Thursday, January 31, 2008

Where We Have Been/What’s Upcoming

Having finished the review of Owen’s objections to unlimited atonement I wanted to briefly review where we have been and go over, God willing, where we are going.

Where We Have Been.

We started with a Review of Owen’s understanding of the atonement. This shows Owen’s primary misunderstanding in Books 1 & 2 of the Death of Death in the Death of Christ, relating to the differences between Christ’s death and His intercession.

Then we moved to the top 10 reasons to believe Christ died for all. Owen’s objections to these reasons, found in Book 4, were discussed as well. Included within the top 10 was a detailed analysis of every New Testament usage of the word world, to discover the right sense in which Christ died for the world.

Recently, we just finished reviewing Owen’s arguments against unlimited atonement. This step-by-step review of Owen’s objections to unlimited atonement covers Book 3.

What’s Upcoming

I plan on taking a break from the topic for little bit, while I focus on my upcoming debate with Turretinfan on Romans 9-11. Lord willing, after I have had a chance to re-write my analysis of those chapters, I will return to the atonement.

In reviewing Owen’s understanding of the atonement, I pointed out Owen’s primary problem, namely intercession. Although we went over what was wrong with Owen’s view, we didn’t go over the correct view of the atonement. Actually, there’s a great deal in Owen’s books 1 & 2 that I agree with. Most of the effectiveness and fruits of Christ’s death that Owen’s sees related to Christ’s death, I see as related to the application of Christ’s blood to the believer. But we need to cover how this works, so I plan on covering a few atonement theories. In the process, I plan on making a few comments on Packer’s introduction to Owen’s the Death of Death in the Death of Christ. As I said, I plan on talking a break from the atonement while I prepare for my Romans 9-11 debate, but Lord willing, I will be able to post a brief teaser on atonement theories tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Love your wives: Owen’s Argument 16i (final): Various Passages of Scripture

Owen’s Argument 16i (final): Various Passages of Scripture - Love your wives


Eph. v. 25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;”

Owen’s Explanation

Just as a husband shouldn’t love other woman, so Christ doesn’t love the non-elect.


The passage doesn’t say non-elect, it says the Church. Does Christ not love the elect before they become a part of the Church? But to demonstrate the Christ loved unbelievers here’s a passage:

Mark 10:21Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

While it’s true husbands have a special love for their wives, they are to love all believers (including females). Fathers love their daughters. Sons love their mothers…

The point is there are different kinds of love. And yes, Christ does have a special love for the Church. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love others in a way that He would die for them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I pray not for the world: Owen’s Argument 16h: Various Passages of Scripture

Owen’s Argument 16h: Various Passages of Scripture - I pray not for the world


John xvii. 9, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.”

Owen’s Explanation

None given.


It’s true that Christ intercedes only for the elect. He died for all and intercedes for some.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Made Righteousness: Owen’s Argument 16g: Various Passages of Scripture

Owen’s Argument 16g: Various Passages of Scripture - Made Righteousness


2 Cor. v. 21, “He hath made him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Owen’s Explanation

Everyone for whom Christ was made to be sin, or a sin offering, is made righteousness.


Owen correctly notes that the passage could be saying Christ was made a sin offering. As far as everyone for whom Christ was offered becoming righteousness, the verb genometha (might be made) is in the subjunctive mood, not indicative. So their becoming righteous isn’t certain, but rather uncertain. This passage just indicates the intent of the offering, not the effect.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Redemption through His Blood: Owen’s Argument 16f: Various Passages of Scripture

Owen’s Argument 16f: Various Passages of Scripture - Redemption through His Blood

The argument based on redemption has already been dealt with here.

Intercession: Owen’s Argument 16e: Various Passages of Scripture

Owen’s Argument 16e: Various Passages of Scripture - Intercession


Romans 8:32-34 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; 34who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Owen’s Explanation

Owen gives three arguments based on this text. First, God’s greatest act of love is sending His Son to die. So, it’s a small matter to dispense salvation and He would freely give it to those Christ died for. Second, the passage says Christ died for the elect. Third, Christ intercedes for those He died for.


The passage is talking about the elect so it’s no surprise that God is freely giving all things, justifying and Christ is interceding. But since it’s talking about the elect, we must be careful not to make conclusions about the non-elect.

As for Owen’s first argument, God’s lovingly giving His Son is the basis of the Gospel’s offer of salvation to the world. (John 3:16) It’s important to see God’s love and Christ’s death as establishing a covenant. If one does, they will see that non dispensing salvation isn’t unloving or because Christ didn’t died for someone. Rather, God is just acting in accordance with His covenant.

