The All-Sufficiency of Christ in Our Redemption
(Conclusive Evidence for Definite Atonement)
by John Hendryx
"Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor."Ephesians 5:25-27
"...the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:28
"He gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds." Titus 2:14
As servants of Christ we can all agree that God limits the application of the atonement, for ultimately not everyone will be redeemed. The question is, what or who determines how this application will be limited? Man or God? The purpose of this essay is to prove to you the all-sufficiency of the work of Christ in the redemption of His elect. Even if the non-elect receive some non-redemptive benefits from the atonement (temporarily averting wrath for one), there is clearly a sense in which He died for the elect in a way that He did not for the non-elect; that is, to purchase their redemption.
Luke 1:68 says,"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people" clearly indicating a specific intent of Christ's work on earth. To separate the cross from our actual redemption unto faith is to make an unbiblical bifurcation. If God merely held out the gospel to us apart from the power of grace to receive it, leaving us in the hands of our own boasted natural free will, we would all be lost. If Christ did not die to purchase us out of our unbelief, among other things, then no one would be saved. It is abundantly clear that our ability to believe springing from a renewed nature is included as a part of what Christ accomplished for us. The apostle Peter likewise emphasizes the work of Christ as being directly connected to affecting our regeneration. He says:
"...Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again [caused us to be born again] unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead"
(1 Pet 1:3)
Notice carefully that the above text declares that we were "born again
UNTO a lively hope". It is our new birth which gives rise to our
faith, in other words. Although natural religion, as part of the price of our
redemption, always prefers that we autonomously come up with the faith needed
to be justified, the Scriptures always intimately link the work of Christ [His
death and resurrection] to the grace of regeneration. This displays the absolute
sufficiency and causality of Christ's work to resurrect our spiritually dead
souls unto faith in the redeemer. In fact, all redemptive benefits that we receive
can be traced back to the finished work of our Lord Jesus who lived the life
we should have lived and died the death we deserved to die. This is, of course,
why we pray when we evangelize the lost. We believe the the work of preaching
must be accompanied by the work of the Holy Spirit if any are to be saved. If
we do not believe this, then prayer has no value, for it is tantamount to believing
that God can do nothing for the soul of the unregenerate except to leave him
in the hands of his own natural boasted free will. The cross of Jesus is needed
for that aspect of our grace as well. As John Owen says with such clarity: "To
suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to
do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect."
Regeneration, therefore, is one of the benefits Christ purchased for us on
the cross. If He doesn't purchase us out of our unregenerate state we are lost
forever. To say that we don't need Christ's cross for our faith is to mistakenly
think of faith as a contribution to the price of our salvation rather than understand
that we were regenerated unto faith. By grace, through faith and this
not of yourselves (Eph 2:8)... born not of the will of man but born of God (John
1:13). This text reveals that 'faith' is penultimate to the ultimacy of 'grace'
for even the very faith we have is a gift received, not something produced by
our unregenerate human nature. Jesus said, "Grapes are not gathered from
thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?" In other words, by nature,
men are not inclined or disposed to the things of God. Jesus said that if change
is to take place, He must, "make the tree good and its fruit good".
It is a supernatural act of God for no one says 'Jesus is Lord' accept by the
Holy Spirit. We choose God because our disposition of heart has been supernaturally
transformed, not because some fallen people have the ability to believe while
others do not. But since not all people are regenerated unto faith, it is obvious
that Christ did not die for the specific intent of applying redemption unto
resurrection life to all men. Human beings are by nature spiritually dead and
are incapable even of cooperating with regenerating grace ... and since faith
is not generated by our fallen human nature we need a grace that will completely
save us from beginning to end, a grace that actually delivers us. This is what
Christ did for us on the cross. We do not contribute anything toward the price
of our salvation.
What does Christ do for us on the cross? Does He only take us halfway to salvation and leave our fallen will to do the rest? No, on the cross He purchased our redemption (from first to last) which will be applied to His people by the Holy Spirit in a time of His sovereign determination. This redemption includes everything necessary for us to be saved. God has personally set His affection on us from eternity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit work in harmony together to bring about the plan worked out in the eternal counsels of the Trinity (Eph 1:5).
A general atonement (that Christ died for all men in the same way) presupposes that Christ does not do everything needed for our salvation. In other words, to these universalists, regeneration is not a part of something Christ purchased on the cross for those He came to save. This argument ends up in favor of a graceless salvation. If grace is only a provision held out and does not include a transformation of our hostile natures then the Scriptures declare that no man submits naturally to the humbling terms of the gospel. Grace is a supernatural work of God to deliver us from our blindness and bondage. Even if God's grace were to take us part of the way to salvation, as some claim, unregenerate man must still contribute something to the process based on some inner principle or capacity. Are there some people out there actually have the desire to believe the gospel, apart from the renewing grace of God? The Scriptures say that the only ones who believe are those who Christ redeemed with resurrection power. To claim that we would believe, apart from what Christ did for us in His life, death and resurrection is to presume natural men have spiritual desires - in other words it is to say that we have the power of ourselves to do something spiritual apart from Christ's work on the cross.
A great quote from C.H. Spurgeon goes to the heart of the matter:
"The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, "No, certainly not." We ask them the next question--Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They answer "No." They are obliged to admit this, if they are consistent. They say, "No; Christ has died that any man may be saved if"--and then follow certain conditions of salvation. We say, then, we will go back to the old statement--Christ did not die so as beyond a doubt to secure the salvation of anybody, did He? You must say "No;" you are obliged to say so, for you believe that even after a man has been pardoned, he may yet fall from grace, and perish. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you. You say that Christ did not die so as to infallibly secure the salvation of anybody. We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ's death; we say, "No, my dear sir, it is you that do it." We say Christ so died that He infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it."
Here is another quote by R.L. Dabney
"Christ's sacrifice has purchased and provided for the effectual calling of the elect, with all the graces which insure their faith, repentance, justification, perseverance, and glorification. Now, since the sacrifice actually results in all these different consequences, they are all included in God's design. This view satisfies all those texts quoted against us."
"For if Christ died for all men in the same way then he did not purchase regenerating grace for those who are saved. They must regenerate themselves and bring themselves to faith. Then and only then do they become partakers of the benefits of the cross. In other words if you believe that Christ died for all men in the same way, then the benefits of the cross cannot include the mercy by which we are brought to faith, because then all men would be brought to faith, but they aren't. But if the mercy by which we are brought to faith (irresistible grace) is not part of what Christ purchased on the cross, then we are left to save ourselves from the bondage of sin, the hardness of heart, the blindness of corruption, and the wrath of God."
Is it Possible to Deny Limited Atonement and Still Believe in Unconditional Election? by John Hendryx
For Whom Did Jesus Taste Death? by John Piper
The Nature of the Atonement Why and For Whom Did Christ Die? by Phil Johnson
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