There is a theology that has been circulating since 1619 called “Limited Atonement.” Those that believe in the doctrine prefer to call it “Particular Redemption.” I call it false teaching and blasphemy because it falsely teaches that Jesus Christ did not die for the sins of the whole world. Let me be clear here, that is exactly why Jesus died! Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, and anyone who tells you that He didn’t is not preaching the truth!
The Gospel is the message that God has offered the whole world forgiveness of sins and salvation through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, and anyone who believes in Jesus will be saved. God accomplished this through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus when He died for the whole world on the cross. There is nothing limited about His atonement or particular about His redemption. His atoning sacrifice is all sufficient to cover all sin and anyone who believes in Jesus will have their sins forgiven and be redeemed! Salvation by faith in Jesus is available to the whole world!
First off, this post will be a bit different and, fair warning, it will be my longest post ever. I usually don’t get bogged down in theological arguments over doctrine, but this debate is over the very core of the Gospel and I must speak truth to it. I never went to Seminary and I am not a Pastor, nor do I pretend to be. I don’t go to a denominational church nor do I claim any denomination. I am not religious nor have I ever been. I didn’t grow up going to church. I was an atheist who loved to party and get drunk before I came to faith in Jesus. I just believe in Jesus. I follow Him and He leads me by the power of the Holy Spirit. I have the gift of evangelism and I preach the Gospel just as the Apostle Paul preached it.
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-4
I came to Jesus in October of 1996 at the age of 18 my freshman year at the University of Northern Colorado. I came to Jesus at that time because I had just spent the last four years all through high school living in a house possessed by a demon. My Mom, Dad, younger sister, and I all experienced poltergeist type torment and it was terrifying. After I accepted Jesus, I went back home two months later that Christmas break and rebuked the demon out of our house in the Name of Jesus! I had no knowledge of doctrines or denominations or theology. I just knew that Jesus died to forgive our sins and give us eternal life, I came to Him by faith, and then I received power when I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I understood I was covered in His Blood and I had real power against evil!
I received discipleship training in the Bible and evangelism through Campus Crusade for Christ my entire four years in college. The Lord put me in a leadership position quickly and I began preaching sermons at the weekly fellowship meetings just about every Friday night from the time I got saved until the time I graduated. I also preached on campus daily, and led a Bible study my sophomore through senior years. My brothers in Christ and I were also blessed to baptize many of our fellow classmates and the Lord took me on three spring break mission trips to the inner city of Denver. For my senior year mission trip, I was chosen to be the leader to help coordinate the ministry efforts and watch over the younger brothers and sisters. All of that training provided a solid foundation for studying and preaching God’s Word for the last 23 years that I have followed and served the Lord.
I came running to Jesus because my family lived with a demon! I didn’t run to a denomination or a doctrine. I just came to Jesus by faith and He saved me and filled me with His Holy Spirit! He gave me the gift of evangelism and I have been preaching the Gospel and sharing my testimony ever since! I preach the true Gospel that God has offered salvation to the whole world by His grace and anyone can be saved through faith in Jesus!
“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 2:1-2
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”
People who believe in the doctrine of limited atonement do correctly believe that only those who believe in Jesus will be saved. However, they misunderstand and misinterpret that truth when they say it means Jesus only died for a select few. His death on the cross covers the sins of the whole world, not just a few. Of course there will be people who reject Jesus, but He still died for their sins. It does not limit His atonement when people refuse to repent and choose to reject Him. It is not His fault if people choose to reject His forgiveness and salvation. His atonement is available to everyone, but we have to receive Jesus by faith in order to receive the forgiveness of our sins.
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”
1 Peter 3:18
“And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
The main argument limited atonement preachers use to say Jesus only died for a few is the Scripture that says only those who the Father gives to Jesus will be saved. Saying Jesus only died for a few is a complete misunderstanding and misinterpretation of Scripture. Yes, only those who believe in Jesus (the ones the Father gives to Jesus) will be saved, but salvation by faith in Jesus Christ is available to the whole world because Jesus died for the sin of the whole world. Anyone can believe in Jesus and become one of the ones the Father gives to Jesus! He didn’t just die for a select few only to let everyone else perish!
