Defense of Common GraceWith sound exegesis and clear
logic, Mr. Ponter helps
make sense of some of the hardest
raised by Calvinist theology.
The Offer and Call of the Gospel
Examined in the Light of Scripture
by David Ponter
Copyright 1993 by David Ponter. All Rights Reserved.
S many as are called by
the Gospel are unfeignedly called; for God hath most earnestly and truly
declared in his Word what will be acceptable to him, namely, that all who
are called should comply with the invitation. He, moreover, seriously
promises eternal life and rest to as many as shall come to him, and
believe on him.
Fourth Heads of Doctrine
1. THE ATONEMENT
2. THE WILL OF GOD
- (1) The
"you/me" paradigm as it relates to Hyper-Calvinism and R.B. Kuiper
- (2) The
infinite sufficiency of Christ's atonement
- (3) The
sufficiency of the atonement and the call of the Gospel as taught by
- (4) The
sufficiency of the atonement, the reception of the Gospel, and the
"you/me" paradigm, as taught by various Reformed theologians
- (5) The
alleged conditional sufficiency of the atonement
3. COMMON GRACE
- (1) The
Reformed doctrine of the Will of God
- (2) The
Will of God and the sincerity of the Gospel offer and call
- (3) The
Will of God and the sincerity of the Gospel offer and call to the
4. THE SCRIPTURES
- (1) The
doctrine of Common Grace and the Atonement
Common and Special Grace
he central issue of this
book is a discussion of the question of the sincerity of God and his
ministers in the offer of the Gospel to all men. The point of issue has to
do with the charge, often adduced by non-reformed theologians, that a free
and sincere offer of the Gospel to all is incompatible with the Reformed
doctrines of Limited Atonement and Unconditional Election. Arminians often
suggest that if Christ has not died for all, and that God unconditionally
elects only some to salvation, and unconditionally passes by the rest of
mankind, leaving them in sin, then God and his ministers of the Gospel are
insincere in offering Christ in the Gospel to all.
Yet, it is not the purpose of this
paper to focus on this Arminian charge, but how the Reformed have in
various ways responded to this challenge. Yet, neither is this the whole
of the matter. Indeed, the primary aim of this paper is to examine one
man's response to this charge in the light of Reformed theology.
Specifically, it is intended here that this dissertation be a source paper
to discuss, in the light of history and scripture, R. B. Kuiper's
particular response to this challenge. It seems clear to this writer, that
Kuiper, in answering this challenge, has reverted to concepts and
teachings traditionally rejected by the Reformed and embraced by the
non-Reformed. It is the aim of this paper to show, that Kuiper's response
to this challenge, and thus his concept of the Reformed Doctrines of
Grace, are neither Reformed, in the historical sense of the term, nor
To be clear, what
Kuiper has done, is to base the sincere offer of the Gospel in three
additional doctrines, namely, the Atonement, the Will of God, and Common
Grace. As to the first, Kuiper, when faced with the universality of the
Gospel offer, has attempted to harmonise it with the doctrine of limited
atonement by modifying the latter, that is, by partially universalising
the atonement. As to the second, Kuiper, again when confronted with the
universality of the offer of the Gospel, has universalised the saving will
of God. For Kuiper, this means that within God there is an ineffectual
desire for the salvation of all those who hear the Gospel. As to the
third, Kuiper has attempted to base this ineffectual saving desire for the
salvation of all, in the doctrine of Common Grace. In all this, Kuiper's
logic runs thus: the free offer of the Gospel is the highest expression of
Common Grace, and Common Grace is a fruit of the Atonement.
So in the end, based on his
modifications, Kuiper can then respond to the Arminian claim by suggesting
that indeed, the Reformed doctrine of limited atonement is compatible with
an indiscriminate offer of the Gospel, because as in one sense it is
limited, in another it is unlimited. This unlimited aspect of the
atonement becomes the ground of the indiscriminate offer of the Gospel.
Furthermore, God is sincere in the Gospel offer, because he actually does
desire the salvation of all to whom the offer comes,; and this desire is
grounded in the Common Grace of God. The end result of all this, which
must be admitted by all, is that Kuiper has clearly modified the Reformed
Doctrines of Grace. In response to this, the aim of this paper is to
refute Kuiper's conception of the Doctrines of Grace, to set forth
historically the Reformed Doctrines of Grace in relation to these three
areas, and in doing this, answer the Arminian charge.
Before entering properly into our
examination of these issues, some preliminary points should be noted.
Firstly, it must be noted that this paper does not aim to discuss or prove
the doctrines of particular redemption, sovereign grace, unconditional
election, the free offer of the Gospel, especially the use of the word
offer in theological discussion, and Common Grace. For the
purposes of this paper, these doctrines are assumed though some discussion
of them will ensue. The paper has been written from within the perspective
of the Reformed faith, and therefore, it does not aim to prove the
Reformed Doctrines of Grace as such, but only to address certain errors
newly emerging in Reformed theology. For discussions of these issues as
they stand, the works of others should be consulted.
Secondly, it is my contention that
Kuiper's overall theology of Grace is more analogous to the Amyraldianism
of Moise Amyraut, a 17th century French Reformed theologian. Entailed in
Amyraldianism is the belief that God, moved by an ardent desire to save
all, decreed and so designed that Christ make an Atonement of infinite
worth and universally and conditionally sufficient for all men. That is,
the atonement was designed, by God, to be sufficient for the needs of all
men. Yet God foreseeing that none, if left to themselves would believe
(because of man's inherent depravity), so designed, that the atonement
would be unconditionally and efficaciously applied to some, namely the
elect. As a consequence, in the Amyraldian order of the Decrees, the
decree of election is preceded by the decree to make an Atonement
universally sufficient for all.
I suggest that Kuiper's concepts of
the doctrines of Grace are analogous to Amyraldianism, though not because
he adopts the above order of the decrees. Indeed, Kuiper would retain the
decree of election as being prior to the decree to make an atonement. Kuiper's only
point of departure here, is that he would have God, in this subsequent
decree, decree also that the an atonement be made that is universally
sufficient for all men but efficient for the elect. Yet,
conceptually, his theology parallels Amyraldianism. Both Amyraut and
Kuiper stressed the idea that Christ's atonement is universally
sufficient, both held that God desires the salvation of all who hear the
Gospel, both held to a concept of universal grace. Both based the
sincerity of the offer of the Gospel in these three points. Yet both,
unlike Arminianism, held to unconditional election, sovereign grace and in
a certain sense, a definite atonement. On this basis then, I would
classify Kuiper's theology here as a form of Neo-Amyraldianism.
On the other hand, Reformed theology
holds that Christ's atonement, while being of infinite worth, value,
dignity and sufficiency, is designed to be sufficient only for the elect
of God chosen in eternity. In this system the order of the decrees are,
that God unconditionally elected some, then decreed that an atonement be
made for these only. Furthermore, the sincerity of God in the offer of the
Gospel is not grounded in a universal atonement and God's alleged desire
for the salvation of all, but on the universal commands and invitations of
the Gospel. Those who subscribe to this position would be such as John
Owen, Francis Turretin, William Cunningham, and A.A. Hodge. As a natural
consequence, both systems 'outwork' in different ways. Both systems, using
the doctrine of Christ's infinite sufficiency, the will of God and Common
Grace, with their differing conceptions and intent, have a different basis
and warrant for the Gospel offer and call, and how it is to be proclaimed
to all. It is these basic differences, that are the concern of this paper,
and thus the aims of this paper are:
(1) To survey and discuss how various
Reformed theologians, past and present, have either used or misused the
doctrine of Christ's infinite sufficiency, the Will of God and the
doctrine of Common Grace.
To demonstrate that the modern Neo-Amyraldian theology of Grace, as
espoused by such as R.B. Kuiper, and others of late, is not truly
representative of older Reformed theology of Grace.
(3) To show from various and extensive
quotations from contra-Amyraldians, that the
Amyraldian and Neo-Amyraldian theology of Grace is scripturally invalid,
an unnecessary paradigm for evangelism and that Biblically, it is an
unacceptable response to the question of God's sincerity in the Gospel
offer and call.
demonstrate in what follows, that there is a third alternative between
so-called Hyper-Calvinism on the one side, and Amyraldian versions of the
Doctrines of Grace on the other side; and that from this third
alternative, the doctrines of God's absolute sovereignty and man's
absolute responsibility can both be maintained.
