Q. Calvinists use verses like Matt 1:21, Luke 1:68, John 10:11 and John 17:1-2, 9 to say Jesus only died to save His people from their sin. But 1 Timothy 2:3-6 says Christ gave himself as a ransom for ALL men, not just His people. Can you help me reconcile this apparent contradiction?
A. Re: Matt. 1:21, Luke 1:68, John 10:11. Speaking to His Son, the Father said, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).
Although Jesus came to save all mankind, we have to choose to become one of “His people” and be saved. Otherwise everyone would automatically have salvation. Jesus said whosoever believes will have eternal life (John 3:16) and everyone who asks receives (Matt. 7:7-8). This means we all have the choice to be saved, but we have to ask in faith in order to receive it.
Re: John 17:2,9. Romans 8:29-30 tells us that God, who knows the end from the beginning, knew everyone who would ask for salvation before even one of us came to be. Those He foreknew He predestined (appointed) to have a place in His Kingdom. At the appropriate time in our life He calls us, knowing we will respond. When we do He justifies us by allowing the death of His son to pay the penalty for our sins. At that time He gives us to His Son. The Son becomes our Shepherd, as we have become His sheep, and He will never lose any of us (John 6:37-40). When we are raptured or resurrected He will glorify us.
So Jesus came to die for all mankind, but only those who accept His death as payment for their sins will be called His people. The choice is ours.