Tuesday, September 22, 2009



Note: I had set out to do a completely new article, but looking at this one, and remembering His great name (Jesus), I felt I could no better at this time but to republish this article that I first posted over three years ago. I know most people don't scroll down too far into the earlier posts, so many of you will read it for the first time. I hope it speaks to the lost, and for the saints I hope it is enjoyable. We should enjoy our savior!

“This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12).

“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:8-11.

These two magnificent passages are so beautiful in their poetic elegance, because to take us to the highest mountaintops in the English language, nothing surpasses our Authorized King James Version. Yes, I know some of the language is a bit hard to fully comprehend sometimes for us modern readers. The KJV language is considered “archaic”, but it is more accurate to acknowledge that our language has deteriorated since 1769 when the Authorized Version was last updated.

I know, also, that the New Testament was originally written in Greek, and that the Lord, and most characters in the New Testament spoke in Aramaic. I know there was no English language back then, in Judea, or Galilee, or anywhere else. But, that is why we have resources like Strong’s, or Young’s concordances, Berry’s Interlinear NT, and Thompson Chain Bible, or other reference Bibles, to aid our understanding. After all, we are to study the Bible, not just read it!

In these two texts, we need none of these resources to understand the meaning. Just looking at the plain, naked word of God, without any other aid, we can see the most prominent thing in these verses is The name! This name, Jesus, comes from the Hebrew word Yeshua, or Jehoshua (Joshua). There appear to be two other characters in the Bible with the name translated as “Jesus” in the New Testament, and translated as “Joshua” in the Old Testament. The literal meaning of the word is “Jehovah is salvation”, or simply “salvation”.

Those who crucified Jesus believed He had no power to save. They were looking for a Messiah who would overthrow the Romans and build a new nation. But as these ‘builders’ rejected and crucified Him, he was revealed by virtue of his resurrection, to be the “chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). In other words, the cornerstone of His own church of which He said: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

As Peter states in Acts 4:12, “there is salvation in no other”. No other name given to all mankind. This means there are not a number of different roads to God, but only one. This also means there is not a different savior for Orientals (such as Buddha), for Arabs (such as Mohammed), or Indians (such as Krishna), or any of the many gods that are worshiped in this world. None of them can save because they are all now dead, if they ever lived at all. Some are mere inventions of man, because man is incurably religious and will worship something, even if it is self worship. Atheism worships self, saying in effect, “I am god”. It is the core of humanism, socialism and communism, which also worship the state. There is no salvation in any of these systems! It is all dead religion!

In this day and time if you ask someone if they are saved, they may reply to you, as some have to me; “saved from what?” People do not see themselves as lost, hence no need to be saved. But, God sees it different. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Couple that passage with many more such as: “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:10-11). (Here Paul is quoting from Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1).

I’m sure you must see, today in this day of word twisting and “double speak”, nobody believes there is sin, only “mistakes”. So, because of our society today, and to a lesser extent, throughout the ages, most don’t think they need a savior. But, according to our second text, they will. One day, all will see it. Alas! For so many it will be too late. But, they will bow. Man’s will is in bondage to his sin nature. Only God can “make him willing” to be saved. He is still calling out His elect whom He will one day gather from the entire universe. (Matthew 24:31). I do not know who they are, but God does. My obligation and privilege is to declare the name of Jesus Christ to all men and women that I can reach. (Mark 16:15-16)

The striking thing about the passage I quoted from Philippians is that Paul states that every knee is going to bow, and every tongue is going to confess that Jesus is Lord! This means that Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Khrushchev, Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict (and all the other popes), Madeline Murray-O’Hare, Pol Pot, Hugh Hefner, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin-Laden, Voltaire, the Dali Lama, Judas Iscariot, George Bush, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Graham, you and I, and all mankind great and small, will one day confess The Name; The name that is above all others, Jesus Christ!

He said “things in heaven, things in earth, and things under the earth”. Even Satan and all his legions will bow and will confess The Name! When God wraps up all events in this world, when all is said and done, The Name will be the only name that matters.

I want to be clear here. Just knowing or saying the name of Jesus is not enough. Much of religion does that by chant or rote. It’s not enough to pray a sinner’s prayer coached by a soul winner if Holy Spirit conviction, and the affections of your heart and are not in it.
As Paul stated: “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:8-10). The scripture is saying, confess Jesus as Lord. Believe (trust in, rely on, cling to) in the heart (your innermost being), that He is the risen Christ, and you shall be saved.

