Limited atonement?

Did Jesus only atone, on the cross, for those who would believe in him?
 
Colossians 1:20  ... and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
 
1 Timothy 2:6 ... who gave himself as a ransom for all men...
 
2 Corinthians 5:15 And he died for all...
 
And then this would be atonement for everyone.
 
AC 17:30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
 
Which would seem to imply atonement available for all people.

Certainly Jesus did lay down his life for the sheep (Jn. 10:15). And is there a verse saying Jesus laid down his life for everyone, too?
 
John 6:51 This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
 
And does God have a purpose to save everyone?
 
Luk 19:10 "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost".
 
1Ti 1:15 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.
 
Not the "elect lost," nor "elect sinners," but lost sinners. How about the verses that refer to "many"?
 
Mat 20:28 "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
 
I would quote this verse, in that regard: 1TI 2:6 ...who gave himself as a ransom for all men...
 
Thus "many" can sometimes mean "all." See also the commentaries on "many" and "all" in Romans 5:12ff.

1 John 2:2  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
 
Can "our" mean just Jewish believers, and "the whole world" mean all other believers, Gentile believers? Because John's ministry was to the Jewish people? Then Paul must have only meant Gentile believers, according to this argument, when he said "our" and "we," but Paul, we may note, was Jewish. And then Paul addressed the whole body of believers time and again in his letters (e.g. Gal. 2:11), thus his ministry to the Gentiles did not mean that he addressed only Gentiles in using "us" or "we" when he wrote to Gentile churches.
 
And it is not actually clear that John was addressing his letters to Jewish people, all we need is just one Gentile to be included in the "us" phrases of 1 John, for the interpretation of "the whole world" as Gentile believers in 1 Jn. 2:2 to be incorrect.
 
Note that the distinction between "us" and "them" has "them" always being unbelievers in 1 John!
And it becomes very strained to have "brothers" in "we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" (1 Jn. 3:16) include Gentile believers, which surely it must, and not have "us" in the conclusion two verses later not be intended also as including them, "let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
 
1 John 1:7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another [only Jewish believers? no], and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us [which must then include also, and specifically, Gentiles] from all sin.
 
And let us notice this:
 
3 John 1:7-8  It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.
 
That would be working together with those who went out, and could have possibly expected help from pagans, therefore presumably these believers were once pagans themselves, and John works together with them. Thus he did not restrict himself solely to Jewish ministry and bringing only Jewish people into the kingdom!
 
And Gaius and Demetrius in 3 John would not seem to be Jewish names! Gaius was a popular Roman name, says Stott (commentary on 1-3 John), and may have been appointed bishop of Pergamum, according to one tradition. It seems John may well be writing to encourage Gentile believers here, mentioning two by name.
But then could 1 Jn. 2:2 mean provision for atonement? But that would not be limited atonement, for then there would be a provision for atonement for all people.
 
So this verse in 1 John has a clear implication, that the atonement is not limited to any group less than "the whole world," which in all other instances in John's writings, can never be clearly restricted to only the elect, in fact in the other place where this phrase occurs in 1 John, it would appear to include, or even emphasize non-elect people:
 
1 John 5:19  We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

What is the good news that the non-elect are being commanded to repent and believe? That God loves other people? That the elect's sins have been paid for?
 
Now the reply might be that "repent and believe the good news" is only directed really to the elect. But this verse seems to indicate differently:
 
2 Thess. 2:10 They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
 
What then is the truth, that if they had loved it, would have saved them, if Christ did not die for them? What can Paul mean, if there is no atonement for them? His statement seems to imply clearly that the alternative to their unbelief was salvation.
 
2 Thess. 2:12 ... and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
 
Why are they condemned for not believing that God does not love them, that Christ did not pay the price for their sins, for refusing to believe that there is no atonement for them?
 
Another difficulty arises, as well, for if they did not believe that God does not love them, is it possible that all did not remain agnostic, that some believed that God loves them, and sent his Son for them? That Christ indeed died for them? And for believing this, they are condemned?
 
