Monday, January 30, 2012

How Christ Limits the Atonement 2

Today we pick up where we left off yesterday and will consider two more titles by which the objects of redemption are known. We noted previously that they are called the many and secondly, they are called His sheep.

Thirdly, Christ calls the objects of the atonement His people. This argues that they were already Christ's in the divine purpose. At His birth it was said, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).  If Jesus saves His people, then they were already His by divine gift. This puts a bullet in the brain of the Arminian proposal that the atonement would have been equally complete even if no one would have been saved. That is completely incompatible with this text because it clearly says that He was the Savior of His people.

The two common objections to this interpretation are that (a) His people may refer to the Jews; and, (b) that this refers to the application of redemption, not its purchase. Both objections are easily refuted. To the first, we reply that God's people are two-fold, first the Jews as the people He foreknew (Romans 11:2), secondly, the true people of God, who belong to those given to the Son (John 6:37). As far as the second objection goes, both the purchase and the application of the redemption were in God's purpose and intention.


Fourthly, the objects of redemption are called the children of God scattered abroad (John 11:52). This phrase occurs in connection with Caiaphas' unwitting prophecy and is John's inspired commentary on it. John calls the objects of redemption “the children of God scattered abroad,” because they truly were so in God's purpose, though not yet actually ransomed. John intimates that they were fore-appointed children of God, and therefore, in some sense worthy of being called such before Christ's death. In other words, these “children of God scattered abroad” were the objects of the vicarious sacrifice, and the atonement carried with it the certain outcome of their being united to Christ. The special reference of the atonement and its particular extent is put beyond all question by this passage.

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