Sandomierz Consensus:

1) Thus our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, by His suffering and death and His complete obedience, which He fulfilled for us after His birth here in the body, reconciled His Father with all believers, cleansed our sin, overcame death, defeated damnation and hell, and by His resurrection He returned eternal life and restored immortality to mankind. For He is our righteousness, life, and resurrection; in Him alone all believers have the forgiveness of their sins and the perfection of their lacks; in Him is salvation and all abundance of God’s gifts, as the apostle wrote to the Colossians, in chapters 1 and 2. "The Father was pleased that all completeness be in Him, and in Him you are made complete:’ Therefore, we believe that Christ is the only and eternal Savior of mankind and of the whole world, in whom all are saved by faith, all who were saved before the law, under the law, and under the gospel, and all who are yet to be saved until the end of the world. For the Lord Himself said in the gospel, ”The one who does not enter the sheep pen through the door but from somewhere else is a thief and a criminal; I am the door to the sheep" (John 10:1, 7). Likewise, "Abraham saw my day and was glad" (John 8:56). And St. Peter also said, "There is no other salvation except in Christ, nor was any other name given to people under heaven in which we could attain salvation apart from this one" (Acts 4:12). We firmly believe that we will be saved by the grace of God through Christ, just as our ancestors in the faith were; for thus St. Paul wrote regarding this–that "all those ancient fathers shared one spiritual food with us and drank one spiritual drink. They drank (he says) from that spiritual Rock, which was following after them from the wilderness, and that Rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:3-4). Also, St.John the Evangelist calls Christ "the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world" (Rev. 13:8) and "the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). Thus, in a full confession, we proclaim that Christ is the only Savior, Redeemer, King, and highest Bishop of the world, the true, holy, and blessed Messiah whom all the faithful awaited from of old, whom all the rites and ceremonies of the law presented and exhibited, whom the Father, according to His oath, gave and sent into the world so that it is unnecessary to wait for another. For there is no other hope; and we need to give this glory to Christ alone, believe in Him, and stop at Him alone, rejecting all other helpers and mediators, because all who seek salvation in something other than Christ alone fall away from the grace of God and cannot be sharers in Christ. “Sandomierz Consensus (1570)” in, Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, ed., James T. Dennison, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2010), 3: 201-202.

2) Yet because we were all, without a doubt, born in sin, and we are guilty of crime and of death before the majesty of God, it is certain that we are justified by the Highest Judge, that is, we are made free of sin and of death, by the grace and merit of Christ, not with respect to our own persons or merits. For nothing clearer can be said than the words of St. Paul which he wrote to the Romans: “All have sinned and do not have the glory of God in themselves, but they are justified freely through His grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:23-24).

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5. It is no part of the doctrine of Election, that the non-elect cannot comply with the terms of the gospel. The efforts to vindicate the doctrine of election without separating it from this unscriptural notion, have not only proved futile, but done harm. There is but one thing that prevents the non-elect from accepting the offers of mercy, and that is their cherished enmity against God. We are well aware that the Scriptures represent it to be impossible for man to do what they are unwilling to do. Hence says our Saviour, “No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” His idea doubtless is, that men cannot come to him, because they are unwilling to come; for he had just said, in the course of the same address, “And ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” He supposes that mere unwillingness renders it impossible for them to come. This mode of speaking not only runs thro’ the Bible, but is agreeable to the plainest dictates of reason and common sense. All the inability of the non-elect therefore to comply with the terms of the gospel, arise from their unwillingness to comply. Their inability is of a moral, and not a physical nature. It is a criminal impotence. It consists in nothing but their own voluntary wickedness. While, therefore, it is proper to say, that men cannot do what they are unwilling to do, it is also proper to say, that they can do what they are willing to do. It is no perversion of language to say, that a knave can be honest, or that a drunkard can be temperate; for every one knows that they could be, if they would. Hence it is no perversion to say, that a sinful man can become holy, or that the non-elect can comply with the terms of the gospel. Their unwillingness lays them under no natural inability, and may at any time be removed by their being willing. The non-elect are just as able to repent and believe the gospel as the elect, if they were but disposed to do so. They are capable of doing right as of doing wrong. The doctrine of election leaves them in full possession of all their powers as moral agents, and all possible liberty to choose or to refuse the offers of mercy. But for his voluntary wickedness, Judas was as able to accept the gospel as Paul. The non-elect are able to comply with the terms of the gospel, if they choose to do it. It is therefore their own choice, and not the decree of election, that shuts them out of the kingdom of heaven. All representations of the doctrine of election, therefore, that deny the non-elect natural power to comply with the overtures of mercy, form no part of that doctrine as exhibited in the Bible.