God has promised to save whosoever believes. Thus, it’s fair to conclude that God’s love and Christ’s death is for everyone, whether or not they believe. Often people misinterpret John 3:16 as God’s foreknowing who will believe. Thus the phase “whosoever believes in Him will not perish” is understood as a list of some people that excludes others. This is not what the passage is saying.

It’s true that some of the “whosoevers” in the world will believe and some won’t. Those that will believe will not perish. Those that won’t will perish. But again that’s not what the passage is saying. Rather it’s giving the formula whosoever believes will not perish. Reading foreknowledge into the passage is a bit fancier than the text allows.

Owen’s second argument is resolved in that the elect are included within the whole world.

As for the third argument, the passage doesn’t say that Christ intercedes for all He died for. It’s true that in this case He both died and intercedes for the same people. But again, the passage is talking about the elect, so of course He would. Christ’s death provides the basis for interceding, but that doesn’t mean Christ always intercedes for those He died for. He died for all, but only intercedes for believers.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Sheep: Owen’s Argument 16d: Various Passages of Scripture

Owen’s Argument 16d: Various Passages of Scripture - The Sheep

This argument has already been addressed here.

Hiding of the Gospel: Owen’s Argument 16c: Various Passages of Scripture

Owen’s Argument 16c: Various Passages of Scripture - Hiding of the Gospel


Matt. xi. 25, 26, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight

Owen’s Explanation

God reveals the Gospel to some people outwardly and to some people inwardly. Likewise, God hides the Gospel to some people outwardly and from some people inwardly. Surly Christ didn’t die for those God hides the message of salvation from.


God’s revelation generally follows the principle that “unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

Thus, those that refuse God’s first motions of enabling grace are not granted greater grace. We see this principle at work in the verses immediately following the one Owen quotes.

Mathew 11:27All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

God has given His laws to all men. Some labor under it. Through the Spirit, they come to fear God’s just punishment. (Romans 8:15) Then Christ calls them to salvation. But those who don’t care about God’s law are not ready to hear the Gospel. So God doesn’t give them the “greater revelation” of the Spirit’s inward call to salvation. Even those that receive the inward call may reject. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

This step-by-step process of revelation, isn’t out of lack of love or unwillingness to save. It’s just God’s plan of dispensing salvation.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Never Knew You: Owen’s Argument 16b: Various Passages of Scripture

Owen’s Argument 16b: Various Passages of Scripture - Never Knew You


Matt. vii. 23, “I will profess unto them, I never knew you
John 10:14-15 I am the good shepherd; and I know mine own, and mine own know me, even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep

Owen’s Explanation

Christ knows the elect and doesn’t know the reprobate. Couldn’t the reprobate answer, don’t you remember us? You died for us.


Of course, God the Son is omniscient, but that’s not what these passages are talking about. “Know” is used in a special, relational sense in these passages. It’s not general knowledge, but intimate knowledge. It’s true that Christ has a relational knowledge with believers alone. They are united with in faith. This relational knowledge brings fellowship, intimacy and the blessings Christ procured by His death.

1John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

This knowledge pertains to the application of Christ’s blood to the believer, not Christ’s shedding of blood on the cross. While it’s true believers alone have this special relationship with Christ, this does not mean God didn’t love others, nor does it mean that Christ didn’t die for others. It just means they won’t receive the blessings Christ provided them.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Seed of the Serpent: Owen’s Argument 16a: Various Passages of Scripture

Owen’s Argument 16a: Various Passages of Scripture - Seed of the Serpent


Genesis 3:15And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Owen’s Explanation

The woman’s seed is Christ and all the elect and serpent’s seed are the reprobate. God promised enmity between Christ and the reprobate, so Christ (the woman’s seed) didn’t die for the reprobate (the serpents seed), because He is at enmity with them.


My main concern here is: is this passage specific enough for Owen’s point? I do think that Christ is the seed of the woman and those who will not believe are the serpent’s seed. The crushing underfoot is not in reference to the reprobate, but Satan directly as is evident by the “thy” and “thou”, which refer to the serpent. This understanding is confirmed by Paul’s understanding as well in Romans 16:20, where he says:

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.

Again, the reference is to Satan directly, not the reprobate (or Satan’s seed).

