Allow me to preface this with the statement that I understand not all agree with this position on this topic. The truth is, several thoughts on this seem to be quite well supported Biblically, and we simply have to conclude that no one can lay claim to their position being proven absolutely by God’s Word. It does, however, represent what I believe to be true based on my reading and hopefully correct illumination by the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus paid it all, He paid it for all of us. Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient to cover the sin of every human past, present and future. Before readers get alarmed, please understand I am not saying that everyone from the past was saved, nor am I saying that all will be saved now or in the future. In fact, the majority of people from the past, people now and those who live in the future will not be saved and enter Heaven. The sad truth is the majority of humankind will spend eternity separated from God in a place of torment called Hell. So, please do not misunderstand; I am not espousing some form of Universalism, where everybody ends up in Heaven.
What am I saying then? I am simply saying that the quality of Jesus’ sacrifice and payment on the Cross was enough for all humanity to escape the penalty of their sins. Jesus’ payment was not just for an elect group of people whom God the Father has preselected in eternity past to be eternally with Him in Heaven. Not everyone will agree with that statement, of course, but this is what the Bible teaches.
God’s gift of salvation through the death of His Son Jesus Christ is available to all, but not all will accept it. Even though it is a free gift, there are terms under which we must accept. What are the terms? Repentance toward God for our sin and belief in His Son Jesus Christ. We must agree with God that our sin is wrong; we have to understand what we deserved as punishment for those sins. That covers repentance toward God. Then we must believe that God, in the form of the man Jesus Christ, came to Earth to pay on our behalf. Not only that He died, but He rose after three days dead thereby conquering sin and death. If we do that and call on the name of the Lord, we will be saved as we clearly learn in Romans 10:13.
How can we know that this salvation is available to all, and that our failure to have it is not because God denied it to us but because we refused it?
To understand this, we have to start at the very beginning. Because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve, we are all sinners by nature and choice. It is never a question of if we sin, but only a question of when. The Calvinists have it right on this point, really; we are so totally depraved that we are not even capable on our own of wanting to be saved from our sin. The sinful state we are born into is made clear in Romans 5:12 and 5:13, which teach us that sin and death entered into the world by one man, Adam.
We do not want to be saved, as we love our sin more. Left to our own devices, we would never seek God. Romans 3:10 and 13 tell us that not only is no one righteous, but none of us seek God. Romans 8:7 is yet more dire, teaching us that not only are we the enemies of God, but we are not even capable of accepting the things of God. In John 6:44, Jesus taught that no one would come to Him unless the Father drew them.
So even though we are not desiring or capable of seeking God, God has made provisions for us in order that we may overcome our inability. In Matthew Chapter 19 after the rich young ruler left disappointed, Jesus pointed out to His disciples how difficult it was for a man to be saved. When asked who could be saved, Jesus replied that with men it is not possible, but with “God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25,26) So, we see that we would only respond to God if He draws us. The good news is that we hear Jesus say in John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” God also draws all men unto Himself through the light of Jesus Christ; John 1:9 teaches us this light lights all men.
Atonement is not limited. It is available to all men. Scholars get around this clear teaching of Scripture by spinning what the Bible says when it says “all.” Of course any word can have more than one meaning including that one. But nothing in the context of any of the verses below suggest that “all” is limited in any way.
Hebrews 2:9, Jesus did “taste death for every man”
Hebrews 10:10 teaches Jesus body was offered “for all.”
John 12:47, Jesus came to save the World
Romans 5:8, Jesus died for sinners
Romans 5:18, Jesus free gift is offered to “all men”
Romans 8:32, Jesus was delivered up for “us all”
Isaiah 53:6, he bore the iniquities of “all”
2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Jesus died for “all”
2 Peter 2:1, Jesus even died for false teachers and liars doomed for Hell.
So, there you have it. It’s available to everyone. No one is denied it. Repentance toward God and belief in The Lord Jesus Christ and it’s yours.