Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Case for a Definite and Complete Atonement. Part 2/3

To no purpose will our opponents reply, that 'the giving of Christ was conditional, not absolute; that the condition was that all who would by faith receive the offered salvation, should be made partakers of it; and since this was not to be the case with all, it is not surprising that they derive no advantage from it.'

This is a begging of the question; it is without foundation in Scripture, which nowhere mentions such a conditional giving of Christ. Though faith is proposed as a means and condition necessary to the reception of Christ, and the enjoyment of the blessings offered in the Gospel, yet it does not follow that it was a condition to the giving of Christ, since faith itself is a gift of grace and one of the fruits of Christ's being delivered up for sinners.

Further, if the giving of Christ rested upon any condition, the condition must depend either upon God or upon man. The latter of these can be affirmed by none but a Pelagian; if the former be affirmed, then it comes to this, that Christ is said to be given to us as a Saviour by God on these terms, that He will bestow Him on us on condition of His working faith in us; which faith, however, He will not give, though He alone is able to give it. How glaring an absurdity!

Our view is further confirmed by the connection of that twofold relation to us, which Christ sustains: the relation of a surety, and that of a Head. He is our surety, that He may acquire salvation for us, by rendering to justice that satisfaction which it demands. He is our Head, in order to apply this salvation to us, by working in us faith and repentance, through the effectual operation of his Holy Spirit upon our hearts.

Hence, as He is not given as a Head to all men, but to His members only, or, which is the same thing, to the elect, who are actually to partake of salvation, He cannot be the surety or sponsor of any other than these. Of whomsoever He is the surety, He is also the head. The one cannot be extended farther than the other.

This also appears from the connection between the death and resurrection of Christ, in which there is the same twofold relation. Since He died as surety, He must rise as Head, as the reasons for His death and resurrection are the same; nor can any reason be given, why the ground of the one should be more extensive than that of the other.

Hence it is, that the Apostle Paul speaks of these as being equal in efficacy and extent: 'Christ died for our sins, and rose again for our justification', Rom. 4.25. 'That he died for all, that they which live, should not live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again', 2 Cor. 4.15.

Hence it cannot be said that He died for any others than those for whom He rose, because no one will be a partaker of the fruits of Christ's death, unless by His resurrection. But that He did not rise as a Head to confer salvation upon all, is self-evident.

2. The same doctrine is established by the connection between the atonement and the intercession of Christ. As they are both parts of His priestly office, they must be of the same extent; so that for all for whom He made satisfaction, He should also intercede, and not make atonement for those who will never have a place in His intercession.

The object of His propitiation and of His appearance in the presence of God must be one, since the Apostles Paul and John represent their connection as indissoluble, 1 John 2.1, 2, Rom. 8.34. That He does not intercede for all, but only for those who are given Him by the Father, Christ Himself expressly declares: 'I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world', John 17.9. When it is so much more easy to pray for any one than to lay down life for them, will any one say that Christ would die for those for whom He would not pray?

Will they say that at the very moment before His death He would refuse His prayers on behalf of those for whom He is just about to shed His blood?

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