Meditate on this, I will.
Lionel Woods sparked a conversation about the atonement and the potential for Christ's death to be fruitless, if nobody choose Him.
In other words, what if Jesus died on the cross and nobody believed? Could that have happened? To take it further, did Christ's death on the cross accomplish something, or did it create the potential for something and, subsequently, the potential for nothing?
For what it's worth, I shared the following. Label it what you will, but I think it's what the Scriptures teach.
I think the Father chooses a people as a gift to the Son (John 6:37, 39), the Son dies for that people (John 10:15), and the Spirit brings those people individually to from spiritual death to spiritual life (Eph 2:1-3) so that they freely choose the Light of the world, else they never could (John 3:3; 6:44), because they would never want to (John 3:19-20).
This has to do with the limitation of the atonement, for some limit its scope (the who) while others limit its effect (the what), but everyone (except the universalists) limit the atonement in some way. I prefer to think of it as the intent of the atonement, for whom did Christ intend to die?
From John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, I leave you with the following:
The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:
In which case it may be said:
- All the sins of all men.
- All the sins of some men, or
- Some of the sins of all men.
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!"
- 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.
- But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?