Protestant Reformed Faith - Call of the Gospel

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Read about the distinctive Reformed view of the call of the gospel over against the false view of the well-meant offer in this excerpt from the third chapter of Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel by David J. Engelsma

The Reformed doctrine of the preaching of the gospel must sail between the Scylla of hyper-Calvinism and the Charybdis of Arminianism. On the one hand, is the rock of hyper-Calvinism which denies that the call of the gospel comes in all seriousness to everyone who hears the preaching, elect and reprobate alike. On the other hand is the whirlpool of Arminianism which makes the preaching a well-meant offer of God to all who hear. The Reformed view and practice of preaching must neither be smashed on the one or swallowed up by the other.

We have already defended the Reformed conception of preaching against hyper-Calvinism. It remains to give account of Reformed preaching against objections raised by those who maintain a free offer.

Those who advocate a well-meant offer of grace insist that the offer is essential for free, unfettered preaching, especially for preaching directed to the unconverted in missions. They argue that the denial of an offer inhibits missions, or evangelism, by restricting the call of the gospel. Their argument seems to be, first, that a church or preacher that does not believe that God is gracious to all men will not desire, or dare, to preach to all men; second, that this church or preacher will not have a message to bring to every man; and third, that such a church or preacher will be unable to call every man, urgently and seriously, to repent of his sins and believe in Jesus Christ...

The proof of the Reformed position is evident to all. The apostle Paul was an avowed, ardent predestinarian, holding double predestination, election and reprobation (Rom. 9). As a predestinarian, he did not believe, nor did he ever preach, that God loved all men, was gracious to all men, and desired the salvation of all men, that is, he did not believe, teach, or give the well-meant offer of the gosepl. On the contrary, the apostle believed and proclaimed that God loved and chose unto salvation some men, and some men only (Rom. 9:11-13; 21-24; 11:5), hating and reprobating others (Rom. 9:13; 21,22). He taught that God is gracious only to the elect (Rom. 9:15; II Tim. 1:9), enduring, blinding, and hardening others (Rom. 9:22; 9:18; 11:7). He held that the preaching of the gospel, so far from being grace to all hearers, is a savor of death unto death to some (II Cor. 2:15, 16), in accordance with God's purpose in bringing the Word to them, which purpose is not a saving purpose, but the purpose to render them inexcusable and harden them (Rom. 9:18; cf. also Jesus' words in John 12:37-41).

Paul did not regard the preaching of the gospel as an offer of salvation to everyone, directed to everyone in a universal love of God and providing everyone with a chance to be saved. Instead, he viewed the preaching of the gospel as the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16), as the creative call of God that calls the things that be not as though they were (Rom. 4:17), and as the mighty voice of the risen Christ that raises the dead (II Tim. 1:10). Such a quickening, renewing, and enlightening power is the preaching unto God's elect. This is true, not merely because it turns out to be the case that only the elect are saved by the gospel, but because God in the sovereignty of His grace limits the gospel as a saving power to the elect. The preaching of the gospel as the power of God unto salvation is dependent on and governed by God's eternal decree of predestination. Romans 8:30 teaches this: "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called." God sends the gospel as a saving power only to those whom He has predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, and the gospel efficaciously saves everyone to whom it is so directed...

 
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