When the Philippian jailer in Acts cried out trembling in fear and conviction: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they (Paul and Silas), said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house” (Acts 16:30-32).

It is my sincere prayer for you, dear reader, if you don’t know this One whose name is above every name, that you will be compelled by the Holy Spirit to call on Him. If I can be of any assistance to point you to Christ, please contact me.

God Bless you, Charles Woodruff Sr. Written on May 1, 2006 A.D.
Revised March 11, 2007 , and slightly edited September 21, 2009.
My email:oursong2000@yahoo.com
Snail mail: 90 Raymond Ray Street, Newnan, GA 30265

In memory of my son, Chuck. 12/14/1962- 02/13/2004- (He is missed)!

Check out these:

The Name- Franklin Graham-Nelson Publishing- Nashville- 2002
An interesting and well written book. Reading it sparked my thoughts.

All of Grace - Charles Haddon Spurgeon- Pilgrim Publications- Pasadena, TX- 1999 edition- Most anything By CHS is worth reading!

Names of God (in the Old Testament) - Nathan Stone-Moody Press-Chicago-Original date: 1944. My new edition is 2006. I wore out the copy I had in 1969 which I read several times. A very concise, yet satisfying, look at God’s compound names in the Old Testament, and the connection to His attributes and actions. I recommend it!

The Names of God in Holy Scripture- Andrew Jukes-Kregel Publishers- Grand Rapids, MI- my copy is 1972 edition- This work was originally published in London in 1888. It is considered by many the classic work on the names of God in the Bible. Spurgeon thought he spiritualized too much in Types in Genesis, but still commended him by saying “Jukes dives deep” (from Commenting and Commentaries by C.H. Spurgeon in the section on the book of Genesis).

Right with God- John Blanchard- Banner of Truth- Edinburgh, Scotland- second edition- 1996. Originally written in the 1980’s, and it is an excellent examination of where you stand with God, what God expects of you, and the way of true salvation. A handy evangelistic tool.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Acts 18:24-28
Introduction and Background
"And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus" (Acts 18:24). Recently, a very good radio preacher, while preaching from this text, made this statement: "I hope that on my tombstone can be these words, Mighty in the Scriptures, although I have much work to do to qualify." This struck me forcefully, reminding me of how important the written Word of God really is. There are indeed few who qualify as being "Mighty in the Scriptures." May God be pleased to raise up a new generation of young people who sincerely love, study, memorize, and labor in God's precious Word. Nothing is more important for the future of the church than this. To that end, let us look briefly at Apollos for some help and encouragement.
Alexandria was a leading city of Egypt, and had a large university and library. Named for Alexander the Great, a large colony of Jews was there, making up about one-third of the population in the first century. Having a Greek name, Apollos was assuredly a product of the philosophy, culture, and learning of this Alexandrian school, noted throughout the Roman Empire. He was a student of the Hebrew Scriptures, and possibly also the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which had been produced in Alexandria earlier). In the flow of the narrative of the book of Acts, after Paul's second missionary journey closes, Apollos is here introduced. He had crossed the Mediterranean Sea, coming to Ephesus in Asia (modern Turkey), about 56 A. D.
The Eloquent, Fervent Jew
Several things of note are said about Apollos. First, he was learned, or "eloquent," learned in words and in speech. Secondly, he was "mighty in the scriptures," which is actually dunatos, or "powerful" in his knowledge of the Old Testament. Thirdly, he was "instructed in the way of the Lord," meaning Apollos had been "taught repeatedly orally." Fourthly, he was "fervent in the spirit," like boiling water or yeast (only here, and in Romans 12:11). Fifthly, this man was a "diligent" teacher, teaching rightly what he knew. But lastly, Apollos knew "only the baptism of John" (v. 25). This evidently means Apollos had been taught only up through the life of John the Immerser, knowing actually nothing of the Messiah's death and resurrection, or of the great Day of Pentecost.
The Useful Couple
Think about this man now. Here was a young Jew, a profound thinker and orator, having the great qualities of learning and diligence, who in Ephesus "began to speak boldly in the synagogue" (v. 26). So far so good. But now something else is said. The narrative introduces a couple, Aquila and Priscilla, who after hearing Apollos speak, "took him" (most probably to their home), "and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." What needful lessons we all must learn here! Note, even those "learned" and "eloquent" need further teaching -- especially in divine things (and note, even women are used to teach others, though in the proper context). "Expounded" is from a Greek word simply meaning "to set forth, explain," already used in Acts 11:4. "More perfectly" means "more accurately," or "more carefully," from a comparative adverb of akribos. This was "more accurately than he already knew." All teachers of others should study this text "carefully." Aquila and Priscilla become our examples here, not abusing Apollos, but lovingly and tenderly teaching him "the fuller story of the life and work of Jesus, and of the apostolic period, to fill up the gaps in his knowledge" (A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament).
The Gospel Herald
After having been taught more fully, now the "encouraged" Apollos is recommended by the brethren at Ephesus, who send a warm, sincere letter to the brethren at Corinth, urging them "to receive him" (v. 27). What brotherly love and commendation of others we see here in the early church. And Apollos proves he was worthy of such, "who, when he was come, contributed much to the ones having believed through grace." Isn't this pure Christianity if ever there was such? Now Apollos, with new insights, and the fresh revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ within his heart, goes public to the Corinthian Jews, "mightily convincing" them ("proving") "through the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ" (v. 28). Having not yet met Paul, Apollos preaches with clarity and power the same gospel preached by the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 17:3), and later Paul most definitely commends his friendship with "brother Apollos" (I Corinthians 16:12). Some scholars even believe Apollos may have been the author of the book of Hebrews.
The Idolized Orator
Sadly, some believers began to make an idol of Apollos (as men often do of learned orators, I Corinthians 1:12). But Paul is clear about himself and all other gospel preachers, stating that all of us are mere clay jars, and are just seed planters and waterers. "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase" (I Corinthians 3:6). God alone must bring forth the fruit, and men (even the most useful and learned) are in reality "nothings," according to I Corinthians 3:7. "Nothings" amount to zeros, just "broken, discarded" pottery. Therefore, let us never glory in, worship, or idolize any Apollos. "But he who glories, let him glory in the LORD" (I Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17). "For we preach NOT ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord." And who are we? "Slaves for Jesus' sake," and only "earthen vessels" (2 Corinthians 4:5, 7). None of us were "crucifed" for one single sinner, no one has been "baptized" in "our name," so therefore Christ cannot be "divided" (I Corinthians 1:13). A "party spirit" is foreign to the glorious gospel of the Son of God, and should always be abhorred by every member of the Body of Christ. And surely if Apollos were here to teach us, he would say exactly the same, that we must always be "Looking unto JESUS, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). All glory to Christ alone!
Galatians 2:20

