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Did Jesus Die For The Whole World or Just the Elect? 
Why Limited Atonement is NOT in the Bible

We are a listener supported broadcast ministry. Thank you for your tax deductible contribution at wvwfoundation.com or by  calling 901-853-8792 or by sending your check to:

 

Worldview Weekend Foundation
P.O. Box 1690
Collierville, TN 38027

 

To read this complete transcript go to worldviewpedia.com

Brannon Howse:  My guest tonight is Dr. Andy Woods. We are talking about a potpourri of things tonight. Let’s talk about limited atonement. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believe upon Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The word in the original language “world” in John 3:16, is that the word kosmos?

Dr. Woods:  Yeah. The word kosmos, where we get the word “cosmopolitan” today. But, yeah, that’s the word for world.

Brannon Howse:  So, God so loved the elect – that’s not what it’s saying?

Dr. Woods:  Well, it’s tricky because what people who believe in limited atonement do - and real quickly, limited atonement is the idea that Christ only died for some - so, they’ll quote verses like Jesus saying, “I lay down My life for the sheep.”

They say, “Aha, the goats aren’t included.” Well, it doesn’t say He’ll lay down His life “only” for the sheep. It’s like when you have two kids, you say to one kid, “I love you,” you’re not saying, at the same time, “I hate the other one.” You’re just putting an emphasis on your love for the one child. So, when Jesus says, “I lay down my life for the sheep,” that’s true. But He’s not eliminating that the entire world has been contemplated on the plan of salvation. So, limited atonement is the idea that Christ only died for the elect. And what we believe is unlimited atonement, where Christ died for the whole world. The whole world right now, as I speak, is savable. They’re just not saved.

Brannon Howse:  In other words, it’s available to all.

Dr. Woods:  Available to all.

But the death of Christ, or the imputation of Christ’s righteousness – His righteous life imputed or credited to our account–it was only available–only applicable to those who–through faith and repentance. It’s available to all, but only applicable to those who – through faith and repentance.

Dr. Woods:  Yeah. Every human being today is savable, but not saved.

Brannon Howse:  No one will be in hell saying, “I wanted to believe, but I couldn’t.”

Dr. Woods:  Right.

Brannon Howse:  So, limited atonement says Christ only died for the elect; that’s it.

Dr. Woods:  Right. Now–back to kosmos–they go to John 12:19, where Jesus is–the triumphal entry–Palm Sunday. He was very popular at that point amongst the masses. And the Pharisees, I believe, yell out, “Look, the world has gone after Him.”

And so, your limited atonement person would say, “Aha, their world–the word ‘world’ doesn’t mean the whole world–it just means the people in Jerusalem.” So, they take that limited reading, and they read it into John 3:16, they read it into 1 John 2:2, and all of these passages.  And so, it’s very tricky because what people need to understand is, words in general have a broad semantic range. Take the word “apple,” for example. Think how many meanings we could generate with the word “apple.” Is it a computer? Is it a piece of fruit? Is it New York City?

Brannon Howse:  Part of your eye?

Dr. Woods:  The pupil of one’s eye, the apple of one’s eye. There are four meanings right there.

Brannon Howse:  Your Adam’s apple.

Dr. Woods:  Adam’s apple. So, how do I know what meaning to supply? Context tells me. So, if I were to take a computer meaning of apple and read it into a context that’s talking about fruits and vegetables, then I would be misusing the word because words mean things based on their context. You see? The technical word for this–and I hope people’s eyes don’t gloss over as we talk about this–but it’s called something James Barr called “illegitimate totality transfer,” where you  develop the meaning of a word.

Brannon Howse:  Illegitimate totality transfer.

Dr. Woods:   And you have to watch theologians very carefully, because they do this all the time.  They take the meaning of the same word in another context, like John 12:19, and they read it into a foreign context, John 3:16, when the foreign context doesn’t support that meaning. Does that make sense?

So, what people do with limited atonement is they go to John 12:19, where world doesn’t mean everyone, and then they beam that meaning into every other use of the word “world,” and that’s how they come up with limited atonement. But the reality of the situation is the word “world” can mean a limited group, but it can also mean everybody. And unless there’s a context in John 3:16 that supports the limited meaning – and there is no context there that supports that, because Jesus says, “Whosoever.” So, unless there’s a context in John 3:16 that supports that limited meaning, they’re committing the error of illegitimate totality transfer. So, that’s how the little game is played amongst the theologians.  It’s a word game.

Brannon Howse:  And yet we believe in the elect. The Bible says that we were chosen before the foundation of the world. The Bible talks about the elect or predestined. That’s not a problem; we’re not afraid of that. That’s in the Bible. The issue is we have Christians, pastors, Bible teachers, and theologians, coming up with things that simply are not in the Bible.

Dr. Woods:  Right.

Brannon Howse:  And so, we also see in John, as well as in Matthew 11, “Come, come. All you  who are weary and heavy laden, come.” So, again, it’s available; come.

Dr. Woods:  Yep.

Brannon Howse:  But it’s only applicable to those who come by faith and repentance.

Dr. Woods:  Right.

 

We are a listener supported broadcast ministry. Thank you for your tax deductible contribution at wvwfoundation.com or by calling 901-853-8792 or by sending your check to:

Worldview Weekend Foundation
P.O. Box 1690
Collierville, TN 38027

 

To read this complete transcript go to worldviewpedia.com.

 

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