Sunday, August 22, 2010
Getting the L Out of Here. Part 12
Charles Spurgeon in the following quote summarizes the challenge one faces when discussing Limited Atonement with an adherent:
I would rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than a universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of men be added to it. (Charles Spurgeon, Sermons, Vol. 4, p. 70)
On first glance I would have to agree that I would rather believe in Limited Atonement than to have to add the work of an unbeliever to grace in order to obtain salvation. This would clearly be adding works to Jesus in order to bring about salvation. Whenever I find myself in conversation with a Calvinist this argument always raises as if he or she believes Lutherans teach free will due to denying Limited Atonement. This was one of my early delights when coming into Lutheranism! I can have a Jesus dead on the cross for the sins of the world as the scriptures clearly present. In addition I do not have to trust any decision I made in salvation to which my Arminians would point.
1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. ESV
Yes, my Calvinists, Lutherans also like verse 14. Pasting that back into context it shows once again that God is doing the saving work without the help of man. That we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit to deliver to us the forgiveness of sins and to instruct us in making judgments. However, nowhere in this section 1 Corinthians, the rest of the letter nor anywhere else in scripture does it say that the unbeliever is not atoned for. So it is not about what we would rather have, Mr. Spurgeon and my Calvinists, but what does scripture clearly teach. It teaches we have a Jesus who took the entire weight of God’s wrath for the entirety of mankind. We cannot have a Jesus who, in 2 Corinthians 5:19, reconciles the entire world so that the sins are not held against them and have a Jesus who only does reconciling for some of humanity. We have only one Jesus who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The salvation of men is God’s business. It is impossible to understand why some are saved and others lost. What it cannot be is that it is due to that person’s lack of decision which is not taught anywhere in scripture. It also cannot be that God did not desire the salvation of that person for scripture contradicts that idea. It is best to leave off speculating of the why and wherefore of this issue and believe the promises of God and live in the comfort they give.
pax domini. †