God Does Not Want to Save All the Sinners God Commands To Believe the Gospel

What follows below is analysis and critique of the “free offer” theology by William Young according to the OPC Minority Report

In some Calvinistic circles there is an identification of the free offer of the gospel with an alleged desire that all who are called externally should be saved. Those who fail to find Scripture warrant for such a claim are sometimes regarded as denying the gospel offer and even the gospel itself. It should be pointed out that there are ambiguities in the claim itself. Some who are well-instructed Calvinists may use the word “desire” to mean nothing other than the revealed will of God in the commands, promises and invitations of the gospel. Others appear literally to suppose a frustrated desire as an emotion in God in tension with the decree to save the elect. This article seeks to show that the second of these understandings is unwarranted in the teaching of Scripture and contrary to the understanding of the revealed Word in the Westminster Confession.

The word “offer” is not used in Scripture in connection with the gospel call, while it does so appear in the Westminster Standards (Westminster Confession of Faith 7:3; Larger Catechism 32, 67f.; Shorter Catechism 31, 86). The term, when used by those who subscribe to these standards, must be used in the Scriptural sense intended by the Westminster divines and not as implying ability in unrenewed free-will to comply with the offer. In view of the widespread prevalence of Arminian and Amyraldian views of universal grace and redemption, some Calvinists may prefer not to use the term, while heartily holding to its sense as it has been used by sound Presbyterian and Puritan divines. Such ought not to be scornfully called Hyper-Calvinists.

What then may be said to be the Biblical teaching that the subordinate standards designate as the free offer? Passages setting forth the gracious invitations of the gospel as Isaiah 55:1ff. and Matthew 11:28 at once come to mind. Reflection on these texts gives rise to the questions: Is it meant that those that thirst, that are weary and heavy laden, represent all sinners, indiscriminately, or are they such as have been brought to some awareness of their need? The Westminster Standards do not pronounce on this matter of exegesis, and admit of a difference of judgment on it.

The commandment to repent and believe is issued (Acts 17:30; 1 John 3:23) and the promise of eternal salvation is made to those who obey the commandment (John 3:16; 6:37b; Acts 16:31). The command to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is followed by the promise of salvation. This sufficiently explains the sincerity of the gospel command without adding the supposition of a divine desire in back of the command and promise. Indeed, even on the level of human procedures, there may be offers made with good reason without the desire of their reception being the ground of the offer. Much more are the procedures of infinite wisdom to be accepted without prying into reasons that have not been revealed, and least of all, inventing such as are contrary to revelation.

God “freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ” (WCF 7:3). The following words “requiring of them faith in him that they may be saved” are naturally read as in apposition, explaining the nature of the offer. The promise to give the Holy Spirit to the elect is a promise to the Redeemer – not an element of the offer, but what provides the faith required in it. Larger Catechism (L.C.) 32 makes the same points. L.C.67 speaks of those effectually called as invited and drawn, and concludes with the words “to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed” in the call. L.C.68 definitely speaks of grace offered to non-elect persons. The offer rejected by some to their final ruin can hardly be said to be made in “God’s accepted time” in the Catechism’s evident sense of the time of love in effectual calling. It may be argued that L.C.67 is simply not dealing with the non-elect, the case of whom is the subject of L.C.68.

The very brief expressions in Shorter Catechism 31 and 86 add nothing to the above. What does add to the authentic Confessional doctrine is the 1903 addition of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in its Chapter 35, Of the Love of God and Missions: “In the Gospel God declares His love for the world and His desire that all men should be saved…” The purpose of the 1903 additions to the Confession of the P.C.U.S.A., as was the case with the similar Declaratory Act of the Free Church of Scotland in 1892, was to facilitate union with an Arminianising denomination, which had abandoned explicitly in the former instance and implicitly in the latter, the Calvinistic doctrines of the eternal decree and of particular redemption.

1. The above remark suggests that the ascription of such a desire to God is often not simply a way of expressing the will of command, but is supposed to be something behind the command, a will in-between the command and the decree, a weak though ardent wish that can be frustrated and is frustrated in the case of many. Surely, no Calvinist can desire to ascribe such a desire to the Most High, although the devotees of free will have invented an antecedent will in God distinct from the consequent will of the final decree. If one cares, like John Howe, to speak of a complacential will, and means only that God is pleased whenever His precepts are obeyed, no objection need be raised as long as there is not confusion with the supposed antecedent will under the cover of the word “desire”.

