so much as one soul for whom he died, suffers the eternal torments of the damned in hell?
Will he say in the day of judgment. “I loved you, I made a wonderful gesture and display of my love for you by dying for you. But my love could not conquer your will. I loved you too much to interfere with your free-will and save you from hell.”
6. Those who preach universal redemption offer sinners no sure foundation of hope in Christ!
If my salvation depends upon the merits of my works, my repentance, or even m faith, I must forever be disturbed by these questions – “Are my works good enough?” “Have I repented enough?” “Do I have faith enough?”
7. Those who preach universal redemption offer no encouragement to believers to love Christ and praise him because of his sacrificial death for us.
If Christ did no more to save me than he did to save Judas, then the grounds of praise is my faith, not his blood.
If Christ loves me no more than he loves Esau, then it is my love to him, not his love to me, that makes the difference between Esau and me.
8. Those who preach universal redemption would disappoint God, robbing him of his chief end in the salvation of sinners – The Glory of His Own Great Home – (Ps. 106:8).
If salvation is in any measure the result of something man does for God, then God shall not have and cannot rightfully claim all praise and glory for it.
9. Those who preach universal redemption, essentially deny the Godhood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The question really is not – “For whom did Christ die?” The question is – “Who died?” If Christ died upon the cross to redeem and save men who are not redeemed and saved, then he is not God, he is not the true Messiah and we are all lost who believe in him! Do you see how vitally important this gospel doctrine of particular and effectual redemption is? Without it, there is no gospel. Without it, there is no hope. Without it, there is no salvation. We preach a Savior who saves, a Redeemer who redeems, an atonement that atones. We preach a gospel that honors God in all his glorious attributes, magnifies Christ in his redemptive glory, and gives a sure hope to sinners. With confidence and joy we sing the praises of our sovereign Redeemer, saying –
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more.
We know that all those for whom the Lord Jesus Christ shed his blood at Calvary are redeemed. All of them shall be saved. And all of them shall be with him in glory.
OUR REDEMPTION WAS PURPOSE BY GOD IN ETERNITY. Both the sacrifice of Christ and the results of that sacrifice were purposed by God before the foundation of the world. From all eternity God looked upon his Son as “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world;” and he looked upon his chosen people in Christ as men and women redeemed, justified, reconciled and accepted. The work of redemption was finished in the mind and purpose of God, before the worlds were made (1 Pet. 1:18-20; 2 Tim. 1:9).
(Illus: Abraham and Isaac).
THE REDEMPTION OF GOD’S ELECT WAS ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED BY THE DEATH OF CHRIST AT CALVARY. When our Savior cried, “It is finished,” the work was done. We were redeemed.
The prophet Daniel described Christ, the Messiah the Prince, in these words. He is that One who must come “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in an everlasting righteousness.” (Dan. 9:24). Either Christ has actually accomplished these things for his covenant people, or he is not that Messiah of whom Daniel spoke.
· He has finished the transgression of his people by dying for it – “Sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.”
· He has made an end of sins by putting them away.
· He has reconciled us to God by satisfying the claims of God’s offended justice against us.
· And he has brought in an everlasting righteousness by his perfect obedience to the law as our Representative.
AND IT IS THIS REDEMPTION, PURPOSED BY GOD IN ETERNITY AND ACCOMPLISHED BY CHRIST AT CALVARY, WHICH GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT APPLIES TO THE HEARTS OF SINNERS IN REGENERATION, CREATING FAITH IN CHRIST – (Heb. 9:14). “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6).
If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ this day, God’s distinguishing grace toward you in redemption caused you to believe.
1. If you believe, God purposed to redeem you in eternity.
2. If you believe, the Lord Jesus Christ died for you and purchased you at Calvary. With his own precious blood he redeemed you effectually. Your faith is the result of redemption, not the cause.
3. If you believe, it is because God the Holy Spirit has graciously applied the blood of Christ to your heart.
This is Redemption is God’s remedy for sin. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” (John 3:14).
This is the reason for our Lord’s substitutionary sacrifice for sin – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
Proposition: I want you to see from the Scriptures that – THE LORD JESUS CHRIST SHED HIS BLOOD PARTICULARLY FOR HIS OWN ELECT, AND THAT IN HIS DEATH HE ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED OUR ETERNAL REDEMPTION. THE ATONEMENT OF CHRIST IS BOTH PARTICULAR AND EFFECTUAL.
