Good mornin to you, and thank you for stopping by and considering some doctrine with me.
I used to believe that Jesus died for everyone’s sin in humanity, (made efficacious by the free will of man when he chooses to believe on Jesus).
However I’ve recently come to rethink my beliefs about that.
I don’t have all of the answers to everything, and I’m still learning about this topic. But lately my thoughts about the scope of Jesus’ atonement has gravitated toward limited atonement. And my purpose for this post is to share with you why my thoughts have gravitated in that direction.
For starters, let’s consider the following scripture for a moment please as an example of how we’re to interpret verses which speak about Jesus Christ’s atonement being comprehensive for everyone in humanity…
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.“
Well we know for a fact that hell hath enlarged herself with damned souls who died in their sins, (see Isaiah 5.14). So clearly their sins weren’t taken away, (because they’re currently being punished in hell for their sins).
Or what about Revelation 20, where we’re told of the future judgement where the damned will be judged? Notice that they are judged for their works, (all of their works are sin). Notice that their personal sins will be held against them.
11 “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.“
And I can’t state strongly enough how important the following point is…
You must remember that Jesus’ atonement (His substitutionary death) wasn’t only for the people who would believe on Him after His resurrection.
His atonement was equally for the sins of the saints-of-old who were awaiting the Messiah to come, (people like Moses and David for example), see Romans 3.25.
* Therefore if Jesus died for the sins of everyone, (in the literal sense), then that would have to include the sins of the people who were already in hell before He was crucified.
* Which would also include the wicked people of Sodom & Gomorrah and the people who perished in the great flood whom God deliberately had already poured His wrath upon.
* Which begs the question, were those people released from hell after Jesus made His atonement for the sin of “the world?”
* Or did Jesus atone for their sin, but those people had to stay in hell and be punished for their sin anyway?
~ Which brings us to the following consideration ~
* Has Christian doctrine concluded that Jesus didn’t die for certain people before to the cross? But He did die for every person after the cross?
That’s a confusing & contradictory view of the application of Jesus’ atonement isn’t it? Especially given that we know that the Lord Jesus Christ’s works were finished before the foundation of the world, (see Hebrews 4.3).
Therefore (as I see it), there’s no escaping the fact that if Jesus didn’t die for the sins of the people in hell prior to the cross, then that-alone proves that Jesus didn’t atone for the sins of everyone.
Therefore His atonement is limited.
[And even if someone holds to the view as I once did that Jesus died for everyone’s sins, they still believe in some version of limited atonement (whether they realize it or not). Because the people who die today and are in hell today, don’t have His atonement applied to them because they didn’t believe on Jesus. Therefore His atonement is limited even in that expansive scenario where Jesus died for everyone’s sin].
So then who is “the world” for whom Jesus atoned for their sins?
Who is the “every man” for whom Jesus tasted death?
Here’s my thoughts on the possible scope of His atonement for “the world,” (and similar phraseology)…
“The world,” may mean the entire scope of humanity, (meaning that His atonement was not for the Jews only). Remember that the audience for much of scripture was Jewish, and many of them looked down on gentiles in condescension. So for many Jews, the idea that the Messiah was also the Messiah to the Gentiles was a difficult truth for them to accept.
21 “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? “
Similarly, look at what Paul wrote to Gentiles in Ephesians chapter 2:
Therefore it seems (to me) that the passages of scripture that speak about Jesus dying for everyone’s sin, may have been referring to all types of people, (Jew and Gentile) not necessarily every individual person of humanity.
And also think about God’s purpose in atonement.
What I mean is, consider please that God has the authority & power to do anything that He wants to do with humanity, (or anything else that’s His property).
Would God have died in a gamble that perhaps a few random, spiritually-dead people might believe on Him? Giving spiritually-dead man the ultimate control & final say over the net outcome of His greatest work?
Would He have intentionally died for specific people for whom He intended to save? (From among all people groups of humanity). And would He have absolutely saved everyone whom He specifically died for, & intended to save? (His sheep, His elect). And would God have made fallen & spiritually-dead man the determinate of His greatest work?
And finally, here’s less-publicized scripture which speaks to God’s elect, and Jesus’ atonement applied to some people, and not to others:
4 “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. “
Well that’s about all I have to present to you today in this matter of the application of Jesus’ atonement. Search the scriptures for yourself and learn of God.
God bless His saints
All glory to the risen Lord Jesus Christ, and no glory to us whatsoever.