So then what was the truth they were to believe? Must this not be the gospel? For if they had believed it, they would have been saved.
 
But for the non-elect, if limited atonement is true, Christ did not die for them, thus would it have saved them, if they had somehow believed that Christ did not pay the price for their sins?

The apostles certainly preached repentance and faith, yet how do you trust someone who doesn't love you? The call to faith must be based on knowing that God loves the person hearing the call.
 
Now this becomes difficult if God does not love the non-elect, for then they are being asked to repent and trust a God who doesn't love them. But such trust cannot be, a call to such trust then seems to be demanding a logical impossibility, a contradiction.

Luke 3:17-18  "His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
 
Then if the non-elect had believed the truth that they would be burned up with unquenchable fire, then they would have been saved? And not burned up with unquenchable fire?
 
This seems to involve us in another contradiction.

Matthew 21:32  For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
 
Now the Pharisees were to believe John, who was certainly preaching the gospel. But the gospel includes Christ's sacrifice (John 1:29), but if Jesus was not to die for them, then would believing that he did not die for them, be called repentance, on their part?
 
We may still consider the possibility that this was spoken only to the elect, only it would be surprising if anyone holds that all these Pharisees were elect, for Jesus goes on to tell them a parable which refers to them:
 
Matthew 21:41  "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time."
 
Implying they would remain unrepentant, or at least most of those he was speaking to, and thus they were not all elect, in the sense which this word has been understood.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
 
John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Then how can the atonement be limited, if this is God's purpose in sending his son? The only recourse seems to be to hold that "the world" means only the elect, those who will believe and be saved, yet then how is it that "the world" means only the elect in John 3:16?
 
John 3:16  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
 
If "world" here means only the elect, then we read here "whoever of the elect believes in him," which certainly did not need to be stated, of course all the elect will believe.

When God says "Come!", does that sincerely include every person? "Whoever wishes?" "Whoever is thirsty?" Doesn't that include every unbeliever?
 
It is "All you who are thirsty" (Isa. 55:1) here. So now we have to say this means "some who are thirsty," not all, or say that not all unbelievers are thirsty. I don't think this second option will work though, because in the next verse in Isa. 55:2 we have a rebuke for working for what does not satisfy. And I don't think the first option will do, either, for it does say all. You could say "all kinds of men" here, but the usual reference to Paul's "Gentiles as well as Jews" distinction would not seem to be available here.

Can God forgive sins apart from the blood of Jesus?
 
Luke 23:34  Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
 
Then there must be an application of the atonement, for these people, for Jesus' prayer must be answered, and it seems unusual to hold that all the people involved in the crucifixion of Jesus were all elect, and similarly here:
Numbers 14:20-23  The Lord replied, "I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times--not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it."
 
But he forgave them, and that must be through the atonement of Jesus, on the cross.

Did Jesus come seeking only the elect lost people?
 
Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.
 
Is that every lost person, or only some? If only some, why was Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, when they rejected him? Did he not seek those people?
 
Romans 10:21 But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people."
 
Is God seeking these rebellious people? Really seeking them?

When God gives the command to repent, is this addressed to every sinner, and is the command intended to bring about repentance?
 
Otherwise "repent!" means "rebel!" and "live!" means "die!" Now these commands could mean anything, it might have a purpose for us to look at the stars, or make some breakfast. The command is now totally distinct from the purpose, and there is no way to tell what God intends by it.
 
But God tells the soon-to-be rebellious Israelites what his purpose is, in some instances:
 
Deuteronomy 4:5  See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it.
 
There is the purpose! It's obedience, not disobedience, and similarly here:
 
Deuteronomy 11:8-9  Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, and so that you may live long in the land that the Lord swore to your forefathers to give to them and their descendants.
 
"Repent and live!" gives a purpose, too: "Repent so that you will live."
 
If the command to "repent and live" does not apply to the reprobate, then must we not also say "I take no pleasure in the death of anyone" (Eze. 18:32) does not apply to them either? That God may take pleasure in their death?
Ezekiel 18:23  Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?
 
The plain answer here is "no," and thus verse 32 must mean them, too, and thus "repent and live!" must mean all people.
 
