For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.
Calvinist, Erwin Lutzer: “But does the Bible actually teach that Christ died only for the elect? … Christ came for the specific purpose of paying a ransom only for those whom God had chosen … Christ came not to pay a ransom for all, but to ‘save His people from their sins.’” (The Doctrines That Divide, pp.185-186, emphasis mine)
What good is it for the Calvinist to affirm Sola Scriptura, when they flatly deny what Scripture plainly states? It’s almost like Sola Westminster, that is, the Calvinistic Westminster Confession of Faith.
Question: For whom did Jesus give Himself as a “ransom”?
Answer: Jesus stated at Matthew 20:28: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” The word, “many,” in this context, refers to all mankind, as well as at Matthew 22:14 and Romans 5:15. Indeed, as Titus 2:11 states: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.” God wants all men to be “saved” (1st Timothy 2:3-4) by believing in His Son. (John 3:16) Only by becoming in Christ do you go from condemnation to redemption (Romans 8:1), from judgment to grace (John 3:18), from eternal death to eternal life. (Romans 6:23)
George Bryson: “Only those men and women who believe will receive the saving benefits of what Christ did on the cross. No one is disputing this. The question then is not will all be ransomed? Rather, was the ransom paid for all? ... There is simply no reason to say that Christ did not give Himself as a ransom for all just because not all will be ransomed, unless, of course, you are trying to make scriptural truth conform to Calvinist dogma.” (The Dark Side of Calvinism, p.154, emphasis mine)
If you want to know if the ransom price was paid for all, simply follow John 3:14 to Numbers 21:6-9, which is an example that Jesus used to illustrate the Cross. Everyone who was bitten, had a provision for their healing. Today, everyone who is bitten by sin, has a provision. It’s called Calvary. If, however, you reject that Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all, here is the alternative: Calvinist, Alan Kurschner: “God desires that his sheep are saved. God desires that his people are saved. He does not desire that every single individual who has ever lived, live in glory with him forever. If that were the case, we have an incompetent, unhappy, and impotent God.” (The Calvinist Gadfly, emphasis mine)
There are some who say that Jesus didn’t love all, and therefore He didn’t die for all. But since the Bible says that Jesus “gave Himself as a ransom for all,” we may back-track and undo the 5-Point Calvinist notion, and confidently declare that Jesus must therefore also love all. (John 3:16)
John Calvin: “The word all (v.6) is a universal one that applies to groups of people, but never to individuals. It is as if Paul had said, ‘Not only Jews, but Greeks also; not only people of humble rank but also rulers have been redeemed by Christ’s death.’ Therefore Christ intends that the benefit of his death should extend to everyone; so people who exclude anyone from that hope of salvation are doing Christ a disservice.” (1 & 2 Timothy & Titus: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.40, emphasis mine)
Calvin also argues that Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all people-groups, meaning races, but not every individual. But again, what is a group, but so many units within that group? Why would Jesus care so much about saving the different races and yet care less about its individual members? An even better question is that if Jesus has selective compassion, why did He demonstrate an indiscriminate compassion at Matthew 9:36?
