Free Offer Divided Discussion

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by BayouHuguenot, Jan 21, 2019.

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  1. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    [Moderator Note]
    Jacob started a thread asking a question about a matter of fact.

    Despite efforts to the contrary, it kept straying from the subject matter. So this thread is made up of the off-topic posts from that thread. Will that help, you ask? Possibly not. But if in future someone is interested in the same question Jacob asked, they will find at the above link a brief thread with hopefully some helpful indications.

    And if someone is interested in debating the free offer, perhaps this thread below will convey some wisdom.


    How would someone who doesn't believe in the free offer of the gospel share the gospel in a witnessing encounter?
  2. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    "God might love you and He might want to save you! So maybe come to Christ! (and by the way, I am telling you to repent because it is a mere command but not an invitation or an offer)."
  3. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Non-free offer Preacher: "Jesus likens the kingdom of God to a great feast prepared for all who will come!"

    Atheist: "Does that mean God actually wants me to come."

    Preacher: "Um...I'm not sure..."
  4. SeanPatrickCornell

    SeanPatrickCornell Puritan Board Freshman

    Do you believe that God wants everyone [even the decretally reprobate] to come to Him?

    I'm asking sincerely, because I struggle with the idea of the "Well Meant Offer" in the context of Calvinism.
  5. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)


    I agree with RC Sproul here:

    God takes no delight in the death of the wicked. There is a general good will of disposition in God towards all of his creatures. God loves all of his creation in a certain way. There is a judicial satisfaction at the judgment of sinners, yet God's nature is such that He loves all He has created.
  6. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Dr. Clark shows the long tradition of the reformed believing in the "free or well-meant offer" (notice he counts it as two names for the same thing). We need not create some weird PuritanBoard Mutant Hybrid of a free offer that is not well-meant.

    See also,

    "In the high orthodox period, Herman Witsius (1636–1708) and Peter van Mastricht (1630–1706) used the same categories and language about the relations between the external “common call,” and the efficacious call by the Holy Spirit of the elect through it.87 In the latter’s Theoretico-practica theologia (1699), in his chapter on “The Love, Grace, Mercy, Longsuffering and Clemency of God,” van Mastricht wrote at length about God’s “universal benevolence and beneficence” toward creatures. In his chapter on calling, he defended the sincerity and genuineness of the well-meant offer of the gospel. He made the invitation to trust in Christ of the essence of the call. From this brief survey of the Canons and just a few classic Reformed theologians, it appears that Synod Kalamazoo was right to say that, in substance, if not in absolute verbal identity, well-meant offer was the teaching of the “writers of the flowering period of Reformed theology” (schrijvers uit de bloeitijd der Gereformerde Theologie).

    According to Dort and both early orthodox theologians such as Olevianus and early Reformed dogmatic theologies such as the Synopsis purioris and the high orthodox theologian Peter van Mastricht, the praxis of the free and sincere offer of the Gospel is not controlled by the knowledge of archetypal theology (e.g. the decree), but by theologia ectypa. In this regard, the approach of the Synod of Dort is in contrast to that of both the Remonstrants and the modern critics of the well meant-offer. Rather than making deductions from the revealed fact of God’s sovereign eternal decree, the Synod was committed to learning and obeying God’s revealed will, even if it seems paradoxical to us."
  7. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    If the Gospel ministry is not an offer of Christ, why are we even using the terminology of "free offer"?

    I once had a non-WMO pastor tell me that the gospel is not an offer or invitation at all, but a command. I asked him then why he hung on to the phrase "free offer" if he did not believe it to actually be a well-meant invitation. He did not have an answer. But he was adamant that Christ was to be "proclaimed" and repentance was to be "commanded" but Christ was not to be "offered" as something that could be rejected or refused.

    Semantically, most people (except those with a theological ax to grind) would consider an offer an invitation and not merely a command. And are we to suppose God's invitations are insincere? Does God offer something that he does not want us to take? No, the evangelist can tell the sinner that heaven rejoices for every sinner who repents!

    Yes, evangelists go and proclaim and command, but they also offer and invite people to Christ.

    2 Cor. 5:20: Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

    Sounds like an offer to me... and shockingly, When we plead with sinners, "be ye reconciled to God" it is as though GOD IS BESEECHING THE SINNER by us!

    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  8. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    John Duncan said it this way:
    "Hyper-calvinism is all house and no door: Arminianism is all door and no house."

