Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
Certain 5-Point Calvinists insist that you should not randomly tell people that Jesus died for them, because if they are not one of the secretly elect, you could be lying to them:
Calvinist, Jay Adams, cautions: “As a Reformed Christian, the writer believes that counselors must not tell any unsaved counselee that Christ died for him, for they cannot say that. No man knows except Christ himself who are his elect for whom he died. But the counselor’s task is to explain the gospel and to say very plainly that God commands all men to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus Christ.” (Competent to Counsel, p.70, emphasis mine)
Notice how tricky Calvinists can be when trying to incorporate a Limited Atonement into the Gospel:
Calvinist, Jeff Noblit, states: “Our missionaries marched back into the mountains of Peru, and they preached the gospel. They preached the wickedness and offensiveness of man before a holy God, the lostness of man, and the wrath of God. Then they preached the love of God in Jesus Christ and that Christ came and died for sin, shedding His precious blood.” (A Southern Baptist Dialogue: Calvinism, p.98, emphasis mine)
Did you catch that? The 5-Point Calvinist is unwilling to stand with the apostle Paul, and confidently declare that “Christ died for our sins.” Instead, they cleverly say: He “died for sin.” That’s a big difference. In other words, Jesus died “for sin,” not necessarily yours, unless you are “one of the elect.” This same Calvinist then goes on to state:
Noblit concludes: “The rise in the doctrines of grace or Calvinism will help us restore true evangelism.” (A Southern Baptist Dialogue: Calvinism, p.104, emphasis mine)
Calvinists are free to call it “true evangelism,” but it’s clearly at variance with “the gospel” taught by the apostle Paul at 1st Corinthians 15:3.
The underlying message is that no one is without a remedy. Everyone has a provision. The only question is whether they will receive it. And finally, if Jesus died for everyone, it’s hard to imagine that He would withhold the means by which to receive Him, and that’s the dilemma of the 4-Point Calvinist. So there’s no easy way out for the Calvinist of any stripe.
Calvinists are in a real pickle, so I’ve witnessed a few strategies advanced by Calvinists:
One Calvinist explains: Paul says that Christ died for our sins “according to the Scriptures.” He taught nothing except what was in the Old Testament, and the Old Testament says nothing about a universal atonement, but only an atonement for the sins of God’s people. Therefore, the Paul’s statement that Christ died for us, must be understood from this perspective: He died for believers only.
What about Isaiah 53:4-7?
One Calvinist explains: The “our” is the audience in Paul’s letter, meaning believers (i.e. the elect).
Yes, Paul is writing to believers, but he’s recalling what he told them as unbelievers, and that’s the key. Paul calls it “the gospel,” through which they are now “saved.” So this is what he told them when they were unbelievers. And what was his message? “Christ died for our sins.” R.I.P. 5-Point Calvinism.
Another Calvinist explains: You can’t prove that the sermon Paul initially preached to unbelievers included the words that “Christ died for your sins.”
Sure I can. It was “the gospel.” It was not a gospel, but the gospel. Otherwise, how many gospels do you suppose that there are? This is how you can know what Paul told every unbeliever, whether in Corinth or anywhere else.
The Calvinist explains: Paul could have said that for all who believe, your sins are paid for by the death of Christ. And now as he addresses believers, says that “Christ died for our sins.”
But that’s not how Paul defined the “the gospel.” Paul outlines what the “gospel” is, and how through it, they became “saved,” and then Paul describes what that gospel is, which is a statement that “Christ died for us.” I do not see any way around this.
Here is a Blog post on this verse.
That’s exactly what this was. Paul was reminding them of the gospel that he preached to them, back when they were lost, and in that gospel, he told lost people that Jesus died for them, according to the Scriptures. Why is that so hard for Calvinists to understand? It’s simple. Any gospel message should include telling people that Jesus died for them, or else it’s not the gospel of the Bible. Game over. Calvinism loses.