I just listened to a sermon by John MacArthur entitled, “The Doctrine of Actual Atonement, Part 1” in which he tried to ridicule “evangelicals” who believe that Jesus died and paid the price for sin for every single person by saying that they use the Gospel to try to “coerce” people into coming to Jesus; and once again, which is on par for Calvinists, his lesson became full of circular logic, inconsistent reasoning’s and error filled conclusions that were reached because the starting point was wrong to begin with.
On multiple occasions he referenced how a belief in universal atonement automatically requires a belief in universal salvation – which are two different things! And then he proceeded to “explain” how any atonement other than a “limited one” is actually an atonement that fails, thus requiring Jesus, due to his own logic (he actually talks about what makes sense to him which I didn’t think matters to Calvinists due to the whole irresistible aspect and perverted sovereignty of God), to only shed his sin atoning blood for people who were always going to be saved to begin with and not for people who believe of their own free will through the preaching of God’s grace and judgment of sin in the gospel.
But the kicker for me is how Mr. MacArthur ended the sermon. After all the berating of “evangelicals” who supposedly coerce others with emotion, and after all the talk about how a person has no free will in the matter, this is how he ended his sermon* on “Actual Atonement” (aka Limited Atonement):
“All who will ever believe, will believe because the Father will draw them, and he will grant them repentance, and faith, and regeneration. Jesus’ death then is to be understood as a full satisfaction to God’s holy justice on behalf of all whom God will save. The atonement is an actual atonement, not simply a barrier removed. And it is in behalf of all who would ever believe, and since the sinner is unwilling and unable to believe apart from divine intervention and regeneration it comes then down to the power of God based upon the decree of God.
People say, “Well how do you know whether Christ died for you?” The answer is, “Whosoever will may come, and if you come and believe in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ then the death of Christ was for you.” Don’t hold back, come to Christ.” (John MacArthur – minute 18:00 – 19:15 of the audio from “The Doctrine of Actual Atonement, Part 1“)
Here are my big issues with such a conclusion based upon the content of what had already been said in the sermon:
- Why in the world would someone invite someone to believe when that individual has no choice in the matter?
- Why would you say that a sinner is unwilling to believe when they are unable to believe? One overrides the other making a “person’s will” in the matter non-influential, non-negotiable, non-consequential and non-existent.
- Why would someone mention anything about “whosoever will” or even use the word “if” if a person’s salvation is supposedly unconditional?
- Why would someone’s response to the invitation matter if a person’s response to the invitation doesn’t determine whether or not they’re actually saved – because you never know, Jesus may not have died for them, right?
- Why in the world would you tell someone to not hold back and come to Christ if they can’t hold back because they’ve already been signed and sealed for Heaven? Or why in the world would you tell someone to not hold back and come to Christ if they can’t keep from holding back because they’ve already been signed and sealed for Hell?
- Why would a person try to “coerce” an individual by using emotion and saying don’t hold back and come to Christ if in reality the response to the invitation has nothing to do with a person’s will at the end of the day?
An invitation given by a “true Calvinist” is nothing but an absurdity that does the very thing that they ridicule others for – encouraging people to make a decision about the death of Jesus upon the cross when he shed atoning blood for the entire world; but what they fail to understand is that whether or not a person accepts that free gift has nothing to do with overriding God’s sovereignty. That’s why it’s called free will by the will of God.
The doctrine of “Limited Atonement” is nothing but a doctrine invented by men that, in a twist of irony, does nothing good spiritually speaking, thus leaving it useful only as a rotten support beam to build the rest of the error filled elements of the house called Calvinism.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, putting to death the prophets, and stoning those who are sent to her! Again and again would I have taken your children to myself as a bird takes her young ones under her wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 23:37 – BBE – emphasis mine)
* the given quote from the sermon was written down by author of this post as he listened to the recording and not copied from a supplied document or manuscript; therefore it may contain some grammatical errors, but the sermon snippet itself has been given word for word