The reference to Christ’s death is the bruising of the serpents head. This also means the triumph of the Church through Christ. But the point is that the reference to the death of Christ is directly in opposition to Satan, not the reprobate. Again, Christ’s death is in opposition to Satan, not the reprobate.

Another point of disagreement I have with Owen here is unbelievers vs. reprobate. An unbeliever doesn’t believe right now, the reprobate will never believe. Owen of course means those God hasn’t unconditionally chosen for salvation, but that’s beside the point. The point is that Satan’s seed includes everyone, but some leave that group and are adopted into God’s family. This is what Ephesians 2 & Acts 16 indicate.

Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

So Owen miss-defines the serpents seed. Christ is at enmity with all unbelievers, not just the reprobate. Now obviously that doesn’t mean Christ didn’t die for the elect before they come to faith, but died for them afterwards. In fact, the enmity isn’t really a reference to Christ’s death. Rather, the enmity is between the church and the world.

So in summary, 1) the passage is just not specific enough to suite Owen’s purpose, 2) the reference to Christ’s death applies directly to Satan, not his seed and 3) Owen miss-defines Satan’s seed as the reprobate, rather than any unbeliever.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Christ died “for” us: Owen’s 15th Argument against Unlimited Atonement

Owen’s Argument 15: Christ died “for” us

P1: The biblical expression “Christ died for us” means Christ’s death substituted for the death others should have died
P2: Both Christ and a person cannot die for the same sins
P3: Some die for their sins
C1: Therefore, Christ didn’t die for all

Scriptures Cited by Owen

Heb. ii. 9, “That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man,”
Romans 5:7-8: For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: for peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die. 8But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

What does Christ died for our sins mean?

The expression “Christ died for us” is equivocal. “For” can either mean on behalf of or it can mean in place of. When an athlete says that I ran this race for my mom, he doesn’t mean his mom was going to run it. Rather, he was thinking of his mom and intended his performance to make her proud. But on the other hand, if an athlete goes into a basketball game for another payer, he is a substitute. So “for” can either relate to intention or substitution. P1 assumes the expression Christ died for us always means substitution, not intention.

The expression “Christ died for us” sometimes means substitution, as is the case in Romans 5:8. However, it also sometimes means intention. Perhaps the clearest way to demonstrate this is by a passage that doesn’t say “Christ died for us”. Rather, 1 Corinthians 15:3 says Christ died for our sin. Christ died with the intention of fixing our sin problem. He didn’t die in the place of the death our sins had to die. We, not our sins, have to die. This demonstrates the point that sometimes Christ dying for something doesn’t mean substitution, but rather means intention.

But it does sometimes mean substitution. So P1 is true in some cases. So let’s talk about substitution.


P1 is false. Christ’s death can be, and was intended to be, a substitute for everyone. But it’s not actually as substitute for everyone. So passages which are talking about substitution, which say Christ died for everyone, mean Christ death can be and was intended to be a substitute for everyone.

A bit more on Substitution

When talking about substitution, the difference between a debt and crime makes a big difference.

If I owed someone 100 bucks and someone else paid the 100 for me, the one who was owed the 100 buck doesn't have any right to demand 100 from me. If substitution is understood in this sense, God no longer forgives sin. It's justice without mercy. But substitution doesn't work that way. It's more like a criminal killing someone. Let's say I killed someone and in court, just before sentencing, my brother yelled out, don't kill him, kill me instead. Does the judge have to accept it? Nope. I am the murderer. The judge has every right to punish me not him.

Christ isn't the soul that sins. The Father forgives sins. With these two facts squarely in view, we understand that the Father mercifully accepts Christ's work as a penal substitute. He doesn't have do, but He does anyway. It's not like the debt example above.

So generally, we say that Christ died for all, meaning He intended to be and can be a substitute for all. However, the Father doesn’t mercifully accept His death as a substitute for all. The Father does however, accept Christ’s death as a substitute if Christ asks Him to. But Christ intercedes for believers alone.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Christ’s Merit: Owen’s 14th Argument against Unlimited Atonement

Owen’s Argument 14: Christ’s Merit

P1: Christ’s death merited release from the sin debt for those He died for
P2: Not all are released from their sin debt
C1: Therefore, Christ didn’t die for all

Scriptures Cited by Owen

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Explanation of Christ’s Merit

Christ’s merit isn’t a biblical term, nor is it one typically used by evangelicals. So it might be helpful to go over what Owen means here. Merited basically means paid for or the value given in exhange for something. Owen uses it as a direct corollary to redemption. Merit is what Christ uses to pay for those whom He redeems.


