Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

John 17 and Luke 23

One point made often by Calvinists is that Jesus only prayed for the elect in John 17.  They point out that He only prayed for the elect in John 17 and this proves that He only intercedes for the elect.  Because Jesus did not pray for the lost in John 17, this shows that He came to die only for the elect.

However, two points are to be made.  First, a question.  I would ask Calvinists if they pray for their children?  They would hopefully answer yes.  My reply would be, “Does this mean then that you only love your children?”  Of course the answer would hopefully be no.  Simply because we find Jesus praying for His disciples in John 17 does not prove that He only died for the elect nor does it prove that Jesus only prayed for His disciples.

Secondly, I would point out in Luke 23:34 that Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  He was clearly praying for the sinners who were killing Him.  Was He then not praying for the sinners?  If John 17 proves that Jesus only prays for the elect and not the world then what about Luke 23:34?  It seems clear that Jesus prayed for the sinners here who were killing Him on the cross.  That is love indeed!

I don’t doubt for one moment that true disciples have a mighty high priest who prays for us before the Father (Hebrews 7:25).  Just tonight I was interceding and was so filled with joy over knowing that Jesus sits at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  At the Father’s side, Jesus is praying for His own.

But this doesn’t mean that I ignore the fact that Jesus shed His blood for all men (John 3:16; Romans 11:32; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 John 2:2).  In fact, this truth reinforces why we must preach the gospel to the lost.  The lost can be saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 6:37).  The lost can be found in the One who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  Our job is to preach; His job is to save (1 Corinthians 3:9; cf. Acts 2:47).  The Lord is faithful to save those who call upon His name in truth (Romans 10:13).  Those who repent are His own (Acts 2:38-39).  None will be condemned other than for rejection of the one true and living God (Romans 1:18-32).  Yet God is merciful and He has sent His Spirit to convict the world of sin (John 16:8).  His Spirit works through the preaching of the gospel to draw sinners to salvation (Romans 10:14-17).  God calls sinners to Himself through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

With 2 Corinthians 5:18-6:2 I stand:

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1  Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

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