“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
To some the doctrine of ‘unlimited atonement’ is the same as the false notion of ‘universalism’ (the belief that all will be saved), but this reveals a faulty understanding of the atonement. While we believe that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,” we maintain that it is only those who “believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). In this study we will take a brief look into why the atonement is unlimited.
All or few?
According to Calvinists salvation is limited to a few elect, and the rest are doomed to destruction since Christ did not atone for their sins. It is totally unscriptural to state that mankind has no free will, that is, they are unable to choose or exercise faith in Christ. John Calvin, being a lawyer, could not comprehend how God would bother inviting doomed sinners to Christ. This is a problem for a legalistic mind, but it is not for God.
The atonement was necessary for the few, many, or all who were willing to accept Christ in faith. The blood is powerful enough to save millions as it is to atone for the individual. How many accept or reject Christ has nothing to do with the invitation or the efficiency of His blood.
The message of the Gospel has always been … “Whosoever may come” (Revelation 22:17.) Being God’s last statement concerning salvation in the Bible, it is surprising that so many choose to reject it in favour of a ‘limited atonement.’
Paul teaches that Jesus Christ, as Mediator between God and man, “gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Does not the oft quoted John 3:16 say exactly the same thing? How sad it is to believe that the blood of Jesus Christ can only save a few when it is “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Does not 2 Peter plainly state that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”?
God, according to His sovereign grace, wills that all people receive the message of salvation … “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19); “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), or as Paul says in Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” God had the whole human race in view when He sent His Son to die for sin … “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14), and that such grace extends to all … “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9), or as 2 Corinthians 5:15 states, “He died for all.”
There are many more Scriptures that prove the fact that God desires all men to come to Christ, and that the atoning blood of His Son is available to every sinner. If it is not God’s will, then the Lord Jesus Christ sent His disciples on a fool’s errand when He commissioned them to spread the truth, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The atonement is sufficient for all, but it manifests itself in those who exercise faith in Christ. His blood was the price paid for man’s redemption, that the majority choose to reject Him in no way undermines its power or God’s sovereignty.
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15.)