Calvinists claim that Christ's atonement was limited because Christ could not possibly have died for all men because all men are not saved. To say that Christ died for all men when all men are not saved would make Christ's death ineffective and would deny his ability to save those whom he wanted to save. On the surface this argument seems to make sense, the problem is that while the Bible says Christ died for all men it does not say Christ died to “save” all men. The Scripture often states that Christs death was for everyone. What Calvinists seem to not realize is that it is not by his death alone that we are saved. The Scripture is very clear on this point. Christ's death reconciled us to God but it was by Christ's resurrection that men are saved. Consider the following passage:
1 Cor 15:12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
There were people who were challenging the existence of the resurrection. What did Paul say would be the result if that were true? If Christ had not been raised from the dead then Christians would still be in their sins. If Christ's blood on the cross is what saved them, how could that be true? Without the resurrection those “who have fallen asleep in Christ” would still be “lost.” The fact is that Christ's blood atoned for sins and reconciled us to God, but it is his resurrection that brings salvation.
1 Peter 3:21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ
Rom 5:10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
What is the gospel? Is it that Christ died for our sins to offer salvation or is there more to it than that? Paul tells us that the gospel includes three important events.
1 Cor 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures
One of the most favored evangelical passages explains what a man must do to be saved. It is Romans 10:9. What does it tell us we must do to be saved?
Rom 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved .
We must believe that Christ was raised from the dead, because it is his resurrection that saves. His death on the cross is only part of the gospel message. The fact that Christ died to atone for the sins of every man does not mean he meant to save every man. In fact we are told he died for all men. There are too many passages that make that clear.
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Rom 6:9-10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
Heb 7:27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
Heb 9:26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
1 Tim 2:3-6 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
Isa 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Christ died for every man, but it is clear only those who believe the gospel will be saved. The father gave to Christ, not those whom he died for, but those whom believed in his resurrection.2 Tim 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel
1 Peter 1:21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
2 Cor 5:14-15 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Rom 4:25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.