10 June 2007

Regarding the Well-Meant Offer of Mercy in the Gospel

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is Spurgeon's introduction to a sermon, "The Great Privation: or,
the Great Salvation," originally preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, sometime in the first half-decade after the Tabernacle opened. The message was published in 1865.

"O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been am a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea."—Isaiah 48:18.

ROM this verse we may learn that when God smites men on account of sin, it gives him no pleasure. The voice which speaks is not that of the seraphic prophet, but it is the voice of the Lord God of the prophets himself. The manner is not merely the majestic formula, "Thus saith Jehovah," but it is supplemented with words intended to remind us of his graciousness and his goodwill. "Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer," he who rescued thee from perils past, "the Holy One of Israel," the faithful Promiser, who hath shown thee his counsels and his statutes.

Moreover, he challenges attention with more simple, touching mementoes of his kindness, when he adds, "I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go." As the instructor of their childhood and the guide of their riper years, he first expresses the most natural interest in their welfare, and then pitifully bewails the folly of his children.

Speaking after the manner of men, to chasten his own people is a pain and a grief to his heart: "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." John Knox said that he never chastised his children without tears in his own eyes. Jeremiah, in the bitterest chapter of his unparalleled Lamentations, bears this grateful witness to our covenant God: "He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men." And surely if in the gentler chastisement of his hands, the Most High takes no pleasure, much less can he find delight in that withering curse which destroys the finally impenitent.

Beloved, the eternal torment of men is no joy to God. The ruin of a sinner gives Him no satisfaction. While the calamity is such as He only can estimate; the warnings, expostulations, and entreaties He hath spoken furnish proof upon proof of his pity.

Hear his own words, nay, hearken as he swears, listen to his own oath: "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live."

Not vengeance, but mercy: to kiss the returning prodigal; to wash the feet of the guilty sinner; to press the rebel to his bosom, and to adopt him into his family—this is happiness to God. When, therefore, he rises to judgment and pronounces the fearful sentence, "Depart, ye cursed," and casts down the transgressor to hell, and delivers him over unto the tormentors, though he vindicates the justice of his throne, it is "His strange work, to bring to pass his act, his strange act."

Even the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction have experience of God's longsuffering. How tardily he puts off the time! How often he tarries before he inflicts the stroke! How he hides his power while he unfolds his patience; he refrains the fierceness of his anger, because he is "God, and not man!" "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together."

Let me appeal to you then, my hearers, those of you who have entertained hard thoughts of God, correct them now, banish them from your breasts tonight. You may take pleasure in the damnation of your fellow men: my God hath no such pleasure; you may find gratification in your sins, but he grieves over them; for as he sees your course, he foresees your end.

Nor is this the only lesson which lays on the surface of the text. Still speaking after the manner of men, I beg you to observe, that the Lord addresses words of poignant regret over the prize the sinner has lost, as well as the penalty he has incurred.

So did Jesus Christ look upon Jerusalem. Musing on the desolation to which she should shortly come, he reflected on the preservation in which she might have safely stood. Just as little chickens cluster under the hen's wings, nestling there in genial warmth and peaceful security, so might Israel have found prosperity in her own borders, and protection against foreign invaders under the shadow of the wings of the Lord God Almighty. Ye remember how he burst into tears; ye can never forget that cry of his, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

Such, too, are the words of my text—words which I pray God may rouse your thoughts, and be graven deeply on your hearts. God looks upon the "peace" you might enjoy, and the "righteousness" that would enrich you, did you hearken to his commandments, and obey his great mandate, "Believe and live." He espies you afar off from peace; he beholds what you cannot yet discern, the clouds gathering round your head. It may be you feel in a dead calm. He utters this pathetic exclamation, "O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been like a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea."

Sinner! the eternal God weeps over you while you are utterly careless about yourself. The infinite heart of my divine Master yearns over you. The voice which has often reproved you, now mourns your hapless state in plaintive tones. Methinks I hear the chords of his heart in notes of pity, far exceeding all that prophets, apostles, and ministers could ever utter. "O that that sinner would believe in Jesus! O that he would give me his heart! O that he would be obedient to my word! Then his peace should flow in purity and fertility like a river; and then his righteousness should roll in boundless plenty, and multiply its grand impressive witness like the waves of the sea."
C. H. Spurgeon


37 comments:

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Nothing beats preaching the gospel of the free grace of God and "letting loose" with the free offer, assuring every sinner that there is salvation for them if they will but take it.

Some Hyper Calvinists say that the "if" supposes creature contribution, but the first "if" in the Bible was used by God proclaiming potential blessing to a reprobate in Genesis 4:7

M.W. Brewer said...

I much enjoy my weekly dose of Spurgeon. Thank you and blessings.

Tartanarmy said...

assuring every sinner that there is salvation for them if they will but take it.
-------------------------------

What if they will not take it?

What do we then say?
Might we suggest the "free mercy" of the creator, to whomsoever He will have mercy?
And trust in God to save "whosoever" He desires to save?

Hypotheticals, potentials or God accomplished reality?

Mark

M.W. Brewer said...

"What if they will not take it?

What do we then say?
Might we suggest the "free mercy" of the creator, to whomsoever He will have mercy?
And trust in God to save "whosoever" He desires to save?"


You mean drag people kicking and screaming into heaven? Forcing Love on them? Is forced Love really Love at all?

Forgive me, because I don't mean this in a slanderous way, but if I am understanding this correctly -which it is possible that I am not- that statement is a very Islamic approach to the Christian God.

