Some say only Christians, some say the whole world. The “L” of the TULIP acronym is definitely one of the most controversial and most misunderstood. I refer you to my previous series for more detail on the “limited” nature of the atonement, but today I want to stress some points that we can surely all agree upon.
Firstly, we can surely agree that Jesus’ death was enough for the whole world, but will not be permanently applied to the whole world—so while unrepentant sinners do benefit temporarily from the death of Jesus, they will not benefit forever. It is only those who are united with Jesus that will ultimately benefit. Thus, to me the Scripture teaches that there is a sense in which Jesus died for the whole world, but another sense in which He died especially for those of us who are Christians.
“. . . we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10)
I like the way that Lloyd-Jones explains the benefits that come to the whole world from Jesus’ death:
“ . . . the only thing that made it possible for God to continue to have any dealings or any relationship with this world at all was the work that our Lord was going to do. So it was the cross, as it were, that spared the world and allowed it to continue. And in the same way, it is the cross and the cross alone that spares the life of anybody who ever sins at any time. It is only because of the work of the cross that God can even tolerate sin in any shape or in any sense.”
— Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1996). God the Father, God the Son (362), Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois.
Ultimately, of course, Jesus died for THOSE OF US who are being saved.
- Isaiah 53:14 — “ . . . he bore the sin of many . . .”
- John 15:13 — “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.”
- 1 John 3:16 — “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.”
- 1 Corinthians 5:8-9 — “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”
Believe it or not, I am now very close to the end of this series. All that remains is for me to share a few of my favorite quotes on the atonement from other authors. As I close my own thoughts, I want to thank God that we have, indeed, been “saved by Him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:8)