Lastly, throughout this paper I will
draw on chapter five of Kuiper's work, "For Whom Did Christ Die?" This is done,
because in this chapter Kuiper comes the closest to fully expressing
himself on these issues, and as such, he exhibits the full development and
consequences of what is only nascent in writers such as Murray,
Stonehouse, Van Til and others. To keep things in perspective, to discuss
Kuiper's theology in this chapter, is not to disregard Kuiper's genuine
contribution to the body of Christ in other areas of theology. The paper
only seeks to detail Kuiper's departure from the orthodox Reformed
Doctrines of Grace.
CHAPTER 1. THE ATONEMENT
(1) THE "YOU/ME"
PARADIGM IN RELATION TO HYPER-CALVINISM, R.B. KUIPER AND HIS
NEO-AMYRALDIAN THEOLOGY OF GRACE.
I would argue that from a position
that is Contra-Amyraldian, one does not have to subscribe to the so-called
Hyper-Calvinistic tenets. Specifically, the denial of Duty-Faith. Involved with
this are the corollary doctrines: (1) That the Law only commands natural
obedience, and does not enjoin faith in Christ; (2) that the gospel
preacher cannot enjoin the non-converted to exercise trust in Christ for
their salvation, but only to exercise natural repentance, as it is not the
duty of the non-Christian to exercise spiritual repentance and
faith; (3) that the warrant of faith, is not the command, but the personal
discovery of the work of the Spirit within the sinner; (4) the belief that
the gospel call can only be given to those who likewise are able to
discern one's own subjective experience of the Spirit's work.
These last two points I find
interesting, and would like now to expand upon. These two points involve
what I call the "You/Me" paradigm. That is, before I can 'believe' or heed
the gospel call, I must be assured that I 'have a Spirit-wrought
experience or conviction of my sin and need for Christ.' Conversely, were
I the preacher, I could not give the Gospel call to those who did not have
this assurance. Often the justification of this position, is that were
Duty-Faith true, this would imply both 'creature power,' i.e., the denial
of Total Depravity, and an Unlimited Atonement, i.e., the denial of
Why I mention Hyper-Calvinism is to
point out, that because one may hold to contra-Amyraldian principles, this
does not necessarily mean that he or she is bound to subscribe to the
above Hyper-Calvinistic tenets. Therefore, it is wrong to label (or
libel), all Contra-Amyraldian theology and theologians as Hyper-Calvinist,
as Contra-Amyraldianism is not a synonym for Hyper-Calvinism as some would
have us believe.
enough, the "You/Me" paradigm is not limited to Hyper-Calvinism. I would
argue, that it is the basis of all early and later forms of Amyraldianism.
Of this latter version of Amyraldianism, R.B.Kuiper is probably the
clearest exponent. Stated simply,
my warrant to preach to all, is the death of Christ for all, and my
warrant to believe, is Christ's death for me. Kuiper
follows this paradigm explicitly. Note, Kuiper's underlying intent here is
to attempt to show that the particularity of the atonement is in no way a
denial of the free and universal proclamation of the Gospel. The question
is, how does Kuiper answer this? His answer is, in the supposed Universal
Sufficiency of the Atonement.
In doing this, Kuiper follows the
"you/me" paradigm in the following way. He states that the atonement is of
universal sufficiency. He then states that, in a real and intended
sense (by God), Christ died for all men, and not just for the
elect; and then also in another sense, Christ died for the elect only.
This death of Christ for the elect and non-elect, then forms the basis of
the gospel warrant. Firstly, Kuiper labours to establish that God indeed
decreed and designed that the atonement should be universally sufficient
If the Atonement was suitable for all and sufficient for
all, it goes without saying that God designed that it should be
such... Berkhof says discerningly, although not altogether lucidly:
"The Schoolmen were accustomed to saying that Christ died sufficiently
for all men, but efficaciously for the elect. This language was adopted
by some orthodox theologians and even by Calvin. But after the extent of
the atonement was made the object of special study, Reformed theologians
generally refused to state the truth in that form, because it was apt to
give the impression that Christ in dying intended that all men should
share in the proper effects of his atoning death. They prefer to say
that the death of Christ viewed objectively and apart from his design
and purpose was inherently sufficient for all, though efficacious only
for the elect." It hardly needs to be noted that Berkhof cannot mean to
say that God did not design that the atonement should be objectively
sufficient for all. God most assuredly designed that, for he purposed
all that is.
Apart from the obvious fact that it is
clear that Kuiper contradicts Berkhof, it would seem that Berkhof is the
one closer to the Reformed and Biblical understanding of this doctrine.
Secondly, Kuiper then makes the direct connection between the supposed
universal sufficiency and the sincere offer and call of the Gospel:
When the Reformed theology describes the universal offer of
salvation as sincere, it does not mean that the human preacher, who
obviously cannot distinguish with certainty, the elect and the
non-elect, must for that reason issue to all men indiscriminately a most
sincere offer of eternal life and an equally sincere invitation to
accept the offer. It most assuredly means that, but it means
incomparably more. The Reformed theology insists that God himself...
makes on the ground of the universally suitable and sufficient
atonement a most sincere, bona fide, offer of eternal life, not only
to the elect but to all men, urgently invites them to everlasting life,
and expresses an ardent desire that every person to whom this offer and
this invitation come accept the offer and comply with the invitation.
Here, Kuiper clearly follows the
"you/me" model. The universal sufficiency is the basis of being able to
say to the non-Christian, that Christ has died for you, or his death is
sufficient for you. Conversely, with this basis of universal sufficiency,
Kuiper can expect the non-Christian--and even non-elect--to believe that
Christ died for them, in some sense, or better, that Christ's death is
sufficient for them. Clearly, Kuiper has the universal sufficiency as the
basis or warrant for the free proclamation of the gospel. On the other
hand, the universal sufficiency is the warrant or basis, for the
non-Christian to put his or her faith in Christ.
However, the Neo-Amyraldian "you/me"
paradigm is not a scriptural model or basis for Biblical
(2) THE INFINITE SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST'S ATONEMENT.
The trouble is that for many like
Kuiper, their error lies in their misunderstanding of the phrase
"sufficient for all, efficient for the elect." The difference lies in two
key concepts. The issue is whether the phrase 'sufficiency for all...,' is
to be understood both hypothetically and referring to the atonement's
intrinsic worth, or whether it is to be understood both universally
and involving the divine will and purpose of the atonement. The
latter, is the position held by Amyraldians, and their various theological
However, when I read
of Reformed theologians using the phrase 'sufficient for all..." I take
them to mean in the former sense. Owen is clear on this:
The value, worth, and dignity of the ransom which Christ
gave himself to be, and of the price which he paid, was infinite and
immeasurable; fit for the accomplishing of any end and the procuring
of any good, for all and every one for whom it was intended, had they
been millions of men more than ever were created.
Furthermore, on this same page, Owen
limits the scope of the atonement's infinite value to the elect only. For
Owen, the Atonement is qualitatively of infinite worth and sufficiency,
but quantitatively, it is limited in its design and application to the
God, out of his infinite love to his elect, sent his dear
Son in the fullness of time, whom he had promised in the beginning of
the world, and made effectual by that promise, to die, pay a ransom of
infinite value and dignity, for the purchasing of eternal redemption,
and bringing unto himself all and every one of those whom he had before
ordained to eternal life, for the praise of his own glory.
C. Hodge, quoted by Kuiper, states:
Its value [of Christ's satisfaction] depends on the dignity
of the sacrifice; and as no limit can be placed to the dignity of the
Eternal Son of God who offered himself for our sins, so no limit can be
assigned to the meritorious value of his work. It is a gross
misrepresentation of the Augustinian doctrine to say that it teaches
that Christ suffered so much for so many; that He would have suffered
more had more been included in the purpose of salvation. This is not the
doctrine of any church on earth, and never has been. What was sufficient
for one was sufficient for all. Nothing less than the light and heat of
the sun is sufficient for any one plant or animal. But what is
absolutely necessary for each is abundantly sufficient for an infinite
number and variety of plants and animals which fill the earth. All that
Christ did and suffered would have been necessary had only one
human soul been the object of redemption; and nothing different and
nothing more would have been required had every child of Adam
been saved by his blood.