P1 is false. The value of Christ’s death is infinite. So Christ’s death can redeem all, but His death isn’t used “transitionally” to redeem all. Owen only sees the transactional aspect and doesn’t see the value that can be used to redeem all.

Brief Digression on Sufficiency

We covered sufficiency in the 7th Argument as to why Christ died for all.

This is worth repeating here, because most Calvinist’s would agree with the refutation above. I wonder if today’s Calvinists would posit the argument Owen does here. In can case, Calvinists see the value of Christ’s death as infinite and would not think Christ had to bleed more to save more people. What they don’t think is that Christ’s sacrifice (which was of infinite value) was offered for all. It could have been offered for more because of it’s infinite value, but it wasn’t. Thus, for them, the sufficiency of Christ death means Christ could have saved everyone.

This is not normally how people talk about sufficiency. What Arminians mean by Christ’s death being sufficient for all is that what Christ actually did on the cross can save the whole world. The result of the Calvinist explanation above is that Christ cannot save the reprobate. Normally, people would say Christ’s inability to save means what He did was insufficient.

I could have taken French in college, but instead I took Spanish. Today, I can’t speak French. I shouldn’t go around saying I can speak French, based only on the fact that in the past I could have studied French. Normally people don’t say that. Likewise, Calvinist’s shouldn’t say that Christ can save the whole world. Contrary to Mathew 22, the dinner hasn’t been prepared, all things are not ready, contrary to Isaiah 59:1 the Lord’s hand has been shortened, that it cannot save and contrary to Romans 10:9 if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you still might not be saved.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Satisfaction: Owen’s 13th Argument against Unlimited Atonement

Owen's Argument #13: Satisfaction

P1: Christ death satisfied the debt for all those He died for
P2: God cannot justly require satisfaction of one debt from two parties (i.e. us and Christ)
C1: Therefore, God cannot require satisfaction of the sine debt for anyone Christ died for
P3: God requires satisfaction of the sin debt of some people in Hell
C2: therefore, Christ did not died for everyone

Scripture Cited by Owen

he oweth the ten thousand talents, Matt. xviii. 24
“Forgive us our debts,” Matt. vi. 12.
“In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,” Gen. ii. 17
“The wages of sin is death,” Rom. vi. 23.
“Cursed is every one,” etc., Gal. iii. 10;
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death Rom. i. 32
“God set him forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.” Rom. iii. 25
“his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” 1 Pet. ii. 24;
“By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities,” Isa. liii. 11


P1 is false. Christ death can satisfy the sin debt of everyone, but it will only satisfy the sin debt of believers.

Christ is not the soul that sinned, but the law requires the death of the soul that sinned. Therefore, satisfaction of the sin debt requires two things: Christ’s death and the Father’s being merciful to us by accepting Christ’s death on our behalf. Christ died for all, but His death isn’t accepted by the Father on everyone’s behalf. Why not? Because Christ never asks the Father to. He only intercedes for believers.

Some “Wow” statements by Owen in this Section

Owen engages Groutus’s arguments in this section. In doing so he makes an admissions which I wish adherents to limited atonement were more aware of. If they knew that Owen said this, and indeed that limited atonement requires this for consistency, I think they would drop limited atonement. Owen said that those Christ died for are delivered from the curse and have every right to the fruits of Christ’s death before the hear the Gospel and become aware of what Christ has done.

I find this amazing. It’s as if the elect are born without a sin debt and sin without incurring one. The elect never come to a point in their lives where they are forgiven, because they never need forgiveness. They can justly go to God and demand entrance into heaven. They posses this right without ever having repented or coming to faith. Indeed they have nothing to be forgiven of when they repent and nothing to be justified from when they come to faith. WOW.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Reconciliation: Owen’s 12th Argument against Unlimted Atonement

Owen’s Argument 12: Reconciliation

P1: Those who are reconciled are at peace with God and no longer under
P2: Christ, by His death, reconciled all for whom He died
P3: Some remain under wrath
C1: Therefore, Christ didn’t die for all

Scriptures Cited by Owen

“when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” Rom. v. 10.
“enemies he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death,” Col. i. 21, 22
2 Corinthians 5:18-19


P2 is false. Paul specifically pleads for those for whom Christ died to be reconciled to God. A key text on reconciliation is 2 Corinthians 5:18-6:2:

18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
1We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
2(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

