A Defense of Unlimited Atonement


An Analysis Of Key Scripture Passages

1 Corinthians 15:3-4


What was the gospel message which Paul preached to lost men? The Apostle Paul very specifically sets forth the gospel that he preached in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. In 1 Corinthians 15:3 we learn that the central part of the gospel message is that "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." In 1 Corinthians 15:1 Paul says that this is the very gospel which he preached to the Corinthians, and obviously when they first heard the gospel they were unsaved and unregenerate, and Paul did not know which ones in his audience were among the elect. He just knew that God had "much people" in this city (Acts 18:10). To these unsaved Corinthians, including some who would never be saved, Paul preached this gospel: "Christ died for OUR sins (yours and mine)!"

Here, then, you have an inspired definition of the object of saving faith – the gospel. It is not merely,– "Christ is able, infinitely able, to save to the uttermost, all that come unto God by him;" but it is, – Christ died for OUR sins, according to the Scriptures." Some have ventured to assert that no man is warranted, till after a long life of holiness, to say, "Christ died for me;" and preachers have been told by other preachers that they have no right to say to any man, "Christ died for you." It appears, however, that the apostle Paul was of another mind, for he had no scruples in rising up amid the Corinthians, while they were yet heathens and unbelievers, and boldly proclaiming, not merely "Christ died for MY sins," but "Christ died for OUR sins (that is, for your sins, ye heathen Corinthians, and for mine), according to the Scriptures. --James Morison, The Extent of the Atonement, p.23

"Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." The heart of the gospel message is Christ’s death for our sins, and this message is according to the Old Testament Scriptures. There is one passage which more than any other sets forth the death of Messiah for our sins. This is Isaiah chapter 53. It is in this chapter that we are told that the iniquities of "all of us" were laid upon Christ (verse 6). Christ’s death for our sins, according to the Scriptures, was not limited to the sins of the elect, but it was on behalf of every lost individual: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).

In 1 Corinthians 15:2 Paul says that some of those who heard this gospel did not believe it in a saving way. They "believed in vain." This passage indicates that there will be some people in hell who at one time personally heard Paul tell them the good news, and this good news was that Christ died for their sins!

To the believer in a limited atonement, Paul’s message had a different meaning: "Christ died for our sins!" How does the limited atonement supporter understand Paul’s message? "Paul preached that Christ died for the sins of all of us who are God’s elect. We have good news, but it is only for those in our audience who are elect." How contrary to the glorious gospel of the blessed God! We have a gospel message that is for all people (compare Luke 2:10), not a gospel that is just for the elect. Paul’s gospel was for "all men everywhere" (Acts 17:30). The tragedy is not that most men do not have a gospel. The tragedy is that most men disobey the gospel by refusing to believe on the One who died for them (2 Thess. 1:8-9).

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