The Synod of Dort also affirms the
hypothetical and infinite sufficiency of Christ's finished work. Article
3-6 of the Second Head of Doctrine, reads:
The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect
sacrifice and satisfaction for sin; is of infinite worth and value,
abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world
derives its infinite value and dignity from these considerations;
because the person who submitted to it was not only really man and
perfectly holy, but also the only-begotten Son of God, of the same
eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, which
qualifications were necessary to constitute him a saviour for us; and
because it was attended with a sense of the wrath and curse of God due
to us for sin.
promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified
shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise, together with
the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to
all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction,
to whom God out of his good pleasure sends the gospel.
And, whereas many who are called by
the gospel do not repent nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief;
this is not owing to any defect or sufficiency in the sacrifice offered
by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly imputed to
clear that here Dort is making two key points: (1) that Christ's one
sacrifice is sufficient to save, not only one man, but even the whole
world, had God so designed to do so. Not that God had so designed
that the Atonement be conditionally sufficient for all, elect and
This is evident by noting the operative words in the first paragraph
cited. The terms infinite worth, value and abundantly
sufficient, refer to the intrinsic nature of the atonement, not its
intended design. (2) Dort is also stating, that the Atonement is suitable
for as many as are willing to place their trust in Christ.
Admittedly these points are not stated as such. Yet I would argue that
Dort here was not thinking of a universal and conditional sufficiency.
This latter view is the heart of Kuiper's thesis, who, on the
other hand, wants to tell us that the Atonement was actually designed to
be objectively sufficient for the elect and the non-elect. This I believe
is the key to the difference.
Herman Witsius also succinctly states:
II. We therefore conclude... That the obedience and
sufferings of Christ, considered in themselves, are, on account of the
infinite dignity of the person, of that value, as to have been
sufficient for the redeeming not only all and every man in particular,
but many myriads besides, had it so pleased God and Christ, that he
should have undertaken and satisfied for them.
Yet Witsius, like Owen, clearly limits
the application of the infinite value of the atonement to the elect:
VI. That, however, Christ, according to the will of God the
Father, and his own purpose, did neither engage nor satisfy, and
consequently in no manner die, but only for all those whom the Father
gave him, and who are actually saved...
There is another Reformed theologian,
of great repute, who in his discussion on the phrase "Sufficient for all,
efficient for the elect," aptly observes:
It does not respect the value and sufficiency of the
death of Christ; whether as to its intrinsic worth it might be
sufficient for the redemption of the entire human family, had it
appeared good to God to extend it to the whole world. To this purpose a
distinction is made by the Fathers and retained by many divines,
"that Christ dies sufficiently for all, but efficiently for the elect
only." This is perfectly true, if it be understood of the dignity of
Christ's death, though the phrase is not accurate if it be referred to
the will and purpose of Christ.
The question which we discuss
concerns the purpose of the Father in sending his Son, and the intention
of the Son dying. Did the Father destine his Son for a saviour to all
men and every man, and did the Son deliver himself up to death, with a
design to substitute himself in the room of all men of all nations, or
to make satisfaction and acquire salvation for them? Or, did he resolve
to give himself for the elect only, who were given him by the Father to
be redeemed, and whose Head he was to be?
The pivot on which the controversy
turns is, what was the purpose of the Father in sending his Son to die,
and the object Christ had in view in dying; not what is the value and
efficacy of his death. Hence the question does not, as some learned
divines have affirmed, respect to the revealed will of God, but his
secret will, his decree, to which, as all must agree, the mission and
death of Christ are to be referred.
So, putting all this together,
Kuiper, whether consciously or unconsciously, has simply adopted
non-Reformed, medieval Scholastic and Amyraldian tenets. It would be much
better to follow theologians such as Cunningham. He held that the
Atonement is of infinite worth, and able to save all who have ever lived,
if God had so chosen. Yet
concerning Calvinistic Universalists, he goes on to say:
Some of them are accustomed to say, that the ground or
warrant for the universal or unlimited offers of pardon, and commands to
believe, is the infinite sufficiency of Christ's Atonement, which they
generally hold, though denying its universal intended destination or
efficiency; While others profess to rest the universal offers and
commands upon the simple authority of God in His word,--making them
Himself, and requiring us to proclaim them to others.
Now, it is evident that these two
things are not, as the language of some orthodox divines might lead us
to suppose, contrasted with, or opposed to, each other. The sole ground
or warrant for men's act, in offering pardon and salvation to their
fellow-men, is the authority and command of God in His word. We have no
other warrant than this; we need no other; and we should seek or desire
none; but on this ground alone should consider ourselves not only
warranted, but bound,to proclaim to our fellow men, whatever be their
country, character, or condition, the good news of the kingdom, and to
call upon them to come to Christ that they may be saved,--the Bible
affording us sufficient, yea, abundant materials for convincing them
that, in the right reason, they ought to do this, and for assuring them
that all who do, shall obtain eternal life. But this has manifestly
nothing to do with the question, as to the ground or warrant of God's
act in making in making unlimited offers, and authorising us to make
In regard to the
allegation often made by orthodox divines, that this act of God is
warranted by, and is based upon, the infinite intrinsic sufficiency of
Christ's atonement, we would only remark,--for we cannot enter into the
discussion,--that we are not aware of any Scripture evidence that these
two things,--namely, the universal intrinsic sufficiency and the
unlimited offers,--are connected in this way,--that we have never been
able to see how the assertion of this connection removed or solved the
difficulty, or threw any additional light upon this subject,--and that,
therefore, we think it best while unhesitatingly doing ourselves, in our
intercourse with our fellow men, all that God's word authorises and
requires, to be contented with believing the general position,--that God
in this, as in everything else, has chosen the best and wisest means of
accomplishing all that he really intended to effect; and to be
satisfied,--so far as the objection of opponents is concerned,--with
showing, that it cannot be proved that there is any inconsistency or
insincerity, that there is any injustice or deception, on God's part, in
anything which He says or does in this matter, even though the intended
destination of the atonement was to effect and secure the forgiveness
and salvation of the elect only,--even though, He did not design or
purpose, by sending His Son into the world, to save any but those who
Cunningham has much more that is worth
while, and should be carefully studied. It is clear then, that all we
need to be assured of, is that the infinite worth of the atonement, is
sufficient and effectual to all those that put their trust in him. We can
assure any sinner, that if he or she put their trust in Christ, by this
atonement, he is able to save them to the uttermost. So we do not need
a universal sufficiency, only an atonement of infinite worth, able to save
all those who believe. This is the true Pastoral and Evangelical theology,
which brings assurance and comfort.
(3) THE INFINITE
SUFFICIENCY OF THE ATONEMENT AND THE CALL OF THE GOSPEL.
Concerning the call or free offer of
the gospel, Kuiper says:
The Reformed theology insists that God Himself, who has
determined from eternity who are to be saved and who are not, and
therefore, distinguishes infallibly between the elect whom he designed
to save by the death of Christ and the reprobate whom he did not design
to save, makes on the ground of the universally suitable and sufficient
atonement a most sincere, bona fide, offer of eternal life, not
only to the elect but to all men, urgently invites them to life
everlasting, and expresses the ardent desire that every person to whom
this offer and this invitation come and accept and comply with the
In contradistinction to this, Owen
explains what should be the real basis for gospel preaching and its
reception, that being the revealed will of command, not the secret will of
the eternal decree:
That the preachers of the gospel, in their particular
congregations, being utterly unacquainted with the purpose and secret
counsel of God, being also forbidden also to pry or search into it,
Deut. 29:29, may from hence justifiably call upon every man to believe,
with the assurance of salvation to every one in particular upon his so
doing, knowing, and being fully persuaded of this, that there is enough
in the death of Christ to save every one that shall do so; leaving the
purpose and counsel of God, on whom he will bestow faith, and for whom
in particular Christ died (even as they are commanded), to
We must exactly
distinguish between man's duty and God's purpose, there being no
connection between them. The purpose and decree of God is not the rule
of our duty; neither is the performance of our duty in doing what we are
commanded any declaration of what God's purpose to do, or his decree
that it should be done. Especially is this to be seen and considered in
the duty of the ministers of the gospel, in the dispensing of the word,
in exhortation, invitations, precepts, and threatenings, committed unto
them; all which are perpetual declarations of our duty, and so do
manifest the approbation of the thing exhorted and invited to, with the
truth of the connection between one thing and another, but not of the
counsel and purpose of God, in respect to individual persons, in the
ministry of the word. A minister is not to make inquiry after, nor to
trouble himself about, those secrets of the eternal mind of God, namely,
whom he purposeth to save, and to whom he has sent Christ for in
It is enough for
them to search his revealed will, and thence take their directions, from
whence they have their commissions... They command and invite all to
repent and believe; but they know not in particular on whom God will
bestow repentance unto salvation, nor in whom he will effect the work of
faith with power. And they make proffers and tenders in the name of God
to all, they do not say to all, "It is the purpose and intention of God
that ye should believe," (who gave them such power?) but, that it is his
command, which makes it their duty to do what is required of them; and
they do not declare his mind, what he himself in particular will
The external offer is
such as from which every man may conclude his own duty; none, God's
purpose, which may be known upon performance of his duty. Their
objection, then, is vain, who affirm that God hath given Christ for all
to whom he offers Christ in the preaching of the gospel; for his offer
is particular, neither what God has done nor what he will do in
reference to him, but of what he ought to do, if he would be approved of
God and obtain the good things promised...
