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Mystery. Hmmmm. I like the one about how election means to choose(i.e. first tuesday of November) but in the Greek it magically becomes something else. It's a mystery. Or how foreknowledge means God is a great observer. Yet another great mystery. We were ready to hang Pres. Clinton for such interpretations. How about John 6:44. A simple jog over to Biblegateway will explain what "draw" means. Having come out of an Armeniast view, this was all just too much to overcome.I had to do the digging for myself though. That's when it became real. Now I truly know what I have to be thanful for. A firm grasp of the truth will do wonders for your pride, for the growth of fruit, and oh yeah, I actually have something to talk to my Heavenly Father about.This has changed my life so much, I could go on for pages. Oh well... Once again, great blog.


I don't put what my mind is thinking into words very well (as you may have noticed) so I will just say as I have said before I don't now nor will I ever deserve the gift our Father has given but I am so thankful for it and I know that it wouldn't have happened without his first drawing me.I hope I can spend the rest of how ever much time he has for me here, PRAISING MY AWESOME REDEEMER for his never failing WORD AND GRACE!!!

P.S. Shane I stil read your blogs and I think they are great, sometimes my brain doesn't work to respond and if I do respond I just might break Brian's computer again and I would be in trouble. HA HA HA!!! Anyway I guess I make reader # 4, but us (4 readers) are all very blessed each time God allows us to take in your thoughts, Thank You!



Nice try but I remain unconvinced. The straightforward reading of the text is clear. "World" means world in 1Jn 2:2 and 1Tim 4:10 shows very clearly that Jesus can do something for all people that has special meaning or application to just beleivers.

The day we have the Atonement tied up into a neat theological and logical package is the day our God has become too small and our heads too big.

Mystery is there for a reason: God is God and we are not. I can fully hold to what the Bible teaches about election and still hold to an atonement that is sufficient for all but applied to some.

It does not diminish my thankfulness or the greatness of God's grace.

"So what's the point", you ask in the last paragraph of your blog. The answer in reality is that it does not matter. Everything you wrote in your final paragraph is equally true of those who hold to a non-limited atonement.

You wrote:
"I think that it causes your thankfulness to God to SKYROCKET when you believe that Jesus death on the cross was NOT a hypothetical payment….but that He actually PAID FOR YOU, individually."

This is a straw man to say "hypothetical" regarding those who do not hold to "limited ateonment". Every true believer, whether they believe in limited ot unlimited atonment, - the atomement was real and applied. So it does not change in the least one's thankfulness to God! Both can "skyrocket"!

Your wrote:
"This doctrine should be EXTREMELY humbling, and GOD glorifying. Who am I (and who are you)….that God HIMSELF should suffer and die so that we would (not could) WOULD be bought…paid for….washed clean….given a new life on earth….and welcomed into HIS eternal kingdom in Heaven? I don’t deserve it. No one does."

Again this true for evey beleiver regardless of one's view of the atonement. Whether it is sufficient for all does change that it is applied to the elect who are undeserving. So it does not change in the least one's humbleness before God! Both can be "extremely" humbled before him!

Your wrote:
"BUT….I’m thankful for a God that leaves NOTHING to chance. He sent His Son to live a perfect life and die a perfect, atoning death to pay for individuals. To pay for me….and you (if Christ is your Lord)…..and for ANYONE else who will turn to Him as Lord (though WE have no clue who will and who won’t)…..It’s a privilege….It’s an honor…..It’s better than anything else in the universe….to be one of the sheep, who was paid for….BY THE LAMB OF GOD, who takes away the sins of the world…..every tribe, every tongue, every people, every nation, every ONE…of His elect"

Revelation 5:9 is a great verse but it does not interpret in CONTEXT what "world" or "all men" mean in the their own contexts of 1Jn 2:2 and 1Tim 4:10 respectfully.

In the end, we all can be thankful and humble and joyful that God provided His Son for all, especially the elect who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Tough subject but in the end the application is the same for those who are truly saved!

Steve Suttill

Another great blog. We are discussing this issue as well in our Wednesday night study of the Baptist Faith and Message. I have the folks studying Romans 9 this week.

