03 July, 2017

Canons of Dordt, III/IV:8—“ God hath … declared … what will be acceptable to him … that all … should come unto him”

As many as are called by the gospel are unfeignedly called. For God hath most earnestly and truly shown in his Word what is pleasing to him, namely, that those who are called should come to him. He, moreover, seriously promises eternal life and rest to as many as shall come to him and believe on him (Canons of Dordt, III/IV, 8).

That God is said, in this article, to be “pleased” with individuals coming to Him, that it is “acceptable” to Him, is, in the viewpoint of common grace proponents, evidence for a “love of God for all men, and a desire of God for the salvation of all men.”


Prof. David J. Engelsma

[Source: The Standard Bearer, vol. 50, no. 6 (Dec. 15th 1973), p. 135; emphasis added.]

When the Canons say that “God hath … declared … what will be acceptable to him (or, pleasing to him), namely, that all who are called, should come unto him,” this does not mean that God loves all and desires the salvation of all. The Canons have been busy in Heads I and II refuting this very notion. But the meaning is that the activity of coming to Christ is pleasing to God, whereas the refusal to come in faith is displeasing to Him, and God makes this known in the preaching when He calls men. Therefore, when men wickedly refuse to come to the marriage, the king of the parable in Matthew 22 sends out the army of His wrath to kill those obstinate men.



Prof. Herman C. Hanko

[Source: Common Grace Considered (2019 edition), pp. 32-33]

The article teaches the following truths, at least as far as the question of the “well-meant gospel offer” is concerned. God’s calling to those who hear the gospel is serious and means what it says, and that it is well-pleasing to Him that men do what He commands. He is not playing games with men when He commands them to repent and believe in Christ. He is not commanding them to do something to which He is indifferent. He does not say to men that they must repent and believe in Christ, but does not really mean what He says, and does not care whether they obey or not. God never has any pleasure in sin, nor delights in disobedience.
Presumably, the defenders of the “gospel offer” argue thus: Because God is said to be “well-pleased” with the repentance and faith of those who hear the gospel, therefore He must also “desire that all be saved.” And this “desire that all be saved” implies that God “loves” all and that Christ “died” for all.
This is indeed a problem that requires our investigation. It is not a new problem. It was already addressed by Francis Turretin, an ardent opponent of the “well-meant offer.”  Whether his explanation is adequate is another matter; and we intend, God willing, to discuss this problem somewhat later—as well as Turretin’s answer to this objection. It is sufficient to say now that the command of God to repent from sin and believe in Christ is a command rooted in the creation ordinance. God created man good and upright and able to keep God’s law. Man’s fall is his own fault, and for it he is culpable before God. All men are responsible for Adam’s sin, for Adam was the federal head of the entire human race. But all men are responsible also for obedience to God, even after they fell. God does not, as it were, say to fallen man: “I am so sorry that you fell into sin. I see your sad plight and your inability to do what I originally commanded you to do. I will not, therefore, require obedience of you any longer.” Such a position would be contrary to God’s own infinite holiness and justice. God still insists that man obey Him. An inability that is man’s own fault is no excuse for disobedience. And God is very serious about this.



More to come! (DV)

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