Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

FREE OFFER - Addendum, Part 2

What follows is deep and undeniable Biblical material in support for the four aspects of the free offer. For more on this, see part 1 of the addendum, and also the original post.

First, the easiest one: "the Gospel is to be proclaimed to every individual."

Matthew 28:19 "Therefore go and preach the Gospel to every creature . . ."
Mark 16:15 "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation."
Perhaps there's a bit of hyperbole there to emphasize the point, but it only strengthens the argument: PREACH THE GOSPEL TO ALL WITHOUT EXCEPTION.

Next: "God invites every individual."

Matthew 11:28-29 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
Isaiah 55:1-3 "Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David."
John 7:37
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "
If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink."
Revelation 22:17 ". . . And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost."

These invitations are given to all, even though the hunger and thirst which move a person to respond are brought about by God's sovereign stirrings of grace. Visibly, the call is universal. Invisibly, the drawing of the Spirit is particular. There's a difference between the general call and the effectual call, but one does not nullify the other.

Next: "God loves every individual."

Luke 6:35 "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful"

It is objected by some that this refers to God's love for the elect prior to their conversion. I wonder, then, why Christ did not mention this distinction, but commanded His followers to love all enemies? If our heavenly Father does not love the reprobate, and we are admonished to be like Him, why should we love the reprobate? Yet we are commanded to love ALL neighbors and enemies without exception.

Ezekiel 18:23 "Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord God, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?"
Ezekiel 18:32 "For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord God. "Therefore, repent and live."

God's pleasure is increased when sinners repent, yet He does not lead all sinners to repentance. His reasons for leaving some in their sins is an unrevealed mystery, but His lack of pleasure in their destruction is directly stated and plainly revealed. Just as God saves some sinners without being unjust, He condemns other sinners without being unloving. Christ's death secured the salvation of the elect, but it also "condemned sin in the flesh." (Romans 8:3) That is a genuine and blessed paradox.

Does God love everyone? My 4-year-old can quote John 3:16, and I think he understands it better than most theologians. What kind of twisted interpretation of "world" does one have to invent in order to deny that "God so loved [every lost person] that He gave His only begotten son . . ."? The violent revisions forced on this text by a petrified theology are bizarre at best, and blasphemous at worst. One of the great benefits of being a paradoxical Calvinist is that we can allow the text to mean exactly what it says. On the downside, explaining things can be tricky, and one's systematic theology may be less than iron clad. But I'd rather be true to the text and scratch all the remaining hair off of my head trying to figure it out than to scratch a single line of truth from God's Bible.

Finally, the tough one: "God wills (i.e. desires) the salvation of every individual."

I Timothy 2:3-4 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Many - even among those who agree with all I have said above - will take exception to the use of this verse in this context. However, I am convinced that the verse is a true statement of God's desire for the salvation of all. The best argument against this view is formed by linking "all men" in this verse to "a ransom for all" in verse 6. Based on limited atonement, "all" in verse 6 is thought to mean "all kinds" (which is sometimes an accurate way to interpret the word), and thus the "all" in verse 4 purportedly has to mean "all kinds." It is a powerful argument. However, Christ's death as "a ransom for all" may well fit within the universal aspects of the atonement. The argument can be just as powerful when stated the opposite way: the "all" in verse 6 proves that the "all" in verse 4 really means "all." Christ's ransom payment was infinite and sufficient for all, though it is efficient and effective only for those who believe. Thus, God desires the salvation of all - especially the elect; and Christ paid the ransom for all - especially the elect. Alas, there are probably only a few Calvinists who will agree, but the point is more disputable than some would ever admit. Let's not allow our theology to become too "limited."

Beyond this, God's desire for the salvation of every individual can be explained this way: every universal invitation, and every universal call to repentance, stands as a statement of God's genuine desire - even if it is not His intention to fulfill that desire. God is not, therefore, "eternally bummed out" or frustrated by man's rejection of Him. Rather, He purposefully mourns with a compassionate heart over the well-deserved destruction of His creatures. He suffers for all, even the reprobate. Yet He also rejoices and finds complete satisfaction in all His decrees. Should it then surprise us that He calls us to find "pure joy" in all our trials and sufferings? And that we should "leap for joy" when people hate us?


The Scripture passages listed above provide strong support for the free offer of the Gospel. But is it a "sincere" and "well meant" offer? The answer is obvious: can God do anything without sincerity? Of course not. Is such terminology redundant? Yes, it is. But is it any more redundant than adding the word "holy" or "righteous" or "kind" or "good" or "perfect" to any of God's other acts? Certainly not. Therefore, we should never be ashamed to speak freely and sincerely of the free, sincere, and well meant offer of the Gospel.

The result of the free offer is sure: "This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:14)

So the great commission is a guaranteed success! Let every one of us do his (or her) part to fulfill the command (and the prophecy) of Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Further information can be found here:


Do you have difficulty reconciling the genuine overtures of the Gospel with the truth of God's sovereign election and predestination? To allow any such difficulty to cause you to reject the plain Biblical testimony to the reality of these gracious overtures is to bow down to the false humanistic god of the finality of human reason and is the very antithesis of true Biblical Calvinism. Whilst all of God's Word is reasonable, our powers of reason are those of a finite and fallen creature. We must lean upon the words that have proceeded out of the mouth of God. It is fallen man's pride in his own reason causing him to heed again the words of the serpent, "Hath God said?" (Gen. 3/1). Let us glorify God and say, "I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right" (Psalm 119/128).


  1. Good post, Derek. I have a rough draft I've been working on for a future post on John 3:16. Interestingly, just a few minutes ago I had a visitor to my blog deny that God loves everyone.

  2. Derek,

    Great outline of important truths. Thanks also for the encouraging words you left on our seminary blog. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry!

    Your servant,
    Bob Gonzales


Feel free to respond to anything written in the posts, or to the comments left by others. All comments are reviewed before they are published.

Please be charitable. If you disagree, do so with grace. Keep your words positive, focused, and on-topic. We don't expect everyone to agree, but we do expect everyone to treat everyone else with respect and grace, speaking the truth in love.