According to the great Dr. Alan Tomlinson, inscriptions found in ancient Palestine prove that the word "savior" in 1Timothy 4:10 should be translated "benefactor." He says this word was used as a title given to rich philanthropists. Herod was given the title of Savior of Jerusalem when he opened up his own storehouses to feed the starving Jews during a famine. That being the case, God is the "benefactor" of all men, (causing the sun to shine and rain to fall on the wicked and righteous, etc), but especially of those who believe. If that's the case, then the word has nothing to do with eternal salvation in regards to "all men." It simply means God blesses and provides for all in this world.


Pastor Shane--awesome blog! Man, Chris has got some serious comments going on!
I AM convinced...not necessarily by this blog (although I think it is very convincing, with the scripture cited), but from earlier study of passages that lead us to the process of "election". It is a very difficult thing to think about--that God would call, justify and glorify only some, not others. How does He choose? And why not someone else? Why me? Will my family and my friends be saved? Whether you agree with the concept of election or limited atonement or not, our responsibilites as believers don't change, as Chris agreed in his comment. However, I disagree with him that if we believe in election and/or limited atonement it doesn't necessarily change how thankful we are, how humbled we are, how ashamed we are of our sins...I believe that if one can truly get the idea of election (or limited atonement, either one or both) into one's head and mull it over--IT HAS TO CHANGE YOUR VIEW OF YOUR SALVATION AND MAKE YOU INTENSELY, OVERWHELMINGLY AND UNBELIEVABLY THANKFUL that Christ died for YOU--He CHOSE YOU. Not just any Tom, Dick, Harry or Sally--YOU and ME, if you know the Lord Jesus. If I believe that God works through people's "conscience, or soul" and that all have the inherent knowledge of God through his HOly Spirit and it's only UP TO THEM to choose Him or not--gosh, to me, that takes away some of God's awesomeness, His holiness, His omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience especially. After all, the Bible says He knows all, IS all, is everywhere and in all things--HE IS. If that's the case, then how is it that He doesn't know who will choose Him, if we all have a "choice"? I know that Chris said he believes in election, but just not "limited atonement". Okay, so "all can be extremely humbled before Him" either way--whether they believe in limited or unlimited atonement. But if you believe in limited atonement, not only do you believe that Christ called you and justified you, but He died--not for everyone in the world, whether they are "elect" or not--for YOU and ME. Not just anyone! He specifically died on the cross, through horrible, agonizing pain, for ME. Not my lost friends (unless they are later called and saved) who don't know HIm, but ME. He "chose me, from before the foundation of the world", and He knew I would come to Him through His calling, and He died, for ME. That, to me, is a HUGE difference when you think about whether you believe in "limited atonement" or "unlimited atonement". It makes me, through the power of the HOly Spirit's work in my life, thankful and incredibly humbled. How could I now do anything other than live for Him?
Now I know that whether I believe I was "chosen" or not, or that His death was a "limited or unlimited atonement", that doesn't change my responsibility to love the Lord Jesus with all my heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love my neighbor as myself. And we don't know who will be "called" or not, just as Pastor Shane said...we are to pray, evangelize, love others and speak the Truth of God's Holy Word. And the rest is up to the HOly Spirit!


Wow! Who would have thought there would be so much interest in Limited Atonement?....Chris! Is that you?....I’m glad to see you’re reading my blogs (at least this one)… I prefaced this one with a disclaimer saying it was a controversial topic AND some would disagree with me…So your rebuttal is more than welcome. Thanks for the contribution to the conversation. I kind of wondered if I would get a response from one of the “Liberty University” guys. I know they’re pretty rabid about Unlimited Atonement, as is BBF……