Let’s look at the entirety of what Jesus said when He talked about “All that the Father gives me”:
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Jesus speaking in John 6:37-40
Do you hear that?! Jesus is inviting everyone to come to Him and He promises that all who believe in Him will have eternal life and be raised up at the last day! It is God’s will that everyone who looks to Jesus and believes in Him will have eternal life!
Remember what John the Baptist said when he saw Jesus coming toward him?
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
The sin of what? Just a few people? No, John said, “who takes away the sin of the world!” Limited atonement preachers will mince words about the word “world,” and they will say it doesn’t mean the whole world. They are also incorrect about that. The New Testament was written in Greek. The Greek word for “world” used in the context of John 1:29 is “Kosmos,” which means “the inhabitants of the world, the universe, creation.”
It is used again in John 3:16 and 1 John 2:2:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus speaking in John 3:16
“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
1 John 2:2
God’s Word couldn’t be any more clear! Did Jesus say God so loved the few that he gave his one and only Son? No, He said, “For God so loved the world,” kosmos, the inhabitants of the world! God loves everyone in the whole world and He gave the whole world His Son Jesus Christ, so we can be saved and go to Heaven through faith in Him! Jesus said so Himself! Limited Atonement preachers are arguing with Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lord and Savior of the whole world!
The Apostle John clearly states that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for all sins, not just the sins of a few. John specifically takes the time to make it clear that Jesus didn’t just die for them, “but also for the sins of the whole world.” He even adds the word “whole” to it! The Greek word he used for “whole” is “holou,” which means “all, the whole, entire, complete.” So when he wrote “for the sins of the holou kosmos” he was saying for the sins of all the inhabitants of the world! Anyone can become one of God’s elect by believing in Jesus Christ and that offer is for the whole world! John 1:29, John 3:16, and 1 John 2:2 completely refute the false limited atonement doctrine! If all I gave you were those three verses, it would be enough to understand the Gospel and understand that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world!
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
There is no urgency to preach the Gospel in the false doctrine of limited atonement. In fact, if you believe in limited atonement, then why preach the Gospel at all? If you truly believe that Jesus didn’t die for the sins of the whole world, then you must believe that God creates some people just to be condemned and go to hell, and that is not what the Bible teaches. God does not want anyone to perish! He wants everyone to repent!
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9
I preach the Gospel because the Lord commanded us to preach it to the world. Why would Jesus do that if He had only died for a few people? Jesus told us to go into all the world because He died for the sins of the world and He wants us to share that good news with the world! There is no good news in the limited atonement doctrine because it is false and has nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus speaking in Acts 1:8
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Jesus speaking in Matthew 24:14
That is all the authority and power I will ever need to preach the Gospel to the whole world! Jesus even said the end will only come once the Gospel is preached in the “whole world (holou kosmos) as a testimony to all nations.” Jesus clearly would not have commanded us to “make disciples of all nations” if He had only died for a few. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are His witnesses to the ends of the earth! Don’t ever let anybody lie to you and tell you that Christ’s blood doesn’t cover the sins of the world. Jesus Christ is the perfect and final atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world! God does not want anyone to perish! God does not want anyone to be condemned! That is why He came to earth to die for us as the man Christ Jesus!
Just like Jesus said:
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him.”
There is that word “world” again. Don’t let limited atonement preachers tell you it doesn’t mean the whole world. Yes it does! God sent His Son into the world (kosmos) to save the world (kosmos) through Him, and He does not want anyone to be condemned! God is love and He so loved the world that He gave us His Son. He gave Jesus to all of us in every nation of the world!
“And they sang a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased
men for God
from every tribe and language and
people and nation.”
