For Whom Did Christ Die? The Simple Logic of Limited Atonement

Did Christ Die for All Men? Or Did He Die for Only Some Men?

“The simple logic of  Limited Atonement or particular redemption

At some point in our Christian walk we must ask ourselves this vital question: “Who did Christ die for?” A huge portion of our theology is wrapped up in this little question, which has been a hotly debated issue for centuries. I want to offer the answer as I see it by using the simple logic that led to me changing my entire view of scripture several years ago. I believe that most Christians actually believe in Limited Atonement, but disagree on free will or election of the believer.

Assumptions:

  1. I am assuming in this post that you believe that the Bible is the inerrant, eternal, Word of God
  2. I am also assuming that you, the reader, agrees that there is a literal Heaven and a literal Hell as defined in the Bible.
  3. I assume that you agree that our salvation is connected to our belief that Jesus Christ is God, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross in our place, and rose again on the third day securing eternal life for all who believe in Him.

Let’s Agree on One Point at the outset:

These 3 questions are the basis of this discussion. Read these and consider them very carefully:

1. Do all men/women go to Heaven?

I believe that all Christians who stand by the assumptions above would answer NO to this question. If your answer to this question is yes, then you believe in universalism, which is not Biblical and you are not a Christian.

2. Do all men/women go to Hell?

Again I believe that all Christians answer NO to this question. If your answer to this is yes, you are not a Christian because you don’t believe in the atoning work of Christ on the cross, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life with Christ in Glory for the believers.

3. Do only some men/women go to Heaven?

All Christians must answer YES to this question. Because both questions 1) and 2) must be answered NO and it is non-negotiable…for Biblical Christians this is the only option.

The answer to these simple questions gives us one simple point to agree upon as our starting point: Some people go to Heaven and some people go to Hell. All Christians will agree on this point.

How Does Someone Get to Heaven?

Ok, let’s take one more step together, so if some people go to Heaven and some people go to Hell, what is the deciding factor? How does one avoid eternal damnation in the fires of Hell and inherit the eternal life and glory with Christ for all eternity in Heaven? This is answered with the Gospel of course.

There is only one way…believe the following list and become a disciple of Christ (how this belief comes about is a different topic…i.e. free will/election):

  • Christ, the Son, is the second person of the Godhead eternal and holy
  • The Son condescended from Heaven to earth as 100% man and 100% God born as a baby
  • Christ lived a perfect sinless life full of miracles, signs, and wonders
  • Christ was tried for heresy and sentenced to crucifixion, and died on the cross.
  • On the cross Christ became sin and received the infinite wrath of God the Father as a substitute in our place
  • Christ’s death on the cross secured redemption, reconciliation, justification, and adoption as sons of God for those who believe, die to self, and follow Him
  • Christ, on the third day, was resurrected, thus defeating death and appearing to many.
  • After a short time in his resurrected form Christ ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father where He intercedes on our behalf as an advocate.
  • Review John 18-21, Luke 22-24, Acts 2, 2 Corinthians 5:10-21, Colossians 1:10-23, 2:12-15, Romans 1-8

This is what we must believe to be saved from the eternal punishment due for our sins. All sin, all must face judgment (Romans 3). We are saved by our faith in Christ.

Romans 1:17 – For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Galatians 2:16 – “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”

We should be good so far and all Christians should be in full agreement at this point.

Salvation (Justification) by Faith in the Cross Work of Christ

We know and agree that we are saved by faith in Christ’s death on the cross and we know and believe that He died in our place as a substitute and through our faith our sins are forgiven. So, this is where the controversy starts to kick in.

Let’s go deeper still with more questions:

1)  Did Christ’s death on the cross secure eternal life through forgiveness of sins for God’s Elect? This means that every sin through all of history for THE ELECT (the children of God) only was paid for on the cross. Otherwise stated as: “All of some people’s sins paid for”.

** OR **

2)  Did Christ’s death on the cross secure the potential of eternal life for forgiveness of sins to those who chose to believe? This means that every sin for every person throughout all of time was paid for on the cross. Otherwise states as: “All sins for all people”.

Which is it? This isn’t an easy question because both answers have HUGE implications on our entire theological position and it must be considered carefully. Did Christ’s death actually secure eternal life for the children of God or did it only give the potential for eternal life for those who believe?

What then does John 19:30 mean and what theological impact does it have?

John 19:30 – “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

What does “it is finished” mean? – We’ll return to this soon.

Very Important Logic Question:

Can someone go to hell whose sins were paid for on the cross? This is the implication from answer 2) above. In addition it would mean that Hell is full of people who had the potential of salvation because their sins were paid for, but they chose not to believe? This also means that Christ’s death on the cross was not actually effective.

Can this really be?  Or is it bad logic? Let’s look at it from a different angle…scripture:

Ephesians 1:4-5 “4…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,”

This passage is pretty clear that he (the Father) chose us in him (Jesus) before the foundation of the world. We were predestined for adoption. We were not predestined for the potential of adoption, but for adoption, which is to be an heir to the kingdom of God and to receive eternal life through faith in Christ.

Ephesians 2:4-6 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

How can we have the potential for salvation through choosing to believe in Christ if the Bible says that “even when we were dead in our trespasses (sins), God made us alive together with Christ”? God did it while we were still dead in our sins…before we believed.

Romans 5:6, 8, 10 “6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…”

Again, we see that Christ’s death and the reconciliation to God occurred while we were sinners, while we were enemies with God. How could our choice to believe in Christ apply the forgiveness of sins through belief when it has already occurred? There doesn’t seem to be any potential. Scripture reads as if it is a done deal. Return now to John 19:30

It is Finished

John 19:30, as we looked at reads simply: “…It is finished…”

The Word of God, God himself states on the cross: “it is finished.” There is no ambiguity in this statement. What was finished? Christ’s mission described in Philippians 2:5-8 to come to Earth humble and in the form of nothing (human) and to obey to the point of death. It was also to transfer us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:12-14) and to defeat the enemy by nailing our sins to the cross (Colossians 2:13-15). I could continue, but I think you get the point. His work for securing our redemption was finished by dying on the cross.

So, was it finished or was it not? Did Christ’s death ACTUALLY complete the work? Was the forgiveness of sins ACTUALLY finished for those that are predestined to be adopted as children of God? Was redemption actually finished? Justification actually finished?

In this short phrase, “it is finished”, we see several important aspects in the original language. First the word actually means to bring to a close, to end, to perform, execute, or complete. It also means to carry out the content of a command by fulfilling it. This word, which is a verb is a the Perfect, Passive, Indicative, which means that it was completed without need of repeating and it is a statement of fact. John is telling us that it is finished. The atoning work is finished, Christ did it a long time ago.

The Propitiation for Our Sins

Think about this logic for a minute. We agreed at the outset that not all go to Hell or Heaven in our basic assumptions. So, how could Christ be the propitiation of our sins (and every single person in the world) if all people are not saved? Propitiation (defined as: to appease or satisfy) means that those whom Christ was the propitiation for have not condemnation sin Christ has appeased and satisfied the penalty of wrath in our place as our substitute.

1 John 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

  • Important to note here: “World” is the Greek word “Kosmos”, which has 8 definitions in the Greek lexicon and none of the 8 definitions means “all people for all time”. Kosmos in this verse simply means that salvation is not restricted to just the Jews, but the whole world beyond Israel…God will save people from all over the world, all nations, and all people groups.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 Romans 3:25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

But What of Our Faith?

Those who have faith in Christ are saved from Hell and receive the inheritance of Heaven as adopted sons, so doesn’t everyone who believes have an equal chance at salvation? YES! Of course they do. All who believe in Christ will be saved, the Bible tells us so. Look at these passages relating to our faith:

 John 6:37-40, 44  37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”… 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

Only those given by the Father to the Son will come to the Son, which is faith. Only those who are given by the Father to the Son will look on the Son and believe.

Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”

Hebrews 12:2 “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,…”

The Father gives the disciples to the Son, our faith is a gift from the Father, and Christ is the perfecter of our Faith. It is finished. Every child of God, predestined for adoption (Ephesians passage above) will have faith and will be saved. There has never been a person who cries out to God for salvation through faith in Christ who hasn’t been saved.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, I want to return to the question above. Did Christ death on the cross actually secure eternal life for the Elect children of God? Or, did Christ’s death just secure the potential for all mankind depending on who believes?

Implications are everything with this question.

  1. If we say that Christ death actually secured eternal life for the Elect, we must then accept that God predestined every believer before time began and HE gives the faith to those. Then every single child of God is saved and the atoning sacrifice on the cross is perfect and complete and every single person whom God did not elect is punished in Hell for their sins which were NOT atoned for. I am very comfortable with this.
  • Believers elect? – YES
  • Sins of all mankind atoned for? – NO
  • Sins of the believer atoned for? – YES
  • Believers go to Heaven? – YES
  • Sins of the non-believer atoned for? – NO
  • Non-believers in Hell with sins atoned for? – NO

2. If we say that God doesn’t elect believers and that Christ’s death on the cross gives the potential for every single person for all time to be saved depending on their faith because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice then you are left with some people being saved based on their belief and their sins are atoned for and others who don’t believe and go to Hell, but their sins are atoned for. This I cannot accept under any circumstance.

  • Believers elect? – NO
  • Sins of all mankind atoned for? – YES
  • Sins of the believer atoned for? – YES
  • Believers go to Heaven? – YES
  • Sins of the non-believer atoned for? – YES
  • Non-believers in Hell with sins atoned for? – YES

Please consider this simple logic and the Bible verses above that support these two options. It was either finished on the cross or not. I personally chose to believe it was finished. To not agree with limited atonement means that you believe that there are people in Hell who have had their sins atoned for and the cross work of Christ was not perfect and effectual.

Ultimately the question in the title, for whom did Christ die? We could answer with, “He died for the elect.” However, even that is too shallow. For whom did Christ die? He died for God the Father who predestined before time began that the climax of Plan A would be Christ dying in an atoning sacrifice for the children of God.

This bottom piece is more simple logic that influenced me from John Owen:

FOR WHO DID CHRIST DIE?

John Owen


The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

  1. All the sins of all men.
  2. All the sins of some men, or
  3. Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:

  1. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.
  2. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.
  3. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

48 thoughts on “For Whom Did Christ Die? The Simple Logic of Limited Atonement

  1. Great post. Thank you for all the work you obviously put into this. Readers need to study this and get this all important subject straight. Unbelievers are smart and they ask intelligent questions and if we don’t have this stuff straight, then we look like fools.

  2. Wonderful article ATG. Certainly gives one, such as myself, who has difficulty with this doctrine a clear and biblical presentation to consider. I intend to share this article as I believe it is a logical and non-judgmental presentation worth reading.

    Of course, now that I have announced I’m only a four pointer, I’m sure some readers will declare me an unregenate heretic (I know you’re out there AZTexan – lol).

  3. Contrary to the wailing of Jerry Walls, the view of limited atonement presented here is the only logical view. The view of limited atonement held by Walls and other Arminians (Christ died for all but His atonement is limited in that He saved none, only made it possible for all) is merely an expression of disbelief in the deity and sufficiency of Christ and the worship of man.