But if it doesn't, we also have to read "I take no pleasure in the death of any elect unrepentant person." But that's impossible! Elect people will not be said to die unrepentant.

Here are questions by A.W. Pink to support limited atonement, followed by comments.
 
Pink: Is it true that God loves the one who is despising and rejecting His blessed Son?
 
Yes, it is, actually:
 
Ro 5:10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son...
1Ti 1:13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
Mt 12:32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven...
 
Pink: With the exception of John 3:16, not once in the four Gospels do we read of the Lord Jesus, the perfect Teacher, telling sinners that God loved them!
 
Here are some verses besides John 3:16, that show this in the gospels:
 
Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him.
Lu 19:41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.
 
Pink: If it be true that God loves every member of the human family then why did our Lord tell His disciples "He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father... If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him" (John 14:21, 23)? Why say "he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father" if the Father loves everybody?
 
Then "who loved me" in Gal. 2:20 must mean God only loves Paul?
 
Pink: Again; it is written, "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth" (Heb. 12:6). Does not this verse teach that God's love is restricted to the members of His own family? If He loves all men without exception then the distinction and limitation here mentioned is quite meaningless.
 
But I love my son, I can then not love anyone else, because of that?
 
Pink: Unnumbered millions lived and died before the Saviour came to the earth, lived here "having no hope and without God in the world," and therefore passed out into an eternity of woe. If God "loved" them, where is the slightest proof thereof?
 
1 Peter 3:19-20 ... through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago...
 
Pink: "God so loved the world," then, signifies, God's love is international in its scope. But does this mean that God loves every individual among the Gentiles? Not necessarily, for as we have seen, the term "world" is general rather than specific, relative rather than absolute.
 
What are we to make of the next verse, then?
 
John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
 
To "condemn the world without distinction"? That doesn't work, thus "world" here must mean everyone without exception. Certainly it doesn't always mean that, but it does seem to here. And here:
 
1Jo 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
 
Pink: It is unfair to insist that it means every human being now living, for every other passage in the New Testament where God's love is mentioned limits it to His own people--search and see!
 
Lu 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
 
Ro 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.
 
Jeremiah 13:17 But if you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the Lord's flock will be taken captive.
 
Did Jeremiah not have God's love? Did Paul?
 
Romans 9:2-4 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.

Here are some other verses that are given to support limited atonement:
 
Joh 10:11 "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.
 
Joh 10:26 "But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
 
But read on!
 
JN 10:38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.
 
Jesus is seeking these people, too! He wants them to believe, he commands them to believe, even. Thus I think he had a purpose to save them, and I believe that all God's purposes will be fulfilled (Isa. 14:24-27).
 
RO 9:26 "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.' "
 
But "you do not believe because you are not my sheep" doesn't mean they can never believe, this verse does say that a transformation is required, before people can believe. But that's standard Calvinism! First regeneration, then faith, then salvation.
 
Hosea 1:10  In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'
 
Isaiah 27:4-5  If only there were briers and thorns confronting me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them all on fire. Or else let them come to me for refuge; let them make peace with me, yes, let them make peace with me.
 
Which implies, I think, a transformation, from briers and thorns, to plants less prickly, and which are productive.
 
Joh 17:9 "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine". Before Christ is crucified he prays for His. (His sheep, His people, His Elect, His church).
 
But further on, we read:
 
JN 17:21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
 
Jesus does pray for the world! And that the world may believe that the Father sent Jesus. And I think that refers to believing that Jesus is the Christ, which is a sign of believers (1 Jn. 5:1).

And here are more verses that have been given to support limited atonement:
 
Matthew 1:21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
Yes, couldn't this refer to Israel, though? And saving one person from drowning doesn't mean you will never save anyone else.
 
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. 26 "Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.
 
Then no wise or intelligent person can ever have truth revealed to him or her?
 
Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" 11 Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 "For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 "Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand." 14 "In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; 15 FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.'
 
Yes, so no one who heard Jesus' parables without the explanations was elect? They had no further chance?
 
