Sufficiency for all, efficient for some?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by benbooth11, Nov 15, 2017.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    I think that is where L Ron Hubbard stated that humans really came from.
  2. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Which is pretty much as the Op stated it was here.
  3. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I think there is room for middle ground here, and I will make the attempt to find it. I believe that Matthew is correct when it comes to God's intention about the atonement as applied to the elect. The intent to save is completely limited to the elect. Jesus laid down His life for His sheep.

    The WMO does not need to imply that, somehow, it was God's intention to save the non-elect. God knows that the non-elect will never believe it. Therefore God's intention behind the WMO has to be something other than salvific. We do know that the Gospel is to be preached indiscriminately. We also know that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18 and other places). So why is the gospel to be preached to the non-elect?

    The dilemma of the WMO becomes clear when we observe that if God knows the non-elect will never believe, and that it was not God's intention to save them, then how can it be "well-meant?" The key here, I believe, is in defining what "well-meant" means. Can God offer something to someone knowing that the person will reject it, and still have it be well-meant? The answer is yes. The key here is that when the non-elect reject the gospel, they will be to the praise of God's glorious justice, just as when the elect believe, they will be to the praise of God's glorious grace. This is the intent behind the WMO of the gospel to the non-elect.

    Is there a preservative function of the gospel that is also non-salvific? Perhaps. A case can be made. When Jesus commands His followers to be salt and light in the world, we know that the metaphor of salt as preservative is probably in the background there. God's people are surely to show the world what a difference the gospel makes.

    Two other distinctions have an impact on this discussion, I believe. The first one is the difference between God's revealed will and God's decretive will. Which one can be broken or disobeyed? Obviously, only God's revealed will. God commands many things in His revealed will that are disobeyed. Similarly, when God is said to desire the salvation of all men (like in 1 Timothy), this can be said to be God's revealed will (different classes of humans are also in view, rather than a view of the whole human race without exception). God's decretive will cannot possibly have as its intention the salvation of all men, or else all would in fact be saved. For no one can thwart God's decretive will. This distinction is implied in Deuteronomy 29.

    Another distinction that is helpful (and somewhat related to the previous distinction) is that of the difference between how God thinks of the situation and how humans can think of it. It seems to me that how Matthew has been describing the situation is more like how God views the situation, whereas how Tim has been formulating things is more on the human level. I am not saying both are correct. I would say that there could be some degree of talking past each other due to this factor.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Edifying Edifying x 1
    • List
  4. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    No, that's not what I was saying. I was saying that I would interpret 1 John 2:2 ( the less clear Scripture) by using Romans 9 (the clearer Scripture).
  5. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for clarifying. I'm still having trouble understanding how Romans 9 helps you interpret 1 John 2:2, since Romans 9 deals with God's decree, not Christ's death particularly and the offer of the gospel. Consider Rom. 10:21 in light of this conversation.
  6. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Roman 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

    He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

    "Christ is "the propitiation," because by his becoming our substitute and assuming our obligations he expiated our guilt, covered it, by the vicarious punishment which he endured." This is the gospel of 1 John 2:2. Romans 9 clarifies who the "whole world" is. In the OT, God had a chosen people from a specific nation. Now in the NT, (John needed to clarify that it wasn't just the nation of Israel anymore) God has a chosen people from all nations. All nations is the whole world, but he has a specific group of people within all nations. This is what Romans 9 clarifies.
  7. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Ah, I see the connection you're making. You're saying that Rom. 9 explains that some were prepared for destruction, so propitiation cannot be referring to them. Since it cannot refer to them, John's usage of the word cannot refer to everyone. Is this a fair summary of your point?

    Some things to consider.

    1. It says that Christ is the propitiation (appeasing God's wrath), not that He has turned away His wrath from everyone. Christ is the propitiation that is offered for mankind in the gospel. God's wrath is not turned away from anyone (even the elect) until they believe. Again, sufficiency does not equal application. Therefore, it is no contradiction to say that He is the propitiation for all of mankind, yet many are still under the wrath of God.

