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Can a Calvinist preach to non-believers "Jesus died for your sins!"???

Discussion in 'Ask a Calvinist' started by Ribosome, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. Ribosome

    Ribosome Member

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    I'm not here go start arguments and fights or anything. I just want to understand Calvinism better. I considered myself a calvinist for a long time, but I realized I don't even understand it or know much about it.

    I read this article online: Is the atonement of Christ unlimited?

    Here's a quote from that article that I'd like to get help with:

    So I'm looking for an explanation of how is it that a Calvinist preaches the gospel... can he say "Jesus died for your sins!"? If he can't, what does he say instead, how does he explain the gospel to non-believers?

    Correct me if I'm wrong (prolly am), but does a Calvinist say something like this when explaining the gospel to non-believers, "Jesus died for sinners, his sacrifice is so valuable that it has the ability to cover the sins of the whole world if only the whole world would trust him as their savior, but he died only for the elect, and if you put your trust in him, then you will be one of the elect for whom he died."
     
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  2. DeaconDean

    DeaconDean γέγονα χαλκὸς, κύμβαλον ἀλαλάζον

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    To put it in the simplest terms, we do not know who the "elect" are, but we are to preach in order to reach the elect.

    "For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region." -Acts 13:47-49 (KJV)

    Here is a classic example. The whole town turned out to hear the preaching, however, scriptures tell us only the "elect" responded.

    Yes, we can preach Jesus died for your sins.

    God Bless

    Till all are one.
     
  3. Skala

    Skala I'm a Saint. Not because of me, but because of Him

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    The Bible never tells us to tell the lost "Christ died for you". So why would we be concerned if our theology cannot allow us to say that?

    The extent of Christ's death is not the gospel message. The gospel message is that we are all sinners, and God commands us to repent and put faith in the Son, and anyone who does that will find Christ to be a perfectly worthy Savior.

    Since the Bible never tells us to say the words in the OP, it's not a problem or dilemma after all.
     
  4. twin1954

    twin1954 Baptist by the Bible

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    The Scriptures do not decalre that Christ died for the sins of all men it declares that He died for sinners. Moreover it declares that He died for chosen sinners. Now if that is the case can we honestly tell God hating rebels that Christ died for them? Yes we can as long as we tell them that the way that they know this to be true if to believe on Christ. We must also tell them the truth as clearly decalred in the Scriptures that as long as they remain rebels and unbelievers it isn't the love of God thsat abides on them but the wrath of God. We must never give the rebel sinner hope in the love of God apart from faith in Christ.

    I would caution you to be careful what you read. Your quote is worded in such a way as to convey the idea thst particular redemption is limiting God. That is intended to skew your thinking at the outset and is a dishonest way of expressing things.
     
  5. Ribosome

    Ribosome Member

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    How does a sinner who knows he is guilty and deserving of hell know that Christ died for HIS sins specifically and therefore forgave him. How does he know and have assurance that he was one of the people for whom Christ died? How does he know that he is one of the elect?
     
  6. Keachian

    Keachian On Sabbatical

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    The first part should tell him, the fact that he has come to the realistation that he is guilty, that he is deserving of hell and that he longs for Christ tells him that Christ died in order that through the glorification of him(the sinner) Christ might be glorified now he need persevere, but this perseverance is not as if he is doing it himself (although to him it may seem that way) it is the Spirit working in him to bring the good work to completion which Christ began in him.
     
  7. twin1954

    twin1954 Baptist by the Bible

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    The love of God is shed abroad in the heart. Rom. 5:5. That doesn't mean that you love God, which of course you do, but that you are made to know that He loves you. Though faith we are made to experience the peace that is Christ and rest in Him. When a sinner finds that he has nothing but Christ he will know that he is elect.
     
  8. Shulamite

    Shulamite My Bridegroom suffered this for ME

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    As a Calvinist, I've had people ask me, "Why preach the gospel then??" and my answer is this: Because we were commanded by Jesus to preach the gospel to EVERY creature. He commands us to do so, whether we know who the elect are or not.

    Jesus came at the command of the Father and preached, knowing that not everyone He preached to would "hear" His words. He knew His own Sheep will hear His words. If you are not His sheep, you will not hear. As Calvinists, we take the gospel to every creature because only God knows who the elect are and He commands us to preach to everybody as a witness of the Truth.
     
