14 July, 2019

The “Gospel Offer”: Addressed (in the General Preaching) to “Convinced” Sinners Only

According to testimony of the sounder Reformed and Presbyterian theologians, the “gospel offer” (i.e., gospel comforts, in the way of promises, consolations, assurances, etc.), although part of the general preaching of the word of God, is not addressed to everyone that hears the preaching, but only the elect and regenerate among them:

[Note: This was repudiated by the "Marrow" men, as well as Amyraldians, moderates, and all hypo-Calvinists]

JOHN KNOX (1513-1572)—“True is that Isai the prophete and Christe Jesus himself, with his Apostles, do call upon all to come to repentance: But that generalitie [those to whom the offers of grace are addressed] is restrained by their own words, to those that thirst, that hunger, that mourne, that are laden with sinne, as before we have taught” (The Works of John Knox, David Laing, edit. [Edinburgh: James Thin, 1895], vol. 5, p. 404.)
[Note: on page 61 of the above work, Knox states: “You make the love of God common to all men; and that do we constantly deny …”]

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661)—“It is most untrue, that Christ belongeth to sinners as sinners, for then, Christ should belong to all unbelievers, how obstinate soever, even to those that sin against the Holy Ghost … He belongeth only to *believing* sinners … that is, humbled, wearied, and self-condemned sinners ... It is true, all sinners are obliged to believe, but to believe after the order of free grace; that is, that they be first self-lost and sick, and then be saved by the physician.” (The Trial and Triumph of Faith [Edinburgh: William Collins & Co., 1845], pp. 152ff. Cf. also pp. 348-349 for references to God’s hatred of the reprobate and love and peace on the elect; also p. 350 for references to God’s love as “simple,” not contradictory.)

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683)—“Multitudes of these invitations [offers of grace] ... are recorded in the Scripture, and they are all of them filled up with those blessed encouragements, which divine wisdom knows to be suited unto lost, *convinced* sinners …” (The Works of John Owen, D.D., Thomas Russell [edit.], vol. 12 [London: 1826], p. 534. Cf. p. 435—“To the same purpose he speaks unto *convinced* sinners in the invitation he gives them to come unto him.”)

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691)—“The order of the Spirit’s work in bringing men to Christ, shows us to whom the invitation and offers of grace in Christ are to be made; for none are convinced of righteousness, that is, of the complete and perfect righteousness in Christ for their justification, until first they are convinced of sin; and consequently, no man comes to Christ by faith till his convictions of sin have awakened and distressed him, John xvi. 8, 10. This being the order of the Spirit’s operation, the same order must be observed in gospel offers and invitations.” (The Method of Grace in the Holy Spirit’s Applying to the Souls of Men the Eternal Redemption [London: The Religious Tract Society, n. d.], p. 160.)

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