Sunday, May 26, 2013

Limited Atonement

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. Acts 13:48

Do you want to make people upset--really mad? I don't, but the doctrine of limited atonement surely will. You can imagine how I know. First of all, the idea that God has not ordained everyone to salvation made me mad. How could anyone be so cruel as to say that only an elect few are meant to have eternal life? After all, "God is love", and that should settle it.

In my mind and the common mind, God loves everyone and offers them salvation. Most of the time his efforts fail. As an evangelist God has a poor record. It could be from lack of missionaries, or lack of funds, but He fails.

I mean you can buy a Coke anywhere on Earth, but not a Bible. It's that bad. The people who don't hear the Gospel will go to hell and suffer forever, though God wants them to be saved. This is a popular view, in fact, by far the most popular.

Now, another doctrine is that God has ordained a certain number of people to eternal life and has not failed to save any of them. This is the doctrine of Limited Atonement. Not that God's atonement is partial and some people are "kinda atoned" for, but that God never meant for everyone to be atoned for at all.

This idea shocks people. It can break up friendships. People who say they are filled and running over with the Holy Spirit, will turn on you when you talk about it. I don't mean if you try to force the idea upon them, but you are not even allowed to express your belief.

This is not surprising. Truth often does this. It is so contrary to our fallen human nature, it hurts to even hear it. "Ouch! you just stepped on my idea of God as a kindly grandfather figure." Paul expresses the nature of God when he says "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God:" (Romans 11:22).

"But this limits the power of God!" people will say. Quite the opposite, it is those who maintain that God wants to save everyone, but fails, that would limit the power of God.

Imagine a person maintaining that God only has a few who He wants to save, and never fails to save any of them. It is a contrast between one man who sets out to woo every woman in town and gets rejected in his efforts, and another man who sets his heart on one woman and wins her as his bride.

My days of trying to convince people as to how they should believe are long past. Now, I just ask them to examine the Bible, and then I move on. I hope people believe the doctrine of limited atonement though. If they do it will bring them peace and joy.

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. John 6:37

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