    2. But in another sense, to receive providential benefits from God is to not be under His wrath in the full sense of the word. For example, we know that the "living God" is "the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe" (1 Tim. 4:10b). Is He the savior of those in hell? I don't think so. Providential blessings are extended to unbelievers only in this life. So even though they are in many ways under God's wrath even now, in another sense, they are being saved (preserved) by God in His present kindness. I've quoted Col. 1:15-20 below verbatim with some comments in brackets:

    "15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. [It's clear that the context defines all things as all created things, including the invisible.] 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist [God upholds all of his creation as our confessions state]. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. [The church is included so that there is no question in our minds concerning His authority.] 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross."

    If "all things" are clearly all created things, what was reconciled to God through Christ's blood? All of creation (including man) is reconciled to God in a sense. This sense has to do only with temporal salvation-- the preservation we may call general providence.

    If God is going to extend mercy, it cannot be at the expense of justice. We all maintain this doctrine in the eternal salvation of the elect, but often neglect it when we consider all mercy extended by God.

    So in the sense of the creation's reconciliation to God in Col. 1, to be reconciled is to have God's wrath appeased. Again, this is not to say that His wrath is appeased in the fullest sense of the word, or that God is propitiated and has no reason to be angry with man at all. I'm only trying to demonstrate a fuller picture of these doctrines in Scripture.

    In my view, 1 John 2:2 is most likely referring primarily to the first point above-- that God is the propitiation offered in the gospel indiscriminately, which flows out of the sufficiency of the atonement. But I certainly would leave room for understanding how God's wrath is appeased concerning all of creation because of the peace brought about by the blood of Christ.
  8. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    All things, then, in this way, would include the Devil and all the demonic fallen angels then, so that has to be explained and reconciled in that line of thought.

    "In a sense" is vague and I don't know what that means.

    Scripture is concrete. Either reconciled, or not.

    (This is just an observation.)
  9. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Luke 8:31-32:

    "And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them."

    Did the demons experience the full wrath of God as they certainly deserved? Did Christ, the firstborn over all creation, deal with them in His justice? The Colossians text mentions principalities. This may be an inconvenience to your system, but again, our systems ought to bow to the Word of God.

    The "sense" is simply this: God shows temporal mercy to all of creation through Christ's death. In this sense, He sets aside the full extent of His wrath.

    See Simon Kistemaker's commentary. If I recall correctly, Berkhof speaks about this as well.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017
  10. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Just so I'm clear, God shows mercy to demons. "God shows temporal mercy to all of creation through Christ's death. In this sense, He sets aside the full extent of His wrath."

    Is it worse or better for those demons in lieu of God's judgment to go into the swine or not?

    How does one deal with that?
  11. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I've been careful to speak of the sense of this mercy. In the sense that Christ permitted demons to enter swine rather than the abyss, yes, He was merciful to them. What do you prefer to call it?

    The demons will enter God's judgment one day. Until then, justice is postponed.
  12. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    brother, none of this is carefully thought out, or careful language. Which is really my contention.
    Is justice postponed better for them or worse for them? And why?
    What is God's intention in the postponement?
  13. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Your arguments are backwards. You are looking at the end result and interpreting what God does in time through the end result. God does all things for His glory. He is glorified in demonstrating His kindness to all of creation. He is glorified in preserving this creation for the sake of the elect.
  14. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Yeeeeaaaaahhbhhhh. Ok. That's what we Christians called "God's decrees."

    And, it was not what I asked. I asked, Is justice postponed better for them or worse for them? And why? What is God's intention in the postponement?

    I honestly can't believe you said that. It's typical mind you, but I still can't believe you back yourself into that position. The hermentueitcal fallout on this is staggering for everything from Ephesians 1-2, to Romans 9 to 1 Peter 1, etc. from election to atonement and everything in between.

    (I'm not going to interact any more with this since, honestly, you really aren't thinking at this point (no disrespect intended. I just don't have the time to untwist where you are at. If you want a faithful historical overview on this, get my larger Two Wills book).
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017
  15. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks but no thanks. It's been an interesting conversation.

  16. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    The point that Matthew is making is salient. The wrath of God is poured out on all flesh because men suppress the knowledge of Him in unrighteousness.