Jerry M said...

That's just good stuff

grace and peace

Bernie Wojcik said...

"You will say, “Pastor, you are still young, you have not had a very long life.” True, I have not, but I have had a very extensive acquaintance with all sections of the Christian Church, and I solemnly protest before you, that I have never yet met with a man professing to be a Christian, let alone his really being so, who ever said that his coming to God was the result of his unassisted nature. Universally, I believe, without exception, the people of God will say it was the Holy Spirit that made them what they are; that they would have refused to come as others do unless God's grace had sweetly influenced their wills. There are some hymns in Mr. Wesley's hymnbook which are stronger on this point than I could ever venture to be, for he puts prayer into the lips of the sinner in which God is even asked to force him to be saved by grace. Of course I can take no objection to a term so strong, but it goes to prove this, that among all sections of Christians, whether Arminian or Calvinistic, whatever their doctrinal sentiments may be, their experimental sentiments are the same. I do not think any of them would refuse to join in the verse-

Oh! yes, I do love Jesus,
Because he first loved me.

Nor would they find fault with our own hymn,

'Twas the same love that spread the feast,
That sweetly forced us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.'

We bring out the crown and say, “On whose head will we put it? Who ruled at the moment of salvation? Who decided that the sinner would be saved?” and the universal Church of the Living God, throwing away their creeds, would say. “Crown him; crown him, put it on his head, for he is worthy; he has made us to believe; he has done it, and to him be the praise forever and ever.” What staggers my minds is, that men can believe doctrines contrary to their own experience-that they can bring near to their hearts something they consider precious despite the fact that their own inward convictions reveal it to be a lie."

http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/0442.htm

Daryl said...

m. w. brewer...

I think the difficulty is in your start point. That is, do we start as free people happliy choosing whatever we wish because we can? or do we start as people designed to follow God, with all our defaults pointing in that direction but bound by sin with our wills forced the opposite way? If we are the former, then yes it sounds fairly Islamic, but if the latter why then we all are springs set to explode the instant we are freed.
The reason "kicking and screaming" doesn't apply in the end, is that all of this happens at the level of our will. Our will is bent so that we refuse the offer of the gospel, but when Christ releases "Whomsoever he will" he shows his mercy by releasing us to be what he made, creatures whose will's are bent towards him only.
The whole spring analogy works for me because it reminds me that upon being released from sin, what else can I do but follow him?

Just like Lazarus. What was he going to say? "Um...no thanks Lord, I like the cool air in this tomb and the worms are beginning to grow on me..." And we are all Lazarus's are we not?

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

*"Salvation for them if they will have it"*

As opposed to an automatic salvation whether they want it or not...or come and claim it or not. Earnestly believing in the absolute Sovereignty of God to have mercy on whom He will mercy, but *also* emphasising the absolute responsibility of the sinner to actually come to Christ, otherwise he won't have life (John 5:40)

In 1927 AW Pink was closing his messages with appeals like this:

*"Why not believe in him for yourself? Why not trust his precious blood for yourself, and why not tonight? Why not tonight, my friend? God is ready, God is ready to save you now if you believe on him. The blood has been shed, the sacrifice has been offered, the atonement has been made, the feast has been spread. The call goes out to you tonight. 'Come, for all things are now ready.'"*(Studies in the Scriptures 1927, as quoted in Iain Murray's Life of Pink)

Tartanarmy said...

As opposed to an automatic salvation whether they want it or not...or come and claim it or not. Earnestly believing in the absolute Sovereignty of God to have mercy on whom He will mercy, but *also* emphasising the absolute responsibility of the sinner to actually come to Christ, otherwise he won't have life (John 5:4)
----------------------------------

My point is a simple one.
Let us not equivocate upon terms. The above is not what you said in your other post regarding the so called “free offer”. Hopefully you will admit that.

Man having a responsibility to come and believe etc is not precisely nor synonymously the same as teaching the “free offer” idea.
Its not a matter of holding two truths in contention which is so much the argument made these days, but rather, for me, avoiding contradictions and exegesis of scripture etc

I can affirm what man’s responsibility is, and what God has promised to do, without bringing in this “free offer” stuff. That is my simple point.

We have no warrant to lie on God’s behalf by telling every single person that God desires their salvation, (and that is exactly what “sincere offers” are saying) and then contradict ourselves by teaching that God saves “whomever” He desires to save. It is not necessary to embrace what has come to be called "“free offer” theology to the exclusion of God centred theology and the responsibility of man. Too many reformed types are implicit Arminians and that is yet another simple fact.
Either that, or they just do not seem to be able to rationally work through this horrible “all of a sudden thing” called “Systematic Theology”.

I do not know for sure.
I am often attacked for questioning fine men like Piper or even Phil when inconsistent upon this issue, or even worse, I am simply ignored.

Mark

Tartanarmy said...

And of course, I can agree with your saying,

"Nothing beats preaching the gospel of the free grace of God"

Amen
Mark

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Tartan Army:

Your thesis (and your various charges) only stick if we were teaching that God's desire to save all men without exception carried the force of a decree. Which, of course, we don't.

God would have gathered all Jerusalem under His wing in Matthew 23:37 but they would not. He was totally sincere in that desire, although for reasons best known to Him, He did not give it the force of a decree. Just as He in sincere when He says that men ought to have no other gods before Him and should not steal etc.,

David Ponter said...