2. No Christian holding the Bible to be free of contradiction can suppose that the Lord literally repents or regrets his own work of creation (Genesis 6:6,7). The same way of speaking after the manner of men applies to God’s desire as expressed in Psalm 81:14. It is a gross abuse of language when, not as homiletical hyperbole, but as a dogmatic formulation, human passions, often called emotions, are ascribed to God. Such a view is in conflict with the Confession of Faith, which declares God to be “a most pure Spirit, … without body, parts, or passions,” based on Acts 14:11,15. The error is intensified when a questionable threefold faculty psychology is misapplied further, by representing God in the image of man, with emotions as well as intellect and will, and then arguing as if an emotional desire caused the will which is revealed in the free offer. Such prying into the secret things along with the obscuring of what has been revealed ought to be eschewed by all who reverently tremble at the Word of God.

3. That the desire is not simply meant as an anthropomorphic mode of emphasizing the revealed will becomes evident when the assertion is made that it is an instance of a deep paradox or antinomy not resolvable by logic. In the fact that God has decreed to save only some, but has commanded the gospel to be proclaimed indiscriminately to all, there is no contradiction, but SIMPLY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOD’S DECREE AND GOD’S PRECEPTIVE WILL. to search behind the revealed will in the gospel offer for a divine inclination to save those who have been foreordained to everlasting wrath, can only appear to be ascribing a real contradiction in the will of God.

It has been claimed that the alleged desire is actually revealed in Scripture. Those who fail to find it there have been accused of having their minds made up and ignoring the analogy of Scripture. May it not be retorted that a person with universalistic prejudices comes to the Bible determined to prove that God wants all to be saved and either ignores the passages that teach divine sovereignty in salvation, or explains them away or seeks refuge in Irrationalism? Certainly the whole teaching of the Word is to be listened to, and listening means first the use of reason in understanding what God has said, while the limits of that understanding are recognized. The real question here is whether Scripture actually teaches the universalistic view in texts such as 2 Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 33:11 and Matthew 23:37.

That the Lord is not willing that any should perish, if understood of all men can only be taken of the will of command, and teaches nothing as to a desire or wish. The verb often, as the related noun, signifies, however, the determinate counsel of God. The context also, strongly supports a restriction of “any” and “all” to the elect. The long-suffering of God is to us-ward or to you-ward, i.e., those addressed as beloved in a judgment of charity. Longsuffering is not only toward the reprobate in Romans 9:22 (cf. 2:4), curiously cited to support a love toward salvation directed to such as have been indicated to have been hated (verse 15). That these verses may not legitimately be cited as providing a parallel to 2 Peter 3:9, is clear from the explicit reference to the elect as objects of the divine longsuffering in Luke 18:7. The broader context of 2 Peter 3 confirms the particularist view of the passage. Why does the second coming of Christ seem to be delayed? Because in the longsuffering of God the elect, who sometimes long resist the gospel, must all be made willing in the day of God’s power before they stand before the throne on the great day.

In Ezekiel 33:11 as in 18:23,32, the rendering “have no pleasure” gives the proper sense, i.e. the Lord is pleased when the wicked repents, and is not pleased when he does not. The text does not assert that the Lord is pleased that the wicked should repent even when he does not. If the latter is given the sense that repentance as such is always approved by God, this truth could imply that God is pleased that the devil should repent. But surely no sober Christian would want to say that God desires the salvation of Satan. The general remark that the non-literal anthropomorphic ascription of desire is unobjectionable in itself applies also to these passages. But the widespread representation of this desire as an intention aiming at the salvation of all renders the expression undesirable, especially when the desire is viewed as an irrational urge. These passages powerfully present the sinner’s DUTY, while they do not treat of his ABILITY to obey or of the Lord’s secret counsels. Nor is there a valid reason for supposing a contradiction implied between the will of decree and what is pleasing to God.

