The GospelArticle: The Free Offer of the Gospel by Scott Bushey
The Free Offer of the Gospel and the External Call of God
All men, elect and reprobate are commanded to repent and believe. The only difference is that the elect are able and the reprobate are not willing; but they are still called externally. If the gospel is not genuinely offered, how can God hold men responsible for something they did not reject?
Ch 10 of the WCF states it nicely:
“IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come to Christ, and therefore can not be saved”
Many are called, few are chosen. “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4); “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11); “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent. (Acts 17:30)
“The gospel is not to be blamed when all who hear it are not saved; rather, man himself is the guilty one. He is to be blamed if he does not desire to be taught and led. Such is the objective of the gospel. God’s objective in causing the gospel to be proclaimed to the nonelect is to proclaim and acquaint man with the way of salvation, to command man to enter this way, and to display His goodness, presenting all the reasons to him for doing so and promising him salvation upon repentance and true faith in Christ. The Lord would indeed do this upon man fulfilling the condition for which He holds him accountable, and which the human nature, having been created holy in Adam had been capable of doing. If he does not accomplish this, it is not because God hinders him or deprives him of the ability to do so, but because man wills not; and thus man himself is to be blamed, for it is the goodness of God which should lead him to repentance. It is also God’s objective to convict man of his wickedness in his refusal to come upon such a friendly invitation, as well as of the righteousness of God in punishing such rejecters of this offered salvation (John15:20). Such is God’s purpose and objective in allowing the gospel to be proclaimed to the unconverted. It is, however, neither God’s purpose and objective to give to them His Holy Spirit nor to save them. God calls all who hear the gospel unto salvation, and it is His objective and intent to give salvation to all who truly believe. Faith and true repentance are, however, singular gifts of God’s grace, which He gives to all whom He wills to save. Others, however, God leaves to themselves who, being unwilling—and due to their wickedness, blindness, and unwillingness, are unable—do not fulfil this condition, and thus will not be saved. Since God has prior knowledge of this and has decreed not to give them the gifts of grace, and since He cannot be thwarted in the achievement of His purpose, He therefore also cannot have their salvation in view. God nevertheless does not deal deceitfully by making the way of salvation known to them, in obligating.
God would act deceitfully if He were to call someone to salvation, and yet were not sincere in doing so.
God calls all who hear the gospel unto salvation, and it is His objective and intent to give salvation to all who truly believe. Faith and true repentance are, however, singular gifts of God’s grace, which He gives to all whom He wills to save. Others, however, God leaves to themselves who, being unwilling—and due to their wickedness, blindness, and unwillingness, are unable—do not fulfil this condition, and thus will not be saved. Since God has prior knowledge of this and has decreed not to give them the gifts of grace, and since He cannot be thwarted in the achievement of His purpose, He therefore also cannot have their salvation in view. God nevertheless does not deal deceitfully by making the way of salvation known to them, in obligating.
Them by way of many arguments to enter upon this way, promising to save them upon repentance and faith in Christ. God sincerely and truly has all this in view. In all this He has in view that the unconverted be convinced of His goodness, their wickedness, and His justice—and to punish them in consequence of this. The fact that man is not able to repent and believe is not God’s fault, but man is to be blamed. God did purpose to provide them with all the means unto salvation, withhold additional grace from them, leave them over to themselves, and condemn them for their failure to repent and for their wickedness; however, He did not purpose to save them. One matter may relate to various purposes, and thus by purposing or not purposing one thing, one cannot conclude the purposing or not purposing of something else. Here the objective relates to the means and not to the ultimate end of salvation. The gospel is an able and sufficient way unto salvation.”~W. Brakel
Romans 1:20, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
“There is an external call of the gospel, whereby all who hear it are called to the fellowship of Christ, and to receive a full salvation in him, without money and without price. – Isa. lv. 1. This call is not confined to the elect, nor restricted to those who are sensible of their sins, and feel their need of a saviour, or who possess some good qualifications to distinguish them from others, but it is addressed to mankind sinners as such, without distinction, and without exception. All who come under the general denomination of men, whatever be their character and state, have this call directed to them: “To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.”—Prov. viii. 4. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth”—sinners of every nation, of every rank, and condition.—Isa. xiv. 22. To reconcile the unlimited call of the gospel with the doctrines of particular election and a definite atonement, seems to exceed the efforts of the human mind. But though we cannot discover the principle which reconciles them, the doctrines themselves are clearly taught in the Word of God; and are, therefore, to be received with unhesitating confidence. That the call of the gospel is indefinite and universal, that God is sincere in addressing this call to all to whom the gospel comes, and that none who comply with the call shall be disappointed; these are unquestionable truths. But the outward call by the Word is of itself ineffectual. Though all without exception are thus called, yet multitudes refuse to hearken, and in this respect “many are called, but few are chosen;” that is, few are determined effectually to embrace the call. ~Robert Shaw on Ch 10 of the WCF
The above is not an attack of Gods sovereignty – in fact, it endorses and magnifies it!