The Curse of Limited Atonement
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
This false system is responsible for the sharp division in the church and political world. I’m convinced it is one of the divides with the Conservative political thinkers, the fundamentalists, and the moderates. The rank and file conservatives believe the truth of the Bible is ironclad and cannot be compromised. The new translations of the Bible have adjusted Scripture to voice a strong compromise with post-millennial theology. In most cases the limited atonement belief is strongly connected to the post-millennial belief. There are those in one or the other that do not fit this pattern. Let’s begin today with strong Biblical proof of the great Gospel truth, “Whosoever will let him come.”
Whosoever will let him come
One of the grandest truths in Scripture and one that Satan would love to destroy is “Whosoever will, let him come!” To even think of charging God with preordaining a certain class of humankind to eternal judgment and condemnation is subhuman. I have never heard of a false god that is as cruel and unjust as this idea represents.
The present civilized world has made a campaign out of human rights. In fact the whole idea of human rights has been overplayed until the idea of personal rights has become unbalanced. Personal responsibility must be an intimate part of individual rights. It is when these two great facts become interwoven that mankind is capable of directing his or her life in a fulfilling wholesome fashion. How then can educated religious leaders in this same civilized world believe in a God who knows nothing of individual rights and impartial treatment?
“Reformed Theology” is one of the theological terms for this system of belief. It is also recognized in the theological world as “Calvinism” or “Predestination.” A growing number of television and radio personalities have helped popularize the churches that hold this doctrine. The individuals involved have accomplished some very commendable ministries and are in many cases great voices for traditional values in our nation. This article is in no way an attack on these people nor an effort to falsely accuse them as individuals. It is rather a defense of the simple gospel of Jesus Christ and the golden text of Holy Scripture. “For God so loved the world (Cosmos—all created order) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 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. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3: 16-19)
False Charges Against God
To charge the Creator of our universe and the Creator of all mankind with creating a class of individuals predestined to spend eternity in hell is unthinkable. To offer them no right of appeal is even worse. The true Biblical doctrine of predestination is a marvelous truth and certainly shows our God as the designer of all His universe. We all are pre-ordained to serve Him and bring Him glory in our individual capacity and position. There are Jacobs and Esaus in every walk of life, some of them God can use mightily and others will be used in lesser degrees. Whatever God’s grace does with a man’s life is beautiful, be it great or small. His pre-ordained purpose is the highest calling in life, whatever that calling may lead a person to do or where they may serve. That’s Biblical predestination as it relates to God’s sovereign will for each man.
Unbiblical predestination presents God as an arbitrary and unfeeling dictator who preplans every design of our life as a puppeteer would manipulate his mindless dolls. What kind of satisfaction would the Heavenly Father derive from His subjects saying, “I love you” like a voice of a talking computer.
The beautiful theological terms used in this false system may hide this kind of plainness, but the reality is still present. When our God said that we were created in His image, and then gave us commandments concerning obedience and disobedience, He was clearly suggesting the autonomy to choose right or wrong, to seek His will or reject it. Nowhere in Scripture has this capacity been eliminated. The fall resulting from disobedience left us with a totally depraved nature, but not without a conscience of where our heart really belongs.
1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.
2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,
3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
Judgment Cannot Be Holy If It Is Not Fair
The judgments of God are turned on their head when we suggest there are individuals with no hope, no defender, and no appeal. What would we think of a judge that treated men without regard to a written code of justice? If a judge on Monday offered forgiveness to those brought before him and on Tuesday simply sent one and all to the slammer, yet offered no rationale, but “Monday have I loved, and Tuesday have I hated,” he would not be respected even by his benefactors. Who wants a friend, much less a god, that would dare treat other people, whoever they are, like they are nobodies?