    As this young man puts it so well (and while I am not a fan of the music format, I thank our Lord that my grown son introduced his mom and me to Shai Linne): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZ_jFO2VzRQ

    GoForth – as FourPointer will testify, God will make it more clear as you study His Word. No Calvinist should pass judgment on you, but neither should we call you a Calvinist; until you acknowledge all 5 points :-)

  4. Wouldn’t expect you too Manfred, I certainly don’t call myself one. But I do believe this doctrine certainly aligns more closely with what scripture says, so I lean more that way.

  5. I’ve struggled with this position for awhile but you do a great job solidifying it.

    Question: Is it safe to say that salvation is open to all but God had foreknowledge of who would be saved and, therefore, planned accordingly calling them the elect?
    (As for TULIPS, don’t want to complicate the issue. Just keep it simple)

  6. MichaelP – I held to that idea once, but that creates a problem because it implies God initially did not know, but “looked down through the corridor of time” and learned who would respond. Thus His call and election is based on what we would do, not on His divine foreknowledge. I admit this is hard to wrap my brain around, which is why I’m a four pointer.

  7. MichaelP, thanks for reading and your comments. In regard to your question it is not safe to assume that God had foreknowledge of who would be saved…because Eph 1, 2, Romans 8, 9, and John 6 say he knew because He chose his children and predestined them before time began to be adopted as sons. So, simply to say God looked down the corridors of time and knew who would pick Him and thus made them elect has no Biblical back up. Predestined as sons has tons.

    I hope that helps,
    -atg

  8. [my first attempt to post may have been sucked into the filter.]

    Hey there,

    If I may,

    Here is one critical problem in your argument:

    1) Did Christ’s death on the cross secure eternal life through forgiveness of sins for God’s Elect? This means that every sin through all of history for THE ELECT (the children of God) only was paid for on the cross. Otherwise stated as: “All of some people’s sins paid for”.
    ** OR **
    2) Did Christ’s death on the cross secure the potential of eternal life for forgiveness of sins to those who chose to believe? This means that every sin for every person throughout all of time was paid for on the cross. Otherwise states as: “All sins for all people”.

    David: As I see it, lots of unstated assumptions in that. Bear with me for a minute: The first problem is that its an either/or fallacy. So the dilemma you posit is this, either Christ died for only some men absolutely, or he died for all men only conditionally. One could say he died for the elect effectually, but for all men conditionally: and bypass the false either/or. You would then have to turn the conversation into something like “what does it mean for Christ to die for a person?,” and/or “How could Christ die for someone and yet that person fail to be saved?”

    And indeed, you do, the second option. You say:

    Can someone go to hell whose sins were paid for on the cross? This is the implication from answer 2) above. In addition it would mean that Hell is full of people who had the potential of salvation because their sins were paid for, but they chose not to believe? This also means that Christ’s death on the cross was not actually effective

    This assumes the double payment dilemma. However, 1) that dilemma only works if one assumes that Christ’s satisfaction has the same causal efficacy of a pecuniary transaction. Like this, a man owes another $10, and pays it, the creditor cant demand a second payment of $10 from that man or any other man for the original debt. But the satisfaction of Christ is not a commercial or pecuniary transaction. 2) The analogy treats imputation of guilt and sin as if its proper transference of guilt and sin, when the biblical picture works like this: Christ is reckoned as though he is a sinner, and so bearing the curse of the law due to us, yet all the while, we remain sinners, and remain under curse and wrath in life, as unbelievers. The curse is only lifted when we believe. So the double payment dilemma suffers from a critical problem. In life, the living unbelieving elect are under the wrath and subject to it, in life, before they believe, Eph 2:3: my paraphrase: as the ‘rest’ are, we once were.

    The double payment argument was rejected by Charles Hodge and RL Dabney for the reasons Ive outlined. You can see their comments here: Double Payment/Double Jeopardy Fallacy (aka Owen’s Trilemma); scroll down.

    To set out the argument: Let “die-for” equal “to be punished for, to bear the curse for another.” It says, Christ could not die for all (ie be punished for all) for then all men would be saved. It is not the case that all men are saved. Therefore Christ did not die for all.

    The problem is the major premise: it’s unsound. It rests on the tacit assumption that God cannot demand a second “payment” (<–note the pecuniary language) first from Christ and then from someone for whom Christ died: God cannot demand two payments. However, this is falsified by the fact that in life, the living unbelieving elect are under the wrath of God. If the double payment argument was true, the elect would have to be born in a justified state. Make sense? God is punishing the elect in life while they are in unbelief, sins for which Christ has already made a payment for. This is a big problem.

    If you dont mind, let me respond briefly to 2 other points you make:

    Think about this logic for a minute. We agreed at the outset that not all go to Hell or Heaven in our basic assumptions. So, how could Christ be the propitiation of our sins (and every single person in the world) if all people are not saved? Propitiation (defined as: to appease or satisfy) means that those whom Christ was the propitiation for have not condemnation sin Christ has appeased and satisfied the penalty of wrath in our place as our substitute. 1 John 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. Important to note here: “World” is the Greek word “Kosmos”, which has 8 definitions in the Greek lexicon and none of the 8 definitions means “all people for all time”. Kosmos in this verse simply means that salvation is not restricted to just the Jews, but the whole world beyond Israel…God will save people from all over the world, all nations, and all people groups.

    [Bold mine]

    2 things. 1) You have to be careful there. If the wrath of God towards the elect has been appeased on the cross, then how is it that God extends wrath to the living unbelieving elect? Youve converted the noun of 1 Jn 2:2 into a verb. “Christ “is” our sacrifice of propitiation, not only for our sins, but for the sins of the world,” now becomes, “Christ has propitiated our sins, not only our sins, but the sins of the world.” The noun cannot be defined in verbal form like that. John is pointing is readers to the sacrifice of expiation, which is says is not only for our sins, but for the sins of the world.

    2) The 8 definitions thing is pretty much 19thC. Most modern scholars now note that for John, Kosmos denotes the world of apostate mankind living and in opposition to God. “World” in these contexts for John does not denote either A) all who have lived, live, or shall live; b) the elect or some cognate of that; or c) Gentiles. There is some good work by Carson and others on this.

    If you are willing to continue a conversation on this I am more than willing. But if not, please at least consider at least scoping out Charles Hodge and Robert Dabney’s rejection of the double payment argument. They pretty much knock it off its stool.

    Thanks for your time,
    David

    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/

  9. So much stretching and misinterpretation here that is not funny….it is very, and highly probable, that people who preach this nonsense are heretical.

  10. David, if God is not particular, then what provision did He make for the Gentiles in the Old Testament?
    Rev.13:8 says that names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world. So are you saying that God is wrong about who He put in there.
    In Romans it says that none seek after God. So what purpose would Christ have in dying for mankind that would never seek Him?
    And God sees the elect as saved before the foundation of the world. He does the regeneration on His timetable and knows what the future is because He has planned it so His wrath is not on the elect. They will believe and He knows it because He does it(the whole, none seek after God reason).Christ paid for their sins before the foundation of the world (the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world) because their names were put in the Lamb’s Book of Life then.
    Jesus knew what was in the hearts of men when He walked on the planet. He knew who the elect were. He called some people children of the devil and didn’t try to persuade them to believe in Him. He knew they were not in the Lamb’s Book of Life. So, in God’s eyes the elect are in a justified state and no double payment is needed. God in His mercy decided to save some and the rest get justice. No free will for men. Scripture attests to it. God gets all the glory. We are trophies of His grace. Praise God!!
    pam

  11. David,

    Thank you for your comments. I think I understand what you are saying, but I don’t agree with several of your propositions. In your view there would be holes in the argument, but I don’t hold the same view you are describing which is entirely too complicated. My goal here was to deal with the “simple logic” of Limited Atonement. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Jeff Tyler, I thank you also for reading and providing your thoughts. You’ve painted a pretty broad stroke there by claiming that I’ve misrepresented scripture and I am teaching heresy. Care to share further? I assume if you are a Christian that you agree with the first half of the article until the point where I begin discussing the “limited” part.

    -atg

  12. Hey Pam,

    Thanks for reading and replying.

    You ask and say: David, if God is not particular, then what provision did He make for the Gentiles in the Old Testament?

    David: If my assumption of what lies at the back of your question is correct, I think there are layers of responses. We agree that in the OT God “limited” his redemptive activity to the nation of Israel. However, in the NT, God reveals that, in a sense, God is unlimiting his edemptive activities. Hence we are told to go and preach the gospel to all nations, which was not commanded, properly speaking. It is also why John stresses the universal aspects of Christ’s work, as he is the creator of the world John 1:1-3, he is the sin-bearer, 1:29, and so on. As the bull and goat were for the nation in the OT, Christ is for the whole world in the NT. It is part of the whole covenantal type-anti-type relationship. As the serpent was for the nation, a healing remedy, so is Christ for the world, a healing remedy. Make sense? Everyone has to make some sort of expansion of the type-anti-type aspect to this, else one must only restrict God’s redemptive activities to the elect Jews within the Church.

    Pam says:
    Rev.13:8 says that names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world. So are you saying that God is wrong about who He put in there.

    David: no not at all. Unconditonal election is absolutely maintained by the classic calvinist view on the extent of the satisfaction. The absolute particularity of election is not under review or challenge by me at all. The post above relates to the extent of the satisfaction.

    Pam says: In Romans it says that none seek after God. So what purpose would Christ have in dying for mankind that would never seek Him?

    David: We could change the question: How could God seek after a man’s salvation, who would never seek God? My working and controlling theology is that of well-meant offer Calvinism. God, by an expression of the revealed will, seeks and desires the salvation of all men in the gospel proclamation. Indeed, he sends the gospel, as an expression of his grace so that men should be saved, even men who will never be saved. That being so, the death of Christ, as to its sufficiency for, is an expression of his compassion for all. Christ has sustained a means whereby all men may now be saved, such that rejection of his gracious work renders them more inexcusable on the day of judgement. The classic Reformed idea is that the death of Christ allows God to delay punishment, to extend common and temporal favors, and in some sense, justify a sincere and well-meant offer to all.

    At no point has God or Christ failed in terms of their secret will and intention. Make sense?

    Pam says: And God sees the elect as saved before the foundation of the world.

    David: I would not agree with that, nor would Scripture. Salvation happens in time and through the means of faith. Before faith, we are in an unjustified state, at war with God, and under his curse and wrath. Everything from Rom 1, 5, 8, to Eph 2, etc. Christ died for us, while we were enemies, first and foremost. His death is the means through which we become friends with God.

    Pam: He does the regeneration on His timetable and knows what the future is because He has planned it so His wrath is not on the elect.

    David: With respect, Paul thought otherwise, for example, Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

    Ephesians 2:3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

    The phrase, “children of wrath” is Jewish idiom for something like “child of discipline.” It does not mean ‘we were once angry children,’ as some folk claim, ‘even as the are.’ There are other verses too, but that should be a start.

