Protestant Reformed Faith - Well-meant Offer

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Over against the sound biblical, Reformed teaching of sovereign particular grace, there exists a false teaching of a well-meant offer of the gospel which is a mere repetition of the error of common grace. The term "well-meant offer" is defined in the first point of common grace as a favorable attitude towards all humankind in general and not only toward the elect, and therefore, that the general offer of the gospel (i.e. salvation in Christ) is an expression of that favor or grace of God to all men. This false doctrine is repudiated in David J Engelsma's Hyper-Calvinism and The Call of the Gospel.

Read more about the distinctive Reformed view of sovereign particular grace over against the false view of the well-meant offer in this excerpt from the second chapter of Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel by David J. Engelsma.

Why did Hoeksema refuse to subscribe to the doctrine of the well-meant offer of the gospel even though the price he paid was exclusion from the Christian Reformed Church? Why do the Protestant Reformed Churches repudiate the offer today?

Hoeksema opposed the doctrine of the well-meant offer of the gospel that was taught by the Christian Reformed Church in the first point of common grace of 1924. The teaching of the first point is that God has a "favorable attitude...toward humanity in general and not only toward the elect," that there is "a certain favor or grace of God which He shows to His creatures in general," and that "the general offer of the gospel" is an expression of that favor of God to all men...

The well-meant offer teaches that God goes out in the preaching to many sinners in love and grace, desiring to save them and trying to save them, but failing to save them... The issue at stake in the doctrine of the offer is nothing less that the truth of sovereign grace: "The standpoint of 1924 is Arminian. That the preaching of the gospel is common gracethis is the Arminian conception." In opposition to the well-meant offer, Hoeksema held, not that there is not a call to all who hear the gospel but that "the preaching of the gospel is grace only for the elect, and that is not and can never be anything else for the reprobate than the judgment and a savor of death to death." This is the issue: this is "our difference with the Christian Reformed Church."

The well-meant offer teaches that God's grace is universal. The Protestant Reformed Churches maintain that God's grace is particular, specifically now in the preaching of the gospel. The truth that God's grace is particular is essential for a confession of the sovereignty of grace. If God's grace in the preaching is for everybody, it is not sovereign grace. And the truth that God's grace in the preaching of the gospel is particular, sovereign grace is the very heart of the Reformed faith...

It is indisputable that the Protestant Reformed Churches' rejection of a well-meant offer and a conditional promise is not and never was motivated by hyper-Calvinism, that is, by a refusal to preach the gospel to every creature, a refusal to call every hearer to repentance and faith, and a refusal to proclaim to everyone the promise that whoever believes shall be saved. This was simply not the issue. Rather, the issue in the doctrine of a well-meant offer of the gospel is this: does God love and have a gracious attitude toward everyone who hears the preaching, and does He in the preaching desire to save everyone? As Hoeksema never wearied of asking, "What grace does the reprobate receive in the preaching?"...

That which is objectionable in the "free offer of the gospel" or "well-meant offer," is not the teaching that the church must preach to everyone and must call all hearers to faith in Jesus Christ. But the error of the doctrine of the offer, and the reason why a Reformed man must repudiate it, is its teaching that the grace of God in Jesus Christ, grace that is saving in character, is directed to all men in the preaching of the gospel. Inherent in the offer of the gospel is the notion that God loves and desires to save all men; the notion that the preaching of the gospel is God's grace to all men, and expression of God's love to all men, and an attempt by God to save all men; and the notion that salvation is dependent upon man's acceptance of the offered salvation, that is, that salvation depends upon the free will of the sinner.

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