For interests sake, I reposted Spurgeon's sermon on 1 Tim 2:4. Even tho he is dead, yet still he speaks... lies. ;-)

http://www.theologyonline.org/blog/

I am joking about the lying business, just being rhetorical.

David

YnottonY said...

Here's David's Spurgeon link:

Spurgeon on 1 Timothy 2:4

Good comments by Colin M. above as well :-)

YnottonY said...

Incidentally, some make an exegetical distinction between "Jerusalem" (i.e. the leaders) and the "children" in Matthew 23:37, but that does not negate the truth that God wanted/desired/willed to save all of Jerusalem. He willed to do so THROUGH THE LEADERS, but they were disobedient, hence the contextual rebuke. Why did God send prophets and wise men to the leaders from generation to generation? To save the nation through the undershepherds of course.

NKJ Matthew 23:34 "Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,

The "children" that he willed to gather was the nation, and not merely the elect within the nation. Only a desperate theological system would seek to get that sense (children = elect) from the passage. As Colin noted above, the will spoken of is not the decretal or secret will, but the revealed will of God as made known through the gospel call.

Spurgeon's take on the passage is correct, as Colin has discerned.

YnottonY said...

Spurgeon said in Phil's post above:

"Sinner! the eternal God weeps over you while you are utterly careless about yourself. The infinite heart of my divine Master yearns over you. The voice which has often reproved you, now mourns your hapless state in plaintive tones. Methinks I hear the chords of his heart in notes of pity, far exceeding all that prophets, apostles, and ministers could ever utter."

I very much like Spurgeon's indiscriminate statement above. He's addressing all "sinners" within his hearing, whether elect or not. He does not hesitate to say that God "yearns" over them to save them. Dictionary.com states the following with respect to the idea of yearning:

"to have an earnest or strong desire; long"

"Yearn stresses the depth and passionateness of a desire"

"to desire strongly or persistently"


Even though God's revealed will does not have the force of a decree, it is still accurate to associate the idea of "yearning" with it.

Thanks for this Spurgeon post, Phil. He's just echoing Calvin and the Puritans, yet how odd Spurgeon's words sound to many today.

David Ponter said...

well thanks Tony.

Lets try this. Ive also recenly posted Thomas Manton on 2 Peter 3:9. Manton delineates the two wills of God as part of his solution to a question he deals with.

Thomas Manton on 2 Peter 3:9

M.W. Brewer said...

Daryl,

I believe I read tartanarmy's incorrectly. I interpreted it to mean that even after death, those who still refused Christ would be saved anyway because God chose them. That is what I meant by the Islamic approach.

Now, for the record I am neither Calvinist nor Armenian, but in this context I understand what you are saying. The way you clarify brought the comment back into the perspective of during the "elect's" lifetime he or she will be brought to the saving knowledge in one way or another.

Thank You.

Blessings,
Michael

M.W. Brewer said...

"We have no warrant to lie on God’s behalf by telling every single person that God desires their salvation.."

Mark,

Does this make the apostle paul a liar in 1 Timothy 2? He seems quite clear in stating that it is God desire that all -pas- men come to salvation.

Blessings,
Michael

Daryl said...

m.w.brewer

Thanks. Glad I could help. I'm in no way attempting to "Calvinize" you, although I have often heard that when we discover the doctrines of grace we become (temporarily) a bunch of Muslims while we try and get a handle on the way God's sovereignty and our responsibility (accountability) work together.
I have often asked the very question you asked although I've never really thought of it in regards to salvation after death. But the reminder is a good one, that if you don't want Jesus before you die, that option is closed to you after you die. In that way (among others) we differ clearly from Mormons I think.

Btw, Calvinists don't teach that you will we saved against your will, only that God will change your mind to bring it to agreement with His.

M.W. Brewer said...

Daryl,

That's cool, and thanks again. I know that no one is out to "Calvanize" me, however if I had to choose between Armeneanism and Calvinism, I think I would rather err on the side of God's soveriegnty over man's will. ;-) Thanks again.

Blessings,
Michael

Tartanarmy said...

Like I said,

We have no warrant to lie on God’s behalf by telling every single person that God desires their salvation, (and that is exactly what “sincere offers” are saying) and then contradict ourselves by teaching that God saves “whomever” He desires to save.

Mark

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Tartan Army

You continue to lay a serious charge against those of us who believe in the free offer i.e. that we lying on God's behalf, but you do not answer our objection to your charge ie. that it would only be true if we were teaching that God's gracious desire carried the force of a decree. Again. I repeat that we don't and therefore your charge is baseless.

God's desire is that no man would commit adultery, for He has revealed this to us in Exodu 20 and elsewhere. We cannot doubt the sincerity of God in that desire, and yet He has not backed it with the force of a decree so that i does not happen. It happens every day and it is happening somewhere in this wicked world even as I type these words. Not all God's desires are backed with the force of a decree, but we can proclaim them nevertheless and should be able to do so without being branded as liars on God's behalf.

Early on, you complained about being ignored, but this is a necessary response if you simply lay charges and fail to back them up with sensible arguments. BTW, I don't have to agree with your argument to admit that it is sensible.

Tartanarmy said...

I am addressing exactly the same issue Dr James White is addressing, in the short audio link below.

http://doctrinesofgrace.net/modules/weblog0/details.php?blog_id=119

Feel free to make comment.
Of course I am not addressing nor objecting as to whether sinners go against God's precepts.
That is not the issue.

