About a decade ago, a friend and I were visiting on the telephone when he mentioned, with great confidence, that Jesus did not die for the whole world but only for those who believe. He had been listening to Bible teachers on the East Coast, he said, and was convinced they were telling the truth.
It was a shock to me, for I knew the Scriptures, that the first action in John 3:16 was that “God so loved the world that He gave….” I remembered 1 John 2:1-2 also that says clearly, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” My friend Carl has since gone to heaven where he has learned the Biblical truth firsthand, no doubt.
The thriving false doctrine is just that, claiming that Jesus only died for those who believe, not for the whole world of lost sinners. What that does is to diminish the adequacy of the deity of Jesus Christ, the only One who has been given all authority in heaven and earth over all things. It makes a claim that the death of Christ on the cross is not sufficient to cover such a vast number of lost souls. If He is not, then who is sufficient?
Those who wallow in their pre-conceived ideas, which they try to support from Scripture, are the Reformers who spring out of Calvinist beliefs. They are at least uncertain, and some are firmly set on where the Millennium occurs in human history, when the Rapture, if there is one, will be, as well as when the Second Coming of Christ will be. They do not know or refuse to learn the truths of Proverbs 9:10, which says, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” They do not recognize that Revelation is a straightforward, chronological presentation of the future in prophetical visions. It seems their struggle is how God’s love can be unconditional when He requires a sinner to believe in Christ in order to be saved, thus obedience is a required condition.
Yet, “we love Him because He loved us first,” John wrote in 1 John 4:19. Is it not His love that draws us into obedience? That first and great commandment is awesome in its demand, that one is to love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. If that must come first, there is no hope for mankind. The compelling love of God draws man to conviction of sin, and then a transformation of life happens—by a gift of faith.
Their challenging opposition is called the Dispensationalists, who believe and conduct themselves as the Bereans did, according to Acts 17:11, which says, “These [Bereans] were more fair-minded [noble] than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” They searched the whole counsel of God for His truth.
From the beginning, it was God who initiated an act of love for mankind’s redemption. When Adam and Eve learned, suddenly, that they were naked, they covered themselves—the only two people there—with fig leaves to hide their sinfulness. But God came and provided them coverings of animal skins, His solution of a blood sacrifice to cover them instead. It was the forerunner for the coming sacrifice of His only begotten Son, Jesus, the Christ.
God’s love for the sinner is unconditional, according to Scripture, but His hate for their sin is well established. Look at Romans 5:6, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Then, go on to Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
From John 3:16 through these two verses in Romans 5, no one can honestly twist them around to convince anyone that God requires an action on man’s part before He will love him. Again, God loves the sinner, but He cannot condone his sinfulness.
In John 3:16, the word “whosoever” opens up the doors of God’s response to anyone who chooses a relationship with God. It also is echoed in Romans 10:13 that “whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
The whole of the Romans 5 chapter speaks of the obvious fact that Adam’s disobedience brought physical death and spiritual death to all mankind. Then, it compares that with what Jesus Christ has done by providing a gift of salvation to those who would accept that gift. See Romans 5:18: “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.” Note that God did not make that gift of life a universal provision but a gift to be willingly received. The transforming action was not directly within the individual but was a substitutionary provision by Jesus, the Christ. A gift must be received for it to become applicable in a person’s life.
The Jewish leaders did not receive Christ, and at His trial, they cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Let His blood be upon our hands and the hands of our children!” The Apostle John wrote of this in John 1:11-12: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
It is clear that His Jewish kinsmen did not receive Him and, for the most part, have denied Him for over 2,000 years.
Romans 6:23 clearly contrasts two directions a person may choose to go: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
The denial of the death of Jesus Christ covering the sins of the whole world sets up another false doctrine that God’s love is not unconditional, that He cannot look on sin, even to provide a covering for it, but a response from mankind must come first. But what could that be? Jesus even prayed from the cross before He died, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Again, we have seen that God has acted first to provide the way of salvation and offer it as a gift to be received.
Jesus says, “No one can come to Me except the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). And in Revelation 3:20, He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and live with him and he with Me.” Thus, no one will be in heaven who does not want to be there.
The hardcore Calvinists have a problem with Christ’s atonement, for if Christ died for the whole world, then the whole world would be covered in His atonement. The simple answer to that is that atonement is provided for only those who believe in Christ. It is as simple as that.
They have another problem, too, that of thinking they are chosen and elected, therefore they are saved. God’s foreknowledge has never saved anyone; His eternal ability to foresee the future reveals who will choose Him when they hear the gospel and believe and be saved. Paul makes that clear in 2 Timothy 2:10, saying, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” The Philippian jailer cried out, “What must I do to be saved,” and Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” He did not say, ‘you must be chosen.’
At the end of that very revealing parable told in Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus sums up its message by saying, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” The parable presents a likeness to the future when the marriage supper of the Lamb—the Groom—and the Bride, the redeemed Body of Christ, are together just before they, together, come to the earth at the Second Coming. But the presentation shows how those who were to receive the gospel first (Romans 1:16) reject God’s invitation:
“And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ‘But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.
“But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Psalm 40:1-3 tells the true story of how God looked upon mankind. Mankind was in the horrible pit, and God was outside of the pit. No one in the pit could lift out another one. God did it for those who want to be lifted out of the pit:
“I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—praise to our God.”
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org