“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” ESV (Matthew 11:28-29)
Here is one statement by Jesus that Calvinists simply can’t harmonize with their position on limited atonement. Jesus, who said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself,” (Jn. 12:32) extends an invitation to everyone who “labors and are heavy laden,” to come to Him, and those who do will experience rest for their souls.
If Jesus died only for the “elect”, as Calvinists insist, Jesus would not be able to make this offer to “all.” For who labors and are heavy laden? Surely this describes more than just the “elect few.” Does this not describe all of us? And even if it only describes most of us, surely this would include far more than the limited “elect.” If Jesus died only for a limited number of people, He could not honestly and sincerely make this kind of offer.
Life is very hard, and sin is very burdensome, destroying lives all around us and all over the world. Sin separates us from God, and apart from Christ there is no peace in our souls, and there is no peace with God. Thus Jesus in His great compassion for every individual, makes this offer to “come to Me.” He invites everyone to learn from Him. Everyone who toils under the weight of sin is invited to hear the message of Christ, that He died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead. Everyone is invited to come to Jesus to receive forgiveness of sins and peace in our souls, and peace with God.
Jesus said that He’s gentle and lowly (humble) in heart. This gives us the picture of someone who is very kind and approachable and available to receive the burdened sinner. This gives us the picture of someone who will deal graciously with anyone who responds to His invitation to come. Sin destroys our lives, both here in this life, and in the next, and so He says to everyone, “come.”
This is not the picture of someone who would look upon the so-called “non-elect,” who are ravaged by sin and despair, and then turn a deaf ear to them, without mercy or feeling for their anguished soul. I can’t image a more horrible doctrinal position than this idea of limited atonement, that Christ died only for the “chosen few.” This is so contrary to the loving and compassionate character of Christ, that it defies comprehension how anyone can portray Christ in such way. Any position on any doctrine that contradicts the character of God, cannot be the truth.
If you want to know the truth about any doctrine of the Bible, look to the character of God first. Then go from there. A good place to start is right here where Jesus speaks for Himself.