Does it Honor Christ to Put the Atonement Before the Election?

Ephesians 1:9-11–” making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…”

“All things were created for Christ”. (Colossians 1:16) Christ “is before all things” (Colossians 1:17).

Lutherans (and others who say that Christ died for every sinner) think that they honor Christ by saying that the decree for Christ to die is before the decree to elect some sinners. They claim in this way to put Christ before election.

Lutherans want to equate election  with preaching, and so they teach  that the atonement was not restricted to the elect. They think of election as something that causes some to believe, but they will not teach an atonement only for the specific sins of the elect.

But election in Christ is first! The death of Christ is not the cause of God’s election in love. God’s election in love is the cause of the death of Christ.

Jesus, the incarnate, the eternal Son of God in the flesh, is the foundation of election by being Himself the object of election. “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things.” Jesus is not simply the one who makes election work. Jesus Himself is first.

Jesus Himself is chosen first, before all the other elect. All the other elect were chosen in Jesus Christ, and not apart from Jesus Christ. Those God loves are “chosen in Him”. Ephesians 1:4

God only has one purpose in history, and that is to bring glory to Jesus Christ. God does not have a second cultural purpose (“kingdom” ?) which doesn’t have anything to do with Christ.

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18 Comments on “Does it Honor Christ to Put the Atonement Before the Election?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    a lutheran replies— the root cause of the calvinist error. For lutherans the atonement precedes election. So it is impossible to have a limited atonement because the Incarnation, Christ in human form, is eternal. He’s the Creator of the world. So Christ’s death on the cross, the gospel, the forgiveness of sins, the mercy of God shown in his Son precedes election. So it is impossible for the atonement to be limited to a certain number of people, because creation had not taken place. Karl Barth teaches the same in different words, that Christ was the head of the human race from eternity.

    The error of Calvin is that he puts a decree of election before Christ. Calvin’s error is due to two heresies, nestorianism and docetism. Calvin denies that the human nature of Christ, the Incarnation, existed since eternity. Lutherans affirm that Christ existed in his human and divine nature since eternity. So there can not be a hidden decree of election before Christ and his work on the cross. The atoning work of Christ precedes election. So Christ could not have died for a specific number of men.

    If the atonement were limited, we would be denying that the Incarnation, the Word becoming Flesh, Christ is eternal. This is also called the heresy of docetism– “the doctrine according to which the phenomenon of Christ, his historical and bodily existence, and thus above all the human form of Jesus, was altogether mere semblance without any true reality”. Calvin denies that the Incarnation precedes election, and makes Christ a servant of a hidden decree of election that precedes Christ. Christ according to Calvin comes to execute the decree of election. Lutherans and Barth put Christ and the atonement first.

    God is free to save anybody or nobody after Christ died on the cross. God elects freely after he’s shown his mercy in Jesus Christ. For Calvin the decree of election precedes the death and resurrection of Christ, and Christ dies on the cross for the purpose of saving a certain number of people (the elect). So Christ executes a decree. Not so say the lutherans . God in Christ (not by a decree that precedes Christ) saves whomever he wills.

    The lutherans see the calvinist heresies but they don’t want to talk about it because they want to focus on Christ and the Gospel, they have no time to focus on an inscrutable decree of election that Christ came to execute, they see this heresy as so obvious that they don’t think it’s worth their time to refute it theologically.


    Matthew Harmon on John 6
    From Heaven, p 271—According to John 6:37-44, the Father does not plan to send the Son to save everyone, and then only elect some, knowing that apart from election one would believe. Such a contention suggests that redemption circumscribes election. But John 6 indicates that the Father gives a specific group of people to the Son for whom he THEN comes to die in order to give them eternal life. Particularism attends the planning and the making of the atonement, not only its application.

  3. markmcculley Says:

    I Corinthians 15: 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

    Luke 17: 20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” The King is the kingdom, even so come Lord Jesus.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    David Engelsma–

    Against this proposal of an independent cultural purpose of God with history, there is a weighty objection. The objection is decisive. Jesus Christ is not behind this cultural purpose! Jesus Christ is not in this cultural purpose as it unfolds in history! Jesus Christ is not the goal of this purpose of God with creation and history!

    The proposed cultural purpose, supposedly grounded in infralap-sarianism, has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. It leaves Him out. It ignores Him.

    The total absence of Jesus Christ from the supposed cultural purpose of God with history is fatal to Dr. Mouw’s common grace theory. For God has clearly and emphatically made known in His Word that He has one eternal purpose with creation and history and that this one purpose is Jesus Christ.Ephesians 1:9-12 reveals the mystery of the will of God with regard to “all things.” The mystery is His one purpose to “gather together in one all things in Christ.”