Matthew 15:13 But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted."
But this does not mean Christ did not die for them.
Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
 
But many cannot mean all? "... who gave himself as a ransom for all men" (1 Tim. 2:6).
 
Matthew 22:14 "For many are called, but few are chosen."
 
Yes, this is the wedding banquet, where bad people come along with good people, is this heaven? Can people be thrown out of heaven, if they do not have a wedding garment? And not choosing someone does not mean Christ did not die for them.
 
Matthew 24:22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
 
But this does not show that Christ did not die for the non-elect.
 
Luke 8:15 "But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.
 
Certainly not everyone responds to the gospel, but this does not indicate limited atonement, for if it did, then anyone who heard the gospel, and refused, could not then ever be saved.
 
Luke 13:23 And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, 24 "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
 
But again, this does not indicate for whom Christ died.
 
Luke 19:42 saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes."
 
Well, there is even an indication for general atonement here, didn't Jesus indicate here that he wanted them saved? Will God's desires be frustrated, then?
 
John 5:21 "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes."
 
And again, the limit is not specified.
 
John 6:37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out."
Here again, the limit is not specified.
 
John 6:44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day."
John 6:65 And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."
 
Again...
 
John 8:42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. 43 "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 "But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 "Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 "He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God."
 
Yet we need to know they cannot repent, for limited atonement to be shown here.
 
John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."
 
Then if a man makes a sacrifice for his children, it must therefore have been for no one else?
 
John 10:14 "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me..."
 
I'm not sure how this would limit the atonement, though.
 
John 10:26 "But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me..."
 
But then Jesus tells them to believe (Jn. 10:38)! Why would he do this, if they could not ever believe, if he was not to die for them?
 
John 11:49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish." 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.
 
But again, how does this limit the atonement? Christ indeed died for all God's children, and how is this saying that he only died for them, and for no one else?
 
John 12:37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?" 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 "HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM."
 
Then these people, who had truth hidden from him, cannot be elect? Is that true for anyone who has truth hidden from them?
 
John 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
 
Yes, Jesus loved his disciples. And he loves us too, and the whole world (John 3:16).
 
John 13:18 "I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.'"
 
This is a good question here, did Jesus die for Judas? We read that Jesus washed Judas' feet, and the verse above may even imply that Jesus loved him, to the end. So may we not hope even for Judas, though Judas was not clean, but no one is, apart from Christ.
 
John 15:16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you."
 
But then how does this limit God's choice? This is selecting verses about unconditional election, for proving limited atonement.
 
John 17:2 ... even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.
 
And then how does this limit God's choice? I would respond similarly, to the verses up until this one:
 
Acts 19:8 And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.
 
Then a hardened, disobedient person cannot repent?
 
Romans 9:10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER." 13 Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED." 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION." 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH." 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. 25 As He says also in Hosea, "I WILL CALL THOSE WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE, 'MY PEOPLE,' AND HER WHO WAS NOT BELOVED, 'BELOVED.'" 26 "AND IT SHALL BE THAT IN THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID TO THEM, 'YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE,' THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF THE LIVING GOD."
 
I don't see how all this passage applies to limited atonement, though. And the last two verses, again, show how God can choose those he has not chosen before.
 
But can vessels of wrath become vessels of mercy?
 
Ephesians 2:3 Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
 
And judgment, even destruction, does not mean Christ did not die for them.
----------
"Such is also the import of the term World, which he formerly used; for though nothing will be found in the world that is worthy of the favor of God, yet he shows himself to be reconciled to the whole world, when he invites all men without exception to the faith of Christ, which is nothing else than an entrance into life." (Calvin on Jn. 3:16)
 
