"The Free Offer" Reviewed by Dr George M. Ella

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AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
The Free Offer: Biblical and Reformed
By David Silversides


Marpet Press, 2005



Reviewed by Dr George M. Ella​



Yet another former sturdy defender of the faith now endorses a deceitful gospel which outclasses the errors of older Liberalism. David Silversides has joined such modern apostles as John and Iain Murray, Malcolm H. Watts, Phillip R. Johnson, Errol Hulse, David Gay and Ken Stebbins in their campaign to alter radically the Christian’s view of God and His Word. Pastor Silversides traces the roots of opposition to his new divinity in the formation of the Protestant Reformed Churches in the nineteen-twenties under the leadership of Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965), arguing that the PRC presented a caricature of the free-offer position thus fostering controversy and confusion. Instead of giving acceptable proof of this, Silversides caricatures those who do not use his, as yet undefined, free-offer tactics as if they preached by rote with no true heart to plead with dead sinners to turn to Christ and live.

Though Silversides exaggerates grossly the failings of his opponents, he fails to examine the enormous lack of evangelical fervency in modern free offer circles still sailing under a Reformed flag where method is often ranked higher than message and denominational law-discipline is disguised as holy living. Nor does he examine why many sound Christians, dubbed ‘Antinomians and Hyper-Calvinists by the BOT school of neo-evangelists are constantly witnessing to the lost and drawing them by the Spirit to Christ, whereas their numerous free-offer, duty faith, critics often merely use their energies to call their more active brethren names and to write books promoting their free offer, Anti-Trinitarian errors. At times, one is compelled to think that all they want is a fight! Silversides, however, runs away from the grave moral problems his own defence of common grace and the free offer entails, never explaining why God, in his opinion, desires the salvation of all sinners in the preached gospel, yet nevertheless rejects them with the same delight that He felt when lulling them falsely to Himself. Silversides weird idea of God’s heavenly love for sinners in this life but hate in the next presents huge moral problems which he leaves unsolved. Nor does he try to come to terms with most difficult texts such as ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau I have hated’ as, according to his immoral theory, God must love Esau and offer Christ freely to him before changing His mind and letting him fall.

In examining the free offer and common grace problems presented by Hoeksema, Silverside does not update them by discussing the Anti-Trinitarianism of the modern free-offer movement and their teaching respecting paradoxes in God’s Word. Nor does he mention that free-offer protagonists such as John Murray, alter the Bible text as it suits them in order to put forward their views. However, we are compelled to associate Silversides with this modern Anti-Trinitarian, free-offer movement as the publisher’s blurb is written by none other than Malcolm H. Watts who is deeply involved in the modern departure from the Biblical and historical Reformed faith. Furthermore, as Silversides emphasises common grace as a fore-court of saving grace with the fervour of an Errol Hulse and John Murray, we must examine critically what he says to see if he shares their shame.

This reviewer cannot recommend anything in the book other than Silversides’ use of the AV without altering it to suit his purpose. Obvious criticisms are as follows:

If Silversides wishes to present Hoeksema as the father of the anti-free offer, anti-common grace school and claim that his spirit still lives on under the guidance of Prof. David Engelsma, he has chosen the wrong men for the modern debate. The PRC is now openly a duty-faith organization which nowadays goes hand in hand with the free-offer teaching as sponsored by the Banner of Truth and their theological allies. Today, most who reject the Anti-Trinitarian free offer error would also reject duty faith, and the confusion concerning the law in a believer’s life which goes with it, believing it is contrary to the gospel of grace.

Silversides presents little Bible exegesis. As a Presbyterian, he keeps to the Westminster Confession which he defends against the allegedly wrong interpretations of the Protestant Reformed Churches. Non-Presbyterians will find Silversides’ use of the WC unconvincing. The confession lacks the Reformed consistency of the Bible, 39 Articles, the Lambeth Articles, the Irish Articles and the Canons of Dort. The Westminster Assembly was set up by a revolutionary government and manned with politicians and men from various rebel parties and theologies, almost none of whom represented the Reformed Church of England who had ushered in the glorious Reformation and provided us with gospel teaching never bettered. Hyper-Calvinists, Antinomians, Amyraldians, Free-Willers, Separatists and Erastians competed to have their views eternalized in the Westminster Standards. Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists fought for different brands of Republicanism and ecclesiology. It is amazing that the Confession did not become a chaos. This illustrates the overruling hand of God in England’s history and the deep-down-in-the-heart feeling of the rebels that they ought to stick as closely as possible to the 39 Articles, though they called their Church ‘malignant’. In ‘nationalising’ the bishopless churches and outlawing the Reformed Church of England, the WA set up a system, under Parliament, that robbed the churches of any real leadership of the churches. With all its weaknesses, the Reformed Church of England with its Convocation had provided English believers with a freedom they were never to have again. It is interesting to note that where Silversides criticizes the Hoeksema-Engelsma movement, it is invariably because of the beliefs they hold in company with England’s pre-rebellion Anglican Reformers and the great evangelists of the Eighteenth Century Awakening.

