The Extent of the Atonement: Limited Atonement Versus Unlimited Atonement (Part Two) -- By: Ronald C. Rhodes
The Extent of the Atonement:
Versus Unlimited Atonement
[*Editor's note: Ron Rhodes received his Th.M. and Th.D. degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Rhodes is the executive director of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries—a discipleship ministry that helps Christians become biblically literate. A free bimonthly newsletter is available. We invite you to write: P.O. Box 80087, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688.]
In Part One of this series, I set forth a number of verses and arguments in favor of the doctrine of unlimited atonement and against the doctrine of limited atonement. In this concluding installment, I shall provide further biblical arguments in favor of unlimited atonement.
A Case Study:
The Savior of the Israelites
As a basic principle of biblical interpretation, it is critical to recognize that the Scriptures do not always include all aspects of a truth in any one passage. Consider the fact that Christ is called the Savior of the Israelites in a number of verses. If it is legitimate for particular redemptionists to cite certain verses in isolation to “prove” that Christ died only for the elect, then it could be argued with equal logic from other isolated passages that Christ died only for Israel (cf. John 11:51; Isaiah 53:8), or that He died only for the apostle Paul (for Paul declared that Christ “loved me, and gave himself for me”— Galatians 2:20, emphasis added).1
Related to this, it is highly revealing that Matthew 1:21 says that Jesus “will save his people from their sins.” Throughout the Old Testament God speaks of the Israelites as “My people.” For example, seven times God tells the Pharaoh, “Let My people go” (Exodus 5:1; 7:16; 8:1, 20; 9:1, 13; 10:13). (I urge the reader to check a concordance to verify that God continues to refer to the Israelites as “My people” throughout the entire Old Testament.) The last occurrence is Zechariah 13:9, where God affirms: “They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’”
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