Saturday, January 05, 2008

Theological Foundations, Part 3 -- Comments on The Remonstrance

Article 2

That agreeably thereunto, Jesus Christ the Savior of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that he has obtained for them all, by his death on the cross, redemption and the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John 3:16, “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.” And in the First Epistle of 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.”

This article is perhaps the most straight forward and easy to deal with. Laid out for us is the General Atonement. This view is clearly declared in Scripture, contrary to the hermeneutical gymnastics often employeed by Calvinists in defense of "elite election."

Simply put, Jesus Christ died for all men, for every human, for each sin ever committed -- past, present and future. As noted above, the Remonstrants cited John 3:16 and I John 2:2 as "prooftexts." While prooftexting isn't the most sound means of Biblically supporting a position, in this case, these verses just scratch the surface.

Consider other passages which echo the Holy Spirit in His work to draw all to Christ:

  • 2 Cor 5:14-15 - "For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again."
  • Timothy 2:3-6 - For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
  • 1 Timothy 4:10 - "For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe."
  • Titus 2:11 (ESV) - "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people."
  • 2 Peter 3:9 (KJV) - "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

The expression I've heard -- both from SOME Calvinists and MOST Arminians is, "Christ's death was sufficient for all, but efficient only for those who believe. More will be discussed about why not ALL are then saved -- for if I was a consistent Calvinist, I would have to be a universalist as well -- since God's will CANNOT be thwarted...Right?

One other issue that needs to be addressed. Some have called this concept of the General Atonement the "Universal Atonement," or sometimes the "Unlimited Atonement." My own conviction is that these are misleading phrases that take on negative theological connotations. That Jesus died for all DOES NOT mean that His sacrifice is thus automatically applied to all, as "Universalism" would imply. And that Jesus' death is sufficient for all does not mean that His Sacrifice is "unlimited"to the extent that all MUST then be saved.

God has made man a free moral agent, and does sovereignly enable him to choose to follow Christ or reject Him. But we'll talk about that when we get to Prevenient Grace.

So, in summary, the first two articles of the Arminian Remonstrance declare that God has an eternal purpose and predestined plan by which depraved humans can enter into His grace -- through faith in Jesus Christ. Additionally, the atonement which Christ purchased with His blood on the Cross was [and IS] for all men -- but it is only applied to those who trust the Lord, coming to Him in faith and repentance.



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