“Since no sin is actually forgiven until one believes in Christ, this would include the sin of unbelief. As with all other sins, Christ’s payment alone for sin does not save a person until he puts saving faith in Christ. Only when the Spirit regenerates a heart which then gives rise to that person repenting and believing in Christ – only then is that person saved. So, sin is actually, existentially, personally forgiven when one trusts in Christ. That’s true of all sin, including the sin of unbelief.
What do you do with the double payment defense by five point Calvinists? Yes, there is indeed a double payment – simply because the payment made by Christ was not accepted by the non-elect, and hence they retain their own responsibility and obligation to pay for their own sin.
But this “double payment problem” (as it were) is also true for the limited atonement position. See if this makes sense: an elect person is born into this world with two things simultaneously true of him: 1) Christ has died for his sin (remember, he’s elect, so all would agree on this), and 2) he is obligated before God to pay the penalty for his own sin, and hence he stands under the condemnation and wrath of God (e.g., Rom 5:16, 18; Eph 2:3). So, this elect person (prior to his being saved) is obligated to pay for the very sin which was paid for by Christ – double payment! The only reason why this elect person doesn’t actually make his own payment for his sin is because, in God’s grace, God has chosen him to become a recipient of the benefits of Christ’s death paying for his sin, which he receives (personally and existentially) at the point that he believes.”
-From Dr. Bruce Ware (Four-Point Calvinist)
I disagree with that position. Limited Atonement, or perhaps “Definite Atonement” really does line up with scripture and make much sense in my opinion. In short, it says that Christ definitely accomplishes what he sets out to accomplish. He definitely saves those who are his.
There is a sense in which we are in Christ before we are Christians. That is election. Look at John 6:37.
Also in Romans 8, specifically verses 23-26, we see that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We see also that the reason that God could bear with us for a time and not send instant judgment was his divine forebearance. He was waiting for the time of Christ, which proves him to be two things. Just – in that the reconciles to us only through the death of Christ. In other words, our sins were paid for. And he is also the Justifier. He is the one who is the judge, requiring the justice, and he is the one who is cleaning us up, and applying Christ’s righteousness to us in order to save us and justify us.
It is clear that Christ does not do this for everyone, or else everyone would be justified and everyone would be saved. Because salvation is not universal, and we do agree on that, the atonement cannot be universal. Finally, verse 26 says that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Christ Jesus. Not of everyone.
Also, in John chapter 10, Jesus is talking about how his sheep know him and hear his voice. They don’t hear his voice and become sheep, they are sheep, and recognize their shepherd. Not everyone is a sheep. In verse 11 Christ describes himself as the good shepherd who lays his life down for his sheep.
Finally, lets look at the Trinity. God the Father elects. He is the one that has chosen who will be saved from the beginning of time. This is clear in John 6:37-39. The Holy Spirit sanctifies, guards, produces fruit, intercedes for us, etc. in genuine believers. Not everyone in the world has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Son is killed for the forgiveness of sins. Now, if the election of the Father is not universal, and the work of the Spirit is not universal, why would the atonement of the Son be universal? That would place the Trinity at odds with itself!
I think Bruce Ware is a brilliant guy, but I think he’s just wrong about this. There is much joy to be found in understanding this doctrine too. Because basically it means a cross that will definitely save those for whom it was intended. It doesn’t mean, as Arminians and 4-pointers would say, that it simply makes salvation possible.