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Dear friends,

Last Lord's Day, my pastor, Tommy McLeroy, mentioned being in a preacher's conference where no one knew him, and enjoying some of the messages until one preacher said something like "Anyone who preaches particular redemption preaches a damnable heresy".

This man must not like Spurgeon, or George Whitefield, or most of the Puritans, or D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones, or Arthur Pink, and so many of the sound evangelicals of the past.Today there is John MacArthur, or John Piper, or R.C. Sproul, or a number of other modern preachers. It is not a new doctrine. It is one of the old paths.

Pastor Tommy was offended and disgusted by the preacher's statement. I would have been also. But, I have encountered many like him in over 40 years of ministry. Of course, I haven't always believed it myself; but probably about 38 years.

Likely the man has never studied this doctrine for himself. It is clear in the bible, and is one of what we often call the "doctrines of grace". That is one of the key themes of the bible; grace. I will here give you a suggestion and an opportunity to look at this doctrine
called Limited Atonement by some, and Particular Redemption by others, for yourself.

Some of you have read this article before. It is not new. I wrote it myself, with quotes from some others.I have slightly revised it, but I believe it is still the truth. I am not a bear, or a tiger, and if you find some problems with what I have written, please contact me to discuss it. I know where some of the problems lie. Perhaps I can be of help.

It is my desire to proclaim Christ in all His fullness. May He bless each of you,


By Charles Woodruff

Those of us who believe in the sovereignty of God are often said to "limit" the atonement of Christ. In fact many preachers of our persuasion freely use the term "Limited Atonement." As with any Bible doctrine, this teaching must be able to stand the close examination of Bible students who are honestly seeking God's will. It must be able to stand, or else be junked!

First, let us examine the words used in the phrase "Limited Atonement." The word "limited" is defined by Webster as meaning bounded; confined within limits, capable of acting only within certain boundaries or restrictions. (1) Atonement means In theology, the expiation of sin made by the obedience and personal sufferings of Christ; more specifically, the crucifixion”, again according to Webster (2), In the Bible, it means expiation, or payment, for sin. This includes redemption, which is the act of freeing, or the state of being freed by payment of a ransom or price. In the Old Testament the key meaning is "covering"; and in the New Testament case it is reconciliation (Romans 5:11). It means Christ's blood paying the price for our sins, or the satisfaction of the law’s demands. A number of other words could be considered including placate, appease, cleanse, forgive, and be merciful, all with their shades of meaning. It is beyond our scope to study them all in this writing.