Turretin would also object to Kuiper's
evangelism paradigm. Turretin explains that the gospel can be offered to
all, because it is offered conditionally. He explains:
The foundation of consolation, therefore, is to be sought,
not from the universality of the atonement, but from the universality of
the promises to all who believe and repent...
Though God, by the preaching of the
Gospel, offers Christ to sinners, it does not follow that he must have
died for all those to whom he is thus offered, or else the offer cannot
be sincere. Because the offer is not absolute and simple, but it is made
under the condition of faith and repentance...
But from the gospel call, we by no
means rightly infer that God, by his eternal decree, has destined Christ
to be the saviour of all who are called, or that he intended that Christ
by his death, should acquire salvation for each and every man. For the
Gospel which is preached to those who are called, does not declare that,
in the eternal decree of God, it has been ordained that in Christ
redemption has been procured for each and every man. It rather announces
to sinners a divine command, with a promise annexed, and teaches what is
the duty of those who wish to be made partakers of salvation. We must
not suppose hence, that such an offer is adverse to the divine decree.
Because, though it does not answer to the decree of election, yet it
answers the decree respecting the means of saving those who are
conditional, made to those who believe and repent, unfold the connection
which God established between faith and salvation; and make known that
those hearers only of the Gospel shall be saved who believe and
Cunningham also affirms this:
First, Is an unlimited atonement necessary in order to
warrant ministers of the gospel, or any other who may be seeking to lead
others to a saving knowledge of the truth, to offer to men, without
exception, pardon and acceptance, and to invite them to come to Christ?
And, secondly, Is an unlimited atonement necessary in order to warrant
God in addressing, and authorising and requiring us to address, such
universal offers and invitations to our fellow-men?
...It is evident that our conduct,
in preaching the gospel, and in addressing our fellow-men with a view to
their salvation, should not be regulated by any inferences of our own
about the nature, extent, and sufficiency of the provision actually made
for saving them, but solely by the directions and instructions which God
has given us, by precept or example, to guide us in this matter...God
has commanded us to proclaim to our fellow-men, of whatever character,
and in all varieties of circumstances, the glad tidings of great joy--to
hold out to them, in His name, pardon and acceptance through the blood
of the atonement-- to invite them to come to Christ, and to receive
Him,--and to accompany all this with the assurance that "whoever cometh
to Him, He will no wise cast out."
God's revealed will is the only
rule, and ought to be held the sufficient warrant for all in this
matter,--in deciding what is our duty,--making known to our fellow-men
what are their privileges and obligations,--and in setting before them
reasons and motives for improving the one and discharging the other. And
though this revelation does not warrant us in telling them that Christ
died for all and each of the human race,--a mode of preaching the gospel
never adopted by our Lord and His apostles,--yet it does authorise and
enable us to lay before men views and considerations, facts and
arguments, which, in right reason, should warrant and persuade
all whom they are addressed, to lay hold of the hope set before
them,--to turn into stronghold as prisoners of hope.
(4) THE INFINITE
SUFFICIENCY OF THE ATONEMENT, THE RECEPTION OF THE GOSPEL, AND THE YOU/ME
PARADIGM, AS TAUGHT BY VARIOUS REFORMED DIVINES.
Cunningham, Owen, and Elisha Coles all
point out that the infinite sufficiency of the Atonement, when understood
correctly, avoids the "you/me" paradigm. In order to trust, I do not have
to first believe that Christ in any sense died for me. My warrant is
simply the command. As for demanding belief and repentance from
non-Christians, my warrant is not a universal sufficiency, but simply the
knowledge that God has commanded me to do so.
He that will know his own peculiar redemption before he will
believe, begins at the wrong end of his work; and is very unlikely to
come that way to the knowledge of it. The first act of faith is not,
that Christ died for all, or for you in particular: the one is not true;
the other is not certain to you, nor can, until after you have believed.
He that would live, must submit to mercy, with "peradventure he will
save me alive."
Turretin elaborates that when it comes
to the reception of the gospel, there is an order, which avoids the you/me
paradigm as the basis for the preaching and appropriation of the Gospel.
I shall proceed to distinguish various acts of faith. First,
one act of faith is direct, which has for its object the offer of
the Gospel. By this act I fly to Christ and embrace his promises.
Another act is reflex, and has for its object the direct act of
faith. By this act I discover that I have indeed believed, and that the
promises of the Gospel belong to me...
Hence it appears, that the command
to believe in Christ, embraces many things before we come to the last
consolatory act, by which we believe that he died for us. First, we are
to believe what the scripture reveals to us, relative to our miserable
condition by nature and our utter inability to effect our own salvation.
Whence arises a salutary despair of our own exertions, and a knowledge
of the necessity of a remedy.
Secondly, those who thus despair of
themselves are commanded to believe that Christ, the Son of God, is the
alone all-sufficient Saviour, given by God to men--that in him alone,
they can obtain perfect salvation and remission of sin, who sincerely
fly to him and repent with genuine repentance.
Thirdly, those who are thus contrite
and penitent and despairing in themselves, are commanded to fly to
Christ as the rock of salvation; to embrace his merit as all-sufficient;
to fall upon and sweetly rest upon it; and through it alone to expect
remission of sin, righteousness and salvation.
Fourthly, and finally, those who
perceive that they do repent, fly to Christ, and repose in him all their
hopes of salvation, are bound to believe that Christ died for them, and
that on account of his death their sins are pardoned.
From all of which, it is abundantly
plain, that faith in Christ presupposes an afflicting sense of misery
and a desire of deliverance; and that the command to believe does not
respect all indiscriminately, but only all who feel their misery and
desire deliverance from it, who hunger and thirst, who labour and are
heavy laden, who are broken in spirit and contrite in heart.
(5) THE SO-CALLED
UNIVERSAL CONDITIONAL SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST'S ATONEMENT.
The Reformed theology insists that God... makes on the
ground of universally suitable and sufficient atonement a most sincere,
bona fide, offer of eternal life, not only to the elect but to all men,
urgently invites them to life everlasting, and expresses the ardent
desire that every person to whom this offer and this salvation come
accept and comply with the invitation...
What the minister of the gospel
needs to tell men is that Christ died for the ungodly (Rom 5:6), that
consequently God makes to the ungodly everywhere a bona fide offer of
eternal life if they repent. But he may not stop there. He must
go on to declare to sinners that God sincerely invites them to repent
and believe because he does not desire the death of any but the
salvation of all, and that Christ will no wise cast out any that come to
him. The preacher must be bold to assure sinners, not merely that God
would be pleased to save them if they repent and believe, but
nothing else would please God more...
It seems clear to Kuiper that God, who
ardently desires all to be saved, has provided an atonement conditionally
sufficient for all, and will save them if they believe. What Kuiper really
wants to say, is that the atonement is there for all men, if
(conditionally) they would but believe. Kuiper must hold to this,
otherwise, he would be committed to believing that the atonement was
unconditionally sufficient for all. This would then mean that there were
no requisite preconditions that would prevent the atonement from being
efficaciously applied to all. To be clear, an unconditional atonement
would mean, that the atonement would have been effectual even to Judas,
irrespective of whether he had faith or not. He would not have had
to fulfil any conditions in order to qualify for receiving the atonement's
benefits. If we deny this, and rightly so, then according to Kuiper's
sufficiency for all, this universal sufficiency must be
conditional. If so, the question is, "what is the nature of this
condition?" Traditionally, in Scholasticism, Arminianism and
Amyraldianism, the answer has always been faith. While the atonement is
sufficient for all, it is not efficient for all, because not all fulfil
the required condition of faith. Kuiper attempts to evade this point by
positing the failure of all fulfilling this condition, in the idea that
God does not will to grant faith, the necessary condition, to all men. All
this does, is simply put the question one step back. The atonement is
still only conditionally sufficient, because of the non-elect's lack of
faith. Kuiper's evasion does not help him.
