Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Calvinism and God's eternal purpose: "L" is for liberty

This is part 4 of a series of posts on the doctrines of grace through the lens of God's eternal purpose in Christ.

n the introduction to this series I said that I want to write about how my views and my love for the doctrines of grace (aka Calvinism) have been built upon by my new understanding of God's eternal purpose.

In this fourth post I want to talk about limited atonement (it puts the "L" in TULIP) and how God's eternal purpose gives this doctrine some shape in Christ.

Now before I continue I have a bit of a confession to make. As I have studied and struggled over these doctrines, this is the one I had the hardest time nailing down scripturally. Because of that I have settled to have a bit of a deformed "TULIP" in my flowerbed that looks more like "TU/LIP".

Yeah, you're confused now, I get it, don't worry I think I am too :)

My TULIP is deformed because I think that the atonement is both unlimited and limited. It is unlimited in the sense that Christ's death is good enough to pay for ALL of the sins of ALL of the people everywhere. But (and that is a big butt if you know what I mean) it is only "effectual" for ALL of the sins of SOME of the people, i.e. those who have faith in His blood to cover their sins. For these precious few who are in Christ and will come to Christ through our testimony, the work has been done on our behalf. It is finished. It cannot be taken away from or added on to. A result of the atonement and redemption of His elect is that Christ's kingdom is expressed on the earth. The benefits of the presence and power of Christ are shared by believer and unbeliever alike in many ways.

That's as far into that deformity as I want to go in this post. If there is any interest, I may write another post on that subject.

Moving on...

Christ's atonement put an end to the rights and claims that Satan and death had on us due to sin. Like I said before, that is a done deal, finished and completed by Christ alone. Bulls, goats and even our own lives don't cut it. We accept Christ's work on our behalf or we offer God a used menstrual rag as our ticket through the pearly gates. Those are the only two choices we have.

So how does the atonement help our understanding of the eternal purpose? There are a lot of ways but I'll name one that comes to mind just to get the ball rolling. Since Christ died for us and we died with Him, we have now been made a new creation in Him. Christ lives in and through us to expand His kingdom in our hearts and the hearts of others. We are no longer bound with sin as our master, we are free and liberated to live for and in Christ.

In the book of the Revelation we are given a glimpse of the Bride that is a city, adorned with precious stones, with streets of transparent gold. It is the dwelling place of God who's light is the glory of God and the Lamb is it's lamp.

Because of the atonement we are that bride. We are that city. We are the dwelling place of God.  Because sin has been done away with we can now be in the presence of our thrice Holy God.  This glimpse of what is to come shows us as much more than thankful and perpetually repentant sinners. We can move on in to maturity as we are moved deeper into Christ who is all in all. We enter in by the blood, our thirst is satisfied by the blood because the life, in this case Christ's life, is in the blood.

How would you say the atonement applies to the body and family facets of God's eternal purpose?


  1. A lot of people have a hard time with the "L" so they use "particular atonement" instead. The cross of Christ is infinitely sufficient but was particularly efficient for those who are elect.

  2. thanks Arthur, that helps to know I'm not the only one. The word "particular" is perfectly accurate as I understand it, but it ruins the flower. I've seen so many folks get hung up on this and the evangelistic efforts of many be crippled because they are afraid to tell an unbeliever that Jesus died for their sins since we cannot know for sure who is elect and who is not. Kind of sad that we have to leave the important parts of the gospel out because our doctrine pulls it up at the root.


As in a biblical church gathering, my word is not complete or final. Participation is allowed, encouraged and expected. Please, don't leave without adding something.