Reformed tradition on the free or well meant offer-

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Conner

Puritan Board Freshman
This issue of the well meant offer of the gospel seems to be denied by most of my reformed brothers. I can not help but see it all over the pages of the bible. Can anyone who has read R Scott Clark, John Murray, John Piper, etc...on this issue give me a response, perhaps with an exegesis of the relevant passages appealed to by these men as well as I?
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
This issue of the well meant offer of the gospel seems to be denied by most of my reformed brothers. I can not help but see it all over the pages of the bible. Can anyone who has read R Scott Clark, John Murray, John Piper, etc...on this issue give me a response, perhaps with an exegesis of the relevant passages appealed to by these men as well as I?
You should consult Donald John MacLean's forthcoming work on James Durham and the free offer of the gospel; the last I heard, he has obtained a book contract for a monograph based on his Ph.D. thesis on that issue.
 

Conner

Puritan Board Freshman
"Clearly, then, the charge of rationalism is unfounded. That distasteful appellation is usually reserved for those who dare to reject divinely inspired teaching on the basis that it is inconsistent with what unaided human reason already knows." Setting even what "unaided human reason already knows" above or at a par with what scripture teaches regarding God not being willing that any should perish yet decreeing that some do perish is indeed rationalism. I will continue with Winzers article though. I probably won't read the whole thing.
 

Conner

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks people. Question. Does the language of God in scripture rejoicing over his people represent an anthropomorphism or does God really do that?
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Thanks people. Question. Does the language of God in scripture rejoicing over his people represent an anthropomorphism or does God really do that?
The name of this broader subject in Systematic Theology books is "impassibility". Speaking from personal experience it is a tough subject. There is far more to it than just rejoicing, there is every reference to emotion in God such as anger, grieving the Holy Spirit, love, repenting/changing His mind, etc.

Two slightly different approaches are Robert Culver in his ST ( get it, read it) who is pretty strict on the impassibility of God. Then there is John Frame's new ST ( get it read it) which holds to more of- shall we say- analagous emotion in God. Frame's section on God repenting/changing his mind is rather powerful I thought.

Those biblical references mean something, and say something about God, but they do not in any way present a God who is sinful or lacking like us, in that our emotions often spring from neediness, lack, unbelief, pain, etc. God does not need us, He has no lack, His joy is never diminished, nor does He change.

I don't think I will ever "get it" fully but it really helped me to read those two ST's, and don't settle for just one, read both of those presentations. We are made in the image of God, yes, but we are not God and references to God's emotions are not a direct correlation to ours even though analagous. I could say more but you can't try to explain impassibility on a forum like this, and I don't have the theological ability to articulate like other men do.

Stick with this subject, you'll be glad you did. My background many years ago was charismatic and I picked up some vague but severely wrong impressions about God that it took a long time to reexamine and renounce. In the end you'll find impassibility to be a most marvelous doctrine. And you'll laugh inside when you hear references to hurting Jesus' feelings........
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Junior
Stick with this subject, you'll be glad you did. My background many years ago was charismatic and I picked up some vague but severely wrong impressions about God that it took a long time to reexamine and renounce. In the end you'll find impassibility to be a most marvelous doctrine. And you'll laugh inside when you hear references to hurting Jesus' feelings........
When we see our Lord tell Phillip, John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?, and then we think of His weeping when Lazarus died, becoming angry when He drove the money changers out of the temple, how does that fit in with the doctrine of impassivity ? I'm not contesting the doctrine, just honestly curious.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
When we see our Lord tell Phillip, John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
Concerning this question, the only way we will ever see The Father is by the manifestation of His Son. We will not now or ever see God for it is impossible to see God, in his divine essence, and live. I have been looking into this area for a while now and the idea we all can fall into is thinking we can know God as He is apart from His condescension to us. Now the operative word is "condescension" in that Our God takes on properties, or a nature, that is not proper to Divinity so we can have fellowship with Him.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Well, you have the opportunity to question the author here; so why not do that instead of making generally dismissive statements? I"m sure he'll see this thread next time he's online.
The more I go through Matthew Winzers response to Murray the more I agree with Murray.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
The more I go through Matthew Winzers response to Murray the more I agree with Murray.
Be patient for I assume you are a layman like myself :) and this area is very deep water that even many of our pastors gleam over way to quickly.

