Contend Earnestly: Follow Up to a Promise

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Follow Up to a Promise

Back when I was doing the online Calvinism debate I promised that I was going to give my opinion on the atonement. What I want my readers to know is that my view has changed from the limited view to now, the unlimited/limited view. I believe in the statement: Jesus Christ died for all, especially the elect. It is actually a biblical statement and is found in 1 Timothy 4:10

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
1 Timothy 4:10

We see that God is the Saviour of all men, which is repeated from Isaiah 43:11 where God says, “I, even I, am the Lord, And there is no savior besides Me." We see that the Lord is the Saviour of all men in 1 Timothy, an unlimited atonement is in view, but then Paul also carefully carves out another people by saying "especially" of believers. This is the other side of the coin. This is the limited view of the atonement. The term for "especially" means in the Greek, "especially, chiefly, most of all, above all" So, if there is a people who are above all, then they have to be above something, here meaning someone. So two people have been atoned for, those believing and those not believing. But, Paul is careful to say that those who are the believing have a special bond and efficiency in the atonement.

If anyone thinks this to be meaning that God failed in some way, because Christ died for all yet only some are saved Richard Baxter puts it best:

"Prop. LIX Those that dare say, that Christ is an imperfect Redeemer if he do not procure Faith itself for every Man that he Dies for, (which is their Master Argument) may as well say, that God is an imperfect Creator, because he maketh not Worms to be Men; or that he is an imperfect Conservator because he preserved not man from Mortality, Damnation and Antecedent Calamities; especially from Sin: Or that he is imperfectly Merciful, because he permits Men to sin; and Condemns them: Or that Christ is an Imperfect Redeemer of the Elect, because he suffers them after his Redemption to Sin, Suffer and Die: Or, that the Holy Ghost is an imperfect Sanctifier and Caller, because many wicked Men are Sanctified and Believe imperfectly (so as will not suffice to Salvation) and because they resist and quench the Spirit, and fall from that Faith and Sanctification which they had. Or that the Spirit is an imperfect Comforter; because so many Saints Live and Die in such uncomformitable sadness: Or that Scripture is an imperfect means, because the Effect is so imperfect. In a word, they may as well say, that where God doth not overcome mens wicked dispositions, he is an imperfect God to them in regard of his Mercies: All which beseem not the Tongue of a Christian."

Richard Baxter, Universal Redemption of Mankind by the Lord Jesus Christ (London, 1694), pp. 65-66.

HT: Tony from Theological Meditations

I mean all this to say that if you would like to interact on this subject, we can do this hear or over at Theology Online where I will be starting to exegete the Scriptures that deal with the atonement. My first was today: John 3:16. Here at Contend Earnestly I will continue to focus on more of a widespread look at orthodoxy and orthopraxy, but over at Theology Online I will focus primarily on those verses dealing with the atonement.

I hope that we can keep the conversations civil and with the mind of Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria


EgoMakarios said...

Praise God! I'm glad the Calvinists are made sad by this (e.g. Turretinfan), since they spend their lives making God sad by lying on him and making him out to be an arbitrary monster.

Seth McBee said...


Your remarks aren't going to help out in the conversation at all...and by the way...I am still a Calvinist...just a 6 point and not a 5 point.

So I still believe that Jesus Christ died for elect in loving and compassionate way that would differ than him just merely dying for all in the same manner...

It is the understanding of sufficient for all, efficient for the elect.

Try to be a little more charitable if you are going to continue on this blog...thanks.

EgoMakarios said...

I would add that if Christ did not die for all, the resurrection could not be universally established, "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Cor 15:21-22)

That all men will rise, both the just and unjust is clearly taught in Scripture, in Daniel 12:2 "some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" and in John 5:29 "And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

Thus, it is obvious that Christ did verily "taste death for every man." (Hebrews 2:9) Those who deny that Christ died for all have denied Christ altogether and blasphemed God.

EgoMakarios said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EgoMakarios said...

So I still believe that Jesus Christ died for elect in loving and compassionate way that would differ than him just merely dying for all in the same manner...

In other words, God didn't so love the world that he gave his Son...he has not compassion on the world, just on the eenie-meeny-miney-moed. He died for the "elect" out of compassion, but for the "non-elect" as a sick joke. This is your doctrine? Please erase all my comments, as I do not want to appear to praise such a doctrine.

Seth McBee said...


Christ died for all men, especially His sheep...there is a special relationship that happened with Christ and the sheep on His cross.

