Friday, April 23, 2010

Limited Atonement in Light of the Mission of Christ

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)

There is great news about the purpose for which Jesus Christ was sent into the world: He came to seek and save what was lost. That is the stated mission of Jesus. Seek and save. These are two very important words that shed an incredible amount of light upon the mission of Christ; and, they shed much needed light, I believe, upon the measure for which salvation is extended to humanity.

Now right from the outset of this devotional, I must confess that I believe that God is omniscient in salvation. By this, I mean that God knows all who will ever be saved, even before there is a profession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. So, from this perspective, I agree that although salvation has been extended to the whole world (John 3:16), many will reject Christ. And in God's omniscience, he knows from the beginning that there is a "limited" (narrow is the road and few find it) number of lost people who will be truly found, saved, and ultimately atoned for by the blood of Jesus. Some call this God's foreknowledge.

What I have problems with, then, is the school of limited atonement that says that God only intends to save a predetermined amount of people. Same coin. Different side. Although God would be completely just if He were not to save a single soul from sin (we've all sinned and fall short of His glory), I have great troubles reconciling the seek and save mission of Christ with this version of limited atonement. It is the seeking "what is lost" that brings this limited atonement into question. What is lost, after all, includes all of humanity, doesn't it?

This leads me to believe, yet again, that God's predestined and foreordained, adopted family are those that he, in his foreknowledge, knew would be the chosen. Many 5 pointers have problems with this statement. I find it difficult (right or wrong) to see it any other way, especially in light of the stated mission of Christ to seek and save what is lost.

So, here I stand. A 4 point Calvinist in search of a 5th (point that is) ;). I can do no other.

God bless! Please feel free to comment your feelings/thoughts.


redeemed said...

I appreciate your post. I have been on a journey into Reformed Theology for about a year now and I am still at 4 points (and right now, I am ok with that). =) I enjoy reading Spurgeon, Luther, Pink, Packer, etc. and I learn much from them. I have a huge heart for missions and a great compassion for people but I more so have a desperate love for the Lord and I make much of His holiness. In my opinion, as a Christian, it does not matter if you lean more towards Arminianism or Calvinism, the Gospel needs to be preached. For no human knows who the elect are so the Word must be preached! Thanks for sharing.

W. Ross Kilpatrick said...


thanks for your comment. That is a great list of authors/teachers to learn from! I am definitely reformed in my theology, much more so than many of my companions. Yet, I agree that this issue needs not to be a divisive one. The gospel should be a source of unity for us all--unless, of course, you turn into a universalist or a hyper-Calvinist. Instead of spending too much time counting points, we should be more concerned with whether or not we are keeping beautiful feet. Thank you again for your comment. There is a lot of wisdom in what you shared.