Christ Did Not Die For All Sins: A Look At Limited Atonement

One of the things we hear most in Christianity is the idea that Christ died for every sin that was ever committed. But is that accurate? Did Christ truly die for all sins or did he only die for the sins of those who would believe in Him?

The question comes down to what you believe about the atonement. Was the atonement limited or was it universal? Limited Atonement, of course, is one of the five points of a theological viewpoint called Calvinism. Some people refer to this doctrine as definite atonement since limited can be misleading.

The controversy comes when people misunderstand definite atonement. They tend to believe that this means Christ’s sacrifice was not good enough to save everyone. On the contrary, it was sufficient for all, but not meant for all.

You run into a major problem if Christ died for the sin of every man. Some will not be saved, we know this from many passages of Scripture. If some are not saved then Christ’s atonement was not good enough. Some of Christ’s atonement was wasted. He was powerless over them. You also run into the issue of double jeopardy which causes God to be unjust.

People try to overcome this last point by saying, but salvation is a gift that must be accepted. That is not how justice works. Imagine this, you are convicted of a crime and are ordered to pay a penalty. If the penalty is paid for you, it does not matter if you wanted to accept it or not. The price has been paid. You are free to go. You would not be punished for a crime that has already had the punishment fulfilled.

So the plain fact is that Christ did not die for every sin that has ever been committed. No, He died only for the sins of those who would believe in Him.

The Importance of Scripture Memorization

One of the things that many churches seem to have lost in today’s culture is the discipline of Scripture Memory. Growing up, Scripture memory was a huge emphasis at our church through programs like AWANA. I remember being on the Bible Quiz team for our church competing against other churches. I remember those verses and definitions that I learned decades ago and I am thankful for it.

But is there any indication from Scripture that memorizing God’s Word is important? The answer is an overwhelming yes!

We see verses like Psalm 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.” (KJV) While this verse is not a command, it is a clear principle. Hiding God’s Word in our hearts gives us the tools we need to resist temptation.

Jesus was the perfect model of this in the New Testament when He went under temptation by Satan in the wilderness. This passage is found in Matthew 4:1-11. Jesus goes into the wilderness and is tempted three times by Satan.

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Go Ye All Into the World?

At the end of Matthew’s Gospel we see the final instructions given by Christ to His Disciples:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  – Matthew 28:19 (ESV)

This command is pretty straightforward if read at face value with its plain meaning. They were to go and preach the Gospel to all people. But there have been questions regarding this passage and whether or not it would apply to all Christians or only to the Apostles themselves.

Since the beginning of the church, this passage has been understood to apply to all believers as a call for evangelism. But how can we know that is the case? The passage itself gives us that answer.

Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you – Matthew 28:20a (ESV)

The word for observe is the word tēreō and carries the sense of fulfillment. In other words, the disciples were to evangelize and charge others with fulfilling the commands of Christ, including the Great Commission.