Divisions: Let me just give you four words that describe the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. These four words set forth the biblical doctrine of particular and effectual redemption.
Like all the works of God, the one thing that characterizes the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ is Divine Sovereignty. The Lord Jesus Christ, The Son of God, voluntarily laid down his life for us, to redeem us from our sins, because it was his sovereign pleasure to do so (1 John 3:16).
· We had no claims upon Christ, compelling him to die.
· That One who is our Redeemer is himself God the eternal Son, infinitely and gloriously sovereign in all things.
· The death of the Lord Jesus Christ was according to his own, sovereign, voluntary will.
A. CHRIST VOLUNTARILY BECAME OUR SURETY IN THE COVENANT OF GRACE – (Heb. 7:22).
(Illus: Judah – Genesis 43:8-9).
B. Our Lord Voluntarily Came Into This World In Human Flesh, According To The Will Of God – (Heb. 10:5-9).
C. The Son Of God Voluntarily Went To Jerusalem To Suffer And Die In Our Place – (Isa. 50:5-7).
D. Our Savior Voluntarily Took Upon Himself The Sins Of His People – (Ps. 40:12; 69:5).
E. The Lord Jesus Christ Voluntarily Laid Down His Life For Us – (John 10:14).
“Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost” (Mk. 15:37).
This is what I am saying, The Lord Jesus Christ was in absolute, sovereign control over all things, even in his death. He displayed his sovereignty in the garden, before Pilate, and upon the cross.
(Illus: “Whom seek ye?” “Let these go there way.”)
Christ, the Sovereign God determined –
· That he would die.
· How he would die.
· Where he would die.
· When he would die.
· Who his murderers would be.
· For whom he would die.
· What the results of his death would be.
II. Success -
Because our Redeemer is the eternal, sovereign Son of God, we are assured that his death and redemptive work for the atonement of sin is a success and not a failure. It is written in the prophecy of Isaiah – “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have sit judgment in the earth” (Isa. 42:4). (Read – Heb. 10:12-14).
When I say that the Lord Jesus Christ is successful in his atonement, I am simply proclaiming that which must be a self-evident truth – Whatever our Lord Jesus Christ intended to accomplish at Calvary was accomplished. The purpose and will of Christ in redemption must, of a certainty, be fulfilled.
A. It Is Utterly Inconsistent With The Very Character Of God That Anything Which He Ever Intended, Purposed, And Willed Should Fail To Be Accomplished – (Isa. 46:9-10).
B. Up To This Time All Works Of God Have Been Performed Exactly According To His Purpose As It Is Revealed In Holy Scripture.
Wicked men, in their obstinate rebellion to God, have always accomplished God’s sovereign purpose, though they knew it not.
The Roman Soldiers
All that our Lord intended to accomplish he has accomplished. Did he intend to redeem a people? Then he has redeemed a people. Did he intend to put away sin? Then he has put away sin. Did he intend to bring in an everlasting righteousness? Then righteousness is established. Did he intend to justify his people? Then they are justified. Did he intend to pardon? Then we are saved. He cannot fail!
C. Stand At The Food Of The Cross, Look Steadfastly Upon This One Who Hangs There To Do His Father’s Will, And Tell Me Whether Or Not He Shall Fail.
· Hear him in Gethsemane.
· Behold him at Gabbatha – The Judgment Hall.
· Watch him upon Golgotha – Can you imagine that such a Redeemer could be a failure? Perish the thought! It cannot be!
Spurgeon said, “To think that my Savior died for men in hell seems a supposition too horrible for me to imagine; that he was the substitute for the sons of men, and that God having first punished the substitute, punished men again, seems to me to conflict with any idea of justice.”
Spurgeon also said this – “If it were Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably he has been disappointed; for we have his own evidence that there is a lake of fire and brimstone, and into that pit must be cast some of the very persons, who according to that theory, were bought with his blood.”
These two things characterize and define the redemptive work of Christ. In making an atonement for our sins, the Son of God must be both Sovereign and Successful. A third word which characterizes our Lord’s atoning sacrifice is –
III. Substitution -
Everywhere in the Bible the sacrificial death of Christ is set forth as a substitutionary atonement for sin. Christ died as a Substitute in the place of his people. Now, since the Substitute died, those for whom he died shall never die. Divine justice will not allow them to die!
