A charge laid on Calvinist Christians who hold to particular redemption or limited atonement is that they cannot tell an unbeliever that Jesus died for that particular unbeliever. Aside from the debate on whether Jesus died generally for all, but only atoned particularly for the elect – must Christians say that “Jesus died for you” when sharing the gospel?
My answer is no.
Some object and ask how the gospel can be shared without the particular for you language. Below are two examples of The Father of Modern Missions sharing the gospel without the particular language about Jesus’ death.
I then told them how that God sent his own Son to save sinners; that he came to save them from sin; that he died in the sinner’s stead; and that whosoever believed in him would obtain everlasting life, and would become holy.1
You and I, and all of us are Sinners, and we are in a helpless state but I have good things to tell you. God in the riches of his Mercy became incarnate, in the form of Man. He lived more than thirty years on earth without Sin and was employed in doing good. He gave sight to the Blind, healed the Sick, the lame, the Deaf and the Dumb – and after all died in the stead of Sinners. We deserved the wrath of God, but he endured it. We could make no sufficient atonement for our guilt but he compleatly [sic] made an end of Sin and now he has sent us to tell you that the Work is done and to call you to faith in, and dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, leave your vain customs, and false gods, and lay hold of eternal Life through him. After much discourse of this sort we presented him with a copy of Matthew’s Gospel and three more to three other persons. He promised to read and make himself well acquainted with its Contents and then to converse more about it. It was now dark. I, therefore, prayed with them and we returned home.2
Now, just because William Carey was able to share the gospel without saying “Jesus died for you” does not mean it must be shared as such. However, Carey’s examples do answer the question of how a Christian might share the gospel without using particular language about Jesus’ death.
For what it’s worth…
- Eustace Carey, Memoir of William Carey, D, D.: Late Missionary to Bengal, Professor of Oriental Languages in the College of Fort William, Calcultta (Hartford: Canfield and Robins, 1837), 180. ↩
- Terry G. Carter, ed., The Journal and Selected Letters of William Carey (Macon, Ga.: Smyth & Helwys Pub, 2000), 149. ↩