    Just a Talker, pg. 6
  9. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    It is an offer of Christ. The best illustration is what Christ used himself in John 3:14-15, Moses lifting up the bronze serpent. That serpent was the only appointed cure God provided for Israel's snakebites. They had to look to it and live or refuse and perish. And in the same way Christ is lifted up before the world by God as the only Savior of sinners. And we as the appointed messengers point all men to Christ as the only Savior, and state the plain fact, that in Christ alone is found full and free salvation. That fact is true whether you are elect or reprobate. If you have the Son you will have life. If you refuse him, you will perish. Christ is offered to all truthfully and sincerely by the messengers. But God also chooses how he will secretly deal with men. To some he chooses to deal with them as they are in their lost condition. To others he chooses to show mercy and grant regeneration. As the judge, he is free to deal with men as he sees fit. But that is not our business as the messengers to delve into God's secret work. We simply offer Christ out of love to our fellow man, and let the Spirit do the rest.
  10. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    You wrote:
    "Christ is offered to all truthfully and sincerely by the messengers."

    To be Godly is to be like God. Therefore, if the messengers are to offer the gospel in a sincere and well-meant manner and they are godly, we'd expect God's offers also to be sincere and well-meant as well.
  11. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Turretin is helpful on this question. It is important to distinguish between God's natural knowledge and knolwedge of decree from what He has prescribed for men. In part, the issue of whether or not God "really means" that all who come to Jesus will be saved can only be answered by us (creatures) not according to God's natural knowledge but by what He has revealed to us...



    Are the reprobate, who partake of external calling, called with the design and intention on God’s part that they should become partakers of salvation? And, this being denied, does it follow that God does not deal seriously with them, but hypocritically and falsely; or that he can be accused of any injustice? We deny

    Statement of the question.

    I. This question lies between us and the Lutherans, the Arminians and the patrons of universal grace, who (to support the universality of calling, at least as to the preaching of the gospel in the visible church) hold that as many as are called by the word are called by God with the intention of their salvation. For otherwise God would trifle with men and not deal seriously but hypocritically with them, offering them grace which, nevertheless, he is unwilling to bestow.
    II. Now although we do not deny that the reprobate (who live in external communion with the church) are called by God through the gospel; still we do deny that they are called with the intention that they should be made actual partakers of salvation (which God knew would never be the case because in his decree he had ordained otherwise concerning them). Nor ought we on this account to think that God can be charged with hypocrisy or dissimulation, but that he always acts most seriously and sincerely.
    III. To make this more distinct, we must remark: (1) the external call is extended to the reprobate as well as to the elect; but in a different manner—to the elect primarily and directly. For their sake alone the ministry of the gospel was instituted to collect the church and increase the mystical body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). They being taken out of the world, preaching would no longer be necessary because the word of God cannot return unto him void (Is. 55:11). But to the reprobate, it is extended secondarily and indirectly because, since they are mingled with the elect (known only to God, 2 Tim. 2:19), the call cannot be addressed to men indiscriminately without the reprobate as well as the elect sharing in it (in order that the end ordained by God may be obtained); as a fisherman in casting his net intends only to catch good fish, but indirectly closes in his net the bad also mixed with the good.
    IV. (2) The end of calling can be considered in two ways: either on the part of God or on the part of the thing (which is called the end of the worker and the end of the work). Although each is conjoined in the elect, yet in others they are separated (as in the legal proclamation, the end of the thing is life by the law, but the end of God after man’s fall cannot be the happiness of man, which through sin has become impossible to him by the law; rather the conviction of man’s weakness and leading of him to Christ is the end of the law; so in the gospel call, the end of the thing is the salvation of man because by its nature it tends to the bringing of him to salvation by faith and repentance; but not at once with respect to all the called is it the end of God, but only of those to whom he decreed to give faith and salvation).
    V. Further, that end on the part of God is either common to all the called or special with respect to the elect or the reprobate. And as to the common, we ought not to doubt that it is the demonstration of the mode and way of salvation and the promise of salvation to those who profess the prescribed condition. But the special with respect to the elect proceeds further (viz., to the actual bestowal of salvation upon those whom on that account he calls not only imperatively but also operatively; not only by prescribing duty, but by performing that very duty, working within us by his Spirit what he externally enjoins by his word). However with respect to the reprobate, his end is their conviction and inexcusability.
    VI. Now as this calling springs from a threefold principle, so it obtains a threefold end. (1) It springs from the authority of a legislator who has the right to prescribe to man his duty. (2) It springs from the goodness and grace of a Lord who does not cease to bless the creature (although unworthy and guilty) by showing him the way of salvation and showering upon him various blessings. (3) It springs from the justice of a Judge who wishes to convict the stubborn and rebellious and to render them without excuse. Hence a threefold end flows. The first is the prescription of duty that he may know what God demands from him and what he owes to him (namely, to believe and repent). The second is the promise of blessing on the condition that he knows what God has determined to give to believers and penitents. The third is the detection of the wickedness of the heart (Lk. 2:35) and its inexcusability (Jn. 15:22), its stubbornness being supposed, so that both the man himself in his conscience and others may really know that the vengeance of God against that servant is just (who while he knows his master’s will and ought to do it, still neither does nor wishes to do it, Lk. 12:47).
    VII. Hence it appears that the question does not (in general) concern the end of calling on the part of the thing (which we do not deny to be salvation); but on the part of God; not whether God wills to bestow any grace upon reprobates above those who are destitute of this blessing (such as the heathen and other infidels), but whether he intends to give saving grace or salvation to them and calls them with this purpose, that they may really become partakers of it (and if it happens otherwise, it is beyond God’s intention and accidentally). This our opponents maintain; we deny. Again, the question is not whether the event of external calling is the same with respect to all and whether all the called are affected in the same manner. For they, with whom we argue, confess that it is widely different and that those indeed who spurn the heavenly call (or do not proceed as far as saving repentance) are thus made inexcusable; that others, however, who obey, obey by the special grace of God (the power and efficacy of his Spirit turning their minds and souls to obedience—hence it appears that the salvation which they obtain was destined for them). Rather the question is whether the disparity of the event does not prove a disparity of intention in the caller. Or whether all are called with the intention and purpose that they should partake of salvation. This they assert; we deny.

