1. The Father designed it:
“She (Mary) will bear a son, and you (Joseph) shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
2. The Son accomplished it:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” – (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
3. The Holy Spirit applies it to human hearts:
“And when he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” – John 16:8
“The Lord opened her heart (Lydia’s) to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” – Acts 16:14
Puritan John Owen (1616 – 24 August 1683) proposed the following concerning Christ’s substitutionary atonement for the sins of all for whom Christ died.
The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:
- All the sins of all men.
- All the sins of some men, or
- Some of the sins of all men.
In which case it may be said:
- That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.
- That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth (according to Owen).
- But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?
You answer, “Because of unbelief.”
I ask, is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!”
Of course, if you do not believe in Jesus Christ’s death as our substitute, for our sins, but subscribe to another view of the atonement, what John Owen proposed is not a matter of discussion you are interested in. But if you do believe in Christ’s substitutionary atonement, you might find Owen’s three possibilities worthy of thoughtful consideration and discussion.