Matthew 23:37 is commonly misquoted as if it read, “how often would I have gathered you … and ye would not.” The text does not make a contrast between the Lord’s will and the wills of those whom he would gather, but between his compassion for Jerusalem’s children and the opposition of their leaders who have been denounced in the preceding passage. The sympathy of the Saviour is the expression of his humanity which he assumed in order that he might become a High Priest that could be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. To draw inferences as to what his divine nature might be in back of this distinctive feature of his sacred humanity is surely unwarrantable speculation into what has not been revealed.

To combine these passages and to add texts like Matthew 5:45 which do not refer to the way of salvation, but common mercies like rain and sunshine, is hardly to present cumulative evidence for a thesis nowhere plainly taught in Scripture, and contrary to Scripture when intended to conflict with the immutability of God’s counsel. The accumulation of a series of zeros, however elaborated, is, after all, only zero.

The desire to avoid extremes in declaring the truth is no doubt commendable, but yielding to the tempting claims of the opposite extreme even in minor matters has proved repeatedly in the history of the Church to be a step in the downward path to apostasy. The rampant evils of Arminianism among Evangelicals and Amyraldianism among Calvinists are only encouraged by adopting and even stressing the pet slogans with which they attack or obscure the doctrines of grace. Strangely, one favorite text of those who have throughout the history of Christianity insisted that God wants all men to be saved is not appealed to at present by Calvinists who use such expressions. Can it be that they realize that to take 1 Timothy 2:4 in a universalistic sense requires understanding verses 5 and 6 to teach a universal atonement, even if the will in 2:4 were taken as simply the will of command? Exegetically, as well as systematically, the thesis of Amyraldian universal grace issues in the assertion of universal redemption.

http://reformedpresbyterianveritasdocuments.blogspot.com/2009/01/free-offer-of-gospel-dr-william-young.html#more

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14 Comments on “God Does Not Want to Save All the Sinners God Commands To Believe the Gospel”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    grace is NOT found in all of God’s works

    http://www.theologynetwork.org/christian-beliefs/doctrine-of-god/getting-stuck-in/the-wrath-of-god-as-an-aspect-of-the-love-of-god.htm

    Thomas Aquinas asks whether justice and mercy are found in all of God’s works. He concludes that “in everyone of God’s works justice and mercy are found.” But he also concedes that “some works are associated with justice and some with mercy when the one more forcibly appears than the other. Yet mercy appears even in the damnation of the reprobate, for though not completely relaxed the penalty is sometimes softened, and is lighter than deserved. And justice appears even in the justification of the sinner, when fault is forgiven because of the love which God himself in mercy bestows.”[

    But while both wrath and mercy have their origins in the holy love of God, how do they relate together “where the rubber hits the road”? How does God’s wrath cohere with his love? Paul tells us that while we were still sinners (and therefore under the wrath of God) God showed his love for us in Christ’s death (Rom. 5:8). The juxtaposition of love and wrath is clear. As Stott puts it, God’s wrath is free from personal vindictiveness and “he is sustained simultaneously with undiminished love for the offender.” It is also clear that wrath and mercy conflict and alternate in our experience. One who is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3) encounters the mercy of God and is saved from the coming wrath (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10). In this sense, for the converted sinner wrath and mercy are two distinct and non-overlapping experiences. Again, the Old Testament speaks of the mercy of God restraining and limiting his wrath

    A question needs to be asked at this stage. It has been argued that God’s wrath against sinners is matched by his love for them and that these two come together supremely in the cross. But to affirm that God loves the object of his wrath falls short of saying that his wrath toward that person expresses his love for that person. It has indeed been argued that God’s love necessitates his wrath. But this has been argued from his love for righteousness rather than his love for the object of his wrath. Can it be argued that his wrath against a particular sinner is demanded by his love for that particular sinner? In answering that question, we have to distinguish between God’s wrath here and now, where it can lead to repentance, and God’s wrath in the final judgment, where there is no further opportunity for repentance. In the case of living human beings, wrath plays its subsidiary role in God’s dealings with them, as does the law in the Lutheran dialectic of law and gospel

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing needs to learn to tell the truth about Herman Hoeksema and the Protestant Reformed, beginning with the slanders found in Grace: The case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration, by Matthew Barrett, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2013.

