Particular atonement is the historic Christian doctrine that Christ only effectively satisfied the wrath of God toward sin on behalf of His people. In other words, anyone who is thrown into hell cannot say, “But Jesus paid for my sins.” This is a staple belief for all who call themselves Calvinists. In a sense, it’s the first thing a lost sinner realizes on a personal nature when they get saved. Prior to salvation, sinners do not believe Jesus died for them, but after a sinner is saved he or she realizes, Jesus died even for me.
I want to draw out 3 implications of understanding the nature of God’s particular redemption or atonement, here goes!
When a saint suffers, we do not believe he or she is suffering the punishment of God, because we believe that Jesus has already paid for his or her sin. God’s judgment has been poured out on Christ and He drank that cup already. Any remaining judgment of God is reserved for those who refuse to trust Jesus Christ as their savior.
When children of God suffer affliction—whether it is the result of their own sin, the sins of others, or simply the consequence of living in this cursed world—we may confidently say they are not under God’s judgment and that there is a good purpose for their suffering, even to the point of counting it as joy (James 1:2-3;Romans 8:28;Philippians 1:29).
When we trust that God has accomplished all his purposes in redemption in Christ, we may confidently proclaim that Jesus died for sinners to a lost world because we know that all those for whom He died will hear and believe! Since Jesus secured salvation for His people perfectly, we do not have to fear that because of our poor gospel presentation, or even our sin or apathy, that any one of His elect will somehow miss the gospel.
We proclaim that Christ died for sinners and we beseech each sinner to believe and to come to Jesus. We preach with utter confidence that if they come then Christ will never leave them nor forsake them (Matthew 28:20). What we must avoid is telling a lost person, “Christ died for you.” Since we were not God’s counselors when He elected those He would save, we do not have that knowledge, and we must be careful not to lie! But when someone does come, we proclaim the forgiveness of sins (John 20:23) and show them how to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
Finally, yet foundationally, when we trust that Jesus Christ only truly propitiated the sins of His people, we proclaim a victorious Savior. If Jesus had tried to pay for the sins of a people who would not believe, yet they end up suffering God’s wrath in Hell, what does that tell you about His power? No, dear friend, Jesus will save all those for whom His death was intended to save. Every measure of God’s wrath that Christ took was fully borne by Him on the tree and there isn’t a drop left for anyone who comes to Him.
We sing of a victorious Savior. One who has overcome the world so that through faith we might do so as well (1John 5:4-5). When we praise the Lord through prayer and preaching, we praise Jesus Christ because He accomplished all that He intended. We don’t praise losers, nor do we exalt or magnify losers. Losers are forgotten. Christ is not a loser—He’s the perfect Savior who effectively satisfied God’s wrath for a particular people. Praise Him!
John 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.