Many Christians have an inadequate view of the death of Jesus. Many think that Jesus’ death is like a loaded gun. There’s a lot of potential, but the shot is not fired, salvation is not actually accomplished for anyone. Individuals, themselves, have to pull the trigger and then, and only then, is the shot is fired and our salvation is accomplished. The trigger is pulled, they contend, when we believe the gospel. Jesus thus potential died for all, but Jesus’ death is only really effective for those who pull the trigger.
The Bible has a different view of Jesus’ death.
According to the Bible, Jesus’ death is not just a loaded gun waiting for us to pull the trigger to make it effective. No, Jesus’ death is a loaded and fired gun. God loaded the gun and pulled the trigger. Jesus is not of only potential salvific value; it actually and effectively saves those it was intended to save. Jesus’ death actually and truly pays the price for all those God predestined. The sins of God’s elect were actually and truly paid for in the death of Jesus. Jesus’ death accomplished and secured the salvation of all those whom God foreknew.
God the Father chose us before the creation of the world. God the Son died to accomplish our salvation. God the Holy Spirit calls us to faith in time and history and applies that salvation to us.
Jesus’ death is not a potential salvation; meaning it’s really up to us to make it effective. Jesus’ death is an effective death that achieves the salvation of the people of God.
Further reading: Romans 8:29-30; Isaiah 53:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21 etc.
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(Thanks to JI Packer in his book “Knowing God” for drawing my attention to the fired gun metaphor.)