    Proof that God acts seriously in the calling of reprobates, although he does not intend their salvation.

    VIII. The reasons are: (1) God cannot in calling intend the salvation of those whom he reprobated from eternity and from whom he decreed to withhold faith and other means leading to salvation. Otherwise he would intend what he knows is contrary to his own will and what he knew in eternity would never take place (and that it would not take place because he, who alone can, does not wish to do it). This everyone sees to be repugnant to the wisdom, goodness and power of God.
    IX. (2) God does not intend faith in the reprobate; therefore neither does he intend salvation (which cannot be attained without faith). Now that he does not intend faith is gathered from the fact that he does not give it to them, nor did he decree to give it; nay, he determined to withhold it. It is of no avail to reply that God did not intend to produce it in the reprobate, but still he intends and wills that it should be possessed by them. That intention either respects the very futurition of the thing (in which sense God cannot be said to intend it because since it is not to be given to the reprobate, he would fail in his intention) or it respects only the will to give them this command (in which sense we do not deny that God intends this); but thus it is reduced under the approving and preceptive will of God (of which we do not treat here).
    X. (3) Christ, in calling the reprobate Jews, testifies that he had as his proposed end their inexcusability (anapologian). It is said, “He came for judgment, that they which see might not see” (Jn. 9:39) (i.e., who profess that they see, still do not see and are more and more blinded). “If I had come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin” (Jn. 15:22). Nor ought it to be said that Christ does not speak of the intention of God calling, but concerning the event of the call for God might have a most holy intention to which nevertheless the event would not at all answer. Nothing can happen to God accidentally and beyond his intention. Hence such an event ought to be intended by God from eternity. What is added—that they had not had sin, if Christ had not come—must not be understood absolutely and simply, but relatively (to wit, as to a despised and rejected gospel not announced to them—as was the case on that account to be guilty of sins committed against the law).
    XI. (4) They who are called with the intention of salvation are “called according to purpose” (kata prothesin) because that intention is the act of election and the effecting of the purpose (protheseōs). Now it is certain that no reprobates are called according to purpose (kata prothesin) because thus they would both love God (Rom. 8:28) and be necessarily justified and glorified—for whom he called, them he also justified, etc. (v. 30), which cannot be said of them.
    XII. (5) Salvation according to the intention of God is promised to none others than those having the prescribed condition: such as are weary and heavy laden (Mt. 11:28), thirsty (Is. 55:1), believing and penitent (Acts 2:38). Since this cannot be said of the reprobate, it cannot equally be said that they are called by God with the intention that they should be saved.
    XIII. (6) It can no more be said that God calls each and every man with the intention that they should be saved, than that they should be damned. For a conditioned promise includes the opposite threatening, so that every unbeliever will be condemned as every believer is to be saved. Therefore as it is absurd to say with respect to the elect that God calls them with the intention that they should be damned (since he had decreed to fulfill the condition in them), so it is no less absurd to say that he calls the reprobate with the intention that they should be saved (since God knew they would never have that condition; nay, he, who alone can give, has decreed to withhold it from them). It can no more be concluded that God wills all to be saved for the reason that he promises pardon of sin and salvation to all promiscuously (if they repent), than that he nills the salvation of all for the reason that he denounces a curse and death upon all (unless they repent and believe).

    Sources of explanation.

