2014 Conference Session 3- Limited Atonement
After a delicious Texas Barbeque lunch, we gathered back for Session 3 of our conference, this time to hear about the doctrine of the “L” in TULIP – Limited Atonement. Reverend Parsons reminded us that before we can address the issue of the scope of the atonement, we need to understand what the atonement is.
To do that, Burk took us to both John’s letter and John’s gospel, which provide very helpful and necessary summaries of the atonement. In 1 John 2:2 the Apostle writes, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” and the well-known John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Both passages illustrate that Christ’s propitiation (that is, His satisfaction of the wrath of God) is a comfort to sinners and an invitation to all to repent and believe.
Jesus had to live a perfect life so that when he died, his death would mean something, Pastor Parsons explained. To call the atonement “limited” or “definite” or is redundant with the term atonement itself. By definition an atonement is a particular work. Everything Christ did, culminating with the cross, was for his own sheep. He is the shepherd who calls his sheep, knows them by name, calls them, rescues them, and brings them back. The atonement is a most practical doctrine.
At the same time, Christ’s death has unlimited, infinite value. It is defined by God - it actually accomplishes an atoning sacrifice for God’s people. It accomplishes redemption. Our comfort is to know that we are not our own and that we have been bought back by God. We belong to Him. How do we respond to this? We offer the gospel freely, sinners reaching out to other sinners.