Calvinists propose two potential explanations for 1st Timothy 2:6. The first is what you saw from Erwin Lutzer, in that Jesus is the Mediator of “all” of the elect. This second is the “of the elect” defense, and Calvinists invoke it often. Calvin, however, seemed to shy away from the “of the elect” defense, and instead preferred the “Secret-Will” defense. Next, Calvin will build his argument for a Secret-Will explanation of 1st Timothy 2:6, in that while God may present Himself as the Savior of everyone, we now have the revelation that He is really just the Savior of the elect, or so he presumes:
John Calvin: “The words all men, in the phrase, gave himself as a ransom for all men, could make us ask why God chose one special people, if had planned to reveal himself as a reconciled Father to ‘all’ without distinction? Was there one redemption in Christ in which everyone had to share? Paul deals with such questions by saying that the proper time for this revelation of grace was appointed by God’s counsel. We are not surprised that during the winter, trees are bare, fields are snow-covered, and the ground is frozen, or that the mild warmth of spring brings to life what seemed to be dead, because we know that God has ordained season to follow season. So why should we reject providence in other matters? How can we accuse God of changing his mind when he brings about what he had planned to do all along? In the eyes of the world, the revelation of Christ as Redeemer to both Jews and Gentiles was seen as a sudden and unexpected event. But we know that God did not plan to do this on the spur of the moment; rather, we should submit all our thoughts in the matter to seeing how God carried out his wonderful providence. As we do this we realize that everything God sends us arrives at the right time. Paul often gives this instruction in his letters, with particular reference to the calling of the Gentiles, which confused many people at that time, as it was such a new idea.” (1 & 2 Timothy & Titus: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, pp.43-44, emphasis mine)
In other words, why did God chose the Jews as His special people, if He would later offer salvation to everyone? First of all, however, when God elected Israel as His special people, He also stated His purpose for the Gentiles: “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) Even Solomon understood the ultimate plan of God when he prayed the following prayer in the inauguration of the temple: “Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.” (1st Kings 8:41-43) So not every Jew was caught off guard. But there are indeed mysteries in the Old Testament which unfold in the New Testament, especially as they pertain to Christ. Nevertheless, this is not exactly a legitimate license for Calvin to infer a Secret-Will any time he meets a verse that contradicts Calvinism.
John Calvin: “People who do not like the thought that God has ordered when everything should happen, through his own secret wisdom, will discover one day that the time they thought God was wasting, he used to prepare hell for those who are too inquisitive!” (1 & 2 Timothy & Titus: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.44, emphasis mine)
Hence, God prepared Hell for Arminians, which is interesting in light of the fact that God also states: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD.” (Isaiah 1:18) So it seems that God invites examination, instead of shunning it. Even the apostle Paul states: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1st Thessalonians 5:21) Moreover, Calvin’s explanation is not exactly the Berean way: “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
Calvinist, Martin Luther: “We let him go on and, like the giants, fight against God; while we look on to see what triumph he will gain, persuaded in ourselves that we will do nothing, either to injure our cause or advance his own.” (The Doctrines That Divide, p.171, emphasis mine)
I lump Martin Luther in as a Calvinist, insofar as he believed in the core teachings of what is now known as Calvinism. Nevertheless, Martin Luther envisions similar injury when contesting Calvinism.
Calvinist, James White: “[This] interpretation makes Jesus the mediator for every single individual, forcing us to believe the amazing idea that Christ intercedes for those in hell itself!” (Debating Calvinism, p.325, emphasis mine)
1st Timothy 2:6 forces us to believe that Christ intercedes for those in Hell?, no more than John 3:16 forces us to conclude that those in Hell can receive eternal life by believing in Jesus. It is implicit that Jesus is the Mediator of all men, while the offer of salvation still stands. Obviously, when a person dies, his fate is sealed. If a Calvinist still pushes this silly argument, have them turns to Romans 12:17-18 in which we are told to be at peace with all men, so far as it is up to us. Obviously, this is speaking of those who are alive, as Paul is not teaching a doctrine whereby you are to be at peace with those in Hell. So that’s why White’s argument is an unnecessarily forced conclusion.
James White: “If one says, ‘Yes, Christ mediates for every single human being,’ does it not follow that Christ fails as mediator every time a person negates His work by their all-powerful act of free will?” (The Potter’s Freedom, p.142, emphasis mine)
Does that also mean that Moses was a failure, if someone bitten by the fiery snakes of Numbers 21:6-9 failed to look upon the provision and live? The “God failed” argument is absurd.
Dave Hunt: “Calvinism puts the blame on God instead of on Christ-rejecting men.” (Debating Calvinism, p.330)
Christ is the Mediator between God and men, and by men, every single human being, both collectively and distributively. It’s not that the lost do not have a Mediator that they perish, but rather that the lost do not avail themselves to the provision that their Mediator graciously offers them. Hence, the failure is completely their own.