THE DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT
The word "atonement" occurs but once in the King James version of the New Testament. See Rom. 5:11. Here it is a translation of "katallage." This Greek noun occurs in three other passages: once in Rom. 11:15, where it is translated "reconciling"; once in 2 Cor. 5:18, where it is translated "reconciliation"; and once in the following verse, where it is again translated "reconciliation."
The Greek verb "katallasso," corresponding to the noun "katallage," is also found in 2 Cor. 5:18,19, and in Rom. 5: 10 and 1 Cor. 7:11. In each of these instances it is translated to mean "to reconcile."
According to the use of the Greek, the word "atonement" may be used of either the provision of the objective basis of salvation, in which we have a potential atonement, or of the actual accomplishment of salvation, in which we have an actual atonement in the application of the benefits of Christ's death and the offering of His blood in the heavenly temple.
The Greek verb "katallasso" is used in the former sense in 2 Cor. 5:19, where we read: "'God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." The meaning here is that God was reconciling the world unto Himself by laying their trespasses on Christ. The passage refers, then, to what was accomplished in the death of Christ and not to what was accomplished through His preaching ministry.
It is in this sense that the word "atonement" is ordinarily used in theological discussions, and it is in this sense that we use it in this chapter.
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ATONEMENT
The atonement is the central theme of Christianity. Everything that precedes it looks forward to it, and everything that follows looks backward to it. Its importance may be see reviewing the following facts.
Christianity is the only religion with an atonement. It is related that some years ago, when there was held a Parliament of Religion at the World's Fair in Chicago, Joseph Cook, of Boston, the chosen spokesman for Christianity, arose, after other religions had been presented, and said: "Here is Lady Macbeth's hands, stained with the foul murder of King Duncan. See her as she perambulates through the halls and corridors of her palatial home, stopping to cry, 'Out damned spot! Out, I say! Will these hands ne'er be clean?" The representative of Christianity turned to the advocates of other religions and triumphantly challenged: "Can any of you who are so anxious to propagate your religious systems offer any cleansing efficacy for the sin and guilt of Lady Macbeth's crime?" They were speechless; for none of them had an atonement to offer.
2. IT VINDICATES THE HOLINESS AND JUSTICE OF GOD
There could be no true holiness and justice in God if He allowed sin to go unpunished. Holiness forbids such an encouragement of sin. Justice demands retribution.
Without the atonement the salvation of believers would leave the law void, a dead letter. See Rom. 3:31 and Heb. 2:2.
In no other way could God have manifested greater love for His people than by giving His only begotten Son to die in their stead. See John 3:16; 15:3; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:9.
5. IT PROVES THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF OLD TESTAMENT SACRIFICES
We see in Christ's atonement the beautiful antitype of Old Testament sacrifices. And we see in these sacrifices an effective method of pointing to the necessity of atonement and such a picture of real atonement as would lead the spiritually enlightened to press through the veil of shadow to the true light. The divine authority of Old Testament sacrifices presents no difficulties to him who believes that Christ's death was substitutionary. But those who wish to deny this latter fact deny also that God instituted the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament.
6. IT FURNISHES THE ACID TEST OF THE THEOLOGICAL SYSTEMS
By their attitude toward the atonement, theological systems classify themselves as pagan or Christian. Their position on the atonement also reflects their idea of the nature of God, of His law, and of sin.
II. THE NATURE OF THE ATONEMENT
(1) The Governmental View.
This view holds that the purpose of the atonement was to prevent God's pardoning of sinners from encouraging sin. The salvation of sinners requires no bearing of the penalty of their sins. Their turning from sin to God is enough to justify God in saving them. But the pardoning of the guilty, without some exhibition of God's hatred against sin and of His regard for His law, would license sin and rob the law of any authority over the consciences of men.
(2) The Example View.
This view holds in common with the governmental view that Christ's death was not substitutionary. It holds that God did not need to be propitiated in behalf of the sinner; that the only hindrance to the salvation of sinners lies in the sinner's continued practice of sin. Reformation, therefore, is the adequate remedy, and this can be effected by man's own will. To encourage us in this Jesus died as a noble martyr, exemplifying an unselfish devotion that chose death rather than the compromise of His duty to God and man. We are saved, not by trusting Him as our sin-bearer, but by trusting in God according to His example and thus devoting ourselves to righteousness.
(3) The Moral-Influence View.
This view holds in common with both the former that sin brings no guilt that must be removed. It is not the guilt, but the practice of sin that hinders salvation. Christ's death was only an exhibition of love to soften man's heart and lead him to repentance. "Christ's sufferings were necessary, not in order to remove an obstacle to the pardon of sinners which exists in the mind of God, but in order to convince sinners that there exists no such obstacle" (Strong).
(4) The Gradually-Extirpated-Depravity View.
This view is defined by Strong as follows:
"Christ took human nature as it was in Adam, not before the fall but after the fall,-human nature, therefore, with its inborn corruption and predisposition to moral evil; that notwithstanding the possession of this tainted and depraved nature, Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, or of His divine nature, not only kept His human nature from manifesting itself in actual or personal sin, but gradually purified it, through struggle and suffering, until in His death He completely extirpated its original depravity, and reunited it with God. This subjective purification of human nature in the person of Jesus constitutes His atonement, and men are saved not by any objective propitiation, but only by becoming through faith partakers of Christ's new humanity."
There are two other views of the atonement that theologians commonly discuss under false or inadequate theories of the atonement that we shall not give special treatment here. We refer to the accident view and the commercial view. The former holds that the death of Christ was an unforeseen accident and not anticipated by Christ. This view is so manifestly absurd that it does not deserve here the space that it would take to refute it. We do not give special treatment to the commercial view of the atonement here because it embodies so much truth that it will find consideration under the head of the correct view of atonement.
2. THE CORRECT VIEW OF THE ATONEMENT
The view of the atonement that we conceive of as being the correct one recognizes the element of truth in each of the foregoing theories that have received special mention and also combines what are usually termed the commercial and the ethical views; but it goes farther than any of them.
(1) Truths Recognized in Other Views.