It is useful, after establishing a principle from Scripture, to illustrate these truths by godly examples. However, Silversides, after basing an argument primarily on the WC, or interpreting Scripture by means of the WC, quotes men who quite contradict him in context, yet Silversides claims they support him. This fully thwarts Silversides’ intentions. For instance, Silversides speaks of God’s love for all men on page 18, generalised from the single event of the rich young ruler (Mark 10; 21-22). Yet in his supporting quotes from Calvin, the Frenchman is not arguing for a common-grace, general love for reprobate sinners but is illustrating how ‘covetousness held the young man back’. Silversides quotes John Knox on page 19 as showing ‘God’s love to the non-elect’, yet Knox is not speaking on that subject but explaining that whereas the reprobate partake of ‘common mercies’, what he calls ‘sovereign mercy’ are reserved for His chosen children.

Apart from these unhelpful quotes in the body of the text, Silversides fills out his 128 paged booklet with 45 annexed pages of unexplained quotes from men of quite different persuasions to ‘prove’ that they believed in a free offer. But only one of these numerous and quite superfluous quotes appears relevant to the free offer cause, providing the translation used is correct. The rest is padding. To argue, for instance, that Mathew Mead’s belief that rain falls on the just and unjust proves he is a free-offer man is fancy run wild.

Silversides deduces (p. 23) from Christ’s command to love our neighbours as ourselves that God loves all sinners. God would not command us to be what He is not. True, Christians are called to love their neighbours. Believers are God’s instruments and even co-workers in Providence, but this can hardly be likened to exercising a saving love for all sinners in telling them that Jesus has died personally for them and is thus freely offered to them. Likewise, we are called upon to forgive our neighbours of any wrong done to us, irrespective of their repentance, but this does not mean that, by analogy, God is obliged to do the same. Silversides challenges the immutability of God too much for my liking by arguing that though God loves our unconverted neighbours in this life, He will not love them in the next. Silversides, nevertheless quarrels with Engelsma’s argument that Rom. 2:4 depicts God’s love which leads to repentance, which must be a saving and discriminating love and not a general love to all men. Silversides retorts by laboriously explaining how one Biblical word (here chrestos) can apply to God’s common love for all but, in another context, apply to God’s saving love for some. Silversides, however, appears to apply such reasoning arbitrarily to suit his free offer approach.

Macabre as Silversides’ doctrine of God’s changing love is, his doctrine of God’s two wills is even more horrifying. We are presented with God’s supposed wills of desire and decree. Silverside notes difficulties involved in using the term ‘desire’ but, nevertheless, still uses it. He argues on page 84 ‘If the term desire can legitimately be used to describe delight or pleasure in a holiness commanded but not decreed to be effected, so it can be legitimately employed to describe God’s loving delight or pleasure in gospel blessings offered but not decreed to be actually bestowed.” This is the deadly gospel of the free-offer monsters. According to Silversides, the ‘free offer’ means nothing less than God delights in promising salvation but equally delights in withholding it from the ones to whom it is promised. As Silversides repeats and underlines this ‘horrible decree’, there is no doubt that we are understanding Silversides correctly. However, he implies all along that we must preach God’s delight in making promises and hide the fact that his all-too-human god will not keep them.