    Furthermore, we're comforted in Romans 8 with the knowledge that all things work together for the good for those who are called according to His purposes. The comfort is given in the context that the creation itself was subjected to futility by the curse of God. In other words, very bad things happen in this life - especially to Christians who are hated by the world. Revelation unfolds a drama of the world in riches and delight as the God's people are seen often trampled underfoot - meanwhile, back in heaven, the glory of God is seen as ultimately spelling doom for culture and power and all the delights of the human heart that set its mind against God.

    The patience of God against sin is never characterized in Scripture as being of benefit to God's enemies. In fact, the Saints in heaven are seen as crying out against the wickedness of men and there is a "filling up of wrath" that is eventually poured out.

    A wise Pastor friend of mine pointed out that, for the Christian, every good and bad thing is ultimately for our good while every good thing in this life is ultimately bad for God's enemies.

    Thus, the issue is whether or not it is really a "mercy" of God extended by the atonement as a real benefit to God's enemies. Is justice delayed of value to the sinner who is storing up wrath for the day of wrath. Tis true that God's justice is delayed. I won't necessarily quibble with the notion that a case can be made that judgment is held back by God and that it is related to the Cross but Peter tells us that this is for the full gathering up of the elect. Any delay for all His enemies does them no ultimate good. It only continues to build up wrath to their unwillingness to acknowledge Him as their God. In fact, it is very clearly revealed to be a worse thing for those who are given more light.

    I would point out as well that we need to divide God's decree (archetypal theology) from mankind's experience and knowlege of Providence and Revelation. Christ has dealt with the problem of man as a sinner. He has provided a way that all men, without excuse, may see in Christ an atonement for men as sinners. We cannot deal with men as reprobate or elect but simply with the power of the Cross and the offer is to all men. We leave election to God. To mix the free offer with God's decree is to assume that men have the mind of God.
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Amen Amen x 1
    • List
  17. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    smarter people than I am have answered you so I won't carry on trying to explain my position. Parts of reformed theology can be hard to come to grips some times. But I would encourage you to be a searcher for the truth and not be satisfied with what you know. I had to do that with the Sabbath. When I first became reformed I thought everyone was wrong about the Sabbath, and I spent months trying to prove them wrong. I had what I thought were good arguments, but in the end, God changed my view.
  18. Pilgrim72

    Pilgrim72 Puritan Board Junior

    I recently read a book by Bunyan that I thought was pretty good. It was on the intercession of Christ.

    But, in light of this thread, I have a question regarding a quote from the book. Was Bunyan wrong to write what he wrote here, and did he have Amyraldian leanings?

    "The duration of Christ's intercession, as it is grounded upon a covenant betwixt God and him, upon an oath also, and upon his life; so it is grounded upon the validity of his merits. This has been promiscuously touched before, but since it is an essential to the lastingness of his intercession, it will be to the purpose to lay it down by itself.

    Intercession then, I mean Christ's intercession, is, that those for whom he died with full intention to save them, might be brought into that inheritance which he hath purchased for them. Now then, his intercession must, as to length and breadth, reach no further than his merits. For he may not pray for those for whom he died not. Indeed if we take in the utmost extent of his death, then we must beware. For his death is sufficient to save the whole world; but his intercessions are kept within a narrower compass. The altar of burnt-offerings was a great deal bigger than the altar of incense, which was a figure of Christ's intercession. But this, I say, his intercession is for those for whom he died, with full intention to save them: wherefore it must be grounded upon the validity of his sufferings. And indeed, his intercession is nothing else that I know of, but a presenting of what he did in the world for us unto God, and pressing the value of it for our salvation. The blood of sprinkling is that which speaketh meritoriously; it is by the value of that, that God measureth out, and giveth unto us grace and life eternal; wherefore Christ's intercessions also must be ordered and governed by merit. "By his own blood he entered into the holy place, having (before by it) obtained eternal redemption for us," for our souls.


    And that you may see it yet the more for your comfort, God did at Christ's resurrection, to show what a price he set upon his blood, bid him ask of him the heathen, and he would give him the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. His blood then has value enough in it to ground intercession upon; yea, there is more worth in it than Christ will plead or improve for men by way of intercession. I do not at all doubt but there is virtue enough in the blood of Christ, would God Almighty so apply it, to save the souls of the whole world. But it is the blood of Christ, his own blood, and he may do what he will with his own. It is also the blood of God, and he also may restrain its merits, or apply it as he sees good. But the coming soul shall find and feel the virtue thereof, even the soul that comes to God by Christ; for he is the man concerned in its worth; and Christ ever liveth to make intercession for him.

