Thursday, July 2, 2009

Unlimited/Limited Atonement

1 Timothy 4:10 (English Standard Version)

10For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.


Chrysostom (349-407) on Hebrews 9:28. "So Christ was once offered.": By whom offered? evidently by Himself. Here he says that He is not Priest only, but Victim also, and what is sacrificed. On this account are [the words] "was offered." "Was once offered" (he says) "to bear the sins of many." Why "of many," and not "of all"? Because not all believed, For He died indeed for all, that is His part: for that death was a counterbalance against the destruction of all men. But He did not bear the sins of all men, because they were not willing. NPNF1: Vol. XIV, Epistle to the Hebrews, Homly 17.


This is not a contradiction in terms, it is a proposition that fits into God's redemptive plan - that is:

1) Christ's death was of general benefit to all Mankind, in that the guarantee of His sacrifice was the source of our just God extending grace to Adam and not immediately and utterly destroying Man at the Fall or allowing Man, in his own total depravity and slavery to sin, destroy himself- thus Unlimited in application in that sense. "who is the Savior of all people" - this is foundational to the Reformed principle of Common Grace.

2) Christ's death was of specific benefit to the Elect, in whom He, by His grace, has given the gift of faith through the Holy Spirit, resulting in true spiritual and saving belief in Christ, thus Limited in this sense. "especially of those who believe" - this principle is also known as Special Grace - “God is good to all in some ways but good to some in all ways” (JI Packer, Knowing God).

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