    Pam says: They will believe and He knows it because He does it(the whole, none seek after God reason).Christ paid for their sins before the foundation of the world (the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world) because their names were put in the Lamb’s Book of Life then.

    David: Firstly, its now recognized by all NT Greek scholars that the KJV reading of Rev 13:8 is incorrect, and based on a mistaken reading by Erasmus. That aside, I am not denying that Christ died for the elect as to the efficacy of his satisfaction, that by it he would sustain the exact means whereby all he elect will be infallibly saved. The question is, can it be said that Christ died for the non-elect in any other sense, and if so, in what sense?

    Pam: Jesus knew what was in the hearts of men when He walked on the planet. He knew who the elect were. He called some people children of the devil and didn’t try to persuade them to believe in Him. He knew they were not in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

    David: Again effectually calling is not being questioned or discussed or challenged by me here. I hope my comments above clarify that.

    Pam: So, in God’s eyes the elect are in a justified state and no double payment is needed. God in His mercy decided to save some and the rest get justice. No free will for men. Scripture attests to it. God gets all the glory. We are trophies of His grace. Praise God!!

    David: Okay, eternal justification. My other working assumption is the standard Reformed idea that the elect are justified in time, and are not justified in eternity or born in a justified state. That will be a big difference between us here. Some Scriptures to consider: Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

    Romans 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!

    Galatians 2:16 So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law,

    I would recommend the WCF 11:4: IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect,[11] and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them

    John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied as an excellent section dealing with the eternal justification argument, as does Turretin in is Institutes of Elenctic theology: 2:682ff.

    But having said all that, the basic problem of the double payment argument stands: its a defective argument in that it relies on pecuniary assumptions. You simply deny that the elect are ever under the punishing wrath of God. That is your counter, that’s fine if one wants to go down that road. I am hoping that that is not the position of “defcon.”

    Hope that helps and thanks for your time,
    David

  13. Hey there ATG,

    Thanks for replying and allowing me to comment.

    David: If we speak to the logic of the argument, then this is Dabney’s defeater:

    The assertion is that God cannot demand a second punishment for the same sin. If Christ was punished for the sins of a man, that man cannot be punished (a second time) for those same sins, in his own person. The problem at its most simplest, is that in life, the living unbelieving elect are being punished for their sins. Hence the double payment argument’s grounding premise is false, logically. Dabney, Lectures, p., 521. If the grounding premise is false, then any conclusion based on it, reliant upon it, is false as well.

    Thanks again,
    David

    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=8466

  14. David,

    I read Dabney and Hodge on this topic from your site. I found this bit of tripe from Hodge, reminding me that all men have unbiblical presuppositions that we must brutally beat down lest they twist our understanding of Scripture, as we see has happened with Hodge:

    “The application of its benefits is determined by the covenant between the Father and the Son. Those for whom it was specially rendered are not justified from eternity; they are not born in a justified state; they are by nature, or birth, the children of wrath even as others. To be the children of wrath is to be justly exposed to divine wrath. They remain in this state of exposure until they believe, and should they die (unless in infancy) before they believe they would inevitably perish notwithstanding the satisfaction made for their sins.”

    Found on this page: http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?p=66

    So those elect persons who die in the undefined phase of infancy are guaranteed security, but God’s elect who live beyond that undefined time are at risk of Hell? While I agree that persons are not born justified, I do not agree at all that God wold have predestined a person to be conformed to Christ yet fail to bring that to completion. ALL of the elect will be saved; not one more, not one less.

  15. David,

    I understand what you are saying, but I don’t see the basis for the living unbelieving elect as being under God’s wrath and the whole double penalty concept. I would argue that they are not living under God’s wrath as we are all living under God’s grace. I would agree with Manfred above in that none predestined for adoption will be lost…that would be contrary to God’s sovereignty and predestination in that when, where, how the person is saved is predestined along with them being elect.

    Just my thoughts on what you propose. Thanks for be kind in your disagreements.

    -atg

  16. Hey Manfred,

    You say: So those elect persons who die in the undefined phase of infancy are guaranteed security, but God’s elect who live beyond that undefined time are at risk of Hell? While I agree that persons are not born justified, I do not agree at all that God wold have predestined a person to be conformed to Christ yet fail to bring that to completion. ALL of the elect will be saved; not one more, not one less.

    David: There are a few things there, and I am not sure they are problematic for the rejection of the double payment argument. Infants who die in infancy are deemed to be regenerated and justified. The Dabney defeater does not negate this or apply to them.

    Manfred: but God’s elect who live beyond that undefined time are at risk of Hell?

    David: Yeah that’s part of the assumption in the whole double payment argument. What Hodge and Dabney, and others are saying, is that the satisfaction of Christ, does not in and of itself secure salvation or even faith (for anyone). Hodge is saying, Christ could die for a man (bear and suffer for his sins) and yet that man may not be saved. At that level, on his assumptions, that is correct. What ensures the salvation of the elect, properly speaking, is the effectual calling of the Spirit as a benefit determined for the elect in the plan of salvation. The assertion a strict limited atonement proponent would need to prove is something like this, in its simplist form: all died-for are saved. If I unpack that a little, all died-for shall be infallibly or necessarily saved. However, proving that in a non-circular manner would be good.

    This might help, C Hodge is saying, theoretically (for all the reasons I am outlining), Christ could die for a man, and yet that man may not be saved. Owen, on the other hand, must say, indeed, he had to be committed to saying, it is impossible, even theoretically, for Christ to die for a man and that man fail to be saved.

    Manfred: While I agree that persons are not born justified,

    David: Okay, but then if they are not justified, they must be subject to punishing wrath? Unless there is some third category: not justified, but not under condemnation either?

    Manfred: I do not agree at all that God wold have predestined a person to be conformed to Christ yet fail to bring that to completion.

    David: Charles Hodge, Dabney and myself would agree with you. But that is not the issue. The issue is, is it true that if Christ dies for a man, that man cannot fail to be saved?

    I suspect the reason why youve jumped to these concerns is because you see election and the extent of the satisfaction as absolutely co-limiting. Hodge and others are working on the assumption that though Christ died for all, bearing an unlimited satisfaction for all sin, God the father has effectually destined some to be infallibly saved, and this by the efficient work of the Spirit on the legal basis of Christ’s satisfaction. It works in the same manner as “Many are called, few are chosen.”

    Manfred: ALL of the elect will be saved; not one more, not one less.

    David: Hodge would agree. What he is challenging is the core premise at the back of and upon which the double payment argue is absolutely dependent upon. Try this: it is asserted or alleged that God cannot punish sin twice, first in Christ, and then in the person of the sinner (someone for whom Christ died). That is deemed true because of the unstated premise that God cannot punish the same sin twice. That last is treated as though it is a universal law. Dabney’s defeater shows it is not.

    The other underlying issue in all this is that C Hodge and Dabney are operating by a very different concept of “substitution” than Owen was. For Owen, the satisfaction of Christ worked exactly like a fine or debt payment, no more and no less. And in pecuniary transactions, it is true that a creditor or judge cannot accept two “payments” for the same debt or fine: that would be unjust. May be this helps who why the double payment argument is invalid and unsound.

    Thanks and take care,
    David

    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=8466

  17. Hey there ATG,

    You say: I understand what you are saying, but I don’t see the basis for the living unbelieving elect as being under God’s wrath and the whole double penalty concept. I would argue that they are not living under God’s wrath as we are all living under God’s grace.

    David: Some questions if I may. Are the living unbelieving elect under divine condemnation? When a person believes, and is justified, what are they justified from? Do you believe the living unbelieving elect are born justified? If they are not, what then is there judicial/penal status before God then? Hopefully these questions may help probe the problem.

    ATG says: I would agree with Manfred above in that none predestined for adoption will be lost…that would be contrary to God’s sovereignty and predestination in that when, where, how the person is saved is predestined along with them being elect.

    David: C Hodge and others who reject the double payment argument from the classic Calvinist perspective would totally agree with you here.

    Thanks and take care,
    David

    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=8466

  18. David,

    your question was: “Some questions if I may. Are the living unbelieving elect under divine condemnation? When a person believes, and is justified, what are they justified from? Do you believe the living unbelieving elect are born justified? If they are not, what then is there judicial/penal status before God then? Hopefully these questions may help probe the problem.”

    I’ll admit to you that you are asking complex questions. My answer would be that the the living unbelieving elect are under the condemnation of God in that they do not have justification until after regeneration. So when they are saved they are justified. They are not born justified. So logically they are lost and will suffer the penalty of God’s wrath if they were to die before salvation…but (huge BUT here) as I mentioned above God’s sovereign work will be complete and none will be lost. To me, this seems to be a hypothetical question or situation because I believe there is good Biblical evidence in that none will be lost.

    thanks,
    -atg

  19. ey there ATG,

    Just as a preamble, sometimes Ive found WordPress to be a little quirky. I can see my reply to you from this afternoon, but not my reply to Manfred. In my reply to Manfred I believe I outlined some thoughts in more detail and hopefully a little clearer.

    ATG says: I’ll admit to you that you are asking complex questions. My answer would be that the the living unbelieving elect are under the condemnation of God in that they do not have justification until after regeneration. So when they are saved they are justified. They are not born justified. So logically they are lost and will suffer the penalty of God’s wrath if they were to die before salvation…but (huge BUT here) as I mentioned above God’s sovereign work will be complete and none will be lost. To me, this seems to be a hypothetical question or situation because I believe there is good Biblical evidence in that none will be lost.
    [Bold mine.]

    David: So the tenses in all this are important. The unbelieving living elect are under condemnation, and, hypothetically, should they not believe, they would be (future) under wrath.

    But the question I am asking is are the living unbelieving elect under the wrath of God in the present tense? Theologically, you have a bit of a problem here. I would think if the living unbelieving elect are under condemnation (while in unbelief) how does one then say they are not under punishing wrath while also in unbelief? Such a separation would be very forced and artificial: and if we can deny the latter, why not the former, exegetically?

    Some verses which speak to present wrath to unbelief:

    John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

    I know some try hard to make this wholly future, but the tense of the verb will not justify that. It can include the future, but it also must include the present. And further, from the context, when a person believes, the wrath of God no longer remains on him. It is taken away, which is the core of being reconciled and at peace with God.

    Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

    It is hard to imagine that Paul would exclude the living unbelieving elect in this for that would counter the overall point of the universality of sin and condemnation in the first three chapters of Romans.

    A good pairing of verses:

    Ephesians 2:3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
    Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

    Now in what I am about to say, please dont take an offense, rather as an encouragement. The idea of all unbelievers, elect or non-elect, being subject to the wrath of God in life is a standard confessional doctrine. Its in Dort, the WCF, and other Reformed conditional documents. And I think, it would be tricky to go down that road. It surely must impact one’s concept of justification, reconciliation, peace with God, and other things. My hope is that by pointing out the fallacy in the double-payment argument I do not inadvertently drive you into denying this standard doctrine.

