The last two posts I have been touching on the topic of "Calvinism". If you aren't familiar with this subject, or even if you are, it would be good to read the previous posts in order. The first is an introduction, the second explores one of the areas of debate on this topic:
The L in the Calvinism TULIP stands for Limited Atonement. This blog post will not cover all of the finer points of both sides of this much passionately debated issue, but I give it an overview with links for your further study. On face value, the term Limited Atonement (or also called Particular Atonement) sounds offensive and heretical.
What! God's sacrifice for our sins is in no way limited!!!
True...so let us explore what this sound bite is actually talking about.
Sufficient for all, but not efficacious for all...in other words the sacrifice itself is sufficient to save every person ever born on this earth, but it does not do so. It is not efficacious, effective, in everyone's lives. On that point everyone that calls themselves Christian will agree. So why is this such a disagreeable assertion for many?...I personally think that people get stuck on the shortened for TULIP's sake title of LIMITED atonement.
Everyone agrees that not everyone "gets" saved, or all Christians would also be universalists. Something has to happen. Jesus said: "You must be born again" John 3:3
The idea that one can will himself to be born again was discussed in the last post, so this is a continuation on that idea. The fact that the Lords atonement is not effective for everyone is accepted by most Christians whether they call themselves Calvinists or not. The problem lies in the fact that those who are not Calvinists accuse Calvinists of saying that God forces some to be saved, and forces others to be not saved by the fact that He determined when He made us whether we would be one of His or not. I had one semipelagian call the God of Calvinists a "rapist god", because He forces some to love Him. The problem is we cannot love Him unless He causes us to, changing our hearts and minds and lives in conformity to His will for us...but we tend to think in human terms so such a thing would be a limitation on our freedom and ability when in actuality it is the opposite: God frees us to be able to love Him (remember...the truth sets us free).
But the Bible tells us in John 3:16 that God so loved THE WORLD, and that all who believe on Him will be saved...yes...
Act 13:47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'"
Act 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
Not everyone receives it. Not everyone is *ignited* by the truth of it. Some might be able to fake that for a while and fool a whole bunch of people into thinking they were born of the Spirit...but eventually the truth will bear it out whether they truly were transformed by the choosing of Gods saving Spirit who knows who are His...and who are not chosen.
I have heard many say "But that is not fair!!!!!"
True. Fair would send everyone to hell. Grace saves some that had no desire or ability to be good enough to be eternally with God. We do not want "fair", we desire grace.
Then I have heard from objectors: "When God said ALL He meant ALL...when Jesus said WHOSOEVER He really meant that for ALL"
Here is a link to a short article that goes into this a little further:
If that makes you uncomfortable, take it to Jesus, confess your need for His Spirit to transform you by His power. He is not obligated to give you what you ask, but He does keep His promises, and one of His promises to us is that He gives liberally to all who ask of Him (James 1:5). However He does it in a way that we know and ultimately acknowledge the fact that it is His choice, not ours, that saves us out of the destiny we all would have been headed for, hell, which we all deserve (whether we want to think so or not, the truth is we all deserve hell)...and that it is GRACE that keeps some of us from going to what we all deserve.
Next time: Perseverance of the Saints