"Yet I approve of the common reading, that He alone bore the punishment of many, because the guilt of the whole world was laid upon Him. It is evident from other passages...that 'many' sometimes denotes 'all'... That, then, is how our Lord Jesus bore the sins and iniquities of many. But in fact, this word 'many' is often as good as equivalent to 'all'. And indeed, our Lord Jesus was offered to all the world. For it is not speaking of three or four when it says: 'God so loved the world, that He spared not His only Son.' But yet we must notice what the Evangelist adds in this passage: 'That whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but obtain eternal life.' Our Lord Jesus suffered for all and there is neither great nor small who is not inexcusable today, for we can obtain salvation in Him. Unbelievers who turn away from Him and who deprive themselves of Him by their malice are today doubly culpable. For how will they excuse their ingratitude in not receiving the blessing in which they could share by faith? And let us realize that if we come flocking to our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall not hinder one another and prevent Him being sufficient for each of us...Let us not fear to come to Him in great numbers, and each one of us bring his neighbours, seeing that He is sufficient to save us all." (Calvin, Sermons on Isaiah 53)
 
"For though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God's benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him." (Calvin on Rom. 5:18)
 
"And again, has not our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed mens's souls: true it is that the *effect* of his death comes not to the whole world: Nevertheless for as much as it is not in us to discern between the righteous and the sinners that go to destruction, but that Jesus Christ has suffered his death and passion as well for them as for us: therefore it behooves us to labour to bring every man to salvation that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ made be available to them."  (Calvin, Sermons on Job)
--------
"As for the Huguenot refugees who settled in this country [England], those who agreed with Amyraut simply reinforced the original sixteenth-century 'Anglican Calvinism' of the Prayer Book and the Thirty-nine Articles (see Arts. 2, 15 and 31). Notwithstanding clear teaching on predestination (see Art. 17), the doctrine of limited atonement is as alien to Reformation Anglicanism as it is to the teaching of Amyraut and Calvin. In the seventeenth century, scholastic influences in Reformed theology affected this country as well as France. Thus the 'over-orthodox' distorted Calvinism of Dr John Owen and many (but not all) of the Westminster divines was rejected by Richard Baxter and others. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the balanced biblicism of Calvin, the other Reformers, Amyraut and Baxter was maintained by the Nonconformists Matthew Henry, Isaac Watts and Philip Doddridge, and the Anglicans John Newton, Charles Simeon and Bishop Ryle. While I regret Ryle's espousal of episcopacy, his authentic Calvinism is unquestionably on target! According to this view of the New Testament, while ultimately only the elect effectually partake of salvation, the universally designed and sufficient atonement of Christ makes the gospel available to the whole world. This is true Christianity and true Calvinism!" (A.C. Clifford)
 
Here are some further comments from A.C. Clifford:
 
Dr George Ella asks me, "Which Anglican reformer did not believe in limited atonement?"
 
Apart from John Bradford who clearly did, several may be listed.
 
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer stated that Christ 'by His own oblation...satisfied His Father for all men's sins and reconciled mankind unto His grace and favour...' Bishop John Hooper affirmed that Christ died 'for the love of us poor and miserable sinners, whose place he occupied upon the cross, as a pledge, or one that represented the person of all the sinners that ever were, be now, or shall be unto the world's end.' Bishop Nicholas Ridley declared that the sacrifice of Christ 'was, is, and shall be forever the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.' Bishop Hugh Latimer preached that 'Christ shed as much blood for Judas, as he did for Peter: Peter believed it, and therefore he was saved; Judas would not believe, and therefore he was condemned.' Even Bradford admitted that 'Christ's death is sufficient for all, but effectual for the elect only.' The Elizabethan Anglicans were no different in their understanding. Bishop John Jewel wrote that, on the cross, Christ declared "It is finished" to signify 'that the price and ransom was now full paid for the sin of all mankind.' Elsewhere, he made clear that 'The death of Christ is available for the redemption of all the world...' Richard Hooker stated an identical view when he said that Christ's 'precious and propitiatory sacrifice' was 'offered for the sins of all the world...' (Parker Society details witheld to save space).
 
As for Amyraut's supposed semi-Pelagian denial of the Canons of Dordt, Dr Ella is simply misinformed. The French Reformed professor specifically affirmed the teaching of Dordt at the National Synod of Alençon (1637), his orthodoxy being confirmed in his 'Defensio doctrinae J. Calvini' (1641). As for the canons themselves, they are more moderate than many realise. Indeed, the word 'limited' nowhere appears, thus making the mnemonic TULIP rather doubtful! They state that 'death of the Son of God is...abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world...many perish in unbelief [not] because of any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice of Christ...but through their own fault...the saving efficacy of the most precious death of [God's] Son...extend[s] to all the elect' (Second Canon, Arts. 3, 6, 8).
 
