John Owen on Definite Atonement

In preparation for tonight’s lesson at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, I’m enjoying the clarity of the great Puritan, John Owen, whose work The Death of Death in the Death of Christ remains THE master work on the doctrine of definite atonement.  Consider Owen’s summary of the alternative interpretations of the death of Christ and their implications:

“The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

1.            All the sins of all men.

2.            All the sins of some men; or

3.            Some of the sins of all men.

“In which case it may be said:

a.            That if the last [i.e. some sins of all men] be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so none are saved.

b.            That if the second [i.e. all the sins of some men], then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.

c.            But if the first [i.e. all the sins of all men] be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

“You answer, ‘Because of unbelief.’  I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not?  If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not.  If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died?  If He did not, He did not die for all their sins.”

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