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Calvinism's TULIP: Limited Atonement

 May 15, 2011

John Calvin's followers developed an acronym called TULIP to explain their five basic tenets. It uses the first letters from Total Depravity (also known as Original Sin), Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, (also known as Particular Atonement), Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved, Always Saved). I have already addressed other points in the TULIP list. This lesson looks at the erroneous doctrine of Limited Atonement.

Bernie Parsons 

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Calvinism’s TULIP: Limited Atonement

By Bernie Parsons


Presented to Globe church of Christ on 05-15-2011

Presented to Load  church of Christ on 05-22-2011



We now look at another aspect of Calvinism, known as Limited Atonement, as indicated by the third letter, L, in the acronym TULIP. Calvinists call upon scriptures, taken out of context and misrepresented, including ones like Ephesians 1:4-8, which speaks of the means of salvation for all, not individual salvation; and Romans 9:11, 15, and 21, which shows how that God selects people for certain roles to bring about certain events – and, again, does not speak to individual salvation. We have already examined these verses in previous sermons.


Limited Atonement, according to the Calvinists, means that God selects certain individual people whom He plans to save eternally, and it has nothing to do with the kind of person that they will become, or choices that they will make. This is contrary to what the Bible teaches.


John 1:29 "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."


1 John 2:1 "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."


John 4:41 “And many more believed because of his own word;

42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world."


John 6:51 "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."


John 8:12 "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."


The above scriptures prove that atonement was not limited, as the Calvinists teach. Salvation is for anyone who will hear the gospel, believe in Jesus, and be baptized into Him.


Matthew 7:24 "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:"


John 3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."


Acts 10:42 "And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."


Romans 9:33 "As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."


Romans 10:8 "But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."


1 John 5:1 "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him."


Revelation 22:17 "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."


The message is clear: Whosoever believes on Him can come to Him and be saved. There is no restriction, other than believing and obeying Him. There is not even a hint that atonement is limited to a class of people whom God chose before the world was created!


2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."


Mark 16:15 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."


Acts 2:36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."


Nowhere in the scriptures is taught the idea that God either saved you or damned you from before the world was formed. The salvation is always conditional. When the Lord made two promises to Abraham, they were both conditional.


In the first promise, he was told that his seed would multiply and be as the stars in the sky and the sand on the beach. This was conditioned upon Abraham leaving his father’s house and land, and going away to the land that God had promised his heirs.


The second promise was that through the lineage of Abraham would come the savior of the world. We see from the above passages that this salvation is also conditional: “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved!”


Romans 5:10 "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."


Galatians 3:26 "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."


The atonement is in Jesus, when we believe on Him and are baptized into Him. The word of God is for everyone, salvation is for everyone, and there are no limitations. The only requirements are that we seek to hear the message, the word of God, and then believe that Jesus can save us, and move in obedience to that message, being baptized into the body of Jesus Christ. Once there, we continue to hear God speak, and obey Him in all things.


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