Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | May 1, 2014

“the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect”

Today’s devotion comes from Leviticus 16:11-19.

“11 “Then Aaron shall offer the bull of the sin offering which is for himself and make atonement for himself and for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself.  12 He shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil.  13 He shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, otherwise he will die.  14 Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side;  also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

15 “Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat.  16 He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins;  and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities.  17 When he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel.  18 Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat and put it on the horns of the altar on all sides.  19 With his finger he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times and cleanse it, and from the impurities of the sons of Israel consecrate it.”  Leviticus 16:11-19.


Today’s Scripture led the sons of Israel and even us today to consider the scope of atonement.  We see in today’s Scripture that atonement was specifically made for Aaron and his household and later specifically made for the holy place and later again specifically made for Aaron and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel and later specifically made for the altar.

The issue is whether atonement was made by Christ generally for everyone or specifically just for God’s elect.  In other words, did Christ die for everyone or for just for the elect? 

Reformed Doctrine teaches “Limited Atonement”, the “L” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.  That is, the atonement was limited (or specifically applied) for just the elect but completely effective to cover all that the elect need for salvation from beginning to end, from giving them the gift of justifying faith to faithfully preserving them to the end for complete salvation.

Here is what the Canons of Dordt states in part:

Article 8.   For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever. SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE  Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby.  Canons of Dordt.

Here is what the Westminister Larger Catechism states in part:

Question 59:  Who are made partakers of redemption through Christ?

Answer:  Redemption is certainly applied, and effectually communicated, to all those for whom Christ has purchased it; who are in time by the Holy Ghost enabled to believe in Christ according to the gospel.

Question 67:  What is effectual calling?

Answer:  Effectual calling is the work of God’s almighty power and grace, whereby (out of his free and special love to his elect, and from nothing in them moving him thereunto) he does, in his accepted time, invite and draw them to Jesus Christ, by his Word and Spirit; savingly enlightening their minds, renewing and powerfully determining their wills, so as they (although in themselves dead in sin) are hereby made willing and able freely to answer his call, and to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein.

What is the importance of whether the atonement was specifically made just for the elect or for generally everyone? 

If atonement was made for everyone, then it was ineffective, because not everyone is saved.  The only variable that would determine whether someone is saved (because everyone equally gets  atonement) would be something provided by man.  Salvation is then dependent on man and man’s free will.  Under such false belief, Christians would live in continual fear that they will fall from grace if they do not do what is required to first get faith and then forever maintain their faith (or works) through death.

However, if atonement was made for just the elect but completely effective to bring the elect to salvation, then salvation is dependent only on God and “grace alone” (one of the Five Solas of the Reformation) and Christians can take great comfort in the amazing depth of God’s special love for them (like a husband only has for his wife) and that God will do everything for them that is necessary for their salvation.  This is consistent with Scripture such as the following Scriptures.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith;  and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:4-8.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. …”  Ephesians 1:3-8.

“but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.  But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  1 Corinthians 1:27-31.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”  Ephesians 5:25-27.



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