    XIV. Although God does not intend the salvation of the reprobate by calling them, still he acts most seriously and sincerely; nor can any hypocrisy and deception be charged against him—neither with respect to God himself (because he seriously and most truly shows them the only and most certain way of salvation, seriously exhorts them to follow it and most sincerely promises salvation to all those who do follow it [to wit, believers and penitents]; nor does he only promise, but actually bestows it according to his promise); nor as to men because the offer of salvation is not made to them absolutely, but under a condition and thus it posits nothing unless the condition is fulfilled, which is wanting on the part of man. Hence we cordially embrace what is said on this subject by the fathers of the Synod of Dort: “As many as are called through the gospel are seriously called. For God shows seriously and most truly in his word, what is pleasing to him, to wit, that the called should come to him. He also seriously promises to all who come to him and believe rest to their souls and eternal life” (“Tertium et Quartum: De Hominis Corruptione et Conversione,” 8 Acta Synodi Nationalis … Dordrechti [1619–20], 1:[302]).
    XV. He, who by calling men shows that he wills their salvation and yet does not will it, acts deceitfully, if it is understood of the same will (i.e., if he shows that he wills that by the will of decree and yet does not will it; or by the will of precept and yet does not will it). But if it refers to diverse wills, the reasoning does not equally hold good. For example, if he shows that he wills a thing by the will of precept and yet does not will it by the will of decree, there is no simulation or hypocrisy here (as in prescribing the law to men, he shows that he wills they should fulfill it as to approbation and command, but not immediately as to decree). Now in calling God indeed shows that he wills the salvation of the called by the will of precept and good pleasure (euarestias), but not by the will of decree. For calling shows what God wills man should do, but not what he himself had decreed to do. It teaches what is pleasing and acceptable to God and in accordance with his own nature (namely, that the called should come to him); but not what he himself has determined to do concerning man. It signifies what God is prepared to give believers and penitents, but not what he has actually decreed to give to this or that person.
    XVI. It is one thing to will reprobates to come (i.e., to command them to come and to desire it); another to will they should not come (i.e., to nill the giving them the power to come). God can in calling them will the former and yet not the latter without any contrariety because the former respects only the will of precept, while the latter respects the will of decree. Although these are diverse (because they propose diverse objects to themselves, the former the commanding of duty, but the latter the execution of the thing itself), still they are not opposite and contrary, but are in the highest degree consistent with each other in various respects. He does not seriously call who does not will the called to come (i.e., who does not command nor is pleased with his coming). But not he who does not will him to come whither he calls (i.e., did not intend and decree to come). For a serious call does not require that there should be an intention and purpose of drawing him, but only that there should be a constant will of commanding duty and bestowing the blessing upon him who performs it (which God most seriously wills). But if he seriously makes known what he enjoins upon the man and what is the way of salvation and what is agreeable to himself, God does not forthwith make known what he himself intended and decreed to do. Nor, if among men, a prince or a legislator commands nothing which he does not will (i.e., does not intend should also be done by his subjects because he has not the power of effecting this in them), does it follow that such is the case with God, upon whom alone it depends not only to command but also to effect this in man. But if such a legislator could be granted among men, he would rightly be said to will that which he approves and commands, although he does not intend to effect it.
    XVII. An absolute promise cannot be serious unless founded upon the will and intention of the promiser to give what is promised. But it is different with a conditioned promise. It suffices for the preservation of his sincerity that there be the intention in God to connect most certainly the thing promised with the condition, so that the latter nowhere occurs without the former attending it. Hence it happens that on account of this connection and dependence, the offer of salvation made to believers is most serious, for no one will have faith who will not most surely obtain salvation.
    XVIII. The word of external calling ought to be the sign of some decree upon which it is founded; but not forthwith of a decree concerning the saving of individuals, but concerning the means and their connection with salvation. The foundation of calling in general (inasmuch as it is directed indiscriminately to men) is the decree concerning the collecting of a church by the word. The foundation of calling with respect to the elect is the special decree concerning the bestowal of the salvation acquired for them by Christ upon some certain persons. The foundation with respect to reprobates is the decree concerning the order and connection of the means of salvation and concerning the proposal and enjoining of these means upon men. Therefore the word of calling is the sign of that decree by which he made an indissoluble connection between faith and salvation (which because the word proposes, no simulation can be ascribed to God, since he proposes nothing which is not most true).
    XIX. Since faith in Christ (which is prescribed to us in calling) is not prescribed to us as to all its acts together and at once, but by degrees and successively (and as to general and direct acts before the special and reflex acts; as to the acts of assent and refuge before the act of acquiescence in Christ as having died for me; nay, neither are these commanded except the antecedents being exercised), it is false to say that the promise of salvation with respect to us is made under a condition which cannot be fulfilled without falsehood. For that Christ is a true and perfect Savior of all flying to him seriously by faith and repentance (which is prescribed to be believed by men in the direct act of faith) can be believed without falsehood, even by those for whom Christ has not died.