    Colossians 1:13-20 is even more pointed and detailed about God’s purpose with all things. God’s purpose with “all things” is Jesus Christ. “All things were created … for him,” that is, for Jesus Christ (Col. 1:16). The existence and history of all creatures have been subordinated to Jesus Christ and must serve Him. All things cohere in Him (Col. 1:17). In all things, Jesus Christ is to have the preeminence (Col. 1:18). There is no divine purpose with creation and history alongside and independent of Jesus Christ. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is unrelated to Jesus Christ—not Tiger Woods’ putts, not Hal Newhouser’s fastball, not “the glory that was Greece,” not the splendor of American civilization, not the falling of a sparrow from a housetop. The meaning of history is Jesus Christ.

    Nor is the Christ of Colossians 1 simply the eternal Son of God, the second person of the blessed Trinity. Rather, He is the Son in human nature, the child of the virgin, the man who was crucified and who now sits at the right hand of the Trinity as risen from the dead in His human body. This one is the one purpose of God, for He is the “dear Son in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13, 14), the “firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18).

    First in the Counsel

    The explanation of His being the one purpose of God with all things is that Jesus Christ is first in the counsel of God. Here we enter (with the caution that dreads speculation, but with the boldness that dares to follow where revelation leads) the mysterious, awesome, holy realm of the supra-/infra- debate. It is mysterious, awesome, and holy because this realm is the eternal mind and will of God in their innermost, profoundest secrets. There in the eternal thinking, decreeing counsel of the all-wise God, Jesus Christ is first. He is first, not in any temporal sequence, for there is no time in the eternal counsel. But He is first in that He is the one purpose of God to which all the other decrees of God, for instance, the decree of creation and the decree of providence, including the fall of Adam, are subordinated. Freely, wisely, graciously, the triune God thought and willed Jesus Christ as the object of His love, as the one with whom He would have fellowship, as the one whom He would exalt, and as the one in whom He would glorify Himself.

    This is the meaning of the teaching in Colossians 1:15, that Jesus Christ is the “firstborn of every creature.” As decreed, the creature Jesus Christ opens the womb of the counsel of God to the decree of all other creatures, they following Him and serving Him in the counsel. In this sense, Jesus Christ is “before all things” (Col. 1:17).

    All things must know this! They must know their place! They must know that they are not “before” Jesus Christ, or apart from Him, but after Him and for Him. Gifted, prominent unbelievers, especially the Tiger Woods of this world, arrogantly suppose that they are quite something in themselves, regardless of Jesus Christ. Common grace with its two-purposes-of-God-with-history idea encourages them in this foolishness. The biblical gospel disabuses them of this folly.

    That Jesus Christ is first in the counsel of God, even before the decree of the election of the church accompanied by the reprobation of the others, is the teaching of Ephesians 1:4: “he [God] hath chosen us in him [Jesus Christ] before the foundation of the world.” If we were chosen in Christ, Christ was before us in the counsel. God chose Him first. Our election was grounded in His election.

    The Foundation of Election

    The truth that Jesus Christ is first in the counsel ought to have been the Reformed response to the Arminian challenge to the Reformed faith at Dordt. In the interests of freeing the atonement from the limitation of election, much as Dr. Mouw thinks to free creation and providence from the restriction of election and redemption by placing election after the decree to create, the Arminians placed the decree of election after the decree of the atonement. This, they argued, made Christ the foundation of election as well as the executor of election. Since in the Reformed order of the decrees, Christ did not appear until after the decree of election, as the Mediator who would carry out the decree of election by redeeming the elect, the Arminians charged that the Reformed reduced Christ to the executor of the decree. The Reformed could not honor Christ as also the foundation of the decree of election.

    The Reformed at Dordt fell back on Christ’s being the decreeing God. But this was to evade the Arminian objection. Christ is indeed the foundation of the decree of election. The elect are chosen “in Him.” But this does not refer to His being the electing God, which, of course, He is. Rather, it refers to Him as incarnate, as the head of the church. As incarnate, as the man Jesus, He is the first decree of God. The election of the church is founded upon the election of the man Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is both the foundation and the executor of the decree of election.

    Where is Christ in the Purpose of Common Grace?

    The truth that Jesus Christ is first in the counsel as the one purpose of God with all things is the deepest intention of the old, and perennial, dispute among Reformed thinkers between supra- and infralapsarianism. Oddly, however, Reformed theologians often carried on the dispute without any reference whatever to Jesus Christ. It is striking that Jesus Christ does not figure in Richard Mouw’s discussion of supra- and infralapsarianism. Mouw leaves the impression that the question is whether the salvation of the elect is the sole purpose of history, or whether the development of culture by the ungodly is also a purpose of God with history, alongside the salvation of the elect. This is not the question, or, at least, the main question. The question is this: Is Jesus Christ the one purpose of God with all things in history, because He is first in the counsel of God?

    Scripture’s plain teaching that Christ is first in the counsel conclusively rules out the notion that God has a purpose with creation alongside His purpose of redemption in Jesus Christ. God never had an “original purpose with creation,” whether grounded in infralapsarianism or anywhere else, which He carries out after the fall by common grace. The theory of “multiple divine purposes” shatters on the rock of Jesus Christ as first in the eternal counsel. Inasmuch as the idea of two distinct divine purposes of God with history is fundamental for the theory of common grace, the theory of common grace likewise shatters on the rock of Jesus Christ as the one purpose of God.

