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Calvin and Calvinism » For Whom did Christ Die?

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But, when you hear this righteousness is given, the next question will be, “To whom is it given?” If it be only given to some, what comfort is this to me?

But (which is the ground of all comfort) it is given to every man, (u>there is not a man excepted; for which he have the sure word of God, which will not fail. When you have the Charter of a King well confirmed, you reckon it a matter of great moment. What is it then, when you have the Charter of God, himself? which you shall evidently see in these two places, Mark ult. 15, “Go and preach the Gospel to every creature under Heaven.” What is that? Go and tell every man without exception that there is good news for him, Christ is dead for him, and if he will take him, and accept of his righteousness, he shall have it; restraint is not, but go and tell every man under Heaven. The other text is, Rev. ult, “Whosoever will, let him come, and take of the waters of life free.” There is a quicunque vult, whosoever will come (none excepted) may have life, and it shall cost him nothing. Many other places of Scripture there be, to prove the generality of the offer: and having a sure Word for it, consider it.

But if it be objected, “It is given only to the elect, and, therefore, not to every man.”

I answer, when we have the sure Word, that it is given to every man under heaven, without restraint at all, why should any man except himself? Indeed, when Christ was offered freely to every man, and one received him, another rejected him, then by the mystery of election and reprobation was revealed, the reason why some received him being, because God gave them a heart, which to the rest he gave not; but, in point of offering of Christ, we must be general, without having respect to election. For no otherwise the elect of Christ should have no ground for their faith, none knowing he is elected, until he has believed and repented.

John Preston, The Breast-Plate of Faith and Love (Printed by George Purstow, and are to be sold in his Companie of Stationers, 1651), 7-8.

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B. H. Carroll (1843-1914) on the Death of Christ

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


Before taking up this part of the exposition I will answer a question arising from the discussion in the previous chapter, viz.: "Did Christ expiate the sins of all men, or the sins of the elect only, and does not universal expiation demand universal salvation?" This question belongs to the department of systematic theology. Without desire to intrude into that department, yet as biblical theology cannot be altogether separated from the teaching of the English Bible, I submit a reply for the benefit of those who may never study systematic theology. It is every way a difficult question, and calls out in its answer all the theories of the atonement advocated in the Christian ages. In general terms it is the old questionis the atonement general or limited? Perhaps no man has ever given a precise answer satisfactory to his own mind even, and it is certain no one has ever satisfied all others.

It must be sufficient for present purposes to deal with the question briefly, relegating to systematic theology the critical and extended reply derived from a comparison of all the prominent theories of the atonement in the light of the Scriptures. The following passages of Scripture doubtless suggest the question: Hebrews 2:9, "Jesus hath been made a little lower than the angels . . . that by the grace of God he should taste death for every man." There must be some real sense, some gracious sense, in which he tasted death for every man. 1 Timothy 4:9-10: "Faithful is the saying and worthy of all acceptation. For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe." Here again it is evident that God in some real sense is the Saviour of all men, but not in the special sense in which he is the Saviour of believers. A more pertinent passage is 1 John 2:2, "And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world."

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What is to
be believed.

Now the matter to be believed, is here said to be the Gospel. That is, the glad tidings of reconciliation made by Christ Jesus between God and man, which though it be diversely, and in sundry speeches set out unto us in Holy Scripture, yet all is most sufficiently contained in this one sentence delivered by Christ himself, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life,” wherein this: that God the Father moved by nothing but his free love to mankind lost, has made a deed of gift and grant of his Son Christ Jesus unto mankind, that whosoever of all mankind, shall receive this gift by a true and lively faith, he shall not perish, but have everlasting life, with the same Apostle expressly says, 1 Joh. 5:11, “This is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son”: meaning, that this it is, which God has witnessed for us to believe, which “he that does not makes God a liar”; and shall most justly be condemned therefore: this then to be considered of every soul to whom God sends this message of the Gospel, do truly believe and give credit unto it to be true, that God has grant of Christ to sinners, so that if he accept this grant, he shall be saved.

Historical faith
necessary to
Justification, but
not sufficient.