    XX. The promises and threatenings added to God’s commands express nothing more concerning the mind and intention of God than the commands themselves (which show what is his preceptive will, but not what is his decretive will—which ought properly to be called the will of God). Therefore as the Holy Spirit employs these towards the elect as motives suitable to the human mind to bring about their conversion, so in no other way does he will they should serve with those whom God does not intend to convert and actually to bring to salvation than partly to exhibit the necessary connection between faith and salvation, partly to render them inexcusable.
    XXI. The invitation to the wedding proposed in the parable (Mt. 22:1–14) teaches that the king wills (i.e., commands and desires) the invited to come and that this is their duty; but not that the king intends or has decreed that they should really come. Otherwise he would have given them the ability to come and would have turned their hearts. Since he did not do this, it is the surest sign that he did not will they should come in this way. When it is said “all things are ready” (Lk. 14:17), it is not straightway intimated an intention of God to give salvation to them, but only the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. For he was prepared by God and offered on the cross as a victim of infinite merit to expiate the sins of men and to acquire salvation for all clothed in the wedding garment and flying to him (i.e., to the truly believing and repenting) that no place for doubting about the truth and perfection of his satisfaction might remain.
    XXII. Although the intention of pastors who call ought to be conformed to the intention of God (by whom they are sent to call men) in this—that they are bound from the order of God to invite all their hearers promiscuously to repentance and faith as the only way of salvation; and that they ought to intend nothing else than the gathering of the church or the salvation of the elect (in bringing about which they are co-workers [synergoi] with God). Still in this they also differ—the omniscient God distinctly knows who are the elect among gospel hearers and who are the reprobate. The former alone he wills to save individually, not the latter. However, ministers (being destitute of such knowledge) do not know to whose salvation their ministry will contribute, not being able to distinguish between the elect and the reprobate, charitably hoping well for all, nor daring to decide concerning the reprobation of anyone. Thus they address all the called promiscuously and indiscriminately even by God’s appointment, still intending the salvation of no others than the elect (like God). Thus they do nothing in this ministry which does not answer both to the command and intention of God, although God (conscious of his decree) proceeds further than they and distinctly intends the conversion and salvation or the inexcusability of particular persons.
    XXIII. The foundation of consolation is not weakened in the preaching of the gospel, although there is a certain diversity between the intention of God and that of the minister. However it suffices for its foundation that they agree in the general intention and primary object of gathering a church to God which he may sanctify and glorify and of calling all who repent and believe for that end to salvation. Now the diversity which occurs about the knowledge of individual reprobates or elect persons (whom God alone knows and not ministers) cannot overthrow consolation or furnish just cause of despair, no more than the particularity of election and the immutable decree of reprobation. For as the intention of God is not (the decree of reprobation being rescinded) to admit the reprobate by calling into communion with him; so neither ought that to be the intention of the ministers, who ought to intend properly the salvation of no others than the elect (although in accordance with charity, they can also wish for the salvation of others and to promote it as far as in them lies).
    XXIV. It is one thing for God to indicate in his word (even to those who will not believe) that faith and repentance are the most sure and infallible means of obtaining salvation; another for God to make this internal declaration of his word with those who will not believe for this purpose—that they may actually believe and be saved. For if he seriously intended this end, he would add to the external preaching the internal power of the Spirit, without which it remains always inefficacious.
    XXV. It is not indeed repugnant to the wisdom of God to will to command and to command actually what nevertheless he certainly knew would not be done by those whom he commanded. In such a command, he wills to unfold his right and man’s duty, no less than his own goodness and justice. But it is repugnant for God simply and absolutely to will and intend what nevertheless he not only knew would never happen, but even what he himself decreed should never happen.
    XXVI. Although God offers the word to the reprobate for this end—that by their obstinacy they may be rendered inexcusable—he does not therefore offer it that they may reject it, for this is a sin which God neither intends nor does. Rather he offers it that the latent perversity of their hearts may be manifest (Lk. 2:35) and that by this rejection of the word (arising from man himself), he may have the occasion of displaying his justice in the infliction of punishment. Now although man could not receive the word without grace (which God does not will to bestow upon him), he must not therefore be considered as calling in order that he may reject him. Rejection does not follow of itself from the nature of calling, but accidentally from the depravity of the man himself. For although he could not receive the word without grace, still the rejection springs from no other source than his stubborn wickedness.
    XXVII. Man does not cease to be inexcusable although he does what God intended because he does not do what God commanded; as Herod and Pontius Pilate are nonetheless inexcusable although they did nothing but what the hand of the counsel of God had decreed before to be done (Acts 4:28). The decree is not the rule of our actions, only the precept.
    XXVIII. To render man inexcusable, it is sufficient to take away from him the pretext of ignorance, not however to take away inability. For man is accustomed to plead ignorance, but never inability. For man (such is his pride) always persuades himself that he can do what is prescribed and is sufficiently convinced that he sins through stubborn depravity when he fails in his duty. The pretext of ignorance certainly ought to be allowed because it excuses, provided it is not affected and voluntary. However it is not so with regard to impotency, when it is voluntary and brought on (epispastos). A man is not bound to know what is not revealed. But he is bound to perform even that which through sin he is made unable to do; and consequently it can be exacted from him.

