Spurgeon For The Win!


I was just skimming through C.H. Spurgeon’s sermon, “The Mission of the Son of Man,” when I came across this blurb:

Now, some persons love the doctrine of universal atonement because they say it so beautiful. It is a lovely idea that Christ should have died for all men; it commends itself, they say, to the instincts of humanity; there is something in it full of joy and beauty. I admit there is; but beauty may be often associated with falsehood. There is much which I might well admire in the theory of universal redemption but let me just tell you what the supposition necessarily involves. If Christ on his cross intended to save every man, then he intended to save those who were damned before he died; because if the doctrine be true, that he died for all men, he died for some that were in hell before he came into this world, for doubtless there were myriads there that had been cast away. Once again, if it were Christ’s intention to save all men, how deplorably has he been disappointed! …To think that my Saviour died for men in hell seems a supposition too horrible for me to imagine: that he was the substitute for the sons of men, and that God having first punished the substitute punished men again, seems to me to conflict with any idea of justice.

Spurgeon hit it right on the head here. If Christ died in place of all men without exception, then he knowingly went to the cross in vain, for there were millions at that point who had already died and been judged. And if that is the case, how can we speak of Christ’s death as a triumph over the powers and principalities? Christ failed in the greater part of his mission, if he died with the intent to save all men.

But we have a Savior who really saves- a Savior who wrested Death’s dark keys away from him and cast out the ruler of this world, ransoming a people- his people, those whom the Father had given him- from every tribe and tongue and language and nation. Someday we will stand before the throne of God worshiping that slain and risen Lamb with untold millions from every age of history and every corner of the earth- and we will know the death of Christ to be a victorious death, without a pang of regret or a hint of defeat. And that is beautiful.


Must Have Blocked That Part Out

I wrote a paper my freshman year on Definite Redemption (Limited Atonement), one of my favorite things. Not long ago as my small group was going through 1 John, we came to 1 John 2:2, a big verse on the subject. In my preparation, I went back and read that paper, and I found this, labelled as a quotation from Calvin’s Institutes:

I’m’a do my little dance,
Watch me wear these little pants!
Jump and gyrate all around,
Look at me! I’m off the ground!
Geneva’s wantin’ more of this,
I sure am glad I left Paris!

I have  no memory of writing this, but I was fond of all-nighters back then. Maybe it’s for the best.


Nailed It!

After yesterday’s post I was reading Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics volume 4, and I came across this gem that connected so well with what Owen was saying.

To understand the benefit of sanctification correctly, we must proceed from the idea that Christ is our holiness in the same sense in which he is our righteousness. He is a complete and all-sufficient Savior. He does not accomplish his work halfway but saves us really and completely. He does not rest until, after pronouncing his acquittal in our conscience, he has also imparted full holiness and glory to us… He bore for us the guilt and punishment of sin, placed himself under the law to secure eternal life for us, and then arose from the grave to communicate himself to us in all his fullness for both our righteousness and sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). The holiness that must completely become ours therefore fully awaits us in Christ. (Reformed Dogmatics, IV, 248)

Like a boss. A big, stiff, Dutch Reformed boss.

Double Cure

This morning I was lifeguarding and letting my mind wander, like I do, and my mind wandered right on over to limited atonement, like it does (I’m glad the two of us are so predictable). I’ve been thinking for a few months about what comfort the doctrine of limited atonement holds for believers, and this morning I thought about something John Owen said in his book The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. Owen said, in speaking of holiness, faith, and grace, “Now, where should a soul look for these things, but in the purchase of Christ? Whence should they flow but from his side? Or is there any consolation to be had without them? Is not the strongest plea for these things at the throne of grace, the procurement of the Lord Jesus?” (p. 307).

Indeed it is, John.

Thinking of that, I was struck by how sure the promise of holiness is to the believer, rooted in the death of Christ for him. When I’m struggling with sin and feel as though I’m fighting a losing battle, a general atonement will not help me. If Christ died for all without exception, then he has done all he’s going to do, and the rest is up to me. Even if I get some help from the Spirit, it is still my will which has to effect the benefits Christ purchased on the cross. But if Christ died for his elect, not so as to make them salvable but to actually save them, then his elect will be holy. I will grow and progress in sanctification, if I am his own, because he bought me for his own.

Of course this is not to say I don’t have choices, or that I don’t have any responsibility. It is to say, however, that even my right choices, my sweat, blood, and tears for the sake of holiness, were bought by his choice, his sweat, his blood, his tears. And that’s good news.