Silversides argues that his target bogeymen Hoeksema and Engelsma believe in justification from eternity and therefore get the common grace, free offer wrong. The elect, the Dutch-Americans believe, are placed in Christ before the foundation of the world which guarantees their salvation and warrants them being given faith to appropriate it. One cannot be more secure than when one is placed in Christ. Silverside disagrees, using Romans 8:30 quite out of context, maintaining that in the order of salvation, there is first a calling, then a believing, then a justification on the grounds of the sinner’s belief. This general call is common grace which also shows God’s common love to all men. However, where Engelsma is arguing from God’s electing decrees in eternity before the foundation of the world according to Ephesians 1:4-11. Silversides is arguing for God’s actions in time according to a set chronology where faith precedes justification. This view contradicts the teaching of Romans on the justification of God’s ungodly enemies and that of the English and Swiss Reformers. Romans 8.30 in context points clearly to what has already happened on behalf of the elect whose calling and predestination are referred to first in verses 28 and 29 in terms of eternity. The whole context points to the elect being the objects of justification. Ephesians 1:3-4; 2 Thesalonians 2:13-14; I Peter 1:2, Acts 13;48 and Romans 8:30 all cause us to rejoice in the justification that God has given us, outside of time, in Christ. Are not our names written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life in eternity where our inheritance awaits us? Romans 8:28-30; 2 Peter 1:10 and 2 Timothy 1:9 show clearly that there is no particular time order in relation to God’s decrees as they are from eternity. At times Paul speaks of calling before he speaks of predestination and at other times predestination is chosen first. In his Timothy epistle Paul places everything in eternity. Peter puts calling even before election in his letter, showing that the Apostles were not thinking in terms of time but in terms of what Christ had accomplished. On dealing with Witsius, Silversides argues that election gives the elect a right to justifying benefits but not those benefits. This would also contradict the Scriptures given above besides Witsius.

Silversides strives to dig himself out of his own pit by arguing that the free offer is only free if sinners respond to it. This is cheating. Either the offer is free for everybody and God wishes to save everybody or the offer is conditional to either the will of man or God. Silverside maintains that ‘all of grace’ means ‘all of God’, so he is left with a gospel which is conditional on God’s election in Christ and not on a free offer to all for all according to a faulty belief in a two-faced god. Again, Silversides pins his hope on the Westminster Standards (p. 62), which, however, speak of saving grace but not of common grace or a free offer. He then maintains the Westminster Confession, Article VII:3 supports him, but here is a clear reference to the offer within the covenant of grace as believed by Dort, the Marrow Men and William Huntington and not within the gospel of common grace as believed by Silversides. This is clearly shown by the next paragraph (Section 4) which refers to the covenant of grace bequeathed for an inheritance to the elect. The only section that comes anywhere near Silversides’ interpretation is X:1, which is, as George S. Hendry says, a later addition “to indicate the salvation provided in the covenant of grace is in God’s eternal purpose intended for all men” and has been smuggled into the body text by modern free-offer people who do not care two hoots for the old WC theology.[1] Though Silversides is slow to explain his terms, usually introducing them with vague Arminian-like utterances, he comes closest to defining his free offer on pages 47 and 83 where he says, “The overtures of the gospel are an expression of God’s love, in that he delights in the promised blessedness that is held forth, even though, concerning the non-elect, he has not decreed the bestowal of the faith necessary for that blessedness to be conveyed.” In other words, the common-grace, free-offer gospel is to tell sinners that some are promised blessings in which God delights but which He will not give. This is the crassest display of Hyper-Calvinism that I have ever come across and quite destroys Silversides superficial talk of a free offer and common grace.

Is not the old orthodox religion better which speaks of an immutable God whose promises are all ‘Yea and Amen’ and a faithful Christ who died to redeem each and everyone of His Church, promising them that He will never leave them nor forsake them? Happily, the Scriptures teach that our triune God keeps His promises. Silversides feigned gospel is not only a gospel of deceit, it is a gospel of confusion, combining the extremes of Arminianism and Hyper-Calvinism. It is certainly not Biblical and it is clearly not Reformed.

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[1] I am grateful to Chris Nogradi for pointing this out to me.

http://www.go-newfocus.co.uk/pages.php?section=25&subsection=7&artID=167
 

terry72

Puritan Board Freshman
I haven't read this particular book, but the evidence that the "free offer" of the gospel was/is held by the mainstream of Reformed and Calvinistic tradition is quite overwhelming. So, it is interesting that Mr. Ella would write as if history is on the "hyper-calvinist" side. I mean it seems silly that this is even debated. It would be better if men such as Mr. Ella would just admit that he, and others like Hoeksema, are just not in step with the historic Reformed tradition and certainly out of step with John Calvin on this issue (I mean as long as you can prove it scripturally why care what the majority of the Reformed tradition says?), but alas, if this were ever admitted then they would have no choice but to accept the "hyper-calvinist" label, and they certainly can't have that even is it means engaging in historical revision.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
Guess who wrote the following:

The Gospel of God’s grace in Christ Jesus is not a thing to be proved, but truth to be believed. It is not submitted to our reasoning powers as a subject for critical examination. The gospel is a MESSAGE FROM GOD, addressed to the conscience, feelings, and affections. For this reason, men fond of argument and proving everything by strictly logical deduction generally make very poor preachers. In the Scriptures, God does not argue, He proclaims!