    Thanks. I appreciate your thoughts.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2017
  19. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    He gets into much more detail in his book Reprobation Asserted than what you see in this quote:

    "Whether God would indeed and in truth, that the gospel, with the grace thereof, should be tendered to those that yet he hath bound up under Eternal Reprobation?

    To this question I shall answer, First, In the language of our Lord, ‘Go preach the gospel unto every creature’(Mark 16: 15); and again, ‘Look unto me, and be ye saved; all ye ends of the earth’(Isaiah 45: 22). ‘And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely’ (Revelation 22: 17). And the reason is, because Christ died for all, ‘tasted death for every man’ (2 Corinthians 5: 15; Hebrews 2: 9); is ‘the Saviour of the world’(1 John 4: 14), and the propitiation for the sins of the whole world."


    "...for if those that perish in the days of the gospel, shall have, at least, their damnation heightened, because they have neglected and refused to receive the gospel, it must needs be that the gospel was with all faithfulness to be tendered unto them; the which it could not be, unless the death of Christ did extend itself unto them (John 3: 16; Hebrews 2: 3); for the offer of the gospel cannot, with God’s allowance, be offered any further than the death of Jesus Christ doth go; because if that be taken away, there is indeed no gospel, nor grace to be extended."

    From my reading of him (which is not exhaustive), I think he is simply classic sufficient/efficient. Although all Amyraldians and English Hypothetical Universalists make this distinction, they go further with talking about a universal (non-salvific) redemption, conditional decrees, etc.
  20. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

  21. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    And smarter people than I am have affirmed what I'm saying, too. I'm not going to conclude that my confessions have sloppy wording because Dr. McMahon said so.

    I've also had to make drastic changes of thought in the past. I would encourage you to read Col. 1 for yourself and ask if your system interprets the bible or the bible your system. Are you forcing the text?

    Blessings, sister.
  22. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Lane, another aspect of the WMO is that we are not able to discern who is Elect and who is not. I agree that there is a justice factor to consider in the uninhibited preaching of the Gospel, but there is also an effectual call going out to those who will believe. Only the Elect will believe, but the non-Elect will hear the imperative to repent and believe. For them, it will be an aroma of death. For the Elect, it will be their moment in time when they pass from death to life.
  23. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Actually, I have not so limited "intention". When speaking of intention, we must speak of volition, the faculty of using one's will. Will here being the mind choosing.

    Hence, when we speak of the will of God, we should be speaking properly of His volition or at least qualifying our use of the word "will", as in the sense of God's single will, in the preceptive and decretive senses. As I have maintained, and I hope we all agree, God has no unfulfilled desires. This includes soteriological matters as well as all other matters, hence my previous comments denouncing any idea or notion that would impute to God unfulfilled desires. Quite simply, there are no unfulfilled desires in God. What God volitionally wills, cannot not come to happen. With that said, I hope I have disposed of any confusion that may have arisen from my earlier post.

    Now, I will move to the specific matter of the well-meant offer.

    As Rev. Keister has suggested, what God means as being "well meant" may be an intention other than the salvation for all men, given that God certainly knows that is not the case. Per Rev. Keister, it may be that God's intention is well-meant to Himself, His glory, that those who are not redeemed ultimately bring praise to His glorious justice, which will be made manifest at the eschaton. I actually find some merit in this approach...if it can be fleshed out a wee bit more in theology proper terms.

    Having duly noted the rationale, I have a quibble given that such an approach seems to be appealing to the secret will of God and importing "well-meant" therein. It is as if we are to accept "I, God, make this offer to all men as a well-meant intention to Myself, not to each and every person."

    I simply am unable to tease out what is equivocal, univocal, or analogical, from such.

    This is uncharitable on so many levels and I am not going to respond to this point by point. Speaking now as Moderator, I would ask that you dial down this type of rhetoric you have demonstrated in this thread. It may play well to the hoi polloi, but I have a real problem with persons constructing straw men of my views by claiming I operate from the same presuppositions they do and therefore believe about my beliefs what they believe about my beliefs. This approach leaves no hope for honest discussion.