Gardner Spring, The Doctrine of Election (Boston: Doctrinal Tract and Book Society, 1851), 5-54. Also published as: Gardiner Spring, The Doctrine of Election Illustrated and Established: In A Sermon Preached on the Evening of the Second Lord’s Day in December, 1816 (New-York : Printed by E.B. Gould, 1817), 9-12.


(6.25) But are you afraid of the uncertain twists of life and the plots of the adversary? You have the help of God, you have His great liberality, so great that He did not spare His own Son on your behalf.1 Scripture made use of a beautiful expression to proclaim the holy purpose toward you of God the Father, who offered His Son to death. The Son could not feel death’s bitterness, because He was in the Father; for Himself He gave up nothing, on your behalf He offered everything. In the fullness of His divinity2 He lost nothing, while He redeemed you. Think upon the Father’s love. It is a matter of His goodness that He accepted the danger, so to speak, to His Son, who was going to die, and in a manner drained the sorrowful cup of bereavement, so that the advantage of redemption would not be lost to you. The Lord had such mighty zeal for your salvation that He came close to endangering what was His, while He was gaining you. On account of you He took on our losses, to introduce you to things divine, to consecrate you to the things of heaven. Scripture said, too, in a marvelous fashion, "He has delivered him for us all,"3 to show that God so loves all men that He delivered His most beloved Son for each one. For men, therefore, He has given the gift that is above all gifts; is it possible that He has not given all things in that gift? God, who has given the Author of all things,4 has held back nothing.

(6.26) Therefore, let us not be afraid that anything can be denied us. We ought not have any distrust whatever over the continuance of God’s generosity. So long and continuous has it been, and so abundant, that God first predestined us and then called us. Those whom He called, He also justified; those whom He justified, He also glorified.5 Can He abandon those whom He has honored with His mighty benefits even to the point of their reward? Amid so many benefits from God, ought we to be afraid of certain plots of our accuser? But who would dare to accuse those who, as he sees, have been chosen by the judgment of God? God the Father Himself, who has bestowed His gifts-can He make them void? Can He exile from His paternal love and favor those whom He took up by way of adoption? But fear exists that the judge may be too harsh-think upon Him that you have as your judge. For the Father has given every judgment to Christ.6 Can Christ then condemn you, when He redeemed you from death and offered Himself on your behalf, and when He knows that your life is what was gained by His death? “Will He not say, ‘What profit is there in my blood,’7 if I condemn the man whom I myself have saved?" Moreover, you are thinking of Him as a judge; you are not thinking of Him as an advocate. But can He give a sentence that is very harsh when He prays continually that the grace of reconciliation with the Father be granted us?

Ambrose, “Jacob and the Happy Life” in, Seven Exegetical Works, trans. Michael P. McHugh (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1972), 135-136. [Underlining mine; footnote values modified; footnote content original.]


1Cf. Rom. 8.32.
2Cf. Col. 2.9.
3Rom. 8.32.
4Cf. Ibid.
5Cf. Rom. 8.30.
6Cf. John 5.22.
7Ps. 29 (30).10.