Yet in complete opposition to this,
Owen and other Reformed theologians reject the notion of a 'universal
conditional sufficiency.' The Reformed
have always maintained, that for whom ever the atonement was designed for,
all the requisite pre-conditions were purchased and secured by the
atonement itself. Owen shows the fallacy of this supposed conditional
That all things which Christ obtained for us are not
bestowed upon condition, but some of them absolutely. And as for those
that are bestowed upon condition, the condition on which they are
bestowed as actually purchased and procured for us, upon no condition
but only by virtue of the purchase. For instance: Christ hath purchased
remission of sins and eternal life for us, to be enjoyed on our
believing, upon the condition of faith. But faith itself, which is the
condition of them, on whose performance they are bestowed, that he hath
procured for us absolutely, on no condition at all; for what condition
soever can be proposed, on which the Lord should bestow faith, I shall
afterward show it vain, and to run into a circle.
He also says:
Christ did not die for any upon condition, if they do
believe; but he died for all God's elect, that they should believe, and
believing have eternal life.
There is much more, but it is
impossible to produce an abridgment that would do justice to Owen.
Dort too makes this observation:
For this was the sovereign counsel and most gracious will
and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and the saving
efficacy of the most precious Son should extend to all the elect, for
bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring
them infallibly to salvation... That he should confer upon them faith,
which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he
purchased for them by his death...
Turretin says much the same in his
work on the atonement. Having stated that faith is the condition of the
application of the Atonement, and furthermore, that the condition is
infallibly secured for those whom the atonement was designed. Or, if not,
he argues that the Atonement has now become deficient in some way. He then
makes some interesting observations:
If it be alleged that Christ proposed to himself an object
as vain and fruitless as a thing which was to never happen, and which
could not happen without his gift, which he determined not to give, what
an indignity is offered to his wisdom! It represents Christ as saying, I
wish to obtain salvation for all, to the end that it may be applied to
them, will they but believe; however, I am resolved not to reveal this
redemption to all, and to refuse it to innumerable multitudes to whom it
is revealed, that condition which is the only means by which it can be
applied to them. Shall men make the infinitely wise and holy Jesus say,
I desire that to come to pass, which I know neither will nor can take
place; and I am unwilling that it should, for I refuse to communicate
the only, means which it can ever be brought to pass, and the granting
of this means depends on myself alone? What a shameful indignity does
this offer the wisdom of Immanuel!...
In this view, vain and delusive has
been the act by which salvation is said to have been provided; for the
condition annexed to it is one with which the sinner is utterly unable
to comply, which will never be performed, and which God not only foresaw
would never be complied with, but also decreed not to give the power to
fulfil, while he alone is able to give it...
Hence, this monstrous absurdity will
follow, that Christ, out of the most ardent affection for those who he
knew would never be saved, died with the intention and desire to save
them; while he and the Father had decreed that they should not be
saved... Here we reason by the rule of contraries.
It seems then, what these earlier
theologians want to say is that, the atonement itself, by its very nature,
guarantees and procures the condition of faith for all whom it was
designed. So that as a consequence, if the condition of faith is not
secured for all, then the atonement was not designed to be conditionally
sufficient for all.
CHAPTER 2. THE WILL OF
(1) THE REFORMED DOCTRINE OF THE WILL OF GOD.
Having discussed that the atonement is
not the basis for Gospel preaching, nor also, is it the basis for one's
reception of the Gospel, two issues remain: How are we to understand the
will of God in regard to the salvation of sinners; and to he sincerity of
the Gospel offer? The alleged problem is, as is charged by the
non-Reformed, that the free offer of the gospel is incompatible with the
truth that God only desires the salvation of the elect. For Kuiper the
issues are relatively simple. In his efforts to resolve this problem, he
has simply affirmed that God in freely offering the gospel to all is
sincere, on the grounds that God actually desires the salvation of all to
whom the Gospel comes. Yet his suggested solutions only involve him in
confusion and contradictions. Kuiper again states:
Reformed theology describes the universal offer of salvation
as sincere... God himself, who has determined from eternity who
are to be saved and who are not, and therefore distinguishes infallibly
between the elect and reprobate whom he did not design to save, makes on
the ground of the universally suitable and sufficient atonement a most
sincere, bona fide, offer of eternal life, not only to the elect
but to all men, urgently invites them to life everlasting, and expresses
the ardent desire that every person to whom this offer and this
invitation come accept and comply with the invitation.
Kuiper says that, God, who knows whom
he is going to save and damn, elect and reprobate, offers Christ to all,
on the grounds of a universally sufficient atonement and a sincere desire
on his part that all who hear the gospel be saved. In all this, Kuiper
feels that this avoids the non-Reformed charge that Reformed theology has
a God who is insincere and liable to the charge of duplicity. Yet, in all
honesty, as far as this charge goes it is legitimate. It is legitimate, if
and only if it is alleged that God does desire the salvation of the
non-elect, and at the same time does not desire their salvation. The point
is, has Kuiper avoided this charge? I think not. This may seem unkind, but
I would suggest that all Kuiper has achieved, is to suggest that God
sincerely offers Christ to all on the basis of a universally sufficient
but ineffectual atonement, ineffectual in that it will not atone for all,
and a sincere, but again ineffectual desire that all who hear the gospel
be saved. How this is sincere I know not.
Crucial to the point here is that
Kuiper has failed to appreciate the Reformed understanding of the will of
God. Once the concept of the will of God is grasped, questions concerning
God's sincerity in the free offer of the gospel are answered. In order to
explore this doctrine, it is once again necessary to quote Turretin and
others at length.
1. Although the will in God is only one and most simple, by
which he comprehends all things by a single and most simple act, so that
he sees and understands all things at one glance: yet because it is
occupied differently about various objects; hence it happens that in our
manner of conception, it may be apprehended as manifold, not in itself
and intrinsically on the part of the act of willing, but extrinsically
and objectively on the part of things willed.
2. Hence have arisen various
distinctions of the will of God. The first and principal is that of the
decretive and preceptive will. The former means that which
God wills to do or permit himself; the latter what he wills that we
should do. The former relates to the futurition and the event of things,
and is the rule of God's external acts: The latter is concerned with
precepts and promises, and is the rule of an action. The former cannot
be resisted and is always fulfilled, Rom. 9:19, who hath resisted his
will? The latter is often violated by men, Mat. 23:39, How often
would I have gathered you together, and you would not.!
4. Although the precept falls under
the decree as to proposition; still it does not as to
execution; whence they may be properly be distinguished from each
other, so as that the will of decree may be that which determines the
event of things, but the will of precept what which prescribes to man
his duty: so God without contradiction will as to precept, what he does
not will as to decree; inasmuch as he wills to prescribe something to
man, but does not will to effect it, as he willed Pharaoh to release the
people, but he nilled their actual release.
5. Hence it happens, that although
these wills may be conceived by us as diverse, owing to the diversity of
the objects, yet they are not contrary; because, as was just said, they
are not occupied about the same thing. Undoubtedly if God by the power
of his decree would impel men to do what he has by his law prohibited,
or if when attempting to obey the law he would by an opposite impediment
recall them from obedience, he would will repugnancies, and be himself
opposed to his own will: but the decree of God does not contend with his
command, when he prescribes to man his bounded duty, for the performance
of which, however, he does not will to give the strength, because he
wills indeed the things as to the proposition of duty, but yet not as to
the execution of the event.
