By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
What follows is a summary of a sermon I recently preached on the subject, “Biblical Proof The Gospel Is For Everyone.” The sermon was preached for two main reasons: 1) Some, and maybe many, leading 5-point Calvinists are promoting their theology through radio, TV, recordings, and literature, and they are gaining converts to their views. So we who are not Calvinists must do something to counter-act their influence. 2) By preaching that the Gospel is for everyone, any unsaved persons who hear the message will learn that it is for them, and that they need to believe it to be saved. In other words, it is an evangelistic message, too. Lord willing, I will soon preach another sermon on the same subject, but based on different Bible verses. Now, let us move on to the main points of this posting.
The Bible gives ample proof that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. This is in contrast to the theology of 5-point Calvinism, which teaches the Gospel is only for those whom God has chosen to save. Along with that doctrine, 5-point Calvinism teaches that Jesus Christ did not die on the cross to save everyone from God’s judgment on sin, but only for those whom he has chosen to save. All the rest have been left out of the Gospel of Calvinism.
Before we consider some of the Bible’s ample proof that the Gospel is, indeed, for everyone, we need to know that the Bible teaches we must believe in Jesus Christ and his Gospel, or it won’t do us any good. We might know he died to save everyone, but we also need to know he saves only those who believe in him as their Savior. Just knowing the facts about Jesus Christ and his Gospel does us no more good than just knowing the facts about a certain doctor. If we want that doctor to help us with an ailment, we must ask him for help. And, if we want Jesus Christ to forgive our sins and give us salvation, we must ask him to do so. The Bible says, “Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13) The Bible also says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” (Acts 16:30, 31)
Now, let us consider some of the Bible’s proof that the Gospel is for everyone. If you consider this proof with an open mind, you will see how it contradicts 5-point Calvinsim, and even 4-point Calvinism. It will help you to reject both 4 and 5-point Calvinism and accept the Biblical Gospel.
First, consider what we read in verses 18 – 20 of the 28th chapter Matthew’s Gospel. In these verses we find the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, who told to his disciples that all power had been given to him, and they were to go and “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” The word “teach” comes from a Greek word that means to make disciples of others. In this verse, then, we are told that all the nations are to be made disciples by their acceptance of the Gospel message. But 4 and 5-point Calvinists would have us believe that God has chosen only some of the billions of persons on planet earth to become the disciples of Jesus Christ. Who will you believe: the Lord Jesus Christ, or the Calvinists?
Second, consider what we read in verse 15 of the 16th chapter of Mark’s Gospel. In this verse Jesus Christ told his disciples they were to go “into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” The words ” every creature” in this context mean “every person.” So, the verse tells us the Gospel is to be made known to every person. But what is the Gospel? A summary statement of it is given by the apostle Paul in verses 1 – 4 of the 15th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthian church. Verses 3 & 4 say this: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” This, then is the Gospel message that is to be preached. But to how many persosn is it to be preached? Jesus Christ himself said it is to be made known “to every creature.” Logic compels us to believe that the Lord wants this message about him to be made known to every person because he wants all persons to have the opportunity to hear it for themselves, and to be saved by believing it. But the Calvinists would have us believe that the Gospel is to preached to every person for a different reason. They would have us believe it is to be preached to every person because, according to their theology, we do not know who has been chosen by God to be saved, and so we must give it to everyone. According to their logic, if we knew whom God has chosen to save, we could give the Gospel to them and skip the rest, and thereby save a lot of time, effort, and money. But would anyone come to the Calvinist opinion about Mark 16:15 without a Calvinist teaching them this interpretation? The answer is simple: “No!”
Third, for another proof that the Gospel is for everyone, consider what we read in the 46th & 47th verses of the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Luke. In these verses, the Lord Jesus Christ said this to his disciples: “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” When the Lord said, “it was written,” he meant it was written in the Old Testament Scriptures. The word “behoved” means “it was necessary.” The word “repentance” in this context means to have a change of mind about many things, icluding God, Jesus Christ, ourselves, sin, and salvation. Most importantly, when someone repents, they will at the same time believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. This change of mind from unbelief to faith in Jesus Christ will, of course, have an affect on how we live. The verse also speaks of “remission of sins.” In modern English, we would say “forgiveness of sins.” We need. now, to ask why the Lord said repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preacherd in his name among all nations. The reason is simple: it is because he wants all nations to repent and receive forgiveness of sins from him. What I said on Mark 16:15 applies here, too: The Calvinists would have us believe that repentance and remission of sins are to be preached among all nations for a different reason. They would have us believe these things are to be preached among all nations because, according to their theology, we do not know who has been chosen by God to be saved, and so we must give the message to everyone. According to their logic, if we knew whom God has chosen to save, we could give the Gospel to them and skip the rest, and thereby save a lot of time, effort, and money. Would anyone come to the Calvinist opinion about Luke 24, verses 46 & 47 without learning it from a Calvinist? The answer is simple: “No!” It means what is says, and it says what it means.