Any ideas?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
A very poor review, even though I agree with the author's criticism pertaining to Rev. Silversides' avowal of changing desire in God. Mr. Ella's presentation leaves one with the impression that he knows little to nothing about the Westminster Confession of Faith or the manner in which it was produced.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
A very poor review, even though I agree with the author's criticism pertaining to Rev. Silversides' avowal of changing desire in God. Mr. Ella's presentation leaves one with the impression that he knows little to nothing about the Westminster Confession of Faith or the manner in which it was produced.

Isn't he an old liner, strict and particular baptist LBC 1644?
 

Ivan

Pastor
Guess who wrote the following:

The Gospel of God’s grace in Christ Jesus is not a thing to be proved, but truth to be believed. It is not submitted to our reasoning powers as a subject for critical examination. The gospel is a MESSAGE FROM GOD, addressed to the conscience, feelings, and affections. For this reason, men fond of argument and proving everything by strictly logical deduction generally make very poor preachers. In the Scriptures, God does not argue, He proclaims!


Any ideas?

J. C. Philpot.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
I hold to the free offer, and am not quite sure on common grace (perhaps something closer to what my pastor calls "covenantal grace"). But arguments on those two aside, Ella attacks ("blindly flails at," might have been closer) the Westminster Assembly and its Confession of Faith, as well as what the Strict & Particulars style "duty-faith" (the doctrine that faith is commanded by God, acknowledged by all the Reformed), and engages in general name-calling. "Anti-Trinitarian"? Honestly, now. One should give one's theological opponents the respect they deserve. I recognize Dr. Ella as an intelligent and thorough ecclesiastical historian; if I were ever to draw swords with him, I would respect him and his abilities. But his credentials do not shine forth in this review.

I actually have the book in question, but it's been packed away in preparation for my deployment to Iraq; so I won't be seeing it for another fifteen months or more. I know that my pastor didn't think too highly of it (and he's a Reformed Presbyterian, as is Silversides). Any other opinions on the book itself?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Any other opinions on the book itself?

One thing I find irritating is that we are always asked to look at texts which deal with everything but the free offer. If the teaching of a universal desire in God is taught by Scripture, it should be evident from the plain words of Scripture, seeing as the doctrine of salvation is at the heart of the Bible's message. I do think he stated the case well for the gospel being called an offer. He needed to pay more attention to the conditionality of the offer. I dislike the way the offer is presented these days as its own distinct locus; whereas in the past it was treated under the teaching of election and calling. He seems to quote any theologian who uses the word "desire" in relation to the gospel offer, without discriminating what they were intending to teach; but I was thankful he added there were reformed theologians who did not use the word "desire," and that it should not be made a test of orthodoxy.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
A very poor review, even though I agree with the author's criticism pertaining to Rev. Silversides' avowal of changing desire in God. Mr. Ella's presentation leaves one with the impression that he knows little to nothing about the Westminster Confession of Faith or the manner in which it was produced.

I certainly agree that it is a poor review. I bough Silverside's book over a year ago and there are gaps for example he assumes that if a Puritan wrote "desire" or "offer" or "common grace" they meant it in the same way he does.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
I hold to the free offer, and am not quite sure on common grace (perhaps something closer to what my pastor calls "covenantal grace"). But arguments on those two aside, Ella attacks ("blindly flails at," might have been closer) the Westminster Assembly and its Confession of Faith, as well as what the Strict & Particulars style "duty-faith" (the doctrine that faith is commanded by God, acknowledged by all the Reformed), and engages in general name-calling. "Anti-Trinitarian"? Honestly, now. One should give one's theological opponents the respect they deserve. I recognize Dr. Ella as an intelligent and thorough ecclesiastical historian; if I were ever to draw swords with him, I would respect him and his abilities. But his credentials do not shine forth in this review.

I actually have the book in question, but it's been packed away in preparation for my deployment to Iraq; so I won't be seeing it for another fifteen months or more. I know that my pastor didn't think too highly of it (and he's a Reformed Presbyterian, as is Silversides). Any other opinions on the book itself?

I believe that Ella refes to him and the "Free Offer" men as "anti-trinitarian" because they posit that God contains multiple wills and so Christ weeps for Jerusalem wishing to save them but the Father does not wish to save them. That type of thing. If it is fair you can read more here and I will let you judge.