I am speaking about the Atonement and the issue of intention.
The most important aspect I believe.

Mark

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Tartanarmy:

I am not sure how the link you give to James White supports your claim that we who believe in the free offer of the gospel are lying on God's behalf.

I believe in Particular Redemption as much as any other Calvinist i.e. that Christ only atoned for the sins of His elect and no other sins were laid upon Him and atoned for. He did not decree that the sins of any other would be laid upon His Son.

All that God decreeds comes to pass and He has decreed the salvation only of His elect. This is therefore something definite and not merely potential. However, God clearly shows His pity etc., towards the non elect, seen in the fact that the gospel of grace is to be proclaimed promisculously to every creature and the invitation that whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. We might wonder why God does not follow up this great desire with the decree to save (as He does for His elect) but it is clear that He hasn't and we can only work with what has been revealed.

When I preach, I invite men to Christ. Of course, I also summons them and (in God's name) command that they come, reminding them that to disobey is the ultimate sin, etc., but I also invite, giving them assurance that God has gracious thoughts each one in particular. Again, I cannot tell how gracious these thoughts will ultimately prove to be to each individual, but there is enough there to assure each sinner that if he comes, he will not be tunred away.

I love the approach of the auld Scots preacher McCheyne who preached on the text from Provrbs 8:4 Unto you O men do I call...Answering the various objectons that could arise, McCheyne said: "The question is not "Am I elect?", but "am I one of the human race." This is perhaps one reason why he had such a fruitful ministry in his few years upon this earth.

YnottonY said...

Thanks for the McCheyne reference, Colin. I'll be reading it soon.

That McCheyne sermon can be found here:

Andrew Bonar, Memoir & Remains of Robert Murray M'Cheyne (Banner of Truth, 1995), pp.365-371. See Sermon V entitled, "The Gospel Call."

Tartanarmy said...

I am not sure how the link you give to James White supports your claim that we who believe in the free offer of the gospel are lying on God's behalf.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME
---------------------------------

Knowing that God has openly stated that He intends to save the “elect” or “whomever” He desires to save, we have warrant to command all men everywhere to repent.

We have no warrant to tell all men everywhere that the Triune God desires for everyone to be saved, for that is not biblical.

Mark
---------------------------------

I believe in Particular Redemption as much as any other Calvinist i.e. that Christ only atoned for the sins of His elect and no other sins were laid upon Him and atoned for. He did not decree that the sins of any other would be laid upon His Son.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME
-----------------------------------

So why then tell everyone everywhere that God desires their salvation?

You already admit that God has provided an atonement for some and not all.

You must see no connection between atonement/propitiation and the extent of the atonement.

If the atonement was intended for some and not all, we have no warrant to proclaim God’s desire to save all.

The two will construct was never meant to answer this, so I do not use it.

Mark
----------------------------------

All that God decreeds comes to pass and He has decreed the salvation only of His elect. This is therefore something definite and not merely potential.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME
----------------------------------
True, but the scripture and the confessions teach that God has decreed “all things” that come to pass, not just the salvation of His elect.

If you draw a distinction here, then we are on a slippery slope to start introducing all kinds of potentials that scripture nowhere affirms.

Mark
---------------------------------

However, God clearly shows His pity etc., towards the non elect, seen in the fact that the gospel of grace is to be proclaimed promisculously to every creature and the invitation that whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME
----------------------------------

Reformed theology teaches that there is “One” call that goes out to all that hear.

In that “One call” there is a two-fold distinction. An “outward call” and an “Inward call”.

God uses the “same” call, as a means to call out His elect. One call, twofold result.

Therefore, we have a “means” whereby God in His freedom, calls “only” those, whom He “desires” to call, and the rest are passed over.
In fact, not only passed over, but judged for their rejection of the call, even though they are not called “Inwardly”.

Many are called, but few are chosen.

Too many Calvinists today are saying “Many are called but few choose”.

I agree the Gospel call must be preached to all, but why?
I know that God is free in the matter of salvation, and He is using this Outward call for His end, which is to draw out the elect.

I leave God free in the matter of salvation.

I can tell all men to come to Christ, knowing full well, that the “elect” shall indeed come.

What a confidence that is when preaching the gospel of God’s “grace”.

I do not tell everyone that Christ died for them. I tell everyone that Christ died in order to “propitiate” the wrath of God against sin, and God has fully accepted that sacrifice, and is calling upon mankind to repent and believe the good news.

I preach the “love of God” is in Christ, and if “anyone” believes “In Christ” they shall be saved, loved and be eternally secure in Him.

Mark

---------------------------------

We might wonder why God does not follow up this great desire with the decree to save (as He does for His elect) but it is clear that He hasn't and we can only work with what has been revealed.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME

---------------------------------

Yes, and He has not once stated that He desires the whole world to be saved, or that scripture presents Christ as having died for every man.

Mark

----------------------------------

When I preach, I invite men to Christ. Of course, I also summons them and (in God's name) command that they come, reminding them that to disobey is the ultimate sin, etc., but I also invite, giving them assurance that God has gracious thoughts each one in particular. Again, I cannot tell how gracious these thoughts will ultimately prove to be to each individual, but there is enough there to assure each sinner that if he comes, he will not be tunred away.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME
----------------------------------

That is true, but I do not tell any sinner that God loves them nor Christ died for them.

God is able to do that far better than I ever could, but I do plead for sinners to come to Christ, knowing that some certainly will.