This is the element of truth in the government view. But this is only one of the many elements of truth involved in the atonement. And a mere exhibition of God's hatred against sin without the meeting out of a just penalty therefore does not fully secure and conserve the interests of divine government. Any exhibition of divine hatred toward sin will act as a deterrent to sin, and thus will tend to maintain government; but to the extent that such exhibition of divine hatred falls short of the just penalty it fails to furnish such a deterrent to sin as will fully honor divine government.
It is an example of unselfish devotion to God and to man. And saved people (not lost ones) are commanded to follow this example. See Matt. 16:24; Rom. 8:17; 1 Pet. 2:21; 3:17,18; 4:1,2. But that Christ did not die merely as a noble martyr is evident from His own attitude toward His death. If He died only as an example, then He furnished a very poor example. Many a human martyr has gone to the stake without a show of anguish. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ sweat as it were great drops of blood in the garden. Many a martyr has enjoyed a vivid sense of God's presence in the hours of death. But the Lord Jesus Christ was deserted of the Father in His death. Contrast Christ's attitude toward death with that of Paul.
C. In Christ's Death We Have An Exhibition of God's Love.
See John 3:16; 15:13; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:9. And this exhibition should move men to repentance. This is the element of truth in the moral-influence view of the atonement. But that the atonement was more than a mere exhibition of love will be made manifest as we proceed.
D. Through Christ's Death We Are Made Partakers Of Christ's Life.
See 11 Cor. 4:11; 5:14-17; 12:9,10; Gal. 2:20; II Pet. 1:4. This is the element of truth in the gradually-extirpated-depravity view of the atonement. But we attain this new life in Christ in conjunction with faith in Him as our sin bearer. This the view just mentioned denies.
(2) Other Truths Recognized.
Other truths recognized by the true view of the atonement are:
A. The Truth As To God's Nature.
All of the false views to which we have given special attention deny that there is in the nature of God any hindrance whatsoever to the pardoning of sinners. The hindrance is supposed to be all on the sinner's part. Christ's suffering was in no sense a satisfaction of any subjective principle in the divine nature.
Thus these views logically deny the holiness and justice of God. They picture God as being love only. Retributive wrath against sin is no element of divine nature.
That these views are false in respect to the view of divine nature furnished by them is evident from Rom. 3:25,26. We are told here that God set forth Jesus Christ not simply as a scenic exhibition of His hatred against sin to serve the exigencies of His government; nor as an exemplar of unselfish devotions to duty; nor as a mere manifestation of love through the suffering of the creator with the creature; nor yet as the means of the subjective purification of human nature; but as a covering for sin (through expiation) that His justice might not be impugned in the justification of sinful men.
B. The Truth As To The Nature Of The Law.
All of the false views of the atonement to which we have given special treatment represent the law of God as a purely arbitrary appointment that may be relaxed partially or wholly at will instead of a revelation of the nature of God with no more possibility of change in its demands than there is of change in the nature of God. It demands an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It demands that every transgression and disobedience shall receive a just recompense of reward. Heb. 2:2. The view of the atonement that is correct must recognize this.
C. The Truth As To The Guilt Of Sin.
These false views that we are considering deny that sin involves us in objective guilt that requires expiation. The following Scriptures teach that it does: John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; 2:5,6, 3:19; 6:23; Gal. 3:10; Eph. 5:5,6; Col. 3:5,6; Rev. 20:13.
D. The Truth as to the Substitutionary Nature of the Atonement.
The following passages show that the suffering of Christ was a substitute for the suffering that believers would have undergone in Hell:
"Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows ... was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All 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" (Isa. 53:4-6). ". . . being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forebearance of God; for the showing, I say, of his righteousness at the present season: that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:24,25). Propitiation is a synonym of expiation, which means "enduring the full penalty of a wrong or crime." Propitiation appeases the lawgiver by satisfying the law in the rendering of "a full legal equivalent for the wrong done."
". . . Christ died for us. Much more then, being justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him" (Rom. 5:8,9).
"Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" (Rom. 8:33). The implied answer is, No one. And the implied reason is, because Christ has paid their sin debt by suffering the penalty of the law in their stead.
". . .our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ" (1 Cor. 5:7).
"Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21). We become the righteousness of God in Christ, not through any moral influence of the death of Christ upon us, but by the imputation of righteousness to us through faith apart from works. See Rom. 4:1-8.
". . . offered one sacrifice for sins for ever . . ." (Heb. 10:12)"
E. The Truth as to the Redeeming of Ransoming Features of the Atonement.
"The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28).
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us" (Gal. 3:13).
"God sent forth his Son . . . that he might redeem them that were under the law" (Gal. 4:4,5).
". . .who gave himself a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:6).
". . .who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity" (Titus 2:14).
". . . through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:12).
". . . thou wast slain, and didst redeem unto God with thy blood, men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rev. 5:9).
In the passages above in which "redeem" or one of its cognates appears we have four Greek words or their cognates: "agorazo," meaning "to acquire at the forum;" "exagorazo" to acquire out of the forum;" "lutroo," "to loose by a price;" and "apolutrosis," "a loosing away." The Greek words in the passages where "ransom" appears are respectively "lutron," "a price," and "antilutron," "a corresponding price." The plain meaning of these passages, in the light of the rest of the New Testament, especially Rom. 3:25,26, is that the death of Christ was the price of our deliverance from sin's penalty. See further Rom. 8: 1,33,34; 10:4. Gal. 3:13 describes exactly how we are redeemed when it tells us that we are redeemed from the curse of the law through Christ who became a curse for us. He bore the curse we deserve. He paid the penalty we owed. For that reason we go free.
Note that "ransom" in 1 Tim. 2:6 means "a corresponding price." This means that the price paid by Christ corresponded to the debt we owed. In other words Christ suffered the exact equivalent of that which those for whom He died would have suffered in Hell. If the justice of God demanded that Christ die in order that God might justify sinners, the same justice demanded that He pay the full penalty owed by the sinners. Justice can forego all the penalty as easily as it can forego the least part of it.
"For God to take that as satisfaction which is not really such is to say that there is no truth in anything. God may take a part for the whole; error for truth, wrong for right . . . If every created thing offered to God is worth just so much as God accepts it for, then the blood of bulls and goats might take away sins, and Christ is dead in vain" (Hodge, Syst. Theol., 2:573-581; 3:188,189).