    “All Things Work Together for Good”

    The primacy of Christ in the counsel of God is the Protestant Reformed response to a particular criticism that Mouw makes of their theology. Mouw sharply criticizes the teaching of Herman Hoeksema, which is certainly the teaching of the Protestant Reformed Churches, that all things exist for the sake of the elect.

    This is where I find Herman Hoeksema’s thought … most puzzling. Here is a typical Hoeksema comment: “in the counsel of God all other things in heaven and on earth are designed as means to the realization of both election and reprobation, and therefore, of the glory of Christ and His church.” Here is another: “All the things of the present life are but means to an eternal end.” So the goal of bringing the elect and the reprobate to their eternal destinies, for Hoeksema, is the divine goal, and all other seemingly independent goals are really to be viewed as means to the attainment of that one goal. Thus Hoeksema is committed to a perspective in which the paths of the eagle’s flight and the ocean’s waves are ordained by God simply as means to the goal of bringing human beings to their foreordained destinies, and in which the divine delight in such things is necessarily connected to the role they play in fulfilling the eternal salvific decree. I find this belief no less puzzling when I extend it—as surely it must be extended from Hoeksema’s perspective—to the actions of non-elect human beings (p. 36).

    Mouw repeats the criticism later, listing a number of events that, according to him, have nothing to do with the decree of predestination: Plato’s writing of the Republic; Babe Ruth’s hitting sixty home runs in a season; Kennedy’s approval of the Bay of Pigs invasion; and the decline of the Tokyo stock exchange in 1998 (p. 61).

    The criticism is itself puzzling. Hoeksema’s doctrine here is the explicit teaching of the Bible. It is the teaching ofRomans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” In I Corinthians 3:21, the apostle assures the elect church, “All things are yours.” He specifies: “Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours” (I Cor. 3:22). He explains: “And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (I Cor. 3:23).

    In addition to overlooking the explicit teaching of Scripture, the criticism fails to recognize that Jesus Christ, who is first in the counsel of God, was chosen as head of the church (Col. 1:18). His election was our election, as His body, with Him and in Him. Therefore, as all things were created for Him, they were also created for us. The providence that carries out the decree that all things are for Christ the head necessarily governs all things also for our advantage, who are His body.

    We have not the slightest hesitation to confess that Plato wrote his Republic, Babe Ruth hit sixty home runs in one season, and the Tokyo stock exchange suffered declines in 1998, among other subordinate purposes that God was realizing, in the service of Jesus Christ and His church and, thus, for God’s glory.

    Who can figure this out? Which Reformed Christian is not deeply humbled by this, as well as comforted in his miseries and encouraged in the difficulties of the way. But who dares to deny this, since to deny this is to deny that all things serve Christ? And Christ, the elect of God, the crucified Servant of Jehovah and the risen Lord over all, is worthy that this should be.

    Once upon a time, the God of history gave remarkable proof in history that the universe exists for the sake of the chosen people of God. For an entire day, God brought the rotating earth, the moving solar system, and the wheeling galaxies to the outermost limits of space to a halt. All waited patiently, as servants, upon Joshua—typical Christ—and Israel—church of the Old Testament. The redemption of the church of Christ—this commands the universe. Joshua had no doubt: “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon” (Josh. 10:12-14). Neither do we.

    The “Cultural Mandate”

    The truth of God’s one purpose with history sheds light on the “cultural mandate” of Genesis 1:28: “Subdue it [the earth]: and have dominion.” The mandate is not simply that Adam and Eve exercise rule over the earth. Rather, they are to have dominion as servants of God, so that the earthly creation develops as the kingdom of God.

    Fallen men and women are unable to fulfill the mandate. By the admission of the advocates of common grace themselves, fallen men and women cannot fulfill the “cultural mandate” even with the help of common grace. With the help of common grace, the fallen race develops creation, not as the kingdom of God, but as the kingdom of Man and Satan. According to Abraham Kuyper, father of culture-building common grace, by the help of common grace the ungodly erect the kingdom of Antichrist in history. Not only is common grace a fiction, it is also a failure. It cannot do the job.

    The only fulfillment of the “cultural mandate” is by the crucified and risen Jesus Christ, as God intended from the beginning, that is, by the first decree in His counsel. Christ begins to fulfill the mandate now by His regenerating grace in the lives of elect believers. A J. S. Bach writes lovely music to the glory of God. A Christian writer uses words well to explain, defend, advance, and apply the truth of the gospel. A godly farmer cultivates the ground, a godly businessman conducts his business, and a godly laborer works at his otherwise menial task, as unto the Lord Christ. A covenant mother orders her home and family according to the will of Christ.

    This is true culture. This is the only culture that pleases God.

    The perfection of the “cultural mandate” by Jesus Christ will be His renewal of all things—elect humanity out of all nations and the creation itself—by His (special) redeeming grace at His coming.

