Agonizomai: Sermon of the Week<br>Particular Redemption

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sermon of the Week
Particular Redemption

Here we find Thomas R. Schreiner of SBTS speaking at the C.H. Spurgeon Conference in 2006. His subject is the "Limited Atonement" or, as some have come to call it, "Particular Redemption" or even "Specific Redemption". The basic idea is the Calvinistic belief that Christ died ONLY for the elect of God and for no others.

Of all the tenets of the "TULIP" this is the one most often under attack, or upon which many falter. It seems so unfair. It has implications about the character of God which, if not treated carefully and accurately, seem to make Him something less than we would like - less loving, or less just.

In this session, Schreiner addresses these issues, as well as coming to grips with most of the so-called "universalistic" passages which today's populist Arminians enlist to "prove" their view.

I don't publish this in order to get embroiled in controversies that have long been answered by people more competent than I. These differences have been around at least since the 16th Century and the dissenters to orthodox Reformed thinking on this topic have been answered again and again.

I publish this for other reasons, not the least of which is my own need to hold onto this truth in view of the surrounding influences to abandon it. I need to be reminded occasionally that the plea to abandon a proper contextual interpretation of words like "all" and "world" is strongly urged upon us by some who do not accept the long-held truth in this matter.

I am a bit of an odd fish in that I do balk at terminology such as "the free offer of the gospel" - not because I don't believe that we are to preach to all, and not because I don't believe we have a warrant to say that all who repent and believe will be saved, but because the idea of a free offer implies to me that men are all free to accept or reject the gospel in an absolute sense. They aren't. They are culpable for their choice, but their choice is entirely controlled by their nature. Unregenerate men will NEVER choose Christ.

And if regeneration is a necessary prerequisite IN ORDER for Christ to be beautiful in the eye of a person, then no one comes to Him in response to a "free offer" in the sense that all people are ABLE to accept out of a libertarain free will. R.L. Dabney rightly observed of the so-called "free will" in his Systematic Theology that "Freedom is properly predicated of a person, not of a faculty (such as the will)."

So, though we Calvinists may understand all that is implied in the "free offer of the gospel", I think the term can be confusing if it is allowed to soften the moral inability which the "T" of "Total Depravity" rightly brings forth. But, as I said, I am an odd fish. Enjoy this one...


Thomas R. Schreiner

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