by Dr. James Willingham
Particular redemption or limited atonement as some call it is another masterpiece of evangelism; it is designed to provoke the sinner to realize that there is no good in himself whereby he might claim God’s blessed salvation. It is also designed to provoke the lost to cry for mercy, to say, “Is there any hope for me.” And, yes, despair is one of the realities aimed at, the despair of being able to do anything to save one’s self, despair of self but delight in Christ. How can one be filled despair and have any sense of delight in Christ? It is despair of oneself as a sinner, and the delight lies in the thought that Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance or, as Paul put it, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief.”
Actually, every one preaches limited atonement – even the Universalist who preaches that Christ died for all and that all will be saved. The truth of the limitation of that view is found in the fact that it is has no power to save a sinner in this life, seeing that so many are never converted or give any evidence of salvation. The General Atonement view suffers from the same problem and, additionally, if the sinner does not want to be saved, he or she will not be saved, since God can not violate the individual’s will. I have a friend who would laugh at such idea. He said he sat down to a meal without a thought on his mind about being saved, when something or someone knocked him out of his chair and he lit on his knees begging God for mercy. Over fifty years later (at the last account I had of him) he teaches Hebrew in a seminary extension center (he holds a Ph.D. in Hebrew from Dropsie College (I think that is the school).
After I saw Christ standing before me with His hand raised like He was knocking at a door, when I was a practicing Atheist, He changed my mind (opened my heart like He did Lydia’s in Acts 16:14) so that I called on Him for forgiveness of my sins and cried tears of joy for the first time in my life.
The point of particular redemption is that our Lord’s redemptive death was for “many,” not every one without exception, and the power is in the blood. The number of the redeemed, according to the promises made to Abraham will far exceed the number of the lost in Hell. While there are and will be sinners in Hell, the redeemed will be innumerable (Rev.7:9). Few who oppose this truth realize that they place the power of salvation in the hands of the sinner, and they take it out of the power that God has put in the blood of His precious Son.