Paul's Passing Thoughts

Salvation is a Conditional Promise to All of Mankind

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 15, 2017

ppt-jpeg4Why are Calvinists so heck-bent on “limited atonement”? Other than the fact that salvation is not an atonement to begin with (it is an ending of sin, not a mere covering), and “particular redemption” is closer to the truth but still wrong (redemption is the salvation of the body and creation, not the soul), they are big on limited atonement because if Christ died for everyone that brings predeterminism into question.

Let’s pause for a moment and define the difference between the Protestant definition of “election” and predeterminism. The latter states that all events or anything that happens is predetermined by some force or higher order. Election, as posited by Protestantism, only recognizes salvation as predetermined.

A good picture of this distinction took place yesterday at a social gathering I attended. A bunch of Protestants were sitting in a circle playing a game of sorts. Each person wrote a question, any question, on a piece of paper and it was placed in a pot. When randomly picked out of the pot by the moderator, each person in the circle answered the question. One question was; “What is the most important decision you have ever made in your life?” The first one who answered this question was a pastor who said, “Well, normally I would say my decision to follow God, but we are all dead wood until God regenerates us and therefore unable to make that choice, so I’m not going there….” He then went on to state some other decision that he had made that apparently, he was able to make. The others in the circle followed suit accordingly.

It begs the question; why would God allow freewill for every decision in life except the decision to follow Him? However, this example is also indicative of Protestants not knowing what a Protestant is; authentic Protestantism was founded on historical-redemptive metaphysics which is, in fact, defined by predeterminism. The historical-redemptive hermeneutic posits the following: all reality is a metaphysical narrative written by God for His own self-love and glory. Whatever happens in anyone’s life is simply part of the prewritten story. The Bible is a prototype of the narrative, or a master narrative, that gives us a prism from which to interpret life. Hence, we interpret the meaning of life through the narratives presented in the Bible—they are examples of why we experience life the way we do. All of life, and all of reality, and all of history is a redemptive narrative that glorifies God. That’s historical-redemptive metaphysics. And that’s Protestantism whether most of them know it or not.

At any rate, some Calvinists see the problem with limited atonement and take this position: “The death of Christ is sufficient for all men, but not applied to all men.” This position denies that quantity is the issue but rather quality. This enables them to get around the glaring irrationality of limited atonement. Why is it glaringly irrational? Because many Bible verses state unequivocally that Christ died for everyone. I still say the best argument against limited atonement follows: Christ died to end the law, and everyone born into the world is under law; therefore, Christ died for everyone. Invariably, Calvinists reply with this silly rebuttal on either wise: “Then why isn’t everyone saved?” Answer: because the promise of salvation is conditional. We will revisit salvation as a promise, but suffice to say for now that the death of Christ made the promise possible.

Let’s look at some verses which clearly state that Christ died for everyone:

1Peter 3:18 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

Note: in a lot of these verses we see a common thread that is easy to miss if we are not careful; Christ died for the sins of the unrighteous. Who is unrighteous before conversion? Answer: everyone. “The (definitive) unrighteous.” That is an all-inclusive statement that includes everyone in a category.

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

Any questions? And by the way, this is 1John which is not focused on the Jew/Gentile issue. Therefore, the “our” refers to believers and the “also” refers to all the unrighteous.

Romans 5:18 – Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Note: You can’t have it both ways. In the same way that one sin condemned all men, one act (potentially) saved all men. What the ESV and many other translations do with this verse is interesting. The grammar implies that all will be saved in the same way that all were condemned. This enables Calvinists to interpret “all men” as “all kinds of men and not every individual” because, of course, not all men will be saved. But please note how the KVJ translates these verses: “18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” The offer of a free gift came upon all men, not universal salvation; the necessity to accept or receive the free gift is implied, not “all kinds of men” rather than individuals. This is clarified by verse 17 in the same chapter: “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” YLT states it this way: “for if by the offence of the one the death did reign through the one, much more those, who the abundance of the grace and of the free gift of the righteousness are receiving, in life shall reign through the one –Jesus Christ.” The acceptance/receiving of the gift is assumed in verses 18 and 19.