In the Old Testament, the atonement was made through the animal sacrifices. There were continual sacrifices, but once a year on the great Day of Atonement the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, never without blood, to atone for the sins of the people. This special sacrifice, as we learn in Hebrews, only covered the sins of the people. It typified the great future sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So it only temporarily made atonement (lit. at-one-ment), with God for the people. Although the Greek scholar, W.E. Vine, didn’t like breaking the English word down this way, many feel it is a good illustration for the common man. Sinners that were once alienated from God are now at one” with Him. Old Testament atonement was limited in three ways. (1) By its nature - it was temporary. (2) By its design. It only covered the sins of God's covenant people, the Jews (including proselyte Jews). (3) By its effectiveness - it only covered the sin - never to take it away once for all. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin (Hebrews 10:4). Yes, it anticipated the great final sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

So we can readily see that the Old Testament atonement was limited though it did what it was designed to do. It pointed to the better sacrifice, the perfect way of redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ. Both the Old Testament Hebrew (sebach) and the New Testament Greek (thusia) basically mean a slaughter (Strong’s Concordance). As a lamb in the Old Testament was led to the slaughter (sacrifice), so was Christ in the New Testament, as the perfect sacrifice which all the others pointed to; and His was never to be repeated. But this man {Christ}, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12).


Let’s look at more regarding New Testament atonement. The word atonement is found once in the KJV New Testament in Romans 5:11, and as I stated, it means “reconciliation”. It is translated that way in most modern English Bibles, and is shown as an alternate in the KJV Oxford, and Cambridge Reference Bibles, among others. Reconciliation is found in its various forms fourteen times in the New Testament. It is not used doctrinally each of these times, but in Romans 5 (KJV) it is used with the word "atonement" in the same passages.

The word "reconciliation" used here in Romans 5 is a Greek word which means to change thoroughly (Young’s Analytical Concordance). This regards a change in relation to the enemy of God becoming His friend. This involves repentance, that is; agreeing with the holy God in His verdict against you that finds you guilty. God leads men to repentance, but He will not repent for them! (See Romans 2:4). He has wrought a change in us, but God doesn’t change toward us, we must change toward Him, the immutable God. Then because we are changed, He is in the right relationship with us. In

II Corinthians 5:20 the apostle says "be ye reconciled to God". This action must be taken by the awakened sinner on the grounds of Christ’s sacrifice.

So reconciliation, no one would deny, is limited to those who repent and believe the Gospel. However, this somewhat detracts us from our main subject of consideration. Atonement in its theological sense involves reconciliation, but only after the sacrifice has been made. So a better word to describe this doctrine is perhaps in order.


We shall consider redemption. Limited atonement is often called "particular redemption," which is the term I prefer when considering the doctrine.

Redemption as a New Testament term is the Greek word "Apolutrosis" which means "a loosing away." A good example of its use is Ephesians 1:7. "In whom we have redemption through His blood." In other words, we are loosed by His blood. We are loosed from the righteous condemnation of God's law which has judged us guilty. "For the law of the spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2). Redemption often speaks of that final day of redemption when the purchased possession will be redeemed (Ephesians 1:14) or set free from the earthly habitation.

No one should deny that redemption in its final state is particular. Only those who are in Christ will be called up to be with Him. (I Thessalonians 4:16-18)

He saves His sheep, His elect, His chosen, but we are not saved by election and predestination, we are saved by the sacrifice of Christ!

Certainly no one will contest that redemption is particular in requirement that only those who come to Christ and look to Him and His shed blood are actually redeemed. The Israelites in Numbers 21:8, 9 were required to "look and live" on that brazen serpent. But the argument is that anyone can live if

he will look. But the problem is that a sinner is unable to look, unable to come, unless drawn (John 6:37), unwilling to come unless made willing (Psalm 110:3), even uncertain who God is, unless enlightened (Acts 17:23).


One more word we must consider is the word "propitiation" which is the sacrifice itself which secures the reconciliation and redemption, and even the justification and sanctification, and every other benefit of Christ's death.