What helps me is to always remember how Jesus has 2 natures and each nature retains the proper aspects of said properties. We do not wish to diminish the divine nature or mix the human nature with the dive nature. We must distinguish between the natures without separating them from the person of Our Lord Jesus.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Stick with this subject, you'll be glad you did. My background many years ago was charismatic and I picked up some vague but severely wrong impressions about God that it took a long time to reexamine and renounce. In the end you'll find impassibility to be a most marvelous doctrine. And you'll laugh inside when you hear references to hurting Jesus' feelings........
When we see our Lord tell Phillip, John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?, and then we think of His weeping when Lazarus died, becoming angry when He drove the money changers out of the temple, how does that fit in with the doctrine of impassivity ? I'm not contesting the doctrine, just honestly curious.
This is straying from the OP. There are other threads on God's impassibility and the emotional life of Christ. As to His human nature and reasonable human soul Christ is fully capable of the full range of human emotions without sin, although in His glorious and exalted state He is now beyond all emotional distress, suffering and pain. At the same time in His divine nature He is impassible.

Sent from my HTC Wildfire using Tapatalk 2
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Setting even what "unaided human reason already knows" above or at a par with what scripture teaches regarding God not being willing that any should perish yet decreeing that some do perish is indeed rationalism. I will continue with Winzers article though. I probably won't read the whole thing.
It is not rationalism to insist that the individual's interpretation of the Bible be subject to rules of verification. If it were rationalism to require rational verification it would render the science of hermeneutics rationalistic and invalid.

It is an anti-rational rationalism to interpret the Bible as teaching doctrines which are not only above reason, but contrary to reason. Doctrines which are contrary to reason are simply unverifiable. No person, not even the one who holds to them, can have any real conviction that the doctrines are true.

Is the reformed tradition rationalistic because it understands the language of divine repentance as an anthropopathism rather than an absolute state? If not, why is it rationalism to understand God desiring things which shall never come to pass as an anthorpopathism rather than an absolute state? The Scriptures state that God is perfectly fulfilled and happy within Himself, wanting nothing, but always doing according to His will. If Scripture also says that God desires things which shall never come to pass it is sound and consistent to interpret the Scriptures as speaking anthropopathically.

The reformed tradition is in harmony with catholic tradition on this point. The doctrines of the Trinity and of the two natures of Christ have also been derived from the use of rational categories to distinguish things which differ and to avoid contradiction.

If one holds that it is acceptable to interpret the Bible as teaching doctrines which are contrary to reason, one has no basis for rejecting any doctrine. The very rejection of a doctrine purported to be from the Bible must then be accounted as rationalism. The fact the Bible requires us to distinguish between truth and error is sufficient refutation of this anti-rational rationalism.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Setting even what "unaided human reason already knows" above or at a par with what scripture teaches regarding God not being willing that any should perish yet decreeing that some do perish is indeed rationalism. I will continue with Winzers article though. I probably won't read the whole thing.
Is the reformed tradition rationalistic because it understands the language of divine repentance as an anthropopathism rather than an absolute state? If not, why is it rationalism to understand God desiring things which shall never come to pass as an anthorpopathism rather than an absolute state?
Thank you for the best pagan holiday gift I've received so far. ;) An excellent point that I've never considered before. Keep up the good [reason]!
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Stick with this subject, you'll be glad you did. My background many years ago was charismatic and I picked up some vague but severely wrong impressions about God that it took a long time to reexamine and renounce. In the end you'll find impassibility to be a most marvelous doctrine. And you'll laugh inside when you hear references to hurting Jesus' feelings........
When we see our Lord tell Phillip, John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?, and then we think of His weeping when Lazarus died, becoming angry when He drove the money changers out of the temple, how does that fit in with the doctrine of impassivity ? I'm not contesting the doctrine, just honestly curious.
The usual term is impassibility. Impassive can mean simply not showing emotion; impassible means not subject to it. In any case, if we draw a straight line from the Lord weeping to God feeling sorrow, what do we do with the Lord sleeping? It's hard to affirm that God sleeps in the light of Psalm 121. Or what do we do with the Lord thirsting, hungering, growing weary and weak? When the Son became a man he lived as a man, subject to human limitations and responding in human ways. His actions manifest God's will and ratify God's promises; but we can't reason from human growth to divine change; from human ignorance to divine nescience; or from human emotion to divine passibility.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Junior
Stick with this subject, you'll be glad you did. My background many years ago was charismatic and I picked up some vague but severely wrong impressions about God that it took a long time to reexamine and renounce. In the end you'll find impassibility to be a most marvelous doctrine. And you'll laugh inside when you hear references to hurting Jesus' feelings........
When we see our Lord tell Phillip, John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?, and then we think of His weeping when Lazarus died, becoming angry when He drove the money changers out of the temple, how does that fit in with the doctrine of impassivity ? I'm not contesting the doctrine, just honestly curious.
The usual term is impassibility. Impassive can mean simply not showing emotion; impassible means not subject to it. In any case, if we draw a straight line from the Lord weeping to God feeling sorrow, what do we do with the Lord sleeping? It's hard to affirm that God sleeps in the light of Psalm 121. Or what do we do with the Lord thirsting, hungering, growing weary and weak? When the Son became a man he lived as a man, subject to human limitations and responding in human ways. His actions manifest God's will and ratify God's promises; but we can't reason from human growth to divine change; from human ignorance to divine nescience; or from human emotion to divine passibility.
Thank you Ruben, now I am quite clear on it.
 

