Skip to comments.Calvinists And The Free Offer Of The Gospel
Posted on 11/06/2010 6:40:15 PM PDT by Gamecock
Evidence from the writings of the most eminent Calvinists that they believed that the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ is to be made to every individual sinner without any exceptions. My main source of reference are the books of my own modest library. It may be that better quotes can be secured elsewhere. However those quoted here will suffice to prove the point that orthodox Calvinism has always believed in the free, indiscriminate offer of the gospel both to elect and non elect alike.
ALBERT BARNES (19th Century American Presbyterian Commentator whose commentaries were recommended by Spurgeon. Only a 4 point Calvinist, denying the particular aspect of the Atonement.) "Whoever hears the gospel, let him go and invite others to come. Nothing could more strikingly set forth the freeness of the invitation of the gospel than this. The authority to make the invitation is not limited to the ministers of religion, it is not even confined to those who accept it themselves. All persons, even though they should not accept of it, are authorised to tell others that they may be saved. One impenitent sinner may go and tell another impenitent sinner that if he will he may find mercy and enter heaven. How could the offer of salvation be made more freely to mankind? the invitation is freely made to all to come and be saved. With what more appropriate truth could a revelation from heaven be closed?" (Commentary on Revelation 22:17)
LOUIS BERKHOF (20th Century American Presbyterian Theologian) "We believe that God "unfeignedly," that is, sincerely or in good faith, calls all those who are living under the gospel to believe, and offers them salvation in the way of faith and repentance The offer of salvation in the way of faith and repentance does not pretend to be a revelation of the secret counsel of God, more specifically, of His design in giving Christ as an atonement for sin. It is simply the promise of salvation of all those who accept Christ by faith. This offer, in so far as it is universal, is always conditioned by faith and conversion. Moreover it is contingent on a faith and repentance such as can only be wrought in the heart of man by the operation of the Holy Spirit. The universal offer of salvation does not consist in the declaration that Christ made atonement for every man that hears the gospel, and that God really intends to save each one It is not the duty of the preacher to harmonise the secret counsel of God respecting the redemption of sinners with His declarative will as expressed in the universal offer of salvation. He is simply an official ambassador, whose duty it is to carry out the will of the Lord in preaching the gospel to all men indiscriminately " (Systematic Theology BOT p.397-398)
LORRAINE BOETTNER (20th Century American Presbyterian Theologian. Famous for his definitive work on Roman Catholicism) "The decree of election is a secret decree. And since no revelation has been given to the preacher as to which ones among his hearers are elect and which are non elect, it is not possible for him to present the Gospel to the elect only. It is his duty to look with hope on all those to whom he is preaching, and to pray for them that they may each be among the elect. In order to offer the message to the elect, he must offer it to all; and the Scripture command is plain to the effect that it should be offered to all. Even the elect must hear before they can believe and accept, Romans 10:13-17" (Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. Eerdmans p.285)
HORATIO BONAR (19th Century Scottish Presbyterian. Pastor, author and hymn writer. Great soulwinner. Defended DL Moody in Scotland and claimed "seldom have I heard the doctrine of the divine purpose in election more unreservedly and unequivocally stated than by Mr Moody.") "Yet we honestly subscribe the Westminster Confession. We believe in Christ's redemption of His chosen Church; in the efficacy of His blood and the perfection of His righteousness. We believe in human impotence, in the bondage of the human will, in the enmity of the human heart to God. We believe in the sovereignty of Jehovah, and His eternal purpose. We believe in the absolute necessity of the Holy Spirit's work, alike before and after conversion. At the same time we preach a free and world wide gospel; we proclaim a free and world-wide invitation to sinners; we present to every sinner a gracious welcome to Christ, without any preliminary qualification whatsoever. We bid no man wait till he has ascertained his own election, or can produce evidence of regeneration, or sufficient repentance, or deep conviction. We tell every man, as he is, to go to the Saviour this moment, assured that he will not be cast out or sent away." (The Old Gospel booklet, reproduced in: Evangelism: A Reformed Debate reprinted by the James Begg Society p.56)
WILLIAM A BRAKEL (17th Century Dutch Theologian) There is a general and unconditional declaration to all, that is, to him who thirsts, who is without money, and who wills (Isa. 55:12; John 7:37; Rev. 22:17). He who neither wills nor is thirsty will refrain from coming. This is his own doing and he will be responsible, having been invited and having heard this general calling. Since many reject the gospel, it is necessarily offered to them, for whatever is not offered cannot be rejected. "It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles" (Acts 13:46). Many are disobedient to the gospel (2 Th. 1:8), and are disobedient to the Son (John 3:36). It thus follows that Christ was offered to them and they were commanded to believe in Christ. (The Christian's Reasonable Service)
CHARLES BRIDGES (18th Century Church of England Evangelical Minister and author. Noted for his commentaries on Psalm 119, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.) "The call is unfettered: not to devils, but to men: not to the righteous, but to the sons of men. Every child, therefore, of guilty Adam has his name in the warrant. It is the proclamation of the gospel 'to every creature' (Mark 16:15) Wherever the word reaches, the offer is made. Wherever a lost sinner be found on this side of the grave, the free welcome of the Gospel meets him. If he is not saved, he is more lost than ever. The ruin lies at his own door.(Matthew 23:37)" (Comments on Proverbs 8:4 BOT p.73)
THOMAS BROOKS (English Puritan writer) "The Lord Jesus Christ is offered most freely, and without exception of any person, every Sabbath, every sermon, either in plain and direct terms, or implyedly at the least." (Instructions for a Right Comforting of Afflicted Consciences, 1640, p. 185) "Now, pray tell me, what preparations or qualifications have these Laodiceans to entertain Christ? Surely none; for they were lukewarm, they were "neither hot nor cold", they were "wretched and miserable and poor, and blind, and naked", and yet Christ, to shew his free grace and his condescending love, invites the very worst of sinners to open to him, though they were no ways so and so prepared or qualified to entertain him." Sermon on Revelation 3:20 Works, Vol. 2, p. 77)
"The Lord does not in all the Scriptures require such and such preparations and qualifications before men come to Christ, before they believe in Christ, or entertain, or embrace the Lord Jesus" (Works, Vol. 1, p. 147.)
