Driscoll’s Unlimited/limited Atonement is unlimited in the benefit of the atonement. The benefit of the atonement is similar to Common Grace which some of the Reformed men have accused him of teaching. No where does Driscoll state that the provision of Christ’s death is unlimited.
Driscoll quotes Charles Haddon Spurgeon to support his unlimited, limited view: Spurgeon in a sermon that he titled “General and Particular” dealt with this very issue. He’s my dude. He said, “There is a general influence for good flowing from the mediatorial sacrifice of Christ. And yet it’s special design and definite object is the giving of eternal life to as many as the Father gave him.” He teaches both positions: that in one sense Jesus died for everybody and we’re all benefited by that. But in a saving way for the forgiveness of sins, Jesus only died in that sense for the elect that the Father has given him.
Near the end of his sermon, Driscoll states “All of that to say I believe Spurgeon is absolutely right, that the person and work of Jesus has benefited us all. We all have great benefits from Jesus.”
What are the Common Grace benefits of Christ’s death for all according to Driscoll?
1)Human dignity and value
3) Rule of law
4) Private property
Wherever Christianity has spread, these common grace benefits have followed. This is the unlimited aspect of Jesus’ atonement according to Driscoll. The fourth view of atonement is the unlimited provision of Christ’s atonement for the world. This is the preferable view.
4. Unlimited Atonement is the belief that the death of Christ accomplished two purposes: He provided the basis for the salvation of all people and He secured the salvation of believers.
The position is also referred to sometimes as Amyraldianism or three or four-point Calvinism.
In France the controversy continued largely around Moise Amyraut (Moses Amyraldus) who taught at the Academy of Saumur and John Cameron who also taught for a short time at the same school. Both men did not believe in limited atonement. Amyraut became the theological father of four-point Calvinism . . . Such men as Charles C. Ryrie and John Walvoord could be classified as four-point Calvinists (Bowman, A Case for Unlimited Atonement, pages 2 and 5).
“The Scriptures represents the atonement as having been made for all men, and as sufficient for the salvation of all. Not the atonement therefore is limited, but the application of the atonement through the work of the Holy Spirit” (A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 771).
“Christ most certainly died to secure the salvation of those who believe and it is our conviction that the Bible teaches that Christ died to provide a basis of salvation for all men” (Lightner, p. 46).
A. Biblical references that relate the atonement to believers only.
All five-point Calvinists inevitably foster to some degree a limitation upon kosmos references pertaining to the soteriological import. This limitation is usually shown by pointing out references (such as Luke 2:1; Jn. 1:10; 12:29; Acts 11:28; 19:27; 24:5; Rom. 1:8; Col. 1:6; Rev. 13:3, etc.) that cannot mean everyone within the world. Such limited redemptionists as Symington, Pink, Berkhof, and Shedd may be consulted. It must be conceded that such references as above, and others, could have such a limitation placed upon them (Bowman, p.30).
Hodge is an example of this reasoning: “Every assertion, therefore that Christ died for a people, is a denial of the doctrine that He died equally for all” (Charles Hodge, p. 549).
These passages do not state that Christ only died for believers. Because Christ died for the whole, He also died for a specific part. But to say that Christ only died for believers contradicts the universal passages. Isaiah 53:5 says that Christ died for Israel: “He was wounded for our transgression.” Does this mean that only Jews can be saved? Isaiah 53:6 says Israel was sinful: “All we like sheep have gone astray.” Is total depravity limited to Jews? Matthew 1:21 says that “Christ shall save his people from their sins.” Would limited redemptionists say that Gentiles cannot be saved because of this verse? In Galatians 2:20, Paul limited the death of Christ to himself: “The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Does this mean that Christ only died for Paul and none other because of the limitations of Galatians. 2:20?
B. There are verses that teach Christ died for all people.
Peter in 2 Peter 2:1 teaches that the Lord died for all people, even those who do not get saved, and thus, false teachers. Both Dr. Bowman and Charles Ryrie give extended explanations of this verse. Both Dr. Bowman and Ryrie state that limited redemptionists explain that this verse does say that the Lord “bought” the false teachers, but that this verse is what the false teachers claimed and Peter only recorded their denial. One example is Louis Berkhof.
The most plausible explanation of these passages is that given by Smeaton, as the interpretation of Piscator and of the Dutch annotations, namely, “that these false teachers are described according to their own profession and the judgment of charity. They gave themselves out as redeemed men, and were so accounted in the judgment of the Church while they abode in her communion? (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1941, p. 397).
However, the normal sense of language has Peter stating the fact that these false teachers denied the Lord who paid for their sins on the cross, thus stressing the depth of their apostasy.
I like the way Robert Lightner ends his book The Death He Died: A Case for Unlimited Atonement on page 148 with a proper conclusion and moment of worship of Christ our Savior, who died in our place, and the whole world.
The death Christ was a death in the place of all men—a death which accomplished a work that completely satisfied God the Father. It was a death which provided life for every member of Adam’s lost race who has ever lived or ever shall live—a death that made it possible for the Father to be just and at the same time the Justifier of any sinner who does nothing more that receive Christ as personal Savior.