    Turretin, F. (1992–1997). Institutes of Elenctic Theology. (J. T. Dennison Jr., Ed., G. M. Giger, Trans.) (Vol. 2, pp. 504–510). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.
  12. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Also, I ought to note that what is above is what the Reformed typically note as the "free offer" of the Gospel. As noted by Turrerin above, Lutherans and Semi-Pelagians and other errorists insist that, in order for the Gospel to be offered freely, there needs to be an attendant "will" or "grace" in God that is also freely offered to all. Hence, the grace available to all is the same in their schema.

    They don't think the preaching of the Gospel is free to all unless we know how God eternally "feels" about each individual. I think a lot of bad theology stems from assuming that whatever we know as creatures about something is how God thinks about that issue. Yet, God has decreed eternally, based on His natural knowledge, to effect the salvation of the elect. That means that He grants faith in the elect when the Gospel call is offered. This He does not do for the reprobate but that does not mean that the offer itself (as man understands it) is any less free.

    It is as if we convince ourselves that, unless I know the decree for this person, then I cannot freely offer the Gospel. That is the source of error. It is sufficient to know that God has offered salvation to all sinners by the Gospel for any who have faith. The offer is real and not duplicitous. God does supply the condition of faith for the elect but the reprobate are not forced by God to reject the offer but reject the call by their own will.

    Thus, I believe in this free offer and am liberal to preach to all people that all who put their trust in Christ will be saved.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
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  13. Goodcheer68

    Goodcheer68 Puritan Board Freshman


    I think you meant reprobate instead of elect in this sentence.
  14. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Probably. I have a lot of typos because I don't see so good.
  15. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Francis Turretin also wrote the following:

    XIX. Although God may be said to will the salvation of all by the will of sign[the revealed will] and to nill it by the beneplacit will [of decree], yet there is no contradiction here. Besides the fact that the universal proposition is to be understood not so much of the singulars of the genera as of the genera of the singulars, the former will relates to the mere approbation of God and the command of duty, while the latter is concerned with its futurition and fulfillment. The former denotes what is pleasing to God and what He has determined to enjoin upon man for the obtainment of salvation, but the latter what God Himself has decreed to do. But these two are not at variance: to will (i.e., to command man to believe) and to nill (i.e., to decree not to give him faith in order that he may believe).

    Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 1, Third Topic: The One and Triune God; Question 15, ‘May the will be properly distinguished into the will of decree and of precept, good purpose and pleasure, signified, secret and revealed? We affirm.’ p. 224

    He also then explains that this revealed will is not false or deceptive, but is according to the internal will of God, which loves his image:

    Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 1, Third Topic: The One and Triune God; Question 15, ‘May the will be properly distinguished into the will of decree and of precept, good purpose and pleasure, signified, secret and revealed? We affirm.’ p. 224

    XX. The will of sign [the revealed will] which is set forth as extrinsic ought to correspond with some internal will in God that it may not be false and deceptive; but that internal will is not the decree concerning the gift of salvation to this or that one, but the decree concerning the command of faith and promise of salvation if the man does believe (which is founded both upon the connection established by God between faith and salvation and the internal disposition of God by which, as He loves Himself, He cannot but love his image wherever He sees it shining and is so much pleased with the faith and repentance of the creature as to grant it salvation).

    Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 1, Third Topic: The One and Triune God; Question 15, ‘May the will be properly distinguished into the will of decree and of precept, good purpose and pleasure, signified, secret and revealed? We affirm.’ p. 224

    This is similar to the explanation given by RC Sproul in this short video clip:

    Finally, Turretin affirms that God loves all of his creation, and then explains the distinctions of this love:

    IV. From goodness flows love by which he communicates Himself to the creature and (as it were) wills to unite Himself with and do good to it, but in diverse ways and degrees according to the diversity of the objects. Hence is usually made a threefold distinction in the divine love:

    the first, that by which He follows creatures, called “love of the creature” (philoktisia);

    the second, that by which He embraces men, called “love of man” (philoanthropia);

    the third, which is specially exercised towards the elect and is called “the love of the elect” (eklektophilia).