"God has nowhere in the Scripture required any worthiness in the creature before believing in Christ." (Works, Vol. 1, p. 147. Ibid, p. 144)
JOHN BROWN OF EDINBURGH (18th Century Scottish Presbyterian Minister and prolific author. Authored "The Self Interpreting Bible") "The free unlimited extent of the invitation-" If any man " The free and unrestricted nature of the invitation, now deserves notice. Not only is the descriptive character of those invited, "those who thirst," common to all human beings, but the invitation is so fashioned, that no human being can find the shadow of a reason for thinking himself excluded. 'If any man thirst - any human being, however mean, guilty, depraved, and wretched, wish to he happy - let him, in the belief of the truth about me, exercise the affections which that truth believed naturally produces, and he shall be happy.' It is not, 'If any man be deeply sensible of his guilt, depravity, and wretchedness, let him come to me and drink.' Such are invited;. but if that were all, as some have taught, thus, however unintentionally, clogging with conditions the unhampered offer of a free salvation, men might think that till they had brought themselves, or were in some way or other brought, into a state. of deep contrition, and earnest seeking after pardon, and holiness, and salvation, it would be presumption in them to come to Christ, or even look towards the Saviour for salvation. But the invitation is, 'Whosoever wishes to be happy, let him come to me, sinful and miserable as he is, and in me he shall find salvation. If thou art not a brute, if thou art not a devil-however like the one in sensuality, or the other in malignity-thou art invited. If thou art on earth, not in bell, thou art invited.' " (Comments on John 7:37 Discourses and sayings of our Lord. BOT Vol 2. p.9-10)
JAMES BUCHANAN (19th Century Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Theologian) "Of every man who reads or hears the Gospel, it may be affirmed that there is nothing betwixt him and salvation, except his own unwillingness to be saved. 'Ye are not willing to come to me, that ye might have life,' - that is the Saviour's charge and complaint. 'Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,' - that is the Saviour's call and invitation. The warrant of every sinner top believe in Christ to the saving of the soul is clear, it is written as with a sunbeam in Scripture: it lies wholly in the Word, which is the Spirit's message and not at all in the Spirit's witness in the heart. The warrant of the Word is ample; but if any feels that, even with this warrant in his hand, there is something within which keeps him back - a depraved heart, a rebellious will, a reluctant spirit - oh! let him acknowledge his own helplessness, and cast himself, with the simplicity of a little child, on the grace of the Spirit of God!" (The Office and Work of the Holy Spirit BOT p.45)
JOHN BUNYAN (Famous 17th Century English Independent Preacher and author of Pilgrim's Progress) "The gospel must be preached to sinners, as they are sinners, without distinction of elect and reprobate, because neither the one nor yet the other (as considered under these simple acts) are fit subjects to embrace the Gospel - for neither the one act nor yet the other doth make either of them sinners - but the Gospel is to be tendered to men as they are sinners and personally under the curse of God for sin; wherefore to proffer grace to the elect because they are elect, it is the proffer grace and mercy to them not considering them as sinners Thus you see the gospel is to be tendered to all in general, as well to the reprobate as to the elect, to sinners as sinners: and so are they to receive it and close with the tenders thereof." (Reprobation Asserted Chapter 9 Treasury of Bunyan p.709-710 Baker House)
"The grace that is offered to sinners as sinners, without respect to this or that person, it is a sufficiency of righteousness, pardoning grace, and life, laid up in the person of Christ, held forth in the exhortation and word of the gospel, and promised to be theirs that receive it Neither is it (the reason why the natural man does not receive the things of God) because the reprobate is not excluded in the tender, for that is universal." (Reprobation Asserted Chapter 10 Treasury of Bunyan p.710-711 Baker House)
WILLIAM C. BURNS (19th Century Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Missionary to China) "But what shall I say to those among you who have neither part nor lot in the matter of salvation? My heart is ready to break for you, when I think that, after all the solemn warnings you have received, and after all the pressing offers of Jesus that have been made to you in the name of God, you still remain in a state of heart ungodliness, or of open sin Oh! Dear fellow-sinner, it is high time for you to awake out of sleep!" Arise and come to Jesus now. He is crying, Come unto me, I will in no wise cast you out. The Father is ready to receive you into his family. The Spirit is striving with you, did you not resist him and grieve him away. Halt no longer between two opinions Yield yourself then, to the Lord as a lost sinner, and he will not cast you out. You have seen individuals around you, perhaps some of your own friends or companions, fleeing to Jesus: why did not follow them? Are you resolved to be left behind in Sodom and to perish in the flames?" (A letter to the people in the Highlands of Perthshire, Scotland. Printed in Sermons of WC Burns BOT p.202-203)
JOHN CALVIN (Famous 16th Century French Presbyterian Minister, Theologian and Reformer.) "The gospel is to be preached indiscriminately to the elect and to the reprobate: but the elect alone come to Christ, because they have been taught of God." (Isaiah 4:146)
"God invites all indiscriminately to salvation through the Gospel, but the ingratitude of the world is the reason why this grace, which is equally offered to all, is enjoyed by few." (Synoptic Gospels 1:116) Click Here for many other quotations from Calvin
MURDOCH CAMPBELL (20th Century Scottish Presbyterian Minister and author) "And since it is the will of God that none should perish but that all should return to Him and live, this precious invitation is not merely from mans heart or lips but from the heart of God Himself. We are but Christs ambassadors who plead with men to be reconciled to God. The blessed implication of these words, you will notice, is that the free offer of salvation and the invitations of the Gospel have the sanction of Gods Word. We find them in every part of Scripture. Our Lord addressed men in these words: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Since all men enter the world under a burden of guilt and sin these words are, therefore, addressed to "all". None is excluded. One of the last words in the Bible is "Come". The Spirit and the bride say "Come". The Church unites in uttering the same word as Christ and the Spirit. So do all who hear and obey Gods voice. To say that this appeal to men implies that they have some measure of ability to save themselves is not true. In the matter of salvation man, of himself, can do nothing. He is utterly helpless. But there are, on the other hand, three solemn facts which confront us in relation to the offer and invitations of the Gospel. The first is that man is accountable to God. Why shall the ungodly be excluded on the last day from the presence of God? Is it because they had lost all ability to come to Christ? No. "I was a stranger and you took me not in." He knocked at their door, but they kept it closed. How often, and in how many ways, has He knocked at your own? Another truth is that there is something we can do. This is not a contradiction of what we have just said. We can pray. We can cry for mercy. "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He included unto me and heard my cry." It is truly Gods power and hand that rescues us from the pit of sin; but, as in the case of the Psalmist, He does this in answer to prayer. Prayer is always the expression of our inability to save ourselves. You stay as you are and you will remain where you are. Keep silent and God may keep silent also. The cry of a drowning man cannot save him, but it may bring someone to his side who can rescue him. Let me ask the Lords people here this question. Was it not in answer to prayer, and with your eye upon Christ crucified, that the Lord saved you? I can almost hear the still small voice of a universal "yea" within the souls of all to whom the question comes." (Sermon on Numbers 10:29 from "The Everlasting Love" Knox Press)
THOMAS CHALMERS (19th Century Scottish Presbyterian - Prolific writer and theologian) "No plan can be more injudicious, than to mix up the doctrine of election with the original overtures of the Gospel. The doctrine of 'goodwill to men' will light up joy in all, for all know they are men; but the doctrine of 'good will to the elect' will light up joy in none, for no man can tell at the outset whether he is elected or not. By implicating, as some theologians unwisely do, the final acceptance with the original offers of the Gospel. Instead of pointing it with a surer aim to any, they may virtually be said to deny it to all. In no part of the Gospel is pardoned offered to man on the ground of his being one of the elect but everywhere on the ground of his being on of the species. In the Gospel the flag of invitation waves in the sight of all. It is not written upon it, 'Whosoever of the elect will, let him come and take of the water of life freely;' it is not said, 'Whosoever of a select and favoured few shall call upon me, shall be saved;' but 'Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." (Comments on Luke 2:13-14)
ELISHA COLES (17th Century English Pastor and Theologian) "In Acts 17:1-4, you have Paul preaching the same doctrine at Thessalonica. The same doctrine was propounded to all indefinitely; and it must be so, for the minister knows not the elect from other men; but the Holy Ghost, who searcheth the deep things of God, and hath the management of this work committed to him, he knew the elect by name (John 10:3) and accordingly took them: 'gathered them one by one' (Isaiah 27:12) each one in his proper time, 'and opened their ears to discipline' (Job 36:10) making them what they were chosen to be." (God's Sovereignty in Effectual Calling. SGU 1948 p.193)
JOHN COLQUHOUN OF EDINBURGH (17th Century Scottish Presbyterian Minister and writer) "But is it true that the offers of the Gospel, and the commandment to believe in Jesus Christ, are addressed to none but true penitents? Far from it. Christ with his righteousness and salvation is in the Gospel offered to sinners of mankind in common - to sinners as such; and sinners as such are invited and commanded to believe on His name, 'Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.' 'whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.'" (Repentance. BOT 1965, p.113)
EZEKIEL CULVERWELL (17th Century English Puritan) "The general offer doth not make all partakers of Christ: nor does the special partaking of Christ, hinder the general offer. By Offer I mean only the outward calling by the Gospel which none can deny to belong to many that are not chosen 'either there must bee some special mark of difference whereby it may be known, to whom the pardon is proclaimed, and to whom not, or else it must be general to all. But there is no such special certain difference between sinners before faith, whereby one may know the pardon is granted to him.The only way whereby any may know himself to bee contained under the pardon, is this, that he hears that God in his Gospel doth proclaim forgiveness of sin in Christ, without exception, to all sinners: that whosoever heareth and believeth shall be saved." (A Treatise of Faith p.151)
R.L. DABNEY (19th Century American Presbyterian Pastor and Theologian) "God's Indiscriminate Proposals of Mercy,As Related to His Power, Wisdom, and Sincerity". (Title of paper by R. L. Dabney) "Let us now re-present to ourselves the large number of texts in which God entreats sinners to turn from the ways of destruction. They are addressed by him to all men, without distinction of elect and non-elect. When, for instance, the Redeemer commands us to "preach the gospel to every creature," it is impossible by any exegetical pressure to make the words mean, "every elect creature," because he adds in the next verse (Mark 16:16), "He that believeth not shall be damned." (God's Indiscriminate Proposals of Mercy, As Related to His Power, Wisdom, and Sincerity)
CANONS OF DORT (17th Century Calvinistic Synod in Holland which refuted the 5 points of Arminianism) "This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel."(II/5).
