Grace Revealed: Particular Redemption
It must have delighted the apostle Paul to flash before his readers some of the brilliance and breathtaking magnitude of God’s purpose from eternity past to eternity future. Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:1-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:11-17; and 2 Timothy 1:9-12 constitute a portion of these dazzling displays of divine activity. Common elements in these passages are several, either expressed or implied: God the Father has set his purpose of grace upon some individuals before the foundation of the world and has elected them to salvation; these individuals will be set apart by the Holy Spirit to a belief of the truth and will be sealed by him with the result that they come at last to glory; the connecting link between the purposeful and specific choosing done by the Father and the equally particularistic sanctifying work of the Spirit consists of the work of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
As represented in these passages (and please read them before you comment), Christ’s work consists of dying as a result of being delivered up by the Father (Rom. 8:32, 34) to become Redeemer (Eph 1:7) and Savior (2 Tim 1:9) and Intercessor (Rom. 8:34) and Guarantor of an incorruptible eternal life (Rom. *:30, 34; Eph. 1:10-12; 2 Thess. 2:14, 2 Tim 1:10).
These passages have no hint of tentativeness or incompleteness about them when describing the results of the work of Christ. According to these Scriptures, Christ accomplished absolutely what his appearance upon the earth was designed to accomplish. When Paul poses the rhetorical question, “Who is he that condemneth?” his answer – designed to alleviate fully any fears “God’s elect” might have (Rom 8:33) – is, “It is Christ that died.” And he continues, “…that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (v. 34). Christ’s heavenly intercession exactly parallels in purpose his death – both are for God’s elect.
Thus, we come to what seems to me to be the obvious conclusion. While historically this understanding of the atonement has been termed a “limited atonement”, I prefer “particular redemption” because the word “limited” implies inability instead of scope – but the content of the reality to which they refer is the same. Christ died for the same people for whom he intercedes; these are the same ones the Father has elected and the Spirit has effectually called.
It must be the logical conclusion for the proponents of Grace – for is God elected before of old, and Christ died for our sins, he would not have died for the sins of those who were not foreordained to election. In short, particular redemption affirms that Jesus Christ in dying bore the sins of his people, enduring all the punishment that was due to them by becoming for them the curse that the law demanded. It pleased the Lord God to set him forth and bruise him for this purpose, for in doing so he gained – by his meritorious death – forgiveness, righteousness, sanctification, and eternal glory for a large and definite number of people, all of whom he knew and to whom he was joined before the foundation of the world. It is for this reason that Christ is called “that great Shepherd of the sheep” in relation to the “blood of the everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20).
Honestly, I have difficulty seeing how this doctrine presents the problem that it seems to. There are many “4 point Calvinists” who deny the doctrine of particular redemption. I understand the emotional reason – we want to say that God loves everyone just the same. However, that is not the issue. Even Arminians, who believe that God does not elect, but foreknows, should agree with this doctrine. After all, if God foreknew who would “choose” Christ, wouldn’t Christ still have died only for them? Only the open theist seems to have a logical leg to stand on when considering this doctrine of Grace.
Thus, the doctrines of Grace have been presented, and I appreiate everyone's comments that have sharpened my faith. I will continue with two more sections of posts on the subject – one that addresses the Biblical truth that “God our Saviour... will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4); the other to describe what I believe is the reason that the mass of Christians remain Arminians, and why the natural progression of Arminianism is Open Theism.