    Then we will see how in the vast, complicated panorama of history every creature and every motion of every creature cooperated, wittingly or unwittingly, willingly or unwillingly, in serving Christ and His church. Until then, we believe and confess it. Thus honoring Jesus Christ—the fulfillment of the first decree of God.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    not all born in Adam stay in Adam
    all chosen in Christ are born in Adam
    not all born in Adam are chosen in Christ
    some born in Adam stay in Adam
    some born in Adam are justified in Christ

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Herman Bavinck, Sin and Salvation, volume 3, Reformed Dogmatics, 2006, p 469—-”The center of gravity has been shifted from Christ and located in the Christian. Faith (not the atonement) has become the reconciliation with God.”

    Jonathan Gibson, From Heaven, p 358—-“Election and the Atonement do not operate on separate theological tracks. What God has joined together, let no theologian separate. Affirming union with Christ before the moment of redemption accomplished counters any disjunction between the effect of Christ’s death and the effect of His resurrection. (Those who put union later) sound as if Christ’s death might lead to the death of some sinners, but not also to their resurrection. This is not only analogy. if one, then the other. if death with, then resurrection with

  7. Alien Pebble Says:

    One person I once met on the internet argued Calvinists like Arminians also fail to be Christ-centered because Calvinists say election is the condition of atonement. He instead thinks Christ’s death was not penal substitution but only representative, closer to “Christus Victor”. He says Christ did not suffer lake of fire, so did not pay for eternal punishment for any, but rather he died for all so that all will share in the resurrection, to make all human beings eternal and the actions in this age to have eternal consequences, but it is our decision that determines where we spent eternity.

    To this I would reply: by that definition nobody is Christ-centered, because the atonement is not God but decreed by God, so it finally is conditioned on God’s will. If we follow their logic, then they who deny the priority of election to atonement, ends up making humanity, either as an abstract concept or a universal race, to be prior to atonement. In doing so, they are implying conception of an atonement that is inherently universal and election put restriction on it. But this is false. God’s election in love is the cause of the atonement (penal substitution to propitiate God for their sins) for those chosen sinners.

    • markmcculley Says:

      not sure why you think universality is implied, but i certainly agree that it’s God’s election which has decided for whom Christ died.

  8. markmcculley Says:

    en though only ungodly sinners are justified
    or need to be justified
    this does not mean that God justifies all ungodly sinners

    you can be a sinner without being justified
    you can know you are a sinner without being justified
    God never will justify all sinners

    Jesus rejects many sinners as His guilty clients, because Jesus was never the mediator for many guilty sinners

    God’s election comes first before Christ’s atonement
    Atonement to satisfy justice is a result of God’s love for the elect
    God’s love for the elect is not a result of Atonement for the elect

    This means that election is not the same thing as the atonement
    This means that election is not the same thing as justification.

    God loved the elect before God made justice for the elect.
    God has already made justice for the elect
    God has already not made justice for the non-elect
    God has already not loved the non-elect

    God loved the elect in Christ before Christ made atonement for the elect alone
    but God does not justify God’s elect apart from the Atonement

    I find it interesting that these very same preachers who are teaching “eternal election is eternal justification” are the very same people who also like to say that “non-election is not condemnation”.

    When they say this, logically they should change their soundbites so that “election is not salvation but only unto salvation”. They quote CD Cole—“Election is not the cause of anybody going to hell, for election is unto salvation (2 Thessalonians 2: 13). Neither is non-election responsible for the damnation of sinners. Sin is the thing that sends men to hell, and all men are sinners by nature and practice. Sinners are sinners altogether apart from election or non-election. It does not follow that because election is unto salvation that non-election is unto damnation. Sin is the damning element in human life. Election harms nobody.”

    Those who refuse to give explanations like to have their cake and also eat it. On the hand, they like to reduce salvation to God’s sovereignty and equate election with justification ( and don’t talk about justification or Christ obtaining righteousness by being imputed with guilt). But on the other hand, when it comes to explaining the non-salvation of the non-elect, these same preachers don’t want to talk about God’s sovereignty but only about God’s justice.

    But guilt is not enough for destruction, because you also have to be non-elect. The elect are also born guilty in sin, under the wrath of God, but all the elect will pass from guilt to justification. But these preachers deny that the elect are ever guilty, and they minimize any idea that Christ was imputed with the guilt of the elect, and in that way obtained justification for the elect. And these same preachers deny that non-election is any factor in some sinners not being saved.