JOHN ("RABBI") DUNCAN (19th Century Scottish Presbyterian and Professor of ancient History) "Although it be true that the elect only believe unto salvation, yet it is the convinced sinner, as such, and not the elect sinner, as such, that savingly believes. Yet the gospel being offered to all mankind sinners, God's elect, in believing, do condemn the world of unbelievers, because they receive Christ on no special ground, but offered to them as, in common with, others." (Comments on Q31 of the Shorter Catechism where Christ is said to be freely offered in the gospel. Quoted in 'Just a Talker' - an anthology of John Duncan by John M Brentall. Banner of Truth p.220)
JONATHAN EDWARDS (18th Century American Congregationalist Pastor, Theologian and writer. Saw Revivals constantly. Preacher of the famous Sermon: Sinners in the hands of an angry God.) "Seeing therefore that it is so evident, that you refuse to accept of Christ as your Saviour, why is Christ to be blamed that he does not save you? Christ has offered himself to be your Saviour in time past, and he continues offering himself still, and you continue to reject him, and yet complain that he does not save you. - So strangely unreasonable, and inconsistent with themselves are gospel sinners! That so glorious a person should be thus treated, and that when he comes on so gracious an errand! That he should stand so long offering himself and calling and inviting. As he has done to many of you, and all to no purpose, but all the while be set at nought. Surely you might be justly cast into hell without one more offer of a Saviour! yea and thrust down into the lowest hell! Herein you have exceeded the very devils; for they never rejected the offers of such glorious mercy; no, nor of any mercy at all." (Sermon on The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners. Works, Vol 1 BOT p.676/677)
"Pardon is as much offered and promised to the greatest sinners as any, if they will come aright to God for mercy. The invitations of the gospel are always in universal terms: as, Ho, every one that thirsteth; Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden; and, Whosoever will, let him come. And the voice of Wisdom is to men in general: Proverbs 8:4. 'Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.' Not to moral men or religious men, but to you O men. So Christ promises, John 6:37 'Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.' This is the direction of Christ to his apostles, after his resurrection, Mark 16:15. 'Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature: he that believeth and is baptised shall be saved.' Which is agreeable to what the apostle saith, that 'the gospel was preached to every creature under Heaven.' Colossians 1:23" (Sermon on Pardon for the Greatest Sinners. BOT Book "Jonathan Edwards on Knowing Christ" p271-272)
R. ELLIOTT BA (18th Century Church of England Minister - close friend and colleague of Whitefield) "The Scripture doctrine of election and predestination as we believe and preach it, is no discouragement to sinners, no bar to any one's conversion: for our warrant to come to Christ is not God's secret decree and purpose concerning us: but his inviting, calling and commanding us in his Word to repent and believe on Christ. No one indeed can prove, or know his election, but by his conversion to God, and obeying the Gospel. They that believe alright do not believe in Christ from the consideration of their being elected, but from the consideration of their being lost sinners, whom Christ came to seek and to save And he himself hath said, as you heard above, that if you come to him, he will in no wise cast you out: hence the Gospel is to be preached promiscuously to sinners, without distinction." (Funeral Sermon of George Whitefield Select Sermons of George Whitefield BOT p69-70)
EBENEZER ERSKINE (18th Century Scottish Presbyterian Minister and author) "Great things are done for the redeemed this year also. Only before I proceed to particulars, I would have you remember, that redemption in this situation of it, or considered in its revelation or exhibition, is a thing common to all the hearers of the gospel. Here we are to abstract from the secret decrees of election and reprobation, and to make open proclamation of redeeming grace and love in Christ to every creature under heaven; we are to tell every man and woman sprung of Adam, this good news, 'That God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;' that 'the promise is unto you, and to your seed, and to all that afar off, and to as many as the Lord our God shall call' by the sound of the gospel."(Beauties of Erskine by Samuel McMillan, Christian Focus Publications p.496)
GILES FIRMIN (16th English Puritan Minister ) "It is the duty of all the sons and daughters of Adam, who hear the Gospel preached, and Christ offered to them, to believe in, or receive Christ, whether they be prepared or not prepared." (The Real Christian, 1670, p. 2)
JOHN GILL (17th Century English Baptist Pastor and Commentator) HISTORICAL NOTE: "He was one of the most learned men that the Baptist denomination has ever produced. His great work, The Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, is still held in the highest esteem even by those whose sentiments widely differ from the authors. His Body of Divinity is also a masterly condensation of doctrinal and practical theology, and his Cause of God and Truth is highly esteemed by many. The system of theology with which many identify his name has chilled many churches to their very soul, for it has led them to omit the free invitations of the gospel, and to deny that it is the duty of sinners to believe in Jesus: but for this, Dr. Gill must not be altogether held responsible, for a candid reader of his Commentary will soon perceive in it expressions altogether out of accord with such a narrow system; and it is well known that, when he was dealing with practical godliness, he was so bold in his utterances that the devotees of Hyper-Calvinism could not endure him. "Well, sir," said one of these, "if I had not been told that it was the great Dr. Gill who preached, I should have said I had heard an Arminian." (C. H. Spurgeon writing about John Gill. 4 Volume Autobiography Vol 1 p.335)
WILLIAM GUTHERIE (17th Century Scottish Covenanter preacher and author) "Every one who is come to years of understanding and heareth this gospel, is obliged to take to heart his own condition, and God's gracious offer of peace and salvation through Jesus Christ, and speedily to flee from the wrath to come, by accepting and closing with this offer, heartily acquiescing therein as a satisfying way for the salvation of perishing sinners. And, that all may be the more encouraged to set about this duty, when they hear Him praying them to be reconciled unto Him, let them remember that peace and salvation are offered in universal terms to all without exception: 'If any man will,' he shall be welcome. (Rev xxii.17) If any thirst, although after that which will never profit, yet they shall be welcome here, on the condition aforesaid - [Quotes Isaiah 55:1-3] All are 'commanded to believe' This is His commandment, 'that we should believe on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.' (1 John iii.23) The promises are to all who are externally called by the gospel. God excludes none, if they do not exclude themselves - 'The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.' (Acts ii.39)" (Christian's Great Interest p.187-188 Taylor, Edinburgh edition. Since reprinted by the Banner of Truth)
JAMES HALDANE (19th Century Scottish Baptist Evangelist Brother of the equally famous Robert) "The Gospel announces that Christ came into the world to save sinners; it says to all and to each individual who hears it, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.' No discretion is given to us in preaching the Gospel; we are not entitled to preach it to some and withhold it from others. It is addressed to all. Its language is,--'To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.' 'Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God,' 'a just God and a Saviour.' The Gospel is Christ's voice, by which His blood-bought sheep are conducted into His fold, and thus separated from the goats. It is the rod of His power, by which He guides His flock, while to others it is a stumbling block and foolishness. 'I know My sheep,' says the Lord, and, by the means of the Gospel they are made to know Him... We are taught to lay the Gospel before all our fellow-men, not as if we were indifferent whether they received it or not, but to urge it on their acceptance. We see how tenderly and affectionately the Lord addressed the lost sheep of the house of Israel during his personal ministry, and how the Apostles besought men to be reconciled to God. And although many, both Jews and Gentiles, rejected the counsel of God against themselves, by these means the elect were gathered in, and obtained salvation, while the rest were blinded, Acts 13:48; Rom. 11:7; 2 Tim. 2:10 (Quoted by David Pointer "In defence of Common Grace")
T.C. HAMMOND (20th Century Irish Anglican Minister and great Contender for the Protestant faith) "It should be noticed that the problem (i.e. discerning for whom did Christ die) should not affect the preaching of the gospel. The Augustinian (in his ignorance of those whom God may call) must equally earnestly offer the fruits of the gospel to all whom he may preach." (In Understanding Be Men IVF p.130-131)