Conner

Puritan Board Freshman
Rev. Matthew Winzer, do the passages referring to a desire in God (1 Timothy 2:4 etc..) provide for us a representation of God which is given in order to accommodate our finite human reasoning (anthropomorphism) or should we simply take the scripture at face value? Does God ever experience emotion? Is his anger against sin, for example, consistent with his perfect happiness? I think when we ask the question of whether the bible teaches that God is frustrated by the designs of men we have to answer with a hearty yes/no. Not because we are engaging in irrationality, but because we humbly submit to the teaching of the Word of God in all it has to say without setting up our intellect as an authority above the scriptures in a similar manner to the way in which the Church of Rome sets up her tradition as an authority above the scriptures. I get the feeling not many Van Tillians are present on this thread. Will continue to read your response to Murray later Lord-willing.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Well, you have the opportunity to question the author here; so why not do that instead of making generally dismissive statements? I"m sure he'll see this thread next time he's online.
The more I go through Matthew Winzers response to Murray the more I agree with Murray.
Of course Rev. Winzer is imperfect like the rest of us, and so he could be wrong on this issue. Regardless, I know from experience that he is also a godly and learned man, and so if you do disagree with him, it should be done so in a respectful manner.
 

KeithW

Puritan Board Freshman
To the original post, it first has to be understood what the "well meant offer" is based on. When I first encountered this in the Christian Reformed Church I attended, I was surprised it was even an issue. It has to do with interpreting a couple of words/ideas in the Bible, and then trying to figure out how to address the resulting apparent contradiction. The "well meant offer" is based on the idea that the words "all" and "world" really do mean all men in the entire world. Two of the verses which then have to be addressed are:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.(John 3:16 KJV)
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.(1 Tim. 2:4 KJV)
These have to be addressed because limited atonement seems to contradict "all men in the entire world".

Here are two sources I know of which attempt to exegete the words/ideas of "all" and "world".

Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God, especially "Appendix 3 The Meaning Of "KOSMOS" In John 3:16".

Pastor Jeff Pollard of Mount Zion Bible Church has a sermon series on SermonAudio called "Doctrine Of Grace". He exegetes the words "world" and "all" in two of the sermons: "Doctrine of Grace: 'For God So Loved the World' 23 of 38", "Doctrine of Grace: 'A Ransom For All' 24 of 38". I think the entire series is worth listening to, but be warned that each sermon is an hour long.

If you just want to look up the meaning of the Greek word in 1 Tim. 2:4 which is translated into English as "all", then see the Greek lexicon by Thayer and Smith for πᾶς (Strong's G3956).
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Rev. Matthew Winzer, do the passages referring to a desire in God (1 Timothy 2:4 etc..)
This passage does not express a desire in God for the salvation of all men. Proponents of divine unfulfilled desire, such as John Murray and David Silversides, do not allege this passage in support of it, and for good reason. As the passage goes on to state, this "will" of God is attested by the fact that Christ has been given a ransom for all. The objects of the "will" or "desire" must therefore be co-extensive with the beneficiaries of the ransom. If this passage expresses an universal desire it must also support an universal ransom.

Reformed exegetes and theologians teach that the word "all" is qualified by the context, which in this case is limited to "all kinds" of men. Of course, to arrive at this conclusion, one must regard himself obliged to look honestly and reasonably at the passage in accord with the accepted rules of sound interpretation. Without an accountable use of ordinary and reasonable methods the reader is free to follow his fancy and make of the passage whatever he pleases.
 