One thing regarding the "Free Offer" it depends what you mean by offer. Personally I agree with Hoeksema's presentation in The Gospel:

Now, it is important, that we clearly understand the nature of a promise. It is by no means the same as an offer. Also in the latter the person that makes the offer declares his willingness to do something for or bestow something upon the person to whom the offer is made, but for its realization the offer is contingent upon the willingness of the second party, upon his consent to the offer. But a promise is different. It is a declaration, written or verbal, which binds the person that makes it to do or forbear to do the very thing promised. It is an engagement regardless of any corresponding duty or obligation on the part of the person to whom the thing is promised. A promise, therefore, implies the declaration of a certain good, together with the positive assurance that this good shall be bestowed upon or performed in behalf of the person to whom the promise is made.

This certainty of the promise is, as regards the promise in Scripture, emphasized by the fact, that it is God who makes the promise. God conceived of the promise; He it is who realizes the thing promised; He declares the promise. All of this implies, in the first place, that the promise cannot be contingent, for God is God, and His work certainly cannot be contingent upon the will of the creature. And, secondly, this signifies that the promise is as faithful and true as God is unchangeable. He will surely realize the promise. When He binds Himself to do or to bestow anything, He is bound by Himself and all His divine attributes to realize the promise unto them to whom it is made, for He cannot deny Himself.

And this idea of the promise necessarily implies that it is made to a definite party. An offer that is contingent upon the acceptance and consent of the second party may be general; a promise that binds the promising party and that is certain of realization requires a definite second party. And thus it is in Scripture. For, the promise is centrally made to Christ, and through Him to the seed of Abraham, to the children of the promise, to those who are called heirs and co-heirs of the promise. That this is certainly the idea of the promise is clearly expressed in Scripture. For, we read in Hebrews 6:13, 14, 17: "For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself, saying: Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.... Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath!" To the heirs of the promise the promise is certain, because it is rooted in the immutable counsel of the Most High!

Now, the idea of the gospel is that it is glad news about this promise of God. Glad news of glad tidings is the meaning of the word euangelion. Glad news it is for two reasons. In the first place, because of the present misery of the heirs of the promise. They are in the world, and in that world they are subject to sin and corruption, to suffering and death. Their present experience is one of sorrow and grief, of affliction and torment, of misery and groaning. And the promise holds before them the deliverance from their present state of misery and destitution. And secondly the gospel is glad news because of the unspeakably great riches of the inheritance that is promised. For, the promise holds before the heirs not such a deliverance from sin and death as will restore them to a former state and condition, but fills their hearts with a hope of glory such as never was conceived in the heart of man.​

As for Silverside's book itself, I would leave it packed away ;)
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
If the texts in question are understood anthropomorphically, there is not need for questioning the free offer of the gospel. This is where, in my opinion, Hokesma supralapsarianism runs a muck, by filtering each and every text through the sieve of the eternal decree. Yet, not every supra runs himself through in this regard. Rutherford for example, displays his supralapsarianism in all its fullness "Covenant of Life Opened", didactically. However, his application of that doctrine, in say, "Christ Dying, and Drawing Sinners to Himself", tempers the arch of the decree with sound, biblical overtures of the free offer.
I submit to you one such example of many,

“It’s much worthy of observation, how that sweet evangelick invitation is conceived, Isaiah 55:1, Ho, every one that thirsts; the Heb. word ‘hui‘ is alas, or ah, every one that thirsts, come to the waters, and he that hath no silver, come, buy, and eat: as if the Lord were grieved, and said, woe is me, alas that thirsty souls should die in their thirst, and will not come to the waters of life, Christ, and drink gratis, freely, and live. For the interjection, (Heb. Hui) Ho, is a mark of sorrowing… it expresseth two things, 1. A vehemencie, and a serious and unfeigned ardencie of desire, that we doe what is our duty, and the concatenation of these two, extremely desired of God, our coming to Christ, and our salvation: This moral connection between faith and salvation, is desired of God with his will of approbation, complacency, and moral liking, without all dissimulation, most unfeignedly; and whereas Arminians say, we make counterfeit, feigned, and hypocriticall desires in God, they calumniate and cavil egregiously, as their custom is. 2. The other thing expressed in these invitations, is a sort of dislike, grief, or sorrow; (’tis a speech borrowed from man, for there is no disappointing of the Lord’s will, nor sorrow in him for the not fulfilling of it) … God loveth, approveth, the believing of Jerusalem, and of her children, as a moral duty, as the hen doth love to warm and nourish her chickens… but there is no purpose, intention, or decree of God holden forth in these invitations called his revealed will, by which he saith that he intendeth and willeth that all he maketh the offer unto, shall obey and be saved.” p67f.

Samuel Rutherford, Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself, London, J.D. for Andrew Crook at the Green-Dragon in Paul’s Church Yard, 1647 p443f.

