Steve Sewell, “If Christ Died Only for “The Elect” …

, posted by Steve Sewell

… then faith only applies to “The Elect.”

Jesus said, “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” ESV (John 3:18). Calvinism teaches that Christ died only for “the elect.” Calvinists view “the elect” as those whom God has chosen to believe. In other words, no one can believe unless God has already determined it for them. 

If that is true, that Christ died only for “the elect,” then the matter of faith (belief) only applies to them. Faith wouldn’t even be an option for the “non-elect.” Faith would be something that was designed specifically for the purpose and benefit of “the elect.” If Christ died only for “the elect,” then faith would be a provision only for them, and would, therefore, have absolutely nothing to do with the “non-elect.” They wouldn’t even be in the discussion in regard to faith. 

If faith is a provision for “the elect” only, if Christ died with only them in mind, then the reason a person dies in a condemned state is not because of unbelief, but specifically and only because they are sinners, separated from God (“the wages of sin is death,” Rom 6:23), and that they weren’t chosen to be saved. Again, faith has nothing to do with it; it’s simply not an option for them. For the “non-elect,” that’s the end of the story. For “the elect,” they’re granted forgiveness of sins through the provision of faith in God’s Son. 

When Jesus made the statement in John 3:18, and if He knew that He was going to die only for His “elect,” then He would also know that faith is something that would be limited to them. He would further know that those who die in a condemned state would do so not because of unbelief, but solely because they were “non-elect” sinners. However, if the plan of salvation was for Christ to die for all, then the matter of “believing” would apply to everyone, and not just for a select group of people.  

To be clear, if the provision of faith was only made for “the elect,” then unbelief could not be the reason for the condemnation of the “non-elect.” Again, it would simply and only be because they are sinners, and that no provision of forgiveness was made for them. 

Let me illustrate this for you:

Calvinist View:

I’m a multimillionaire, and there are 100 charity organizations in the world. I choose to give one million dollars (salvation) to 40 of those charities. Along with the money, I also provide them with all the account access information (faith) to the funds. It’s a done deal, it’s theirs. All 40 of those organizations believed the good news that was delivered to them, and they gladly received the donation, along with the access information.

The other 60 received nothing. Why? Was it because they weren’t given the access information (faith)? No. Why not? Because I didn’t even have them in mind. It had nothing to do with them. Since I didn’t choose any of them to receive a million dollars, the account access information (faith) didn’t apply to them. They didn’t receive a million dollars for the simple reason that I didn’t choose them for it. The account access information was for the chosen 40 organizations only.

Arminian View:

I’m a multimillionaire, and there are 100 charity organizations in the world. I choose to make one million dollars (salvation) available to all 100 charities. All they have to do is ask (faith), and the account access information would be given to them. Only 40 of those organizations actually believed the good news that was delivered to them, and asked (an act of faith) for the access account information. Because of their act of faith, the information was provided, and they were given the one million dollars.

The other 60 didn’t believe the good news about the available funds, and so they never acted on it. Thus they never received the money. As you can see, then, faith (believing the good news and acting on it) involved both groups. Faith applied to both groups. Faith was the determining factor for receiving the funds or not receiving it.


As the above illustration demonstrates, the only way that faith could be the determining factor for who is condemned and who is not, in John 3:18, is if Christ died for every single person coming into the world. If He only died for “the elect,” then the absence of faith could not be the reason for the rest dying in a condemned state. The reason would have to be simply and only because they are sinners, separated from God, and that the provision of faith and salvation was not made for them. This one verse alone — with the clear implications — proves that the Calvinist view of limited atonement and unconditional election is completely false. However, over and over in the Word of God, we see the offer of salvation and the option of faith provided for all — none more clearly than the way the Apostle John ends his gospel:

John 20:30-31

30 Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name. (ASV)

The Apostle John made many statements regarding whom Christ died for, but again, this is perhaps the clearest. Here he gives the very reason the Gospel of John was written: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” Who is John addressing here? It’s anyone who may be reading this book. All the “signs” Jesus performed were for the purpose of validating His message, and who He was, as this book reveals. If Christ died only for “the elect,” as Calvinism teaches, then John could not have made this statement. To be accurate and truthful, if Christ died only for “the elect,” it would have been necessary for him to word it like this:

“but these are written, that you, the elect, may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you, the elect, may have life in His name.”

If Christ died only for “the elect,” and if “life” is only available to them, then the way John worded this declaration would have been untruthful, and would give false hope to anyone else who may be reading this book. Furthermore, the Calvinist pastor would have to qualify John’s statement by telling everyone that he didn’t really mean what he says here. To be sincere, and honest, he would have to inform his listeners that John was actually referring only to “the elect” who may be reading this book. What justification is there for changing the meaning of a plainly-worded statement like this one? There is none. There may be other verses regarding the atonement that may be open to interpretation, but this is not one of them.

If John was only referring to “the elect” of Calvinism, then God Himself would be guilty of misleading people and of giving false hope to everyone else reading this book. It’s true that not everyone reading the book of John, or hearing it read to them, will turn to Christ. But this declaration makes it clear that it was written with everyone in mind, and that salvation is available to anyone reading it, or hearing it read.

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If Christ Only Died for The Elect….