1 Timothy 4:10

God is the savior of all men, especially those who believe.

Jesus also says that he lays his life down for his sheep and friends. So there is something that is special or particular about the atonement, but He did die for all, but epecially for His elect people.

It is the same as love. God loves all mankind but he knows...i.e. loves the elect.

Look at how the term "to know" is rendered throughout the is special and directed towards the elect.

Jesus even says to those who he casts into hell, "away from me for I never knew you."

the same can be said when we look at the passages that speak of foreknown. If you want to read a post on that subject click here

EgoMakarios said...

So he loves all men but has a more intimate love for the elect. Now that sounds right. Why can't all Calvinists be like you? I praise God for you! The cold sterile doctrines of normal Calvinism will be taken to task by your great understanding. Of course the regular old sterile Calvinists will reject it as a type of Arminianism since you are saying that the basis of election is not some sort of cryptic randomish whatever that has no reference to man, but that God foreknew the person knowing them intimately. I'll pray that you'll be able to withstand the ridiculous amount of peer pressure they will place on you to return to their sterile views.

Seth McBee said...

Hey brother, sounds like you have run into some hypers and not the honest Calvinist. It is the hypers that speak of God not loving the whole world.

Sorry you have dealt with those kind of Calvinist because Calvin and early reformers didn't teach that sort of love of God.

I apologize on their behalf.

EgoMakarios said...

They say he loves everyone even those who he double-predestined to hell and didn't die for, but where is any love detectable in that? His love is shown by his death for all as John 3:16 says. I'm glad you posted this because it is remotely similar to an abstract idea I had on election that I was trying to explain to Theojunkie about God foreseeing the heart and not just electing based on essentially nothing or on randomness. This is the only Calvinist view I've ever seen that allows for election to be conditional (which clearly it must, you cannot choose anything without a condition unless it is random).

Seth McBee said...

I would agree that his love is shown in John 3:16 for all humanity, and then his special love is shown as he speaks of laying his life down for his sheep. There are many other points of reference for this special love, mostly though, found in the greek and hebrew words "to know."

I would say that the only "condition" in election is found in God's own will. We find this representation in Eph 1.

Notice that all the "actions" that are taking place are done by God for His chosen ones.

Eph 1:5 says he predestined us...according to the good pleasure of his will

why is it on his will alone? 1:6 the praise of the glory of his grace...

1:9 says that he purposed in himself

and then we have the strongest of statements found in 1:11

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will

So, yes, I don't think God went "eenie, meenie, minie, moe" but He also didn't choose because of anything that we did, were going to do, or that he saw in us...but I believe that he chose based on his will and his love for the elect.

Hope this helps...

Lane Keister said...

Seth, I was going to ask you whether your view was equivalent to "sufficient for all, efficient for the elect." I'm glad you equated the two. That is the normal Calvinist position.

To egomakarios, stop reading Hunt, and start reading James White. Making election based on foreseen faith is Arminian, by the way, not Calvinist. That evacuates election of all meaning. In effect, people elect themselves.

If people go to hell, they have only themselves to blame, even though God foreordained to pass them over. It is a mockery of Calvinism to say that humanity is neutrally poised in-between heaven and hell, and God splits some off of that group to go to heaven, and some to go to hell. NO! ALL deserve hell (in case we didn't get it the thousandth time, Paul drills the point home in Romans 3 over and over and over again). We were all headed to hell. That was where our citizenship lay. The question is not, "Why should God save some and not others?" The real question is this: "Why should God save anyone?" The former question implies that some deserve to be saved. This is works-based salvation. The latter question implies that none deserve salvation. So for some not to be saved is evidence of God's justice, not some kind of homocidal character. Then, the election of some out of that group is evidence of God's mercy. This is true Calvinism.

Seth McBee said...

Thanks for stopping has been a long time since we have spoken...hope all is well.

Yes, my position is that Christ died for all, especially the elect.

Very good description of God's election. I think what egomakarios has run into is either hyper Calvinists, or other Calvinists that believe that God doesn't love all, he only loves his elect. Which I would disagree with. God loves all, but loves his elect in a special way. The best way to equate this in human terms is me loving everyone in my neighborhood, especially my family...

So, the way that egomakarios has been shown this is some cosmic "eenie meenie miney moe" game of God.

Which is not correct either...God from the counsel of his own will he chose his elect,knows his elect, loves elect.

EgoMakarios said...