Hebrews 10:10 – And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Note: again, Christ died to take away sin; so, how many have sinned? Answer: everyone. Christ didn’t die for preselected individuals, he died to take away sin for those who are being set apart (sanctified) or in other words, those who receive the gift.

1Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

I saved 1Timothy 2:5,6 for last to segue into the next point; salvation is a conditional promise, we will get to that, but it is also a grand purchase. The Bible speaks of two masters; the Sin master and Christ. In Bible lingo, we are enslaved to one or the other; Sin or Christ—under law or under grace. We are under the dominion of one or the other (Romans 6:14). Romans chapter 6 spells this out in no uncertain terms. However, in 1Timothy 2:6 the word for “ransom” is a very strange rendering. Though in all cases translated “ransom” (lutron), the word is actually “antilutron” from anti (against, or the antithesis of, or in lieu of, ect.) and lutron (ransom). In other words, Christ gave himself to vanquish the whole concept of ransom, not just to purchase particular individuals. He cancelled the ransom altogether. There is no longer any ransom to be paid for anyone.

Now let’s close with the fact that the gospel is to be preached to everyone, and another term for the gospel in Scripture is, “the (definitive) promise.” The gospel is a conditional promise. But if it is a promise, it must be assumed that the promise is to all who hear the gospel. Also, the gospel means “good news.” How can the following idea be deemed good news: “You may or may not be preselected”? Part and parcel with Reformation thought is the idea that God is glorified by the “good news” bringing about eternal life and more and more death in those who continually reject the gospel. This is referred to as “a savor of life and a savor of death.” God finds both a sweet savor because one exemplifies His grace while the other exemplifies His justice. But the problem is in the biblical nomenclature of the presentation: it is presented as a promise, and good news, when it may or may not be a promise to any given person or, in fact, horrible news to some. And consider, when was the last time a Calvinist presented the gospel this way:

“If you were preselected you will believe the gospel, so I am not asking for a decision to follow Christ because you are unable to be persuaded to make a decision because of your total depravity. We will just have to wait and see what God does.”

This flies in the face of how Paul presented the gospel to Agrippa in Acts 26 as one example among many. Also…

Acts 2:37 – Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Who then, are “the called”? The called are everyone. Acts 2:37 ff. clarifies that. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32). Actually, “all” is the word “pas” which includes all grammatical forms of declension and means “the whole.” Furthermore, “people” or “men” does not appear after pas in the manuscripts as a way to state everyone and everything…period!

The gospel is a conditional promise to everyone; another example of a conditional promise is Ephesians 6:2-3,

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3“that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

The gospel is a promise to everyone who is persuaded by a gospel presentation predicated on reason. Throughout the Bible, we see numerous examples of 2Corinthians 5:11,

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…

It is also interesting to note that “persuasion” or “persuade” (peitho) is used interchangeably for “obey,” “trust,” and “believe/believed.” Man is primarily called on to be persuaded by the good news. This seems very strange if man has no ability to be persuaded. And why bother with persuading people if their fate is already determined? Why use “many words” to persuade as Peter did at Pentecost?

So, what is going on with Bible verses that seem to indicate predestination? Unless God is a god of confusion, and He says He isn’t, something else must be going on. Calvinists demand that we reconcile those verses and effectively ignore a whole massive body of problematic questions. They claim to appeal to reason regarding those verses in a standalone context. However, we must remember the following: none of those verses state specifically that the salvation of every individual is predetermined. That can be surmised through eisegesis, but the jury is still out concerning what exactly election is; we must remember that many things in the Bible are elected where salvation is not needed. It is most likely that professing Christendom has very little understanding of what biblical election is.

Moreover, when paradox, mystery, and unreconcilable “tension” is acceptable hermeneutics, what can be taught about limited atonement is not only unlimited, but whatever Protestants want to teach about any particular “truth.” They interpret certain verses in a certain way, and any verses that disagree constitute a “paradox.” And it is a paradox because they say it’s a paradox because they are God’s anointed because they say they are God’s anointed and have persuaded you that such is true about them.

Sorry, I’m not persuaded.


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