Notice, that Rutherford is holding out the Arminian accusation over against the reality of the anthropomorphic language of the offer? Ironically, Hoeksemaites and the Arminian present the same criticism, albeit from opposite ends of the spectrum. Interesting how extremes meet each other.

Silversides is very sound on the Free Offer. My only criticism of him is he does not draw as clear a line between the moral duty (and its anthropomorphic communication), and the will of decree. God does not desire the salvation of those whom he has not predestined. As Calvin teaches however, there is a general love communicated in the Offer, that is not a salvific love. It terminates in this life on the object of wrath, and is not eternal. Disagree if you will, but don't ever say this position is not Biblical or Calvinistic. :book2:
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
...there is a general love communicated in the Offer...

No there is not. The Canon's teach:

"So that men may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends heralds of this most joyful message to whom He will and when He wills."

"The promise of the gospel is that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life."

"But as many as are called by the gospel are earnestly called, for God earnestly and most sincerely reveals in His Word what is pleasing to Him, namely, that those who are called should come to Him. He also earnestly promises rest of soul and eternal life to all who come to Him and believe."

Not one word about a general love here. Nor in Scripture:

Isaiah 6:8-11 "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,"

John 12:37-40 "But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them."

God has the gospel preached to the reprobate to harden them and to increase their condemnation.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
...there is a general love communicated in the Offer...

No there is not. The Canon's teach:

"So that men may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends heralds of this most joyful message to whom He will and when He wills."

"The promise of the gospel is that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life."

"But as many as are called by the gospel are earnestly called, for God earnestly and most sincerely reveals in His Word what is pleasing to Him, namely, that those who are called should come to Him. He also earnestly promises rest of soul and eternal life to all who come to Him and believe."

Not one word about a general love here. Nor in Scripture:

Isaiah 6:8-11 "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,"

John 12:37-40 "But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them."

God has the gospel preached to the reprobate to harden them and to increase their condemnation.


Of course the passages you post here do nothing to support your claim that there is no general love to the human. Silence is no argument. Again, I post Calvin to refute your claim.


Mark 10:21 ~Jesus beholding him, loved him.~

The inference which the Papists draw from this, that works morally good — that is, works which are not performed by the impulse of the Spirit, but go before regeneration — have the merit of congruity, is an excessively childish contrivance. For if merit be alleged to be the consequence of the love of God, we must then say that frogs and fleas have merit, because all the creatures of God, without exception, are the objects of his love. To distinguish the degrees of love is, therefore, a matter of importance. As to the present passage, it may be enough to state briefly, that God embraces in fatherly love none but his children, whom he has regenerated with the Spirit of adoption, and that it is in consequence of this love that they are accepted at his tribunal. In this sense, to be loved by God, and to be justified in his sight, are synonymous terms.

But God is sometimes said to love those whom he does not approve or justify; for, since the preservation of the human race is agreeable to Him — which consists in justice, uprightness, moderation, prudence, fidelity, and temperance — he is said to love the political virtues; not that they are meritorious of salvation or of grace, but that they have reference to an end of which he approves. In this sense, under various points of view, God loved Aristides and Fabricius, and also hated them; for, in so far as he had bestowed on them outward righteousness, and that for the general advantage, he loved his own work in them; but as their heart was impure, the outward semblance of righteousness was of no avail for obtaining righteousness. For we know that by faith alone hearts are purified, and that the Spirit of uprightness is given to the members of Christ alone. Thus the question is answered, How was it possible that Christ should love a man who was proud and a hypocrite, while nothing is more hateful to God than these two vices? For it is not inconsistent, that the good seed, which God has implanted in some natures, shall be loved by Him, and yet that He should reject their persons and works on account of corruption (Calvin's Commentary on the Harmony of the Gospel. Vol. 2. p.297).

I await the Hokesemite explanation of this and countless other passages that Calvin comments on that prove a free offer, a common grace, and a general love. To date, none has dealt with it except to say, "Oh, well, Calvin used unfortunate language." What is demonstrated in Calvin is the exact sentiment of the Puritans as the root of the Free Offer. It is consistent Calvinism. It's time to answer Calvin as a Calvinist or simply accept the fact that you go beyond Calvin assuming a hyper position.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Of course the passages you post here do nothing to support your claim that there is no general love to the human. Silence is no argument. Again, I post Calvin to refute your claim.

You stated that "...there is a general love communicated in the Offer..." yet no mention is found of this in the Reformed Catechisms, Confessions or Creeds and so what you say here is not confessionally Reformed.

That they are silent on this actually says a great deal.