"God did not send Christ forever into Hell; but He put on Christ punishment that was equivalent for that. Although He did not give Christ to drink the actual Hell of believers, yet He gave Him a quid pro quo--something that was equivalent thereunto, He took the cup of Christ's agony, and He put in there, suffering, misery and anguish . . . that was the exact equivalent for all the suffering, all the eternal tortures of every one that shall at last stand in Heaven, bought with the blood of Christ" (Spurgeon, Sermons, Vol. 4, p. 217).
"The penalty paid by Christ is strictly and literally equivalent to that which the sinner would have borne, although it is not identical. The vicarious bearing of it excludes the latter" (Shedd, Discourses and Essays, p. 307).
"Substitution excludes identity of suffering; it does not exclude equivalence" (Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 420).
Sometimes the opponents of the redeeming and ransoming nature of Christ's death ask whom the price was paid to. And they rather sarcastically remind us that some have been quick to say that it was paid to the Devil. No, it was not paid to the Devil. It was not paid to anybody as a commercial transaction. The price is the penalty demanded by the justice of God.
We adopt, therefore, as the true view of the nature of the atonement, a view that combines the commercial theory and the ethical theory as they are described by Strong. From the commercial theory we accept the idea expressed in 1 Tim. 2:6--the paying of a corresponding or equivalent price. And from the ethical theory we accept the fact that it was not divine honor and majesty that demanded the atonement, as the commercial view asserts, but the ethical principles of holiness and justice in God.
"Between the most orthodox creed of atonement by proper, real, and full satisfaction of justice, and the frank and utter denial of atonement that offers any satisfaction to law, there is absolutely no logical standing ground."
"Scripture without hesitation and without explanation represents salvation by Christ as a transaction analogous to the payment of debt, the ransom of a captive, the redemption of a forfeited inheritance. From the beginning to the end of the Bible there is no note of warning, no intimation that these comparisons may be misleading. It is always assumed that they do plainly set forth Christ's work of redemption.
"The outcry against the theology that compares Christ's work to the payment of debt, the redemption of a forfeited inheritance, the outcry against the use of any one of the abounding scriptural allusions to financial transactions, is an outcry that betrays at once disregard for Scripture and a misconception of Christ's perfect work of redemption" (Armour, Atonement and Law, pp. 128,137).
III. THE ATONEMENT AND THE DEITY OF CHRIST
It is sometimes objected that Christ could not have suffered in a few hours the equivalent of the eternal suffering of the sinner in Hell. But this objection fails to take into consideration the fact that Christ was divine and, therefore, infinite in ability to suffer. He said that no man could take his life from him; that he would lay it down of himself. Having the power, therefore, of retaining His life at will, He did retain it through such intensity of suffering that He drank the last dregs of Hell's poison for all those to be saved through Him. What believing sinners would have suffered extensively, because finite, Christ suffered intensively, because infinite. A man with a constitution ten times as strong as that of the average man can suffer in one second the equivalent of all that the average man can suffer in ten. Correspondingly an infinite being can undergo any amount of suffering in as brief time as it may please him to do it.
IV. THE ATONEMENT AND THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST
While it was necessary that Christ be divine in order to endure in a few hours the eternal suffering due believing sinners, it was also necessary that He be human to endure the equivalent of that which human beings are to endure in Hell. Human suffering can be endured only in human nature.
It was also necessary that Christ be organically one with man to make it perfectly proper for God to accept His suffering as a substitute for that of man. We are held responsible for the apostasy of Adam because we were organically one with Adam. Angels did not participate in this responsibility. Neither were we involved in the fall of angels. So it seems clear that it would not have been according to divine philosophy for our responsibility to be placed upon Christ without His becoming organically one with us.
V. THE EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT
There are three theories as to the extent of the atonement.
1. THE THEORY OF A PARTIAL GENERAL ATONEMENT
The reference here is to the notion that Christ paid the penalty for the Adamic sin for the whole race. This idea is usually held in conjunction with the idea of a supposed provisional basis for the salvation of all men, but its nature necessitates that we treat it separately.
It is thought by some that this theory is necessary to explain the salvation of those who die in infancy and native idiocy. But we have shown a scriptural basis for the salvation of such without this theory. See chapter on Human Responsibility.
John 1:29 is the principal passage given as a basis for this theory. The singular form of "sin" is emphasized as referring to the sin of Adam. But the argument is of no force, because there are numerous other passages where the singular is used with reference to the personal sins of men is a collective sense. See Rom. 3:20; 4:8; 6:1; Heb. 9:26.
This theory supposes that the effect of Adam's sin upon the race is twofold: (1) imputation of guilt for the overt act of Adam in partaking of the forbidden fruit, and (2) corruption of nature. And it implies that guilt may be imputed apart from corruption. This we flatly deny. We become guilty through Adam's natural headship, from which we inherit a corrupt nature. We are under the penalty of sin because we sinned in Adam, our nature being one with him. Rom. 5:12. If guilt may be imputed without corruption, then the law demanded the death of Christ, because He had a human nature; but the idea that He died in any sense for Himself is utterly foreign to Scripture. He is everywhere described and presented as having no guilt of His own, but as bearing the guilt of others. If to Him was imputed guilt for the Adamic sin, as necessarily was the case if this guilt is imputed to every descendant of Adam apart from corruption, then He knew sin, but the Scripture says that He knew no sin.
2. THE THEORY OF A GENERAL ATONEMENT
(1) The Theory Stated.
The theory of a general atonement is that Christ died for every son of Adam-for one as much as for another,* removing the legal impediments out of the way of the salvation of all men and mankind, it objectively possible for every hearer of the gospel to be saved. Strong says: "The Scriptures represent the atonement as having been made for all men, and as sufficient for the salvation of all. Not the atonement therefore is limited but the application of the atonement." Again: "The atonement of Christ has made objective provision for the salvation of all, by renewing from the divine mind every obstacle to the pardon and restoration of sinners, except their wilful opposition to God and refusal to turn to Him." Andrew Fuller says that if the atonement
*Some may object to this representation. But this statement is proved true of their theory when they state that the death of Christ made the salvation of all possible; that it removed every legal obstacle from the way of salvation of all men. If He did this for all, what more did He do for any? If He removed every legal obstacle from the way of salvation of all, then He satisfied the law of them. He did not do more than this for anybody.