    Romans 9: 11 For though her sons had not been born yet or done anything good OR BAD, so that God’s purpose according to election would stand— 12 not from works but from the One who calls

    Romans 1: 16 does NOT read—For I am not ashamed of the gospel, For in the gospel God’s free and sovereign grace is revealed

    Romans 1: 16 does NOT READ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, For in the gospel God’s love is revealed

    Romans 1: 16 reads For I am not ashamed of the gospel,because it is God’s power for salvation to as many as who believe, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 17 For in the gospel God’s RIGHTEOUSNESS is revealed

    Romans 1 :17 it is written: The righteous will live by faith

    Romans 1:17 does NOT teach that the elect are already justified apart from faith in God’s revealed righteousness

    Romans 1:17 does NOT teach that election is God’s righteousness

    Romans 1:17 does NOT teach that Christ already obtained justice for the elect before the ages

    Romans 1;17 does NOT teach that God’s purpose in Christ to obtain justice for the elect is the very same as Christ having already obtained justice for the elect

    God loved the elect before God made justice for the elect.
    God has already made justice for the elect

    God does demand justice
    But the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel is not God’s demand for justice
    The Righteousness of God revealed in the gospel is Christ’s death for the Elect to Bring in Justice for the Elect
    God has not placed all the elect into Christ’s death
    God has not yet imputed this justice accomplished and obtained to all the Elect.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    I Peter 1: 20 Christ was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the ages for you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. ……………………was Christ (the elect one) ever under the wrath of God? Was Christ himself in history ever under the condemnation of the law?
    Maybe you just want to talk about the “application” of the atonement, but it’s impossible to say that the atonement was applied to all the elect before history without also about Christ having completed the atonement before history. Did Christ complete the atonement before history? if Christ had already died for all the elect for eternity, then when was Christ ever under the wrath of God? If Christ had already died for all the elect before history, then why was His incarnation and death in redemptive history necessary?

  10. markmcculley Says:

    Ten Ways to Teach a False Gospel by Arrogantly Rejecting any Doctrine Teaching that God Has Already Imputed the Sins of Only the Elect to Christ

    1. Naselli often denigrates any idea that general atonement or two wills atonement are heresies. He continually begs the question by insisting that those “evangelical options” are not heresies. He does not hesitate to use the “hyper” word to designate those who disagree.

    2. Naselli insists that we not only agree that those who hold the tow heresies are our brothers but that we describe the heresies in a way approved by the heretics. For example, even though the heretics deny that God has already imputed the specific sins of the elect to Christ so that Christ has already made penal satisfaction for these sins, Naselli insists that we agree with the heretics that they still teach “penal substitution”.

    3. Naselli is dogmatic that universalism is heresy but that a general atonement which does not effectively atone is not heresy. Instead of actually pointing to any real person who now denies the need for evangelism, he assumes that the folks who deny any responsibility to believe the two-wills false gospel are also people who deny any responsibility to believe the true gospel (or obey God’s law.) Referencing Ian Murray and Peter Toon and Curt Daniel does not define “hyper”, but only shows it to be a relativist term which depends more on where “evangelicals are now” than it does in clarifying the nature of God’s external command to believe the true gospel.

    4. Naselli denigrates any notion of what they call a `commercial ” view of the atonement as if such descriptions fail to talk about God’s purpose or Christ’s priesthood, even though Naselli has just agreed that words like “infinite” and sufficient” and “efficient” can be used ambiguously (flexibly) –by those with the two heresies and by those who claim to believe in effective atonement. But read Tom Nettles for more on the importance of commercial language.

    5. Naselli teaches that the atonement is “unlimited in its sufficiency, its value, and offer” even though he calls universalism a heresy. But how can the death of Christ be enough if God never imputed the sins of the non-elect to Christ? And how can the death of Christ be enough for every sinner if in the end it is not enough to save every sinner from God’s wrath? How can the death of Christ be enough if it’s not enough to purchase and provide faith in the gospel for every sinner for whom Christ died?

    6. Naselli asserts that Packer overstated the importance of the extent of the atonement . Packer wrote in his introduction to Owen’s Death of Death that “universal atonement is destructive to the gospel.” But Naselli disagrees with Packer about the implications of universal atonement not logically be consistent with a substitutionary atonement. Naselli assures us, “this doctrine is not necessarily at the heart of the gospel.” He follows the liberal policy of Grudem’s Systematic Theology and claims that “other doctrines are much more significant.”

    7. Naselli denies that “only non-Calvinists can tell a non-Christian that God loves them”. Naselli knows that some Reformed folks don’t think we should say “Jesus died for you” to all sinners, but he insists that such a “statement is true and right”. At this point Naselli quotes his mentor DA Carson being condescending to other Reformed teachers who are “young”. Apparently it has never occurred to Carson that anybody who disagrees with him about the two heresies might be as mature and thoughtful and as well read as he is. They always think it’s the other fellows who are being “schismatic”

    8. It’s like Bill Clinton saying “it depends in what you think is means”. It depends on what you think sex means. Thus Naselli–A Calvinist can tell a non-Christian that “Jesus died for you” because non-Christians generally understand the “for” to mean that the benefits of the death of Jesus are “available IF THEY REPENT AND BELIEVE.’ But why should anybody actually believe the gospel want non-Christians to believe the false gospel that God loves them and that their salvation depends on the sinner? It seems that “the Calvinist” in question does not believe that the sins of the elect have already been imputed by God to Christ. A person who teaches that sinners impute their own sins to Christ is neither a Calvinist nor a Christian.

