Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Who Did Jesus Die For?

As in almost anything that observers look upon, one observer can see a thing from a different angle or direction than can another. The two may describe a thing in terms virtually opposite of each other, and yet both be correct, and I would add, objective. Only a view that captures more angles, including those observers', would be more accurate. This is certainly true about our title question.

Calvinists assert that Jesus died only for those that were unconditionally selected to be saved. To say that there is even a hint of truth in such a perspective seems to fly in the face of the scriptures which universally assert that Christ died for everyone. Not everyone gets saved, however, which leads one to question in what way did he actually die for all when only some are benefited. Certainly, there is no doubt that he died for those who are benefited.

From one perspective, looking at efficacy, there is no argument--Jesus death was for some and not for others. From eternity looking back on time, such an assessment would seem to meet the facts as they will be: the repercussions of his death and resurrection will affect some, but not others. To look at that reality from that perspective and say Jesus died for the benefited is a spin that one could technically make and be accurate as far as it goes.

The problem with this view arises when the horizon on the subject is stretched to include intent. Since intent in this regard involves the counsels of God, humans can only know what God tells us about his intent. We cannot figure out the mind of God in this regard, nor infer what our reason tells us he must have been thinking. That is error prone when done between humans, it is idolatry when done concerning God.

God has spoken concerning his intent in offering Christ as the atoning sacrifice for humanity's sin, and has done so conclusively. Christ died as a bonafide sacrifice for all. Whosoever will may lay their sin stained hand upon the head of the scapegoat and tap into its benefits. That anyone who does so requires the intervention of God to do so does not mitigate or limit the expansive intent of the offer, anymore than does the outcome. Jesus is the savior of all men, but especially for those who believe and are benefited.


  1. I do not understand how Calvinists, excuse me, Reformed, believers can believe that Jesus only died for the preselected few and still believe that evangelism has a place.

    Grace and peace.

  2. Well said, SLW.

    I noticed this remark:
    "We cannot figure out the mind of God in this regard, nor infer what our reason tells us he must have been thinking. That is error prone when done between humans, it is idolatry when done concerning God."

    Which is exactly what Calvinists do when they get all offended on God's behalf by the idea that someone might be able to turn down His offer of salvation. 'That would be a violation of His sovereignty," they assert.

    Because, of course, Jesus lying helplessly in a basket waiting for Mary to change His dirty nappy wasn't a step down from majestic sovereignty!

    Next to that, Holman Hunt's 'Light of the World' looks rather more like the real deal.

  3. Pumice,
    You make a good point. On Calvinism, evangelism is merely a sorting issue, not the issuance of genuine offer. Kinda takes the urgency and passion right out of it, particularly in dry fields!

  4. Anthea,
    Sovereignty should mean God gets to do what he wants, including gracing mankind with choice and the ability to exercise will. Perhaps the Calvinist aren't defending God's sovereignty near so much as they've convinced themselves!


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