The Effects of Unlimited Atonement


There is a form of Christianity that ultimately bases all of its hopes of salvation on the flesh. It contains the idea that demands a man’s “free-will” be the deciding factor in salvation. It is the idea that Jesus did only “His part” regarding one’s salvation and now seeks men who will do “Their part” to make it happen. It reduces Christ to what I call the “Omnipotent impotent.” By the power of our will, like a vampire completely immobilized behind a 1/16th inch piece of glass, Christ is made powerless without invitation and becomes a mere knocker at hearts, a seeker of decisions, and a wooer of sinners. Instead of being a shepherd to His sheep He’s more like a herder of kittens. This God, though still triune, cannot overtake the Sauls, Acts 9:5-6. He is not a commander of hosts who comes with a drawn sword against His enemies at any time, Joshua 5:13; Revelation 19:21. He cannot open the hearts of the Lydias, Acts 16:14. He does not end lives early thus removing the “chance” of salvation, Acts 12:23. Because He is not the director and Lord of the future He cannot decree the outcome of any man’s decisions or life with any certainty, Matthew 26:34, John 21:18-19, Luke 1:17. He dare not pray only for those that the Father had given Him and speak of them as those who could not come to Him unless they’d first been drawn, John 17:1-9; 6:37-40. This God can’t be the same one in tears at gravesides yet condemning Pharisees to certain destruction, John 11:35; Matthew 23:33. He never calls men demons because men might just change their minds about being such, John 6:70. He never rejoices at the hiddenness of anything from anyone for any reason by any means because He never hides anything because He’s wooing everyone, Luke 10:21. The God of the Bible can and does do all of these things.

      A.W. Pink says it well: “There is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God, and no God at all. A "god" whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nought but contempt.” The Attributes of God.

      The doctrine of unlimited atonement effectively strips the precision of a perfect earthly plan away from the God who does whatever He pleases (Psalm 135:6) and substitutes in its place a god who, while He may be very well meaning, is ultimately careless with creation. It makes grace completely merited because you must produce faith to get it. While such ideas may seem easily entreated in several passages, the careful student of Scripture cannot find it consistently in the words and works of Christ and His hand-picked servants, John 15:16.

     Just as the high priest of the OT made atonement for sin over a specific people so it was with Christ the Great High Priest for many Jews and many Gentiles throughout all time on the cross. In Isaiah 53:12 God foretold what He later said of His ministry in Matthew 20:28— that while He did it for the many (Revelation 5:8-10) He did not do it for all. God sends some men delusion to damn them; He thus certainly, in some way we must affirm, does not want all men saved, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. God wept over Israel’s unwillingness. Yes. Many wrongly divide this in. Don’t forget that God wept of these that He loved, this one nation. He wept over them and them alone. We’re not talking of a weeping over Russia here. Israel did not choose Him. He chose them alone, and not any other people group, to weep over. He wept…over His select people. 

     The idea that Jesus has died a saving death for everyone, that He only did His part, is wrong. It removes from one’s theological periphery the implications of God’s omniscience. If He’s omniscient then did He not know exactly who He came to earth to die for? Of course He did. If He didn’t then He was not omniscient. He’s not, “Waiting to see who the whosoevers are.” Acts 13:48 shows us that all whosoevers were never ever unknown to God, but only to men. They are unknown to us men but foreordained and thus fore loved by God, Romans 8:29-30. The idea that Jesus died only to make salvation “possible” for all is wrong. While it may find accord with some interpretations of certain passages of Scripture, it does not find agreement with the whole. Jesus died to purchase from death the very number of souls the world was made for the purposes of redeeming. He did not die for those He Himself rejected. He did not die for Esau because He hated Esau, Romans 9:13.


Come! Would you come? Come and welcome to Jesus Christ all you who labor and heavy laden. He will give you rest! Matthew 11:28.


            I'll leave you with what J.I. Packer once said regarding those who would teach that Jesus died a saving death for everyone, who teach unlimited atonement:


“…We have effectively denied God's sovereignty, and undermined the basic conviction of true religion – that man is always in God's hands. In truth, we have lost a great deal. And it is, perhaps, no wonder that our preaching begets so little reverence and humility, and our professed converts are so self-confident and so deficient in self-knowledge and in the good works which Scripture regards as the fruit of true repentance.” Introduction to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.


     Further invited study:

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