07 Unlimited Atonement

Dear Blog friends,

We have posted a page entitled Unlimited Atonement.  These two articles are from Dr. Robert Lightner’s book “The Death Christ Died, A Case for the Unlimited Atonement”.


 These articles are presented as a remedy to the false teaching of Calvinism that Jesus Christ did not actually die for all mens sins.  This unscriptural teaching is part and parcel of the five points of Calvinism which is represented by the acrostic TULIP.  At some point I will comment of some of these five points.

Total Depravity for instance does not mean that a person is as bad as he could be.  It simply means that every human being has been affected and tainted to some degree in every part of his being mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Many, if not most, people confuse Total Depravity with Total corruption.  Mankind is not totally corrupt.  In fact, John Calvin had a concept called “common grace”.   This is the grace that God has bestowed on all people.  God has and is blessing all people.  As Jesus said, God causes the rain to fall on the Just and on the Unjust.  Because of this “common grace” we have great men who are not Christians.  We have great inventors, great doctors, great linguists etc.  According to the Word of God man still bears the Image of God even though he is a fallen creature.

9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. James 3:9 (KJV)

 The Greek word for similitude is homoiōsis which means “likeness” and teaches that we still retain the Image of God.  We still retain the “Imago Dei” even though it is distorted and somewhat tainted and twisted because of the fall of mankind.  But as I said before we are not as bad as we could be.    We are not totally corrupt. However, this does not mean that we can save ourselves and deliver ourselves from our own sin.    Many of  these concepts in the Tulip are misunderstood by the average non-theologian.  At some point I will attempt to give my understanding of these concepts.   I am not a five point Calvinist, but I do believe in Total Depravity as properly defined.  We all need to be saved and redeemed because we are both sinners by birth and sinners by choice.  Tulip stands for: 

Total Depravity,

Unconditional Election,

Limited Atonement,

Irresistable Grace, and

Perserverance of the Saints.  

This formulation was not made by John Calvin himself.  It was only formulated after the Council of Dort in response to the five questions that some scholars that were followers of Jacob Arminius.   It is doubtful that Jacobus Arminius actually believed that a truly regenerate person could loss his salvation even though that is the way the word Arminianism is used today. 

We will be posting an article entitled “Arminius was not an Arminian” later.

 Also, counterwise Calvinism is falsely considered meaning that we believe in Eternal Security.  However, both of these definitions are not accurate.  Perserverance of the Saints is not the same as Eternal Security.   Arminians actually believe in the Security of the believer.  Logically speaking Arminians  do not believe that a Christian loses his salvation by committing certain sins or sins in general.  They logically believe that for a true Christian to loss their salvation they must discontinue believing.  Obviously, not all Arminians understand this matter.

Both Arminians and Calvinists believe that a Christian should live a godly life.  Both agree on this proposition.  Actually, both should agree on the same remedy.  The person whether they claim to be a Christian or not needs to “repent”.  That is, they need to “change their mind and attitude toward sin, the Saviour, themselves, and others.”

There will probably be many in Heaven that we didn’t think would be there and many that we thought would be there that are missing.  In the process we must remember that salvation is not by our personal works.  Yet we must remember that all Christian viewpoints believe that a true Christian should perform good works.  This is clearly stated by the Apostle Paul:

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  Eph 2:10 (KJV)

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. Titus 3:8 (KJV)

Since it is almost totally impossible to know someone’s heart, we must evaluate a person on the basis of what they say they believe and on their behavior.

A Christian is not sinless, but their goal should be to sin-less!  They must learn to “walk in the Spirit” so that they will not fulfilled the deeds of the flesh.

We are to evaluate a person by two things:

What they say they believe – Faith (doctrine) and Practice (behavior).   Someone has said, Creed should result in Deed, Belief should result in Behavior, Principle should result in Practice. 

These two are the basis of all evaluation:

Doctrine is in two parts also:

The Person and Work of Jesus Christ:  1) Who is Jesus Christ and, 2) what did he come to do.

Also, I must state something that one of my wise professors stated, “A person is not saved by perfect theology.”  This has been a very helpful principle in my work with  people.   My son became a Christian at the age of seven.   More than likely he did not understand the “virgin birth” as well as some other important theological concepts, but I have no doubt about this true conversion because he has demonstrated his true faith on many occasions.  Some people may be saved but still lack in certain areas of theological understanding.  The items that we must truly believe in order to be saved (regenerated and justified) are very few and yet we have a legalist tendency to build up a large list of things required for a person to be a Christian.  My judgment is that a person only has to possess a true faith in what Jesus Christ did for him.  Obviously, we do not want to leave them there.  We do not want to have a church full of spiritual infants.

Read Dr. Robert Lightner’s articles and you will be convinced that John Calvin changed his view from limited atonement to unlimited atonement somewhere in his life.

Thomas Clark


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