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Christ died for all peoples: how definite atonement adds more fuel to the fight against racism

I've been wanting to write this for a couple of years but never got round to it. Seems like now is a good time.

This is the basic argument: if the verses in the New Testament that seem to suggest that Christ died for absolutely everyone without exception are actually all about Christ dying for people from absolutely every different people group without exception then it makes those verses all the more beautiful and sharp and powerful - they are verses that show that the very intent of the atonement was to win a fantastically diverse multicultural Bride.
Definite atonement  Definite atonement or 'limited atonement' as it has been more traditionally called (that Christ died for the elect) is not what all Bible believing Christians see when they read the Scriptures. And I don't think for a moment that I'll be able to convince anyone to change their minds in 400 words. But just to sketch out what I'm talking about here is a brief presentation of definite atonement.

Recent posts

When everything is just a bit rubbish

You know that experience of finding everything just slightly frustrated:
The computer that you got two months ago starts crashing.There's a tiny leak slowly soaking the kitchen floor. The car, which you haven't moved for a month, has a flat battery. You put up a shelf and it's just slightly off horizontal. Only you will notice, or someone who looks very carefully, but you're annoyed that it is not right.You’ve proof read the manuscript twenty times but the moment you press send you realise there’s a typo on page one.A social media message misinterpreted opens a can of worms.The biscuits/cake/meal you’ve spent an hour preparing stays in the oven or on the stove just five minutes too long. It’s still edible but has that acrid taste round the edges.
This is not real suffering. It's not bereavement, pain, trauma. It's not a 14 hour shift in a PPE suit tending to the critically ill. It's not losing your job. It's not living under constant threat of arrest, tor…

Our hearts are not in our hands

As lockdown has worn on, there's been a renewed interest in emotions, both in the secular media and among Christians. In the last few days there have been a rash of articles on stress, anxiety and mood swings, tips on increasing our emotional intelligence, strategies for boosting mental health and observations that this is the biggest psychological experiment ever conducted. In many ways this renewed attention to EQ and self awareness is very helpful. We are being reminded that the most important things in life are not economic or educational. We are not 'human resources' or 'chemical robots.' And individualism clearly doesn't work. We are relational, interdependent, givers and receivers of love.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself. (Matt 22:36-38) Affections matter. "The great cont…

Christ the firstfruit: present and future joy

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (1 Cor 15:22-23) Kirsty Birkett wrote in the first week of lockdown, "The Bible speaks frequently of joy and rejoicing... More recently, however, the assumption seems to be it is not an appropriate topic right now. My answer is, it’s never more appropriate than in a time of suffering."

Question: But where precisely is joy to be found?
Answer: Looking at Christ!
Question: Give me some more detail. What about Christ is going to help me find joy today?
Answer: Many things but here's one: Christ the firstfruit.

In Deuteronomy 26 a liturgy is described for the presenting of the firstfruits of the land. It's a gospel liturgy, full of the story of sovereign grace. It speaks (repeatedly) of what God has given, of the God who hears and delivers with great power, of his bringing his people into his place under his lavishly gener…

The key worker

Over the past couple of weeks a large proportion of us in the UK have had the humbling experience of finding that we are not key workers. Our work is not essential, not critical to national survival. While most of us are at home and many unable to work, doctors, delivery drivers, soldiers, stackers and other key workers are working flat out for us.

The Day of Atonement must have felt similar in Old Testament times. In ancient Israel, once a year, for one dramatic day, everyone in the nation was furloughed. No-one could do any work. There was just one man working - the high priest. He had a lot of work to do. Check out Leviticus 16. He had to wash very carefully and put on personal protective equipment (v4). He had to follow some very detailed regulations. He had to butcher several large animals - very heavy work. He had to do some extremely stressful stuff - entering the most dangerous 80 square metres on the planet. He did it all alone. Admittedly, there was the man who took the sca…

Not by bread alone

"I think God is humbling us. He's humbling the whole nation because he's taking away the idols everyone naturally depends on - health and financial security. And he's humbling us Christian leaders because all our clever ministry plans and events and strategies have had to be torn up or radically changed and we're forced to depend on him to work!" (London pastor)

"Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)



God's humbling brings us to see and feel our creatureliness, our createdness, to teach us that
man does not live on bread alone We do not simply exis…

Grounding

When you feel the flood of anxiety rising, nauseating your stomach, tightening your chest, the floodwaters approaching your neck.When you wake in the middle of the night and you can't get back to sleep because your head is spinning with a thousand dizzying disturbing thoughts.
Lead me to the Rock When you are travel sick or sea sick, they tell you to look at the horizon. Look at something fixed and stable. When you are having a panic attack or you are feeling faint they tell you to get down on the ground or hold onto something solid or look into the eyes of someone you trust and keep eye contact with them. It's called grounding.
There is a Christian version of grounding. And it's particularly valuable in these days of rapid, disorientating transition.
Single verse grounding Sometimes it is a simple as one precious verse repeated until it gets from our mouth into our heart:
I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. (Psalm 16…