Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Limited Atonement Debate on Debate Blog

Frank Turk is debating a Lutheran Pastor on whether one's view of the extent of the atonement changes the Gospel.

Phil Johnson gave a message on the nature of the Atonement at The Shepherd's Conference a bouple of years back. Here is the link to the audio, and here is the outline.

I also appreciated Rebecca Stark's post from a few years ago. I liked her analogy to some people's "transactional approach" to the atonement. Her post also provides a few links to other blogs which have dealt with the issue.

The question that I'd like the answer to from anyone who rejects a view that the atonement is limited is this: if all the sin in the world is atoned for, then on what basis does God condemn sinners?


John D. said...

Matt, after speaking with you on the phone, I remembered my son saying you had a blog, so I googled "Matt Gumm" blog and found you. I am not going to attempt to answer the question on the extent of the atonement, but I will weigh in on your question about condemnation.

Jesus said, (Well, there is some debate as to whether this is Jesus or the Holy Spirit inspired apostle, but, for our purposes, it makes no difference.) "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:18). In Revelation 20:15 we read, "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." To me, those verses provide an answer I can rely upon. I've heard a lot of other human speculation over the years.

Matt Gumm said...

John: you're incredibly kind to stop in and comment. At the end of the day, what you have said is indeed the most important part of the matter.

a helmet said...

if all the sin in the world is atoned for, then on what basis does God condemn sinners?There is a distinction between Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection to eternal life, which is neglected here. In ohter words, the questions disregards the distinction between Christ's role as a victim and His role as the living High Priest.

The truth is this: If Christ had not been raised to life, there'd be no forgiveness of sins!

Paul said: "If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15,17)

Why is this? Because a dead savior cannot save anyone. Justification happens by intercession, not by Christ's mere death. Intercession however, is the work of the living Christ. Only those for whom He intercedes before the Father are forgiven all their sins. Those whom he doesn't intercede for, aren't forgiven.

Now the question is, whom does he intercede for? For those who approach Him in faith, the believers. Christ purchased the corporate body of all believers with His blood. Justification occurs by Christ's life, not by his death!

So the fallacy behind the doctrine of actual (or limited) atonement is the disregard of the the distinction between Christ's role as a sacrifice and His role as the High Priest.

Matt Gumm said...

A Helmet: welcome to the blog.

I'm intrigued by your assertion that it's is Christ's intercessory work, rather than his death, by which we have been justified. I'd be curious what role (if any) Christ's death plays in our salvation.

While I agree that we would have no salvation apart from Christ's resurrection, Romans 5:6-11 seems to teach clearly that Christ's blood was for justification, and that we were reconciled to him through Christ's death. Further down, verse 18 says that "one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men," a parallel to Adam's one trespass.

Hebrews 9, likewise, talks about Christ's entrance once into the holy places, and by his blood secured an eternal redemption (vs. 11-12).

So while I appreciate you highlighting Christ's intercessory work, I don't see any Biblical evidence that it plays a role in our justification.