“Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Tim 1:15)
“For while we were yet helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Ro 5:6)
“But God shows His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro 5:8)
Should be obvious: If “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” and you’re a sinner, then Christ died for you. In other words, since we’re all sinners (Ro 3:23), then Christ died for everyone. This is so simple, that anyone can understand it. Yet, Calvinists make such a complicated issue out of it. It’s amazing to me the lengths they go to explain away these plainly stated statements in order to get them to fit into their theology.
The reason Jesus “came into this world to save sinners,” is because as sinners, we have all died (spiritually):
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ro 6:23)
That we have all died spiritually, is something Paul deals with in 2 Cor 5:14-15:
14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we thus conclude, that One died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him, who for their sakes, died and rose again.
Paul concludes that since Christ died for all, then that means all have died (spiritually). In other words, since we are all sinners, we have all died, thus it was necessary that Christ die for all, that all may have life through Him. Is it just “the elect” of Calvinism who have died spiritually? Of course not. Paul’s point is that there is no one who has not died spiritually, and not in need of what Christ’s death has accomplished.
The debate today is not “who has died,” but “for whom did Christ die?” But here Paul speaks as though there was no debate about that in his day, but speaks as though it was an understood fact that Christ died for everyone (not just for “the elect” of Calvinism). Thus the focus of Paul’s first statement is not on who Jesus died for, but on who died and needs life.
Note that Paul reverses his next statement. First he says, “One died for all, therefore all died.” Then he says, “all died, and He died for all.” In other words, since all have died, He died for all….excluding no one.
Paul then refers to “they who live.” Jesus died for all, but not all obtain spiritual life through Him. His death and resurrection provides the means of salvation for all, but is not automatically applied to all. It must be received by faith. Those who do, are instructed to live “for Him.”
To limit all these passages of Scripture to certain individuals, as Calvinism teaches, is out of harmony with the picture of the entire human race in the plight of sin and death, and in need of life….which Christ’s death and resurrection provides for.
If one is a sinner and helpless and ungodly, then they meet the requirements for whom Jesus came into this world to die for, and to save. Since we are all sinners and helpless and ungodly, then Christ died for each one of us. Since He died for all, then salvation is available to all. However, it’s not automatically applied to all. Securing this salvation individually, is a matter of responding to the light that God provides, and following it all the way to the cross. At that point, one must respond to the gospel message in faith, receiving Christ as Lord and Savior.