Christ’s Atonement Sufficient for All but efficient for the Elect?
Want to know my view on the statement that is prevalent in many Reformed circles on the Atonement which says- “Christ’s death was of infinite worth and is sufficient for all, but efficient only for the elect”. I am personally convinced that this statement is dabbling with Amyraldian speculation. We know that Amyraldius attempted to fuse together the Arminian tenant that Christ died for all, while holding to part of the Calvinistic tenant that Christ died only for the elect.
In trying to relay information to the public at large as gracious as possible, the Synod of Dordt, one of the most respected councils in the history of the church, said this: “The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.” Don’t you think this is erroneous? Nothing wrong in saying, “The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value.” But to say, “abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world” is an Arminian statement, don’t you think?
Many Calvinist’s hold that if God desired, He could have saved everyone, and the same atonement that saved His elect, could have saved a million billion worlds – hypothetically speaking of course. But here is the rub; the Scriptures never speak hypothetically in this way – ever. Instead, they always speak of what Christ did do and what Christ accomplished. For example, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is what Christ did. A pondering god on what “might have been” or what “might be” is not at all-sovereign, and all knowledge God. God speak in terms of reality, not possibility. He operates in the realm of the actual, not the realm of “what if?”
To say that the atonement is of infinite value or worth is to correctly describe it biblically speaking. I agree with that sentiment because of the design and nature of what the atonement had to be to redeem an elect number of people for their sin. The atonement of Jesus Christ is of infinite worth, and must be of infinite worth, because it is a propitiation and expiation of the elect’s sin before the infinite holiness of an infinitely holy God. God’s character defines the kind of sin offering that must be given. God is infinitely holy. Men have sinned against an infinitely holy God. The sacrifice, then, of the Mediator that God sends, must be infinitely given – an infinite sacrifice. For this reason alone, the Mediator must be God for only God is infinite. We know, Scripturally, Jesus Christ is God incarnate. Only God could offer up to Himself an infinitely holy sacrifice for sin.
To say the atonement of Jesus Christ is “sufficient for all, but efficient for the elect” is really saying only half a truth. The atonement is only sufficient and efficient for the elect. It is sufficient to do exactly what God designed it to do – that is – atone for all the sins of the elect. Could God have decreed something different? Let’s speculate! Sure He could have. He could have decreed that trees grow upside down, that men are born with wings to fly around and live in giant green pea-pods that float in the sky. He could have decreed that all fish breath air, and that the ocean is really made of strawberry jelly. He could have decreed that we see with our nose, smell with our ears, and see with our toes. He could have decreed that Christ’s sacrifice could save everyone, including a million billion worlds. He could have decreed anything. But He decreed what He did decree. As you can see, to speak otherwise is just to speculate, and speculating can become very weird very quickly. Instead, why not simply follow the biblical directives of what Christ actually did, and what He actually accomplished in His infinite sacrifice which had to be infinite for the infinite sins against an infinitely holy God. And mind you, the Bible never depicts God as the one who speculates in hypothetical possibilities, and thus, neither should we.
[paraphrased from an article by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon titled “Jesus died for Aliens on Planet Zeno”. Read the full article on www.apuritansmind.com]