Conner

Puritan Board Freshman
I haven't read Murray's book. Just now getting the chance to sit down and read some more of the article. Though Murray does not appeal to passages such as 1 Timothy 2:4 other men have (e.g. Piper). I don't find the defense of (all kinds of men) being referred to as all men compelling, and am not the only person to have said this (Spurgeon). I have had no intention of disrespect at all Rev. Winzer.
 

Conner

Puritan Board Freshman
Spurgeon on 1 Timothy 2:4. "What then? Shall we try to put another meaning into the text than that which it fairly bears? I trow not. You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. "All men," say they,—"that is, some men": as if the Holy Ghost could not have said "some men" if he had meant some men. "All men," say they; "that is, some of all sorts of men": as if the Lord could not have said "all sorts of men" if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written "all men," and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the "alls" according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to truth. I was reading just now the exposition of a very able doctor who explains the text so as to explain it away; he applies grammatical gunpowder to it, and explodes it by way of expounding it. I thought when I read his exposition that it would have been a very capital comment upon the text if it had read, "Who will not have all men to be saved, nor come to a knowledge of the truth." Had such been the inspired language every remark of the learned doctor would have been exactly in keeping, but as it happens to say, "Who will have all men to be saved," his observations are more than a little out of place. My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the word of God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself; for who am I that I should everlastingly be consistent? But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture. God forbid that I should cut or shape, even in the least degree, any divine expression. So runs the text, and so we must read it, "God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
Does not the text mean that it is the wish of God that men should be saved? The word "wish" gives as much force to the original as it really requires, and the passage should run thus—"whose wish it is that all men should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth." As it is my wish that it should be so, as it is your wish that it might be so, so it is God's wish that all men should be saved; for, assuredly, he is not less benevolent than we are. Then comes the question, "But if he wishes it to be so, why does he not make it so? " Beloved friend, have you never heard that a fool may ask a question which a wise man cannot answer, and, if that be so, I am sure a wise person, like yourself, can ask me a great many questions which, fool as I am, I am yet not foolish enough to try to answer. Your question is only one form of the great debate of all the ages,—"If God be infinitely good and powerful, why does not his power carry out to the full all his beneficence?" It is God's wish that the oppressed should go free, yet there are many oppressed who are not free. It is God's wish that the sick should not suffer. Do you doubt it? Is it not your own wish? And yet the Lord does not work a miracle to heal every sick person. It is God's wish that his creatures should be happy. Do you deny that? He does not interpose by any miraculous agency to make us all happy, and yet it would be wicked to suppose that he does not wish the happiness of all the creatures that he has made. He has an infinite benevolence which, nevertheless, is not in all points worked out by his infinite omnipotence; and if anybody asked me why it is not, I cannot tell. I have never set up to be an explainer of all difficulties, and I have no desire to do so. It is the same old question as that of the negro who said, "Sare, you say the devil makes sin in the world." "Yes, the devil makes a deal of sin." "And you say that God hates sin." "Yes." "Then why does not he kill the devil and put an end to it?" Just so. Why does he not? Ah, my black friend, you will grow white before that question is answered. I cannot tell you why God permits moral evil, neither can the ablest philosopher on earth, nor the highest angel in heaven.
This is one of those things which we do not need to know. Have you never noticed that some people who are ill and are ordered to take pills are foolish enough to chew them? That is a very nauseous thing to do, though I have done it myself. The right way to take medicine of such a kind is to swallow it at once. In the same way there are some things in the Word of God which are undoubtedly true which must be swallowed at once by an effort of faith, and must not be chewed by perpetual questioning. You will soon have I know not what of doubt and difficulty and bitterness upon your soul if you must needs know the unknowable, and have reasons and explanations for the sublime and the mysterious. Let the difficult doctrines go down whole into your very soul, by a grand exercise of confidence in God."
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Spurgeon on 1 Timothy 2:4. "What then? Shall we try to put another meaning into the text than that which it fairly bears? I trow not. You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. "All men," say they,—"that is, some men": as if the Holy Ghost could not have said "some men" if he had meant some men.
The Holy Spirit clearly did not say "some men." He said "all kinds of men;" and the Greek construction is properly and precisely what it should be in order to convey that idea, besides the fact that the context explicitly refers to different kinds of men.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
"All men," say they; "that is, some of all sorts of men": as if the Lord could not have said "all sorts of men" if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written "all men," and unquestionably he means all men.
Sadly, here Spurgeon's logic is incoherent with the language of the Bible. If we take this hermeneutic of his to its logical conclusion, passages like Galatians 3:8 which reads,

"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed,"

would necessarily imply universal redemption. Why? Because "as if the Lord could not have said ['some men from all nations'] if he had meant that." Another good example would be John 3:16 with emphasis on John's use of the greek word 'kosmos'. To say the "world" is loved by the Father is not necessarily to say that all men in that world are loved by Him. We simply have to admit that this IS the language of the Bible, whether we like it or not, or whether we find it logical or not.
 