And when the advocates of a general atonement try to escape the implications of their position, they only contradict themselves. For instance, the great J. R. Graves says that Christ "did not pay the debt each sinner owes to divine law, else each one will be saved; for the law cannot, in justice, demand payment again of tire sinner;" and yet he says that Christ, by His death, "removed all legal and governmental obstructions" from the way of the salvation of all. If Christ did not pay the debt of each sinner, then He did not remove the legal obstructions to the salvation of each sinner. To affirm one and deny the other is to utter a flat contradiction, or else language has no meaning.
There are but two consistent positions on the extent of the atonement. One is the straight Arminian view, which is that Christ died for sin, "but only in the sense that it makes it consistent for God to offer salvation to men on the ground of evangelical obedience, and not of perfect legal obedience" (Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology, p. 310). The other is the position advocated in this book. Those who try to take a stand between the two involve themselves in a contradiction, do what they will to avoid it.
is viewed merely as "to what it is in itself sufficient for, and declared in the gospel to be adapted to . . . it was for sinners as sinners;" but that with "respect to the purpose of the Father in giving His Son to die and to the design of Christ in laying down His life, it was for the elect only."
This theory of the atonement is sometimes summed up by the saying that the atonement was sufficient for all, but efficient for the elect only, or as some would prefer, for those who believe. Or to put it another way, it is often said that Christ is the Saviour of all men provisionally and especially or effectually of believers.
Others have imagined that the sacrifice on Calvary was for all, but that the offering of Christ's blood in Heaven was for the elect only.
All of these statements amount to the same thing-a general atonement with a limited application or design. This we believe and hope to prove is a contradiction of terms, contrary to reason, repugnant to, the nature of God, and not according to a consistent interpretation of Scripture.
(2) The Theory Disproved.
A. This theory provides no real satisfaction of God's justice, or it involves God in the injustice of punishing those for whom justice has been satisfied. Here is a dilemma, and each advocate of a general atonement may choose which horn he chooses to hang on. One of these propositions must be true.
The former proposition is probably the one that most advocates of a general atonement are logically forced to accept. No doubt most of them would subscribe to the declaration that if there had been but one sinner to save it would have been necessary for Christ to have suffered exactly and identically what He did suffer. Boyce says: "What Christ needed to do for one man, would have been sufficient for all" (Abstract of Theology, p. 314). Strong says: "Christ would not need suffer more, if all were to be saved" (Systematic Theology, p. 422).
This notion as to Christ's suffering is altogether inconsistent with justice. A thousand sinners in Hell, all deserving the same degree of punishment, will suffer a thousand times as much as any one of them will suffer individually. It will take that to satisfy justice. Now will justice be satisfied in Christ for the entire thousand if Christ suffers only as much as one sinner would suffer? In other words, does justice demand one thing of sinners themselves and another of Christ as their substitute? This is exactly what the theory of a general atonement involves.
The theory of a general atonement no more satisfies justice than the governmental theory. In Christ's death we have, according to the theory of a general atonement, only a scenic display of God's wrath against sin; then God at will applies the benefits of this to whom He will. In other words, in view of what Christ did, God relaxes strict justice and saves a countless multitude of sinners, who deserved Hell and for whom justice has not been actually satisfied. So instead of Christ's death affording God the means of being just and yet of saving believing sinners, it enables Him to relax His justice.
The only way of escape from this latter proposition is to consider the repentance and faith and obedience of those who are saved as making up what is lacking in Christ's death. Arminians may say this (yet some of them do not view repentance, faith and obedience as being meritorious in salvation), but others cannot without surrendering their belief in salvation as being wholly of God's grace.
Some may attempt to escape the dilemma set forth in the first paragraph under this heading by affirming that Christ actually suffered for the sins of all men, and that the lost in Hell will suffer for only the sin of continued unbelief. Several things might be said in refutation of this idea. (1) It leaves the heathen that have not heard the gospel nothing to suffer for in Hell, for no man can be justly charged for not believing in one he has never heard of Rom. 10:14. That God will not charge those who never hear the gospel with the sin of unbelief is plain from Rom. 2:12, which informs us that God will not by the law judge those who never hear the law. He will judge them only by the light of their own conscience. Rom. 2:14,15. One must sin against light before he can be justly punished for disobedience. Hence if none are to suffer in Hell for any sin except the sin of continued unbelief, those who never hear the gospel will have nothing to suffer for. John A. Broadus says very properly, in commenting on Matt. 11: 22- "The heathen will not be condemned for rejecting Christ if they have had no opportunity to know of him; but only for disregarding their own conscience (Rom. 2:14-16), the light of external nature (Rom. 1:20), and any true religious ideas which may in whatever way have reached them" (An American Commentary on the New Testament). (2) Every believer was from the time of hearing the gospel to the time of accepting it guilty of the sin of unbelief. This sin of unbelief, of course, had to be atoned for the same as any other sin. So Christ suffered for the sin of unbelief for those who are saved. Now, if He died for all, for one as much as for another, which is necessary if salvation was to be made possible for all, then He died for the sin of unbelief for all men. This leaves any that go to Hell with no sins at all to suffer for. If Christ did not die for the sin of unbelief for all guilty of that sin, then He did not die sufficiently for the salvation of all. (3) The Bible clearly teaches that the lost in Hell will suffer for all their sins. Rom. 2:5,6; 11 Cor. 5:10; Eph. 5:5,6; 11 Pet. 2:9-13; A. S. V.; Rev. 20:13.