8. Besides this distinction of the
will, there is another by which it is distributed into the will of
eudokia and euarestia, often used by Theologians: The will
of eudokia [good pleasure] answers to the decretive, that of
euarestia [approbation] to the preceptive. This distinction has
the warrant of scripture, which often calls the former eudokia
and the latter euarestia. Thus Christ, speaking of the decretive
will Matt. xi. 26, with respect to those things by which he either
conceals or reveals his mysteries, "Even so, Father, for it seemed good
in thy sight;" and Paul, Eph. 1:5, says "God Predestinated us according
to the good pleasure of his will." So in verse 9, mention is made is
made in this sense of good-pleasure. The euarestia is
frequently referred to the preceptive will, which is called both of
approbation and of complacency, as Rom. 12:2, the will of
God to which we ought to conform, is called good and acceptable; And
Eph. v. 10, "Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord;" Col. 3:20, "for
this is acceptable to the Lord." In this sense euarestia
indicates the preceptive and approving will, by which God declares what
is pleasing to himself and what he will to be done by men; but
eudokia the decretive will, by which God testifies his good
pleasure about the things which he himself had determined to
9. It is not,
therefore, so to be understood, as if that which depends upon the
eudokia of God, may not be also acceptable to him; for
whatever God has decreed to be done is truly grateful to him in that
respect, nor can he be said to will to perform what would not please him
to perform: but it can be received only in this way, by which it is made
to consist in the will of decree and precept, that by the will of
eudokia may be designated precisely that will, by which God
decrees to do, or permit something, and concerning which you can for the
most part render no other reason, than because it so pleased God; but by
the will of euarestia that by which he wills to propose to the
creature his duty, as a thing pleasing to him and in which he takes
Euarestia contradistinguished from eudokia in this
connection means nothing else than the mere complacency, by which God
approves anything as just and holy and delights in it, and besides wills
to prescribe it to the creature as his most just duty: Whence it does
not properly include any decree or volition [emphasis mine] in
God, but implies only the agreement of the thing with the nature
[emphasis mine] of God, according to which he cannot but love what is
agreeable to his holiness: For the approbation of anything is not
forthwith his volition; nor if I approve a thing, should I therefore
immediately will it. So it is less properly called the will of
12. Although to the
will of euarestia belong also the promises of giving salvation to
believers, which are proposed with the Gospel precept; it does not
follow that it ought to connote any condition, decree or volition
properly so called, concerning the giving of salvation to all: for such
a decree cannot consist with the decree of reprobation, nor with the
wisdom of God, to which it is repugnant to will anything under an
impossible condition, and which God, who alone can give it, himself has
decreed to withhold from the creature; but from this we can only gather,
that there is an inseparable connection between faith and salvation: So
the promises added to the precepts signify only what God will grant
believers and penitents, not what he wills to grant to all those to whom
the precept is proposed.
Speaking of the will of
beneplaciti and signi and the preceptive and decreeing will,
Heppe, in quoting others, makes some pertinent points.
The will of God directed to the world is by many
distinguished as voluntas beneplaciti [will of good pleasure] and
voluntas signi [will of sign], in the sense that it is
voluntas beneplaciti by which He wills us to be saved and we
understand what He has established with Himself concerning our salvation
from eternity.--It is (voluntas) signi by which He
requires the things which we ought to supply SEEGEDIN...
BRAUNIUS, (I, II, 3, 18)
"...Voluntas signi (or praecepti) is that will by which
God signifies to men what he wishes to be done by them; voluntas
beneplaciti or decreti, by which God has decreed what he
wishes to do in man, e.g., God wills, voluntas signi vel
[or] praecepti, that parents should provide all things for their
children which are necessary for long life, although He has perhaps
decreed voluntas beneplaciti et [and] decreti, that the
children should die suddenly..."
Speaking of the preceptive and
decretive will, Heppe goes on to elaborate:
HEIDEGGER (III, 77) Between God's preceptive will and
discerning will there is this difference, that the former does not
always find effect. The latter, which is effective, is never deprived or
can be deprived of effect. Not that the voluntas praecipiens is
ineffective as regards God himself or is robbed of all success. It
effects all that God wills and intends in laying down the precept;
i.e., it declares the duty and obligation of the creature who
wishes to be saved and explains the perpetual connection between duty
and benefit, and in short renders anapologetous [without excuse]
those who disobey the precept. But it is effective in respect of certain
people who do not obey the precipient will. As regards them the former
cannot achieve. Precipient will is not the cause of events, but only the
law of the created will, which God often leaves to itself. But this will
isn't never-unfulfilled. This is the case when effective will concurs
with this will by grace. Whence it is clear, that it is not by defect of
power in God that His preceptive will does not take effect with all men,
but by the judgement of God or by His actual effective or discerning
will, by which He has decreed not to impart grace to all, but abandon
some to themselves...
MASTRICHT (II, xiv, 8) divides the
will of God into the legislative, by which he wills and determines what
we ought to do or not to do de iure [by right] only, but not
de eventu [as a result]; and the decretive, by which he wills and
determines what He Himself wills to do or what is or is not to be de
facto [in fact] only, but not what should be done de iure. In
this way God wills many things by legislative will, which actually do
not come to pass, e.g., He will that Pharaoh should let Israel go
de iure, i.e., He willed this to be Pharaoh's duty, but he
did not will it de facto. On the other hand He wills things to be
done de facto, e.g., all the sins that are committed,
which he does not will de iure or as our duty. Consequently we
answer the objection thus: He wills not the death of the sinner by
legislative will, so far as He seriously wills that there be an
individual connection between the conversion of the sinner and his
salvation. Whence He seriously invites certain men to conversion and to
those who do seriously convert He promises life; although at the same
time He does not will it by His discerning will, or although He has not
decreed from eternity to confer faith and repentance by grace upon all
sinners and so actually save them.
The following quotation is from Herman
Bavinck. Bavinck was a Dutch Reformed theologian at the turn of this
century, and though he comes from a later period than does Hodge and
Cunningham, his thoughts here on this matter are so pertinent, that to
neglect them would be remiss. Speaking of the secret and revealed will of
God and its cognates, Bavinck states:
...This twofold character of God's will was indicated, on
the one hand by the terms: "the will of God's good pleasure," God's
secret will," "the decreeing or decretive will"; and on the other hand
by the terms: "the expressed or signified will," "the revealed will,"
"the preceptive will." The term "expressed or signified will" owes its
origin to the fact that this will "expresses" or "signifies" what is
pleasing to God and is our duty...
Although in his book De Servo
arbitrio [The Bondage of the Will] Luther had made a sharp
distinction between "God concealed and God revealed," the Lutherans
rejected this distinction between "the will of God's good pleasure" and
the "expressed or signified will"; at least, they did not accept it in
the Reformed sense. The Arminians followed the example of the Lutherans.
And Roman Catholic theologians, although retaining the terms, explained
them in this way that the will of God is always "the will of good
pleasure" and with respect to this will they distinguished between
"antecedent" and "consequent" volition. They taught, moreover, that "the
expressed or signified will" was nothing but a particular revelation of
that "will of God's good pleasure." Thus it came about that the Roman
Catholics and others retained one distinction only, namely that between
"antecedent" and "consequent," "absolute" and "conditional" will; while
the Reformed confined themselves to the distinction between "the will of
God's good's pleasure" and the "expressed or signified will,"
i.e., between decretive and preceptive, hidden and revealed; for
they rejected the (R.C.) distinction between the antecedent and
consequent will. The difference may be stated thus: Roman Catholics,
Lutherans Remonstrants, etc., proceed from the "expresses or signified
will"; they regard this as God's real will consisting in this: that God
does not will sin but merely permits it; that he wills the salvation of
all men; that he offers grace; etc... The Reformed, on the other hand,
proceeded from the "will of God's good pleasure"; they regarded this as
the real, the essential will of God. That is always fulfilled; it always
effects its object; it is eternal and immutable. The "expressed" or
"signified" will, on the contrary, is God's precept revealed in the Law
and the Gospel; it is for us the rule of life...
God's expressed or signified will is
called God's will in a metaphorical sense, "just as when any one lays
down a precept, it is sign that he wishes that precept be obeyed." The
real will in God is the "will of God's good pleasure," identical with
God's being, immutable and efficacious. Pelagians abandoned this
corrective view, and raised a mere desire, an unfulfilled wish to the
dignity of a will. By doing this it came into conflict with the very
being of God, with all his attributes; for if God's real will be a mere
"willingness," he is robbed of his omnipotence, wisdom, goodness,
immutability, independence, etc;...