Fourth, two more proofs that the Gospel is for everyone are found in the 1st and 3rd chapters of John’s Gospel. In verse 29 of the 1st chapter of John’s Gospel, we read a simple and yet profound statement that was made by John the Baptist. He said this about the Lord Jesus Christ: “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Here is part of the footnote on verse 29 found in “The Zondervan KJV Study Bible.” It says this: “John was saying that Jesus would be the sacrifice that would atone for the sin of the world. There was first a sacrifice for the individual (Gen. 4); then for a family at passover (Ex. 12); and then for the nation on the day of atonement (Lev. 16); now it is broadened so that Christ is a sacrifice for the entire world.” That note puts it well. Jesus Christ, just as the Baptist proclaimed, was the lamb of God who took away the sin of the world by his death on the cross. That is the only conclusion we can come to if we take this statement at face value. But the 5-point Calvinists would have us believe it cannot be taken that way. They would have us believe it must mean something else. So, they twist and turn the verse to make it fit into their theology. Thus, they would have us believe that John the Baptist meant Jesus would take away the sin of the world, but not of every sinner in the world. That is, the 5-point Calvinists would have us believe the Lord took away the sins of the Gentiles whom God has chosen to save, as well as of the chosen among the Jews. They would not, in other words, have us believe the statement by John the Baptist means what it says when taken in its normal, literal sense. If we take in its normal, literal sense, it affirms the fact that the Gospel is, indeed, for everyone. But remember, it won’t do us any good unless we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. Pastor John MacArthur is an example of what Calvinists do with verses like this one. Here is what he wrote on John 1:29: “In this context ‘world’ has the connotation of humanity in general, not specifically every person. The use of the singular ‘sin’ in conjunction with ‘of the world’ indicates that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin potentially reaches all human beings without distinction (cf. 1 John 2:2).” So what does MacArthur say about 1 John 2:2? Here is some of what he said on that verse’s reference to “the whole world” : “This is a generic term, referring not to every single individual, but to mankind in general. Christ actually paid the penalty only for those who would repent and believe.” He also said this on 1 John 2:2: “But He actually satisfied fully the wrath of God eternally only for the elect who believe.” These quotes are from MacArthur’s one-volume commentary on the whole Bible. Similar comments can be found in his study Bible, and in his other writings. We should reject MacArthur’s view, but accept the view of another well-known Calvinist preacher and author from years ago, J. C. Ryle. He was a 4-point Calvinist, and did not hesitate to reject 5-point Calvinism’s doctrine that Jesus Christ died only for “the elect.” Here is part of what he said on the words “the sin” in John 1:29: “The expression seems to me purposely intended to show that what Christ took away, and bore on the cross, was not the sin of certain people only, but the whole accumulated mass of all the sins of all the children of Adam. He bore the weight of all, and made an atonement sufficient to make satisfaction for all.” This quote is from Ryle’s commentary on the Gospel of John. All Bible students, whether Calvinists or not, should read the many other statements of Ryle on this subject in his commentary on this verse. Now, let us look at what is, perhaps, the most well-known verse in the whole Bible: John 3:16. The 16th verse of the 3rd chapter of John’s Gospel says this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God gave his Son in the sense that he gave him to die in our place on the cross, taking the penalty for our sins. The words “only begotten” mean that Jesus Christ is God’s unique, one-of-a-kind Son. And for whom did God give his Son? The verse tells us “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son….” The average person reading this verse would conclude it means God gave his Son for the world, for the whole world, for every person in the world. And that is how it should be understood. But the 5-point Calvinists would have us believe it does not mean what it seems to mean, because if it does mean that, they have a problem in their theology. So, instead of changing their theology to fit the verse, they re-interpret the verse to fit their theology. They twist and turn the verse to make it mean what they want it to mean. Therefore, so they tell us, what the verse means is either that God loved the world of the elect and sent Jesus to die for them, or he loved the whole world, which means he loved not only elect Jews but also elect Gentiles. However, as with the previous statements of the Bible, this one affirms the fact that the Gospel is for the whole world. Believe it, and you will be immediately and permanently saved. Here is part of J. C. Ryle’s commentary on John 3:16: “The true view of the words, ‘God so loved the world,’ I believe to be this. The ‘world’ means the whole race of mankind, both saints and sinners without exception. The word, in my opinion, is so used in John 1:10, 29; 6:33, 51; 8:12; Rom. 3:19; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 John 2:2; 4:14.” After these statements, Ryle went on to say why he did not accept 5-point Calvinism. His arguments are worth reading.
If you are a Calvinist, you need to throw your Calvinism to the four winds and accept the Biblical Gospel. It is for everyone. If you are a Calvinist, you have some other problems to face: 1) No verse in the Bible says God has elected to save you. You have no objective, Biblical proof that you have been elected to salvation. 2) No verse in the Bible says Jesus Christ died to save you. So how do you know he did so? The only proof you have from the Bible that he died to save you are the many statements that say he died to save everyone. As one has put it, if Jesus Christ did not die to save all, how do you know he died to save you?