Conner

Puritan Board Freshman
I wouldn't appeal to John 3:16 in support of even the free offer of the gospel for the simple reality of its particularity. A proper translation might go something like this, "God loved the world in this way, He gave His unique Son so that all the believing will be saved". As to the passage in Galatians I am simply not seeing where you are coming from. All nations may be blessed without every individual being blessed.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
As to the passage in Galatians I am simply not seeing where you are coming from. All nations may be blessed without every individual being blessed.
Well, if that is so obvious, then I wonder why you have hard time accepting the fact that "all men" does not necessarily mean every single person in every context of Scripture.

Edit: Sorry, for not clarifying this earlier. My intention was not to make a parallel between the words "all men" and "all nations," but simply to point out our generation's difficulty to understand the Biblical language without the aid of Scripture. To truly understand what constitutes a Biblical nation, one has to go to Scripture. Likewise, if you find the word "all" in Scripture, you cannot go to our contemporary dictionaries for correct definitions.
 
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JimmyH

Puritan Board Junior
John Calvin's commentary 1 Timothy 2:4 ;

4 Who wishes that all men may be saved. Here follows a confirmation of the second argument; and what is more reasonable than that all our prayers should be in conformity with this decree of God?

And may come to the acknowledgment of the truth. Lastly, he demonstrates that God has at heart the salvation of all, because he invites all to the acknowledgment of his truth. This belongs to that kind of argument in which the cause is proved from the effect; for, if

"the gospel is the power of God for salvation to every one that believeth," (Romans 1:16,)

it is certain that all those to whom the gospel is addressed are invited to the hope of eternal life. In short, as the calling is a proof of the secret election, so they whom God makes partakers of his gospel are admitted by him to possess salvation; because the gospel reveals to us the righteousness of God, which is a sure entrance into life.

Hence we see the childish folly of those who represent this passage to be opposed to predestination. "If God" say they, "wishes all men indiscriminately to be saved, it is false that some are predestined by his eternal purpose to salvation, and others to perdition." They might have had some ground for saying this, if Paul were speaking here about individual men; although even then we should not have wanted the means of replying to their argument; for, although the will of God ought not to be judged from his secret decrees, when he reveals them to us by outward signs, yet it does not therefore follow that he has not determined with himself what he intends to do as to every individual man.

But I say nothing on that subject, because it has nothing to do with this passage; for the Apostle simply means, that there is no people and no rank in the world that is excluded from salvation; because God wishes that the gospel should be proclaimed to all without exception. Now the preaching of the gospel gives life; and hence he justly concludes that God invites all equally to partake salvation. But the present discourse relates to classes of men, and not to individual persons; for his sole object is, to include in this number princes and foreign nations. That God wishes the doctrine of salvation to be enjoyed by them as well as others, is evident from the passages already quoted, and from other passages of a similar nature. Not without good reason was it said, "Now, kings, understand," and again, in the same Psalm,

"I will give thee the Gentiles for an inheritance, and the ends of the earth for a possession." (Psalm 2:8-10.)

In a word, Paul intended to shew that it is our duty to consider, not what kind of persons the princes at that time were, but what God wished them to be. Now the duty arising out of that love which we owe to our neighbor is, to be solicitous and to do our endeavor for the salvation of all whom God includes in his calling, and to testify this by godly prayers.

With the same view does he call God our Savior; for whence do we obtain salvation but from the undeserved kindness of God? Now the same God who has already made us partakers of salvation may sometime extend his grace to them also. He who hath already drawn us to him may draw them along with us. The Apostle takes for granted that God will do so, because it had been thus foretold by the predictions of the prophets, concerning all ranks and all nations.
1 Timothy 2 Calvin's Commentaries

If you have access to William Hendrickson's commentary on 1 Timothy 2 :1-4 he also takes the position, quite convincingly, that Paul is not referring to 'all' mankind individually, but all in a general way.
 
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