The first book of Holy Writ lays the foundation for God’s action among men. The preincarnate Christ is speaking to Moses about judgment in Sodom and Gomorrah when Abraham appeals to the Lord,“That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)
The very nature of God is holy. He can no more offer a precarious judgment against man without a reason than He can Himself sin against His own holiness. He is more bound to His justice and holiness than He would ever bind His willful children. We may sin against His holiness, but He cannot.
The Theology Reduces “God” To The Same Level As The False Gods
Our world is fast becoming a world of pantheism and paganism. The clear distinction between the God of the Holy Bible and the many gods of modern civilization is being reduced to a blur. When the God and Father of our Christian churches is made to appear fraternalistic and partial, He becomes no more than a nearsighted tribal god or an Aryan god, as worshipped by Hitler. In a recent radio interview Dr. Tim LaHaye declared this whole theological idea to be paganism. He stated that the false gods such as “Allah” of the Moslem religion declare, “Whatever Allah wills.” “This,” stated Dr. LaHaye, “is no difference than this fatalistic doctrine of predestination as being taught today.”
How dare anyone suggest that our God would subject part of His human family, all of which the Scripture declares were created in His image, to a hellish fate. This idea has no relationship to the lofty truth of Jehovah, our Creator and Sustainer. The human family He created could never be subdivided into the chosen and the rejected by a fatalistic decree.
Such A God Would Be Unworthy Of Trust
Who could trust a God that cares for the souls of some men, but has not interest in the souls of others? Let’s compare this idea with a father and a mother and their children. All reasonable men condemn parental favoritism. Parents that pet one or two of their children and ignore the others breed mistrust, jealousy and hostility in their family. I have seen the wreckage that this kind of favoritism spurns.
Children and grandchildren raised in this family situation are left with an unbalanced view of life in general. The parents or grandparents are mistrusted and usually forsaken and left to die in misery. It’s a sick kind of life. I would reject the God of the Bible today for any other religion or no religion at all if such an idea of Him was Biblically sound. Such an idea of our great God is unworthy of our attention.
This Doctrine Would Make Bearing Children Unbearable
It would be utter foolishness to bring one child into the world if the possibility existed of their being predestined to judgment. For what values are Christian education and God’s promise to faithful parents if the future of their children is already fixed in fate? The promises of wise and faithful parenthood are turned on its head by such foolish theology.
The Holy Scripture clearly states, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Such a promise is rendered mute and even deceptive, if it is not true. Do parents make a difference in their child’s salvation or not? Another great statement that the Holy Spirit spoke in Proverbs has even greater implications. “Thou shalt beat him with rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” (Proverbs 23:14) This truth puts a child’s future squarely in the hands of faithful parents that properly discipline their children.
God Is No Respecter Of Persons
We are discussing “false charges against God.” Nothing that could be said or written about Him is more serious than to charge Him with “respecter of persons.” The Holy Scripture has treated this subject with tremendous seriousness. The Apostle Paul said, “For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:11) The Apostle was bridging the theological gap between the Jewish understanding of God and that of the Christian church. His statement is of tremendous value because of the Jewish pride in their election. Now the church world was being established on the unity of the Jew and Gentile. The God of Holy Scripture was the God of both worlds without respect of a man’s nationality.
Luke teaches us in the Book of Acts that God, “…hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us.” (Acts 17:26-27) The apostle again declares this truth as it relates to the judgment of men, “But that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he had done, and there is no respect of persons.” (Colossians 3:25)
Apostle Peter also made it clear that our God desires the eternal salvation of all men. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9) It is unthinkable to believe anything else in light of the clear and unbridled powers of Christ’s death. He died for all men or else His death is limited in its eternal powers.
Please do not falsely charge our God with being a respecter of persons. It would be the ultimate act of disrespect and unrighteous behavior. Both biblical truth and its language defy such thinking. The entire personality of Holy Scripture is contrary to any ideas of unbiblical predestination. God is a god of holiness, justice, mercy, and love. Each of these incredible words defy anything, but the facts of “whosoever will let him come.” Holiness would be turned on its head by any respect of persons. Justice would quickly become injustice, mercy would be unmerciful, and love would be hatred.