    9. Naselli gives us the impression that he now has a “complete understanding” of what it means to be flexible and to be “evangelical” and what is and is not “heresy”. He ends with the truth that not any of us understand anything perfectly, but does not apply this lesson to himself when he pontificates on what Calvinists can say or what “the more significant doctrines are” He seems to forget that he also has a finite mind when he separates himself from those who call the two heresies heresy. What looks like “tolerance” on closer look is one more “limited understanding” of the gospel, especially when it discounts the factor of God having already imputed the sins of the elect to Christ.

    10. those who accuse the other of being strident don’t seem to notice that they are using an ad hominem argument. They think that only the others use such arguments. For 45 years of my life, I was very proud of the good Reformed doctrine I learned in books and in how I had advanced in understanding over other Christians. But there came a day when God taught me to fear Him, and when I discovered that I had not yet been born again, and that the evidence of this was that I did not yet even know or believe the gospel.

    Options on What the Gospel is, Substitution “For” but in What Sense?,
    By Mark Mcculley

    This review is from: Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement: 3 Views (Paperback

  11. markmcculley Says:

    Brinsmead (following Barth and Torrance) thinks it honors Christ to put Him before election or the atonement—All that God did to this Man and all that He gave to this Man, He did and gave to those whom this Man represents. If we say, “Christ came to represent only those whom God pre-elected,” we have reversed the ordo salutis. The New Testament message doesn’t say: “In the beginning was election. . . . All things were made by election; and without election was not anything made that was made.”

    Neither does the Bible teach us that Christ was appointed as our Representative because God first elected us. “In the beginning was the Word . . .” From everlasting He was appointed to be the Redeemer. The representative office of Christ did not appear because of election, but election appeared because of the work of the Mediator. “. . . by Him all things [including election] consist.” Col. 1:17. He is the “Alpha and Omega.” Rev. 1:8.

    . If God had not already atoned for the sins of all men in the Person of Christ, He could not offer those gifts in the gospel to all who will believe in the atoning blood of Christ. Therefore, if we preach the gospel to a certain man, we must tell him, on the authority of God’s Word, that God has wrought out his complete salvation in the Person of Christ. That is the gospel.. Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. — Mark 16:15.

    . . . Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people . . . a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. — Luke 2:10, 11.
    If we have a duty to tell each man the gospel, in the very nature of the case we must tell him that his sins have been borne by Jesus Christ, that he has been chosen and accepted in the

  12. markmcculley Says:

    The Father does not love us because of Christ, The Father elects us in Christ because of the Father’s love for Christ. The Father elects us in Christ because of the Father’s love for elect sinners.

    God’s justice in Christ is NOT the cause of God’s love, but it is the necessary means of God’s love.
    Justification is not election, but trying to teach imputation without election is failing to teach imputation and the justice of Christ’s death for imputed sins.

    The death of Christ is not the cause of God’s election in love.
    God’s election in love is the cause of the death of Christ.

    Jesus, the incarnate Son of God in the flesh, is the foundation of election by being Himself the object of election.

    “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things.”

    Bavinck—“Christ is a gift of love from the Father and that love precedes the sending of the Son. The Son did not move the Father to forgiveness, because electing love originated with the Father Himself.” 2:365

    God does not love us because we are justified

    this means not only that there is no eternal justification

    but that eternal election is before justification

    which means that justification cannot be eternal

    there is an eternal purpose for the glorification and exaltation of the elect in Christ

    there is an eternal purpose for the justification of the eternally elect in Christ

    I John 4: 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world in order that we would live through Him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins

    Romans 5: 8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having b

    Does the Father love the Son because the Son obeys?

    or is it only the other way?

    that the Son obeys because the Father loves the Son?

    John 15:10 if you keep my commandments, you will abide also in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love

    I Peter 1: 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 CHRIST WAS CHOSEN before the ages but was revealed at the end of the ages for you 21 who through Christ are believers in God, who raised Christ from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

  13. markmcculley Says:

    Isaiah said

    He has blinded their eyes
    and hardened their hearts,
    so that they would not see with their eyes
    or understand with their hearts,
    and be converted,
    and I would heal them.

    John 12: 41 Isaiah said these things because Isaiah saw His glory

    God uses means in condemnation

    II Thessalonians 2: 8 The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working, with all kinds of false miracles, signs, and wonders,10 and with every unrighteous deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a strong delusion in order that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they will be condemned—those who did not believe the truth but enjoyed unrighteousness.

  14. markmcculley Says:

    Anyway, she commented that she takes the Bible literally when it says Jesus died for the whole world. And it seems to her that if God chooses whom to save, then Jesus’s death is wasted in respect to everyone else for whom he died.

    I’ve written before about whether Jesus died for everyone whomsoever—you’re welcome to look around to find those posts. My view is he did, at least inasmuch as federal headship works by one human being representing all human beings. That’s how it worked for Adam—and if it isn’t how it worked for Jesus then the crucial comparison between Adam and him in Romans 5 seems to collapse.