MATTHEW HENRY 17th Century Presbyterian Minister and great Bible Expositor II. The commission which he gave them to set up his kingdom among men by the preaching of his gospel, the glad tidings of reconciliation to God through a Mediator. Now observe, 1. To whom they were to preach the gospel. Hitherto they had been sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and were forbidden to go into the way of the Gentiles, or into any city of the Samaritans; but now their commission is enlarged, and they are authorized to go into all the world, into all parts of the world, the habitable world, and to preach the gospel of Christ to every creature, to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews; to every human creature that is capable of receiving it. Inform them concerning Christ, the history of his life, and death, and resurrection; instruct them in the meaning and intention of these, and of the advantages which the children of men have, or may have, hereby; and invite them, without exception, to come and share in them. This is gospel. Let this be preached in all places, to all persons. These eleven men could not themselves preach it to all the world, much less to every creature in it; but they and the other disciples, seventy in number, with those who should afterward to be added to them, must disperse themselves several ways, and, wherever they went, carry the gospel along with them. They must send others to those places whither they could not go themselves, and, in short, make it the business of their lives to send those glad tidings up and down the world with all possible fidelity and care, not as an amusement or entertainment, but as a solemn message from God to men, and an appointed means of making men happy. Tell as many as you can, and bid them tell others; it is a message of universal concern, and therefore, ought to have a universal welcome, because it gives a universal welcome. (Comments on Mark 16:15)
JAMES HERVEY (18th Century English Anglican Minister and author) "Should you say, Have I a warrant for such a trust? I reply, You have the best of warrants, our Lord's express permission, 'Whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.' It is not said, this or that person only, but whosoever, including you and me, excluding no individual man or woman. It is not said whosoever is worthy, but whosoever is willing. Wilt thou be made whole? was our Lord's question to the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda. Wilt thou, all terms and conditions apart, inherit grace and glory? is his most benevolent address to sinful men in all ages Do you still question whether these inestimable blessings are free for you? Remember, brethren, they are free for sinners. Is that your character? Then they are as free for you as for any person in the world " (Sermon on Hebrews 11:28 "The place of Safety" quoted by Ryle in Christian Leaders of the 18th Century BOT p.348-349)
THE HIGH CALVINISTS HISTORICAL NOTE: We could add quotations from others, but the above are from well known, representative, sound, Calvinistic divines; several of them high Calvinists. Yet their holding firmly to the spiritual inability of the natural man, to unconditional election, particular redemption, and the effectual call of the Spirit, did not tie their hands in preaching the Gospel freely, pressing upon their hearers their responsibility, and calling upon them to repent and believe."(Arthur Pink on Duty Faith From Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 15, no. May 1936)
ALEXANDER HODGE: (19th Century American Presbyterian Theologian and author) Question: How does this doctrine [Predestination] consist with the general gospel offer? Answer: "In the general offers of the gospel God exhibits a salvation sufficient for and exactly adapted to all, and sincerely offered to every one without exception, and he enfolds all the motives of duty, hope, fear etc., which ought to induce every one to accept it, solemnly promising that whosoever comes in no wise shall be cast out. Nothing but a sinful unwillingness can prevent any one who hears the gospel from receiving and enjoying it. The gospel is for all, election is a special grace in addition to that offer. The non-elect may come if they will. The elect will come. The decree of election puts no barrier before men preventing them from accepting the gospel offer. Any man, elect or non elect, will be saved if he accepts. The non-elect are left to act as they are freely determined by their own hearts. There is just as great an apparent difficulty in reconciling God's certain foreknowledge of the final impenitence of the great majority of those to whom he offers and upon whom he presses, by every argument, his love with the fact of that offer: especially when we reflect that he foresees that his offers will certainly increase their guilt and misery." (Outlines of Theology p.229 Banner of Truth)
CHARLES HODGE: (19th Century American Presbyterian Theologian and author) "According to the Calvinistic scheme the non-elect have all the advantages and opportunities of securing their salvation, that, according to any other scheme, are granted to mankind indiscriminately. Calvinism teaches that a plan of salvation adapted to all men and adequate for the salvation of all, is freely offered to the acceptance of all, although in the secret purpose of God He intended that it should have precisely the effect which in experience it is found to have. He deigned in its adoption to save His own people, but consistently offers its benefits to all who are willing to receive them. More than this no anti-Calvinist can demand. (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. II, p. 644)
ERROL HULSE: (21st Century Baptist preacher and Conference speaker) "The free offers of the Gospel. The Lord invites all men to himself. He freely invites them to come to him as they are and not because of anything good or righteous they may find in themselves. The sinner does not look to see if he has worthiness, or if there are preliminary signs of grace in him. We should be free, flexible and fervent in our preaching of the free offers of the Gospel. In other words we must not in any way be stiff or starched or hampered. If the doctrines of grace hamper the preacher in any way it indicates that he has not grasped their implications. The Puritans can help us a very great deal here. They were marvellously free, They had the doctrines of grace; they held to particular redemption absolutely, but this never hampered them in their preaching of the free offers of the Gospel. There is great joy in offering the Gospel, because the Holy Spirit often favours Scripture passages containing Gospel invitations and applies them with power to sinners." Click here for quote
GEORGE HUTCHESON (17th Century Scottish Presbyterian Minister and Commentator) "The propounding of this condition, "If any man thirst," is not to be understood as if we must first beget sense of need in ourselves and then come to Christ; nor doth it warrant any souls who would be at Christ to seclude themselves because they think they are not thirsty; for albeit it do point out what is our duty, yet it is his work to beget it who sends his work before him, that he ma bring his reward with him, (Isaiah 40:10) and who by offering of grace as a mean doth ofttimes beget it; but the scope is rather to invite men to come upon this ground, that if they come indeed, they do, by their coming, prove they have thirst, whatever they think of themselves, and that any who are come this length, that they would come if they had thirst, they may come with what they have, and get more thirst by coming to him; therefore are all these conditional offers summed up in this. "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely," Rev. 22:17. It is Christ's will that thirsty souls should not only come to him by humble dependence, but that should enlarge themselves and partake of their privileges and his refreshments, that so they may be satisfied and acquiesce in him, may confirm themselves in their choice of him, and for sake other delights, and may refute their own tentations and unbelief by tasting how good he is; for it is his will they come to him and drink, or partake largely of his refreshments. (See Song of Solomon 5:1 ; Psalm 81:10)" (Commentary on John 7:37 BOT p.151)
THOMAS JONES (DENBEIGH): (Prominent Welsh Calvinistic Methodist) "I believe also that He has given commandment to his ministers to preach Him, to offer Him, and to commend Him as one to be accepted by all their hearers. They are to accept Him, not as elect, redeemed and sanctified people, but as guilty, polluted and lost people." (Conversations between Enquirer and Oldman, p.123 Quoted in The Atonement Controversy by Owen Thomas, Banner of Truth Trust p.199)
BENJAMIN KEACH: (17th Century English Baptist Pastor and author) "It shows also that every man and woman, that rejects the offers of grace (though not such that were elected) shall be left without excuse at the day of judgement, they shall all be speechless; and it shall be manifested unto their own consciences, that it was for their own horrid wickedness, and refusing to accept of Christ, that they shall be cast and condemned at that day But ministers are to do what they can. They are to invite them, press them, intreat and persuade them to come Another shall say, Lord, I was not elected, as these were, let me be excused. No, this will be no plea or excuse in the great day? Then will they see and know that the cause of their damnation will be just and righteous, it being the only procurement of their own evil doings, and for making light of the gospel and offers of grace." (Comments on Parable of the Great Supper Kregal p.100/102/104)
JOHN KENNEDY OF DINGWALL: (19th Century Scottish Presbyterian Minister) "And what but utter incapacity could fail to see, that to insist on what is required in order to a cordial reception of Christ, as was done in Christ's dealing with Nicodemus, quite harmonises with a clear trumpet ring in proclaiming the call of the gospel to all." (A reply To Dr Bonar reproduced in: Evangelism: A Reformed Debate reprinted by the James Begg Society p.139)
HISTORICAL NOTE: "This charge (Hyper Calvinism) was without a foundation, for no man in his generation made more conscience more than he did of proclaiming as the Gospel a message that was as full as it was free and as free as it was full." (John Macleod: Scottish Theology Knox Press p.328)
ABRAHAM KUIPER (20th Century Dutch Theologian and one time Prime Minister of Holland)
"The Reformed theology insists that God Himself, who has determined from eternity who are to be saved and who are not, and therefore, distinguishes infallibly between the elect whom he designed to save by the death of Christ and the reprobate whom he did not design to save, makes on the ground of the universally suitable and sufficient atonement a most sincere, bona fide, offer of eternal life, not only to the elect but to all men, urgently invites them to life everlasting, and expresses the ardent desire that every person to whom this offer and this invitation come and accept and comply with the invitation." (Quoted by David Pointer "In defence of Common Grace")
MARTIN LUTHER (16th Century Reformer, Theologian and prolific author. Famous books include "Bondage of the Will" which speaks for itself.)