Here then see the infinite goodness and condescension of God towards us his poor and worthless creatures, who though he be infinitely above us, and stands not at all in need of us, nor cannot be in the least benefited or advantaged by us, or by his acquaintance with us; but before there was made either man or angel, he was infinitely satisfied, and infinitely blessed in the enjoyment of himself; yet was he pleased to create angels and men, not only to a fitness and capacity of, but unto an actual communion and acquaintance with himself; which was more than needed on God’s part, or was owing on our parts; and when we like foolish and unthankful wretches, upon the very first motion of the devil, gave away this honor and happiness of acquaintance and communion for an apple, as Esau sold his birth-right for a mess of pottage, and thereby not only made our selves unworthy for ever to be admitted into God’s favor and acquaintance, but unfit for it too, as well as unworthy; that God should yet please to stoop so low as to take us yet again into acquaintance with himself: this speaks the wonderful goodness of God, his infinite Φιλανθρωπια or love to mankind.

When Esau had once undervalued the birth-right, so far as to sell it for a mess of pottage though afterwards it grieved him for what he had done, and he sought earnestly, and that with tears, to recover that blessing and birth-right which he had so foolishly lost, yet it could not be: so God might have dealt with Adam, and every one of us. The Text tells us, Adam lived 930 years after his sin, now if Adam had spent all those years in nothing but weeping and mourning, for his folly and madness in parting with his birth right, his acquaintance and communion with God, for an apple and in seeking earnestly, and that with tears, to recover communion and acquaintance with God again, and after all, had been denied it, yet God had been altogether just and righteous.

But behold the kindness of God, and his love towards mankind! As it is said of David, when Absalom by his villainies had banished himself from his Father’s Court and presence, it is said, The soul of King David Longed to go forth unto Absalom: that is, David’s heart was full of fatherly affection towards him, and he longs to be friends with him again: so did the heart of God even long towards man, after his sin and fall, and he did even long to be friends with him again, and to renew his acquaintance and converse with him.

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From within the early modern period authors identify several major positions on the extent of Christ’s satisfaction. John Ball (1585- 1640) acknowledges only two chief positions, covering Remonstrant and Reformed views; the Remonstrants hold that Christ "died for all and every man with a purpose to save," and the latter "distinguish the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s death."73 Francis Turretin first acknowledges, "Though all agree that Christ died for each and everyone, still they do not explain their meaning in the same way."74 He then delineates three different major classes, those who argue that Christ conditionally died for all and absolutely died only for the elect, those who claim that Christ died absolutely for all, and the "common opinion of the Reformed" that Christ died only for the elect.75 In this threefold classification Turretin has in mind the views of John Cameron (ca. 1579-1625) and Moise Amyraut (1596-1664) for the first view, the Remonstrants for the second, and the Reformed for the third. John Davenant (1572-1641), in his treatise on the death of Christ, notes that the church fathers and theologians of the Middle Ages contended that Christ died sufficiently for all, but efficiently, or effectually, for only the elect. Davenant points out that the doctors of the Reformed church from the beginning of the Reformation embraced this common sufficient-efficient theological distinction.76

Davenant points to several Reformed theologians to illustrate this claim, including Bullinger, Aretius, Musculus, and Zanchi. Heinrich Bullinger states quite simply: "The Lord died for all: but all are not partakers of this redemption, through their own fault. Otherwise the Lord excludes no one but him who excludes himself by his own unbelief and faithlessness."77 Benedict Aretius (1505-1574) says, "Christ died for all, yet notwithstanding all do not embrace the benefit of his death, because by their own wickedness, and the corruption of their nature, they despise the offered grace."78 Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1563) likewise offers, ‘We know that all be not partakers of this redemption, but yet the losse of them which be not saved, doth hinder nothing at all, why it shoulde not be called an universal redemption, whiche is appointed not for one nation, but for all the whole world."79 And Girolamo Zanchi (1516-1590) also holds to the universality of the satisfaction of Christ: "That it is not false that Christ died for all men as it regards his conditional will, that is, if they are willing to become partakers of his death through faith. For the death of Christ is set before all in the Gospel, and no one is excluded from it, but he who excludes himself."80 All of these Reformed theologians argue that in some sense Christ died for all. So the question arises, how do Reformed theologians relate the satisfaction of Christ to the redemption of the elect?

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