Five Uses of Reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5

The word reconciliation is used five times in this passages (more than any other passage).
The first usage speaks of reconciliation in the past tense. Paul & Timothy (i.e. “us” ) had been reconciled. The second usage was in the phrase “ministry of reconciliation“. Here, reconcile is in a noun form. This is of course talking about Paul and Timothy’s mission to spread the Gospel, so that others could, like them, become reconciled to God. This implies that others who were not yet reconciled, could become reconciled. The third reference was that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself“. Here reconciling is a present participle. This is the controversial usage, so we will come back to it. For now, we will just note that it’s not spoken of as a completed action. The fourth usage, “the word of reconciliation“, is similar to the second usage, and carries the same implication. Namely, through the Gospel, some that are not now reconciled, will become reconciled. The fifth and final usage, “be ye reconciled to God” is an imperative. Paul is commanding His audience to be reconciled. This of course entails that they were not yet reconciled, but should be.

An Additional Argument by Owen on 2 Corinthians 5

Owen makes an argument supporting P2 regarding verse 19, claiming that reconciliation consists of non-imputation of sins. Since non-imputation of sins is equivalent to justification, all those spoken of in verse 19 are justified. Therefore, “world” cannot mean everyone, but rather means the elect. Let’s keep this argument in view as we proceed.

The Ways of Explaining 2 Corinthians 5 from a Unlimited Atonement Perspective

The third usage of reconciliation (i.e. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself) has been explained in three different ways by those holding to unlimited atonement. The first view is that God is reconciled to us, be we are not yet reconciled to God. The second view is that we are partially reconciled. The third view is that it was God’s intention to reconcile us.
The first view, in my opinion, has a problem. The passage talks about us being reconciled to God, not God to us.

The second view of partial reconciliation is typically explained in one of three ways. Some say God “bought us time” to repent. Others say God forgives original sin only. Still others say God forgives all sins, but unbelief. I won’t quickly dismiss any of these views, but I am not entirely convinced by them.

I think what the passage is saying is that God intended reconciliation. God intended reconciliation for the world and through Christ made reconciliation possible for all. But He didn’t reconcile all at 33 AD. This view fits best with the other usages which indicate reconciliation is yet future for some people. The non-imputation of sins in verse 19 is to be understood of those who are actually reconciled: those who obey the apostles command to be reconciled to God and who do not receive the grace of God in vain. The “their” in the clause “not imputing their trespasses unto them” could be a reference back to “world”, but doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t match “world” in gender and number as pronouns typically do. This is likely why the NET Bible translates the clause “people’s trespasses against them”. It leaves enough room for an understanding of non-imputation of sin just for those who are reconciled.

So the "God intended reconciliation" option works best. It fits the context best in three ways: 1) the phrase "not receiving the grace of God in vain" implies that some whom God is reconciling, don't end up reconciled and 2) the command to be reconciled implies that reconciliation is not yet completed and finally 3) the usage of "world" shows all people to be undergoing reconciliation.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Redemption: Owen’s 11th Argument against Unlimited Atonement

Owen’s Argument 11: Redemption

P1: Christ’s death redeemed those He died for
P2: Those who are redeemed by Christ are freed from sin
P3: Not all are feed from sin
C1: Therefore, Christ didn’t die for all

Scriptures Cited by Owen

“justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Rom. iii. 24;
“in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins,” Eph. i. 7
13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: - Galatians 3:13


This is similar to the justice argument (#6). It also leads to a denial of justification by faith. Romans 1:7 relates redemption to forgiveness, so if Christ’s death at 33 redeemed us, we were forgiven at 33 AD and not when we come to faith.

I disagree with P1. Christ can redeem all, but He does not. Christ wants to redeem all, and His offering is able to be the basis of redemption for all, but He doesn’t actually redeem all. Justification, the declaration that we are not guilty, is through the redemption in Christ. Only those that come to faith are redeemed and declared righteous.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Israel as a Symbol: Owen’s 10th Argument against Unlimited Atonement

Owen’s Argument 10: Israel as a Symbol

P1: Israel, God’s chosen people symbolizes the Church
P2: Israel was delivered from the bondage of Egypt
C1: Therefore, symbolically, the Church alone was delivered from bondage out of the world

Scriptures Cited by Owen

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.


