This will be the final post I plan on doing in this current series on definite atonement. I would like to conclude my thoughts on this subject with a discussion of the practical imports of the doctrine of definite atonement. These are just a few of the things that have resonated in my mind as I have thought over this issue.“It Is Finished”
The most significant implication of the doctrine of definite atonement is the reality of the completed work of Christ. To view Christ’s death as an actual atonement, rather than making atonement available, is to make Christ’s work on the cross completed. Or to use the word’s of the Messiah Himself:
“It Is Finished”
The work of Christ is in the state of completion. With respect to man’s salvation there is nothing left to do that has not been done by the Godhead. The Father has set apart for Himself a people through election (John 6:37-38); the Son has made an atonement for the sins of these people through His earthly ministry (2 Corinthians 5:21); and the Spirit has called (or will call) those people through the second birth (John 3:1-8). The work of Christ is complete and it is not waiting on the approval or cooperation of man to be so.
“Not Me, But God”
The second area that the doctrine of definite atonement resonates within me is evangelism. Ironically it is because of the inferred implications of this doctrine with respect to evangelism that so many reject this doctrine. I would submit that a proper view of definite atonement will make the work of evangelism easier and more effective. Within this theological perspective Christ has completed the work and desires to use you to implement it (He is using you as a “conduit to do it.”). Do you realize how liberating this is for someone sharing their faith with an unbeliever? This means that no matter how much you fumble and stumble over your words God will use the faithful proclamation of His word to change peoples lives (Romans 10:14-17).
The accusation has been made that the doctrine of definite atonement will discourage evangelism. Unfortunately, this accusation has been made because there are people who have ignored their biblical responsibility of evangelism because of a supposed knowledge of this doctrine. This is sin. If we are to understand the doctrine of definite atonement properly, and as it has been historically understood, then we must say that Christ’s work is sufficient to save all, but effective to save only the elect. From a human perspective we cannot know who the elect are. To paraphrase C.H. Spurgeon, if the elect had yellow stripes down their backs I would give up preaching and go about lifting up the back of peoples shirts looking for the elect. The bible teaches that from a human perspective whosoever will believe will be saved (I say from a human perspective because we see elsewhere in Scripture that God has chosen a group of people throughout history to be designated as His people.). Our responsibility is to 1) present the Gospel to everyone we can knowing that whosoever will believe will be saved; 2) be encouraged that no matter who we are talking to Christ’s death is sufficient to save them; 3) and do not be discouraged when we are rejected because ultimately it is the power of God not the eloquence of human speech that saves people (1 Corinthians 1:17-2:1ff).“No Fear of Spiritual Terrorist”
In Jude’s short epistle we find some very interesting material. Jude desired to write a soteriological treatise, however through divinely inspired pragmatism Jude instead appealed to his readers to contend for the faith (vs. 3). In verse 4 we see exactly what the danger was.
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this
condemnation, ungodly people who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality
and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
(I will let you deal with the questions of reprobation brought up in this passage)
The danger was, as John MacArthur has put it, spiritual terrorists. They had crept in and now posed a threat to the church. Conventional logic would be to avoid these terrorists at all costs, but this was not Jude’s advice.
…save others by snatching them out of the fire; to
others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by their flesh.
Jude exhorted his readers to engage the spiritual terrorists! Look at the reason for Jude’s exhortation:
Now to him who is able to keep you from
stumbling and to present you
blameless before the presence of his glory with
great joy; to the only God,
our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, e glory,
majesty, dominion, and
authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Christ is the one who is able! It is “through Jesus our Lord” that we can engage in spiritual battles and fear not because “It Is Finished.”