    Thanks for your time,
    David

    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=8466

  20. Hey David, thanks for replying to me. I still disagree, though. I am more in line with what Manfred is saying. As far as justification, the elect are seen by God as postitionally saved not experientially. The provisions have been made and are seen as a done deal in God’s mind. No surprises. The O.T. saints were justified by the blood of Christ before He acutally died but it was not applied until He actually did die but God had them waiting in Paradise until that day came. All of the elect are justified by faith, in time, but it is God-given and according to His timetable. Not one of the elect will suffer the wrath of God because God has already planned it to be thus and so. Yes, by nature until that time, we are children of wrath but it will never happen to the elect. God does all that is needed to procure that. In time, His time, He calls, He justifies, He sanctifies, and when we receive our glorified bodies, we will be glorified. None will be lost. No double payment needs to be paid. In the beginning, you are either of the seed of the serpent or the seed of the woman. There are always two camps. In the beginning, because God planned everything before the foundation of the world He put all humanity in one camp or the other(by His choice, so He knew who then) and then set about to make it happen. None of the elect would be lost even though His wrath abided on them until He regenerates each one, which is what I meant when I said that God sees us as justified from before the foundation of the world. And Paul was correct in Romans, of course. No one knows if they are the elect or not until they experience it. But in God’s eyes they were, because He knew(trans.intimately) them.
    As far as Rev.13:8, never heard that it was wrong. It still carries the same meaning that aligns with what Scripture is saying in context. I humbly submit, who are the experts that have denied it?
    I guess, in a sense, I don’t really understand what we are debating. God would not allow His wrath to fall on the elect. Even though we are under it temporarily until we are regenerated, God still new before the foundation of the world that we wouldn’t stay that way and that is what I mean when I say that He saw us that way before the foundation of the world. I don’t think that God is unsure about anything.
    Sorry, I think I am beginning to get lost in the argument. I believe all of the Scripture you have sited here. For instance, the John3:36 passage, is a statement of fact. The wrath of God does remain on the rejectors, but God knew beforehand that the elect wouldn’t be rejectors.
    Oh well, I am sure there are more learned ones who can take this further but I think I have exhausted my point.
    Thanks for listening and God bless your heart, David!
    pam

  21. I haven’t finished the article yet, but as I scrolled down and saw Rodin’s “The Thinker”, I thought yes, that would be me because that is the exact pose I was in as I read! lol. Thank you for posting this. I have a lot to muse on today.

  22. David,

    Thank you for continuing to clarify your position with class and grace. It is refreshing to read even if we are in disagreement. I’ll answer your previous response to me (which by the way I take no offense as you have delivered in a kind way) with a question since I’m not sure we are on the same page. You make a good point in line with your proposition, but I still differ in your starting point. So for further clarification…

    You stated:
    “But the question I am asking is are the living unbelieving elect under the wrath of God in the present tense? Theologically, you have a bit of a problem here. I would think if the living unbelieving elect are under condemnation (while in unbelief) how does one then say they are not under punishing wrath while also in unbelief?”

    My question is this: How does God’s punishing wrath on the “living unbelieving elect” manifest itself in present tense while living? (I believe this is the distinction you are making to get to the double-pentalty concept)

    In the immeasurable love of Christ,
    -atg

  23. I agree. Thank you for the kind and graceful disagreements. Too often these sort of disagreements become ugly and immature, but this one remains very respectful and mature.

    ATG: your article above has opened my eyes in ways that they needed to be opened. I tend to condemn myself when I shouldn’t so I thank you for this. My wife also enjoyed your article, however, she asked me a question that I couldn’t answer so now I’ll relay it to you:

    If the elect of God are pre-chosen by God to be saved since the foundation of the world, why should we witness? Why bother sharing the salvation message?

  24. MichaelP said “If the elect of God are pre-chosen by God to be saved since the foundation of the world, why should we witness? Why bother sharing the salvation message?”

    Answer: Because God is the author of the means to the end, as well as the author of the ends; and He has commanded us to preach the gospel to spiritually dead men everywhere (Mark 4 & Romans 10).

  25. Hey Pam

    Pam, says: Hey David, thanks for replying to me. I still disagree, though. I am more in line with what Manfred is saying. As far as justification, the elect are seen by God as postitionally saved not experientially.

    David: What does saved positionally entail or look like exactly? It is a forensic positionality? Is it a d decretal positionality?

    If the latter, I could agree in principle, as the WCF says, decreed to be justified. If that is all you mean, that’s fine. However, the former would lead to contradiction. One who is forensically positionally justified cannot at the same time be under the forensic condemnation of the law. That would be a contradiction in the same sense.

    Pam: The provisions have been made and are seen as a done deal in God’s mind. No surprises.

    David: Sure. I think you are misreading what I am saying. Election and its certainty is not under question here. God has a fixed number of the elect, and they shall all be infallibly saved. None will fail to be saved. The issue is the extent of the satisfaction. Election and Satisfaction are distinctive issues.

    Pam says: The O.T. saints were justified by the blood of Christ before He acutally died but it was not applied until He actually did die but God had them waiting in Paradise until that day came.

    David: I assume you mean the blood was not applied until his death and resurrection, etc. I would agree. In a proleptic sense, the OT saints, through faith, were saved and justified on the basis of Christ’s death to come. I think proleptic is the right word for this situation.

    Pam: All of the elect are justified by faith, in time, but it is God-given and according to His timetable. Not one of the elect will suffer the wrath of God because God has already planned it to be thus and so.

    David: I can only see an implied contradiction there, Pam. You say, all the elect are justified by faith. I read that as saying that faith is the conditional instrumental whereby a person is justified. Then you say the elect never suffer wrath because God has already planned it, etc etc. So what does all that mean or entail? If justification is by faith, then apart from faith no man is justified. If a man is not justified, he is under curse and condemnation, at least. If they are under curse and condemnation then they are subject to punishment for sins “even as the rest are” (Eph 2:3). If, however, we follow the standard teaching on this, that in eternity, the elect are only decreed to be justified, then there is no contradiction.

    Pam: Yes, by nature until that time, we are children of wrath but it will never happen to the elect.

    David: First I shall change the tense, as I think Paul means were once “were” children of wrath by nature. And so with that small point behind us: With respect, that seems contradictory. If we were children of wrath by nature, then we were in wrath in some sense. And we know that the expression “child of wrath” is Hebrew idiom to one subject to discipline, etc.

    As I see it we have some basic premises here which are mutually exclusive.

    Either we are justified before faith, or we are justified in time by faith.
    Either we are under the condemnation of the law before faith, or we are not.

    One cannot push back some sort of “positional” forensic status into eternity without running up against Scripture. The WCF solution is the sensible, in my opinion, it is not that we were justified by the decree of election or anything like that, but that the God in eternity decreed to justify us (in time and through faith)

    I hope this is not coming across smug, Pam, I am just trying to draw out the implications here.

    Pam says: God does all that is needed to procure that. In time, His time, He calls, He justifies, He sanctifies, and when we receive our glorified bodies, we will be glorified. None will be lost.

    David: Agreed.

    Pam: No double payment needs to be paid.

    David: Agreed. Jonathan Edwards correctly invokes the double payment argument in this way: When a person believes and receives the promise of God, the satisfaction for their sins, sustained for them by Christ, will never be demanded of them personally, as if God requires a second satisfaction for their sins. We can say that because God declares that whosoever believes will not see wrath. God binds himself to his own covenanting word of promise.

    However, the double payment dilemma as used by Owen, and others, works on different assumptions, as it ignores the conditionality of faith as a requirement.

    Pam: [cut] None of the elect would be lost even though His wrath abided on them until He regenerates each one, which is what I meant when I said that God sees us as justified from before the foundation of the world.

    David: If the wrath of God is abiding on them at any point, then God is exacting a second payment for sin: that has to follow. There is no escaping this reality Pam. Let’s use Owen’s analogy of debtor and creditor. If Manfred owes ATG $100. Manfred, being broke cannot pay. Pam steps in and pays ATG the $100. So what has happened there? Not only has there been an objective satisfaction to ATG’s claims, but all grounds of displeasure have ipso facto been removed. ATG cannot even “feel” displeased with Manfred now, as all his demands have been satisfied. It is not as if he can still harbor a grudge. Let’s extend this. Suppose ATG still continues to treat Manfred as delinquent who has failed to pay his debts, that would be unjust and hypocritical. In strict commercial law, ATG must “see” Manfred as nothing other than “justified.”

    We can see that the double payment argument as premised by Owen and others proves too much. It just contradicts Scripture.

    Pam: [cut] God would not allow His wrath to fall on the elect. Even though we are under it temporarily until we are regenerated, [cut]

    David: Can you not see the general contradiction here? If you mean in the former eternal wrath of judgement, we agree. The believer is not appointed to wrath, indeed, the believer has been rescued from that wrath. However, if we mean the latter, temporal wrath, then all men as unbelievers are subject to it. But if the double payment argument is correct, we have a contradiction.

    cut

    Pam, I think you are missing what I am saying. I think you think I am an Arminian or something, and that’s tripping you up. It’s as if you “hear” some terms or ideas, and you have defaulted to a mode of response which talks passed me. And then behind all that are a set of assumptions which I am challenging, like atonement and election are co-limiting terms.

    Thanks for your patience and willingness to interact in a Christian manner.
    David

    ____________________________________________________________

    Hey there ATG,
    Hey there,

    ATG says:
    Thank you for continuing to clarify your position with class and grace. It is refreshing to read even if we are in disagreement. I’ll answer your previous response to me (which by the way I take no offense as you have delivered in a kind way) with a question since I’m not sure we are on the same page. You make a good point in line with your proposition, but I still differ in your starting point. So for further clarification…

    David: About the class and grace, thanks. Years ago I was on elists, and while I dont think I was ever nasty or rude, I did come across cutting and sarcastic at times. Then about 2000, I began to move into the direction of classic-moderate Calvinism. When I broached my move on some elists the reception from my former strict limited atonement friends was blistering. I was shocked. I had to think hard about what was happening. I didnt handle myself well either: I got very defensive and offended, and I vented a lot. After I had rethink my whole approach and do a lot of repenting. It took a long time to change my attitudes about online conversation and begin to treat them just like I do face to face conversations, and converse as a Christian again; be assured tho, I still screw up at times.. A reader only sees bare words on a screen, with no body language cues, and before I was not taking that into account. I had to repent because deep down what was motivating a lot of my internet interaction was a desire to ‘destroy the person’ because he or she was saying things which I deemed unorthodox or wrong. It was all so much a childish over-reaction. I see so much internet interaction today, especially now on blogs, as hardly ever trying to win the person, or to help them, but to crush them. And for myself, I also realized that getting mad accomplishes nothing. One could “play the person” and seemingly win the day, but in the long term you only lose, and you lose something of your own self in the process.

    Just to let you know where I am coming from: I am approaching this from the moderate-classic Calvinist position. And to let you know, I am more than willing to answer any question. I am not trying to hide or hold back, but focus on the question at hand. My own C&C site is pretty much an open book. I mention so this to encourage folk to always try to look at the problem from different angles, and that applies to folk looking at what I am saying too.