The argument is true, yet it doesn‘t teach that Christ didn‘t die for the whole world. Christ died for all. He intercedes for believers and they are delivered from bondage.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Christ Purchased Faith: Owen’s 9th Argument against Unlimited Atonement

Owen’s Argument 9: Christ Purchased Faith

P1: Christ purchased faith for whom He died for
P2: not all have faith
C1: Therefore, Christ died not for all

Scriptures Cited by Owen

“All men have not faith,” 2 Thess. iii. 2

Phil. i. 29, “It is given unto us, on the behalf of Christ, for Christ’s sake, to believe on him.”

“author and finisher of our faith,” Heb. xii. 2


Faith is no doubt a gift (see argument 3). But I am not sure in what sense Christ purchased faith. Owen doesn’t make that clear. The scriptural language is more commonly that Christ purchased us. In that the Son draws all men to himself (John 12:32) He is giving all men faith. I suppose in some sense, if He has it to give, He purchased it. But it’s not purchased in the same sense we were purchased out of slavery from sin. But this sense would been needed for P1 to stand.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cleansing: Owen’s 8th Argument against Unlimited Atonement

Owen’s Argument 8: Cleansing

P1: Christ’s blood cleanses those for whom He died for
P2: Christ’s blood does not cleanse all
C1: Therefore, Christ died not for all

This argument is roughly the same as argument 7, and it misses the point of the difference between the shedding of Christ’s blood and the application of His blood to the sinner. In Exodus, the Israelites had to slay the lamb and apply the blood to the door for the death angle to pass by.

This argument corresponds to the difference between the offering and intercession in argument 7 and as such does not need a separate refutation.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mediation: Owen’s 7th Argument against Unlimited Atonement

Owen’s Argument 7: Mediation

P1: Christ mediates for those whom He died for
P2: Christ does not mediate for all
C1: Therefore, Christ died not for all

Scriptures Cited by Owen

Hebrews 9.


P1 is false. Christ is the Mediator of all for whom He died, in that it’s is office to Mediate and He can mediate for all, but not that He actually does mediate for all. Mediation the verb or action, is for believers alone. But Christ is Mediator (the noun and title) for all mankind as 2 Tim 2:5 states.

Owen confuses offering with intercession. The offering is not intercession (or mediation), but rather, Christ mediates based on the offering. This can be seen in Hebrews 7:

24But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.
25Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
26For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
27Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
28For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

The offering is described as once and in the past tense. Intercession is described as ongoing and in the present. This shows that 1) offering and intercession are different and 2) intercession is based on offering. The offering can be the basis of intercession or mediation for the whole world. Intercession is for believers alone.

This difference between offering and mediation can be seen in Hebrews 9 (the text Owen cites) as well.

14How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The offering is in the past, the purging is in the future. And again:
24For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Offered is past tense, salvation is in the future, faith being interposed.

More on this topic in my review of Owen’s introduction and distinction between Christ’s offering and intercession:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The “Justice Pickle”: Owen’s 6th Argument against Unlimited Atonement

Owen’s Argument 6: The “Justice Pickle”

I owe the title “Justice Pickle” to Theojunkie. This argument is probably Owen’s most popular.

P1: If Christ was punished in someone’s place, they don’t have to be punished
P2: Some will be punished for their sins
C1: Therefore, Christ wasn’t punished for their sins
P3: Christ’s death was a penal substitution for those for whom He died
C2: Therefore, Christ didn’t die for all

Scriptures Cited by Owen

Rom. v. 6–8, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Gal. iii. 13, “He was made a curse for us.”

2 Cor. v. 21, “He hath made him to be sin for us.”

Isaiah 53:5-6 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.


P3 is false. Christ’s death can be a penal substitute for all, because Christ died on behalf of all and His death will be a penal substitute for those who believe. Thus, Christ’s death is sufficient for all, but efficient for the elect.

If P3 is true, we cannot be justified by faith. It’s a matter of both timing and conditionality. If P3 is true, and unlimited atonement is true all were saved at 33 AD, weather they believe or not. If P3 is true, and limited atonement is true, the elect are saved at 33 AD weather they believe or not, and the no-elect are lost weather they believe or not. Thus justification by faith goes poof.

This is why Arminians see Christ’s work in two parts. He died for (on behalf of) all, but He intercedes for believers. His intercession is His requesting the Father to accept His death as a penal substitute. His death can be a substitute for all, but will be a substitute for only believers. It’s this second aspect that the passages above are talking about.