(a) It cannot be argued that God was under obligation to provide redemption for all men without exception, for such an argument would exclude grace from the atonement. Grace means not only unmerited favor, but also favor that is not owed. Grace and obligation are mutually exclusive. Furthermore, if God was obligated to provide redemption for every son of Adam, He would be obligated likewise to give to each one the ability to receive that redemption by faith. This God has not done, as we have shown in the previous chapter on election.*
"Redemption, as well as creation, must also be a purely sovereign determination of the divine will. This is required by the necessities of the case, as well as plainly declared in Scripture. No doctrine of redemption that in any way casts
*Throughout this chapter we assume the truth of unconditional election as set forth in the preceding chapter. We would not waste time trying to prove the truth as to a limited atonement to an Arminian.
the slightest shadow over the high mountain of Divine Sovereignty can be tolerated for a moment. All theologies that in any manner teach or imply there was any obligation upon God to do this or that for fallen, rebellious subjects of law, are unscriptural, unreasonable, if not blasphemous" (Armour, Atonement and Law, p. 20).
(b) Furthermore it was not necessary for God to provide a general atonement to make men responsible for rejecting Christ. Men reject Christ not because of a lack of atonement for them, but because they love darkness rather than light (John 3:19), because they will not have Him to reign over them (Luke 19:14).
(c) Nor was it necessary that Christ die for the whole Adamic race in order to make God's general call sincere. It is the notion of some that God's general call requires men to believe that Christ died for them. This is not true. The twenty-eight chapters of Acts, "though replete with information about apostolic dealing with souls, record no precedent whatever for that now popular address to the unconverted- Christ died for you" (Sanger, The Redeemed). "All men are called on in Scripture to believe the gospel, but there is no instance in Scripture in which men are called upon to believe that Christ died for them" (Carson, The Doctrine of the Atonement and Other Treatises, P. 146).
The following illustration from "The Blood of Jesus," by William Reid, p. 37, also shows the compatibility of a limited atonement and the general invitations of the gospel. After describing passengers boarding a train at Aberdeen Station of the North-Eastern Railway, he says:
"Nor did I see any one refusing to enter because the car provided for only a limited number to proceed by that train. There might be eighty thousand inhabitants in and around the city, but still there was not one who talked of it as absurd to provide accommodations for only about twenty persons, for practically it was found to be sufficient.
"God, in His infinite wisdom, has made provision of a similar kind for our lost world. He has provided a train of grace to carry as many of its inhabitants to Heaven, the great metropolis of the universe, as are willing to avail themselves of the gracious provisions.
Suppose God had waited until the end before sending Christ to die, (as He could have done just as easily as He waited four thousand years after sin entered the world before sending Christ), and had then sent Him to die for all that had believed. It would then have been manifest that a limited atonement offers no hindrance to the salvation of any man that does not already exist because of the perversity of man's nature. Surely it is clear to every thinking person that the occurrence of Christ's death two thousand years ago does not change the case; for He died for all who shall ever believe, these having been known to God from eternity as fully as they shall be in the end.
We have intimated that God is as much under obligation to remove man's spiritual inability to come to Christ as He is to provide an atonement for Him. In other words, man's perversity of nature makes his salvation as impossible from a human standpoint as does the absence of an atonement.
But some may take exception to this by saying that whereas man's perversity of nature creates a moral impossibility, the lack of atonement furnishes a natural impossibility. We reply that this is correct; but the moral impossibility is primary and is absolute. Therefore the natural impossibility can furnish no added hindrance.
(d) Neither is a general atonement necessary to the manifestation of God's love. The provision of an ineffective atonement would reveal nothing but a blind, futile love. Is this the kind of love God's love is? Nay, verily, God's love is intelligent, purposeful, sovereign, effective. God's redemptive love is wholly grounded within Himself, and does not proceed at all because the objects of it are lovely, nor because they deserve anything good at His hands. Therefore, it is wholly subject to His sovereign will (Deut. 10:15; Rom. 9:13). It is His immanent, peculiar, gracious delight in bestowing His favor upon chosen objects.
(e) Finally a universal atonement is not necessary for the maintenance of evangelistic zeal and a missionary spirit. It is freely admitted that there have been those who held to a limited atonement whose evangelistic zeal was far from what it should have been. However the fault was not in that doctrine, but in their failure to see and believe other truths. In the case of many, including the noble Waldenses and Albigenses, as well as Spurgeon and many others of great note, overflowing evangelistic zeal and a stout belief in a limited atonement have dwelt side by side in the most glorious harmony. In fact, belief in a limited atonement, for reasons that we can not here take space to discus, should make men more evangelistic than belief in a general atonement, while keeping them back from hurtful excesses.
3. THE THEORY OF A LIMITED ATONEMENT
(1) The Theory Stated.
The theory of a limited atonement holds that Christ died for the elect and for the elect only; that the value and design or application, the sufficiency and the efficiency of it are the same; that Christ in no sense whatsoever died for any that shall perish in Hell. To this we give our happy and unqualified endorsement.
(2) The Theory Proved.
"All those for whom Christ gave His life a ransom are either ransomed by it, or they are not, that all are not ransomed or redeemed from sin, the law, Satan, and the second death is evident . . . Now, if some for whom Christ gave His life a ransom, are not ransomed then that shocking absurdity . . . follows . . . namely, that Christ is dead in vain, or that so far He gave His life a ransom in vain; wherefore it will be rightly concluded that He did not give His life a ransom for every individual man" (John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth, p. 98).
"The so-called Scripture proofs of Universal Redemption depend upon human assumption, not upon the simple Word; Thus, as regards 'propitiation for the sins of the whole world', we are told that the 'world' must mean every worldling. But why must it mean this? That is the unanswered question. The word world means many different things in Holy Scripture, on which see Crudens Concordance. Connection alone is its true interpreter. To rule that it must mean this or that is but to indulge in rash and idle talk" (Sanger, The Redeemed, p. 7).
"If law can yield at all, if the universe created and uncreated can afford to have law in its higher realms melt like wax, if God's love can in any respect be shown to violators of law at the expense of justice, if Christ having done all and having suffered all He was raised up to do and to suffer, justice, exact justice, pure and mere justice, did not permit, require, demand, necessitate the deliverance of those whom he represented and whom He came to redeem, then 'Christ died in vain,' then is the 'offence of the cross' taken away, then 'the wages of sin' is not 'death,' then are we all at sea as to the necessity for Christ's intervention, then we are ready to disperse on voyages of discovery that we may find good reason for Christ's coming into the world at all, and especially for His suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross" (Armour, Atonement and Law, p. 129).
