Friday, February 18, 2011

What is Reformed Theology?: Definite or Particular Redemption

     " . . . and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21)
     "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep" (John 10:11)

     "But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand" (John 10:26-29).  Emphasis mine. 

     "As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so He hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectively called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only."  Chapter 3:6 of the 1689 London Baptist Confession."
(1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10; Romans 8:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:5; John 10:26; John 17:9; John 6:64).

     "Christ did not come to put men in a redeemable position but to redeem to Himself a people."  John Murray, p. 63 of his modern classic,  Redemption:  Accomplished and Applied.

     The 5 Points of Calvinism/doctrines of grace, can easily be misunderstood through the terminology itself.  For example, the term "total depravity" could be seen as a person being as wicked as he could be.  Total depravity may better be deemed "radical corruption" or "total inability" because what is meant is that all born in Adam have had the entirety of their beings adversely affected by sin and are unable in themselves to respond to God in faith.  Similarly, the doctrine of "unconditional election" may be best understood as "sovereign election" because it states that God chose His elect before creation by His gracious choice apart from foreseen works.  Up front, I think it is so important to understand the distinct meaning of Reformed Theology doctrines before jumping to unwarranted conclusions.  You may recall from my own testimony that I once thought Calvinism was just short of evil before I had even read Reformed Theology . . . much less having done a Scriptural evaluation.  Don't be like I was!
     Through the years, I have met many believers that might say they are "4 point Calvinists," or "3 pointers," even one recently who dubbed themselves as a possible "Calminianist."  Usually, it is the doctrine of limited atonement that is first on the list of those who don't embrace the 5 Points of the doctrines of grace.  It is important up front to make sure we are not saying that the Lord's atonement is limited in any way!  As one theologian said, "The work of Jesus would be sufficient to save countless sinful worlds!"  Christ's work is of infinite value because He is of infinite worth as God, so that is not the teaching of limited atonement.  As R. C. mentions, the doctrine may better be described as definite or particular redemption.  Reformed Theology declares that Christ's work in redemption was purposeful in saving God's elect specifically.  Rather than God making redemption possible and leaving it into the hands of the supposed free-will choice of sinners (see post on Radical Corruption and Total Inability ), the Father's plan in sending Christ accomplishes with absolute certainty the salvation of His elect.  The Reformed view is that Christ came to accomplish with certainty the redemption of God's people through the Covenant of Redemption (see post on Covenant Theology).  In His life, death, and resurrection Jesus put away the sins of the elect and secured all we need to guarantee our salvation!  In time, the redemption of Christ is applied by the Spirit . . . we will study this more in our next 2 lessons.
     In our video today, R. C. gives an explanation of limited atonement then works from 2 Peter 3:8-9 (a common passage used to argue against limited atonement) to help us with this difficult doctrine.

No comments:

Post a Comment