  9. The Boxer

    The Boxer Fighting the good fight

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    Well said! He said that He did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
     
  10. twin1954

    twin1954 Baptist by the Bible

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    Though I am commanded to preach the Gospel that is not why I preach. I preach because I genuinely desire for men to know Christ. I want those who hear me to experience what I have in my soul. It isn't as much a matter of obedience as it is a matter of love.
     
  11. janxharris

    janxharris Veteran

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    1 Corinthians 15:11
    Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed in.

    What is it that Paul preaches? The antecedent is vv.3-4 of that chapter:
    For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

    Paul says that, 'this is what we preach,' and the word 'preach' is in the present tense. To whom did Paul preach?

    Romans 15:20
    It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.

    When Paul preached to the Corinthians, many believed in Christ:

    Acts 18:8
    Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.
     
  12. janxharris

    janxharris Veteran

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    Romans 3:25a
    Whom God set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood,
     
  13. janxharris

    janxharris Veteran

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  14. BryanW92

    BryanW92 Hey look, it's a squirrel!

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    Christ's death on the cross was efficient for some and sufficient for all.
     
  15. Don Maurer

    Don Maurer ^Oh well^

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    I have to admire the integrity of the OP and someone asking Calvinists what they really believe.

    This is curious, you considered yourself a Calvinist, but do not understand what Calvinism is? I am not sure what you are saying here.


    OK, I looked up the URL and read the article, but I did not find where the author of the quote spoke of evangelism as you do below. I did not see what you wrote below.

    While I think the author is wrestling with the issue of limited atonement, I do not think he got to the heart of the matter. Neither do I think the author of the article knows that much about the Calvinism or why Calvinists believe in limited Atonement. There are a lot of different texts that Calvinists would go to for the purpose of demonstrating their theology and he did not mention even one of those texts. Instead, he mentions John 3:16. While that was disappointing, I was happy that he did not try to make John 3:16 into a text for a General Atonement. Also, the texts he quoted, such as 1 John 2:2, he did not even give the normal Calvinists rebuttals. In fact, I doubt the author of the article has ever seriously read what Calvinists say. Unfortunately, that is very common.

    Ouch, I think I perceive a real major misunderstanding of reformed doctrine in your statement above. You are looking at the value of the atonement and think Calvinism limits the value of the atonement? Calvinists believe that the value of Christ's death is so infinitely greater than the whole human race that it can never be a fair comparison. Its a comparison between the finite and the infinite. The value of his death is infinitely greater than all humanity. For this reason, Hebrews tells us we are saved to the uttermost. The issue of Calvinism is that all this infinite value is all given to the elect. When Calvinists speak of limited atonement, they are speaking of this infinite power to save.

    Lets hypothetically change something. If God, in eternity past, wanted to increase the number of elect by 50 trillion people, Christ would not have to suffer a little more to save the extra 50 trillion people. His death remains infinite in value.

    The issue of the limited atonement is the "extent" of the atonement. God gave this infinite value all to the elect. Each and every drop of blood, each and every wound, was shed for the elect, and not for the unbelieving world. The value of his blood is infinite, and so the elect are infinitely saved.

    Calvinists see the shedding of Christ's blood as something infinitely powerful. If Christ shed his blood for someone, this infinite power ushers anyone under the blood into salvation perfectly and it never ever fails to save.


    Double ouch. This is not exactly the way Calvinists say things. We do not put our trust in Christ so that we can be one of the elect. We have faith leading to justification. We are regenerated which causes faith, but I have never heard a Calvinist say what you said above. Now I will admit that the ordo salutus has both election and faith in it, but there are a few more steps in the ordo salutus between election and faith. However, maybe I am complicating things here.

    I admire you for coming to Calvinists to find out what Calvinists believe. I highly recommend reading Calvinists on what Calvinists believe. Well, may God be with you as you search for the truth of the details of this glorious subject.
     
  16. twin1954

    twin1954 Baptist by the Bible

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    There is another place to debate a Calvinist. You will find it if you scroll down from this forum. Go there if you wish to debate. This is a place for folks to ask legitimate questions of Calvinists not to debate them.