"We have often said heretofore that the Gospel, properly speaking, is not something written in books, but an oral proclamation, which shall be heard in all the world and shall be cried out freely before all creatures, so that all would have to hear it if they had ears; that is to say, it shall be preached so publicly that to preach it more publicly would be impossible. For the Law, which was of old, and what the prophets preached, was not cried out in all the world before all creatures, but it was preached by the Jews in their synagogues. But the Gospel shall not be thus confined; it shall be preached freely unto all the world." (Sermon on Mark 16:15 Preach the gospel to every creature)
J. GRESHAM MACHEN (20th Century American Theologian and author) "What a great mistake it is, then, to think that the doctrine of predestination is contrary to the free offer of salvation to all. Of course, it remains true in the fullest and richest sense that whosoever will may come. None who will trust in Christ is excluded. None, I say, none without any exception whatsoever. Never have we any right to assume that any man or group of men that we can name is outside of God's plan of salvation; never have we any right to assume that any man upon this earth is beyond the reach of the grace of God; never have we any right to withhold the gospel from any man where ever he may be."(The Christian View of Man BOT p.78)
JOHN MURRAY (20th Century Scottish Presbyterian Theologian and author) "The question then is: what is implicit in, or lies back of, the full and free offer of the gospel to all without distinction?" (The Free Offer of the Gospel. Collected Writings of John Murray, BOT p. 113)
ROBERT MURRAY McCHEYNE (19th Century Scottish Presbyterian Minister) "No one ever came to Christ because they knew themselves to be of the elect. It is quite true that God has of his mere good pleasure elected some to everlasting life, but they never knew it until they came to Christ. Christ nowhere invites the elect to come to Him. The question for you is not, Am I one of the elect? But, Am I one of the human race?" (Sermon on Proverbs 8:4: "Unto you O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man" Remains of McCheyne BOT edition p.369)
KENNETH McCREA (Eminent 20th Century Free Church of Scotland Minister - Stornaway) The act of faith then is consequent upon a persuasion of the fact that Christ is both able and willing to save. Apart from this, the act of faith, the closing of the sinner with Christs offer of salvation, is impossible It involves the belief that the efficacy of His work is offered to sinners It is not offered to the elect alone. Rejectors among Gospel hearers will be held responsible for what they have done. Christs ministers are comissioned to preach the Gospel to every creature. This must be fully realised - that Christ is genuine in offering salvation to all who hear the Gospel, no matter how sinful they may be it involves the conviction that His word is a real personal message to you.
Thus God speaks. You need wait for no dream or vision as a messenger from God. When you hear His Word - or read it - God speaks to you: to you personally as apart from all others, and He means what He says. You will never be saved until you accept the Word as bearing directly upon your own case It involves the persuasion that He will save you from the wrath to come if you look to Him to do so But what warrant have I? you ask. A better warrant you could not have. The Gospel itself is your warrant, for so to trust Christ is exactly what the Gospel asks you to do. This is what Christ Himself pleads with you to do Matt 11:28-30; Rev 22:17, and surely Christs own invitation to your soul is far better than any dreams or visions or frames or feelings. This season of exercise unimproved may seal your doom eternally. Let none therefore tempt you back to the world. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven Heb 12:25. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. (A word to the anxious) BROWNLOW NORTH BY K. MOODY STUART (19th Century Scottish Evangelist) HISTORICAL NOTE: "His Calvinism did not in any way hamper him in declaring the freest offer of salvation to all, and to pressing its instant acceptance upon every sinner to whom the offer came. The salvation he preached was as free as the sunlight, as authoritatively pressed on every gospel hearer as the august command of God can press it, and as urgent as it can be made by the exactest meaning of the word NOW. Sufficient for all, suitable for all, offered in gift for all, pressed upon the immediate acceptance of all by the invitation, the entreaty, and the commandment of God, such was his gospel - and can anything be more free, more full and more unfettered? No doubt he also insisted on the natural aversion to it, inability to understand it, and incapacity to receive it. But over against this he held out an offer and gift of the Spirit as free as the offer and gift of the Saviour, thoroughly to overcome that aversion, to remove the blindness of the understanding and the alienation of the affections. Human language cannot express a salvation more overflowingly full and more unconditionally free: God offering His Spirit to lost and helpless sinners as freely and as unconditionally as He offers His Son." (Life and Work of Brownlow North. BOT p135-136)
JOHN OWEN (17th Century English Congregationalist Minister, Theologian and prolific author. Wrote famous treatise: "Death of Death in the Death of Christ" and authored an eight [large] volume commentary on Hebrews - the first two being introductory remarks.) "Perhaps some will say it is in this, that if Christ did not die for all to whom the word is preached, then how can they that preach it offer Christ to all? Answer What do the preachers of the gospel offer to them to whom the word is preached? Is it not life and salvation through Christ, upon the condition of faith and repentance? And doth not the truth of this offer consist in this, that every one that believeth shall be saved? And doth not that truth stand firm and inviolable, so long as there is an all-sufficiency in Christ to save all that come unto him? Hath God intrusted the ministers of the gospel with his intentions, purpose, and counsels, or with his commands and promises? Is it a lie, to tell men that he that believeth shall be saved, though Christ did not die for some of them?" (The Atonement)
PATERSON ON THE SHORTER CATECHISM (19th Century Scottish Presbyterian Minister. Wrote a famous commentary on the Shorter Catechism. Died when only 24 years old) "The gospel offer is tendered to all as sinners of Adam's race; for, were this not the case, the gospel could not properly be called "good news or glad tidings of great joy to all men"-Luke 2:10-11 There is no qualification required to fit us for having a right to the offer of salvation by Christ in the gospel, because none is necessary. All are invited to come just as they are, with all their sins; and although Christ saith, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;" it only implies that they alone who are in this situation come to him. Others will not accept of him in the offer, not because they have no need of him, but because they know it not, concluding that all is well with them." (On Question 31 p120-121)
WILLIAM PATTON (19th Century Irish Presbyterian Minister. Greatly used of God in the 1859 Revival. ) "Remember that Christ's atonement is for sinners. Whatever else may not be for sinners, Christ's death is for none but sinners, and it is offered freely to you as freely as to any other person in the world. No person in the world ever had any better offer of Christ than you have. There is nothing freer to you upon the earth than the death of Christ. It is as free to you as the rain from heaven. You have no right in yourself to Christ's death, but he offers it to you, beseeching you to accept it, and to give Him the credit and pleasure of saving you. If He did not offer it to you, you would have no right to take it; but when He offers it, it is no presumption to take it. Nay, it is the height of presumption not to take it - a great sin, and as a great folly as well." (Pardon and Assurance. Chapter Entitled: Christ's work finished and free to all. p.142)
[Answering the sinner's objection: I fear I am not elected:] " What you have to discover is, not that you are an elect saint, but that you are a lost sinner. When you have discovered this, and have been enabled by divine grace to take Christ as your Saviour, and thus make your calling sure, your election will be sure also Your rule of duty is not what is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, but what is written in God's Holy Word. The Bible tells us you that the mercy of God is infinite, and that the merits of Christ are infinite, and that the Holy Ghost saith - Today. Take God at His word and trust your soul on the merits of Christ; and you need not fear election. It is a false inference from the doctrine with which Satan is troubling you. If you neglect salvation from a decree which you do not understand, then sin lies on your own head - you are lost because of your unbelief. Why should you think that you are not one of the elect? No human being out of hell can ever know that he is not. You have as good a right to believe yourself one of the elect as any unconverted sinner that ever lived." (Pardon and Assurance p.158)
WILLIAM PERKINS (16th Century Church of England Minister and Theologian) "With the promises there is joined an exhortation or command to believe, which is more general than the promise; because the promise is only made to believers; but the commandment is given to believers and unbelievers also. For the elect are mingled with the wicked in the same assemblies, and therefore the ministers of the Gospel ought indiscriminately to exhort all and every one to repent." (W. Perkins Vol. 1, p. 379;)
