Calvinism, Controversial Issues, Religious Movements

Examining the Doctrine of Limited Atonement – Is Limited Atonement true or false? What does the Bible teach? For Whom did Jesus die for?

The doctrine of Limited Atonement is a dividing issue within the body of Christ and the purpose of this information is to give a biblical response to the doctrine of Limited Atonement.  The doctrine of Limited Atonement comes from the five points of Calvinism (5 points of Calvinism) known as the TULIP.  The doctrine of Limited Atonement teaches that when Christ came and died upon the cross He only died for the elect with whom God has already predestined to be saved.  That means Jesus did not come to give His life for anyone to be saved, but only those whom He has chosen to be saved.

Some common questions:  Does the Bible teach Limited Atonement? Is Limited Atonement true or false?  For Whom did Jesus die for?  If Limited Atonement is false does that mean Universalism is true?

For Whom did Jesus die for? John Calvin’s answer to this question was Limited Atonement.

John Calvin said the following from his commentary concerning the issue of those in whom God wants to be saved:  “But it may be asked, If God wishes none to perish, why is it that so many do perish? To this my answer is, that no mention is here made of the hidden purpose of God, according to which the reprobate are doomed to their own ruin, but only of his will as made known to us in the gospel. For God there stretches forth his hand without a difference to all, but lays hold only of those, to lead them to himself, whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world.” (John Calvin, Commentary on 2 Peter 3:9)  In another place John Calvin said:  “For Christ is made known and held out to the view of all, but the elect alone are they whose eyes God opens, that they may seek him by faith.” (John Calvin, Commentary on John 3:16)  According to John Calvin it is only those whom God has chosen to be saved that will be saved, therefore in logical conclusion Jesus did not die for anyone to be saved, but only those who God has chosen to be saved.  Only those whom God has chosen to be saved will have their eyes opened so that they may seek Him.  So in essence John Calvin taught the doctrine of “Limited Atonement.”

Statement from Reformed Theology on “Limited Atonement”

“But even more important, this truth of Scripture that Jesus dies only for the sins of His own people, is the only truth which exalts the power and glory of the Name of God. Any other divergent view detracts from the glory of His Name. Any view of the atonement which suggests that the ultimate decision concerning one’s salvation rests with man, detracts from the power and glory of God. God does not share His power and glory with any! He is God alone! He has absolute power. He determines the beginning from the end. He determines the final destiny of every creature — and He does so in harmony with His perfect righteousness.” (from Protestant Reformed Churches in America)  This is shown to demonstrate what the doctrine of Limited Atonement is by those of Reformed Theology, known as Calvinist’s.

Official quote from Canons of Dordt on the doctrine of Limited Atonement.

The Canons of Dordt says the following concerning Reformed Theology on Limited Atonement:  “For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son’s costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail to salvation. In other words, it was God’s will that Christ through the blood of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father; that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit’s other saving gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious people, without spot or wrinkle.” (Canons of Dordt, Second Point, Article 8)  Canons of Dordt are official doctrines of Reformed Theology, known as Calvinism.  This quote is from Canons of Dordt which shows the official belief on the doctrine of Limited Atonement.

The heart of Limited Atonement and for whom did Jesus die for

The doctrine of Limited Atonement is that Jesus only died for a certain group of people that was chosen by God before the foundation of the world, and therefore only those who have been chosen to be saved will be, and the work of the cross is only available for them.  This gives the God of the Bible a different picture when sharing the faith with those who have not come to know Jesus.  If the doctrine of Limited Atonement is correct, than does a person who is sharing the faith tell that person that Jesus may or may not of died for them on the cross?  If you take time to examine this it can be quite puzzling.

What does the Bible teach about “Limited Atonement” and who Jesus really died for?

The following will be some clear passages that give the clear truth concerning this issue within the body of Christ.  There are many passages that could be used, and these will be just a taste of the wonderful love of God for anyone to be saved if they come to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:13-27)

32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. 21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” 23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:20-26)

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

14 “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:14-18/ John 3:16)

37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, `From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” (John 7:37-38)

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)

14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:14-16)

6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

8 But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, in your mouth and in your heart”–that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” (Romans 10:8-13)

1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:1-6)

10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. (1 Timothy 4:10)

9 But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9)

9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

20 `Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)

17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. (Revelation 22:17)

The Bible teaches that Jesus came to give His life for the world, anyone, the ungodly, sinners, and He invites all to come to Him.  Therefore the  doctrine of Limited Atonement is not true according to what the Bible teaches, and when properly examined it is false.  This is an overall examination showing that the Scriptures are clear that the work of the cross is available for anyone.  The doctrine of Limited Atonement is unbiblical in it’s teaching that Jesus came only to give His life for certain people, people being chosen without having to make a choice in their life.  If you have any questions please let us know and we will do our best to give you a Biblical answer.

Check out our podcast on Examining Limited Atonement with the Day of Atonement – click here

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