Mark 10:21 ~Jesus beholding him, loved him.~

The inference which the Papists draw from this, that works morally good — that is, works which are not performed by the impulse of the Spirit, but go before regeneration — have the merit of congruity, is an excessively childish contrivance. For if merit be alleged to be the consequence of the love of God, we must then say that frogs and fleas have merit, because all the creatures of God, without exception, are the objects of his love. To distinguish the degrees of love is, therefore, a matter of importance. As to the present passage, it may be enough to state briefly, that God embraces in fatherly love none but his children, whom he has regenerated with the Spirit of adoption, and that it is in consequence of this love that they are accepted at his tribunal. In this sense, to be loved by God, and to be justified in his sight, are synonymous terms.

But God is sometimes said to love those whom he does not approve or justify; for, since the preservation of the human race is agreeable to Him — which consists in justice, uprightness, moderation, prudence, fidelity, and temperance — he is said to love the political virtues; not that they are meritorious of salvation or of grace, but that they have reference to an end of which he approves. In this sense, under various points of view, God loved Aristides and Fabricius, and also hated them; for, in so far as he had bestowed on them outward righteousness, and that for the general advantage, he loved his own work in them; but as their heart was impure, the outward semblance of righteousness was of no avail for obtaining righteousness. For we know that by faith alone hearts are purified, and that the Spirit of uprightness is given to the members of Christ alone. Thus the question is answered, How was it possible that Christ should love a man who was proud and a hypocrite, while nothing is more hateful to God than these two vices? For it is not inconsistent, that the good seed, which God has implanted in some natures, shall be loved by Him, and yet that He should reject their persons and works on account of corruption (Calvin's Commentary on the Harmony of the Gospel. Vol. 2. p.297).

I await the Hokesemite explanation of this and countless other passages that Calvin comments on that prove a free offer, a common grace, and a general love. To date, none has dealt with it except to say, "Oh, well, Calvin used unfortunate language." What is demonstrated in Calvin is the exact sentiment of the Puritans as the root of the Free Offer. It is consistent Calvinism. It's time to answer Calvin as a Calvinist or simply accept the fact that you go beyond Calvin assuming a hyper position.

What this does not do is demonstrate that Calvin believed "...there is a general love communicated in the Offer..." for this verse has nothing to do with preaching the gospel.

Calvin is welcome to his own views. He posits a viable explanation in his own opinion. I happen to think Calvin was wrong on this. It ought be noted that at times Calvin is somewhat contradictory on this issue but then he still stands head and shoulders above myself.

Rev Winzer explaind fairly well in what way God loves generally and it certainly is not what you are here describing (as I understood him).

I seek to be faithful to the truth of Scripture as set forth in the Reformed Catechisms, Confessions and Creeds not the opinions of men here and there.
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Of course the passages you post here do nothing to support your claim that there is no general love to the human. Silence is no argument. Again, I post Calvin to refute your claim.

You stated that "...there is a general love communicated in the Offer..." yet no mention is found of this in the Reformed Catechisms, Confessions or Creeds and so what you say here is not confessionally Reformed.

That they are silent on this actually says a great deal.

Let's not forget the Westminster Standards shall we? The Confession itself, as well as the Shorter and Larger Catechisms speak of Christ freely offered", and such like passages. Or am I to conclude by your statement that the only "confessionally Reformed" standard are the 3 FoU, and the Hoksemaite bent in its interpretation?
What this does not do is demonstrate that Calvin believed "...there is a general love communicated in the Offer..." for this verse has nothing to do with preaching the gospel.

Your own reply is sufficient to answer your question.

Calvin is welcome to his own views. He posits a viable explanation in his own opinion. I happen to think Calvin was wrong on this. It ought be noted that at times Calvin is somewhat contradictory on this issue but then he still stands head and shoulders above myself.

BTW, I'm glad to see you admit you diverge from Calvinism at this point and have embarked on a new path. It's honest and appreciated.

Rev Winzer explaind fairly well in what way God loves generally and it certainly is not what you are here describing (as I understood him).

It is my pleasure to say that Matthew and I have been friends for several years, and over this time we have come to understand each other on this subject. I think you will find that Matthew and I agree on this subject almost completely, whereas he approaches it from the side of Rutherford, and I from Durham (same stick, different ends).

I seek to be faithful to the truth of Scripture as set forth in the Reformed Catechisms, Confessions and Creeds not the opinions of men here and there.

Oh, well there it is then. You, Hoeksema, and the Bible. Forget that the overwhelming majority of Reformed tradition, from Calvin on, disagree with your view on EXEGETICAL grounds. I have yet to see you answer with any scripture that proves your position. What I do see is a lot of quotes and links from the PRCNA and their sympathizers but no exegetical work whatsoever. So forgive me if I find your words a bit lacking.