(Illus: The Substitute Soldier)
Christ, for the sins of all the elect,
Hath a complete atonement made;
And justice never can expect
That the same debt should twice be paid.
John Gill made this observation – “The inspired writers seem to delight in using the pronoun ‘us’ and when speaking of the death of Christ, and redemption by it.”
· “Christ died for us.”
· “He laid down his life for us.”
· “God delivered him up for us all.”
· “He gave himself that he might redeem us.”
· “Thou hast redeemed us by thy blood.”
This is what our Lord himself said, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mt. 20:28). “This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Mt. 26:28). No, Christ did not die for everyone, but for many. No, he did not die for a select few, but for a select many. Who are those for whom Christ died?
· The many who were ordained to eternal life.
· The many who were given to him by his Father.
· The many whose sins he bore on the cross.
· The many for whom his blood was shed.
· The many who were made righteous by his obedience.
· The many who call upon him.
· The many sons whom he shall bring to glory.
“ Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.” He laid down his life for his sheep. He took upon him the seed of Abraham and died for them – (Heb. 2:16-17).
The Lord Jesus Christ took our place for a time at Calvary that we might take his place for eternity before the Father’s throne in glory. Substitution is Christ taking my place! (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 1:3-4; 1 Pet. 2:24).
· He took my sin and gave me his righteousness.
· He took my condemnation and gave me his freedom.
· He took my guilt and gave me his innocence.
· He took my shame and gave me his glory.
· He took my death and gave me his life.
· He took my hell and gave me his heaven.
· He took my place and gave me his place.
A. Christ stood as my Substitute in Eternal Election.
B. Christ stood as my Substitute in His Life of Obedience.
C. Christ stood as my Substitute at Calvary.
D. Christ stands as my Substitute in Heaven Today (1 John 2:1-2).
E. Christ shall stand as my Substitute in The Day Of Judgment.
These three words define the atonement of Christ: Sovereignty – Success – Substitution. But the definition is not complete yet. Here is the fourth word that defines our Lord’s redemptive work –
IV. Satisfaction -
The sacrificial, substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ was a thorough, complete, and absolute satisfaction to the justice of God for the sins of his people – (Ps. 85:10; Jobe33:24).
(Illus: “It is enough.”)
A. The death of Christ satisfies The Decree Of His Father.
B. The death of Christ satisfies The Declaration Of Holy Scripture – (Luke 24:44-48).
C. The death of Christ satisfies The Demands of God’s Holy Law – (Rom. 3:23-31).
· By obeying the precepts of it, and fulfilling all that it requires.
· By enduring the penalty of it in the room and stead of his people.
D. The death of Christ satisfies The Debts Of His People.
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
E. The death of Christ satisfies The Desires Of His Own Soul – (Isa. 53:10-12).
Because Christ died in the place of his people, voluntarily laying down his life for us, according to the will of God, fulfilling all that was agreed upon in the covenant of grace.
1. He arose from the dead – “He shall prolong his days.”
2. He reigns in exalted glory as King over all – “I will divide him a portion with the great.” “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.”
3. He shall justify the many for whom he died – “By knowledge of him shall my righteous servant justify many. For he shall gear their iniquities.”
4. He shall be satisfied – Not one of those for whom he died shall perish. “He shall see his seed… He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied.”
1. Nothing gives such hope to sinners as this blessed gospel doctrine of particular and effectual redemption. This is good news for helpless sinners – Redemption is accomplished! -- This is our message (Isa. 40:1-2).
2. Nothing gives the believing heart such peace, comfort, and assurance as this message of particular and effectual redemption – (Rom. 8:31-39). “Fear not, for I have redeemed thee.”
3. Nothing gives me such a motive to love, praise, adore, and worship the Lord my God as this message of particular and effectual redemption – He loved me, and gave himself for me!
4. Nothing inspires me to preach the gospel and call upon men to come to Christ like this gospel doctrine of particular and effectual redemption – Christ has a people in this world whom he has redeemed, a people whom he is determined to save.
5. How can I know that Christ died for me?
I take my place in the dust before his cross, as a guilty, lost, helpless sinner, and trust him alone.
A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On Christ’s kind arms I fall;
Be Thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus and my all!
 The Arminian, the works monger, the will worshipper also believes in a limited atonement. The free willer limits the merit, power, and efficacy of the atonement!
 Isaiah Series #174 – Danville, 02/20/94 (PM)