But you and I would both agree on SOME limits to the atonement. You said, “I can fully hold to what the Bible teaches about election and still hold to an atonement that is sufficient for all but applied to some.” I agree. Christ death is more than sufficient FOR ALL. But (as you said) it is only “applied TO SOME”…thus it is limited……As for the “mystery” aspect. There’s no question that God’s ways are above our ways….and there are infinite things we will never come close to understanding….I just don’t think this aspect of the atonement is one of them. You said, “The day we have the Atonement tied up into a neat theological and logical package is the day our God has become too small and our heads too big.” I would humbly disagree. Trying to prayerfully understand what God has revealed to us in His Word does not diminish God’s Greatness....nor does it necessarily affect the size of our heads (though that is always a danger to keep in mind). My “straw man” of the “hypothetical atonement” is no straw man at all…..it is a very real and genuine position held by very real (not straw) men of the Arminian persuasion. Maybe not you, but some DO hold to that view. That "straw man" is very much alive and kicking. Although admittedly, this delves more into views on election than atonement. But ultimately, I see the two doctrines inescapably linked. If God chose (and we know He did), then he also paid for those whom He chose. We are still called to share the gospel with all people, with the full assurance that God will save all who will turn to Him. Though as I said, we don’t know who will and who won’t….AND therein lies the mystery of God.....

Is it possible to hold to a form of unlimited atonement, and still have tremendous praise for God’s gift of salvation? No question about it. But is there AT LEAST A POTENTIAL for a lessening (or increasing) of affection towards God based upon your view of the atonement’s extent? Also I would say: No question about it.

In closing, I would say that this is a good example of faithful Christians disagreeing on a “non-essential” (though not 'unimportant') issue. (Of course by “non-essential” I mean your view of Limited Atonement doesn’t affect your salvation). I’ll also say, Steve made a good comment, about the word “Savior” being translated “Benefactor.” That would seem to sharpen our understanding and eliminate some confusion as well. Thanks for all the comments, and keep studying. It’s good for all of us to think these “deep things of God” through….and truly know what we believe……and its even OK to respectfully disagree from time to time. ---Shane


Shane, it looks like your blog is accomplishing something that is very helpful, namely, it is causing people to think. I was also rewarded by hearing what Dr. Tomlinson said via Steve. That was helpful. I am not sure I agree with Chris however. After all, I don't love my wife the same way I love you. She is the elect, she is chosen, just as I am chosen by her, and that makes our love a special limited love, which I share with no one else. Perhaps marriage is a picture of limited atonement. Great stuff.

brian k

oh boy, this a feast, and im hungry. thank you cris for your honesty, i dont know you but your agrument is appealing. i want to ask some questions? what did christ death mean to the lost. if your not a part of the elect then does christ death mean anything to you? does it mean your sins COULD be paid for? no because faith is missing because you are not elect. does it mean that salvation is offered to you? yes, but what is this offer to you? without being choosen it is foolishness. (1cor. 1:23)so I agree fully with shane in that God "paid only for the elect" it was his plan all along. however i agree with cris on two things. one is that their seems to be some mystery within this subject. i think i also agree with his view on 1 tim 4:10 which is what was appealing to me. does God offer all something but the elect something special? rom 5:18-19 says this; "Therefore, as through one man,s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to ALL MEN, resulting in justification of life. for as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one man's obedience MANY will be made righteous." what a powerful verse. it seems that the gift is offered to all but only meant to save many. is that not the mystery? will the lost be judged for rejecting the gift or not recieving it. john 12:48 should answer this question. so i guess i believe that jesus died for all but paid for the sins of the elect only. and he died for the lost so that they would be judged for not having faith rather than being judged for not being choosen. the wisdom of God is amazing. so i agree with cris( i think) that the cross is sufficent to all but is special or "effectual" to the saints. but i strongly disagree with him when he says it does not matter? first i do think it creates more thankfulness because God indivially died for me to pay for my sins and secondly, it make a difference in how we evangelize. i can not go up to a person a say that jesus died to pay for your sins. it might not be true. but i could say that he died so that by faith you could be forgiven. thirdly doctrine is always important (read all of 1 timothy)thanks guys for driving me into the subject.



Loving my wife and "electing" her to be my wife is different from the atonement.

(Are you sure you wer the one doing the "electing" in the first place! ;) )

I don't love Shane or your wife like I do my wife, but that doesn't change the fact that Christ can provide redeption that is suffciant for all but applied to some!


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