ARTHUR PINK (20th Century Author. Was relatively unknown while he lived his books much sought after by those of the Reformed Faith.) Although early on Pink was evidently not happy with the term "offer" as the following quote proves yet when you read the whole paragraph, you can see how he still believed that indiscriminately, all are commanded to fulfil the terms which God has announced upon which they may be saved. Although the wording (in light of the controversy) is unfortunate, I think Pink is contending more for the thought that God does not have a begging bowl in His hand but is exercising His right as God to command men to believe. He does not say that the gospel is not an invitation at all, but that it is no "mere invitation"
"Concerning the character and contents of the Gospel the utmost confusion prevails today. The Gospel is not an "offer" to be bandied around by evangelical peddlers. The Gospel is no mere invitation but a proclamation, a proclamation concerning Christ; true whether men believe it or not. No man is asked to believe that Christ died for him in particular. The Gospel, in brief, is this: Christ died for sinners, you are a sinner, believe in Christ, and you shall be saved. In the Gospel God simply announces the terms upon which men may be saved (namely, repentance and faith) and, indiscriminately, all are commanded to fulfil them." (1929 edition of the Sovereignty of God)
Around this same time, Pink was preaching the gospel and closing his sermons with indiscriminate appeals like the following: "Why not believe in him for yourself? Why not trust his precious blood for yourself, and why not tonight? Why not tonight, my friend? God is ready, God is ready to save you now if you believe on him. The blood has been shed, the sacrifice has been offered, the atonement has been made, the feast has been spread. The call goes out to you tonight. 'Come, for all things are now ready.'" (Studies in the Scriptures 1927)
Later on, Pink did come to use the phrase "free offer of the gospel" He gives the following reason why he rejected some of William Huntington's ministry:
" Mixed up with considerable truth (or none had so readily swallowed his poison) were errors of a serious nature, such as his repudiation of the free gospel offer to all who hear it, his denial of duty repentance and duty faith " (Letter to John T. McNee May 1947 Quoted by Iain Murray in the Life of Arthur Pink BOT p.138)
"The gospel is as free as the air, and I Timothy 1:15 gives us full warrant to tell a murderer in the condemned cell that there is a Saviour for him if he will receive him The ground on which any sinner is invited and commanded to believe is neither God's election, not Christ's substitution, but his particular need of responding to the free offer of the gospel. The gospel is that Christ died for sinners (not "elect sinners") and is addressed to their responsibility." (Letter to William Naismith 1949 Quoted by Iain Murray in the Life of Arthur Pink BOT p.195)
"Particular redemption (Christ making atonement for the sins of his own people only) must not prevent his servants from preaching the gospel to every creature and announcing that there is a Saviour for every sinner out of hell who appropriates him for his own." (Studies in the Scriptures March 1951)
"Unto the objection that to call upon the unregenerate to turn from the world and come to Christ is to inculate creature-ability and to feed self righteousness, we ask, Were Christ and his Spirit-taught apostles ignorant of this danger? Were men so mightily used of God as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and C.H. Spurgeon wrong, when , in promiscuously exhorting all their hearers to flee from the wrath to come, they followed the example of John the Baptist and the Son of God?" (Quoted by Iain Murray in the Life of Arthur Pink BOT p.232 On Preaching Human Responsibility)
THE PURITANS (17th Century Ministers who left the Church of England en-mass in 1662and helped form the Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists etc., in England)
HISTORICAL NOTE: "Linked closely with my memories of Boston are recollections of the great value I derived from my reading of "The Marrow of Modern Divinity" by Edward Fisher. Were a book to be published under the same title today it might well be regarded with the greatest suspicion by evangelicals. But Fisher's book is a Godsend. It was the book that sparked off the famous Marrow Controversy in the Church of Scotland in and after 1717. Boston was serving in Simprin parish before he went to Ettrick. A Scottish soldier who had served in the wars of the Commonwealth period in England brought it back to Scotland and kept it on his cottage bookshelf. Boston borrowed it and was tremendously impressed by its contents. The date of its first publication was 1645-9, by which time apparently some were advocating a 'close' in preference to an 'open' gospel, that is to say, close or open as far as the proclamation of the gospel was concerned. The book consists of a series of dialogues, with numerous excerpts from standard divines, especially those of Puritan persuasion. Boston, sensing that the book's thrust would be beneficial in his own day, introduced it to others, and ere long 'Marrow-men' found themselves in heated controversy with men of narrower views. It became a tug of war between 'Marrow-men' and narrow men. The work was influential for good." (S.M. Houghton My Life and Books. BOT p.59-60)
THE PURITANS BY C.H. SPURGEON: (17th Century Ministers who left the Church of England en-mass in 1662and helped form the Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists etc., in England)
HISTORICAL NOTE: "I have all the Puritans with me - the whole of them without a single exception." (C.H. Spurgeon on his battle with hyper Calvinists over the free offer. MTP 7:p. 271)
ANDREW FULLER ON: CALVIN, GOODWIN, OWEN, CHARNOCK, FLAVEL AND BUNYAN (Apart from Calvin [See note above] 17th Century Ministers who left the Church of England en-mass in 1662and helped form the Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists etc., in England)
HISTORICAL NOTE: "Were you to read many of Calvin's sermons, without knowing who was the author, you would be led, from the views you appear at present to entertain, to pronounce him an Arminian; neither would Goodwin, nor Owen, nor Charnock, nor Flavel, nor Bunyan, escape the charge. These men believed and preached the doctrines of grace: but not in such a way as to exclude exhortations to the unconverted to repent and believe in Jesus Christ." (Andrew Fuller writing to a hyper Calvinist: Complete Works of Andrew Fuller. London 1841 p.889)
BISHOP J.C. RYLE (19th Century Church of England Minister and author. A 4 point Calvinist though - holding to Unlimited Redemption. Despite this my favourite author!) "For another thing, the doctrine of Election was never meant to prevent the fullest, freest offer of salvation to every sinner. In preaching and trying to do good we are warranted and commanded to set an open door before every man, woman, and child, and to invite every one to come in. We know not who are God's Elect, and whom He means to call and convert. Our duty is to invite all. To every unconverted soul without exception we ought to say, "God loves you, and Christ has died for you." To everyone we ought to say, "Awake,-repent,--believe,- come to Christ,-be converted,-turn -call upon God,- strive to enter in,---come, for all things are ready." To tell us that none will hear and be saved except God's Elect, is quite needless. We know it very well. But to tell us that on that account it is useless to offer salvation to any at all, is simply absurd. Who are we that we should pretend to know who will be found God's Elect at last? No! indeed. Those who now seem first may prove last, and those who seem last may prove first in the judgement day. We will invite all, in the firm belief that the invitation will do good to some. We will prophesy to the dry bones, if God commands us. We will offer life to all, though many reject the offer. In so doing, we believe that we walk in the steps of our Master and His Apostles." (Old Paths. Election: James Clarke edition p468-469)
THOMAS SCOTT (18th Century Church of England Minister and author. Great friend of John Newton who was instrumental in his conversion.) "Acts 13:38-41 He [Paul] was sensible, that there were despisers in the company, whom he warned of the consequences of unbelief: yet he preached forgiveness of sins and justification by faith to fall present, without exception; which he would not have done, if the gospel had not been a sufficient warrant to authorise every one of them to believe in Christ for salvation." (The Sinner's Warrant for Believing in Christ. Section 2 p.625)
"On the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, "If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink." (John 7:37) Non one in large company, who thirsted for salvation, or happiness, was excluded by the terms of this proclamation. But, lest any should suppose that this only warrants the faith of such as are conscious that they thirst in a spiritual manner: he afterwards, appearing in a vision to his servant John, explains his meaning more fully; "Let him that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17) This is surely a sufficient warrant for everyone that is willing: and however unencumbered or universal the invitation may be, none but the willing can be expected to comply with it." (The Sinner's Warrant for Believing in Christ. Section 2 p.625)
SCOTTISH CALVINISTS HISTORICAL NOTE: "Those among Scottish Calvinists who have restricted the offer of the Saviour and of salvation in Him to the elect have been almost an negligible minority."(Scottish Theology by John Macleod Knox Press edition p.166)
W.G.T. SHEDD (19th Century American Presbyterian Theologian and author) "God offers Christ's sacrifice to every man, without exception, and assures him that if he will trust in it he shall be saved, and gives him common grace to help and encourage him to believe. This is a proof that God loves his soul and desires its salvation. But God does not, in addition to this universal offer of mercy, promise to overcome every man's aversion to believe and repent and his resistance of common grace. Election and preterition have no reference to the offer of salvation or common grace. They relate only to special grace and the effectual application of Christ's sacrifice. The universal offer of mercy taught in this section evinces the universality of God's compassion towards sinners." (Calvinism: Pure and Unmixed. BOT p.27)
