Don’t the Arminians say that all the sins of all sinners have already been credited to Christ, and that this is ineffective? Well, no, they would not agree that it’s ineffective.
Arminians simply say that the whole thing is also conditioned on faith. While the Calvinist disagrees with the Arminian about the source of this faith, as long as the Calvinist does not talk of a federal union in which God has already credited the sins of the elect to Christ, they can share the same gospel.
They can also agree not to mention that the non-elect sinner cannot believe the true gospel. They can agree not to mention that the non-elect CAN believe the false gospel that God loves everybody and that “Christ” died for everybody.
Arminians live with a contradiction between the idea that the sinner decides if Jesus has died for her and the idea of assurance that “One has been sacrificed to pay your penalty.” But the non-Christian is not commanded to believe what may not be true. Even if a non-Christian is elect (so it’s then true that Christ died for her), that is not what we can or should be telling the non-Christian.
We can tell non-Christians about Christ’s effective death for the elect without telling them if they are elect or not. We don’t know if they are elect. We do know that Christ saves all for whom He died! Therefore it is not true or biblical to say that Christ “laid down his life for us if we would trust him”.
Because the elect’s sins were credited to Christ by the Triune God, Christ died for them so that they would believe the gospel.
An atonement has already been made for the elect alone. It is not true to say to the unbeliever: “or you can trust that someone else has suffered for your sins and paid the penalty for them.” An unbeliever can believe that, and also believe that her believing is what made that penalty to be effective in her case, but if she does that, she is still in her sins, and still worshiping a false God who cannot save.
The true gospel tells sinners that God is the one who put Christ to death for the sins of the elect, and that this same Christ will return a second time “without sin”, all the future sins of the elect having been paid.
We must be careful not proclaim the false Arminian gospel. The Bible talks about “us” and “our” sins, but it never resorts to an Arminian logic. Let us try to do the same thing. When we tell people that God saves “as many as” (whosoever) has faith in Jesus, let us make sure that we tell them for whom Jesus died. Faith is not what makes Christ’s death effective for us: the Holy Spirit is not the One who makes the atonement work.
Faith is not a qualification, but a result of Christ’s death, a benefit of Christ’s righteousness. (II Peter 1:1) It is true to say that “without trust we will know no benefit through his death” , but it not the whole truth, and it becomes a lie when we do not rule out the idea that trust is what makes the death work. And we cannot rule out trust as what makes the death work, unless we teach that trust is a result given to the elect because of Christ’s death for the elect.
My worry is not that some of the non-elect will be saved. But neither should anybody worry that the elect will not be saved if they told the truth that God has a non-elect and that God does not love all sinners.
Arminians assure their non-Christian friends that “God wants you to wake up to the spiritual peril you are in”. Certainly God commands in God’s law what God has not ordained to happen. But God’s gospel does not include any idea that God “wants” things to happen that will not happen.