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Universal atonement vs Limited atonement

Limited atonement

One of the doctrines that Calvinists believe in is called limited atonement, which means Christ did not die for everyone in the world, Christ only died for the elect.

Their rationalization is that Jesus’s sacrifice, His atonement is pure salvation, it saves to the uttermost. So if Jesus’s sacrifice is for the whole world, but obviously not the whole world is saved, only the elect/saved Christians are saved, then we’re saying that His atonement power is powerless. A Calvinist would argue that His atonement is truly powerful because it gives true pure salvation to the elect. The atonement and salvation are only for the elect but not for the whole world.

Hebrews 10:12 “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;”

Notice that the sacrifice for sin is permanent, not halfway, not partially.

Hebrews 9:12 “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

This redemption/sacrifice that He did actually redeems and saves people.

Hebrews 7:23-25 “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

Jesus Christ is interceding, not only that, this literally saved people too.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

When Jesus Christ gave that sacrifice that provided redemption and intercession, it already saved.

1 Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

Calvinists would say that Jesus already came with His sacrifice to save sinners. If we say that He sacrificed for the whole world, then the whole world should be saved.

We can argue back with this: Christ’s offering did save everyone. Even though His offering did save everyone, it cannot function and operate until we apply it to ourselves.

For example, if I offered a sufficient supply of food for a starving village, that means that my offering saved everyone from starvation. But here’s the thing, it does not operate on that person until he applies the food in his mouth. When he applies the food in his mouth, then we can say that the offering starts operating. That’s the same with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.

2 Corinthians 5:19-20 “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

The Bible recognizes that God reconciled the whole world and in v20 Paul is saying please apply it to ourselves.

John 3:17-18 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

v17 the whole world is saved but even though God saves the whole world, we have to apply it. v18 we got to apply it by believing on Jesus Christ for our salvation.

Christ’s death is typified to Moses’s brazen serpent, and Moses’s brazen serpent is made for everyone but its salvation cannot be operated until it’s applied.

Numbers 21:8-9 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”

Notice that it’s made for everyone but it cannot operate until they saw it (applied it to themselves).

John 3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Jesus Christ, just like the serpent on the pole, is made for everyone who is bitten by a serpent. v15 ‘whosoever’: it’s for everybody. It’s made for everybody yet they have to apply it to themselves.



1. 2 Cor 5, John 3
That it does make sense that Christ’s sacrifice is for the whole world but it cannot operate until you apply.

2. Num 21, John 3
Moses’s serpent on a pole is for everybody and Christ’s sacrifice is an imitation of that.

3. Heb 7:25
Calvinists mistake that universal atonement is unconditional. We believe universal atonement to be conditional. The Bible says Jesus’s atonement was for everybody to save and redeem but it’s based on a condition.

Hebrews 7:25 “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

‘that come unto God by him’: that’s the condition

1 Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

Even though He came to save the world but it’s going to be based on the condition of receiving.

John 1:11-12 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”

Jesus Christ came for the whole world but there’s a group that does not receive Him/rejects Him and there’s a group that receives Him. That thing has a condition.

We believe in universal atonement. It does save, intercede, but based on a condition.