28 March, 2016

The Biblical Offer of the Gospel:
Analysis and answer to Rev. K. W. Stebbins' book “Christ Freely Offered” in Light of Scripture and the Confessions.

Rev. Christopher J. Connors


In this paper we have sought to apply four truths to the offer of the gospel that show that Rev. Stebbins has erred in his presentation. These were, first, that because God is one His will and purpose are also one, there is no "necessary principle" of God's nature that is at variance with His decree. This means that God does not pursue the non-elect with grace and love. Second, that the particularity of the love and grace of God as Saviour flowing from eternal election determines that God pursues only the elect with grace and salvation through the gospel. It also means that God has no attitude of love and grace toward the reprobate over whom He rules in power as Creator-Judge. Third, these truths when applied to the offer of the gospel exclude any well-meant offer in which God desires, but does not achieve, the salvation of all. Fourth, we have shown that there can be no sincerity in a universal, conditional offer and promise based on a limited atonement.

We have also demonstrated that the denial of all universalism, together with its expression in the "well-meant-offer", is no restriction or distortion of the preaching of Christ crucified to all men. We have seen that the gospel does not require faith in a contradiction, or a mysterious paradox. God "offers" what He has determined to give and has already provided; namely, Christ and salvation in Him to all those who believe.

Therefore, we conclude that Rev. Stebbins is in serious error regarding the offer of the gospel. The truth he attacks stands firm.

We conclude with a quote from Rev. David Engelsma which describes the full and free offer of the gospel, and shows God's purpose in it.

“When God sends the gospel forth into all the world, presenting Christ crucified to all who hear the preaching and calling all who hear to repent of their sins and believe on that Christ, His purpose is to save the elect and the elect only. The love that sends forth the gospel, like the love that sent forth Christ in the fullness of time, is the love of God for the elect church. This love is sovereign love. As the call to repent and believe goes out, God the Holy Spirit works that repentance and faith in the hearts of the elect in the audience. He gives us what He calls for, and He gives it by the calling. "Come!" He says, and that sovereignly gracious call draws us irresistibly to Christ.”193

This gospel is particular saving grace for God's elect.

Of this gospel we may say: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek," (Romans 1:16).

Rutherford's "order of free grace" and the implication to the presentation of the gospel is biblical. It is identical to “The Practical Use of Saving Knowledge,” which says:

“The general use of Christian doctrine is to convince a man of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8), partly by the law or covenant of works, that he may be humbled, and become penitent; and partly by the gospel of covenant of grace, that he may become an unfeigned believer in Jesus Christ, and be strengthened in his faith upon solid grounds and warrants, and give evidence of the truth of his faith by good fruits, and so be saved.”

The Heidelberg Catechism sets forth the same truth, Question 2.

“How many things are necessary for you to know, that thou in this comfort may live and die happily? Three; the first, how great my sins and misery are; the second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery; the third, how I am to be thankful to God for such deliverance.”



193. David Engelsma, Hyper-Calvinism & The Call of The Gospel., Grand Rapids:, RFPA, 1994), p. 24.

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