04 March, 2018

God Invites All Men To Christ?

Rev. Gerrit Vos

[Originally published in the Standard Bearer, vol. 24, no. 16 (May 15, 1948), pp. 364-365]

The readers will remember that the Rev. H. J. Kuiper wrote in The Banner on the general theme: “God and Man in Salvation.” So far he has written five editorials on this mighty truth.

In my first editorial on that series it was my intention to point out that the Rev. Kuiper erred grievously when he taught his people that in a certain sense Jesus Christ died for the whole world, every man, head for head. It is astounding how a man can write for Reformed people in that vein, and receive no serious opposition in his own circles. To my knowledge, no one has ever gone as far in this pernicious error as the Rev. Kuiper did. He taught that there are mercies in God, antedating the cross of Calvary, and finding an avenue through that cross to the life of the reprobate ungodly. This mercy of God for the reprobate is then, according to Kuiper, the blessing of this temporal life with all its attending fruits of life, health, possessions, etc.

We tried to show that such error is in direct conflict with the teaching of God’s Word.

In the same editorial he proceeds on his way, and the thing gets worse. He writes also about the error of the first point of Kalamazoo, which dealt with the favorable attitude of God over against the reprobate ungodly in the province of general grace, the grace, namely, of salvation in Christ Jesus the Lord.

Writes Kuiper:


Our Arminian brethren, however, do not have these minor temporal fruits of the death of Christ in mind when they say that Jesus “died for all men.” They intend to say much more, namely, that by his death he paid for the sins of all men. Is that true? Does Scripture permit the ambassadors of Christ to declare to all men indiscriminately, hence to every individual: “Jesus died for you; He paid for your sin”? Bear in mind that among those who hear their message are elect and reprobate. Who are elect and who are not they cannot know. They extend the offer of grace to all. They are divinely authorized to do that. God commands them to invite and even urge all sinners to come to Christ and to promise them forgiveness of sins and eternal life on the condition of repentance and faith. They have no right to say to any and every one: “Jesus paid for your sin,” but they do have the right to say to all: “Christ invites you to come to him for salvation, and if you come He will in no wise cast you out.” This is the outward call of the gospel of which the Canons of Dort say that it is “unfeigned”—sincere. “As many as are called by the gospel are unfeignedly called. For God has most earnestly and truly declared in His Word what is, acceptable to Him, namely, that those who are called should come unto him” (III, IV, Article 8).

For the present let it suffice to say that this general offer of salvation, taught by all leading Reformed theologians since the time of Calvin, is not to be confused with the doctrine of a general or universal atonement; Salvation is offered to all who hear the gospel and fulfill the conditions; but it was not earned for all. Those who hold that it was earned for all assure every hearer of the gospel that God sent His Son into the world and to the cross with the intention of saving him, but that this intention does not at all guarantee his salvation. To carry out that intention the Son of God paid the ransom for his sin, but this merely made his salvation possible; it is now “up to him,” by the exercise of his free will, to accept or to reject that ransom and the salvation which is purchased for him.

What shall we say about this popular doctrine? We answer that it is a dangerous heresy. A heresy because it conflicts with the basic teachings and the emphatic declarations of God’s Word. A dangerous heresy because it is based on the supposition of an impotent God, whose saving intention can be frustrated by man and is being frustrated by all who reject the gospel.

We have in the above a mixture of truth and error, more error than truth.

A very palpable example of this we find in his statement which reads: “this general offer of salvation, taught by all leading Reformed theologians since the time of Calvin, etc.”

Allow me to quote from Calvin’s Calvinism, pages 49-51:

The fiction of Pighius is puerile and absurd, when he interprets grace to be God’s goodness in inviting all men to salvation, though all were lost in Adam. For Paul most clearly separates the foreknown from those on whom God deigned not to look in mercy. And the same is expressed, without any obscurity, in the memorable words of Christ: ‘All that the Father giveth Me, shall come unto Me; and him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out. Here we have three things, briefly indeed, but most perspicuously expressed. First, that all who come unto Christ were before given unto Him by the Father; secondly, that those who were thus given unto Him were delivered, as it were, from the hand of the Father into the hand of the Son, that they may be truly His; thirdly, that Christ is the sure keeper of all those whom the Father delivered over to His faithful custody and care, for the very end that He might not suffer one of them to perish. Now if a question be raised as to the beginning of faith, Christ here gives the answer, when He says that those who believe, therefore believe because they were given unto Him by the Father … Pighius will himself confess that there is need of illumination to bring unto Christ those who were adversaries to God; but he at the same time, holds fast the fiction that grace is offered equally to all; etc. (The last italics are mine, and the others Calvin’s, G.V.)

Much has been written on the so-called offer of grace to all who hear the Word, and it is not necessary that I repeat all our defense against the fallacy of the offer. But it is rather striking that the advocates of that fallacy will go to the extreme of open deceit in order to maintain their errors. The Rev. Kuiper boldly states that all theologians since Calvin have taught the offer, and the reader will bear witness that in the above excerpt from Calvin he simply rejects the offer. He calls it a “fiction,” that is, that which is feigned or imagined, as opposed to that which is true!

Rev. Kuiper, you have heard that Calvin rejects the idea of the offer of grace which you teach is offered equally to all; you have now read that Calvin denominates a so-called “invitation to all men unto salvation” puerile and absurd. Will you, please, rectify this deception on your part?

I am, of course, willing to detract this accusation if you will tell me that you never read Calvin anent the idea of the so-called offer of grace and the invitation unto salvation for all men. In that case I would say that it is very careless to make such sweeping statements as you have made in the above quotation over your name.

But that Calvin did reject the idea of the offer of grace is not so important. It is of more import that the Holy Scriptures directly oppose it. To my mind the clearest text in this respect is Mark 4:11, 12:

And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

Try and preach that to a mixed audience of believers and disobedient ones, and in the face of your text, say: “God is favorably inclined to all of you with respect to the things of eternal salvation! He seriously and truly invites all of you, whether you are elect or reprobate, unto Jesus Christ the Lord!”

But Jesus said: “The mysteries of the Kingdom are done in parables unto them that are without, lest they should be converted and their sins should be forgiven them”! Evidently, the Lord did not want that to happen!

We do preach, that it is pleasing to God that those who believe come unto Him. All those that come unto Christ, He will in no wise cast out.

And you are in duty bound to tell your audience also that this coming unto Christ, and this believing on Him, is the wondrous Gift of Grace which the Father reserves for His elect only!

Is this necessary? Yes, for it must appear that all boasting, in the flesh is vain, and that he that glorieth should glory in the Lord God alone!

G. Vos.

No comments:

Post a Comment