20 September, 2019

What is the ‘Well-Meant Gospel Offer’? What is the Reformed View?




[Source: “Is the ‘Well Meant Offer’ Biblical?” (A discussion between Prof. David J. Engelsma and Rev. Sonny Hernandez) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1hW1ZmL-t4, transcripted from 09:27-14:41]


The teaching of the well-meant offer of the gospel is that, when the gospel is preached, God has a loving desire for the salvation of all those that come under the preaching of the gospel. God, on His part, is gracious—obviously in Jesus Christ, because the gospel has to do with Jesus Christ—to everyone who hears the gospel (those who are saved by it, and those who perish in unbelief). And in that grace of God, God has a sincere desire that everyone who hears the gospel preached should be saved.

That is the teaching of the well-meant offer of the gospel. It is “well-meaning” because God, on His part, desires the salvation of everyone who hears the gospel.

Now it is important that objection to the well-meant gospel offer is not confused with the denial of the serious call of the gospel to everyone who hears the preaching of the gospel. Sometimes, enemies of those who reject the well-meant gospel offer will paint us as denying the promiscuous preaching of the gospel and the issuing of a serious call or command of God to all who hear the gospel to repent and believe. Let me describe, briefly, what the serious call of the gospel is, and what we, who object to the well-meant gospel offer, do believe.

When a minister or a missionary confronts an audience, he sets forth their sin and their dire straits of being subject to the wrath of God. He exposes their sinfulness and their need. Then he sets forth to them Jesus Christ in all His fulness, as the one and only Saviour provided by God for salvation from sin and death. And, having done that, he calls or exhorts or commands (seriously) all in the audience to repent of their sin and to believe on Jesus Christ who is the only Saviour. And he adds to that serious call to come to Jesus Christ the promise that everyone who does so come in true faith to Jesus Christ to be received, forgiven and saved. He also adds the warning that all those who refuse to come to Jesus Christ in true faith will perish in their unbelief and sin.

That is the serious call of the gospel, and that’s what a genuine Calvinist or a member of the Reformed church believes and practices—the serious call of the gospel.

Our opposition to the well-meant gospel offer does not in any way derogate from our commitment to the serious call of the gospel. As I have already described, the well-meant gospel offer, in distinction from the serious call of the gospel, tells everyone in the audience, “God loves you, with a saving love in Jesus Christ, and seriously desires your salvation.” That is radically different from the serious call of the gospel. The well-meant gospel offer has God with a universal saving grace, and a universal saving desire for the salvation of all human beings. That is contrary to the fundamentals of the Reformed faith, namely, God’s predestination—election and reprobation (election being His will to save some only, and reprobation being His determination that other shall be damned in the way of their unbelief and their other sins) and limited or particular atonement (which has Christ die for some only)—the implication of the well-meant gospel offer is that Christ has died for everyone, because there cannot be salvation or a love of God for salvation apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. Also, the well-meant gospel offer denies the irresistible grace of God, which Calvinism confesses, because you have a grace of God now in the preaching of the gospel that is resistible, and is, in fact, resisted by multitudes—many who hear the gospel reject it. And if that gospel is an effort of the grace of God to save them, obviously the grace of God is resistible.

So we deny and denounce the well-meant gospel offer as contradicting the fundamentals of the gospel of grace, not only as confessed by Reformed churches historically, but also as the teaching of the Bible—John 10, Romans 8 and 9, and many other places besides.





[Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash]

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