Thursday, December 3, 2009

Reading the Classics with Challies - Redemption Accomplished and Applied

Chapter 4 - The Extent of the Atonement

Chapter 4 of John Murray's book, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, considers whether or not the atonement is universal. Or, in other words, it considers the question "For whom did Christ die?"

Murray makes it quite clear where he stands:
We can readily see, therefore, that although universal terms are sometimes used in connection with the atonement these terms cannot be appealed to as establishing the doctrine of universal atonement...It is necessary for us to discover what redemption or atonement really means. And when we examine the Scripture we find that the glory of the cross of Christ is bound up with the effectiveness if its accomplishment... The atonement is an efficacious substitution. (75)

Murray discusses a topic in this chapter that I had not come across in my reading by those who are proponents of limited or definite atonement. Not that they don't hold to or believe what Murray suggests, rather that I had not read this particular topic in writings against universal atonement. A quote from Murray defines the topic best:
The question is not whether many benefits short of justification and salvation accrue to men from the death of Christ. The unbelieving and reprobate in this world enjoy numerous benefits that flow from the fact that Christ died and rose again. The mediatorial dominion of Christ is universal. Christ is head over all things and is given all authority in heaven and in earth. It is within this mediatorial dominion that all the blessings which men enjoy are dispersed. (61)
He goes on to say:
Consequently, since all benefits and blessings are within the realm of Christ's dominion and since this dominion rests upon his finished work of atonement, the benefits innumerable which are enjoyed by all men indiscriminately are related to the death of Christ and may be said to accrue from it one way or another... It is proper, therefore, to say that the enjoyment of certain benefits, even by the non-elect and reprobate, falls with the design of the death of Christ. The denial of universal atonement does not carry with it the denial of any such relation that the benefits enjoyed by all men may sustain to Christ's death and finished work. (62)

Despite describing some universal aspects of Christ's work, Murray clearly holds to a view of atonement which history has generally labeled 'limited'. Of the many quotes in this chapter that reference Murray's stance on this matter, this one I liked:
It is to beggar the concept of redemption as an effective securement of release by price and by power to construe it as anything less than the effectual accomplishment which secures the salvation of those who are its objects. Christ did not come to put men in a redeemable position but to redeem to himself a people. We have the same result when we analyse the meaning of expiation, propitiation, and reconciliation. (63)

1 comment:

  1. My husband and I had a discussion after I read this chapter about what benefits actually do accrue to even unbelievers because of Christ's redemptive work. We need to talk about it again; I've never thought about it in quite this way before.

    Thanks for your summary. Helpful as always.