4 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.
5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!
6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.
“Whosoever” as a Biblical word and statement appears eighty-one (81) times in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). It appears 109 times in the New Testament. The word “all” is used by Biblical writers 2,889 times. “All” and “whosoever” are foundation words of God’s Holy Book. The very essence of our faith is in the idea of this universe being the creation of God and righteousness as its God ordained character. Sin is a foreign principle introduced by the enemy of God. God didn’t create sin. Sin began when Satan conceived the idea, “I will.” “…I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne about the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14)
God created this archangel, Lucifer, who became Satan after his fateful decision. God gave him the right of choice which allowed for such an act. Our God wanted an angelic family that freely obeyed and praised Him. Man was given the same honor. A multitude of both angels have chosen contrary to the will of their Maker and they will pay the price for such rebellion. They could not be charged with “folly” unless the right to choose was theirs to act upon.
The Foundation Of The Gospel Is A Call To “Whosoever”
When Apostle Peter preached the inaugural sermon on the Day of Pentecost, he was clear in declaring the scope of the church. He stated, “And it shall come to pass, that “whosoever” shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21) The Gospel cannot be preached and anointed by the Holy Ghost unless it is a clear call to all men. If it is not delivered to all men without respect of persons, it is not “Good News” at all.
The New Testament church cannot be charged with limiting God’s favor to one class of men. God’s church is a classless society, neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) We cannot exclude men by race, class, or social standing and certainly not by some preconceived act of sovereign rejection.
Apostle Paul Strengthened “Whosoever Will”
As the apostle to the Gentiles received his direction by the Holy Ghost, this same clear message dominated his anointed letters. He wrote to Rome the following. “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:11-17)
This was at first a bit burdensome to the young church, but the Holy Ghost taught them one by one the total scope of Christ’s death. They were quick to learn that Jesus died for all men and that their responsibility was to preach the gospel to one and all. Their God was not precarious in His mercy and the unity of all men made this church a dynamite force in the known world of that generation. They willingly died for an unlimited Gospel. If you would have preached limited grace or Calvinism to those men, they would have called you a heretic.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Those of us who proclaim the good news of the Gospel and invite “whosoever” to receive Jesus Christ are accused of denying the “total depravity of man.” We are so accused because we invite one and all and give the last responsibility to each man to decide. It is said that such right put too much on fallen man. They contend that total depravity leaves man unable to decide for God; therefore, God must decide for man. This they contend is the basis for predestination. Man has no capacity of choice so God has chosen those He will to redeem. The rest are simply excluded. Such nonsense has no place in Scripture.
The Apostle Peter, writing in his Epistle, declared, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9) Such statements are emphatic. They cannot be interpreted differently if anyone believes in the literal method of understanding truth. Jesus proclaimed to Nicodemus, “…Except a man be born again, He cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5) No one can enter God’s kingdom without the cleansing of His blood and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. That choice to receive such an offer of redemption is squarely on man’s shoulder.
The Gospel of John clearly shows this total depravity. The power to be redeemed is God’s doings, but the choice to welcome this action is placed at man’s door. It was stated, “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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13) When men receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, He then imparts to man the grace of redemption that enables the individual to become the child of God.
The Last Offer
The Revelation of Jesus Christ repeats the call to “all” men in the last chapter of this final book. Such a breathtaking conclusion of Holy Scripture is tremendously important. The Spirit said, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And “whosoever will,” let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)
This was the 109th time that “whosoever” had appeared in the New Testament. If you go to “hell” you will go because you either chose to go out rightly or chose to go by careless rejection of His invitation. Hell was not prepared for you, but for the fallen angels. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41)
This very fact should settle forever that God does not send one individual to eternal judgment. It wasn’t prepared for men. Those that go will be intruders into Satan’s judgment just as Satan intruded into the Garden of Eden in the beginning.
Joshua said, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)