More on this topic in my review of Owen’s introduction and distinction between Christ’s offering and intercession:

The Bible doesn’t say Christ died for all men: Owen’s 5th Argument against Universal Atonement

Owen’s Argument 5: The Bible doesn’t say Christ died for all men

P1: The bible doesn’t say Christ died for all men
P2: The bible is our only source of truth on who Christ died for
C1: Therefore, Christ died not for all men

Scriptures Cited by Owen



P1 is interesting. There are several passage that say Christ died for all, implying all men. In two case the implication is so strong that the KJV translates them all men & every man.

John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
Hebrews 2:9 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.

But the word “men” is not in the Greek. Other passages with a similar implication are 1 Tim 2:6 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. So while the scriptures might not say P1 in the lingo of P1, that’s what it means.

There is one passage that says all men in the Greek.

Romans 5:18 says:
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.

So P1, which was built on a technicality, is technically false. But while the passages don’t say “all men” but mean it, Romans 5:18 may well have an implied qualification. I don’t think it does. I think it’s saying justification is available for everyone. But a strict reading implies too much.

In any case, Owen’s argument is interesting but in the end doesn’t hold up. Owen is relying on there being only one way to communicate Christ’s death for everyone. Saying Christ died for all (in the right context), or the world, or the whole world works just fine. For more, see reason 2 of the top ten reasons Christ died for all, where I go over 2 Tim 2:6 in detail.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Christ died for His Sheep: Owen’s 4th Argument against Unlimited Atonement

Owen’s Argument 4: Christ died for His Sheep

P1: Scriptures divides men into two categories: sheep and goats
P2: Scriptures teach Christ died for the sheep
P3: Statements saying Christ died for one of the groups loose there meaning if He died for the other group
C1: Therefore, Christ died not for the goats

Scriptures Cited by Owen

A bunch, which divided men into to categories those that will be saved and those that will be lost. He also quotes a few passages, such as John 10:11 & 15, which say Christ died for His sheep.

P3 is false. My saying I enjoy action moves does not imply that I don’t enjoy comedies. Paul’s statement that Christ died for him (Galatians 2:20) doesn’t loose it’s meaning if Christ died for other people as well.

Reason 3 of the top ten reasons why Christ died for all demonstrates that Christ died for those that ultimately perish:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Faith is a Gift: Owen’s Argument 3 against Unlimited Atonement

Owen’s Argument 3: Faith is a Gift

P1: Salvation is conditional on faith
P2: Christ, through His death provides the condition of faith
P3: Man cannot believe on his own
P4: Not all believe
C1: Therefore, Christ died not for all

Scriptures Cited by Owen



The premises are true but the conclusion doesn’t follow. Man can’t believe on his own, but with God’s help he is enabled to believe. That doesn’t mean man has to believe. Gifts, like God’s gift of faith, can either be accepted or rejected.

He who must not be named

Not this guy







This guy



Why do so many evangelicals who hold that Christ died for all, God doesn't unconditionally predetermine peoples eternal destinies and that God's grace is resistible not call themselves Arminians? I have come across many people who's reaction to Calvinism is to shudder and ask if that's true what's the point of it all, yet they don't want to be called Arminians. Baptists Church's contain one of the largest group of Arminians around today, but hardly any of them claim the name.

The Unevangelized: Owen’s Argument 2 against Unlimited Atonement

Owen’s Argument 2: The Unevangelized

P1: If Christ death is for everyone, and saves those that believe, all should receive the invitation to believe
P2: Scripture teaches many die without having heard the Gospel
C1: Therefore, Christ’s death isn’t for everyone

Scriptures Owen uses to Defend His Argument

“for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Rom. x. 17

“In Judah was God known, and his name was great in Israel; in Salem was his tabernacle, and his dwelling-place in Zion,” Ps. lxxvi. 1, 2.

“He showed his word unto Jacob, and his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them,” Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20.

Jer. x. 25, “Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not upon thy name;”

Eph. ii. 12, “Without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”

Acts 16:6-9: 6And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden of the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7and when they were come over against Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia; and the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not; 8and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: There was a man of Macedonia standing, beseeching him, and saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.

“he suffered all nations to walk in their own ways” Acts 14:16


P2 is false. The bible is silent on the issue. It’s one thing to say we don’t know what happens to them, but another thing to say we do: they don’t hear and are condemned. Owen has accepted the burden of proof that scripture teaches that many don’t hear and are condemned. So, if there are reasonable alternative explanations of the texts Owen cites, his argument fails.

Psalms 76:2-3 & Psalms 147: 19-20 and Jeremiah 10:25 deal with the issue of other nations not knowing the Lord.

