Effectually, who is, “the world” in John 3:16?

I know many who are opposed to the Doctrines of Grace like to quote John 3:16 at us as a, “gotcha” proof text verse.  It usually goes something like this, ” Let’s read John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.)  See there, it says, “God so loved the world.”  I have one question for our friends, “What do you do with, “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  It is pretty obvious that the ones that are being saved are the ones who believe in Him.  If not, just look at the next few verses.

Here is a paraphrase of something Jon Owen penned, Jesus either paid for all the sins of all men, or some of the sins of all men, or all of the sins of some men, .  If He paid for all of the sins of all men, and only the unbeliever fails to make that justification effectual through the sin of unbelief, then Jesus did not pay for all the sins of all men.  If Jesus paid for some of the sins of all men, then men would still have sins that they would have to pay for.  We know this is not true as well.  The only position that harmonizes with the entirety of scripture is that Jesus paid all of the sins of some men.  He paid for the sins of the elect.

We can see in the following verses that the, “all who are being saved” are one in the same with the, “ones who the Father had given Him” and are also the, “ones who behold the Son and believe in Him.”

John 6:35-40 NASB Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. [36] “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. [37] “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. [38] “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. [39] “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. [40] “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

Romans 8:28-30 NASB And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. [29] For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; [30] and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

If just the ones who believe are being saved, that means the ones who aren’t believing are not being saved.  So He didn’t save the entire world.  He didn’t make salvation available for every person, and then leave it up to them to get saved.  They in their unbelief couldn’t and wouldn’t even try to get themselves saved.  Salvation is conditional and Christ meets the conditions of it for us.  We know that saving grace, faith, and repentance are different than there counterparts that lead to death.  Human grace, faith, and repentance are of no avail.  So the only, “whoevers” that will believe in a way that leads to eternal life are the elect of God.  So the ones who He died for are the elect.  They are the, “whoever” that the verse refers to.

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