The usual objection advanced against
the decretive (secret) will and the preceptive (revealed) will, namely,
that they are in conflict with each other, is not justifiable, for: the
preceptive will is really not God's will but his precept for our
conduct; by means of it God does not reveal to us what he will do; it is
not a law for his conduct; but it tells us what we must do; it is
a rule for our conduct, Deut. 29:29. It is called God's will in a
metaphorical sense. The objection is advanced, however, that the
preceptive or revealed will bears that name because it reveals what God
really wills, and that it must, therefore, be in harmony with his
decretive will. With this we agree: the preceptive will reveals what God
wills that we should do. The decretive will and the preceptive will do
not conflict in the sense that according to the first God takes pleasure
in sin, but according to the second he does not; that according to the
former he does not desire the salvation of every individual, but
according to the latter he does, etc. Even according to the decretive
will God takes no pleasure in sin: it is not an object of his delight,
neither does he afflict willingly. And even according to the preceptive
will God does not will the salvation of every individual.
The point at hand is, that it seems
quite clear that Kuiper has understood the will of approbation and
delight, something that belongs to God's nature, as a wish or desire. The
word desire imports a large measure of ambiguity. Desire has volitional
implications and perhaps as such its usage should be avoided. What makes
things even more ambiguous is that Kuiper has not, unlike Murray and
Stonehouse, distinguished the will of God. Murray and Stonehouse at least
posit this alleged desire in the revealed will of God, and interestingly,
Murray and Stonehouse concede that if thus a desire were indeed to
be posited in the decretive will of God, a contradiction would ensue. Yet theirs
and Kuiper's real problem, and indeed the most crucial issue here, is that
they understand God's will of approbation as something volitional and not
as something merely constitutional. One wonders how men like Bavinck and
Turretin would have responded to Kuiper's theology, and just how much of
their criticisms of Arminianism and Amyraldianism they would have thought
would be applicable to Kuiper.
Lastly, what Kuiper is left with, is
the thought that there are in God unfulfilled volitions or desires.
Reformed theologians would deny this. Representative of Reformed theology,
Witsius states: "It is unworthy of the divine majesty, to imagine that
there is an incomplete, unresolved, and ineffectual volition
in God, Psalm. 115:3." It would
seem clear then, that Reformed theology would deny the proposition that
within God, there are ineffectual volitions or desires to save all men.
For surely, Reformed theology teaches, that whatever God desires, he will
accomplish and effectuate, for "Who can resist his will?"
(2) THE WILL OF GOD
AND THE SINCERITY OF THE GOSPEL CALL.
The first point that should be noted
is that, while the Gospel is offered to all indiscriminately, the will and
purpose of God in the Gospel call is to gather and save God's elect.
The Gospel announces that Christ came into the world to save
sinners; it says to all and to each individual who hears it, 'Believe in
the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.' It proclaims a free
pardon to all who will receive it through faith in the blood of Christ;
it opens a new and living way, by which the vilest sinner may draw near
to God with full assurance of acceptance. It reveals the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ seated upon a throne of grace; and all who
approach in the way he has consecrated, shall stand unrebukable before
Him who cannot look upon sin.
No discretion is given to us in
preaching the Gospel; we are not entitled to preach it to some and
withhold it from others. It is addressed to all. Its language is,--'To
you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.' 'Look unto Me,
and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God,' 'a just God
and a saviour.' The Gospel is Christ's voice, by which His blood-bought
sheep are conducted into His fold, and thus separated from the goats. It
is the rod of His power, by which He guides His flock, while to others
it is a stumbling block and foolishness. 'I know My sheep,' says the
Lord, and, by the means of the Gospel they are made to know
We are taught to lay
the Gospel before all our fellow-men, not as if we were indifferent
whether they received it or not, but to urge it on their acceptance. We
see how tenderly and affectionately the Lord addressed the lost sheep of
the house of Israel during his personal ministry, and how the Apostles
besought men to be reconciled to God. And although many, both Jews and
Gentiles, rejected the counsel of God against themselves, by these means
the elect were gathered in, and obtained salvation, while the rest were
blinded, Acts 13:48; Rom. 11:7; 2 Tim. 2:10.
Cunningham states as much, albeit more
concisely, how the Reformed understand the external call of public
ministry of the word to all, and how it is consistent with the internal
call of the Spirit to the elect:
Calvinists, while they admit that pardon and salvation are
offered indiscriminately to all to whom the gospel is preached, and that
all who can be reached should be invited and urged to come to Christ and
embrace Him, deny that this flows from, or indicates, any design or
purpose on God's part to save all men; and without pretending to
understand or unfold all the objects or ends of this arrangement, or to
assert that it has no other object or end whatever, regard it
mainly designed to effect the result of calling out and saving
God's chosen people;... They distinguish between the outward vocation or
calling and the internal or effectual, and regard the real regulating
principle that determines the acceptance or non-acceptance of the call
or invitation of the gospel by men individually, to be the communication
or the non-communication of the efficacious agency of the Holy
The great facts
presented by the preaching of the gospel, viewed in connection with its
results, are these --that some believe it and submit to its influence,
and are, in consequence, renewed in the spirit of their minds, and are
enabled thereafter to walk in the way of God's commandments; while
others, with the same outward opportunities, with the same truths
addressed to them, and the same arguments and motives urged upon them,
continue to reject the truth, and remain wholly unaffected by it, in the
great features of their character, and in the leading motives by which
they are animated. And the question in dispute [with Arminians]
virtually resolves into this,--What is the true cause or explanation of
this difference in the result in the case of different individuals? They
all enjoy the outward privileges; they all possess substantially the
same natural capacities; they all are warranted and bound to believe the
truth proclaimed to them; they are all invited to come to Christ, and to
receive salvation through Him. The call or invitation is seriously or
honestly addressed to them all...
The Scripture not does not only
inform us that all who refuse to repent and believe, are responsible for
this, incur guilt by it; they likewise tell us of the way and manner in
which faith and conversion are produced in those who believe and turn to
God; and what they tell us upon this point, makes it manifest that the
result, in their case, is not to be ascribed to anything that is
merely common to them with others, either in their natural capacities or
in the grace of God,--that is, in gracious assistance communicated by
Him,--but to a special distinguishing work or influence of His Spirit
bestowed upon them, and not bestowed on the rest.
It would perhaps be worth noting
Cunningham's use of the term call. The term call clearly
implies a sense of purposiveness, (e.g., the calling of the elect
unto salvation), a purposiveness that perhaps the word offer does
not convey. This should remind us that while we may use the word
offer, we should keep in mind that the proclamation of the Gospel
is God's ordained means of gathering his children, and not a supposed
expression of his love to all.
Now concerning the issue of God's
sincerity in the Gospel offer to all men, Thomas J. Crawford makes the
following very apt remarks; remarks of which the only qualification that
needs to be made concerns his use of the word desire, a word we may
be tempted to use, though to do so would be to go beyond the language of
scripture, and, because of the nature of this present discussion it may
present us with some ambiguity. Consequently, I would suggest that
wherever in the following extract the word desire be found, it
should and could be either deleted from the mind or substituted with the
terms delights in or approves of. Yet apart from this, what
he has to say surely points us in the right direction:
That there is great difficulty in the way of harmonising the
general invitations of the Gospel on the one hand, with the special
reference of the Atonement to those who shall eventually be partakers of
its benefits, on the other hand--it would be altogether fruitless to
disguise. And if these two things were alike within the reach and
comprehension of human understanding, in that case our ability to
reconcile them might warrant a strong suspicion that they cannot both be
true. But inasmuch as one at least of these subjects far exceeds
the power and compass of our faculties, we cannot without presumption
hazard the assertion, that our inability to reconcile it with the other
is proof of any real inconsistency between the two. For it may
that the missing link that is needful, and would be available for
their thorough reconciliation, may be hidden from our view in that
profound abyss of God's everlasting counsels we cannot fathom.
There are some considerations,
however, which may in a measure tend to alleviate, although they cannot
wholly remove, the difficulties to which I have adverted.
I. The invitations addressed in the
Gospel to all sinners express nothing but what is fully constant with
the truth of the case, even on the supposition of a special
reference in the Atonement to those who shall eventually be saved by it.
For all that they can be considered as expressing is, that certain
benefits purchased by the Atonement shall assuredly be obtained by any
sinner, PROVIDED THE PRESCRIBED COURSE FOR OBTAINING THEM BE ADOPTED
BY HIM. The invitations of the Gospel convey nothing more than this.
