Thomas Watson: “Christ died sufficiently for all, not effectually.”

Thomas Watson writes:

It is said, Christ died for all. ‘He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.’ How does this consist with God’s truth, when some are vessels of wrath? (Romans 9:22).

(1.) We must qualify the term world. The world is taken either in a limited sense, for the world of the elect; or in a larger sense, for both elect and reprobates. ‘Christ takes away the sins of the world,’ that is, the world of the elect.

(2.) We must qualify also Christ’s dying for the world. Christ died sufficiently for all, not effectually. There is the value of Christ’s blood, and the virtue of Christ’s blood. Christ’s blood has value enough to redeem the whole world, but the virtue of it is applied only to such as believe. Christ’s blood is meritorious for all, not efficacious. All are not saved, because some put away salvation from them, as in Acts 13:46, and vilify Christ’s blood, counting it an unholy thing (Hebrews 10:29)” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, p. 101; bold emphasis mine–CD).

The supreme irony is that Thomas Watson (in this quote above) is the one who has put away salvation from himself, and vilified Christ’s efficacious blood, counting it a common and unholy thing. One writer accurately comments:

“The ‘sufficient for all’ and ‘common grace’ theories are nonsense. There is no biblical evidence for either.

To say that Christ’s death was ‘sufficient’ to save the reprobate is to put forth a hypothetical universalism. Jesus came to earth to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), not make it possible for the reprobate to be saved in case they believed.

The atonement in no way, to no degree, enables God to show grace to the reprobate. The atonement is just that — the atonement. Atonement means reconciliation. Christ’s blood atoned — it achieved reconciliation between God and the people for whom Christ died (2 Corinthians 5:19). It did absolutely nothing for the reprobate.

God’s grace is His unmerited favor. Where there is no imputed righteousness, there is no favor. God is holy; he cannot show favor toward anyone who is not as holy as He is. The only ones to whom He shows favor are those who have been covered with the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.”