    For in proportion as the creature is more perfect and more excellent, so also does it share in a greater effluence and outpouring (aporroen) of divine love. Hence although love considered affectively and on the part of the internal act is equal in God (because it does not admit of increase or diminution), yet regarded effectively (or on the part of the good which He wills to anyone) it is unequal because some effects of love are greater than others.

    Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 1, Topic 3, Question 20, ‘The Goodness, Love, Grace, and Mercy of God; How do they differ from each other?’ p. 241.

    [from Travis' site]


    My comments on evangelism in light of Turretin:

    Therefore, (1) all evangelists can tell sinners that it is pleasing to God for them to repent, and (2) that God sincerely desires such a thing.

    Several non-free offer preachers I talked to have denied this. They told me, (A) "You cannot tell a sinner that God desires their salvation or is pleased to do it" and (B) "There is no manner in which you can tell the sinner that God loves them...God hates, and only hates the reprobate...He has no love for them at all."

    Several non-free offer pastors have further explained that: (C) while "you cannot tell an individual these things [but you can, however]...tell a large crowd these things because it is very likely that at least one of the elect is in there." [a real quote]. But with 7 billion people in the world and many of them surely not to be saved, this seems to be a dubious claim, since in a crowd of 100-200 it is possible that there is at least one elect person in that crowd, but we cannot know for sure, and we run into the same problems of telling an individual that God would be pleased with their salvation.


    We don't know what "feelings" God has about each sinner, nor is that expression even approrpriate, but we know that God has a kind will of disposition towards all of his creation, and that the call is sincere, and that the call does not go out to the reprobate to "fatten them up the sinner for slaughter." We are told "what is pleasing to God" and to assert that some things are pleasing to God is not to attribute feelings to him, but only to repeat what God has himself said in His Word.

    The crux of the issue for many non-free offer preachers is that they deny that there is any difference between God's Revealed Will and His Decretive Will. One non-free offer pastor told me, "There is no Revealed will or decretive will...there is only God's will...singular....and all of God's will - 100% - will be accomplished." When I quoted to him I Thess, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication..." he replied that he was sure then that none of those Thessalonians committed fornication then.

    But most of the Reformed have affirmed that, though God may reveal something in His revealed will that is pleasing to him and that this is truly pleasing to him and not merely a show of it, and that God is said to want (sincerely, I would assume) the things He commands in Scripture, that not all of His decreed will, however, is ordained to come to pass. All that is in His Revealed will does not come to pass in his Decretive will. We must ask then: Is the will of sign (the revealed will of God) insincere then? No, it is not. It is sincere and springs from God's good will of disposition towards all His creation. But for greater purposes, God chooses to reveal some things that He chooses not to ordain to come to pass.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  16. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    In short, the evangelistic methodology of some pastors who deny the free offer of the gospel tries to peer into the Decretive (Secret) will of God. Their methodology is limited by their focus on the secret will of God. Therefore many are hesitant to be generous in their inducements to come to Christ.

    But we should go forth gladly according to the Revealed will of God and beseech sinners to come, just as if God were besseching them through us, Be ye Reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20).
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  17. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    We don't? I mean, we don't know if someone is elect or not, sure. But Psalm 11 clearly says that the Lord hates the wicked.

    Also, I am not sure I agree with your statement about fattening up sinners for slaughter, either. God's call to repent is sincere - he is sincerely calling all to repent - but that in no way means that he intends all to repent - for if he intended for all to repent, they would repent. There is a definite purpose in preaching the gospel in all situations - for the elect, it is the means to bring them to salvation; for the reprobate, it is a stumbling stone, a rock of offense, and a deliberate one at that.

    Think about a crowd of 100 people - say 10 are elect - if a preacher preaches the gospel, God uses that for the good of those 10 (Romans 8:28) but to the other 90, it is foolishness, or a stumbling stone - they reject it, and they will be held accountable for that rejection - for those 90, God uses the preaching of the gospel as the means by which harden their hearts - and in fact, the more someone sits under the gospel preaching, and the more they reject, the severer their punishment (think of Jesus' pronouncement of woes against Chorazin and Bethsaida).

    Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,

    “Behold, I lay in Zion
    A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
    And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”

    7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,

    “The stone which the builders rejected
    Has become the chief cornerstone,”

    8 and

    “A stone of stumbling
    And a rock of offense.”

    They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.