Propitiation (Gr. =hilasmos) is only used three times in the New Testament. Both times in the epistle of I John (2:2, 4:10), It means "what appeases". One other time it is used as the place of propitiation (Gr. =hilasterion), (Rom. 3:25), and shows Christ to be the altar of sacrifice. For the last 100 years in the majority of evangelical churches, it has been taught that there is no need to appease or satisfy an angry God in regard to our sin. The "Smile, God loves you" philosophy has left us short of Biblical truth regarding God and sin. The point is God is angry with the wicked every day! (Psalm 7:11b) God does punish sin, and will punish sin either in us or our substitute. Just as the Passover lamb was a substitute for the first born of Israel in each home where the lamb was slain, so Christ, our Passover, was slain for us. (I Corinthians 5:7)

The anger of God against sin cannot be overlooked without a total warping of our theology. There would be no need for propitiation if God were not angry with sin. He must be satisfied. He cannot look upon sin. Since "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), the sinner must die or a substitute must die in his place. As John Murray says:

"The question is: on whose behalf did Christ offer Himself as a sacrifice? On whose behalf did he propitiate the wrath of God? Whom did he reconcile to God in the body of His flesh through death? Whom did he redeem from the curse of the law, from the guilt and power of sin, from the enthralling power and bondage of Satan? In whose stead and on whose behalf was he obedient unto death, even the death of the cross? These are precisely the questions that have to be asked and frankly faced if the matter of the extent of the atonement is to be placed in proper focus." (3)

This is exactly the question, on whose behalf? Many hold that the answer is given in our verse regarding propitiation in I John 2:2. "And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." I have had well-meaning brethren tell me that this verse means Christ died for all without exception. In light of many other scriptures it cannot mean that. If it did mean that, then we would have to face a universal atonement, i.e., that all men at the last day would finally be saved. It would have to mean that because propitiation, a satisfaction, has then been made for all sinners everywhere and God would be unjust to demand two payments for the same sin.

But, the objection is given, "all men are not believers so therefore all men are not saved". This is true, but atonement and propitiation, and reconciliation are not considering faith, but the blood being shed as a sacrifice. Of course, there must be faith in this shed blood. Only those who have it are saved. This in itself is a limiting of the atonement. It is limited to believers! Unbelievers cannot partake of this sacrifice. It is for the sheep. It is for the church. It is for .the elect. He is the Saviour of the body.

Incidentally, another dear brother tried to tell me that the elect were only the physical Jews, but he disregards I Thessalonians 1:4, a verse which is certainly in a “non-Jewish” epistle.

The World

But, in close examination of I John 2:2 you can easily see that John is not saying "everyone in the whole world," i.e. the entire inhabited earth, all of mankind, has been propitiated for. This would totally contradict the other scriptures that say "God is angry with the wicked every day." (Psalm 7:11) and in John 17:9 Jesus said "I pray not for the world" - and even here in the epistle of First John - "The whole world lieth in wickedness," (I John 5:19.) "The world passeth away and the lust thereof" (I John 2:17). Are you saying that in each of these examples the world is atoned for, propitiation has been made; yet it will perish? Unthinkable! What we must come to grips with is that "world" is used in several ways in the Bible.

As Duane Edward Spencer points out:

"much of what we think about the atoning death of Christ will be tempered by what we understand the simple word "world" to mean. In the Gospel of John this word has significance in that it may have any one of seven different meanings (1) the classical sense, i.e., the orderly universe (2) the earth itself (3) the human inhabitants of earth by metonymy (i.e., figure of speech, cmw) (4) mankind under the Creator's judgment alienated from His life, in the ethical sense (5) the public who were about Christ, Jews in particular (6) the kingdom of evil forces, angelic as well as human, as related to the earth (i.e., the world system -cmw) (7) and men out of every tribe and nation, but not all tribes and nations as a whole." (4)

I believe Mr. Spencer's last definition most closely fits I John 2:2. John was simply saying not only our sins (John and other Jewish Christians) but the sins of the whole world (people from every nation, kindred and tongue (Rev. 5:6). This is the same thing that Jesus was saying to Nicodemus in John 3:16 when He said "for God so loved the world." He was addressing a ruler of the Jews, one whose understanding of God was limited to salvation for Jews only. Jesus was telling him it was a salvation for people of all nations.

Salvation Possible or Certain?