    Old David:

    “But the question I am asking is are the living unbelieving elect under the wrath of God in the present tense? Theologically, you have a bit of a problem here. I would think if the living unbelieving elect are under condemnation (while in unbelief) how does one then say they are not under punishing wrath while also in unbelief?”

    ATG now: My question is this: How does God’s punishing wrath on the “living unbelieving elect” manifest itself in present tense while living? (I believe this is the distinction you are making to get to the double-pentalty concept)

    David: I would say in temporal judgements. A word study on words like Wrath and cognates would be cool. For example in Pauline theology, there is wrath being poured out now Rom 1:18, and there is the wrath to come (Rom 5:9, 1 Thess 1:10 etc). Temporal judgements can be sword, famine, plague, and calamity, to draw from the OT. In the OT the anger of the Lord is a good picture of the wrath of God.

    Temporal wrath can never fully satisfy for sin, hence eternal wrath is necessary. However, temporal wrath leads into eternal wrath.

    If we look to the wider biblical picture, we have verses like Luke 21:23, Rom 13:4,1 Thessalonians 2:16.

    I cannot quantify this, measure it, catalogue it, etc. I cant point out something to you and say, “Hey that’s the wrath of God.” But nonetheless, if we look at the world through the window of Scripture, it is clear the wrath of God is upon unbelief in various forms and expressions, and that living unbelieving elect are subject to it.

    I posted this to Pam earlier today. It may help to highlight the problem behind the double payment argument:

    David: If the wrath of God is abiding on them at any point, then God is exacting a second payment for sin: that has to follow. There is no escaping this reality Pam. Let’s use Owen’s analogy of debtor and creditor. If Manfred owes ATG $100. Manfred, being broke cannot pay. Pam steps in and pays ATG the $100. So what has happened there? Not only has there been an objective satisfaction to ATG’s claims, but all grounds of displeasure have ipso facto been removed. ATG cannot even “feel” displeased with Manfred now, as all his demands have been satisfied. It is not as if he can still harbor a grudge. Let’s extend this. Suppose ATG still continues to treat Manfred as delinquent who has failed to pay his debts, that would be unjust and hypocritical. In strict commercial law, ATG must “see” Manfred as nothing other than “justified.”

    If we move our categories into the properly penal realm, then the double payment argument fails for a few reasons, some of which are complex. The big one is that in a properly penal satisfaction, a condition may be attached, such that the application of the satisfaction can be suspended upon the performance of the condition (Dabney/C Hodge). A properly penal satisfaction by way of substitution entails negotiation, and agreement. Dabney gives a good example, which one can build upon. A brother owes a farmer some money, but cannot pay. The older brother, taking pity on his younger brother, approaches the farmer, and agrees to work on the farm in order to pay the younger brother’s debt. The farmer agrees. Here the “payment” is not a strictly identical payment, so much gold coinage paid for so much gold coinage borrowed. The payment is deemed an equivalent payment which satisfies he farmer. Thus, in this way other conditions can be attached as C Hodge points out. If you have the time and mind, scope out some better treatments which discuss the differences between a properly penal satisfaction and a pecuniary satisfaction. Ive posted some of them which can be found on my main menu page. The important thing is not to cast the satisfaction in terms pecuniary categories and pecuniary efficacies. What is more, in a properly penal satisfaction, the “atonement” is not a satisfaction for “belief,” but for transgression and sin.

    Anyway… thanks for your time,
    David

    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=8466

  26. MichaelP,

    I am glad you and your wife have read and are prayfully considering these truths. I did the same thing a few years ago.

    Your wife’s question here is so incredibly relevant and worth asking: “If the elect of God are pre-chosen by God to be saved since the foundation of the world, why should we witness? Why bother sharing the salvation message?”

    I am glad you asked and I’ll try to answer it in the way I see it.

    Faith comes from hearing…
    Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
    We must proclaim the Gospel because God uses preaching to bring those to faith.

    We are commanded by Christ himself to preach and disciple and witness:
    Matthew 28:19-20 [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    Here we are to go and teach and make disciples. Again God using us to bring the Gospel.

    Another think to consider is 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. If you read through these books you see Paul continually telling Timothy and Titus to teach and preach the Gospel truths.

    There is a mystery between Faith and predestination. We see so clearly through Eph 1, 2, Romans 8,9, and John 6 that God sends, elects, saves, gives faith, but we also see so many times that we ARE to preach and teach and witness. Think about the parable of the sower and the seeds as well (Mat 13), obvious seeds must be sown and some come to faith and others don’t. 1 Corinthians 5 tells how are have been given the ministry of reconciliation so that others will come to faith.

    It is definitely a mystery and complex and our minds cannot comprehend it all. We do know though that we are to preach and teach. There is incredible freedom in seed sowing and proclaiming the Gospel when we know that God will water the seed and will give them the faith. We simply must be obedient and faithful when the opportunity comes up and we don’t try to convince or get a decision out of someone, we simply sow the seed. It is incredibly freeing.

    I hope this helps.

    In Christ,
    -atg

  27. David,

    Thanks for sharing what you did about past internet conversations. We have much of that still occurring on this blog as of this morning. It is abhorrent for Christians to behave as such. How can we be ambassadors for reconciliation when we act like arrogant and angry self-righteous ingrates?

    Returning to you topic, I really am hung up on HOW the wrath requiring atonement for the living unbelieving elect is manifested in this position. I’ll go out on another limb and ask more about your theology…are you dispensational perhaps? I come from a covenantal/Amil perspective and I would classify some of this under the “already and the not yet.” Please forgive me if I’ve over simplified or thrown this bit into a giant theological pot, but I don’t think we can separate these things from one another. So follow me for a minute…I’m not wanting to discuss these specifics, but it’ll give you a flavor of my mindset towards the wrath on earth:

    – we are already saved, but not yet experiencing (or realizing) out salvation
    – Christ already has victory over death, but we are not yet experiencing the realization
    – Satan is already defeated, but not yet finished
    – the kingdom of God is already here with you, but it is not yet fully realized
    – unbelievers already live under wrath, but it is not yet realized

    Ok, so, simplistic maybe and agree/disagree, this is where I’m at. This deals with the present tense difficulties in the John passage and others you list above. The unbeliever is already under the wrath (it remains with him), but it is not yet fulfilled in that it relates to the eternity of our relationship with God.

    The entire concept of Atonement is entirely an eternity issue as related to the payment for the sins of mankind. I do not agree that it is related to belief…I hope that my post did not present this option.

    So, without diving into covenant vs dispy, does this clarify for you why I can’t accept that the wrath of God is being manifested here on earth on any unbeliever elect or not? I also believe that Romans 2:5, storing up wrath for the day of judgement is contrary to this position.

    In the Joy of Christ,
    -atg

  28. David, oh my gosh, my head is spinning. I think sometimes it is hard to express what one means in writing. Do we actually disagree on anything? Can you just tell me what it is exactly so I don’t misunderstand. I will tell you that I view the Bible from a pre-trib, pre-mill, sort of dispensational view point and throw Calvinism in there as well. Not covenental or amill. at all.
    I hope I don’t sound argumentative. I do love going thru the Scriptures and I love discussing them with others.
    You are very patient and kind in your discourse with everyone. And obviously you spend huge amounts of time in the Word and I love that.
    So I am being sincere when I say that I got lost back there somewhere in our discussion. Maybe I just need to reread it all.
    Thanks for your time.
    pam

  29. Hey there ATG,

    ATG says, Returning to you topic, I really am hung up on HOW the wrath requiring atonement for the living unbelieving elect is manifested in this position. I’ll go out on another limb and ask more about your theology…are you dispensational perhaps? I come from a covenantal/Amil perspective and I would classify some of this under the “already and the not yet.”

    David: I am a basic Presbyterian, Reformed, Amillennialist, Classic Covenant theology, etc etc.

    To your first question, “atonement” is a fuzzy word. You know it originally meant reconciliation, and it referred to that. Somewhere about the 17thC its meaning shifted to begin to cover the satisfaction, expiation and propitiation aspects of Christ’s work. These are actually better words. In the 15th and 16th centuries, expiation and propitiation were used interchangeably. It is better to use term satisfaction and expiation and propitiation. We can also add that “wrath” for God, when extended to unbelievers is that disposition of anger which seeks retribution and satisfaction. It seeks to justify God, his holiness etc. It is a judicial vindictive punishment, as opposed to temper tantrum or something like that. So if we see the wrath of God as a satisfaction-seeking activity on the part of God, wherein wrath seeks to vindicate God’s law and character in the punishment of sinners. It displays his displeasure and abhorrence toward sin. Wrath, itself, does not make “atonement” in all the broadness and fuzziness of that word. Wrath does not seek to reconcile, restore friendship, obtain justification for the offending parties, etc. This wrath is not simply corrective discipline, but a retributive.

    Does that help?

    ATG says: Please forgive me if I’ve over simplified or thrown this bit into a giant theological pot, but I don’t think we can separate these things from one another. So follow me for a minute…I’m not wanting to discuss these specifics, but it’ll give you a flavor of my mindset towards the wrath on earth:

    – we are already saved, but not yet experiencing (or realizing) out salvation

    David: We as believers, yes.

    ATG: – Christ already has victory over death, but we are not yet experiencing the realization
    – Satan is already defeated, but not yet finished
    – the kingdom of God is already here with you, but it is not yet fully realized
    – unbelievers already live under wrath, but it is not yet realized

    David: I was in agreement until the last, the wording there. Unbelievers are under a realized wrath. It is an actual wrath. For example, it was an actual wrath that punished the Jews in 70 AD. It is an actual wrath being poured out in the seals, trumpets and bowls in Revelation. If by “realized” you mean something like, fully manifest, sure, I agree.

    ATG: Ok, so, simplistic maybe and agree/disagree, this is where I’m at. This deals with the present tense difficulties in the John passage and others you list above. The unbeliever is already under the wrath (it remains with him), but it is not yet fulfilled in that it relates to the eternity of our relationship with God.

    David: Sure. But nonetheless, the wrath of God is that activity whereby he punishes sin. Would you be willing to assert that God punishes sin in the unbelievers?

    ATG: The entire concept of Atonement is entirely an eternity issue as related to the payment for the sins of mankind. I do not agree that it is related to belief…I hope that my post did not present this option.

    David: I would say that the satisfaction and expiation of Christ have both temporal and eternal aspects too. I am justified now. I am pardoned now. My sins have been dealt with now. I am no longer under the wrath of God now. And yet there are future aspects too.

    ATG: So, without diving into covenant vs dispy, does this clarify for you why I can’t accept that the wrath of God is being manifested here on earth on any unbeliever elect or not? I also believe that Romans 2:5, storing up wrath for the day of judgement is contrary to this position. [bold mine.]

    David: But ATG that just flies in the face of Scripture. What does it mean to be a “child of wrath”?

    1 Thessalonians 2:16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. <–this refers to the present judgement of the Jews. I would say in the hardening of their hearts, and what follows judicially from that.