The Revd Edward Malcolm virtually concedes that Articles XV and XXXI are universalist when he admits that the compilers 'are merely quoting Scripture'. He then charges with having a 'preconception' those who take them in their natural sense! If he thinks this is an Arminian view, the Anglican Clement Barksdale objected in 1653 that 'You are mistaken when you think the doctrine of Universal Redemption Arminianism. It was the doctrine of the Church of England before Arminius was born. We learn it out of the old Church Catechism: 'I believe in Jesus Christ, who hath redeemed me and all mankind.' And the Church hath learned it out of the plain scripture, where Christ is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.' Richard Baxter surely hit the nail on the head when he wrote, 'When God saith so expressly that Christ died for all [2 Cor. 5:14-15], and tasted death for every man [Heb. 2:9], and is the ransom for all [1 Tim. 2:6], and the propitiation for the sins of the whole world [1 Jn. 2:2], it beseems every Christian rather to explain in what sense Christ died for all, than flatly to deny it.' As for Mr Malcolm's citation of Calvin's seeming support for limited atonement, his partial quotation of this isolated statement ignores the fact that the reformer is discussing the implications of the Lutheran theory of consubstantiation rather than the extent of the atonement. Numerous other statements are consistently universalist (see my 'Calvinus').
Before the Revd Peter Howe gets too excited by Carl Trueman's 'The Claims of Truth', he should know that the author - apart from resorting to the kind of triviality mentioned - misunderstands and misrepresents my case against Dr John Owen's scholastic high Calvinism (as my forthcoming reply will make clear). Dr Trueman actually admits that Owen did not rely on the sola scriptura principle in his theological polemics, a point which rightly disturbed Ewan Wilson (see his EC review, June 4, 1999). Since he disclaims any attempt to decide whether Owen is right or wrong, the title of Dr Trueman's book is a misnomer. It should be 'The Claims of Scholasticism.' Owen's Aristotelian rationalism also ruins the exegesis of John 3:16. He tampers with the text in a manner Calvin would anathematise. As for C. H. Spurgeon's sermon 'Particular Redemption', the same doubtful exegesis emerges. On the other hand, Bishop Ryle - rightly described by Spurgeon as 'the best man in the Church of England' - handled Scripture with greater integrity. Having little sympathy for Arminianism, Ryle was equally aware of the threat posed by high Calvinism. Commenting on John 1:29, he wrote that 'Christ's death is profitable to none but to the elect who believe on His name...But...I dare not say that no atonement has been made, in any sense, except for the elect...When I read that the wicked who are lost, "deny the Lord that bought them," (2 Pet. 2:1) and that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself," (2 Cor. 5:19), I dare not confine the intention of redemption to the saints alone. Christ is for every man.' Commenting on John 3:16 and appealing to Bishop Davenant, Calvin and others, he concludes: 'Those who confine God's love exclusively to the elect appear to me to take a narrow and contracted view of God's character and attributes....I have long come to the conclusion that men may be more systematic in their statements than the Bible, and may be led into grave error by idolatrous veneration of a system' (Expository Thoughts on John's Gospel, Vol. 1). In short, all that Christ is and did was for all mankind conditionally though for the elect effectually. Mr Howe will be pleased to know that this truly biblical Calvinism motivates Norwich Reformed Church to reach out to the people of the city every Saturday through its all-weather, all-season, city-centre evangelistic bookstall.
 
A.C. Clifford, Atonement and Justification: English Evangelical Theology 1640-1790 - An Evaluation (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1990); A C Clifford, Calvinus: Authentic Calvinism, A Clarification (Charenton Reformed Publishing, 1996); A C Clifford, Sons of Calvin: Three Huguenot Pastors (Charenton Reformed Publishing, 1999)