In reality it is the Arminian who limits the atonement because salvation is made to be a chance affair. "Maybe" someone will be saved as a result of Christ's death but there is no certainty because it is their belief that God only made salvation possible to all. In reality He paid the price, and made a propitiation for all human beings who are God's chosen, who will believe on Him through the preaching of the Gospel

As John Murray said, "Whether the expression "limited atonement" is good or not, we must reckon with the fact that unless we believe in the final restoration of all men, we cannot have an unlimited atonement. If we universalize the extent, we limit the efficacy. If some of those for whom atonement was made and redemption wrought perish eternally, then the atonement is not itself efficacious. It is this alternative that the proponents of universal atonement must face. They have a ‘limited’ atonement in respect of that which impinges upon its essential character.

We shall have none of it. The doctrine of ‘limited atonement’ we maintain is the doctrine which limits the atonement to those who are heirs of eternal life, i.e., to the elect. That limitation insures its efficacy and conserves its essential character as efficient redemption." (emphasis mine -cmw) (5)

Limited on Both Sides

So, when we consider who really limits the atonement, we realize that there is a limitation on both sides of the argument. The Arminian necessarily limits God to the whim of finite, fallen man. The Calvinistic view, which is the scriptural view, limits the atonement only in design making it a definite atonement. Perhaps no one has said it better than the Puritan, John Owen (1616-1683). In a statement available in tract form titled "For Whom Did Christ Die?" he says,

"The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either: (l) All the sins of all men. (2) All the sins of some men, or (3) Some of the sins of all men. In which case it may be said: (a) That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so none are saved. (b) That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth. (c) But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins? You answer, Because of unbelief. I ask, is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!" (6)

Atonement Limited or God is Limited

We must necessarily limit the atonement in effectiveness and also limit God Almighty if we say He designed to save all humanity, or that the

blood of Christ was shed to save all humanity and yet all humanity would not be saved. It would mean God had failed! "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen. 18:14)

We are also limiting the atonement in effectiveness to put in the hands of finite, sinful man its ultimate success or failure. The atonement would thus be limited by man's "decision."

Christ's blood was shed sufficient to save all men."Saviour of all men, specially (particularly) them that believe" - I Tim. 4:10 - effective to all it was designed for: believers! It had no deficiency!

Sufficiency of Christ's Blood

Again quoting from John Owen:

"Sufficient we say, then, was the sacrifice of Christ for the redemption of the whole world, and for the expiation of all the sins of all and every man in the world. The sufficiency of His sacrifice hath a two-fold rise: First, the dignity of the person that did offer and was offered.

Secondly, the greatness of the pain He endured by which He was able to bear and did undergo the whole curse of the law and wrath of God due to sin. And this sets out the innate, real, true worth and value of the blood shedding of Jesus Christ. This is its own true internal perfection and sufficiency. That it should be applied unto any, made a price for them, and become beneficial to them according to the worth that is in it, is external to it, doth not arise from it, but merely depends on the intention and will of God. It was in itself of infinite value and sufficiency to have been made a price to have bought and purchased all and every man in the world." (emphasis mine - cmw) (7)

Who limits the atonement? Almost every view limits it to some extent. All will not finally be saved. Who limits the atonement? Who made redemption particular? Who "saves His people from their sins"? (Matthew 1:21) Who "gave His life for the sheep"? (John 10:11) Who "purchased His church with His own blood"? (Acts 20:28) Who "hath chosen you from the beginning to salvation"? (II Thessalonians 2:13) Who said "all that the Father giveth me shall come to me"? (John 6:37) Look at these scriptures prayerfully and may the God of scripture show you that He always accomplishes His will. In time and eternity, He always does that which He has decreed. Who limits the atonement? Almighty God does!


1. Webster’s Universal Dictionary, World Syndicate Publishers; Cleveland and New York, 1937 edition.

2. Ibid

3. Redemption, Accomplished and Applied - John Murray, Banner of Truth – Edinburgh; originally published 1955, Wm. B. Eerdmans Company, Grand Rapids, Mich. USA (P. 62)

4. Tulip - The Five Points of Calvinism in Light of Scripture - Duane

Edward Spencer, 1979, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI (P. 35, 36)

5. John Murray, op. cit., p. 64, 65.

6. John Owen, "For Whom Did Christ Die? tract available from Chapel Library, 2603 W.Wright St., Pensacola, FL 32505; telephone :( 850)438-6666

7. John Owen, "Death of Christ", Vol.10 of Works, Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, (p. 295, 296).

Also use was made of both Young’s and Strong’s concordances, and Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words in various online and print editions, none of which have a copyright.

Originally published January 9, 2007. This minor revision--August 27, 2009 and the earlier edition is viewable in another (better) format at: