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Highlight of the Month
AN ANTIDOTE TO ARMINIANISM or A Treatise to Enervate and Confute All The Five Points Of It
by Christopher Ness
An easy to read, but totally devastating attack against the heresy of Arminianism. Recommended reading by John Owen, John Gill, and Augustus Toplady
OF UNIVERSAL REDEMPTION
Universal redemption, or, that Christ died for all men, cannot be a Gospel truth, because of the following arguments and reasons.
1. God the Father’s election, God the Son’s redemption, and God the Holy Ghost’s sanctification, must all be of equal extent and latitude; but universal redemption, in the Arminian sense of it, makes these unequal.
This is clear; for as the Father, Word, and Spirit are One in essence, so are they One in willing, working, and witnessing the redemption of sinners. As there are Three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; so there are Three which bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; “and these Three agree in one” (1Jo 5:6,8). Whom the Father elects, the Son redeems, and the Holy Ghost sanctifies. If then there be a universal redemption there must be a universal election, and a universal sanctification also, and so, by consequence, a universal salvation. That the Son redeems no more than the Father elects is evident from two scriptures. The first is Joh 5:23, which declares the Son must be honoured as equal with the Father; but, to say that the Son redeemed all, and the Father elected but few, is to give greater honour to the One than to the Other, and to make an inequality in Their operations. The second scripture is Joh 17:9,10: “All Thine are Mine and all Mine are Thine,” etc. They were the Father’s by electing love, and they became the Son’s by gift and redemption: “Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me” (Joh 17:6). Christ redeems only those whom the Father gave unto Him. Hence God’s “book of life” wherein the number of the elect is recorded, is called also the “Lamb’s book of life;” intimating that the number of those elected by the Father is commensurate with those redeemed by the Son. That Christ redeems no greater number than the Spirit sanctifies is evident from 1Jo 5:6,7; there must be water to sanctify where there is blood to redeem. Christ’s oblation is not of larger extent than the Spirit’s operation. Thus it is most apparent that all the three Persons in the Trinity have one object and one design of love. They are equal in essence, equal in honour, and equal in operation.
2. The benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection are of equal extent in their objects; but the benefit of Christ’s resurrection is not extended to all.
That the benefit of Christ’s resurrection is not extended to all and everyone alike, but is peculiar to believers, is acknowledged even by the Arminians. That the death and resurrection of Christ are of equal extent in their objects is evident from Ro 8:33,34 (they are both put together), “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect,” for whom Christ died? Who can condemn those for whom Christ was raised? Those for whom Christ died and rose again cannot be condemned. “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Ro 4:25). Those that have the fruit of Christ’s battle have the fruit of His victory also; but this cannot be said of all men, for on some the wrath of God abideth (Joh 3:36).
3. The benefit of Christ’s death and intercession are of equal extent in their objects; but Christ intercedes not for all.
This is expressly declared in Scripture: “I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine” (Joh 17:9). “They are not of the world” (Joh 17:14). Christ’s intercession is “not for the world” at large, but only for those whom His Father hath given Him; and reason confirms this, for if Christ interceded for Judas, Pilate, etc., then He would have had a repulse, and was not always heard of the Father; contrary to Joh 11:42. Again, Christ is a High Priest, and the two parts of His priestly office, oblation and presentation, cannot be separated: and they which have a part in the former have part in the latter also. For the presentation doth necessarily imply the oblation, and gives a perpetual force thereto in the sight of God (Heb 9:12). Christ must intercede on the behalf of those whom He hath reconciled to God by His death; and His intercession is a personal presenting of Himself to His Father on behalf of those whom He personated on the Cross. We cannot say that there be some for whom Christ offered Himself upon earth but doth not intercede for in Heaven; this would make Christ but a half-priest to some, and therefore not a faithful High Priest, contrary to sundry scriptures, Isa 53:11,12; 1Jo 2:1,2; Heb 9:11,12, and Heb 10:19-21.
4. Those for whom Christ died have Christ for their surety; but all have not Christ for a surety.
All are sinners: and every sinner must die, either in himself or his Surety, for “the wages of sin is death.” And the suretyship of Christ consists of this, that He died for us (Ro 6:23). He was “made a curse for us,” that is, in our stead (Ga 3:13; 2Co 5:21). Judah was surety for Benjamin’s safety (Ge 44:32), and Christ is the surety of the new covenant (Heb 7:22); He took upon Him our sins in His death (Isa 53:4-8; 1Pe 2:24). If Christ was a surety for all, then He offered up a satisfaction for all, in becoming sin, and bearing the curse and wrath of God in their stead. But this is not done for all; for Christ knows not workers of iniquity, and of them He says, “I never knew you” (Mt 7:23); yet He knows His sheep, and He laid down His life for them (Joh 10:11-15).
5. If the covenant of grace be not to all, then Christ died not for all.
Christ’s blood is called “the blood of the covenant” (Heb 9:20), and “the blood of the New Testament” (Mt 26:28). That the covenant of grace is not extended to all is evident, for it is made with the house of Israel only. “This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days; saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jer 31:33). The covenant is with those only in whose hearts the conditions are effectually wrought, to wit, putting God’s fear therein, and writing His law in their minds, which the election only obtains. None dare say that God entered into covenant of grace with the “seed” of the serpent, but only with those whose “heel” the serpent hurts (Ge 3:15).
6. If Christ died for His sheep, His friends, and His church only, then He died not for all.
This is plain from several scriptures. “The good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep . . . (I) know My sheep, and am known of Mine . . . and I lay down My life for My sheep” (Joh 10:11-15). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are My friends” (Joh 5:13, 14). “Feed the church, which He hath purchased with His own blood” (Ac 20:28). “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph 5:25). Christ died for such as were Paul and Titus, not such as were Pharaoh and Judas, who were “goats” and not “sheep” (Mt 25:33). He died to save “His people from their sins,” and therefore His name was called Jesus (Mt 1:21); who are called the “redeemed of the Lord” (Ps 107:2). Now since those for whom Christ died are such as “hear His voice and follow Him,” to whom He “gives eternal life” (Joh 10:27, 28), such as He sanctifies, and cleanses, and presents to Himself “without spot or wrinkle” (Eph 5:27), and such as He hath “redeemed from all iniquity, to purify them to Himself a peculiar people” (Tit 2:14), such as are His people, His chosen, His children, it cannot be intended for all unless we say that Pharaoh, Judas, etc., were of the sheep, friends, and church of Christ. It is true He died for enemies (Ro 5:10), but it was to reconcile them to God; such were the believing Romans, who being Gentiles, Christ called “other sheep,” not of the Jewish fold.
7. Those for whom Christ’s death was intended, to them it must be applied; but it is not applied to all, therefore it was not intended for all.
The end and design cannot be severed from the action to accomplish that end. Christ’s aim being to bestow what he obtains, He obtains nothing but what He applies. He Himself speaks of some from whom the gospel was hid, and of others to whom it was revealed or made known. “Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Mt 11:25). The sum total of the intercession of Christ is, that what He has obtained may be applied, (see John 17 throughout).
8. If Christ died for all, then must all be reconciled to God; but all are not reconciled.
Sin hinders reconciliation; and Christ’s death is a propitiation for sin (Ro 3:25), so that all for whom Christ died must be reconciled to God; the death of Christ is the cause, and reconciliation the effect following the cause. If all be reconciled, all must be saved, and nothing can be laid to the charge of any. Take away the sin, and you acquit the sinner. But to grant such an acquittance and reconciliation to all brings in many absurdities; for upon this hypothesis it follows, 1st that Cain, Pharaoh etc., were reconciled to God by Christ’s death when they were (at the time of Christ’s dying) in the torments of hell, and never to be delivered therefrom. 2nd, that God damns reconciled persons. 3rd, that God takes double pay for one fault, in punishing both the Surety and the debtor. 4th, that Christ’s reconciling of some is ineffectual, etc. But these things are not so; for to those for whom Christ died repentance is granted, and remission of sins (Ac 5:31); to them is given freedom from the slavery of sin, and regeneration to newness of life (Ro 6:6 Heb 2:14,15); on them is bestowed purifying grace, “purifying their hearts by faith” (Ac 15:9); they have the blood of Christ to purge their conscience from dead works, that they may serve the living God (Heb 9:14), and theirs is life eternal: “I give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (Joh 10:28). All these fruits are evidences of our reconciliation by Christ’s death.
9. That cannot be a truth which the Scripture nowhere affirms; and it nowhere asserts that Christ died for all men, much less for every man individually; therefore it is not a truth.
It is true Christ is said to “give His life a ransom for all:” but not for all men, or for every man individually; the Scripture is the best expounder of itself, and the “all” is rendered “many” in Mt 20:28, and Mr 10:45: “The Son of man came to give His life a ransom for many.” “My blood is shed for many, for the remission of sins” (Mt 26:28). And it is so frequently restrained to His sheep, friends, church, believers, chosen, and such as are given to Christ, that it must mean some of all sorts; which, in equivalent terms, is clearly expressed in Re 5:9, 10: “Thou hast redeemed us out of every kindred and tongue, and people and nation.” Therefore the word “all” must be taken for all the elect, all His church, all His children that the Father hath given Him, etc., not all men universally, and every man individually.
10. That which opposes the attributes of God ought not to be received; and universal redemption doth so.
First, It opposes His justice. If Christ redeemed Pharaoh and Judas, then redeemed souls are unjustly damned; this hypothesis sets the death of Christ in direct opposition to God’s justice. And how could Christ die for Judas’ sin when Christ’s death was his very sin?
Second, It opposes His wisdom. As if God should love and hate the same person at the same time; Esau must be loved if Christ is given to die for him, yet hated, as being ordained to death from all eternity.
Third, It opposes His power. If Christ died intentionally (as to God) for all, then God’s intentions are frustrated, since all are not saved. Then God is not omnipotent if crossed in His designs by the work of His own hands. And to say that freedom was obtained by Christ’s death for those who are not set free is ridiculous, and making a laughing stock of religion.
The Extent of the Atonement
God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for, either
1. 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 will say, Because of unbelief; they will not believe. But this unbelief, is it a sin or is it not? If not, why should they be unpunished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it or not. If he did, why must that hinder, more than their other for which he died, from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then he did not die for all their sins. (John Owen)
Objection 1. What everyone is bound to believe must be true, and it is the duty of all men to believe; therefore Christ must have died for all men.
Answer: 1. Suppose we grant this position, would not the doctrine of discriminating love be thereby destroyed? Would it not be poor comfort for a distressed soul to believe that Christ died for it, no more than for Judas and all the damned in hell?
2. They to whom the Gospel never came, they who have never heard of the death of Christ, are not bound to believe that Christ died for them. What God reveals is true; but God nowhere reveals that it is His intention that Judas shall believe, or that all shall believe.
3. All have not the Gospel preached to them; and many to whom it is preached only hear the sound of it with the outward ear: they come and go in an attendance thereon as the door upon its hinges, in a way of mere formality. They are not impressed with a sight and sense of their state as sinners. They are not weary and heavy laden because of sin. The proclamation by the gospel trumpet of redemption for sin through Christ’s blood is not a joyful sound to them; they know not their need of it. Evangelical repentance is the gift of free grace; faith is the gift of God. What is God’s, as a gift to bestow, cannot be man’s duty to perform as a condition of salvation. Those who are invited to look to Christ, to come to Him for salvation, are very minutely described: they are the weary and heavy laden with sin, the penitent, the hungry and thirsty soul, etc., etc.; these are the characters invited to come to and believe in Christ, and not all men (Mt 11:28; Isa 55:1; Mr 2:17).
Objection 2. The words “all” and “every,” often used in Scripture, must be taken universally.
Answer: 1. “All” and “every” must not be taken for a universal affirmative collectively, and for every man individually, in the common quoted scriptures; but distributively, as in Mt 9:35, where we are told that Christ went about healing every sickness and every disease among the people: that is, any and every kind of disease, for Christ healed not every disease individually. Also in Col 1:28, where “every” is taken distributively three times over, and must be restricted to those to whom Paul preached.
2. “All” in 1Ti 2:4, cannot be taken for every man individually, since it is not the will of God that all men in this large sense should be saved: for it is His will that some men should be damned, and that very justly, for their sins and transgressions. Unto some men it will be said, “Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” If God willeth all men to be saved, then all men will be saved, for “He (God) doeth according to His will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth” (Da 4:35). God faileth not, He cannot be disappointed in His own will, for He worketh all things after the counsel of it. Again, in Heb 2:9, Jesus is said to “taste death for every [man];” it is in the very next verse restricted to “sons brought to glory,” and in Heb 2:11, to “sanctified” ones. 1Ti 2:6 (“who gave Himself a ransom for all”) is rendered in the parallel text in Tit 2:14, “who gave Himself for us.” Now, who are the persons called “us” in this text? Are they not particularized as “redeemed from all iniquity, purified and made a peculiar people?” For “all” of this description Christ gave Himself a ransom, and for none else.
The prophet David saith, “All men are liars;” take the word strictly, and he must be a liar that saith so.
Answer: 1. The word “world” is of various significations. A decree went out that “all the world should be taxed” (Lu 2:1), that is, the Roman empire and such countries in subjection thereto. The faith of the church of Rome was “spoken of throughout the whole world” (Ro 1:8), that is, throughout all the churches, and among all the saints in the world. When the Pharisees said to Christ, “Behold, the world is gone after Him” (Joh 12:19), by reference we find that they meant “much people” who went out of Jerusalem to meet Jesus, crying, “Hosanna” (Joh 12:12,13). The Pharisees themselves, who so said, they were not gone after Christ; therefore the whole world was not gone, they themselves not being gone. So Joh 3:16: “God so loved the world” cannot be understood of the world in a strict sense, for so birds, beasts, fishes, and all inanimate things are comprehended, which cannot have everlasting life; nor can it be the world of men, but as God is the Preserver of both man and beast (Ps 31:6). There is God’s love to creatures, His love to men, and His love to good men. God’s love was the cause of His sending Christ, and the word “whosoever” (in the verse) restrains this love of God to some and not to others. It must therefore be properly God’s love to good men, the third love; not such as He found good, but such as He made so.
2. There is a world of believers (Re 5:9); and as manna was only for Israel, so Christ, the true manna, the Bread from Heaven, gives life to the world of believers only (Joh 6:33). Christ was believed on in the world of believers only (1Ti 3:16); the reconciled world (2Co 5:19): and “all men have not faith” (2Th 3:2). There is also the world of unbelievers. “All the world wondered after the beast. And “they worshipped the dragon” (Re 13:3,4). “The whole world lieth in wickedness” (1Jo 5:19). The believing world is a world in the world (“these are in the world,” Joh 17:11); and they are taken and chosen out of the world. They are in the world, and sojourning among the inhabitants of it as strangers and pilgrims only, this not being their rest, their home; their desires being towards a better country (Heb 11:13-16). And that they are taken and chosen out of the world and given to Christ is clear from Joh 15:19: “If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore, the world hateth you.” Also from Joh 17:6,9: “I have manifested Thy Name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world . . . I pray for them; I pray not for the world.”
“Zion’s garden wall’d around, Chosen and made peculiar ground; A little spot, enclosed by grace, Out of the world’s wide wilderness.”
3. It is granted that God hath a respect for all mankind. “We trust,” saith Paul, “in the living God, who is the Saviour,” i.e., the Preserver, “of all men, especially of those that believe” (1Ti 4:10). “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works” (Ps 145:9). “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good; and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt 5:45). All this implies not eternal preservation, but only temporal providence and preservation; for the wages of sin would have been paid at the birth of it, and the world (through confusion by sin) would have fallen about Adam’s ears, had not Christ been the glorious undertaker.
All that are redeemed are redeemed by Christ; but the elect only are given to Him; they alone have an interest in Him, are redeemed by Him, and they shall be glorified with Him.
4. The word “world” is sometimes in Scripture put for Gentiles in opposition to Jews, and so it is in 1Jo 2:2. John wrote to the Jews, and ministered unto the circumcision (see Ga 2:9), and he says unto them, “Christ is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” that is, not for the Jews only, but for the Gentiles also. The Jewish nation considered themselves as the peculiar people of God; and so they were, for to them “pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.” And Christ was a Jew, “of whom concerning the flesh Christ came” (Ro 9:4,5). The Jews were always taught to appropriate the Messiah exclusively to themselves, to the utter rejection of the Gentiles, who were called “strangers,” “uncircumcised,” “common,” “unclean,” “dogs,” etc. And it was unlawful for a Jew to keep company or have any dealings with a Gentile (see Mt 10:5; Mr 7:17; Ac 10:28, and Ac 11:3). The salvation of the Gentiles is in various parts of Scripture called a “mystery,” “hidden mystery;” the “mystery of Christ which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men … that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs” (Eph 3:4-6; Col 1:27). But when this mystery was revealed and made fully known by the divine mission to Paul, who was by Christ sent to preach to the Gentiles (Ac 26:17,18), when it was declared by the vision of the unclean beasts and the Lord’s consequent commission to Peter (Ac 10:9-15,20), then the contentions of the circumcision ceased (Ac 11:2,3); they found “the middle wall of partition” between Jew and Gentile was “broken down;” the latter, who before were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise,” being now “brought nigh by the blood of Christ.” They glorified God saying, “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Jesus Christ is not only the propitiation for the sins of us Jews, but for the Gentiles also (Eph 2:11-18).