So, yes, I don't think God went "eenie, meenie, minie, moe" but He also didn't choose because of anything that we did, were going to do, or that he saw in us...but I believe that he chose based on his will and his love for the elect.

You deceived me into thinking that you were equating "the good pleasure of his will" with his foreknowing the person intimately as though there was something he knew about them that became the basis of election although it was not any foreseen action. Your view, however, suffers from the same sterile coldness as all other Calvinism if you hold that he elected based on something with no reference to the person, since that does equate to random election no matter how vehemently you deny it. And it doesn't help at all to add in "oh, buy after he eenie-meeny-miney-moed them, THEN he knew them intimately and loved them" because it's all very robotic. Not only does Calvinism make men out to be robots, but really also God becomes the supreme robot with only simulated compassion and simulated love.

Seth McBee said...

I deceived you?

not sure where you get this. God chooses and does all things according to his will not ours. When electing those to himself, he did the same it was according to his will and forelove for his elect. This is something that we love to try and order, it is something that we try and put into "steps." But for God, since he is timeless, when he chose us before the foundation of the world he elected us and predestined us, he loved us, all according to his will.

When you say that it is all based on something outside of him in any way, you err according to Scripture.

You can call me cold, but that is how God ordained it. And by him doing is according to his will that eliminates him just randomly picking people as well. He chose Jeremiah for a purpose. He loved Jeremiah, he loved Jacob...these were not arbitrary but purposeful. How much more importance can we put on our choosing than on God's glory? That is all the Calvinist is saying...that God chose us for the greatest glory any could ask...for God's.

Soli Deo Gloria

EgoMakarios said...

On Theology Online you link to a quote from Calvin's commentary on John 3:16 at Theology Online "And he has employed the universal term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers." But you believe that everyone can't beleive--only the elect can believe. So it makes that sentence a lie. The unbelievers have an excuse--God didn't give them what they need to beleive--he consigned them to inability. This is why Calvinism is from Satan. I thought you were different, but you're just more sneaky.

Seth McBee said...


It looks as though you are into just throwing names out in a hateful manner. This conversation I have tried to keep in a very charible fashion, so it falls on deaf ears that seem to not want to discuss but ram hateful remarks to those who don't see the Scriptures the same as you.

To call me sneaky is a false accusation and one that is unmerited and is slander. Which is sin. I have never once said anything hateful towards you and I don't understand why you have resolved to do so yourself.

I will no longer continue to dialogue with someone who doesn't want to discuss but instead throw stones at those who he should see as a brother in Christ...

Sorry you have decided to take this route in life and not a more charitalbe one...

May God be glorified in all that we do.

Soli Deo Gloria

EgoMakarios said...

"I have never once said anything hateful towards you" Indeed you haven't, and if you had, I wouldn't care. I don't care what you say about me. It is the fact that you and your ilk have devoted your lives to painting God as a monster who make men unable to beleive then condemns them to hell for it and calls it grace--that is what I am upset about. I don't care at all what sort of monster you may paint me to be, but your blasphemy is inexcusable.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...


"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." Your comments here surely show us what is in your heart. You hate the God of the Bible, and you vilify his faithful. You consider divine grace blasphemy, and God's glory monstrous. You despise the mystery of election because you deify man and his sovereignty, and refuse to grant God his proper place—lest man, who you love more, become a "robot". Yet man is less than a robot; as Scripture says, he is clay in the potter's hands. One man is made for one purpose, and another for another. You do not believe the Bible. Fortunately, your blasphemy—calling God a monster—is excusable, for "with God, all things are possible".

Only the grace of God can open your eyes so that you may turn, and he may heal you. I pray that you will not continue to walk in darkness, valuing man more than God, cursing his people, and twisting his Scriptures to your own destruction.

In Christ, by his will and his alone,

Seth McBee said...

thanks for your support


I hope that the readers, whether they agree with my doctrine or not, will see that I was charitable towards you even when you were implying that I am heretic that hates God's grace.

I will pray for you and ask that if you decide to continue here that you will understand that this blog is not one set up for name calling or straw men, but set up to aid in sharpening fallible humans to follow their Christ more closely than yesterday.

May God's grace be multiplied to you for His glory

Soli Deo Gloria.

Anonymous said...

"You hate the God of the Bible"

You're clearly using the New Paraphrase Version.

Bob Hayton said...


I've been waiting for this post, as I've been intrigued by your change of position. I left comments over at Theology Online under the John 3:16 post.

Blessings in Christ,

Bob Hayton

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