Also posted at Exploring Theology.
This is one of the “hot button” issues in the debate between reformed and non-reformed believers.
Reformed (Calvinistic) brothers believe in a particular (or limited) atonement. They say Jesus died on the cross to save only the Elect. That He accomplished His intended task which was to save the Elect. They cite verses like Matthew 1:21 to make this point. It says “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” [emphasis added] This position says that only the Elect will have the opportunity to be saved and that all the Elect will be saved because this was the intention from the beginning.
Non-reformed (Arminian) brothers believe in a universal atonement. They say that Jesus died for every and all men but that the atonement is only effectual on those who knowingly and willingly accept it. This position basically says that everybody will have an opportunity to accept the call to salvation but only some will do so. They cite verses like John 3:16 to make this point. It says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” [emphasis added] This position says that people must agree to accept the gift of the atonement before it is applied to them. Basically it says that Jesus died only to make salvation possible for all people.
This was a very brief description of the two alternatives. Much longer posts could be written about both positions but that is not my purpose here. I have a simple purpose: to get you to share what your position you hold and why. So here is the question: DID JESUS DIE TO SAVE HIS PEOPLE OR TO MAKE SALVATION POSSIBLE FOR ALL PEOPLE? DO YOU BELIEVE IN UNIVERSAL OR PARTICULAR ATONEMENT? WHY? PLEASE GIVE YOUR REASONS (WHATEVER THEY MAY BE).