Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
Question: If Jesus loves and died for all, then why does He say that He loves and died for the Church?
Answer: Scripture affirms Jesus died for the sins of “the world” (John 1:29), in which the world is the totality of mankind, as in, each individual member, and hence any verse which attributes Calvary to a certain class of mankind is speaking of a subset. For instance, the Apostle Paul can say that Jesus died for him, without concluding that it is only Him. Additionally, I can say that Jesus died for me, because Jesus died for everyone. However, if Jesus had not died for everyone, then I would have no basis to know for certain that He died for me in particular. Since, according to Calvinism, no one can know if they are one of the secret Calvinistic elect until they have persevered until the end, no Calvinist has a basis to know that Jesus died for them until they are on their deathbed. Moreover, the reason why you would speak of Jesus dying for the Church is because that’s where the purpose of salvation is achieved.
As an illustration: Consider a host who prepares a banquet with the expectation that the food will be eaten. Some finish their plate, and some don’t eat at all. But you provided the meal so that people will be filled, and when someone comes up to you afterward and says, “Thank you,” their gratitude makes it all worthwhile, and you can genuinely answer back to them and say, “You’re welcome. I did it for you.” Obviously you provided a meal for everyone, but since the ultimate fulfillment and purpose is achieved in those who eat, you can rightfully say that you did it for them. As with Calvary, Jesus died for everyone, but the ultimate purpose is realized in those who believe and benefit from it.
5-Point 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 … Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. (Eph. 5:25, emphasis mine) Husbands should be willing to die for their wives, just as Christ died for the church. Neither would die for spurious lovers. … 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)
Lutzer directly contradicts 1st Timothy 2:6 which states that Christ “gave Himself as a ransom for all.” Although the aim of the cross was for the Church, 1st Timothy 2:3-4 reveals that God wants everyone in the Church, which is why Jesus said: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (John 12:32)
John Calvin: “That Christ, the redeemer of the whole world, commands the Gospel to be preached promiscuously to all does not seem congruent with special Election. ... But the solution of the difficulty lies in seeing how the doctrine of the Gospel offers salvation to all. That it is salvific for all I do not deny. But the question is whether the Lord in His counsel here destines salvation equally for all.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.102, 103, emphasis mine)
John Calvin: “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)
John Calvin: “It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.148, emphasis mine)
That answers that. Calvin was a 4-Point Calvinist. The Bible teaches that the scope of the atonement of Christ’s death was unlimited. When Jesus died on the cross, whom did He purchase? (Redemption is an entirely different matter.) Although “all men” were purchased at the cross, a person isn’t redeemed unless He believes in Christ. Until a person believes in Christ, he remains under judgment. (John 3:18)
Question: What is the “water” of Ephesians 5:26: “So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”
Answer: It could either be the Holy Spirit’s water or baptismal water. It says water, and it means water. But what kind of water is it? I believe the former to be correct. Sometimes words are used euphemistically, as in the case of the Spirit’s “fire” at Matthew 3:11. I understand the “water” at Ephesians 5:26 to be a euphemism for the Spirit’s water (John 3:5), such that the Holy Spirit spiritually washes you “clean” by the “word” of God (John 15:3) when He sanctifies you in the new birth, making you a regenerated, “new creature” in Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17), in order that His Bride may be presented spiritually, spotless and clean.