My focus upon this thing called “love” is that it is “In Christ”.
It is in the “ARK”, not outside where there is only floods of judgement.

Enter the Ark is my gospel, for there is where the fullness of love, grace and mercy is sealed and found.

Mark
----------------------------------

I love the approach of the auld Scots preacher McCheyne who preached on the text from Provrbs 8:4 Unto you O men do I call...Answering the various objectons that could arise, McCheyne said: "The question is not "Am I elect?", but "am I one of the human race." This is perhaps one reason why he had such a fruitful ministry in his few years upon this earth.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME
----------------------------------

True, and being a fellow Scott I admire him even more so!, there never was a more tender man than McCheyne. The man oozed the Spirit of Christ.

The issue is not “election”.
The issue is the “freeness” of God in the matter of salvation. That is what I am defending.

That is why I posted the James White link. It cuts through all of the haze and addresses the central issue, namely the Divine Intent in the Atonement.

Far too many Calvinists today are flirting with Universal hypothetical notions of the good news.

I am not one of them and may God be pleased to keep me faithful to His freedom to save “whomever” He desires to save, and may he keep me faithful to plead for all, knowing the “means” results in real conversions, not hypothetical ones, and that confidence, gives us the encouragement to continue to proclaim the gospel.

I am attacked by many, even by some posting in this thread, for saying what I say.

The bottom line is this.
Are we scared that some sinner somewhere might believe and not get saved because he was not elected?

Therefore we present the gospel with this bent, presenting the good news as if all men could hypothetically be saved because God has provided an atonement for all men.

That is just Arminianism, and that is what many Calvinists today are really saying with their well meant offer stuff.

They are saying that God has provided an atonement for every man, thereby really rejecting the implications of Limited atonement.

This stuff is everywhere in Calvinism today, and I reject it.
And I receive a lot of heat from fellow Calvinists for it too!

Mark.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

This post is short because I do not need to defend things which I do not believe e.g. the idea that Christ made atonement for the sins of reprobates or that God only ordained the salvation of His elect and nothing else. (I think you misread my statement on the last point. I know that He has ordained all that comes to pass. My original statement was within the context of our discussion on the very limited subject of Christ's atonement.)

Two matters:

Who exactly is the promise of the gospel for? Is the gospel itself for all men without exception or is it just for the elect? Has God anything for the reprobate, apart from judgement and damnation?

Do you believe that there is enough merit in the atonement of Christ to save the whole world of sinners, elect and reprobate alike? In other words, is the atonement limited only in its intention and therefore its application or is it limited anywhere else?

Thanks for your time in this discussion.

Tartanarmy said...

This post is short because I do not need to defend things which I do not believe e.g. the idea that Christ made atonement for the sins of reprobates or that God only ordained the salvation of His elect and nothing else. (I think you misread my statement on the last point. I know that He has ordained all that comes to pass. My original statement was within the context of our discussion on the very limited subject of Christ's atonement.)

Two matters:

Who exactly is the promise of the gospel for?
----------------------------------

Whosoever believes. John 3:16

Mark

----------------------------------

Is the gospel itself for all men without exception or is it just for the elect?
----------------------------------

As I passionately believe in an accomplished Atonement, I would have to say for the elect.
But I prefer what the Lord Himself states in John 17:9

Joh 17:9 I pray for them. I do not pray for the world, but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.

Mark
----------------------------------

Has God anything for the reprobate, apart from judgement and damnation?
----------------------------------

What does the term “reprobate” actually mean?
According to standard Dictionary definition, the word means

Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin reprobatus, past participle of reprobare -- more at REPROVE
1 : to condemn strongly as unworthy, unacceptable, or evil
2 : to foreordain to damnation
3 : to refuse to accept : REJECT

I think your question is rather confusing in light of the term you ask me to define.

Mark
----------------------------------

Do you believe that there is enough merit in the atonement of Christ to save the whole world of sinners, elect and reprobate alike?

-----------------------------------

Of course I do. Spurgeon said the merit found in it could save a billion worlds had that been the Divine intent.

I agree with him.

But if it did, we could no longer use the word “reprobate” legitimately.

Mark
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In other words, is the atonement limited only in its intention and therefore its application or is it limited anywhere else?

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I do not have a clue as to why there is so much confusion upon this subject, especially within the reformed community.

To say the atonement is limited in intention says all we need to know.

The reason we preach universally to all is simply because we do not know who the elect are!

Spurgeon has said that if the “elect” had a mark upon their foreheads, it sure would make eveangelism a whole lot easier.

Mark
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Thanks for your time in this discussion.

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No problem. Thank you.

Mark

Tartanarmy said...

And just for a fuller account of the term "reprobate", I would point you to the following article.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reprobation

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Tartanarmy,

If the gospel itself is only for the elect, and not for all men without exception i.e. elect and reprobate alike, (as you claim) then you have two immediate problems:

[i] How do you know when to preach the gospel to an individual? You cannot tell whether he is elect or not and the next logical step (although fatal) is to start looking for signs that he is indeed one of the chosen few. True, you may impress upon him his need to repent etc., but even then repentance is always based on (or at least accompanies) faith but such faith cannot be directed towards the promises of the gospel, because by your own admission, the gospel is for none but the elect only. You are caught in a vicious circle - a kind of spiritual poverty trap - whereby you have torn the heart out of the very means that God uses to bring his elect to himself. The only way out of this trap is to either keep preaching the law of God to the sinner and leave some else with more balanced views to offer him the gospel, or to inconsistently preach it to him yourself, ignoring your own maxim that it is indeed only for the elect.