    If you can actually substantiate all your judgments above of my seeming argument, one being for example, that I have appealed to selective anthropomorphisms, perhaps the discussion will proceed to the edification of all. Again, speaking as a Moderator, I ask that you take special care in your words so as to not mislead others to impute Hyper-Calvinism, Arminianism, or any other anti-Reformed canard, upon your interlocutors.
  24. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    Taking up the point about Hyper Calvinism, I have always understood that it was used of those who hold that the gospel should only be preached to “sensible sinners.” Nowadays if a robust Calvinism is preached or held, and reprobation believed in, then they get labelled with this charge. Or if one denies the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement for all, then again one falls prey to this accusation. To my mind, if God’s intention was to save all then it would be sufficient for all. Whereas the doctrine of equivalence, ie, particular redemption, seems to be strongly asserted by such scriptures as, “Christ loved the church and give Himself for it,” and, six times in John 17, “those whom thou hast given me.” And if Christ petitioned, “I pray not for the world, but for those thou hast given me,” then if he pray not then his intention of the sufficiency salvation, is not.
  25. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    There are general blessings from God towards the lost due to the Cross, as he is not right now judging all sinners, has not sent Jesus back in the Second Coming , and the death and resurrection of Jesus also bought sinners resurrected eternal bodies.
  26. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I will try to ask more questions rather than put words in anyone's mouth. Please forgive me for this.

    I would still like to respond to some things at later point, but wanted to let you know right away that I have heard your concern and do not want to be characterized by unfaithful representations if others' positions.
  27. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable


    I think the whole WMO topic has been discussed at length previously on the site. I know it is difficult to speak of the sufficiency/efficiency related to the atonement without brushing up against WMO topics. But I have no desire to derail the thread into this specific topic. Feel free to respond if you are so provoked to do so, but I do not want to take up the topic once more in this thread.
  28. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I agree. I would like to further what i believe God intends in a sufficient atonement. It'll get too complicated if both topics are combined, though the temptation is certainly there. ;)
  29. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    To my limited understanding, the Death of Jesus was enough in and of itself to have God able to save all sinners, but he intends to save only those whom He called to be elect in Christ.
  30. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Time has not permitted me to debate theologically for some time now - I think that's for the better. I am in two regular Bible Studies every week as well as my own personal Bible reading every day. I think that when we focus on the theological topics too much it can have a tendency to distract us from the text or the thrust of the argument that a writer of Scripture is making. Our system is certainly important for checking our exegetical conclusions but we can also insert too much into the flow of an Apostle as he is teaching on the excellencies of Christ and His work.

    To that end, I think it is important to remind ourselves that every time the Apostles are teaching on the atonement of Christ they never teach toward the end of our speculation but, very specifically, as a comfort to us to be reminded that Christ has put away our guilt and put to death our slavery to sin. The title most used to addressed us in the NT is "in Christ".

    Sinclair Ferguson has been teaching on Renewing Your Mind this past week on the Whole Christ and has helpfully pointed out that we can erroneously treat the chain of redemption in detached, logical ways and forget that it is only insofar as we are "in Christ" that all the aspects of redemption hold together.

    I'm listening to The Marrow of Modern Divinity and the way that Evangelist has to correct nomista (legalist) and antinomista (anti-nomian) who both view the Law in a legalistic fashion and miss the aspect of Christ in how the benefits of redemption are applied to the believer.

    As I'm working through Romans with a young man on Thursdays, he'll pull me down into some aspect of election and reprobation and the unbeliever's objection and how we respond but I always want to re-surface and point him to the fact that Romans wasn't written primarily to help us win theological arguments but to be reminded by and comforted by the fact that we are in Christ.

    Neophyte asks Evangelist about the elect and reprobate and Evangelist helpfully points out that we should never look at election and ask if we should or can believe the Gospel. He says, rather Scripturally, that Christ is offered to sinners and, if he believes, then he is elect. We can only ever grasp the eternal purpose of God to save in the Mediator. He is the sole Person by which we have any fruition with God and any attempt to help a man apprehend the purposes of God apart from being in Christ gives no fruitful way to apprehend the Godhead and its inscrutable ways.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page