Monday, February 3, 2014

Evangelism and Definite Atonement

As a Calvinist open-air preacher, I  occasionally find myself saying things I wish I could retract. Since open-air preaching requires one to think and speak quickly. It is easy for a preacher, unintentionally, to preach something doctrinally unsound. Quite recently, I did precisely that. I began to preach on the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, but when I got to the subject of the atonement, however, I unintentionally preached universal atonement. In retrospect, this occurrence was due to simplicity and ambiguity (i.e. the necessary distinctions and nuances to clarify precise doctrine was not made). I preached that Christ died for the sins of all those that----will repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation. The way in which this statement is phrased, isolated from all the other precious truths of God's gifts of repentance and faith (2 Tim 2:25; Eph 2:8-10), gives the false impression that Christ's death on the cross is ineffectual apart from man's contribution of repentance and faith. 

So how can one rightly preach definite atonement in the open-air? Let's look at how some do it.

Tony Miano writes,

"God is also merciful, loving, and kind in that He provided one way to escape that punishment; and that was through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ: fully-God and fully-Man, without sin. He died on the cross a death He did not deserve, in order to take upon Himself the punishment you rightly deserve, for your sins against God. And then three days later He forever defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave. What God requires of you is that you repent (turn from your sin and turn toward God) and by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior."(1)  
Matt Slick explains,

"The gospel is historical event where Jesus died for sinners on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-4).  His death was a sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God (1 John 2:2).  This is the only way to be saved from God's righteous judgment upon those who have sinned by breaking his Law.
Jesus is the one who died for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2).  He is the only way to God the Father (John 14:6).  He alone reveals God (Matt. 11:27).  He has all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18).  It is only through Him that you can be saved from God's wrath (Eph. 2:3).  He can forgive you of your sin (Luke 5:20Matt. 9:1-8).  He can remove the guilt that is upon your soul.  Jesus can set you free from the bondage of sin that blinds your eyes, weakens your soul, and brings you to despair.  He can do this because He bore sin in His body on the cross (1 Peter. 2:24) so that those who trust in Him would be saved."(2)
James D. Kennedy states,

"He [Jesus] died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins and purchase a place in Heaven for us."(3) 

John Piper declares,

"The good news is that Christ died for sinners like us. And he rose physically from the dead to validate the saving power of his death and to open the gates of eternal life and joy (1 Corinthians 15:20). This means God can acquit guilty sinners and still be just (Romans 3:25-26). “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Coming home to God is where all deep and lasting satisfaction is found." (4)

Paul Washer further expounds,

"Motivated by Love

  • God is love. By this the love of God is manifested in us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:8-10

The Cross of Christ

  • For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:23-26"(5)
Thoughts on how to preach definite atonement.

1. Stick to the text. If you continue to quote Scripture on the subject you can't go wrong. Simply because you are not trusting in your personal formulations but on God's formulations.
2. Don't be afraid to clarify parts of the gospel by carefully articulating how it relates to the whole gospel.

(1)Tony Miano.
(2)Matt Slick.
(3) James D. Kennedy. Evangelism Explosion International: New Testament NKJV (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982)B15.
(4)John Piper. Quest For Joy.
(5)Paul Washer.    

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