[ii] If there is nothing in the gospel for the reprobate to believe, seeing there is nothing in the gospel for the reprobate, then his unbelief is hardly a sin. I cannot be blamed for disbelieving that an old maiden aunt in Australia has died and left me millions of Australian dollars, because I don't have an old maiden aunt in Australia, never mind one with such wealth. Whoever else has this wonderful news coming to him, it ain't me and my unbelief of the report can hardly be called a sin. There is nothing in the report for me. Yet, part of the condemnation of the sinner lies in the fact that he did not believe the gospel (John 3:19/John 16:9) Yes, he is condemned for other sins also - lying, cheating, etc., but also for the sin of rejecting the gospel. The Gospel Standard folk among the Strict Baptists in England took again the logical, but fatal, step of denying that there is any responsibility on the part of dead sinners to repent and believe.

Tartanarmy said...

If the gospel itself is only for the elect, and not for all men without exception i.e. elect and reprobate alike, (as you claim) then you have two immediate problems:

[i] How do you know when to preach the gospel to an individual? You cannot tell whether he is elect or not and the next logical step (although fatal) is to start looking for signs that he is indeed one of the chosen few.
GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME
-----------------------------------

It is not about “us” knowing who the elect are, and it is not about “us” looking for signs etc.
There are no God seekers, so looking for signs of regeneration/justification/sanctification let alone election is pointless.
However, having said that, and in the course of preaching universally, we can be somewhat encouraged when we come across those who seem to own their sin and seem genuinely disturbed by the preaching of he gospel.

It may be that those individuals are being dealt with by the Holy Spirit, convicting them of their sin, but still, we have no “sure knowledge” that even these ones are elect.

We are called to be Ambassadors of Christ, heralding a message of salvation, with a command for all persons to repent and believe the gospel.

We are not called to convince each and every sinner that Christ has died for them. That is the exclusive domain of God and His freeness to save whomever He desires to save. It is enough to proclaim that salvation has been provided for all who will believe and put their trust upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

We can declare that all who repent and believe shall be saved, but we cannot declare that Christ has died for all and secured the salvation of all. To do that is to declare beyond what we are called to do, and therefore we can end up lying on God’s behalf. That is my concern.

Remember this. God is under no obligation to provide salvation for any, so the misguided attitude that seems concerned about there being a full salvation available for all, is at worst, a denial of the spirit of grace, and at best a sentimental emotionalism that misunderstands God’s decree and the logical consistency within the Godhead.
Mark
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True, you may impress upon him his need to repent etc., but even then repentance is always based on (or at least accompanies) faith but such faith cannot be directed towards the promises of the gospel, because by your own admission, the gospel is for none but the elect only. You are caught in a vicious circle - a kind of spiritual poverty trap - whereby you have torn the heart out of the very means that God uses to bring his elect to himself.
GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME
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None of this follows unless one has a prior commitment to an atonement that has made provision for all without exception, which of course is not the view of those like me who hold to a definite atonement.
In God’s dealings with sinners, He is free in the matter of salvation, and if defending the “freeness” of God to save “whomever” He desires to save, is akin to tearing the heart out of the “means” whereby the elect are saved, then so be it, but I have never yet met an elect one who said such a thing much less believed it.

Every elect sinner I have met has defended the freeness of God to save whomever He desires to save, and did not believe that God limiting who He shall save was akin to tearing the heart out of the “means” whereby they themselves were saved!

The means as you put it is also in God’s hands, and if you want to press that further, it shall come down to the “Outward” call Vs the “Inward call”.
All are judged by the outward call and some are saved by the “means” of the inward call.
Mark
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The only way out of this trap is to either keep preaching the law of God to the sinner and leave some else with more balanced views to offer him the gospel, or to inconsistently preach it to him yourself, ignoring your own maxim that it is indeed only for the elect.
GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME
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Not at all. We have one message for all, and it is a simple one. How the Holy Spirit makes use of that “means” is His business. The wind blows wherever it wishes, and as such, the same simple message is a savour of life to some and a savour of death to others.
We preach to all the same message, but it is God who gives the increase.
Mark
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[ii] If there is nothing in the gospel for the reprobate to believe, seeing there is nothing in the gospel for the reprobate, then his unbelief is hardly a sin.
GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME
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That is some basic faulty reasoning there. Reprobate is boiled down to = Must have something for them in the atonement.
The reprobate are a class of people who are sinners deserving hell and judgement to the glory of God’s justice. We do not know who they are but God does.

The Gospel owes these persons nothing, same as us believers.
That is why we as believers have come to own our sin and have come to praise Him for His mercy, otherwise we would be like the reprobate.

So saying there is nothing for them in the gospel begs the question as to whether you are rightly viewing who these sinful reprobate really are. Gospel is grace undeserved not grace offered.