    Does this mean that we don't indiscriminately preach the gospel? No. For as Spurgeon said, we can't ask people to lift up their shirts and reveal the 'E' stamped on their back. So the gospel must be preached indiscriminately, and God will use it to his intended purpose - for the elect, that is salvation. For the reprobate, that is condemnation.
  18. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    This is straying from the narrow question asked by Jacob, but in the Turretin quote you will see that there is a creaturely love to be admitted. The answer is not simply that God either loves absolutely or hates absolutely everybody and it is as simple as that. Most theologians speak of a 3-fold love of God. He loves all of His creation, and all men, but loves his elect in a special way. And thus we affirm the concept of Common Grace; and this common grace is borne out of love rather than a desire to fatten the wicked for the slaughter (a good gift misused is still a good gift).

    Also, Turretin and others state clearly that God does not choose to ordain all that is said to be pleasing to his will. Turretin says: "...God may be said to will the salvation of all by the will of sign and to nill it by the beneplacit. will, yet there is no contradiction here...The former denotes what is pleasing to God and what he has determined to enjoin upon man for the obtainment of salvation, but the latter what God himself has decreed to do."

    Therefore, an evangelist may say that it is pleasing to God for all who hear to be saved and that God truly wants it.
  19. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    I realize that I have strayed from the original post.

    You quoted a lot of Turretin but not much of the scriptures (I don't mean that in a mean-spirited way, just pointing something out)

    I just want to push back a little bit - and ask this question: Is a gift good in and of itself? Is it not the disposition of the giver that matters? God sends rain on the just and the unjust - but is the rain on the unjust a sign of his love for them? Scripturally, how does one prove that?

    Is it really gracious to let a person live a long life on this earth and yet not be saved? Does not such a person simply accrue more and more guilt every day they are alive? Jesus said "to whom much is given, much will be required", and we know that those who receive more revelation (and reject more revelation) will face stricter punishment. The punishment for Chorazin and Bethsaida will be greater than that of Sodom and Gomorrah - yet Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire, yet God spared Chorazin and Bethsaida and let those people lead normal lives as far as we know - was it gracious for him to do so?

    I am currently studying common grace and the various positions and find it pertinent to this topic.

    God Bless,
  20. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    I don't know of many atheists who would say that.
  21. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    You have it backwards. Godliness proceeds from God, not the other way round.

    There is nothing insincere about our holy God justly requiring all men to repent and believe on Jesus Christ.

    Consequently there is nothing insincere about a preacher preaching to repent and believe on Jesus Christ.
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  22. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Freshman

    God is no respecter of persons. I’m actually offended by men who believe they have cornered the market in grace/salvation.

    I would hope we share the gospel with all hope and confidence in the power of God’s word.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  23. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    What does that have to do with anything?
  24. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Freshman

    just a general statement against hyper Calvinism....
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  25. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Pardon me, then. I thought you were suggesting someone had expressed such an idea here.
  26. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Freshman

    Oh, no, no..,. Nothing of the kind.... sorry for the misunderstanding
  27. Goodcheer68

    Goodcheer68 Puritan Board Freshman

    Hyper Calvinism rejects the Free-offer, while its not Hyper to reject the supposedly Well-Meant offer. They are two different things whether some people conflate the two or not.
  28. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Freshman

    I don’t understand your distinction.... I think if we come to this from a cage stage perspective we are preoccupied with hidden things and decrees. If we let it play out in real time then the offer is free and well meant, no? From our finite perspective how could it be anything more? The power lies not in us but rather Word and Spirit. The offer is indiscriminate and well intentioned......that’s the Good News unto sinners.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2019
  29. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    No one should presume to know anything of God's secret decree.

    In fact, it is BECAUSE the decree is secret that a minister can simply proclaim the gospel indiscriminately, beseeching the hearers to repent and believe. If the minister actually knew who was elect, he could start being discriminatory in his preaching.

    What I do not believe is that a minister can say "God wants to save you! Believe in him!" I don't think that is really keeping in line with the thrust of the proclamation of the gospel found in scripture. It makes God seem to be at the mercy of the hearer's decision, which on the face of it, should raise some questions as to the validity of that approach. If it makes God look small and man look big, there might be something wrong with it.

    What I do believe a minister can say is this: "Believe in Christ and God will save you! That's guaranteed! Repent and trust in Christ today!"
  30. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Freshman

    Ok, I just read from Engelsma about the distinction, which is a theological and consistently Calvinistic one. I agree on that point as part of the Effectual Calling. So we are saying, how can the gospel offer be well meaning if it is not universal in intent? We know God does not intend, as per his hidden decree, that all will repent and be converted. Whereas the free offer has more to do with what has been revealed, a mandate for sinners to hear, repent, and be converted..... God does not desire that men would perish, but he does decree that it would be so as per the hardness of their hearts (they are at enmity with God)
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
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