The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who Takes Away The Sin Of The World!
This verse is used to prove that the Lamb of God died for every single human being. Is that what is being said by John the Baptist? If this is what is being said then the only option available is Universalism, which is not biblical and which Arminians do not accept. Why do I say that? It is because of the way that the work of the Lamb for the “world” is described. He is to take away its sin. How does the Lord Christ do that for every single human being? The expected answer is that for this to be effected we must believe, that is well and true (John 1:11-12). As Calvinists, we believe that both faith and repentance, the conditions of salvation, are granted to us by God based on Christ’s atoning death (Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; see here). Unbelief is a sin and that is certainly a sin for which Christ died (John 16:8-9; Heb. 3:12; Rev. 21:8). But if Christ takes away the sin of every single human being, then that should mean that everyone’s sins have been forgiven and therefore, Hell should be empty. But that is not usually what our Arminian brethren believe. We go back to Owen’s argument (see here). If unbelief a sin did Christ die for it or not? How has Christ according to Arminians taken away the sin of the world? Is this something that is a possibility based on conditions dependent on man? That does not seem to be what John the Baptist is saying. He says straightforwardly that He is to take away the sin of the world. He will not try, but He certainly will do. This is the purpose of His coming in the flesh. 1 John 3:5 uses a similar expression.
Now we are left with a problem if we understand the word world to mean all people without exception because that would lead to Universalism, which is contrary to Scripture by the fact that there still remains punishment for sin (e.g., Matt. 3:12; 25:46; Dan. 12:2; Jude 1:12-13; Rev. 14:11). It is unreasonable to think that the word means everyone without exception here. It simply means humanity in general, which in Jewish thought was composed of Jews and Gentiles. This is relevant to the situation as the Jews thought that the Messiah was Israel’s Messiah alone and that He would come for her alone, not for the nations. Therefore John, by using the word “world,” goes against their idea of Jewish exclusivity. What John is saying is thus that Christ, the Lamb of God foretold (Gen. 22:14) and typified through the sacrifice, is not only the atoning sacrifice for Jews, but also for Gentiles. He is the atoning sacrifice for the whole world. There is no reason to think that the extent of the atonement is to all people everywhere without exception when the purpose of the atonement is limited in scope.
It is perfectly fine to say that the Lord Christ died for the whole world if by that we mean that He is the only atoning sacrifice available and He died for people from everywhere under heaven. Check our comments on Revelation 5:9 above. In Revelation 5:9, the habitable world is described in terms of tribes, peoples, langu...