How 'Definite Atonement' Secures the Purpose, Mode and Outcome for Missions

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"Who did Christ die for?" is an important question. Today it is common to hear the response that "Jesus died for everyone." In his January 21, 2019 article, Alex Kocman looks at that assertion and concludes that the "L" of TULIP which he renders as 'definite atonement' instead of its more common 'limited atonement' makes a whole lot if difference in the purpose, mode, and outcome of missions. He concludes each section with these words:

If Christ died for all indiscriminately, yet no one in particular, there is little to compel us out of our proverbial Jerusalems and Samarias to the ends of the earth. But if Christ died for the elect from every nation, that necessitates the extension of the gospel offer to every people group, nation state, language, and tribe.

The Christ whom we proclaim among the world’s 4 billion unreached is “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25)—even to the point of sovereignly, by his Spirit, granting the very saving faith we naturally lack. Every one of the elect who are yet unreached has his or her name graven on the hands of this perfect Intercessor (Isaiah 49:16).

If Jesus died for all indiscriminately, yet no one in particular, we are left scouring the seas for fish with no guarantee of a catch. We, as fishers of men (cf. Matthew 4:19), are called to fish indiscriminately. We don’t know who the elect are, nor are we encouraged to guess. But recall Christ’s instructions to his disciples on the boat: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some” (John 21:6). Our Lord has appointed the catch. Likewise, the definitive nature and particular scope of Christ’s atoning death mean that the global church’s nets will be filled. The cross guarantees that. 

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The elect are those who repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The purpose of the church is to be a "Word and Sacrament" ministry as proclamation of the Word and administration of the sacraments is the way that God saves people. Unfortunately, far too many fall into an unbiblical understanding of Reformed soteriology along the lines of "justification by election" as opposed to Justification by Faith which God imputes to the elect through the Gospel proclamation-see Peter's first sermon in Acts 2:38. Part of the problem, I think, is that in North America the temptation is to define ourselves over and against Wesleyan-Arminianism. The other issue is too many in the Reformed family have done a bad job teaching doctrine. 

Thanks Jason:

   Isn't it curious that the journal where this article was hosted is of Southern Baptist origin. Yet, the author comes across more Reformed than many Reformed people. That is to say, he is connecting the dots between mission methods and the "L" or if you like the "D" of limited atonement.

   I get your point about 'defining ourselves over and against Wesleyan-Arminianism' (WA) but what if some mission methods and underlying presuppositions that we are employing are actually more Arminian than Reformed? That seems to be another problem.

     In the article in Founder's the author actually believes that Christ gets the elect who he paid for, that missions can rest in a rock solid assurance of this. If we follow the logic, then it would appear that some of the Reformed adoption of the latest 'new and improved' outreach strategies such as the seeker sensitive movement with its Arminian presuppositions when taken to an extreme, might actually show that some Reformed people do not connect the dots.

As the author said, "Ideas have consequences."

John

Founders Ministry is actually a Calvinistic wing of the Southern Baptists. It is my observation that much of the broader evangelical world has moved closer to Reformed theology (or at least soteriology) in the past couple decades while many in our circles have been trying to water down our doctrine. The issue shouldn't be "Do we teach doctrine or emphasize outreach?" It should be "How do we teach doctrine well, so that we share the Good News with more people?" Now for the record many of our churches and pastors are doing a good job, but there often seems to be a lack of focus on the denominational level, at least in my anecdotal experience.