THOMAS SHEPHERD (17th Century English Puritan and author who later lived in America. ) "Consider he makes love to thee. Not one soul that hears me this day but the Lord Jesus is a suitor unto, that now ye would be espoused to him; "He came unto his own, and they received him not." Whatever the secret purpose of Christ is, I regard not. In this evangelical dispensation of grace, he makes love to all. John 1:12. It is clear. Matthew 22:2-3 If there be a gospel in the world, there is this love of Christ yearning toward all, especially all that have this gospel of peace sent to them. Luke 2:10 "It is tidings of great joy to all people," as law is tidings of great sorrow to all people. Luke 2:14 Angles from heaven preached this goodwill towards men. For if the challenge of love from men be founded on his actual love to some, having died for some, then the offer would be particular. But it is grounded, 1. On his own worth and glory, and hence he challengeth love. 2. On this, for aught I know, he has loved me. So that thou art not so vile but the Lord Jesus' heart is toward thee, and his eye is upon thee for love." (Parable of the Ten Virgins Soli De Gloria Reprint p.44)
RICHARD SIBBES (17th Century English Minister and author) (Answering the objection why does Christ by the ministry persuade all in the church to believe in Christ and for to believe in the forgiveness of sins, if Christ did not die for them all, or in other words why do Calvinists offer Christ to the non elect?) "I answer, that in the church he calls all, that he may cull out his own. The minister speaks promiscuously both to the elect and those that are not, because God will not rob his own children of the benefit, though they are mingled with others to whom the blessed things do not belong " (Sermon on Galatians 2:20 Expositions of St Paul BOT p.389)
"Christ's love is propounded to all in general" (Sermon on Galatians 2:20 Expositions of St Paul BOT p.389)
GARDINER SPRING (19th Century American Presbyterian Preacher and author) "The cross respects men as sinners: it addresses them as sinners. In its boundless all-sufficiency it has no concern with them in a numerical view; but regards them as those relations to the law of God are so changed by this effective propitiation, that all external obstacles are graciously removed. No matter who he is, or where he dwells; no matter what his ignorance, or how many or how aggravated his sins; if he belongs to the family of man, the cross is the remedy fitted to reach him in all his woes. There is no locality, or condition, and no variety of the human species, to which the narrative of the cross and its great and glorious truths and its ineffable love and mercy are not alike applicable They are sufficient for the race, and, so far as their unembarrassed sufficiency goes, were designed for the race. The proof of these remarks from the Scriptures is abundant, and familiar to every reader of the Bible. [Quotes: Mark 16:15/Revelation 22:17/Isaiah 55:1] These and a multitude of passages of similar import, are expressly addressed to all men, and from design. If it be said, that in commissioned messages like these God requires the ministers of the gospel to make this indiscriminate offer of salvation, because they do not know who will accept them, and because it is not in their province to distinguish between those who are and those who are not his chosen people; it must be borne in mind that the offer is God's own offer, and that his ministers make it only in his name We wish to vindicate the unfeigned sincerity of the gospel offer; and we do not perceive how it can be vindicated, unless God be able and willing to do what he offers to do; unless he be willing his offer should be accepted: and unless the offer be made on reasonable terms. He offers to all men salvation, through faith in the blood of his Son. This he is able and has a right to do, because there is infinite sufficiency in the death of Christ." (The Attraction of the Cross BOT p.76-77)
CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON (19th Century World famous English Baptist Preacher and author. 62 large volumes of his sermons say it all [printed weekly until 25 years after his death] Famous for hius stand against the Downgrade Apostasy of the Baptist Union.) We could supply a multitude of quotes from Spurgeon all proving that he believed in the free offer of the gospel. Those below will suffice.
"Brethren, the command to believe in Christ must be the sinners warrant, if you consider the nature of our commission. How runs it? "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." It ought to run, according to the other [Hyper Calvinist] plan, "preach the gospel to every regenerate person, to every convinced sinner, to every sensible soul." But it is not so; it is to "every creature." But unless the warrant be a something in which every creature can take a share, there is no such thing as consistently preaching it to every creature." (Sermon on 1 John 3:23 entitled: "The warrant of Faith." Contains an exposure of the hyper Calvinist position
"A yet further charge against us is, that we dare not preach the gospel to the unregenerate, that, in fact, our theology is so narrow and cramped that we cannot preach to sinners. Gentlemen, if you dare to say this, I would take you to any library in the world where the old Puritan fathers are stored up, and I would let you take down any one volume and tell me if you ever rend more telling exhortations and addresses to sinners in any of your own books. Did not Bunyan plead with sinners, and whoever classed him with any but the Calvinists? Did not Charnock, Goodwin, and how we agonise for souls, and what were they but Calvinists? Did not Jonathan Edwards preach to sinners, and who more clear and explicit on these doctrinal matters. The works of our innumerable divines teem with passionate appeals to the unconverted. Oh, sirs, if I should begin the list, time should fail me. It is an indisputable fact that we have laboured more than they all for the winning of souls. Was George Whitfield any the less seraphic? Did his eyes weep the fewer tears or his bowels move with the less compassion because he believed in Gods electing love and preached the sovereignty of the Most High? It is an unfounded calumny. Our souls are not stony; our bowels are not withdrawn from the compassion which we ought to feel for our fellow-men; we can hold all our views firmly, and yet can weep as Christ did over a Jerusalem which was certainly to be destroyed. Again, I must say, I am not defending certain brethren who have exaggerated Calvinism. I speak of Calvinism proper, not that which has run to seed, and outgrown its beauty and verdure. I speak of it as I find it in Calvins Institutes, and especially in his Expositions. I have read them carefully. I take not my views of Calvinism from common repute but from his books. Nor do I, in thus speaking, even vindicate Calvinism as if I cared for the name, but I mean that glorious system which teaches that salvation is of grace from first to last. And again, then, I say it is an utterly unfounded charge that we dare not preach to sinners." (Opening of the Metropolitan Tabernacle - a series of sermons on the doctrines of grace)
In the second place we observe from the text that the invitation is very wide WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY." How wide is this invitation! There are some ministers who are afraid to invite sinners, then why are they ministers! for they are afraid to perform the most important part of the sacred office. There was a time I must confess when I somewhat faltered when about to give a free invitation. My doctrinal sentiments did at thee time somewhat hamper me. I boldly avow that I am unchanged as to the doctrines I have preached; I preach Calvinism as high, as stern, and as sound as ever; but I do feel, and always did feel an anxiety to invite sinners to Christ. And I do feel also, that not only is such a course consistent with the soundest doctrines, but that the other course is after all the unsound one, and has no title whatever to plead Scripture on its behalf. There has grown up in many Baptist churches an idea that none are to be called to Christ but what they call sensible sinners. I sometimes rebut that by remarking, that I call stupid sinners to Christ as well as sensible sinners, and that stupid sinners make by far the greatest proportion of the ungodly. But I glory in the avowal that I preach Christ even to insensible sinners that I would say even to the dry bones of the valley, as Ezekiel did, "Ye dry bones live!" doing it as an act of faith; not faith in the power of those that hear to obey the command, but faith in the power of God who gives the command to give strength also to those addressed, that they may be constrained to obey it. But now listen to my text; for here, at least, there is no limitation. But sensible or insensible, all that the text saith is, "Whosoever will, let him come and take the water of life freely."(Sermon on Revelation 22:17 entitled: 'Come and Welcome' 1859)
JAMES A. SPURGEON (19th Century English Baptist preacher. Brother of CH Spurgeon) "And again, there is a positive overture of mercy, a true and faithful declaration of good tidings unto every creature, and we do believe that it is our duty to preach the Gospel unto every creature, and the Gospel runs thus "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, for he who believeth and is baptised shall be saved." That overture we hold to be no mockery, but made in good faith, and that overture is not the overture of a shadow. But the presentation of solid, substantial blessings; and for the rejection of that, not God, but man is answerable, and for the rejection of that he will be lost. "For this is the condemnation, that they have not believed on him whom God hath sent." Opening of the Metropolitan Tabernacle - a series of sermons on the doctrines of grace by the brother of its pastor: C.H. Spurgeon.
