So, I'm still working my way through reformed theology. I can't help but love reading the stuff - it's so saturated in Scripture and the glory of God. I just found a fantastic resource. This link is a list of all sorts of Reformed sermon series, study guides, doctrinal statements,etc. I just found it tonight, and I'm lovin' it! All, or at least a lot, of my questions answered in one place - ya gotta like that. I was telling Brian, though, that the more I read, the more questions I have about everything I used to believe about doctrine. I am definitely reading my Bible on a quest for truth; approaching it completely open to finding the truth as it is, rather than how I thought it was, think it might be, or want it to be.
Well, I can't find the exact source of these Bible studies,they're labeled The Sovereign Grace of God Bible Studies, but the one I wanted to share as food for thought is the lesson "The Extent of the Atonement". I can't even figure out who wrote it, but the section I'm sharing is mostly quotes from J.I. Packer's introductory essay to John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, so I hope he doesn't mind.
The Problems with Denying Particular Redemption
All quotes are from J.I. Packer's introductory essay to John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ
Particular redemption is the doctrine that Christ's death made certain the salvation of everybody He died for, and thus He didn't die for all people since all are not saved. Universal redemption is the view that Christ died for every individual without exception--those who perish in the same way as those who are saved.
Particular redemption preserves the truth that the cross saves.
“Calvary, in other words, not merely made possible the salvation of those for whom Christ die; it ensured that they would be brought to faith and their salvation made actual. The Cross saves. Where the Arminian will only say: “I could not have gained my salvation without Calvary,” the Calvinist will say: “Christ gained my salvation for me at Calvary.” The former makes the Cross the sine qua non of salvation, the latter sees it as the actual procuring cause of salvation, and traces the source of every spiritual blessing, faith included, back to the real transaction between God and His Son carried through on Calvaries hill.”
We are not stressing limited atonement because we are interested in confining the limits of divine mercy, but because we wish to “safeguard the central affirmation of the gospel--that Christ is a redeemer who really does redeem.”
“Christ did not win a hypothetical salvation for hypothetical believers, a mere possibility of salvation for any who might possibly believer, but a real salvation for His own chosen people....Its saving power does not depend on faith being added to it; its saving power is such that faith flows from it. The cross secured the full salvation of all for whom Christ died.”
Universal redemption lessens God's love, the glory of Christ's death, destroys the gound of our assurance. And universal redemption must deny that the cross actually saves.
“So far from magnifying the love and grace of God, [universal redemption] dishonors both it and Him, for it reduces God's love to an impotent wish and turns the whole economy of `saving' grace, so-called (`saving' is really a misnomer on this view), into a monumental divine failure. Also, so far from magnifying the merit and worth of Christ's death, it cheapens it, for it makes Christ die in vain. Lastly , so far from affording faith additional encouragement, it destroys the Scriptural ground of assurance altogether, for it denies that the knowledge that Christ died for me (or did anything else for me) is a sufficient ground for inferring my eternal salvation; my salvation, on this view, depends not on what Christ did for me, but on what I subsequently do for myself.”
Particular redemption is needed for a proper understanding of the gospel
“Our minds have been conditioned to think of the Cross as a redemption which does less than redeem, and of Christ as a Saviour who does less than save, and of God's love as a weak affection which cannot keep anyone from hell without help, and of faith as the human help which God needs for this purpose. As a result, we are no longer free either to believe the biblical gosepl or preach it.”
Some food for thought. Oh, and in case you're wondering who John Owen is, according to J.I. Packer at johnowen.org,
"Owen was by common consent the weightiest Puritan theologian, and many would bracket him with Jonathan Edwards as one of the greatest Reformed theologians of all time. Born in 1616, he entered Queen's College, Oxford, at the age of twelve and secured his M.A. in 1635, when he was nineteen. In his early twenties, conviction of sin threw him into such turmoil that for three months he could scarcely utter a coherent word on anything; but slowly he learned to trust Christ, and so found peace. In 1637 he became a pastor; in the 1640s he was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and in 1651 he was made Dean of Christ Church, Oxford's largest college. In 1652 he was given the additional post of Vice-Chancellor of the University, which he then reorganized with conspicuous success. After 1660 he led the Independents through the bitter years of persecution till his death in 1683."