Did Jesus Die For Everyone or for the Elect only?
Did Jesus die on the cross for every person in the world or did He shed His blood for only a few chosen elect people?
Does God offer the same opportunity for eternal salvation to everybody – or does God select who should go to heaven and who should go to hell?
Between limited atonement and unlimited atonement, which belief system is Biblical?
To answer all these questions it’s important to understand God’s character and desire in relation to how He views all sinful people in the world.
1. God Does Not Desire to See Anyone Perish
2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
According to 2 Peter 3:9, God’s nature and character is that He does not wish that anyone perish eternally in hell. Instead this Scripture reveals that God desires to see every person reach repentance. So if it were possible, God would want to have all of His human creation to enter heaven and not hell.
Therefore when any person dies and unfortunately experiences eternal punishment, it is not because God desired it – but it’s because that person chose to reject Jesus Christ and to reject God’s free and gracious redemption plan through the cross.
2. Christ’s Atonement is for the Whole World
As evidence that God does not want to see anyone perish, the Bible reveals that Jesus died on the cross for the entire world. Therefore Christ’s atonement was not limited but instead He shed His blood on the cross for the whole world.
1 John 2:2 says: (Jesus) is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Therefore according to 1 John 2:2, Jesus Christ did not only die on the cross for the elect – but He was the propitiation for the sins of the whole world too.
In John 3:16-17 Jesus says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
According to John 3:16-17 God’s plan of salvation included the whole world so “that the world might be saved through Him”.
Therefore the Scriptures reveals that Christ’s death on the cross gives whoever believes in Him the opportunity to be saved or to make a choice to respond to the Gospel.
Christ’s death on the cross is consistent with God’s nature that He does not want to see anyone to perish but instead God gives all people the same opportunity for salvation.
3. The Great Commission is Evidence that Jesus died for Everyone and the Gospel is for Everyone
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
One of the functions of evangelism is to preach and convert the unsaved without discrimination. Christians evangelize the unsaved so that people can repent and become part of the Church or body of Christ.
Jesus Himself also said that He did not come for the righteous, but He came for sinners to bring them to repentance.
In Luke 5:31-32 Jesus says: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
So God is very much interested in saving the unsaved because He does not desire to see anyone perish. The proclamation of Christ’s finished work or the Great Commission is not meant for a selected few, but it is meant for the whole world because Christ came to die for the entire world.
However, through evangelism, people will inevitably be confronted to make a choice of whether to accept or reject the Gospel; or the choice to accept or reject a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Great Commission requires that the Gospel be preached to all the world and make disciples of anyone who responds positively to the Gospel message.
Therefore since Jesus atoned for the whole world, then the Gospel message is meant to be preached to all nations because Jesus Christ died for all people of all backgrounds and all nations in this world.
4. God Gives Everyone Freewill or the Freedom to Choose
How do we know that free will exists? Did God give humans freewill?
We know freewill exists because before sin entered the world, Adam & Eve were given a choice.
Whilst Adam & Eve were sinless they were given freewill to either choose to obey or disobey God in relation to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-17).
And when they made their unfortunate choice in Genesis 3:1-24, God in His foreknowledge did not interfere or violate their freewill or freedom to choose despite the resulting bad consequences.
In the same way, even though God has foreknowledge of all our actions, including foreknowledge of who will enter heaven and who will enter hell – whilst we live in this world, God gives all people the freewill or the freedom to either choose Him or reject Him.
In Deuteronomy 30:15-19, God says the following: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil… I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live”
Britannica defines freewill in humans, as the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints.
In John 3:18-19, Jesus said the following: Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.
We learn from John 3:18-19 that even when Christ the Light presents Himself to people, there are some who will make a free will choice to reject the light and instead pursue darkness.
How Do You Become Part of the Elect?
You become part of the elect when you believe and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior because of the payment He made for your sins on the cross. An elect is one who is born again or saved or has become a child of God through trusting in Jesus Christ as Saviour (John 1:12; John 3:3-8).
Romans 10:9-10 says: Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Jesus Christ became your Substitute by paying the eternal punishment that you deserve on the cross.
We are all sinners who are deserving of hell because we have all transgressed against God by breaking His commandments (Romans 3:23).
Thankfully God freely offers redemption and salvation from sin and its eternal consequences.
Therefore we do not have to work for our salvation but instead salvation is a free gift received by grace through faith in Jesus Christ
Ephesians 2:8-9 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Jesus died on the cross for the whole world because 1 John 2:2 reveals that Christ was the propitiation for the sins of the entire world.
The free gift of salvation received by grace through faith in Christ is available to whoever would choose to trust in Jesus Christ alone as Lord and Saviour (John 3:16).
As experienced through evangelism and the preaching of His word, God grants anyone the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to make a choice to either respond to Him or not.
Did Jesus Christ die for the whole world or just the elect? Jesus Christ died for both. Jesus Christ was “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).