Owen now sets out to explore what the Bible has to say concerning the will of the Father and the Son, and their unity, the actual effect of Christ’s sacrifice, and those for whom Christ is said to have died.
First, the counsels of God and Christ. Christ came to save that which was lost(Matt. 18:10), namely, the lost sheep. Christ must succeed in his intention to save the lost, since it cannot be that God fails in his design. His intention to to save sinners(Matt. 1:21, 1 Tim. 1:15)(Owen 97). Not merely to make it possible, but to bring it about. Christ procures actual forgiveness for the seed whom God has given him(Isa. 53:10-12, Heb. 2:13)(Owen 97). He partook of flesh and blood in his incarnation in order to destroy the power of the devil(Heb. 2:14, 15), not to make it possible for sinners to escape the snare of the devil(Owen 97). Moreover, he partook of flesh and blood specifically for the children from God had given him (Heb. 2:13-15), not every single person without exception. Christ gave himself for the Church(Eph. 5:25-27), indeed, for “us”(Tit. 2:14)(Owen 98). He did so in order to redeem for himself a purified people. Had this been for everyone without exception, on condition of faith and repentance, it is conceivable that Christ might fail in his aim. He sanctified himself as a sacrifice specifically for those individuals whom God had chosen to constitute this redeemed people(Jhn. 17:19), namely, those whom God had given him(Jhn. 17:6), not everyone in general, since Christ expressly excludes those who will not be saved from his high priestly prayer(Jhn. 17:9). He sanctified himself in order that “they”, his sheep, might be sanctified(Owen 98). He gave himself for our sins(Gal. 1:4) to deliver us(Gal. 4:4-6)(Owen 98-99). He became a sin offering in order that in him we might become the righteousness of God(2 Cor. 5:21)(Owen 99). In each case, it is believers who are being spoken of.
From all this we conclude that the Father and the Son accomplished their intended goal, namely, to purchase for themselves a redeemed people from among the world’s mass of sinners. It is only for these the Father intended Christ to die.
Next, Owen explores the passages which speak of the actual effect of Christ’s sacrifice. Christ enters into the holy place by his blood, in order to obtain redemption for us(Heb. 9:12, 14)(99). An actual purging of sins occurs(Heb. 1:3) because, as established before, Christ’s high priestly intercession in the heavenly holy of holies is nothing but a continuation of his sacrifice(100). This intercession is the presentation of his body, and is solely for the elect(Jhn. 17:9). Since the intercession is solely for the elect, the sacrifice must have also been solely for the elect, since the two must be equal in extent, the latter being merely an extension of the former(For more explicitly scriptural warrant, we can revisit Jhn. 17:19). Christ bore “our” sins(1 Pet. 2:24), i.e., the sins of the elect, for the purpose of causing us to “live unto righteousness”(100). The effect of his stripes is our healing, having born our iniquities(Isa. 53:5, 6, 10-12)(100). He bore our curses for us (Gal. 3:13), actually and effectively satisfying God’s wrath for those for whom he bore the curse. The actual reconciliation of God, with man, the party from whom he was alienated, is also wrought by Christ’s death(Col. 1:21, 22, Eph. 2:13-16)(Owen 101). He brought us near by his death(Rom. 5:8-10, 8:33, 34), having purchased the Church with his blood(Acts 20:28)(Owen 101).
Owen next treats of those places where Christ is said to have obtained redemption for “many.” The blood of the New Covenant is shed for “many”(Matt. 26:28)(Owen 102). God’s servant shall justify many by bearing their iniquities(Isa. 53:11)(Owen 102). Christ came to give his life a ransom for “many”(Matt. 20:28, Mk. 10:45). He came to bring “many” sons to glory(Heb. 2:10). Who are these “many”? They are Christ’s sheep(Jhn. 10:15), the children of God scattered abroad(Jhn. 11:52). They are the brothers(Heb. 2:11) whom God gave him, who partook of flesh and blood(Heb. 2:13, 14). They are the ones for whom Christ prays, his Father having given them to him(Jhn. 17:2, 6, 9, 11)(Owen 102), who are preserved to the end because of Christ’s prayers(Jhn. 17:9). These are his “people”(Matt. 1:21) whom he redeemed(Lk. 1:68), chosen by him even before they had faith in him (Acts 18:10), for whom he suffered in order that he might sanctify them(Heb. 13:12)(Owen 102). While it is true that “many” can be used of every human in general, there are cases where is clearly refers to a large number(e.g., Dan. 12:2)(Owen 103-104).
The objector might point out that, though Christ did give himself as a ransom for many, and did lay down his life for his sheep, this does not entail that the benefits obtained were only for the “many”, or only for the “sheep”, but rather, only that it included them. However, shortly after Christ affirms that he came to die for his sheep(Jhn. 10:15), he expressly tells his opposition that they are not his sheep(Jhn. 10:26)(Owen 103). What else could this mean, except that he did not die for them? It is also worth noting that Christ says to those who are opposing him, “you do not believe because you are not part of my flock”(Jhn. 10:26). He does not say, “you are not part of my flock because you do not believe.” The reason that they do not believe is because the Father had not given them to Christ(cf. Jhn. 6:37). Note also, then, that John 6:37 says “All that the Father gives to me will come to me”, and not, “all who come to my my Father will then give to me.” The condition of their belief is whether or not they are elect. Whether or not they are elect is not conditioned upon prior belief (foreseen by God, or otherwise). Those who are his sheep, hear him, and obey. The reason there are those who do not hear him, and do not obey, are because they are not of his flock.
Owen, John. The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007. Print. 97-103.