The Universal Call of the Gospel Requires Universal Provision/Unlimited Atonement

, posted by SEA

The following incisive comments (slightly edited for posting here) were originally made by one of our members in our private discussion group:

How can we preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15) if Christ
did not die for every creature? If the good news of the cross is only
for some, then how can we preach it with sincerity to all? As L.S.
Chafer asks, “How can a universal gospel be preached if there is no
universal provision? To say on the one hand that Christ died only for
the elect and on the other hand that His death is the ground on which
salvation is offered to all men is perilously near
contradiction” (Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct-Dec. 1980, p. 315).

Ask the Calvinist, “Should we commend the unbeliever for their
unbelief?” If Christ did not die for all men, then we should be
commending the ungodly for their unbelief. Here’s an example. A Christ-
denying infidel makes this statement, “I don’t believe Christ died for
me!” If what the extreme Calvinists teach is true, then he is correct
not to believe that Christ’s death was for him. “I do not believe that
Christ did anything to save me.” If Christ did not die for the
unbeliever who made this statement, then what he is saying is accurate
and we should commend him for his unbelief! Charles Smith said it this
way, “One who rejects the eternal life provided for us in Christ has
made God a liar. According to God’s Word he has refused to believe the
truth. Yet those who teach a limited atonement would have us believe
that one who goes to hell goes there because he does believe the truth
– namely the “truth” that Jesus did not die for him!” (Did Christ Die
Only for the Elect? p. 13). He is correct in not believing that Christ
died for his salvation. How can we condemn this man for rejecting the
Saviour, if Christ did nothing to save him?

Then ask if the unsaved are commanded to believe a lie?

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a strong statement of the
tenets of Reformed Theology. The Moderator of the Assembly that
compiled this confession of faith, Dr. Twisse, had admitted that
“every one who hears the gospel (without distinction between elect and
reprobate) is bound to believe that Jesus Christ died for him.” [Cited
by Morison, The Extent of the Atonement, p.61.] But if Jesus Christ
did not die for him, is he bound to believe a lie? When we preach the
gospel message, what is it that we are urging lost sinners to believe?

When every sinner that hears the gospel is commanded to “believe on
the Lord Jesus Christ,” what is it that he is to believe? He is to
believe, say “the Marrow of Modern Divinity” [Chap. II, sect. ii] and
“the Act of the Associate Presbytery of 1742,” and “be verily
persuaded in his heart that Jesus Christ is his, that he shall have
life and salvation by him, and that whatsoever he did for the
redemption of mankind, he did it for him.” What? Is every hearer of
the gospel to believe all this, if it be a fact [as limited
redemptionists maintain] that for millions who hear the gospel he did
absolutely nothing at all upon Calvary – shed no blood, made no
atonement, gave no ransom? Is he to believe a thing that is not true?
Is he to believe a LIE? He is invited to do so, he is urged to do so,
he is entreated to do so, he is commanded to do so, he is threatened
with eternal condemnation if he does not do so, provided it be indeed a
truth that Christ did nothing on Calvary for him. [Morison, The Extent
of the Atonement, p. 60.]

No, we are not urging sinners to believe a lie. We are beseeching
them, for Christ’s sake, to believe the truth of the gospel, that
“Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3).

My friend, Christ died for you.
Believe it because it is surely true!
Reject this message of His all-embracing love shown at the cross
And you will suffer eternal death, everlasting punishment and terrible
loss!

Sinners do not perish for believing a lie but for rejecting God’s
truth. “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that
perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they
might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10).