Romans 1:20-21 also address the subject:

20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

It says they did know God. So in some sense other nations knew God and in some sense they didn’t. It’s true Israel was given special revelation, but the revelation given to the whole world was sufficient to leave them without an excuse. Further, the special revelation given to Israel was intended to provide greater revelation about God to the whole world.

But this passages would only prove Owen’s point if they taught theses people had no knowledge of God whatsoever. While it’s true that for some people, God hasn’t done everything possible to save, but He has done enough to leave them without that excuse. Owen would leave them with the excuse that they didn’t know.

The passage in Ephesians 2 which states they used to be “without God in the world” is said of believers, not those who never heard. So it could be explain either with respect to time (I.E. you used to be without God) or more likely with respect to a saving relationship with God. Again, as Romans 1:20 proves, they knew God.

The Acts 16 quotation in which Paul was directed to go to Macedonia, but not Asia or Bythinia could easily mean God intended Paul to go there another time or for someone else to go there.
The Act’s 14:16 reference likely means, based on their rejection of the light God did give them, He didn’t reveal more to them. This is Paul’s point in Romans 1 and in the preceding verse in Acts 14 where Paul talks about God’s creating all things and in the subsequent verse where Paul says:

“Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness”.

Since there are reasonable alternative explanations to the texts Owen cites, his argument fails.

Different Theories on the Unevangelized

Many people have put foreword theories on those that don’t hear. Some say they have sufficient revelation through nature, others that if they don’t resist the revelation given, God will send them someone to explain more, others say God uses dreams, others (Molinist’s) might say God arranges things such that all who would believe are provided the Gospel, some say people have a “chat with Christ” the moment before they die.

The bottom line is we don’t know. But we have good reason to be hopeful. Christ said:

“many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 8:11)

And John 1:9 says:

That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

Quite encouraging.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The New Covenant: Owen's 1st argument against Unlimited Atonement

Owen’s Argument 1:

P1: The new covenant saves only believers
P2: God only intended the elect to believe
C1: Therefore, God intended the new covenant for the elect

Owen’s fortifies P2 by this argument:

P3: God effectually gives the elect faith
P4: No one else can have faith without God’s effectually giving it
C2: therefore, God only intended the elect to believe.

Scriptures Owen uses to Defend His Argument

Jer. xxxi. 31, 32, “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, though I was an husband to them, saith the Lord;”

Heb. viii. 9–11, “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws in their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.”


P2 is false, because it assumes God doesn't want everyone to believe. For more see reason 5 of the top 10 reasons Christ died for all.

P3 & P4 are also false. They assume God's grace operates irresistably. While it's true that we need God's grace to be able to believe, it's not true that His grace necessitates that we believe. The passage in Hebrews Owen cites demonstrates that man need's God's grace to change them, but it doesn't show that God's grace can't be resisted. Resistance can be seen in the passages provided in reason 5 of the top ten reasons Christ died for all, such as Luke 13:34, and also passages which talk about man's resisting, such as:

Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.

Hebrews6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Psalms 81:13 Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!

Isaiah 5:4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

So Owen's argument fails.

It's true that the new covanant only saves believers, but all people are invited into the Kingdom. God has prepared salvation for those who come, but not all will come.

Matthew 22

1And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,
2The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
3And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
4Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.
5But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:
6And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.
7But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
8Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.
9Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.
10So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
11And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
12And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
13Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The food is prepared and laid out: "all things are ready". People need to come to enjoy it.

What's coming up - still working on the Atonement

I started working on the Atonement by going over John Owen's theory on the atonement, looking at what I thought was the weak link, namely the difference between Christ's death and His intercession. For more, see the tag the death of death in the death of Christ.

Recently, I went through the top 10 reasons why Christ died for everyone. There's a tag on that as well.

What I plan on doing next is in at least two parts. I want to review Owen's arguments against unlimited atonement and I also want to go over theories for explaining unlimited atonement.

Whelp, that's the plan, Lord willing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Thought from John Goodwin on Judas

I was recently reading John Goodwin's thoughts on Mathew 27:3-5.

3When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 4"I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility."
5So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

Judas was seized with remorse, when he saw Christ was condemned. Goodwin points out that Judas probably thought Christ would free Himself after Judas betrayed Him. Judas wouldn't have been surprised by Christ's condemnation, if he though that was going to be the case. Maybe he thought Christ was innocent, and would be proven so, or maybe he thought Christ would use His power to free Himself. In any case, this is a powerful reminder not to sin, thinking there will be a way out down the road.