Saviour of All Fellowship
Dear Friends in Faith,
Thanks for your letters. What really encourages us is to find others relying on the living God while seeing Him as the Saviour of all mankind. There does not seem to be a lot of this kind of reliance going around even among those who believe that God is their Saviour.
In discussing The Divine Purpose of the Atonement, Robert Lightner lays down as a basic premise before deciding between limited and unlimited atonement the claim that Evangelicals on both sides agree that not all will be saved (The Death Christ Died, p.33). In a similar study, but from a more Calvinistic standpoint, R. B. Kuiper asserts that all the valid arguments that can be brought against unrestricted universalism add up to precisely one. It is that the Word of God contradicts that teaching (For Whom Did Christ Die? p.15).
Tony relates a recent encounter with this attitude:
The other evening I was speaking (literally) over the internet via microphone with a Calvinist minister. It was hard for me to get in a word edgewise. But he kept proudly exclaiming how that not one universalist had ever been able to prove him wrong. His main thesis was built around the atonement. He said he had studied this for over twenty years and really knows what he is talking about. So I patiently listened to him trying to prove that God saving all was not scriptural on the basis of what the Bible says about the atonement. He contended that Christs atoning work was only for believers. When he was done I asked him a very simple question: If Christ did not die for all mens sins how is it that it says this in 1 John 2:2: And He is the propitiatory shelter concerned with our sins, yet not concerned with ours only but concerned with the whole world also? He hemmed and hawed and flustered about and finally said that verse had to do with God giving people food and shelter based upon the death of Christ! I was amazed at the lengths people will go to in trying to disbelieve what Christ actually accomplished for all mankind in His death, entombment and rousing. May God continue to give us all a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the realization of Him.
Yet some are seeing that the Scriptures speak more positively about the work of Christ in dying for sinners. As mentioned in our last letter one of the most highly respected Protestant theologians, Juergen Moltmann, believes all will be saved. Now we learn that a prominent Roman Catholic teacher, Richard John Neuhaus, holds that The human story, including all its suffering and tears, is gathered up and redeemed in the cross of Christ . . . . [Christs sacrifice becomes the basis for the hope that] the way home [has] been cleared for absolutely every prodigal son and daughter (cited by Mark Noll in a review of Neuhaus book, Death on a Friday Afternoon).
These are learned men, but we know of others, both well educated and unlearned, who have come to see that if Christ died for them, then He must have died for all. The passages of Scripture dealing with what is called the atonement are all truly optimistic. Here is just one: As it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for lifes justifying (Rom.5:18).
Dont forget the day of fellowship in Waterloo, Ontario on May 13. The meetings begin at 9:30 in the morning and continue to about 4:00 in the afternoon. There will be a potluck meal at noon.
Yours in His Grace and Peace,
Dean Hough and Tony Nungesser