    It will always be said that the problem is merely semantics, and that we need to remember that God has “two wills” and that we must use the word “will” in two senses. But the truth of it is that people are intentionally use the word “will” in a deceptive sense.

    Of course God’s law does not depend on the ability of humans to keep the law for that law to be legitimate. Of course God can and does command all sinners to believe the gospel. Barrett writes as if Hoeksema somehow denies this..

    Barrett claims that Hoeksema makes responsibility depend on ability, and that this is somehow in parallel to the Arminian argument that inability to keep the law would mean that we have no duty to keep the law. But Hoeksema nowhere makes this argument, and Barrett is projecting it onto Hoeksema to avoid basic questions about his assumption about God’s supposed desire to save all sinners.

    Barrett assumes that God loves all sinners. When Hoeksema denies that, Barrett accuses Hoeksema of making duty depending on ability. Barrett is doing what Andrew Fuller did, which is confusing the gospel with the law. It was not Hoeksema but Andrew Fuller who ultimately made duty depend on ability, because it was Andrew Fuller who said that if God commanded all sinners to believe the gospel, then we must make some kind of distinction between “moral inability” and “natural inability” so that we can say that all sinners can be told that God loves them.

    Andrew Fuller got this assumption from the New England Theology which resulted from the speculative theology of Jonathan Edwards. Instead of merely saying that God commands all sinners to believe the gospel, the Edwards/ Fuller approach confuses this “will of God” with the non-biblical idea that God “wants and wishes and desires” to save all sinners.

    It comes down to the idea that, since God commands you to believe the gospel (which the Protestant Reformed do not deny), then that must mean that God wishes (unsuccessfully in many cases) that you would believe the gospel. The slander accuses those who disagree about the wishing of being “insincere” when they call people to believe the gospel.

    In what way do we make a distinction between the command to believe the gospel and the gospel itself? is the command itself part of the gospel? Is the gospel in the end no different from law”? In what way do we make a distinction between the promise of the gospel and the gospel itself? And what is “the promise” of “the covenant”?

    Is the promise of the covenant that God loves everybody, or is it a promise that God only loves those in the covenant? If we are to address everyone “in the covenant” as if they were elect, our definition of election will have to change (the federal vision) or we are going to have two different definitions for “the covenant”.

    God’s “will” can have two different meanings. It can mean God’s predestined decree, but it can simply mean God’s law, God’s command. But God’s will does NOT mean that God desires what God has not predestined. To claim that God has desires which will never be fulfilled is NOT saying something positive about human responsibility and divine law. To claim that God has desires which will never be fulfilled is saying something false theologically about God and God’s gospel.

  3. markmcculley Says:

    http://standardbearer.rfpa.org/articles/proposed-reformulation-third-point-common-grace

    David Engelsma—There is a biblical distinction between the will of God’s decree and the will of God’s command, between the eternal counsel and the precept. The will of command does not necessarily express the will of decree. It only instructs what the sinner is required to do; it does not necessarily express what God will do with the sinner.
    The outstanding biblical instance is the OT case of the command to Pharaoh, which Paul appeals to in Romans 9. God commanded Pharaoh to let His people go. At the same time, God Himself revealed that His will of decree was that Pharaoh refuse to let the people go, which will God Himself executed by hardening Pharaoh’s heart, so that He might justly destroy the proud monarch.
    The PRC did not invent this distinction.
    To teach that the will of command expresses or implies a corresponding will of decree is to deny the sovereignty of God in salvation, having its origin in the effectual decree of election and to commit oneself to the heresy of salvation by the free will of the sinner. God surely commands all who hear the gospel to believe. If this will expresses the will of decree, God has chosen all who hear the preaching of the gospel unto salvation.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    grace” which is not effectual to save is not real grace
    law which is not effectual to save is still real law
    William Lane Craig, In Pinnock, the Grace of god and the Will of Man, p 157—-“God desires and has given sufficient grace for all people to be saved. If some believe and others do not, it is not because some received prevenient grace and some did not.”

    Wesley, Working Out Our Own Salvation—“Allowing that all persons are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing that there is no man in a state of nature only. There is no man, unless he has quenched the Holy Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace he has.”