"Whenever the Holy Scriptures speak of the sufficiency of redemption, they always place in it the certain efficacy of redemption. The atonement of Christ is sufficient because it is absolutely efficacious, and because it effects the salvation of all for whom it was made. Its sufficiency lies not in affording men a possibility of salvation, but in accomplishing their salvation with invincible power. Hence the Word of God never represents the sufficiency of the atonement as wider than the design of the atonement" (Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 1945 edition, Vol. 3, p. 76). Would that this last sentence could be emblazoned across the sky LET IT BE EMPHASIZED AGAIN, IN THE ATONEMENT OF CHRIST SUFFICIENCY EQUALS EFFICIENCY.
"Doubtless 'universal' and 'redemption' [used here as a synonymous with 'atonement': in the sense of 'agorazo'], where the greatest part of men perish, are as irreconcilable as 'Roman' and 'Catholic'" (John Owen, as quoted approvingly by C. H. Spurgeon, Sermons, Vol. 4, p. 220).
"Were the whole of mankind equally loved of God and promiscuously redeemed by Christ, the song which believers are directed to sing would hardly run in them admiring strains, 'To Him that hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God,' etc., Rev. 1:5,6). A hymn of praise like this seems evidently to proceed on the hypothesis of peculiar election on the part of God, and of a limited redemption on the part of Christ which we find more explicitly declared (Rev. v. 9), where we have a transcript of that song which the spirits of just men made perfect are now singing before the throne and before the Lamb: 'Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us unto God by Thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.' Whence the elect are said to have been redeemed from among men. (Rev. 14:4)" (Augustus M. Toplady, author of "Rock of Ages," in preface to Absolute Predestination, by Zanchius).
"That Christ is our life, and truth, and peace, and righteousness-our shepherd and advocate, our sacrifice, and priest, who died for the salvation of all who should believe, and rose again for their justification" (Article 7 of the Confession of Faith adopted in 1120 by the Waldenses, the most outstanding group of Baptist progenitors. See Jones' Church History, p. 322).
"The doctrine of the atonement has been differently understood. The old churches pretty uniformly held that it was particular; that is, that Christ died for the elect only, and that in His stupendous suffering no respect was had to, nor any provision made for, any others of Adam's ruined race" (Benedict, General History of the Baptist Denomination, p. 456).
"If there is anything plainly taught in the Scripture, it is that the sacrifice of Christ was made for those only who shall eventually be saved by it (Alexander Carson, The Doctrine of the Atonement and Other Treatises, p. 196).
"It cannot be, that one soul for whom He (Christ) gave His life and spilled His blood; whose sins He bore and whose curse He sustained, should ever finally perish. For if that were the case, divine justice, after having exacted and received satisfaction at the hand of the Surety, would make a demand on the principal; in other words, would require double payment" (Booth, The Reign of Grace, p. 235).
"Can a God of infinite ethical perfection, who with His own hand laid the awful burden of the sinner's guilt upon the adorable Surety, repudiate His own covenant engagements and withhold from Him the reward purchased at the cost of His most precious blood? To say so, is tantamount to an impeachment of the truth and justice of our covenant-keeping God" (Prof. Robert Watts, Sovereignty of God, comprising articles of Pres. C. W. Northrup, published in the Standard of Chicago, and those of Prof. Watts in reply, which latter articles were written at the suggestion of T. T. Eaton and published in the Western Recorder during Eaton's editorship).
"They [certain 'divines'] believe that Judas was atoned for just as much as Peter; they believe that the damned in Hell were as much the object of Jesus Christ's satisfaction as the saved in Heaven; and though they do not say it in proper words, yet they must mean it, for it is a fair inference, that in the case of multitudes, Christ died in vain, for He died for them all, they say; and yet so ineffectual was His dying for them, that though He died for them they are damned afterward. Now, such an atonement I despise- I reject it. I may be called Antinomian or Calvinist for preaching a limited atonement; but I had rather believe in a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than an universal atonement that is not efficacious, except the will of man be joined with it" (Spurgeon, Sermons, Vol. 4, p. 218).
"I believe that election elected the elect; that foreknowledge foreknew them; that they 'were ordained to eternal life,' and 'foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son;' that redemption redeemed them; that regeneration regenerated them; that sanctification sanctifies them; that justification justifies them; that preservation preserves them; that providence provides for them, and so on to glorification. Hence those to be glorified are those foreknown and redeemed. I don't believe in a general redemption and a special glorification (J. B. Moody, Sin, Salvation, and Service, p. 40).
"Here are the five points of Calvinism: unconditional election or predestination, limited atonement or particular redemption, total depravity necessitating prevenient grace, effectual calling or irresistible grace, and preservation or perseverance of the saints. And the writer does not hesitate to subscribe to all five points" (C. D. Cole, Definitions of Doctrines, Vol. 1, p. 131).
The author gives an enthusiastic "Amen" to all of these. He is not ashamed to be found in their company and in the company of many other eminent saints of God who have held the same sentiments. He is willing to be found contending for the historic faith of Baptists, the faith of ancient churches; the faith of the Waldenses, "those eminent and honored witnesses for the truth during the long period when the church and the world were overrun with gross error and immorality (Rice, God Sovereign and Man Free).
(a) It is the only theory that makes the death of Christ truly substitutionary. If Christ died for one man as much as for another, which He must have done if He made salvation possible to all men, then He died for some that will suffer eternally in Hell. His death, therefore, was not truly substitutionary.
(b) It is the only theory that is compatible with the justice of God. God's justice demanded that Christ pay the exact penalty of the sins of those who are saved. His justice also demands that He save all whose penalty Christ paid. This is an axiomatic proposition. It is also a scriptural proposition. What is the meaning of 1 John 1:9, in stating that God is "just to forgive our sins," if it does not mean that the forgiveness of our sins is an act of justice toward Christ? The theory of a limited atonement alone leaves any just reason for the condemnation of unrepentant sinners. If a general atonement has been made, then there is no justice in sending any sinner to hell. If it is sufficient for all men, then it demands the acquittal of all. Since the atonement was demanded as a satisfaction of God's justice, its efficiency must equal its sufficiency. The same justice that demands that the penalty of sin be paid, just as emphatically demands that the sinner be liberated when the payment has been made. There is absolutely no ground either in Scripture or reason for making a distinction between the atonement and the application of it, or between atonement and redemption or reconciliation, as to their extent or value. Atonement, redemption, and reconciliation all apply to the objective basis of pardon, and they all alike apply to actual pardon.