    And verses like this: Romans 13:4 For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

    Romans 12:19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. <–in its context, this cannot refer only to eternal punishment.

    The relationships in Romans 1.

    1:18-19: 18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

    Luke 21:23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. <–A reference to 70AD.

    There are so many verses from the OT as well. You would have to assert that none of those cases were manifestations of wrath as well. Egypt, etc.?

    Heb 3: 10: Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, And saw My works for forty years. 10 "Therefore I was *angry* with this generation, And said, 'They always go astray in their heart; And they did not know My ways'; 11 As I swore in My *wrath*, 'They shall not enter My rest.'" 12 Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, *unbelieving* heart, in falling away from the living God. <–note the past reference as illustration as the basis of the present warning.

    Death itself is the final manifestation of temporal wrath: in the day you eat, you shall surely die (in dying you will dye). And as much as the first for the unbeliever is a punishment for sin, this in no way detracts from the significance of the second death.

    Condemnation is not just an internal state in the mind of God. To be under condemnation is to be exposed to something, and usually that is punishment: Romans 5:16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification 18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

    David: That result is death. In this context, natural death is a temporal manifestation of divine wrath.

    Same line of thought: 2 Peter 2:6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter.

    I just cannot see how this thesis can be maintained in the light of Scripture: I can’t accept that the wrath of God is being manifested here on earth on any unbeliever elect or not

    I would encourage you to look at this through the lens of Scripture. It might not be easily explicable to our minds, but it is a Scriptural truth, nonetheless. You may be pressing the already-not-yet hermeneutic too far. I agree that there is a present wrath and there is a future wrath. The living unbelieving elect are subject to present wrath, but through faith, they are delivered from all wrath as punishment for sin. Please think about this and let Scripture guide you on this. In my reading, it shows us that its more nuanced and full than what you are suggesting here.

    Hope that helps.
    David

    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=8466

  30. Hey Pam,

    You say: David, oh my gosh, my head is spinning.

    David: Yeah, its like a clash of paradigms.

    Pam: I think sometimes it is hard to express what one means in writing. Do we actually disagree on anything?

    David: I suspect yes. I would say that Christ was punished for the sins of all men. I gather you would disagree with that.

    Pam: Can you just tell me what it is exactly so I don’t misunderstand. I will tell you that I view the Bible from a pre-trib, pre-mill, sort of dispensational view point and throw Calvinism in there as well. Not covenental or amill. at all.

    David: I am covenantal, Amill, Reformed, and so forth. Ive never been a pre-tribber or a dispensationalist.

    Pam: I hope I don’t sound argumentative.

    David: Not at all.

    Pam: I do love going thru the Scriptures and I love discussing them with others.
    You are very patient and kind in your discourse with everyone. And obviously you spend huge amounts of time in the Word and I love that.
    So I am being sincere when I say that I got lost back there somewhere in our discussion. Maybe I just need to reread it all.
    Thanks for your time

    David: I understand. All I ask of folk is that they keep in mind that usually there are two sides of every story. Feel free to ask anything, then take my answers and sound them out with friends (even strangers) who would take an opposite position and weigh all the claims and arguments. One of the things that separates Christians from cultists is that Christians do not (should not) manipulate the control of the flow of information. I am not talking about proper Church discipline and stuff like that. And the Christian should be engage in a twofold disposition when confronted by an idea. One is sympathetic listening. John Frame and others speak of this. The Christian listens to the proponent of the opposite idea, not with the view of simply crushing it, but with the motive of “what can I learn here?” The other disposition is to engage in sound testing of the idea. This can involve self-critiquing, self-testing, devil’s advocate strategies, and attempts to ‘falsify’ an idea. I believe I am seeing both attitudes in this thread comments, which is good. And of course the underlying motive is to winsomely win the person. Winning the person, tho, cannot and should not be done by illegitimate means, which is what we are all prone to because of our remaining sin-corruption. Don’t get me wrong, too many times the desire to lash out in anger still finds expression in my thoughts and internet activities. Don’t feel pressured, Christian dialogue should not manipulated or skewed by the “tyranny of time;” that sense that one must resolve an issue today or else everything will fall apart.

    Anyway, that’s all way to preachy now…

    Thanks,
    David

    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=8466

  31. Great post, ATG. Now if only I can find time to read all the comments. :o)

    And I really enjoyed how you broke it down in steps.

    For those wanting to know more about this subject, I cannot recommend enough, the message by John MacArthur found here.

    You just have, have, have to listen to it.

  32. David,
    Very interesting conversation and I think I understand a lot better now…I think. Maybe your nuances are too nuanced for me. :)

    I wasn’t very clear or precise with my words. Of course I agree that God’s wrath has been made manifest though 70AD destruction, Romans 1, etc. in the form of temporal punishment. However, I was speaking of “wrath” in the eternal judgement aspect which is not manifest and thus I cannot agree with the double penalty concept.

    If I am understanding your position correctly you are essentially placing 2 judgements on mankind, a temporal judgement and an eternal judgement and linking the atonement to both. If this is your premise, I don’t agree with this. I believe we live under God’s grace and we have punishments, trials, tribulations all for His eternal purposes, not for the eternal judgement of sin. I believe we can sin, be punished for it temporally in some way and STILL have to answer for that in judgement. If as you suggest (if I understand completely) punishment for temporal sins was happening and therefore those sins are appease (expiated) then God would have to go through a list of our sins at judgment and say, “ok, that one is paid for, this one, no, that one yes, this one no, yes, yes, no, no”. All this while Christ stands to the side as the slain lamb. This would defeat the purpose of the cross if we took it to its logical end. It would mean the cross of Christ only paid for SOME of the sins of ALL men. But then, what is the deciding factor? Faith in Christ and not propitiation? The rest of unconditional election and perseverance of the saints start to collapse like a deck of cards.

    I’m glad that we agree (in the most part) on the already and the not yet. I think we’ll have to disagree on this point specifically because in your approach you’ve allowed for the already and the not yet in all the theological components except for God’s eternal punishing wrath and final judgement. I’m not sure why that one is any different for you or how you make the case. I don’t see the scriptures you have listed as proving this point out.

    In looking at some of what you have on your own blog, I see that you are bringing an unlimited atonement perspective and somehow the requirement for temporal wrath/punishment is required to make this unlimited atonement concept possible.

    I’m unsure if I’m tracking with you straight on this.

    In Christ,
    -atg

  33. calvinandcalvinism/David:

    Some of your advise to Pam is misleading and potentially dangerous:

    “Feel free to ask anything, then take my answers and sound them out with friends (even strangers) who would take an opposite position and weigh all the claims and arguments.”

    What precedent do we have for such a method in Scripture among God’s people? When discussing spiritual matters, our friends (“even strangers”) opposite positions are not an objective standard of judgment as to whether something said coincides with God’s truth. And “weigh all claims and arguments”, by what standard? By what sounds good or makes the most sense to us? By what we choose to believe? By whose argument “weighs heavier”? Or by the whole of the Word of God? It must be clearly stated that we are to weigh all claims against the standard of the Word of God. It is absolutely irrelevant what our friends or strangers think.

    “And the Christian should be engage in a twofold disposition when confronted by an idea. One is sympathetic listening. John Frame and others speak of this. The Christian listens to the proponent of the opposite idea, not with the view of simply crushing it, but with the motive of “what can I learn here?” The other disposition is to engage in sound testing of the idea. This can involve self-critiquing, self-testing, devil’s advocate strategies, and attempts to ‘falsify’ an idea.”

    Since we test all things by the Word of God, and hold fast only to that which is taught by God’s Word, we listen to views in order to understand whether those views conform to the Word of God or whether they are at variance to it (not what we can learn from it), since all legitimate testing must be done against an objective standard. The “sound testing” you have described through “self-critiquing, self-testing, devil’s advocate strategies, and attempts to ‘falsify’ an idea” are entirely subjective rather than testing according to the objective truth given in God’s Word.

    “And of course the underlying motive is to winsomely win the person.”

    No, actually, winning the person over is not our job. Nor are we to be unkind, rude or abusive. But we don’t see Jesus, Paul or the Apostles predominantly displaying a “winsomely winning a person over” speech or behavior. What we do see is speaking God’s revealed truth in love, which should be our underlying motive. The Holy Spirit’s job is to do the work only He can do: conviction, repentance, regeneration, growth, sanctification.

  34. Hey there DavidW,

    You say: Some of your advise to Pam is misleading and potentially dangerous:

    “Feel free to ask anything, then take my answers and sound them out with friends (even strangers) who would take an opposite position and weigh all the claims and arguments.”

    David: I am talking about Christian to Christian dialogue. I should have been clearer perhaps. Take for example, pre-trib rapture. I dont consider pre-trib, mid-trip or post-trib, to be “dangerous” in terms of soul-destruction. Thus I interact with a classic dispensationalist differently than say I would with a Mormon. With the former, I assume common grace. I try not to see them as a threat to me personal, or an enemy of the faith. So when I am talking about the rapture with folk I encourage them to read all sides, as much as they are willing and as much as they are able. I try not to curtail any information they might need in order to make an informed decision. I try to do the same in Calvinist vs Arminian debates. Evangelical Arminians are not, in my mind, enemies of the faith. And in my personal history, I know what its like to have regretted not acting on such advice, and I have felt ripped-off when folk have not encouraged me to seek out the arguments from the other side. Conversely,when I was investigating Calvinism years ago, one of my closest friends an Arminian Pente., friends encouraged to read both sides of the debate so that I could make an informed decision. She was spot on. I did to the best of my ability and in doing so I became a Calvinist. She is now with the Lord, but I am still blessed for knowing her.

    By strangers, I had niggly feeling that that was not the best expression. I mean, experts, credible sources, even folk that are not close friends, but credible Christian people who could give good advice.

    DavidW: What precedent do we have for such a method in Scripture among God’s people? When discussing spiritual matters, our friends (“even strangers”) opposite positions are not an objective standard of judgment as to whether something said coincides with God’s truth. And “weigh all claims and arguments”, by what standard? By what sounds good or makes the most sense to us? By what we choose to believe? By whose argument “weighs heavier”? Or by the whole of the Word of God? It must be clearly stated that we are to weigh all claims against the standard of the Word of God. It is absolutely irrelevant what our friends or strangers think.

    David: I hear what you are saying, but with respect, its not that simple. By warrant, I take Paul’s examples where he reasons with the Jews. His hearers could hear his point of view and that of his opponents. We take every thought captive, we dont resort to sword or threats. The weapon of the Christian is a good reasoned account of our faith. Such verses come to mind: 2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction; Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, …; 1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.

    I think it is a matter of wisdom that in some contexts we should encourage folk to evaluate both sides of a debate.

    DavidW: Since we test all things by the Word of God, and hold fast only to that which is taught by God’s Word, we listen to views in order to understand whether those views conform to the Word of God or whether they are at variance to it (not what we can learn from it), since all legitimate testing must be done against an objective standard. The “sound testing” you have described through “self-critiquing, self-testing, devil’s advocate strategies, and attempts to ‘falsify’ an idea” are entirely subjective rather than testing according to the objective truth given in God’s Word.

