18 February, 2017


In the midst of rampant Arminian offers of and invitations to salvation, the Reformed community would do well to reconsider the usefulness and legitimacy of “the well-meant offer of salvation” as a serious call of the gospel.

Where should we turn for a united Reformed front on this matter? In the history of dogma, we learn that the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619) was the last ecumenical assembly where delegates were drawn from all over the then-known Reformed world. If ever there was a united, official, and carefully formulated Reformed refutation of the Arminian errors, it must be the Canons, the product of this synod for that very purpose. But the Canons are much neglected these days, even by those who purportedly promote the Five Points of Calvinism (the popular name for the Canons). One wonders if it is not due to the shying away from the Canons, that Reformed people are drifting apart from one another in the matter of Reformed soteriology. The Canons shall not be neglected in our attempt to determine what is truly the serious call of the gospel and whether the well-meant offer may be classified as one.

In this paper we are not particularly concerned about the legitimacy and possibility of the work of evangelism in the light of the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. Dr. R. C. Sproul, in his book, Chosen By God, saw the implication of the doctrine of predestination on the task of evangelism. He asked, What does predestination do to the task of evangelism? His answer essentially is that it does not affect evangelism at all, as evangelism is a matter of the church obeying the command of Christ, her Head, and considering it a privilege on her part to be involved.1 We agree with him and here in this paper we would ask how the doctrines of grace affect the form of gospel presentation to the lost.

That there are serious errors in presenting the gospel as a “well-meant offer” can be discerned in the following words of the late Dr. John H. Gerstner:

I had the incomparable privilege of being a student of Professors Murray and Stonehouse. With tears in my heart. I nevertheless confidently assert that they erred profoundly in The Free Offer of the Gospel and died before they seem to have realized their error which, because of their justifiedly high reputations for Reformed excellence generally, still does incalculable damage to the cause of Jesus Christ and the proclamation of His gospel.2


1. R. C. Sproul, Chosen By God (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1986), pp. 208-212.

2. David J. Engelsma, Hyper-Calvinism & the Call of the Gospel (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1994), pp. viii-ix.

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