    BTW, if Christ died for all men then His death is worth nothing for it is the will of men that saves not the death of Christ.
     
  17. janxharris

    janxharris Veteran

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    Apologies - I hadn't realised I was on such a forum.
     
  18. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    I don’t think the OP is quite so far off, and it seems to me that this is a reasonable place to ask questions.

    The Calvinist response that I’ve usually heard is that we can say “Jesus died to save sinners.” We just can’t say in an unqualified way “Jesus died to save you,” because we don’t know. We can also say “repent and believe the Gospel,” and we can ask people to have faith in Christ, telling them that justification comes through faith. In the course of doing that, I think most preachers are going to make statements that look Arminian, because in fact God does promise that he will save those who have faith in him. There are conditional statements like that in Scripture.

    Faith comes from the work of the Holy Spirit, but God does typically use secondary causes. That includes our preaching, and what we say and do with friends and family. There are certainly examples in the NT of people preaching and calling their hearers to faith, even though we would say that in the final analysis it’s the Holy Spirit using the preaching to regenerate them. But it’s possible to be too zealous about excluding conditional statements. Scripture certainly isn’t that careful. Saying something like “if you trust God, he will save you” is true. It’s just not the whole picture. But still, knowing and being able to rely on those kinds of promises can be important.

    No one would likely say what the OP suggests, but I haven’t seen a good explanation for why not in these posts.

    “Jesus died for sinners, his sacrifice is so valuable that it has the ability to cover the sins of the whole world if only the whole world would trust him as their savior, but he died only for the elect, and if you put your trust in him, then you will be one of the elect for whom he died.”

    Technically you can argue that the whole thing is right. But it is making a mistake that in fact some Calvinists make, of trying to get people to guess whether they’re the elect. That’s not necessary, and it leads to all kind of problems. It’s true that God creates faith in the elect (through grafting them into Christ and regeneration, as one response noted). So it’s actually true that if someone has justifying faith then they’re elect. But putting it that way in that situation would be misleading in several ways. First, it suggests (even though it doesn’t quite say) that election is a result of faith, when it’s really the other way around. Second, it is going to tend to lead people into thinking that they need to focus on the quality of their faith, when in fact we want them to look at what Christ has done for them.

    Despite the prominence of election in Reformed doctrine, we don’t encourage speculation on who is elect. We don’t even encourage people to try and figure out whether they are elect. Historically that’s led to all kind of problems. Both works and the quality of our faith have been proposed as signs of election. That leads people to set up criteria for what level of works can let us presume that someone is elect, or criteria for what quality of faith lets us presume that it’s justifying faith. But in the end this focuses people on us, our works or our faith, rather than on Christ. So it’s best to let God worry about who is elect, and be satisfied with the Biblical statements that God will not abandon those who trust in him. Then we focus on helping people build trust in God.

    I think election is something that can normally be seen only in retrospect. When we stand before God, we’ll be able to see how he was at work in our lives bringing us to himself. Even during life we may be able to see it after the fact. But when we’re living we don’t have the perspective to see how he is working. So it’s best to depend upon his promises.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2014
  19. AMR

    AMR Presbyterian (PCA) - Bona Fide Reformed

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    Until the unregenerate appears on the scene with a label from God so stating their unregenerated status, we proclaim "believe upon the Lord and be saved". Otherwise, we never proclaim that "Christ died for you". If Christ died for each and every person, then each and every person would be saved, else His active and passive obedience on behalf of those given to Him was for naught. Christ's death is not a potentiality, but and actuality for all of God's chosen.
     
  20. Skala

    Skala I'm a Saint. Not because of me, but because of Him

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    Question: Does the Bible ever tell us to preach the gospel by saying "Jesus died for your sins" to unbelievers?

    The answer is no. Therefore, why is it a problem if someone can't preach in such a way?

    I think you are enslaved to tradition without even realizing it. It probably never dawned on you that the Bible doesn't actually command us to say that. You just assumed, from tradition, that this is the way it's supposed to be done.

    That being said, here is how we preach the gospel: We say that God sent Jesus into the world so that all those who believe in Him will not perish. John 3:16.
     
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