    For advocates of universal “grace”, God did accomplish all that he intended. But God did not intend to effectually to redeem anyone. God simply intended to offer and provide “grace” for everyone. And in this, they claim, God was perfectly successful, even if all sinners were to fail to use this “grace”.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    if it was grace that made Adam obey for a while, what was it that made Adam sin—-the failure of grace?

    the idea that God desires to save the non-elect is not grace in any way—it perverts the true in the interests of a false gospel

    Law is not grace. Grace is not law. Romans 9: 11 For though her sons had not been born yet or done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to election might stand— not from works…. Romans 9: 5 there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace. 6 Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace. Galatians 3: 12 But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them. 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed

    William Lane Craig, In Pinnock, the Grace of god and the Will of Man, p 157—-“God desires and has given sufficient grace for all people to be saved. If some believe and others do not, it is not because some received prevenient grace and some did not.”

    Wesley, Working Out Our Own Salvation—“Allowing that all persons are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing that there is no man in a state of nature only. There is no man, unless he has quenched the Holy Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace he has.”

    For advocates of universal “grace”, God did accomplish all that he intended. But God did not intend to effectually to redeem anyone. God simply intended to offer and provide “grace” for everyone. And in this, they claim, God was perfectly successful, even if all sinners were to fail to use this “grace”.

    Where is the grace in God’s death threat to Adam? Was Adam supposed to keep “the covenant” by faith or by works? If “grace” gave Adam the ability to never sin (against the one law), did “grace” fail?

    Is there another sense of “grace” in which works and faith can be combined, and the antithesis between law and gospel overcome?

  6. markmcculley Says:

    where would you go in your car if the car could go again? and how long would you be there? and what would you be doing when you got back from going? (these are some of the questions my mom always asked me when she was wanting me to postpone gratification, endure, for now exist and do without, and then later….

    Philippians 4: 6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

    thanks for what you sent, but I didn’t need it

    but i guess you need a thank you, and you will also receive reward from God for sending it to me (though you don’t need that it either)

    11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content…. Still, you did well by sharing with me in my hardship….. even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

    I meet lots of people who think Christians are basically narcissistic. As opposed to our selfishness, these non-Christians claim willingness to be damned if any other person is going to be, They are even willing to say there is no such thing as wrath or damnation if anybody besides them would have to suffer it. They seem to agree with Kant’s position—-that any action done with self-interest is suspect, any fact believed while thinking that those who believe that fact will be rewarded is a suspect fact.

    I do get it. I myself suspect myself, and everybody else, including those who think “morality means no reward”.

    I suspect that those who think that “Calvinists want to get paid”, also want to get paid for not being Calvinists.

    But Jesus talked about reward, about good stuff like resurrection and immortality for those Jesus loved. The Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5-7.

    Would it be less narcissistic to say–well, Jesus loves me because I love him, and He would love you too, if you only would—-

  7. markmcculley Says:

    I Peter 4:17 “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not OBEY THE GOSPEL of God?”
    Romans 1:5 We have received grace and apostleship through Him to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations
    Romans 2: Their consciences confirm this. Their competing thoughts will either accuse or excuse them 16 on the day when God JUDGES what people have kept secret, ACCORDING TO MY GOSPEL through Christ Jesus.

    Romans 10:2 they have zeal for God,but not according to knowledge. Because they disregarded the righteousness from God and attempted to establish their own righteousness, they have not SUBMITTED THEMSELVES to God’s righteousness
    Romans 10:16 But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message?
    Romans 16:26 Revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God to advance the obedience of faith among all nations—

  8. markmcculley Says:

    Tianqi Wu God does not desire all men to repent, even though he commands all men to repent. God hardens the hearts of the non-elect audience of the gospel. Two concerns may arise.

    One, if God decrees man to disobey his command, can man still be held responsible for disobedience?

    Two, if God decrees man to disobey his command, does this mean there is a conflict of will between his decree and his command?

    Answer to One: YES. Man’s responsibility does not depend on anything except God’s command. Whether God decrees man to obey or disobey the command, man is responsible all the same.

    Answer to Two: NO. God does not approve of sins, even though God decreed man to commit sins. Conversely, God approves of obedience to his command, even though God decreed all (but Himself) to disobey his command.

