What is the proper answer to this question?
Let me define what "unbelief" means here. The word pertains to the rejection of the Gospel. This is not having doubts but it is an active putting down of the Gospel. So another way of putting it is like this: Did Jesus die for the sin of rejecting the Gospel?
My answer to this question is to say "No". I answer this way because of what I am seing the Bible say - for example the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the unpardonable sin, it is rejecting that Jesus is the Messiah and Messiahship pertains to the forgiveness of sins - see Mt 12:31 and Mk 16:16.
I notice that those who come from a Calvinistic background, and those following John Owen's idea of Limited Atonement answers this in the affirmative. So they say "Yes" Jesus died for the sin of rejecting the Gospel because there is no sin that Jesus did not die for; because to say "No" (which the way I would answer the question) means that there is some sin that Jesus left off undone and that would be blasphemous. Jesus died for the sins of the elect (not the sins of the whole world, so they say) and all the sins of the elect have been paid for including - unbelief in the Gospel.
I do not want to go off topic, but I think it really depends on where the blasphemy is being re-directed, i.e. which one is blasphemous? To say Jesus died only for some people in the world or Jesus did not die for the sin of unbelief? I guess this is where we are different from our Reformed brothers/sisters.
The purpose why I posted this essay is so I can be helped in clarifying my own thoughts.
I have answered "No" to this question, but I am not so clear yet if I have adequately accounted for the biblical data. So I like some feedback and proper position of a.) the question and b.) the answer. I hope I could hear some of your thoughts on this.
Here is my additional take on the matter why I answered "No".
- Firstly from the idea of the Means of Grace - Word and Sacrament. This is what God uses to create the condition of faith that receives God's gift of forgiveness. What I mean is that the unbelief in the Gospel is the rejection of the actual giving of the forgiveness of sins as transmitted to us (i.e. delivered to us by God) by God packaged to us by the Word and stated again to us in visible form by God through the elements of water, bread, wine, i.e. the Sacraments. So Jesus died for all of us as people. He also died for us as sinners. This is an accomplished fact. But the delivery of that thing that Jesus accomplished at the Cross is still on going. That is why Paul urges us to be reconciled to God - 2 Cor 5:20. What Jesus did happened in the past, what the H.S. is doing today is to deliver the benefit of that through Word and Sacrament in our here and now, so sinning against the H.S. is rejecting the reconciliation that God is giving to us today. It is rejecting the work of Christ. This is tied to Justification By Faith Alone (JBFA) or Justification Through Faith Alone. Jesus said in Mk 16:16 that those who do not believe (the Gospel) will be condemned. The point I make is that God is still justifying people today, the basis of that justification is the past, but that justification happens in our life time.
- To say "Yes" has several implications: It means that the elect's sin of unbelief in the Gospel has been paid for, hence, even if they abandoned faith, they have been paid for - so this means they are saved and may be saved without faith. This is not JBFA. It really makes faith irrelevant. Further, it makes the Means of Grace of no concern and hence, there is no necessity for it. This is why I think the Lutherans fathers have always claimed that in the end, Calvinism's Limited Atonement effectively denies the Means of Grace. The belief in the Means of Grace - Word/Sacrament encourages faith, a teaching that effectively for example, makes the Sacraments of no consequence, effectively also does not boast faith. Now, one can argue the elect will never abandon faith (what about Heb 6:4)? At any rate, I ask of this position, how does one know he is elect? They answer - through their (perceived) inward change/ or a changed life (I wonder why this is acceptable and that of the Mormon's burning in the bossom's is not). I have not heard from that school answer any other way but for the subjective experience, which for me is not reliable. Lastly I notice with this answer, they also collapse the categories of reconciliation with justification which I am not prone to do.
NOTE: This is now obsoleted. Click here.