Does Reformed Theology Suffer from the Problem that Christ's Sacrifice was Insufficient to Save Everyone?
Visitor: Reformed theology suffers from the problem that Christ's sacrifice was insufficient to save everyone. Christ was unable to fulfill the Father's will that all men shall be saved, so thus God decided not to "will" certain people to be saved. Maybe that's one of "[His] reasons for choosing some and not others..."
Response: Interesting charge. Before I answer it you may want to consider that synergistic theology suffers from the problem that Christ's sacrifice was insufficient to save ANYONE. It loves many people with a general, ineffectual love, but loves no one in particular. Furthermore synergism limits the sins which Christ dies for. Just to show that this is no straw man, let me give you two examples: The synergist believes that Christ does not die for any person for 1) the sin of unbelief or 2) their moral failure to persevere. So then, we ask, is His work on the cross not powerful enough to cover all sins? So he dies for only some of our sins and we have to make up for the rest? So again, back to the same core thesis of my argument: Christ's work (to the synergist) is not sufficient to save completely since he dies for only some sins. We must make up for the sins He does not cover. This is extremely problematic and should reveal that the synergist's picture of Christ is woefully incomplete.
On the other hand, Calvinism believes the Scripture teaches that Christ's sacrifice is sufficient to atone for all His people's sins, including our sins of unbelief and lack of faithfulness in persevering. He is both the author and perfecter of our faith and gives His people everything they need that they could not provide for themselves. He is a complete Savior, not a partial one.
With this in mind, let's take your objection to Calvinism above, where you assert that in Calvinism, Christ's sacrifice is insufficient to save everyone. The Bible teaches that the Father elects a particular people, the Son redeems them and the Holy Spirit convicts, regenerates and unites them to Christ. The Trinity works in harmony to make certain God's will is accomplished. We see this particular love everywhere in the Bible. For example, in Jesus' high priestly prayer just prior to his atoning sacrifice, Jesus prays, "you have given him [the Son] authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him...I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours." (John 17:2,9). The reason this is called the high priestly prayer is that it is just like the high priests' in the Old Testament who prayed specifically for Israel prior to atonement in the Holy of Holies.
So obviously, Jesus' prayer to the Father is about whom He intends to save on the cross. We can see, then, that the issue is not whether Christ's sacrifice was sufficient to save everyone. That is the wrong paradigm. The issue, rather, is God's intent, not his power, for we all know that God has the power to save the whole world, and 10,000 more beside.
In fact, when we ask the question, â€œIs there anything biblically that limits Christ's power to save,â€ the only answer we ever find is that, in fulfilling his redemptive mission, Christ can only do what the Father has willed. He cannot do anything on his own, that is apart from or at odds with the Father's plans (see John 5:17-19, 30; 8:28-29). Of course, this is not an inability of power, but an inability of the persons of the holy Trinity to work against each other â€“ it is the impossibility that Paul later speaks of when he says that God â€œcannot deny himselfâ€ (2 Timothy 2:13). But this is also the exact opposite of your charge: you say the Calvinistic perception of redemption is that Christ cannot fulfill God the Father's will; but in reality, the Calvinistic perception is that Christ cannot fail to fulfill God's will, hence he can only redeem those whom the Father has given him from all eternity.
Lastly, while God commands all people everywhere to repent and believe the gospel, no one, in their own power and insight, obeys this command. Yet, God still has mercy by determining that he will still forgive the debts of a particular people whom he has foreknown and loved from eternity in Christ (Eph 1:3, 4) ... a group, the Scripture says, that he has given the Son prior to the foundation of the world. People without distinction from everywhere in the world: since he purchased with his blood PEOPLE FROM every tribe, people, nation and language (Rev. 5:9).
Hope this helps