Jesus purchased men for God from all over the world because He was slain for the sins of the whole world! How could Jesus have purchased people from every tribe, language, people, and nation, if He had not died for the sins of the world? Again, Christ’s atonement, which is the forgiveness of our sins by His sacrificial death on the cross, is available to every single person in the whole world through faith in Jesus Christ!
Look at how the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel:
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
Paul said all have sinned and all who believe in Jesus are justified freely by God’s grace. God justifies anyone who has faith in Jesus! Why? What kind of sacrifice did God present Jesus as? That’s right, “a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.” The blood of Jesus is all sufficient to cover the sins of the whole world and anyone who believes in Jesus will be redeemed and stand forgiven before God! Jesus is the final and perfect sacrifice of atonement and His powerful blood covers all sin once and for all!
“He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.”
The doctrine of limited atonement was a source of controversy and debate even among those who issued the five points of Calvinism. Calvin did not even believe in limited atonement! He believed that Jesus died for the whole world and that anyone in the whole world could receive salvation through faith in Jesus!
Here is a quote regarding the history of limited atonement doctrine:
“Limited atonement has always been a controversial belief. The Synod of Dort in 1619 issued the points of doctrine now known as TULIP; however, several theologians at the synod rejected limited atonement while accepting the other four points of Calvinism.
Long before the Protestant confessions and synods, though, the early church father Athanasius was describing universal atonement. In his “On the Incarnation of the Word” (2.9), Athanasius writes that Jesus’ death was “a substitute for the life of all” and that, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, “the corruption that goes with death has lost its power over all.” Note the word all. Athanasius’ point is that Jesus’ death atoned for all of humanity.
Ironically, Calvin himself may not have placed much value on the idea of a limited atonement. After all, the five points of what is called “Calvinism” came from a synod in the Netherlands almost 60 years after his death. Calvin had this to say about John 3:16: “It is a remarkable commendation of faith, that it frees us from everlasting destruction…And he has employed the term whosoever, both to invite all indiscriminately to partake of life, and to cut off every excuse from unbelievers. Such is also the import of the term World;…he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life” (Commentary on John, Vol. 1).”
Athanasius and Calvin were right! The death of Jesus is a substitute for the life of all people and God is reconciling the whole world to Himself through Christ! He is inviting all people in the whole world to come to faith in Jesus because Jesus died for the sins of the whole world!
Just as the Apostle Paul said:
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though once we regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Just like Paul, I too am convinced that Jesus died for all and that God is reconciling the world to Himself in Christ! He has committed to every believer in Jesus that we are to share this message with everyone, that God will not count our sins against us if we believe in Jesus! Believers in Jesus are His ambassadors to share the good news of the message of the Gospel with the whole world! I urge you with all my heart, come to Jesus and be reconciled to God!
Jesus loves you and He will forgive you! He died for the sins of the whole world and anyone in the whole entire world can come to Jesus by faith! That includes you, no matter where you are in the world!
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Jesus didn’t die for your sins! Yes He did! Just as sin came to all people through Adam, justification is available to all people through faith in Jesus Christ. Many will be made righteous, not just a few! Jesus died for the sins of the whole world and that is exactly what God’s Word teaches! Someone who is preaching a gospel that says Jesus didn’t die for the sins of the whole world is not preaching the True Gospel. That is no gospel at all!
As Paul warned:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”
There is only one Gospel of Jesus Christ and the gospel of limited atonement is not it! Limited Atonement is a perversion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Paul’s bold statement serves as a warning to anyone who would pervert the True Gospel. Limited Atonement is a false teaching that blasphemes the perfect atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of all mankind! The atoning sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross is final and complete to pay for the sins of the whole world and there is nothing limited about it! That is the True and only Gospel of Jesus Christ! Jesus died for all of us, all the inhabitants of the whole world, and if you call on the Name of Jesus, your sins will be forgiven and you will be saved!
“Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Grace and peace to you all!