    So I agree with Eliza that Jesus’s atonement is quite sufficient to save every person ever—were every person ever to have faith. (Note my emphasise on the word “is”. Some Calvinists would say only that Jesus’s atonement would be sufficient to save very person ever, were every person ever to have faith. In other words, the scope of the atonement has to be retrofitted to the hypothetical, because in their view Jesus only died for those who will in fact be saved.)

    But why think Jesus’s death is “wasted” if God chooses who to save? Eliza seemed to think that if unconditional election were true, then the atonement was in some sense frittered away for the people God reprobated to hell; whereas if people were able to choose salvation for themselves, then it wasn’t. I’m struggling to find some relevant distinction between Calvinism and Arminianism here that would explain why this is so. Here are a few ideas:

    It could be a matter of economy. It would be gratuitous for Jesus to suffer for Roger if God will not save Roger.

    But God not saving Roger is just a particular mechanism of a broader kind of situation: namely, Roger not being saved. And if Roger is not saved under Arminianism either, why is it gratuitous for Jesus to suffer for him under Calvinism, but not under Arminianism? Merely saying it is because God chooses to save Roger under one, but not the other, doesn’t explain it so much as beg the question.

    (Also, how could Jesus avoid suffering for Roger, given the nature of federal headship?)

    Maybe it is something to do with ability. That was the sense I got from Eliza in our brief exchange. It is wasteful if Jesus died for someone who cannot appropriate that atonement, because it makes the atonement pointless or useless for that person. I don’t think pointlessness or uselessness is quite the same as wastefulness, but this was a friendly conversation we were having, not a philosophically-rigorous debate—so when she said the atonement was wasted on the reprobate, she could well have meant it was in vain.

    But again, it’s hard to see how Arminianism changes anything here. Even if we say Roger can appropriate the atonement, if he does not do so, and God knew in advance he would not do so, then surely it was pointless for Jesus to die for him? It seems quite reasonable to say the atonement was in vain for Roger if God knew all along that Roger would never appropriate it.

    (However, in what sense can Roger appropriate the atonement if God has created a world in which he knows it is inevitable that Roger won’tappropriate it?)

    You could say that while the atonement was not efficacious for Roger, Christ’s suffering for him was not wasted because it made the gospel invitation possible in the first place. If Christ hadn’t suffered for him, God could not have called him to have faith, since there would have been nothing for him to have faith in. But that is exactly what a Calvinist like me says to a Calvinist who denies the universal scope of the atonement. So this line of reasoning doesn’t select for Arminianism; it merely selects against a specific kind of Calvinism which I don’t hold.

    (However, it actually seems to select against Arminianism as well. Eliza’s implication seemed to be that Jesus’s suffering was wasted for anyone who did not at least hear the gospel message. A Calvinist doesn’t have to agree with that. So Arminianism seems to shoot itself in the foot here.)

  15. Mark Mcculley Says:

    Why do you think that

    before creation really means before time?

    why do you think that
    “eternity” equals “beyond time and space” ?

    is there a before ‘eternity”
    is there a past before ‘eternity”
    if “eternity” has no beginning, is there no “cause” in “eternity”?

    why import all of this Plato philosophy into the gospel?

    why say “the one real eternal covenant behind all those mere
    eomonstrations in time” , when we could say the “lasting new

    Did the new covenant have mediator?

    Did the new covenant have a beginning?

    Was the New covenant brought in and fulfilled by its mediator?

    Had Christ already died before God created the world?

    Sins imputed to Christ is not the same thing as Christ’s righteousness imputed to us

    before Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us, Adam’s sin was imputed to us

    before Christ died for sins imputed, all the guilt of the elect was
    imputed to Christ

    We can have division over certain doctrines without
    having division over many other doctrines on which we do agree.

    what I will not agree is that some should be able to say incorrect
    things about doctrine and then tell us we should not talk about what is wrong with their doctrine

    This goes both ways.

    My way of talking about “changing legal states” I learned when I was
    converted the gospel back in 2000. I don’t like being told not to
    talk about “chaning legal states” now, simply because other people
    have changed their views in the meanwhile

    We can disagree and divide over certain doctrines, without imposing on other people that they can only talk about certain “gospel parts” of the Bible

    if you say the following false statement , then you can’t teach the
    truth about justification : “God’s love can not be separated from His
    justice. It is impossible for God to have loved His people
    everlastingly apart from His regarding them as forgiven and justified
    in His sight

    Mark McCulley: i do not agree that Gods election in Christ was based on God’s foreknowledge of God’s justice. God first elected some\ sinners in Christ, and only because of that, sent the Surety to die for them. It was no part of the work of Christ to make God love the elect The very fact of Christ becoming incrante earth at all was proof of the divine love for the elect. The business of the justifying
    atonement, therefore, was to propitiate the God who already loved the elect.