5. The foregoing is proved from Ro 11:12, where the two words, “world” and “Gentiles,” are both used as signifying one and the same thing. “If the fall of them (Jews) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?”
“It was a controversy agitated among the Jewish doctors whether, when the Messiah came, the Gentiles, the ‘world’ should have any benefit by Him. The majority was exceeding large on the negative of the question; only some few, as old Simeon and others, knew that He should be ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles,’ as well as ‘the glory of His people of Israel.’ The rest concluded that the most severe judgments and dreadful calamities would befall the Gentiles; yea, that they should be cast into hell, in the room of the Israelites” (Dr. John Gill).
(see Romans 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
Answer: 1. There is a difference between a necessary extension and a voluntary one. Adam’s sin was extensive necessarily, but salvation by Christ is of free grace, wholly of God’s pleasure, and is therefore called the “free gift” (Ro 5:15).
2. Christ is nowhere compared to Adam in the extent of His object, but only in the efficacy of His obedience. All, and everyone, are not in Christ radically, as they were in Adam; all are not given to Christ; but “as many (saith Christ) as Thou has given Me.” As all the offspring of Adam fell by his sin, so all that are Christ’s are saved by His death; as all that are in Adam die, so all that are in Christ are made alive (1Co 15:22).
3. That the apostle might not be misunderstood, and the word “all” in Ro 5:18 taken universally, the term of comprehension is varied in the following verse, and “all” is rendered “many.” “By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
Answer: 1. Everlasting destruction cannot be intended by the word destroy in Ro 14:15, and the context shows this; for the apostle, throughout the chapter, is exhorting the believing Romans not to contemn or condemn one another on account of things indifferent; neither to destroy the weak believer’s peace of mind by doing anything (which although it be indifferent, and not evil in itself) may yet prove a stumbling-block to him. I “am persuaded,” says Paul, “that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth anything unclean, to him it is unclean. If thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not” (by thy conduct in eating meat esteemed by thy brother unclean) the peace of mind of one of the weaklings of that flock “for which Christ died.” Put not a stumbling-block, or an occasion of falling or offence in thy weak brother’s way (Ro 14:13-15). “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offense” (1Co 10:31,32). To the same purport is 1 Corinthians 8 throughout.
2. The persons spoken of in 2Pe 2:1, as “denying the Lord that bought them,” are described by the apostle thus, “false teachers” — hypocritical professors, tares among the wheat (Mt 13:25,38), in whom was never the root of the matter; not bought and redeemed by Christ from eternal death, but had merely escaped, or abstained, from the pollutions of the world through a theoretical knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2Pe 2:20). To answer certain purposes, they made an outward profession of the gospel, which obliged them for a space to be outwardly moral; associated with the people of God, insinuated themselves into churches, privily introduced therein damnable heresies. Many followed their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth was evil spoken of, and they made merchandise of true believers. They continued thus for a while, and then either their sheep’s clothing was stripped off them, or they threw it off themselves, and returned back again into the world. They were all this while “goats” and not “sheep;” ravening wolves, not gentle lambs. And Peter closes the chapter concerning them by saying, “It is happened to them according to the true proverb. The dog is turned to its own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2Pe 2:1-3,17-22).
3. The apostle (2Pe 2:1) does not appear to be there speaking concerning the purchase of the Redeemer’s blood, the name or title, Lord (Greek, depotes), is nowhere else applied to Christ in the New Testament, but to the Father, as in Lu 2:29; Ac 4:24; 2Ti 2:22; and especially in Jude 4, where “the only Lord God” is distinguished from “our Lord Jesus Christ.” And even though it could be proved to apply to Christ in the above text, it may be explained upon the principle that it is no unusual thing with the inspired writers to speak of things not as they actually are, but according to the profession of the party. Thus, for instance, (Mt 13:12): “Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath” that is, “which he seemeth to have,” as explained in Lu 8:18. Thus apostates are said to be “twice dead,” which would seem to import that they had been spiritually alive, though in fact that was never the case, but merely what they professed to be.
4. So that, if we even grant the premises, it only follows that such as think themselves redeemed, or are thought so by others, may blaspheme and perish; yet this makes not all the world redeemed; this can by no means establish the doctrine of Universal Redemption.