    David: I dont think what I said entailed a denial of the Word of God as an objective standard. Normally among Christians, the Word per se is not debated or disputed, but an interpretation of the Word at some point. And here is where God has given us teachers. For my part, my style, my presentation, my demeanor, or anything that comes from “me” should be the basis why a person is persuaded, but the arguments themselves on their own merit. Sometimes, tho, we need help from other Christians to give us more information, or to see the problem from a different angle. Theologizing is done corporately, not by a single person in isolation: in my opinion anyway.

    I had said: “And of course the underlying motive is to winsomely win the person.”

    DavidW: No, actually, winning the person over is not our job.

    David: I find that odd. Paul was all things to all men so that he may win some to Christ. He reasoned with those in the faith and out of the faith. I think our demeanor we are to image the grace of Christ, so that others can see Christ in us. Also, the whole point of “doing good” to others is that they may see the love of God and be won over.

    DavidW: Nor are we to be unkind, rude or abusive. But we don’t see Jesus, Paul or the Apostles predominantly displaying a “winsomely winning a person over” speech or behavior. What we do see is speaking God’s revealed truth in love, which should be our underlying motive. The Holy Spirit’s job is to do the work only He can do: conviction, repentance, regeneration, growth, sanctification.

    David: I just think there are so many verses which speak to what I am saying: NAS 1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. 2 Timothy 2:25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth. The biblical doctrine of “kindness” also comes to mind.

    I hope that clarifies somewhat.

    Thanks,
    David

    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/

  35. calvinandcalvinism/David:

    Thank you for clarifying what you meant on some things. My point was, AS IT WAS WORDED, the plain sense of what you said was misleading, and left vagarities which could lead down the dangerous road of subjective reasonings as the determining factor of truth. The clarification certainly helped.

    The glaring omission of your advise to Pam left out the objective standard of the Word of God as the determining criteria of what God’s truth is. And that was the focus of my point: that regarding all things spiritual (whether between Christians, or Christian to non-Christian) the Christian is to test everything against the objective standard of the Scriptures. Even teachers and pastors are to be so tested. Paul commanded the Galatians to test even someone such as him (or even angels from heaven) to see if what they teach is true to what is taught in Scripture.

    I understand what you are saying that we are to display the love and demeanor of Christ. But I must respectfully disagree with the term “winning them over” to Christ, or to His truth. In the verse you referenced for this (1Cor.9:22), the Greek word for “save” (σῴζω), or as you say “win”, carries a range of meaning from “divine deliverance” to “being made whole”, and carries the sense of giving people that which is necessary for their salvation (the Gospel), while the context of the passage is to appeal to them in a reasonable way. But nothing like “winning” them, as if by persuasive argument, or by persuasive words of man’s wisdom (which Paul condemns), and that was my point earlier that I sought to clarify.

    Perhaps we are in close agreement, but the limitations of written communication prevent full understanding of each other. At any rate, I do not wish to go round and round on the issue, as I hope I’ve clarified my belief on the issue as you have yours. I agree entirely on your last paragraph.

    In Christ,
    DavidW

  36. David, I had to think about what you were saying and go back and take a second look.
    I think we are definitely on the same page about predestination and election but since I am a dispensationalist we will have our differences. People say that eschatology is a non-essential and we can agree to disagree but I do believe that it is reflected in the over all view of Scripture and what people think it says.
    We, as believers are not under the wrath of God. What does the wrath of God mean to you? As a covenentalist, you probably think that it is God’s reaction to sin in the believer’s life. Well, in Scripture THE wrath of God that is to come has not fallen yet and is not reserved for the believer. What the believer experiences is chastizement or punishment but not the wrath of God.The wrath of God is an end-time event or the experience of hell when unbeliever’s die, whichever comes first.
    Let me go further: Romans 1-3 is an indictment against the whole world being guilty before God, whether Jewish or Gentile or moral or those who work for rightousness. Paul is proving that all have missed the mark. Those who are not the elect will receive wrath. The unbelieving elect, in time, never experience the wrath of God, even though in that state, they are legally guilty and God would be just in letting it fall on them, but He never would do that, because they are the elect. They are preserved in Christ Jesus until the time of the effectual call by the Spirit of God. We are loved with and everlasting love. The wrath that the Bible is talking about is not reserved for the believer 1Thess.5:9.
    Also, the statement was made that we are saved by faith but we are really saved by grace and that is why no wrath comes on the believer even though in the unbelieving state the elect are guilty. But God, in His mercy decided to save some of mankind by His grace. The elect never die and go to hell and they don’t experience the wrath of God here on earth.
    Our differences are related to our eschatology. I don’t believe that the Kingdom, described in Scripture is now. I don’t believe that the wrath of God that will occur at the Second Coming is the same as the chastizment or punishment of the elect.
    Just as an endnote, I researched common grace and it is nowhere in the Bible. It was a term invented by Reformers to answer the Arminians. In the 156 references to grace, there is nothing to substantiate common grace.Grace cannot reign if it can be resisted. Arminians use common grace to describe the ability that is given to everyone to repent and believe. A common grace that does not save is an insufficient grace.
    But this is another subject entirely. And way back up there somewhere, Israel is mentioned as being the recipient of God’s wrath but all prophecy speaks of a future restoration, Isa.54:8.
    Anyway, this could go on but, just so you know, I am confident in what I believe and do not need to be “won”.
    I am happily reformed in salvation but feel like Calvin and Luther quit reforming and stayed mirred in their Roman Catholic Amill. view of eschatology and that is why the Reformed have to spiritualize so much of Scripture. No where in Scripture does it say that the Church is the New Israel. Paul never alludes to that and it is plainly explained in Romans 11.
    I mean no disrespect to those on this blog with that view….. just explaining mine.
    Thanks you all for your good will and patience.
    God bless you all.
    pam

  37. Pam,

    Hello. I too believe in Covenant theology and I am Amil…and I don’t agree with David’s premise above because I believe it doesn’t fit with the whole of scripture and redemptive history as he and I have been discussing. I don’t think this is a place for a in depth discussion on eschatology, so I won’t go into any details as such. I will agree with you though that I think it is a vital doctrine and I believe that as someone who believes in the Doctrines of Grace and God’s sovereign hand, Covenant Theology makes ooodles of sense where as Dispensationalism to me seems “put on” scripture rather than the obvious message from reading scripture. I was a dispensational free will believer for a long time, but God worked on my dispensationalism through reading the Bible first. I had major issues with what the pastor was preaching and looked for churches that didn’t teach dispy and found a bunch of “calvinist” guys. Boo! I was convinced they were heretics. But, once I started really listening to their teaching and reading books, God opened my eyes to the DoG and it made everything clear! It was awesome.

    All that just to say that it isn’t so cut and dry as Amil guys spiritualize everything into metaphors. Great men for the last century have argued this point. MacArthur is a big Dispy guy, but Spurgeon vehemently battled against it. Many of the best reformed teachers today still hold to a covenant/amil style position.

    in the love of Christ,
    -atg

  38. atg, thanks for your kind reply. Usually dispy’s get roasted on Reformed sites. I do think that Spurgeon was sort of a dispensationalist because he did believe in the restoration of the nation of Israel in the end-times as a land, a people and a nation, forever.
    Love the respectful discourse, because I can always learn something.
    Humbly,
    pam.

  39. Hey there ATG,

    If I may,

    You say: “and I don’t agree with David’s premise above because I believe it doesn’t fit with the whole of scripture and redemptive history as he and I have been discussing…”

    If this helps and this will be very short. Perhaps we can reduce the core point to a simple 2 questions:

    Given what you say above, the first is general:

    1) Are the living unbelieving non-elect in life being punished by God?

    After that:

    2) Are the living unbelieving elect in life being punished by God?

    Cast in this way, we might be able to avoid the big issues of the already-and-not-yet stuff. If you say yes to 1) nothing is lost or gained by either of us, and I think this is pretty standard stuff (Larger Catechism 27, for example).

    If you say yes to 2) then certain things must follow.

    Thanks for your time,
    David

    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=8466

  40. David,

    Hi. You might have missed my response to you above on 12/9 before I responded to Pam. I haven’t see you respond to that yet, which was directly related to these items. :)

    -atg

  41. Hey there Pam,

    You say: I think we are definitely on the same page about predestination and election but since I am a dispensationalist we will have our differences. People say that eschatology is a non-essential and we can agree to disagree but I do believe that it is reflected in the over all view of Scripture and what people think it says.

    David: I agree that dispensationalism is important, and that it has some big problems and impacts the Christian life and health. However, its not a damning doctrine, or anything like that. Unless we are talking about some of the hyper dispensationalist doctrines out there.

    Pam: [cut] Well, in Scripture THE wrath of God that is to come has not fallen yet and is not reserved for the believer. What the believer experiences is chastizement or punishment but not the wrath of God.The wrath of God is an end-time event or the experience of hell when unbeliever’s die, whichever comes first.

    David: Sure I can generally agree with that with no problem. Believers are not under the wrath of God for sin in the way that Rom 1:18 and Eph 2:3 describe: as a satisfaction for sin. And there is future wrath to come, upon the wicked.

    Pam: Let me go further: Romans 1-3 is an indictment against the whole world being guilty before God, whether Jewish or Gentile or moral or those who work for rightousness. Paul is proving that all have missed the mark. Those who are not the elect will receive wrath. The unbelieving elect, in time, never experience the wrath of God, even though in that state, they are legally guilty and God would be just in letting it fall on them, but He never would do that, because they are the elect. They are preserved in Christ Jesus until the time of the effectual call by the Spirit of God. We are loved with and everlasting love. The wrath that the Bible is talking about is not reserved for the believer 1Thess.5:9.

    David: You seem to be going back and forth on this point. I can see it is a problem. Tho I am not sure why. What is total depravity? What does it entail? What does sin deserve from God? What is God’s response to sin? What are the implications Vis-a-vis anti-nomianism in all this? It strikes as as undercutting depravity, not from the human side (Arminianism) but from the divine side.

    Pam: Also, the statement was made that we are saved by faith but we are really saved by grace and that is why no wrath comes on the believer even though in the unbelieving state the elect are guilty.

    David: I agree that salvation is through faith, not simply by faith.

    Pam: But God, in His mercy decided to save some of mankind by His grace. The elect never die and go to hell and they don’t experience the wrath of God here on earth.

    David: I agree with the first, but its the second that I question. What verse or verses do you use to support that? And conversely, why is that that the verses Ive cited are not persuasive?

    Pam: Our differences are related to our eschatology. I don’t believe that the Kingdom, described in Scripture is now. I don’t believe that the wrath of God that will occur at the Second Coming is the same as the chastizment or punishment of the elect.

    David: I think this is secondary the point in the post and the general point in these threads. The question is: Are the living unbelieving elect punished for sin in life, before faith? One needs to go from there.