    I John 4: 10 God’s love consists in this– not that we loved God, but
    that God loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our

    I Peter 1:20 Christ was felected before the creation of the age but
    was revealed at the end of the ages for you who through Him are
    believers in God, who raised Christ from the dead and gave Christ
    glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

  16. Mark Mcculley Says:

    One of the reasons the gospel error happens about all the elect being already justified is a more basic gospel error that claims that God elects because of sinners already being justified. But this is NOT true. God elects sinners in order to justify sinners. God does not elect sinners because God has already justified them.
    Bill Parker—-All who believe eternal justification view justification
    as they view God’s grace of election. Both justification and election are in view of Christ and based on His blood and righteousness which He would come in time and accomplish for His elect. If you say that there was “a period of time in which he was not justified before he was justified?”, then you must realize you are saying that there was a period of time that his sins were not imputed to Christ, that Christ’s righteousness was not imputed to him, and that, even though he was a vessel of mercy marked out by God for salvation, he was also sentenced to be condemned to eternal death by God.
    So Bill Parker is claiming that God only elects people because they are already imputed with Christ’a death. But God’s election was NOT based on Christ having died for some sinners. Christ died only for those sinners God elected in Christ. Election is God’s love, and God’s love is not a reaction to justification but the cause for Christ’s death and justification.
    Bill Parker–When God did justify Abraham, did God change His mind towards Abraham? I don’t believe the cross of Christ or our God-given faith in Christ changed God’s mind toward us.
    mark mcculley— We need to see the distinction between God’s mind in election and God’s mind in justification. God DID NOT ELECT because of legal enmity being only in the mind of the sinner. God DID NOT ELECT a sinner because God had already justified that sinner (in God’s mind). God’s mind in election is love, and giving Christ for the elect is a result of that.
    As for God’s mind in justification, election is not justification.
    Even those God already loves need to be jusified before God. Where sin is imputed, God’s mind will not change, and there will be condemnation. Only where sin is not imputed, only where righteousness is imputed, only there will God justify, and this is BECAUSE GOD’S MIND DOES NOT CHANGE ON WHAT IS REQUIRED FOR JUSTIFICATION.
    To claim that justification is only what happens in the mind of the
    sinner is to deny the nature of justification and to confuse
    justification and regeneration.
    The cause of election is not justification.
    Christ’s death is not the cause of election but the result of election.
    Our justification is not the cause of our election but the result of
    Christ’s death for those God loved before they were justified.
    Election is not based on righteousness imputed and justification

  17. Mark Mcculley Says:

    Giovanni Camacho–Christ’s relationship to the elect as High
    Priest/mediator for them is the underlying basis for the imputation of
    their guilt to Him. “… But this one was made a priest with an oath
    by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change
    his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’” This makes Jesus the guarantor
    of a better covenant.” Hebrews‬ ‭7:21

    The appointment of Christ as High Priest implies the [future] creation
    of beings for whom He had been appointed to mediate on behalf of. It also implies sin and death, since there is no conflict with God apart
    from sin, and there is no remission of sins without death. Indeed,
    Christ would have no need to take on the role of High Priest (a role
    He has not always had) if there were never going to be any future
    sinners for whom He should need to mediate.

    But also implied in the act of appointing the High Priest is the
    judgment and wrath of God, because mediation is not required where no conflict exists. The fact that Christ was appointed as a mediator implies that God intended a future conflict which would need to be remediated by the death of Christ. Christ’s priesthood requires an in-time death to satisfy God’s in-time
    wrath, without which even the elect would perish).

    We know that at least one of God’s purposes in creation is
    judgment and wrath – “You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”
    ‭ Romans‬ ‭9:19-24‬

    As the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, Christ was
    appointed High Priest only over the vessels of mercy. It is this
    relationship, in which Christ is given individuals chosen apart from
    works (I would argue this means prior to the decree of the fall and
    sin) for whose necessary guilt He would eventually die.

    Because guilt is individual, payment of that guilt must also be
    individual. When Christ died, He died bearing the specific guilt of
    those the Father gave to Him by merit of accounting. God, as creator, is just and righteous to account the sins of those He chose apart from works to His Son BECAUSE He had determined to put His Son to death when He appointed Him as a High Priest over the elect.

    The lie says the atonement is some kind of a blanket of hypothetical
    atoning value, where salvation from punishment requires no specific
    redress on behalf of any sinner, but rather a one size fits all where
    the one for whom atonement is made is required to actualize the
    hypothetical value floating out there somewhere and without whose
    necessary actualization God CANNOT save. The utter conundrum of this lie is that it claims a sinner who stands condemned before God can do something to please God by “trusting” Him. It completely denies the hostility that God has towards sinners which demands their death because it has made Christ’s death God’s offering to man. This is the suppression of the truth in unrighteousness, because it places God in the role of offering a sacrifice to the sinner in hopes that the sinner will accept it so that God can wipe His brow and say “man, that was a close one.”

    This lie complete sidesteps the nature of the atonement which, in
    order to be efficacious, must involve imputation of specific guilt to
    an Innocent for which that Innocent must die, and rather makes the
    death an outright murder of an innocent man to whom no specific guilt was imputed and then attempts to retroactively convert that murder into an offering to man where man’s response to what is characterized as Christ’s hypothetically efficacious death is what causes God to declare “justified.”

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