In His Blood Through Faith

This Week in my Theology II class we were asked to defend our position on the extent of the atonement. Did Jesus die for everyone or only for those who are elect? Before this discussion started I had no idea that there were so many people in my class who claim reform theology yet believe that the atonement is unlimited.

This makes no since to me, because a belief that Christ’s atonement was sufficient for all, yet only efficient for the elect is called Amyraldism. In 1619 the Synod of Dort refuted Arminius’s teachings by rejecting the five articles of Remonstrance put forward by his pupils. The synod affirmed total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints as reformed soteriology. Amyraut in a short Treatise on predestination in 1634 took issue with the doctrine of limited atonement while affirming the other four.[1] Thinking in terms of the atonement as being limited or unlimited is outside of the biblical picture. I believe that thinking in terms of particular redemption is in line with the Biblical authors.

My view of the Trinity is much like that of the patristic Irenaeus; The Lord God is a Shepard who guides His sheep with His two hands, His Word and His Spirit. Therefore, my view of justification is the same. The redemption which is in Christ Jesus is a single act by the Lord God in two parts; the blood of the Word and the faith given to us by the Spirit of Truth. One God who brings about the redemption of His sheep with His two hands. Therefore, I cannot separate Christ death on the Cross from the work of the Spirit. The atonement and faith are like two sides of a single coin; the two sides are Christ blood and the believer’s faith.

I will refer you to both Romans 3:21-26 and the law of atonement in Leviticus 16. On the day of the atonement there were two goats; one goat a sin offering and the other a scapegoat. The goat for the sin offering was slaughtered, the high priest brought the blood inside the veil and sprinkled it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. Then the high priest laid his hands on the live goat and confessed over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and sent it away into the wilderness.[2] Just like the day of atonement was a single act by the high priest in two parts; so, the redemption which is in Christ Jesus is a single act by our High Priest, “in His blood through faith.”[3] It is God who provides both the blood and the faith that saves.

The Lord God said to Moses, “I will be gracious to whom He will be gracious and I will show compassion on whom He will show compassion.”[4] Jesus said, “all that the Father gives Me will come to Me…No one can come to me unless that Father who sent Me draws him…no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father…I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep… My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”[5]

[1] John D. Woodbridge and Frank A. James III, Church History From Pre-Reformation to Present Day, Volume Two, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 258.
[2] Cf. Lev.16:1-23.
[3] Rom.3:25.
[4] Exo.33:19, cf. Rom.9:15.
[5] Jn.6:37,44,65,10:11,27-29.