(c) It is the only theory that gives to the death of Christ any argumentative value in proving the security of the believer. The following statement will be recognized, no doubt as a strong argument for the security of the believer by all who believe that doctrine:
"Christ, in His death on the cross, suffered for all the sins of every believer. If the believer should go to Hell, he would suffer for the same sins that Christ suffered for. Both the believer and Christ would then be paying for the same sins, and God, in punishing two men for the sins of one, would be the most unjust tyrant of the universe. Perish the thought! The judge of all the earth must do right!"
But this argument has no force if Christ died for all, for one as much as for another, which He must have done if He made salvation possible for all, removing all legal obstacles out of the way of their salvation. Moreover, according to this argument, and also according to truth and logic, all those who affirm that Christ suffered the penalty of the law for every man make God "the most unjust tyrant of the universe."
C. Arguments From Scripture.
(a) Isa. 53:11. In this passage, the prophet, in speaking of Christ's sacrifice, says that God "shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall he satisfied." We take this to mean that the just demands of God, the penalty of the broken law, were satisfied in the death of Christ. But for whom? If for every son of Adam, then God cannot in justice damn any of them. Satisfied justice can demand nothing more. If the reader is minded to argue that the lost in Hell will suffer, not for their sins in general, but only for the sin of rejecting Christ, we refer him back to our discussion of the theory of a general atonement under" (2) The Theory Disproved."
Furthermore this same passage represents God as saying: "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities." This tells how Christ justifies men, that is, by bearing their iniquities. And note that this justification is not made to depend on anything else. If Christ had to bear men's iniquities to justify them, then it follows, as the night the day, that those whose iniquities He bore must receive justification. By accepting this satisfaction at the hands of Christ, God puts Himself under obligation to Christ (not to the sinner) to communicate justification to every one for whom satisfaction is made, which He does by working repentance and faith in the heart.
(b) John 15:13. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." If Christ laid down His life for every man without exception, then He has the greatest love for every man; and, therefore, loves those that perish in Hell as much as those He saves. Could Christ ever be satisfied with some of the objects of His greatest love in Hell?
(c) Rom. 8:32: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" This passage argues that God's greatest gift of His Son guarantees all lesser gifts. Hence it follows that God delivered up His Son for none except those to whom He freely gives all other spiritual blessings, that is, those who believe. See Eph. 1:3.
(d) Rom. 8:33,34. These verses tell us that no charge or condemnation can be brought against the elect; that God will not charge them, for it is He who justifies; and that Christ will not condemn, because He died for them. This passage would be deprived of all logical force if Christ had died for any that He shall some day condemn in judgment. Hence He died for none except those who escape judgment.
(e) 2 Cor. 5:14: "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that one died for all, therefore all died." There is here the undeniable assertion that all for whom Christ died, died representatively in Him. Hence death has no power over them, and none of them will suffer it; but all will receive justification and eternal life through faith. In commenting on the last three words of this passage, A. T. Robertson says: "logical conclusion . . ., the one died for all and so that all died when he died. ALL THE SPIRITUAL DEATH POSSIBLE FOR THOSE FOR WHOM CHRIST DIED" (Caps ours-Word Pictures in the New Testament). Do not fail to note the use of "all" in this passage.
(f) 2 Cor. 5:19: "God was in Christ, reconciling (katalasso) the world unto himself, NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESPASSES UNTO THEM . . ." This tells what God was doing in the death of Christ and it tells how He was doing it: He was reconciling men to Himself and He was doing it by laying their trespasses on Christ and, therefore, not imputing, reckoning, charging them to those for whom Christ died. Christ, in His death, accomplished full objective reconciliation for the objects of His death, which necessitates their being brought to experience subjective reconciliation. The only right conclusion from this is that Christ died for those and those only who eventually receive reconciliation. Note the use of the word "world" in this passage.
(g) John 10:15; Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25. In these passages Christ is said to have purchased the church, to have given Himself for it, to have laid down His life for the sheep. "I know that universal terms are sometimes connected in the Scriptures with the atonement; but if these are to be interpreted in their widest sense, why should the sacred writers have employed the restrictive at all? The universal terms . . . may be readily made to harmonize with the restrictive, but no man can make the restrictive harmonize with the unlimited- (Parks, The Five Points of Calvinism).
(3) Scriptures Explained
We take up here the passages taken by some to teach a general atonement.
A. John 3:16; 1 John 2:2. In both passages the word "world" is used in connection with the saving work of Christ. One speaks of God as loving the "world," and the other speaks of Christ as being a propitiation for the sins of the whole "world."
Against the interpretation given of these passages by the advocates of a general atonement we reply:
(a) A love that would cause God to give Christ to die for each individual man of Adam's race would also cause Him to save all.* Why should God discriminate between men in saving them if He loved all of them with the greatest of all love? See Rom 8:32.
(b) There would be no real expression of love in sending a Saviour to die vainly for men. What kind of love is it that performs an act that cannot really benefit? Would there be any real love shown by a father in buying a beautiful picture for a son that is totally blind?
(c) That God does not love all men without exception is proved, as already stated, by the declaration: "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Rom. 9:13). Did God love Pharaoh? (Rom. 10:17). Did He love the Amalekites? (Ex. 17:14). Did He love the Canaanites, whom He commanded to be extirpated without mercy? (Deut. 18:3). Does He love the workers of iniquity? (Psa. 5:5). Does He love the vessels or wrath fitted for
(d) Finally, the word "world," by no means, alludes to all men without exception in every case in the Scripture, and, therefore, it remains to be proved that it means this in these passages. "World" is used of unbelievers in distinction from believers (John 7:7; 12:31; 14:17; 15:18,19; 16:20; 17:14; 1 Cor. 4:9; 11:32 Eph. 2:2; Heb. 11:7; 1 John 3:1; 3:13; 5:19). It is used of Gentiles in distinction from the Jews (Rom. 11:12,15). It is used of the generality of known people (John 12:19). We believe in the two passages under consideration the word alludes not to all men without exception, but to all men without distinction; that is, to men of all nations, tribes, and tongues (a cross-section of which we see in Rev. 7:9); revealing that Christ did not die for the Jews alone, but for Gentiles also, even to the uttermost parts of the earth.
