Matthew 1:21 – Calvinists claim that this verse “proves” that Jesus died only for His people and none others.
Matthew 1:21 – And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Calvinists claim that this proves that Jesus only died for the elect, and not for any other people at all. The problem they have here is that Jesus often made claims that He had come for the sake of the house of Israel, His covenanted people. In Matthew 15 Jesus is approached by a Canaanite woman, and He tells her this.
Matthew 15:24 – But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
However, so great is her faith that Jesus heals her daughter anyway. And even “his people” rejected Him! John 1:11 – He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
It is only after the resurrection that the gospel of Jesus is made freely available to the Gentiles. Note carefully Acts 13:46-48 which speaks about this very thing. Here in Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas are preaching the gospel to the Jews who are the elect nation that has the right to hear and respond to the gospel. However, they (the Jews) reject the gospel with indignation and blasphemy, so Paul and Barnabas turn to the Gentiles instead. These Gentiles have wanted to hear and to have the right to respond, so, because of their enthusiasm, Paul tells them that they, instead of the Jews, may have this appointment with the gospel of Jesus Christ. (It is also interesting that calvinists even try to misuse this verse (Acts 13:48) as well to somehow “prove” that the election is unconditional. If only they took the context of the verse into account! See Acts 13:48)
Note, in Matthew 1:21, that just because Jesus shall save His people from their sins does not necessarily exclude saving other people who are not His people. One website states that because Jesus died for His sheep, therefore He didn’t die for the goats (their term here for the non-elect). However, logic says this view cannot be proven; therefore it is inadmissible.
Did Jesus die for everyone? My Calvinist friends say no.
This is a common question regarding Reformed Theology and is known as limited atonement. Reformed theology, also known as Calvinism, teaches that Jesus only bore the sins of the elect and that He did not die for the sins of everyone who ever lived. This teaching is held by the Reformed and Presbyterian Churches as well as some Baptist ones. It is controversial in that there is debate regarding its validity from scripture. Nevertheless, we must understand that believing or not believing in limited atonement has no bearing on whether or not someone is a Christian or not. The issue is denominational; that is, it is a perspective held by some Christian churches but not others.
Nevertheless, is limited atonement biblical?
Well, well, well! Is limited atonement biblical, he asks? If it were, then it should be a belief of each Biblical Christian! But it’s not Biblical, so it shouldn’t! Even if some verses can be reworked to suggest limited atonement, we cannot ever oppose the overall Scriptural consistency that the atonement was for all the sins of all mankind without exception. 1 John 2:2 clearly states that the atonement is for the whole world, yet calvinists will add to this by saying it only means the Christians who will believe, that is, the elect according to them. Read further in The Big Lie of the Calvinists – Limited Atonement.
This is typical calvinist debate: that it’s just a difference in opinion on what the Bible says! However, if it cannot be validated from Scripture, then no genuine Christian should even consider believing in it. And validation cannot ever rest on “maybes” or “could have beens” or such. If it is not Biblical, then it is a heresy to believe in it as a Biblical doctrine! A mere difference of opinion between genuine Christians can never include heresies such as limited atonement.
The same online document quoted above also says Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matthew 25:32-33); that this could be used to demonstrate limited atonement. However, there is much dispute as to whether these sheep and goats mentioned here actually are involved in the judgment or instead are being judged for their access or otherwise to the millennial reign of Christ. Also, there is nothing in the Matthew 25 passage to demonstrate that Jesus didn’t actually die for the sins of those who had allegedly rejected Him. You see, Jesus died for all, even for those who will reject His salvation; it’s a truth based upon the free will of mankind and it is a Biblical doctrine! Calvinist teachings such as this can only exist if free will is removed from the equation, something they just cannot prove satisfactorily.
Therefore, it cannot be demonstrated from this verse (Matthew 1:21) that Jesus didn’t die for the “goats”. It just says what happens to the sheep (which in Matthew 1:21 would be represented by “His people”). There isn’t, in fact, any clear statement on the saving of the people who are not His, and therefore no clear assumption may be made. Any truth based upon an assumption can never be a truth until the assumption is firstly proven true! The fact remains that this verse cannot be used to demonstrate that Jesus didn’t die for those who were not His people. You calvinists, please be logical if you wish to refute this last statement!
Also, note that Jesus did, in fact, die for all the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2 cannot be interpreted any other way without introducing heresy. It would be man’s free will that would accept or reject the gift of salvation offered to all. (And don’t tell me that “all” doesn’t actually mean “all”! Only an illiterate person would believe that an unqualified “all” actually means only some!) See 1 John 2:2.
Then the calvinists will say that any free will decision to receive salvation is a work of that salvation, no matter how small the contribution of man may be. Accepting a gift, however, is not a work any more than holding fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end (Hebrews 3:6), holding the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end (Hebrews 3:14) nor labouring to enter that Sabbath-rest (Hebrews 4:11) etc. Or, giving diligence to make your calling and election sure!
2 Peter 1:10 – Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.
God offers us a gift of life, that is, salvation, very clearly taught as a gift in Romans 6:23. There’s only one way we can deal with a gift: we must receive or reject! A gift demands a response, not a work! If someone forces a gift upon you, then it may not actually be considered a gift but instead a decree or order or an imposition.
Look at the following definition of a gift from a legal point of view:
A voluntary transfer of property or of a property interest from one individual to another, made gratuitously to the recipient. The individual who makes the gift is known as the donor, and the individual to whom the gift is made is called the donee.
If a gratuitous transfer of property is to be effective at some future date, it constitutes a mere promise to make a gift that is unenforceable due to lack of consideration. A present gift of a future interest is, however, valid.
Rules of Gift-Giving
Three elements are essential in determining whether or not a gift has been made: delivery, donative intent, and acceptance by the donee.
Delivery Delivery of a gift is complete when it is made directly to the donee, or to a third party on the donee’s behalf. In the event that the third person is the donor’s agent, bailee, or trustee, delivery is complete only when such person actually hands the property over to the donee.
Donative Intent Donative intent to make a gift is essentially determined by the donor’s words, but the courts also consider the surrounding circumstances, the relationship of the parties, the size of the gift in relation to the amount of the donor’s property as a whole, and the behavior of the donor toward the property subsequent to the purported gift.
The donor must have the legal capacity to make a gift. In addition, an intent to make a gift must actually exist.
Acceptance The final requirement for a valid gift is acceptance, which means that the donee unconditionally agrees to take the gift. It is necessary for the donee to agree at the same time the delivery is made. The gift can, however, be revoked at any time prior to acceptance.
If someone offered you a gift, can your mere acceptance in any way make that gift any better? The answer is definitely “No!” If our acceptance of a gift could actually improve that gift in any way at all, then it becomes a payment for services rendered, not a gift. That is, a gift requires no input from the one who receives, while doing something and receiving remuneration in return is to work for benefit. And if a gift must be received without any free will choice in the matter, then it is no longer a gift but an imposition.
The gift of salvation freely offered all mankind is full, complete, perfected in every way. So how can our acceptance of the gift of salvation freely offered to us make it any better, if the gift of salvation is already full and complete, perfect, in fact. Is there a calvinist who would deny the perfection of the salvation offered through Jesus Christ? So how can an acceptance of such make something already perfect any more perfect? It is impossible to make more perfect that which is already perfect! It is likewise impossible to justify the acceptance of salvation as a work of that already perfect salvation! Thus, acceptance of the free gift cannot be a work of that salvation!
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