“What did Jesus actually accomplish at the cross? Did Jesus really save people or did Jesus make people savable by dying for them? What did the atonement achieve? The many words that comprise the theological range that describes what Jesus did on the cross all underscore that Jesus perfectly saved people by dying for them.”
The doctrine of definite atonement or particular redemption refers to the biblical truth that Jesus died on the cross only for His elect and actually procured their eternal salvation at Calvary. All that the Father gave to the Son are those for whom the Son died. And all that the Spirit regenerates are those that the Son redeemed. This is contrasted with what is sometimes called unlimited atonement or universal redemption (Jesus died for everyone). The atonement of Christ is limited in scope, not in extent. All that Christ died for are fully and everlastingly redeemed by Christ since He ‘accomplished redemption’ at Calvary. What follows are nine reasons why definite atonement must be true.
1. Because of the UNITY OF THE TRINITY
The Lord Jesus prayed in John 17 and repeatedly referred to those people that the Father had given Him. From eternity past, the glorious Father gave a particular, a special, a peculiar people to the Son. These are particular souls. These are divinely chosen ones. The Son came in human flesh to live for & die for these particular ones that the Father gave Him. All that the Father gave to the Son were fully pardoned at Calvary. The Spirit of God grants life to all who are elect. He gives life to them. The Father and the Son give life to a particular group of individuals. And thus, the Son came to redeem them. To pit the Son of God against the Father and the Spirit would make the members of the Triune Godhead to be at odds with each other. And this cannot be. The Godhead always works in glorious concert, beauty, happiness, and harmony together.
2. Because of the INTENTION OF CHRIST’S REDEMPTION
Jesus often made mention of mission statements, or life-ministry statements. He said: The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). If he died for everyone, then everyone is either saved or Christ’s crosswork did not actually save anyone but merely made people savable. Elsewhere Jesus said the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. He came and delivered Himself up to ransom (to purchase, to buy, to possess) a certain group of people. Thus, Christ’s intention was to actually save sinners, not to make all men savable. The intent of the atonement defines the extent. His intent was to save, to redeem, to atone, to ransom. By this intent to save, Christ actually saved them.
3. Because of the TESTIMONY OF BIBLICAL REVELATION
The Word of God says that Jesus died for His Bride and gave Himself up for her to make her holy (Eph 5:25-26). Elsewhere Jesus said that He came to give Himself as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). The prophet Isaiah said that the Servant of Jehovah would justify the many (Isa 53:11). Indeed, this Suffering Servant also “bore the sin of many and interceded for the transgressors” (isa 53:12). The teaching of the Bible claims that Jesus came to suffer and die for only His elect people and live on their behalf.
4. Because of the ACTUALITY OF CHRIST’S ATONEMENT
What did Jesus actually accomplish at the cross? Did Jesus really save people or did Jesus make people savable by dying for them? What did the atonement achieve? The many words that comprise the theological range that describes what Jesus did on the cross all underscore that Jesus perfectly saved people by dying for them. He was made sin on our behalf (2 Cor 5:21). Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law having become a Curse for us (Gal 3:13). Christ loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal 2:20). In Him we have redemption through His blood (Eph 1:7). Christ took the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us, and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Col 2:14). These verses clearly affirm that Jesus actually atoned, indeed, in definitely saved, moreover, he everlastingly procured salvation for His own.
5. Because of the REALITY OF ETERNAL PUNISHMENT
Something supernaturally mysterious took place at Calvary. It is unfathomably deep and ineffably sublime, namely, that the God-Man would bear the infinite & holy wrath of God the Father in the stead of sinners. The nails and crown of thorns didn’t redeem or save sinners. The whips and mockings didn’t save rebels. What saves sinners is that the Father’s righteous and holy wrath was poured out not on the sinner who deserves it but on the sinless Substitute, the Lord Jesus, by grace, in their stead. This everlasting, divine wrath of God was satisfied and appeased by virtue of Christ’s substitutionary death. Jesus did not bear this for every person alive. Jesus bore the eternal punishment only for His people. All those who do not repent and believe will bear their own penalty that they justly and rightly deserve in everlasting punishments in hell. Because Christ took the divine curse for them, He must have died only for His own otherwise everyone’s penalty would be paid and there would be none in hell (but the Bible thoroughly charges ‘universalism’ as heresy and as a damning gospel. Praise God for His sovereign, securing & saving love!