    God has decided that the non-elect would do the things that God disapproves, and would not allow or let or permit them do the things that God approves. Not even the elect “apply the promise” to themselves, and certainly the non-elect are ordained to have years but not hear, and eyes but not see.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2015/01/predestination-and-the-presence-of-god

    Matthew Levering’s Predestination is, like everything he writes, clear, thorough, judicious, rich, biblically and historically informed. He starts with the church fathers and takes the story to the present worries (from David Hart among others) that predestination endangers the innocence of God.

    Levering recognizes the limits of patristic treatments of the topic: “the Church Fathers develop insightful but almost inevitably one-sided approaches to the New Testament’s teachings on predestination. . . . Origen emphasizes the Creator’s unlimited love for each and every rational creature, and he assumes the predestination of all to salvation. Augustine insists that the New Testament teaches God’s utterly gratuitous predestination from eternity of only some rational creatures. John of Damascus highlights the power of created free will to rebel against God’s love, with corresponding limitations as regards God’s eternal providence in bringing about the salvation of rational creatures.” According to Levering, “each of these perspectives responds to certain aspects of the biblical witness while neglecting other important aspects” (8).

    Levering gives a careful, dispassionate treatment of Calvin. He highlights Calvin’s rejection of scholastic notions of “permission,” and traces Calvin’s opposition to a concern about distancing God from creation and about raising questions about the goodness of God.

    On the first point, Levering writes, “After giving a variety of biblical examples of God willing evil deeds so as to punish the wicked and bring about salvation, Calvin notes that by contrast the doctrine of permission makes God aloof from salvation history. The God construed by the doctrine of permission cannot truly be the active Lord of history. For Calvin, those who rely upon the doctrine of permission depict God ‘as if he sat in a watch-tower waiting for fortuitous events, his judgments meanwhile depending on the will of man.’ This aloof, detached, passive God is not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible, Calvin observes, acts within the minds of human beings not only to enlighten them, but also to blind them and to intoxicate them. God thereby compels the wicked to serve him” (103).

    The second point is counterintuitive, given the widespread impression that Calvin’s doctrine of predestination implies that God is an oppressive ogre. Levering writes, “The danger with the doctrine of permission is that it seems to question the goodness of the omnipotent God’s eternal decree. In observing that predestination means ‘the eternal decree of God, by which he determined within himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man,’ Calvin puts his finger on the difficulty: God’s permission of everlasting rebellion cannot be disjoined from God’s eternal will. God fully knows and freely wills this order, which includes everlasting rebellion. Since God is free and all-powerful, he is not constrained to create this kind of order. God wills an order in which some are left out from union with God, and so this must be a good order, one that does not need the covering of the doctrine of permission. Calvin senses that the doctrine of permission originates in doubts about the justice of reprobation ‘by the just but inscrutable judgment of God, to show forth his glory by their condemnation.’ Discussing Paul’s interpretation of Malachi 1:2–3 (see Rom. 9:13), Calvin urges that the doctrine of double predestination in fact elucidates the scriptural doctrine of undeserved grace, God’s bounty rather than harshness” (106).

    The notion of permission is a way of opening a gap between the ultimate outcome of history and God Himself, the Lord of history. Calvin on the contrary insists on the goodness of God’s plan,which is a plan that includes the destruction of the non-elect

  10. markmcculley Says:

    Think about this soundbite—“the gospel is a gift not a command”. This is a case of false alternatives. The gospel is not only about Christ’s death and resurrection but also about the elect receiving Christ’s death and resurrection by God’s imputation and by God’s gift of faith. 1. To obey the command to believe the gospel is a gift from God. 2. The gospel is not only about Christ’s death and resurrection but also about the new birth and faith in the gospel.

  11. markmcculley Says:

    George Ella–“Repentance must come first. When God grants repentance, then we may speak of faith in the gospel but not before.”

    John Gill—“The gospel is a pure declaration of grace. The gospel has no command but all promises. ”

    Gill then attempts to escape Acts 17:30 by making it common natural repentance but not gospel repentance. Ella and Gill are both wrong to deny that God commands everyone to believe the gospel.

    John Calvin—Those who think repentance precedes faith instead of flowing from faith as the fruit by the tree (repentance being produced by faith) have never understood the nature of faith.

    Luke 17: 10 “In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves. We have only done our duty.’”


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