The logical reason for the employment of the word "world" in this sense is given by John Gill as follows: "It was a controversy agitated among the Jewish doctors, whether when the Messiah came, the Gentiles, the world, should have any benefit by him; the majority was exceeding large on the negative of the question, and determined they should not . . . that the most severe judgments and dreadful calamities would befall them; yea, that they should be cast into Hell in the room of the Israelites. This notion the Baptist, Christ, and His apostles oppose, and is the trite reason of the use of this phrase in the Scriptures which speak of Christ's redemption" (The Cause of God and Truth, p. 66).* "As a typical Jew, Nicodemus thought God loved nobody but Jews, but our Lord told him that God so loved the world (Gentile as well as Jew), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever (Gentile or Jew) believeth on Him should not perish but have ever-
*Gill's fitness to speak on this matter is cited by Cramp, as follows: "In the diploma (from Marischal College, Aberdeen, awarding the degree of Doctor of Divinity) special mention was made of Dr. Gill's proficiency in sacred literature, in the Oriental languages, and in Jewish antiquities... Dr. Gill was a profound scholar. He was familiar with the whole circle of Jewish literature. None could compete with him on this his own ground" (Baptist History, p. 508).
lasting life" (Cole, Definitions of Doctrines, Vol. 1, p. 120). Note again the use of "world" in 2 Cor. 5:19, where the "world" for whom Christ died were potentially reconciled by His death and are not to have their trespasses imputed to them. In other words, they must receive the forgiveness He purchased for them.
B. 1 Tim. 2:6; Titus 2:11. The word "all" appears in both of these passages. But this word is used in the Scripture in a variety of senses. By no means is it always used in the absolute. Note a few of its limited uses: (1) A great number (Matt. 3:5; 4:24; 14:35). (2) All kinds and classes (Matt. 23:47; Luke 2:10; John 12:32; Acts 13:10; Rom. 1:29; 15:14. 2 Thess. 2:9; 1 Tim 6:10). (3) All with manifest exceptions (Mark 11:30; Acts 2:46,47; 1 Cor. 6:18; 8:32; 9:22; 10:33; Titus 1:15). (4) All or every one of a certain class (Luke 3:21; Rom. 5:18-last part; 1 Cor. 8:2 compared with vs. 7 and 11; 15:22-last part; Col. 1:28). Thus we can easily see that the meaning of "pas" must be determined according to the context and according to the teaching of Scripture in general. Therefore, in view of what has been said about the unscriptural implications of the idea that Christ died for all men without exception, we affirm that "pas" in the foregoing passages is used in the second sense listed above, and that the meaning is men of "every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues," a cross section of which we find depicted in Rev. 7:9. The "all" for which Christ died is exactly coterminous with the "all" He draws to Him (John 12:31).* It is all without distinction rather than all without exception.
*J. R. Graves, though teaching that the death of Christ "removed all legal and governmental obstruction" from the way of the salvation of all men, says:
"'Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time' (1 Tim. 2:6), should be interpreted by Christ's own words: 'Even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.' (Matt. 20:28). And when Christ said, 'If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me' (John 12:32), He certainly did not mean every sinner of Adam's race; for it would be notoriously untrue; but He meant all conditions and races of men, and, savingly, only all men given Him by the Father" (The Seven Dispensations, P. 102).
"It is observed that Christ is said, in ver. 6 (of 1 Tim. 2), to give Himself a ransom for all, which is understood of all men in particular; but it should be observed also, that this ransom is 'antilutron huper panton,' a vicarious ransom substituted in the room and stead of all whereby a full price was paid for all, and a plenary satisfaction made for the sins of all which cannot be true of every individual man for then no man could be justly condemned and punished . . . It is better by 'all men' to understand some of all sorts . . ." (John Gill, Cause of God and Truth, p. 51).
C. Heb. 2:9. There is no word here for "man" in the Greek. The expression is simply "all" or "every one." Greek: "pas." And the context supplies the explanation as to those included in this passage, viz., every son that He brings to glory. Thus "all" is here used in the fourth sense listed above, that is, all or every one of a certain class.
D. 1 Tim. 4:10. The mere provision of salvation for all men does not make God their Saviour any more than it saves them. This does not satisfy the meaning of savior if it is applied to the salvation of the soul. The Greek is "soter," and this word means "deliverer" and "preserver," as well as savior. We are persuaded that this is its meaning here. God delivers all men (so long as it pleases Him to do so) from dangers both seen and unseen and preserves their lives. It is thus that He displays "the riches of his goodness and forebearance and longsuffering" which should lead men to repentance (Rom. 2:4). What God does for all men in general He does in a special manner for believers.
E. 2 Pet. 2:1. The word in this passage for lord is not "kurios," which is used either of God or Christ; but it is "despotes," which is never used of Christ. Hence the reference here is to God. Peter wrote especially to Jews. Doubtless, the false teachers were Jews also. And Deut 82:6 explains how the Lord had bought them. God is here said to have bought the whole Jewish nation because He delivered them from Egypt.
F. 11 Pet. 3:9. This passage does not mention the atonement, redemption, reconciliation or any such thing; but because it says that God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance," it is very naturally used by the advocates of a general atonement. But this passage itself shows that the any and the all are not the whole race of men. It is not an act of longsuffering mercy toward the non-elect for God to withhold the return of Christ. Each day the non-elect are adding to their eternal suffering by further despising the gospel (if they have had it preached to them) and by adding to their store of sins. Moreover every day the number of accountable sinners in the world is increasing. Thus the withholding of Christ's return is but increasing the final population of Hell. "All" is explained by the word "usward." It is "all" the elect. God is waiting until, in His sovereign providence and by His Spirit, they are brought to repentance and faith.