    Pam: Just as an endnote, I researched common grace and it is nowhere in the Bible. It was a term invented by Reformers to answer the Arminians. In the 156 references to grace, there is nothing to substantiate common grace.Grace cannot reign if it can be resisted. Arminians use common grace to describe the ability that is given to everyone to repent and believe. A common grace that does not save is an insufficient grace.

    David: That is another point. I am not sure that it would be wise to follow that up here and now. You can email me or talk elsewhere if you wish.

    Pam: But this is another subject entirely. And way back up there somewhere, Israel is mentioned as being the recipient of God’s wrath but all prophecy speaks of a future restoration, Isa.54:8.

    David: Which Israel was being punished for sin in the OT? The then present or some future Israel?

    Pam: Anyway, this could go on but, just so you know, I am confident in what I believe and do not need to be “won”.
    I am happily reformed in salvation but feel like Calvin and Luther quit reforming and stayed mirred in their Roman Catholic Amill. view of eschatology and that is why the Reformed have to spiritualize so much of Scripture. No where in Scripture does it say that the Church is the New Israel. Paul never alludes to that and it is plainly explained in Romans 11.
    I mean no disrespect to those on this blog with that view….. just explaining mine.

    David: Am I right in detecting defensiveness?

    Thanks and God bless,
    David

    Hey there ATG,

    Sorry I missed some of this.

    I think you mean this comment, starting with:

    ATG: I wasn’t very clear or precise with my words. Of course I agree that God’s wrath has been made manifest though 70AD destruction, Romans 1, etc. in the form of temporal punishment. However, I was speaking of “wrath” in the eternal judgement aspect which is not manifest and thus I cannot agree with the double penalty concept. [bold mine.]

    David: Okay, so on that we agree. But I am a little confused. Earlier you had said this:

    So, without diving into covenant vs dispy, does this clarify for you why I can’t accept that the wrath of God is being manifested here on earth on any unbeliever elect or not?

    [Bold mine.]

    I read that as you saying the wrath of God is NOT being poured out upon *anyone* this side of eternity.

    Do we agree tho that Scripture speaks of wrath being dispensed now, in the present? If yes, I do not understand what the problem is.

    If you say yes, then the questions returns to the specific ones: are the living unbelieving elect being punished for sin? Then, what is the nature of that punishment? How can they be punished if the double payment dilemma holds?

    ATG: If I am understanding your position correctly you are essentially placing 2 judgements on mankind, a temporal judgement and an eternal judgement and linking the atonement to both.

    David: To the first point: I think we all stand under the condemnation of the law already, in two ways, 1) original sin, 2) present sin. The law of God finds us guilty as we are sinners. If you want to call this a temporal judgement, I have no objection.

    Romans 5:16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.

    John 3: 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    To the second point: The satisfaction is applied to the believer, wherein by it, he is declared to be justified. The justified sinner is transferred from the sphere of wrath and curse into the realm of grace and reconciliation. This is an image of the OT typology. The temporal and typical sacrifices in the OT secured temporal peace, and reconciliation with God in the life of Israel. These types included eternal realities too. Other than that, I am not sure how to answer your question.

    ATG: If this is your premise, I don’t agree with this. I believe we live under God’s grace and we have punishments, trials, tribulations all for His eternal purposes, not for the eternal judgement of sin.

    David: Who is the “we”? Believers, or the totality of the elect as a class? Does my distinction make sense? Not all the elect are justified. Unjustified living elect are under condemnation. Justified living elect have been freed from condemnation.

    ATG: I believe we can sin, be punished for it temporally in some way and STILL have to answer for that in judgement.

    David: Well I would say believers are disciplined, but not as a satisfaction for sin. And also, believers shall all be judged, but not for justification.

    ATG: If as you suggest (if I understand completely) punishment for temporal sins was happening and therefore those sins are appease (expiated) then God would have to go through a list of our sins at judgment and say, “ok, that one is paid for, this one, no, that one yes, this one no, yes, yes, no, no”.

    David: Let me try again. The sins of the unbelieving, whether elect or non-elect, deserve punishment. Holy Law condemns them and curses them in life. In life there is punishment for sin. This is the law seeking satisfaction, at least. However, this satisfaction is never perfect or properly accomplished… for want of a better term… as sin deserves eternal punishment. However, the temporal punishment for the finally impenitent (whom we know will be all and only the non-elect) folds into eternal, as physical death folds into the second death.

    So no, its not as if God will have a list of sins “paid for” and sins not “paid for.” To me, even the “paid for” language is problematic, as “paid for” in what sense?

    ATG: All this while Christ stands to the side as the slain lamb. This would defeat the purpose of the cross if we took it to its logical end. It would mean the cross of Christ only paid for SOME of the sins of ALL men. But then, what is the deciding factor? Faith in Christ and not propitiation? The rest of unconditional election and perseverance of the saints start to collapse like a deck of cards.

    David: The satisfaction of Christ was for transgression. Every curse that was due to you, he bore. However, it is not that the curses were literally taken from you, and then placed on Christ. Imputation of Sin to Christ works in the way that Christ is treated (reckoned) as tho he was a sinner: All the while we remain sinners and sinful. Christ is treated (reckoned) as tho he was guilty of transgression, etc: All the while we remain guilty. In life, as unbelievers, are subject, still, to the curse of the law. The law condemns us, and seeks to punish us. The benefit of Christ’s death is only *applied* to us when we believe. Then his righteousness is credited to us: we are treated as tho were not guilty.

    Christ’s expiation is not to be seen in terms of quantity, so much suffering for so much sin, such that we need to add to it. Nor is the benefit is not applied to us until we believe. Until belief, we are under the wrath of God, subject to curse and misery.

    Like this, as LC 27 and 28 state:
    Q27: What misery did the fall bring upon mankind?
    A27: The fall brought upon mankind the loss of communion with God, his displeasure and curse; so as we are by nature children of wrath, bond slaves to Satan,and justly liable to all punishments in this world, and that which is to come.
    LC 28: What are the punishments of sin in this world?
    A28: The punishments of sin in this world are either inward, as blindness of mind, a reprobate sense, strong delusions, hardness of heart, horror of conscience, and vile affections; or outward, as the curse of God upon the creatures for our sakes, and all other evils that befall us in our bodies, names, estates, relations, and employments; together with death itself.

    If the original double payment argument is correct, then it would be totally unjust for God to even be displeased with us at any point: the payment has been already made, why should God treat (reckon) us as if we have not yet paid it?

    ATG: I’m glad that we agree (in the most part) on the already and the not yet. I think we’ll have to disagree on this point specifically because in your approach you’ve allowed for the already and the not yet in all the theological components except for God’s eternal punishing wrath and final judgement. I’m not sure why that one is any different for you or how you make the case. I don’t see the scriptures you have listed as proving this point out.

    David: Sorry I dont understand this. I cant work out why what I have said is a problem for you. I mean that sincerely. There is present wrath, and their is future wrath. When a person believes, all present wrath, as punishment for sin, stops, and also the believer is delivered from the threat of future wrath.

    ATG: In looking at some of what you have on your own blog, I see that you are bringing an unlimited atonement perspective and somehow the requirement for temporal wrath/punishment is required to make this unlimited atonement concept possible.

    David: While I do hold to the classic-moderate position on the atonement, Christ died for all, suffered for all, as to the sufficiency of the expiation, he died for the elect as to its efficiency, however, I dont quite see how this bears on the problem of the double payment argument. If the living unbelieving elect are being punished for sin, in life, then the double payment dilemma’s critical assumption is falsified: just as Dabney said. I think it is a strong teaching of Scripture that the living unbelieving elect are subject to the punishment of sin as all unbelievers are. Paul’s logic is good: As they are now, we once were (Eph 2:3; my paraphrase of the logical entailment). All the credible commentators take it that verse to mean that we were once subject to the wrath that is being poured out onto sin and unbelief, etc.

    To add: God sees us in multiple ways, 1) as sinners, rebels, law-breakers, 2) as elect, chosen to be justified, saved and glorified, 3) as image-bearers and so common grace and general love have a place; and so forth. When God looks at me as apart from Christ, I am a child of wrath. He sees me as law-cursed. It seems to me you are might be eclipsing 1) for the sake of 2).

    And in another sense, when we “believe” God sees us as actually reconciled, as actually REnewed children, justified and saved.

    What biblical/exegetical proof can you present to show that the 1) the living unbelieving elect are not under the judicial punishment for sin wrath of God? such that my interpretation of the key verses Ive cited is incorrect?

    If I missed any other comments or questions, sorry.

    Hope that helps,
    David

    http://calvinandcalvinism.com/?page_id=8466

  42. 1 John 2:2 And He Himself (CHRIST) is the propitiationfor our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. God does not desire that any perish, but that All come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9.
    Either your premise of what basics a believer must agree on is wrong, or the scriptures and God’s will to bring All to repentance is inadequate. I think we know that is ridiculous. God’s will, will be done! Hell (sheol), is the grave, or state of death. Do you really believe the perfect Messiah went to a fictitious place (hell, a place of continuous torture) before being resurrected? The dead are asleep until the last trump. Scripture is infallable, not doctrine or translations with prejudice toward doctrines of men. Aion means age, not forever; sheol means state of death, not hell; ekklesia means called out ones (body of believers with Christ as head.)
    May we search the scriptures alone for truth.

  43. “I am assuming in this post that you believe that the Bible is the inerrant, eternal, Word of God”
    I’m not trying to contentious, but looking at the title of the article versus what the Bible actually says, I have to question who’s logic are you referring to?
    Ephesians 1:4-5 This verse SAYS nothing about God choosing beforehand who would be saved This verse tells us that before the foundation of the world God made a choice. His choice was that those “in him” (in Christ) should be holy and without blame. This verse has nothing to do with God choosing beforehand who would be saved. , but His plans for those who would be saved. When a person believes the gospel of Jesus Christ they are saved and are now in Christ. If you want to know how a person is saved look at Ephesians 1:13-14.

    Ephesians 2:8 tells us salvation is a gift. A gift is offered and a gift must be received.

    John 6:37-40, 44 is a reference to those Jews who had believed before the cross.

    Most of the time, particularly in the Gospels, the elect refers to the Jews.

    Simply speaking, John 3:16 as it is written refutes limited atonement.

  44. “Did Christ’s death on the cross secure the potential of eternal life for forgiveness of sins to those who chose to believe? This means that every sin for every person throughout all of time was paid for on the cross. Otherwise states as: “All sins for all people”.”

    1 Timothy 2
    4. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
    5. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    6. Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

    1 Timothy 4:10
    For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

  45. Craig, thank you for your comments. Are you are suggesting a) that Christ’s death atoned for all the sins of all people over all of history or b) Christ’s death provided the opportunity for all sins of all people for all time?

    Either way, you then have to accept that your position means that all the souls in hell had their sins atoned for on the cross. Or maybe you believe no one goes to hell? You can’t have universal atonement and souls in hell…that is very contradictory. Christ’s death either atoned for sins or it did not. You must wrestle with the implications of your position.

    -abidingthroughgrace

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