Saying their unbelief is hardly a sin just because they are not objects of an accomplished salvation is such a scary idea, it makes me wonder how much you understand total depravity and the nature of man.
Mark
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I cannot be blamed for disbelieving that an old maiden aunt in Australia has died and left me millions of Australian dollars, because I don't have an old maiden aunt in Australia, never mind one with such wealth.
GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME
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What are you saying? The reprobate have no warrant of blame just because God has passed them over in the matter of salvation by grace alone? Think man at what you are suggesting!
Mark
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Whoever else has this wonderful news coming to him, it ain't me and my unbelief of the report can hardly be called a sin. There is nothing in the report for me. Yet, part of the condemnation of the sinner lies in the fact that he did not believe the gospel (John 3:19/John 16:9) Yes, he is condemned for other sins also - lying, cheating, etc., but also for the sin of rejecting the gospel. The Gospel Standard folk among the Strict Baptists in England took again the logical, but fatal, step of denying that there is any responsibility on the part of dead sinners to repent and believe.
GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME
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But we are not discussing what these Gospel Standard believers taught are we?
No one here is denying that sinners have responsibility to repent and believe. I preach that.
Telling sinners they have no responsibility to believe is heretical as far as I am concerned.
It is the same error of the Arminians who affirm that responsibility implies ability only from the opposite perspective, namely Non ability implies non-responsibility.

I am not even close to teaching such error, just in case that is what you might be suggesting.
But some of your ideas seem on a par with both Hypers and Arminians, especially the idea that the reprobate have warrant for no blame based upon an atonement that was not made for them.

Might as well say, potential/hypothetical salvation implies the reprobate “truly” guilty but accomplished/definite salvation renders the reprobate without blame, as there is no hope for the reprobate, so no blame can be laid upon them, for no atonement was made for them.

It is quite ridiculous, and perhaps even worse than Arminianism and Hyper Calvinism, and if not, certainly more inconsistent than those two views.

Mark
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GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Tartanarmy,

I am with you entirely on the particular side of the atonement i.e. Christ atoned only for the sins of His elect and none other and the total responsibility of man to repent and believe the gospel. Any scenarios I have raised should not be interpreted as denying these basic truths.

I feel you have an inconsistency when you say that the gospel is only for the elect. That smells to me of Hyper Calvinism. I say that the gospel is for all men without exception and that it should be preached to all men without exception indiscriminately.

Suppose that you were witnessing to an individual sinner on a 1-1 basis. If he were to ask you whether or not God desired his salvation, would you reply either directly or indirectly "Yes…but only if you are one of the elect"? or the more evangelistically worded "Yes…but only if you come to Him in repentance and faith"? I would answer "Yes…so [i.e. as a consequence] come to Him in repentance and faith."

This was the basis of my reference a while ago from McCheyne i.e. "The question is not, 'Am I one of the elect?' but 'Am I one of the human race?'" As an evangelist, I am not trying to keep the none elect out, rather I am trying to gather the elect in. I do not do that by preaching an ineffective atonement because I believe that Christ accomplishes all that He set out to accomplish, but I can speak of the gracious desires of God (although evidently not with the force of a decree) towards each and every man. I don't have to go into the nitty gritty either of the decrees when witnessing. Sufficient for me that God desires the salvation of every man. Should I be challenged by a sinner as to how deep the desires of God are towards him, I can only answer that they are deep enough to leave him without excuse and deep enough to give him every encouragement to come and that the Bible invites him as a sinner (with no qualifications) to repent and believe the gospel.

I am heading off for holidays in a few days time, so unless you want a drawn out discussion, we would need to think of drawing our comments to an end.

Thanks again for the time taken to discuss these matters.

Tartanarmy said...

Tartanarmy,

I am with you entirely on the particular side of the atonement i.e. Christ atoned only for the sins of His elect and none other and the total responsibility of man to repent and believe the gospel. Any scenarios I have raised should not be interpreted as denying these basic truths.
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Glad to hear it, and I have not thought of you otherwise.

Mark
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I feel you have an inconsistency when you say that the gospel is only for the elect.

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I have not said that. I have only stated that God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. I have repeatedly stated that “election” is not the issue, as we do not know who they are.

Mark
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That smells to me of Hyper Calvinism.

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If I were denying repentance from all as a duty or I was only seeking to proclaim the gospel to the elect, then I would be a Hyper-Calvinist, but I have never said nor implied that.

Mark
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I say that the gospel is for all men without exception and that it should be preached to all men without exception indiscriminately.
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I don’t know what you mean by “for all men”, but I believe in preaching “to all men.”
You cannot be consistent and say what you said above about the atonement and then maintain that the gospel is for “all men”.

Mark
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Suppose that you were witnessing to an individual sinner on a 1-1 basis. If he were to ask you whether or not God desired his salvation, would you reply either directly or indirectly "Yes…but only if you are one of the elect"?
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No. I would tell him that God has provided salvation in Jesus Christ, and whosoever believes in Him shall be saved. I would tell them that “all of God’s promises and gifts are yes and Amen in Christ by grace through faith”.

Mark
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or the more evangelistically worded "Yes…but only if you come to Him in repentance and faith"? I would answer "Yes…so [i.e. as a consequence] come to Him in repentance and faith."
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I still leave whom God desires to save at His discretion, but point them to Christ. I do so because I know that all that the Father gives to Him shall certainly come to Him.

Mark
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This was the basis of my reference a while ago from McCheyne i.e. "The question is not, 'Am I one of the elect?' but 'Am I one of the human race?'" As an evangelist, I am not trying to keep the none elect out, rather I am trying to gather the elect in.
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I understand that, and keeping people out is really incidental, as all people are out by birth, practise and choice.

God is at work in the salvation of His people. He has gone before you and I ever come along to faithfully witness. He prepares His people for salvation.

We need not fear keeping people out or getting people in. We are to just be faithful and call all men to faith and repentance, knowing full well, that God shall be at work. He loves “them” before they ever love Him, and that is why I am opposed to this idea that God is desiring every single person to be saved.