This is that faith which in the schools called Historical, because it goes no further then to give assent and credit to the story of that which God speaks to be true, which one may believe for another; and, therefore, this cannot be true justifying faith, and this may be in those that know they are bidden to come: so that though this be necessary to true justifying faith, there is required another and more special work, namely, “To receive Christ, and life in him offered in the Gospel,” which was the second general point to be considered in the nature of justifying faith; namely, and beside assent of the mind and judgment to the truth of the Gospel, we give consent with our heart, and will, so willingly and gladly accept God’s gift of Christ, whereby, indeed, he is become ours, and we his, and so we in him “be made partakers of all things pertaining to life and godliness,” as the Apostle Peter speaks, where I would have this specially to be marked, that he says, this is by the “knowledge” or “acknowledging” of him, which I understand to be by true faith, whereby we know and acknowledge Christ to be ours.

Ezekiel Culverwell, A Treatise of Faith (London: Printed by I.D. for Hen: Overton, and are to be sold at his Shop at the entring in of Popes head-Alley out of Lumhard-streete, 1633), 14-17. [Some minor reformatting; some spelling modernized; marginal notes cited inline; and underlining mine.]


Censure: Christ is the expiation for the sins of the whole world as far as it pertains to the worth and sufficient price (lutron). But by reason of the efficiency and the giving of faith by him, adjoining the gratuitous election of God, he is the savior only of the elect. Jn. 10.15. Other [places] in Scripture Christ is said to have died for all (1 Tim. 2.6; Heb 2.9); and for many, viz. the elect, for the sons of God and for believers. Matt. 20.28; John 17.9, 19; Rom 3.22; which containing an apparent contradiction to be removed, it ought to be represented that Christ is said to have died for all in three ways: First, he has effectually died for all his sheep. Jn. 10.15. And in these all and alone is there a certain special universality as it is in the writings of Ambrose book 1 De Vocatione Gentium chapter 3. The apostle expresses this universality of believers (Rom. 3.22). Second, in certain places of Scripture by means of the expression “all” a universal and indeterminate object of the death of Christ is understood: Which are all men without exception of a nation, condition, and sex. So that, therefore, by this phrase the extent of grace in the New Testament is indicated. Finally, Christ is said to die for all men if the sufficiency or magnitude of the price is considered. Of course, the death of the Son of God and spotless lamb is an unparalleled, perfect, and sufficient price, sufficient for all the sins of the whole world to be expiated and erased: by which all reprobates are sufficiently rendered inexcusable.

Johann Heinrich Alsted, Theologia Polemica: Exhibens Praecipuas Huius Aevi In Religionis Negotio Controversias Septem in Partes Tributa (Hanau: Conrad Eifrid, 1620), 619.

[Credit to Michael Lynch for the translation.]

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Thomas Gery (d. 1670?) on the Death of Christ

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


The Second Controversy. Of the Universality of Christ’s Redemption.

To decide and determine this controversy, I must first state the question aright between us and the adversaries.

To speak nothing of the word (all) which sometimes is put for all sorts of men, and sometimes for all particular men of all sorts. Seeing we acknowledge that Christ died not only for all sorts of men, but for all of all sorts, that do repent and believe.

The controversy depends upon these three Queries.

1. Whether Christ died for unbelievers at all or not.
2. Whether he died for them in as full and ample sense as for believers.
3. In what sense he died for them; and in what sense he died not for them.

To the first query or question, I answer affirmatively (for my part) that Christ died for unbelievers in some sense.

To the second I answer negatively, scil, that he died not for unbelievers in as full and ample sense as for believers; which I prove from Scripture three ways. First, because it’s said sometime in Scripture, that he died for many as well as for all; as in Isa. 53:12, “He bare the sins of many.” Matth. 20:28, “He gave his life a ransom for many.” Heb. 9:28, “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” Which expressions import, that he died not for all alike; but for many in the one sense, and for all in another; or else the expression of his dying for many were needless, in that it is so oft expressed that he died for all. Secondly, because it’s oft said, that he died for his Church; as John 10:15, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” Eph. 5:25, “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for I.” Which imports also that he died for all men in one sense, and for his Church in another. Thirdly, because the Scripture has (in terminis) in express words, put a difference between his being a Saviour of all men, and his being a Saviour to them that believe; as in 1 Tim. 4:10, “We trust the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” From whence I argue thus: Christ died for all men, as he is the Saviour of all men, but he is a Saviour of all men in a different sense and sort, namely generally of the universality of men, and specially of his Church; (witness the distinction made by the Apostle in the fore-cited text). Therefore, he died for all men in a different sense and sort; namely in the one sense and sort for the universality of men, and in another sense and sort for the particularity of his Church.

To the third query I answer, that he died for all wicked men and unbelievers, in these two senses according to the Scripture.

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