GEORGE SWINNOCK (17th Century English Puritan Preacher and Author) "Ponder how universal his offers of grace are. Jesus Christ, with all his merits, are tendered to all. The proposals of divine mercy and love are general and universal. 'Go preach the gospel' observe 'to every creature. He that believeth shall be saved.' 'Ho every one that thirsteth,' Isaiah 55:1 'If any man' let him be poor or rich, high or low, 'thirst, let him come to me and drink' John 7:37 It is a great encouragement that, in the offers of pardon and life, none are excluded: why then dost thou exclude thyself. 'Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden,' Matthew 11:28. Mark, poor sinner, 'all ye' Art thou not one of that all? Is not thy wickedness thy weight and thy corruption thy burden? Then thou art called particularly as well as generally. Jesus Christ taketh thee aside from the crowd, and whispereth thee in the ear, O poor sinner, that art weary of the work and heavy laden with thy weight of sin, be entreated to come to me; I will give thee rest. Why doth thy heart suggest that that he doth not intend thee in that call? Doth he nor, by that qualification, as good as name thee? Ah, it is an unworthy, a base jealousy, to mistrust a loving Christ without the least cause." (Heaven and Hell Epitomised. Works of Swinnock BOT Vol 3 p.352-353)
GEOFF THOMAS (Contemporary Welsh Preacher and Banner of Truth associate) "But ours is a message of hope. The gospel is good news for all the nations, or as the ancient Markan ending phrases it, "for every creature." In other words, we can go to every human being and say to him, "I have good news for you," good news individually and personally. As we look down from the pulpit on our congregations we must think to ourselves, "Today I have good news for everybody here." We may have no doubt about it at all. People who listen to us aren't permitted to protest, 'But I am not a religious person.' "Whoever you are, whatever condition you are in, to every single individual, there is good news. If you are Bunyan's man in the iron cage, despairing because the day of grace is past there is good news for you. Or if you are a man who thinks he has sinned the unforgivable sin, there is good news for you in this great word of God." (Message on Preaching - the Message)
WILLIAM TWISSE (16th Century English Theologian. Involved in the Westminster Assembly) "And whereas, in the last place, it is said, that the Reprobates cannot obtain this grace of God, although it be offered to them in the Gospel, this either hath no sobriety, or being brought to a sober sense, is utterly untrue. And nothing but the ambiguous notion of grace serves their turn, and gives them liberty to prate they know not what. For as for faith itself, that is not offered at all in the Gospel; men are called upon to believe, and promised, that upon their faith, they shall obtain the grace of remission of sins; & salvation; and these graces may be said to be offered unto all, upon condition of faith; but faith itself in no congruity, can be said to be offered; though by the preaching of the Gospel, the Lord works faith in the hearts of whom He will; as it is said, that He will have mercy on whom He will and whom He wills He hardeneth. But as for [per]suasion & exhortation unto faith, this grace the reprobates in the Church of God are partakers of, as well as God's elect." (The Five Points of Grace & Predestination Defined and Defended by the Procurator of the Westminster Assembly )
"He commands them (ministers)to preach promiscuously unto all, persuade all, exhort all, unto faith and repentance" (W. Twisse" The Riches of God's Love" pp. 73 and 169).
BISHOP JAMES USSHER (17th Century Irish Puritan and Scholar)
"The matter of our redemption purchased by our Saviour Christ lieth open to all, all are invited to it, none that hath a mind to accept of it, is excluded from it. The beautiful feet of those that preach the Gospel of peace, to bring glad tidings of good things to every house where they tread. The first part of their message being this peace to this house. But, unless God be pleased out of his abundant mercy to guide our feet into the way of peace, the rebellion of our nature is such, that we run headlong to the ways of destruction and misery, and the ways of peace do we not know. They have not all obeyed the Gospel, all are not apt to entertain this message of peace, and therefore, though Gods ambassadors make a true tender of it to all unto whom they are sent, yet their peace only resteth on the sons of peace, but if it meet with such as will not listen to the motion of it, their peace doth again return unto themselves. The proclamation of the Gospel runneth thus: Let him that is athirst come, for him this grace is specially provided, because none but he will take the pains to come. But lest we should think this should abridge the largeness of the offer, a quicunque vult, is immediately added, and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely: yet withal this must be yielded for a certain truth, that it is God who must work in us to will and to do of his good pleasure; and though the call be ever so loud and large, yet none can come except the Father draw him. (The true intent and extent of Christ's death and satisfaction upon the Cross.)
WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH (17th Century Presbyterian Confession of Faith) "Are the elect only effectually called? Answer: All the elect, and they only, although others may be , and often are, called by the ministry of the word, and have some common operations of the Spirit, who, for their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never really come to Jesus Christ.") (Larger Catechism Question 68)
What is effectual calling? Answer: Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of all sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel. (Shorter Catechism Question 31)
H. WITSIUS (17th Century European Theologian and author) "This (Gospel) call contains the command of faith by which all men without exception, to whom God vouchsafes the same, are enjoined to believe in Christ, in that way and manner which is revealed in the Gospel: 'look unto Me and be ye saved all the ends of the earth': Isaiah 45:22" (Vol. 3, p. 353).
JEROME ZANCHIUS (17th Century European Theologian and author) "Nor is the Gospel to be preached only, but preached to every creature, i.e. to reasonable beings promiscuously and at large, to all who frequent the Christian ministry, of every state and condition in life, whether high or low, young or old, learned or illiterate. All who attend on the ministrations of Christ's ambassadors have a right to hear the gospel fully, clearly and without mincing. Preach it says Christ (Mark 16:15) publish it abroad, be its cryers and heralds, proclaim it aloud, tell it out, keep back no part of it, spare not, lift up your voices like trumpets." (Absolute Predestination p.104 Sovereign Grace Book Club)
It will never cease to amaze me - the people who quote other people’s opinions about the Bible when explaining parts of the Bible. It can be much like listening to John Kerry explain what George Bush meant when he said something. Go directly to the source instead.
You might consider reading the first couple paragraphs before commenting.
The purpose of the post is not to explain scripture.
It is to outlign a theological interpretation historically taken by a specific devision within Christendom and explain it to those with a different view.
“Cork Free Presbyterian Church”
I wasn’t aware that some Presbyterians don’t like cork. :-)
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Your wording is not quite right when you say they preach the gospel to the elect and non-elect alike. Nobody but God knows who the elect are. Calvinists preach the gospel to everyone period as the great commission teaches.
I did. Thanks for suggesting that I do what I had already done! Helpful.
That is quite a lot of work.
But I’m not sure I understand — so far as I can tell, there is no argument that the gospel is to be shared with everybody. The biblical story of the watchman clearly indicates that the watchman’s job is to warn the people, and if he does not, their blood is on his head.
But so long as he does, the fact that the people do not heed his warning, and are killed, is of no consequence — he has done his job, their blood is on themselves.
Likewise, Jesus told us to bring his gospel to everybody.
Calvinists believe that only the selected will accept the message of the gospel, and that mankind in their natural state are incapable of accepting the message, because they are dead in their sins.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t bring them the gospel.
Sounds like Calvinists follow in Isaiah’s footsteps. “Go and tell this people: “Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing but never percieiving”. So I guess it ain’t up to us if the Lord determines who believes and who doesn’t. Suppose we are just commanded to keep telling them the gospel and let the Lord choose who comes to him and who don’t. Just saying. But then again I don’t believe my ways are higher than the Lord’s ways.
Calvinism makes a man humble, by reminding him that he isn't God. For many mysteries of life, we have only the character of God as our answer, as did Job. We know that God is good. Sometimes, that conviction is the only coherent element in our lives.
Grace is amazing, since God extends it to the most surprising and unsuitable people, such as me.
The issue is sovereignty. Ever since the fall, we've had these illusions about the feasibility of being our own gods, of enjoying autonomy.
“Calvinists believe that only the selected will accept the message of the gospel, and that mankind in their natural state are incapable of accepting the message, because they are dead in their sins.
But that doesnt mean we dont bring them the gospel.”
Quite correct. But, unfortunately, many non-Calvinists (to be found, also, on this forum) have the idea that, because some are elected to salvation, we don’t have to preach the Gospel to anybody because the elect will be saved anyway. They don’t seem to grasp the fact that God has also pre-ordained the means by which the elect will be saved ie the preaching of the Gospel.
I'm not so sure that "selected" is the proper noun. The bible speaks of the "elect" and not the "selected". If you read the dictionary definition of "selected" it implies that there is some value in those who are selected that is not present in those who are not selected.
The dictionary uses this definition of "selected" 1. One that is chosen in preference to others or because of special value.
Quite right you are — selected was not the correct word; elected is the appropriate word.
Wow! Quite a work collecting all these quotes. Pretty thoroughly refutes those who claim Calvinists don’t believe in universal evangelism, eh?
Indeed, and perhaps many times to the same person, because God has a time of salvation for His elect ...
Exactly .... God is always the 1st cause of everything, He ordains the means to accomplish His will
Calvinists were actually the first missionaries to much of the world..