It is not reformed nor biblical.

Mark
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I do not do that by preaching an ineffective atonement because I believe that Christ accomplishes all that He set out to accomplish, but I can speak of the gracious desires of God (although evidently not with the force of a decree) towards each and every man.
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Yes, but that decree is important. It teaches us something. It may not tell us who the elect are, but that is not really the point. It teaches us that there is an elect.

A chosen people from every kind upon the earth.

There is no secrecy as far as that aspect of the decree is concerned, and that is why I reject the two wills construct when it is used illegitimately.

What right does any person have to universally tell every person that God desires their salvation when His decree plainly and openly reveals otherwise?
On what basis?
Upon what scripture that does not contradict other scriptures?

The free offer originally was about freely proclaiming salvation in Christ alone to all people.

It was all about Him being “set forth” which is what “offer” originally meant, and as the only means whereby a sinner can be made right with God.

The free offer was never about proclaiming that the Triune God desires the salvation of the whole world.

The free offer was connected to the “Outward call” to all men everywhere, as the “means” for God’s “free grace” to Inwardly call out His Sheep.
That is what scripture teaches.

That is clearly what Jesus especially taught. Consider the whole of John chapters 6 and 10 and 15-17.

Mark
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I don't have to go into the nitty gritty either of the decrees when witnessing.
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No one is asking you to, but scripture does not ask you to merely ignore them either.

When Jesus prayed His High Priestly prayer to the Father in John 17, just prior to the cross, He could have desired for everyone to be saved in His prayer, but He did not say that.

He prayed “not for the world” but for all those that were given to Him, and then at the end of the chapter, all those that believe through their word passed down.

That is significant I believe, for if there ever was a time to show us the desire of His heart, in unity with the Father and all believers, it is found in that chapter.

Mark
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Sufficient for me that God desires the salvation of every man. Should I be challenged by a sinner as to how deep the desires of God are towards him, I can only answer that they are deep enough to leave him without excuse and deep enough to give him every encouragement to come and that the Bible invites him as a sinner (with no qualifications) to repent and believe the gospel.
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Fine, I agree to a point, but let me just say again, It is sufficient for me never to forget that Jesus Christ could have easily desired for all to be saved and even could have died for all mankind, but He did not, otherwise so much of what He himself has said would need to be torn out of our Bible.

I cannot do that.

You would have to de-link the accomplished atonement from the objects of mercy for your view to be consistent all the way through.

You would need to have a God at odds with Himself, and the prospect of a God with unfulfilled desires at the end of the day for all eternity, which I find absurd.

Mark
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I am heading off for holidays in a few days time, so unless you want a drawn out discussion, we would need to think of drawing our comments to an end.
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I think this has been drawn out, but enjoy your holiday brother.
I leave you with this thought and I base it entirely upon my understanding of total depravity of man and the triumph of grace over sin.

It may seem to contradict all I have said, but in light of Grace and depravity held properly in tension, it makes perfect sense for me, and it is this.

God is much more willing to be gracious and merciful to sinners than we are to be forgiven, saved and reconciled to Him.

With that I am sure we can agree, and still leave God to be “free” in the matter of salvation.

It is all about balance, and I certainly do not want people to think that God is not willing to save.

I just faithfully present God to be “free” as scripture teaches, to show mercy to whomever He shows mercy.

That idea can never be reconciled with the idea that God desires every single person without exception to be saved. It just doesn’t reconcile.

Mark
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Thanks again for the time taken to discuss these matters.
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Likewise my friend.

Mark

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Tartanarmy:

Without rekindling the fire here, I specifically asked above on June 23rd Is the gospel itself for all men without exception or is it just for the elect? to which you replied: As I passionately believe in an accomplished Atonement, I would have to say for the elect. and quoted John 17:9. However, when I made mention of your position yesterday (June 28) and I quote: I feel you have an inconsistency when you say that the gospel is only for the elect. you issue a denial:I have not said that. I have only stated that God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. I mention this just for the purposes of a consistent approach.

We do agree that we should preach the gospel to every creature, setting forth the benefits of Christ's work for His elect and calling them to repentance and faith. May God bless you in your evangelistic endeavours to this end. Thanks again for your time.

P/s We're heading for a week to Ballywalter in County Down in Northern Ireland. On a good day, you can see the West coast o' Scotland. Aye!

Tartanarmy said...

Yes, but I thought you were meaning as in preaching "only" to the elect. I believe the universal call is to be made to all men, for the purpose of calling the elect.
The whole outward/Inward call thing I have several times made mention of.

Anyhoo, enjoy your holiday. I am so jealous!

Mark

YnottonY said...

Mark, aka Tartanarmy above, has made many assertions in this comment section that he is apparently quite proud of, hence his pasting the link elsewhere. He has denied God's universal love. He has also staunchly denied God's universal saving will, and thinks that it is not even Reformed. Mark thinks that telling sinners that God desires to save them amounts to "lying on God's behalf."

All of these assertions have recently been refuted thoroughly on Gene Cook's blog (of Unchained Radio) recently, in case anyone is interested in reading it.

Tartanarmy said...

Nonsense! Tony would try to refute a red stop light if he could, but his attempts against me are a sham and a shame. He ought to stop lying about me and my views too.

Come to my blog and engage the arguments against his views.

http://tartansplace.blogspot.com/2007/03/20070305-response.html

Mark