For the next couple of weeks I will be immersed in all things “Limited Atonement”! I am humbled and privileged to teach the Doctrines of Grace to the women at our church. Our next Bible Study is Saturday, December 3rd. Since we are up to the “L” in TULIP, between now and then, you can expect to see a lot of posts on the doctrine of limited atonement!
For those whose lives have been changed by the doctrines of our faith, it should come as no surprise that many preachers start their sermons or teachings by explaining how these truths are the very heart and soul of our beloved faith. These are the very doctrines that were on the line during the Reformation and that were recovered from beneath the dark veil that obscured gospel truth in the Roman Catholic Church. They are the bedrock of our faith and when the storms of life come (as we know they will) it is only upon the solid Rock of Christ’s word that we will stand firm. Everything else is sinking sand.
When we speak of Limited Atonement we are dealing with core question of our Christianity. “For whom did Christ die?” That Christ died for the elect is the very ground of the believers assurance. Without getting into the more nitty gritty components of this doctrine (yet), namely the question of the extent of the atonement, I think it’s right to take a moment and reflect upon the death of Christ and what it means for the believer to have their sins paid in full. That we rely not on our works but on His finished work to pay for our sins, and that Jesus is a sufficient Savior should be enough to humble us all to the dust.
The following are two quotes that express the immeasurable importance of the atonement for the believer. The first one is from JC Ryle in his commentary on Matthew 26. He states,
We can never attach too much importance to the atoning death of Christ. It is the leading fact in the word of God, on which the eyes of our soul ought to ever be fixed. Without the shedding of his blood, there is no remission of sin. It is the cardinal truth on which the whole system of Christianity hinges. Without it the Gospel is an arch without a key-stone, a fair building with a foundation, a solar system without a sun. Let us make much of our Lord’s incarnation and example, His miracles and his parables, His works and His death. Let us delight in the hope of his second personal coming and millennial reign, but let us not think more even of these blessed truths, than of the atonement on the cross. This, after all, is the master-truth of Scripture, that “Christ died for our sins.” To this let us daily return. On this let us daily feed our souls. Some, like the Greeks of old, may sneer at the doctrine, and call it “foolishness.” But let us never be ashamed to say with Paul, “God forbid the I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Gal.6:14). – JC Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume 1
The next quote is from John Fawcett in Christ Precious to Those Who Believe. He explains,
The complete atonement which Jesus Christ has made for our sins, by the sacrifice of Himself, is the life and center of the evangelical system, and that which endears it so much to the hearts of those who believe. Here we see pardon procured, and the sinner saved, while sin is condemned and punished. Here we see the most solemn display of justice and holiness, in conjunction with the freest exercise of mercy. Here we see sinful rebels delivered from deserved punishment, and advanced to a state of dignity and honor; and at the same time, the rights of that divine government against which they had rebelled inviolably preserved and maintained. Through what Jesus Christ has done and suffered for us – we behold the righteous law of God magnified, in justifying those who had violated its precepts, and brought themselves under its curse. In the death of that Lamb of God, we perceive at once – the Almighty’s eternal abhorrence of that which is evil and His infinite love to His offending creatures.
Lord, by your amazing grace, please keep the atoning death of Your Son in full view. It is our only hope. Take us to the cross where Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins so that we would be reconciled to You, and have eternal life. This is the only foundation upon which we can stand and to this great gospel, let us daily return. Amen.