You have not adequately engaged in the anthropomorphic language of these texts as Rutherford and Calvin suggest, nor dealt with them exegetically. A lot of heat, but not much light I'm afraid.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Jerrold, I appreciate the friendship we've enjoyed over the years, and especially the mutual respect as gospel ministers seeking to advance Christ's kingdom. I believe you're correct that there is a different emphasis in the way we look at this issue, and that we are essentially in agreement. Perhaps I'm becoming too much of a softy as I grow older, but I don't think Calvin and Hoeksema would take sides against each other on this point. The Protestant Reformed theology has a few quirks which I can't subscribe to, but I don't see them as falling outside the bounds of reformed orthodoxy. If we break through the language barrier we see that they still maintain all the "common" elements of providence that common grace exponents teach, whilst at the same time they are careful to guard the concept of grace against any kind of universalising element. This is a good thing in our day, because particular grace is under constant attack from all sides.

For what it's worth, My view of God's general love is that it is efficacious and non-salvific.

By efficacious I mean, when God loves, He communicates everything He intends to the object. No purpose of doing good to the creature is frustrated. Therefore when God intends to bless men as men in this world, none can thwart God's purpose. There is an article by Samuel Rutherford insisting there is no love in God which is ineffectual; I think it is posted at Rev. Silversides' congregational website. The article makes very good sense.

By non-salvific I mean there is no intention to give salvation to the reprobate. All their blessings are temporal blessings, and necessarily terminate with the close of this life. The fact that the gospel comes to them is gracious, but again, it is effectual, because the gospel provides them with the conditional offer of salvation. The gospel speaks of the love of God in its most intense expression, in the giving of His Son so that all who believe shall be saved. The message of God's love is therefore revealed to all who hear the gospel; but none may conclude that God loves them in particular until they have come to rest in the Son and to be accepted in the Beloved. Dr. Kennedy of Dingwall has an excellent sermon to this effect called the Father's Drawing, also online somewhere.

Blessings!
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Let's not forget the Westminster Standards shall we? The Confession itself, as well as the Shorter and Larger Catechisms speak of Christ freely offered", and such like passages.

Indeed they do but where do they teach that "...there is a general love communicated in the Offer..." for that is my immediate point of contention?
 

JOwen

Puritan Board Junior
Brother,

Read the writings of the Divines who wrote it and you will find this love expounded on.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Brother,

Read the writings of the Divines who wrote it and you will find this love expounded on.


So you admit that it is not found in the confessional documents. That was my point. I will leave it there.
 

JonathanHunt

Puritan Board Senior
I haven't read this particular book, but the evidence that the "free offer" of the gospel was/is held by the mainstream of Reformed and Calvinistic tradition is quite overwhelming. So, it is interesting that Mr. Ella would write as if history is on the "hyper-calvinist" side. I mean it seems silly that this is even debated. It would be better if men such as Mr. Ella would just admit that he, and others like Hoeksema, are just not in step with the historic Reformed tradition and certainly out of step with John Calvin on this issue (I mean as long as you can prove it scripturally why care what the majority of the Reformed tradition says?), but alas, if this were ever admitted then they would have no choice but to accept the "hyper-calvinist" label, and they certainly can't have that even is it means engaging in historical revision.

Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West

:ditto:
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
Jonathan, would you ditto a statement like, "...the mainstream of Reformed and Calvinistic tradition is quite overwhelming..." paedobaptist? Or did you ditto everything else but that statement?

Just wondering...

Peace brother.
 

JonathanHunt

Puritan Board Senior
Jonathan, would you ditto a statement like, "...the mainstream of Reformed and Calvinistic tradition is quite overwhelming..." paedobaptist? Or did you ditto everything else but that statement?

Just wondering...

Peace brother.

Sorry, I don't understand your question at all. Where is the word 'paedobaptist' in our brother's statement?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Jonathan, would you ditto a statement like, "...the mainstream of Reformed and Calvinistic tradition is quite overwhelming..." paedobaptist? Or did you ditto everything else but that statement?

Just wondering...

Peace brother.

Wow! Did we have a major subject change here or what? Wrong thread for this subject.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
Jonathan, would you ditto a statement like, "...the mainstream of Reformed and Calvinistic tradition is quite overwhelming..." paedobaptist? Or did you ditto everything else but that statement?

Just wondering...

Peace brother.

Sorry, I don't understand your question at all. Where is the word 'paedobaptist' in our brother's statement?


:lol:

Forget it....I'll send you a pm.
 
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