They convey no intimation that it was God's purpose, in making the
Atonement, actually to confer its benefits on all sinners without
exception. And accordingly the absence of such a purpose on the part of
God cannot be held in conflict with His invitations. It is indeed true
that many of those to whom the invitations are addressed will not
comply with them. But it is not the less true that, if they would
comply, the offered mercies would certainly be obtained. It cannot
be said, then, that God is unfaithful in holding out to all sinners the
offers of redeeming grace. For what more is necessary to show that His
invitations are truthful, reliable, and worthy of all acceptation, than
the undisputed fact that, whensoever they are complied with, the
blessings proposed in them are unfailingly bestowed.
II. Farther, it is of some
importance to remember, that the same Word of God which invites all
sinners to receive the Atonement, reveals also the special reference of
the Atonement to "those who were given to Christ by His Father," with
which such an invitation is alleged to be at variance. This
consideration seems of itself sufficient to vindicate the sincerity of
God's dealings with us in the matter. If the Bible had only proclaimed
to us the offered redemption, and we had elsewhere obtained a
knowledge, which the Bible withheld from us, of its special destination,
we might then have some greater show of reason for alleging that God's
dealings with us were not of such a kind, as from what we know of His
adorable perfections we had cause to expect. But as the case actually
stands, there is not the least ground for any such allegation. For while
in His revealed Word He invites all to receive the Atonement, He
does not allow them to remain under the impression that in His eternal
purpose it is destined alike for all. On the contrary, He gives
them the fullest certification that it is specially destined for those
whose ultimate salvation shall be actually secured by it. We may be at a
loss to explain how the general call and the special destination are to
be harmonised; but the fact that both the one and the other have been
openly and fully announced in His revealed Word, is sufficient to show
that, whatever mystery there may be, there is nothing--as it were
impious to think that there could be anything--like insincerity or
duplicity in His procedure.
III. Again, there does not appear to
be any difference between the invitations of God and His
commandments, in so far as regards their seeming discrepancy with
His purposes. The commandments, no less than the invitations, are to be
addressed to all. Both are alike indications on the part of God of what
he desires and requires to be done by all. Nor are there wanting, with
reference to his commandments, testimonies quite as significant as any
which are to be found with reference to His invitations, of the
earnestness and intensity of His desire that the course which they
prescribe should be adopted by all who hear them. Take, for example,
these tender expostulations,--"O that there were such an heart in them,
that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always that it
might be well with them and their children forever!" "O that my people
had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!" "O that thou
hadst harkened unto my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river,
and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea."--(Deut. 5:29; Psalm
81:13; Isaiah 43:18.)
while the commandments of God are thus expressive of what He desires,
approves of, and delights in, as congenial to the goodness
and holiness of his moral nature, they are certainly not declarative, at
the same time, of what He has fixedly purposed or
determined in His government of the universe to carry into
effect. For if they were so, it is certain that they would be
unfailingly and universally obeyed by all His creatures; whereas they
are frequently violated, without any interference on His part to
vindicate their authority and secure their observance. Doubtless it is
an inscrutable mystery, that things should thus be done under the
government of the Almighty, which are in the highest degree displeasing
and offensive to Him. It is just the old mystery of the existence of
moral evil, which no one has ever been able to explain. But the fact
that such things do occur is undeniable. And therefore it must be His
will and purpose to permit them. He does not prevent them, though
undoubtedly able to do so. Nay, He upholds in the possession of their
faculties, whether of body or of mind, those sinful creatures by whom
they are brought to pass. How often can we find a way of escape from the
admission, that it is, upon the whole, His will that they should be
permitted? And yet we dare not and cannot for a moment suppose that
they are in their own nature acceptable and pleasing to Him, and
constantly that His solemn and express precepts, which they contravene,
are aught else than a true and trustworthy expression of what He
desires, approves of, and delights in, and earnestly requires to be done
by all His intelligent creatures.
Thus it does appear, that great as
may be the difficulty of reconciling the invitations of the Gospel with
God's special purpose with reference to the Atonement, by which the
blessings of the Gospel have been procured, that difficulty is not other
and no greater than we have to encounter when we try to reconcile the
commandments of God, as expressive of what He desires and approves of on
the part of all His rational creatures, with what certainly appears from
His actual procedure to be His purpose, that many of His creatures
should be permitted to set them at nought.
This is a truly sincere and well-meant
offer of Christ. Turretin, in more precise theological language, states
XLV. Although God does not will (i.e., intend to
effect the salvation of the reprobate who are called), that external
calling cannot on that account be termed fallacious and illusory and one
in which God does not act in good faith (while he promises seriously
what nevertheless he does not will to give).
(1) The promise, as was just said,
is not absolute, but conditional, promising nothing except upon a
condition (which is fulfilled in the elect alone).
(2) That calling is not such as to
lay open the secret counsel of God concerning the salvation of this or
that person, but only to prescribe in general to man his duty and to set
forth the infallible way of salvation (and they who follow this will
necessarily be saved). In both God acts in the best faith, for he both
prescribes most truly to man his duty and the sole way of salvation, and
most sincerely promises a blessing to the one doing his duty. Therefore
he promises nothing which he does not will to give. For as he promises
only to the one having the condition, so he wills and intends to give
salvation only to the believer and denounces punishment against the
(3) He does not
call in earnest who does not will (i.e., does not command and
take pleasure that the called should come whither he calls), but he does
not cease to call in earnest who does not will (i.e., intend and
decree effectively that the one called should respond to the call). To a
serious call, it is not required that there should be a constant
intention of actually bringing to oneself those who are called, but only
that there should be a constant will of commanding duty and of promising
a blessing to those who do it. So God seriously wills (i.e.,
commands man to obey the law that he may live, according to the brief
clause of the covenant of works: "Do this and thou shalt live"). Yet he
cannot for this reason be said to will (i.e., intend) that man
should fulfil the law and fulfilling live by it.
(4) The opinion that we oppose is
far more strongly pressed with the same difficulty. For on this
hypothesis, God is made most seriously to desire and intend salvation of
men (provided they have faith) which he yet knows they have not (and
cannot have of themselves), and which he himself decreed from eternity
by an irrevocable decree not to give (who alone can). It is easy to
decide whether this can be consistent with the sincerity of God. By the
very thing, God is present as testifying that he wills and does not will
(at the same time) their salvation because he does not will that without
which he cannot be obtained (as if anyone would say that he wills man to
live, but yet nilled that he should breathe).
(3) THE WILL OF GOD
AND THE SINCERITY OF THE GOSPEL CALL TO THE NON-ELECT.
What Crawford and Turretin have to say
regard to the question of God's sincerity to sinners in general, but
another nuance of the question has to do with the sincerity of God in his
call and offer of the Gospel to the non-elect. Such a question Kuiper
himself alludes to. His answer is that God ardently desires even their
salvation. Yet again, in opposition to this, orthodox Reformed theologians
would dissent. This explanation pursues a similar course to Crawford's by
basing the sincerity of the offer in God's will of approbation. Heppe,
while surveying some 17th century Reformed theologians, explains:
3.- This calling is imparted only to the elect; God not only
by his word proclaimed to them through man (vocatio externa), but
also introduces it by the H. Spirit into their hearts and there sets up
living communion with Christ (vocatio interna).- HEIDEGGER (XXI,
8): "Calling is of those elect and redeemed through Christ. These alone
are so called that they also be attracted and created new and begotten.
They alone are those for whom God not only strikes their ears by His
word preached through men, but also attacks their hearts, opening them,
writing his law in them, changing them and inflaming them to love
4.- On the other hand
the rest who are not elect in accordance with the counsel and covenant
of God are also called, not according to this but according to the
judgement of God. Accordingly, God only allows the call of the word
proclaimed by men to be imparted to them and suffers them in outward
fellowship of the elect, even frequently assures them a rich outward
knowledge and passing even inward assurance of salvation, so as thereby
to deprive them of all excuses for their hardness of heart.- HEIDEGGER
(XXI,9): "Clearly of another sort is the calling of those who are left
non-elect and rejected. The non-elect called are not called according to
the purpose and covenant of God, as heirs entered therein, but according
to God's judgment and dispensation, whereby He suffers them according in
the outward communion of the elect through the Word of His goodness,
convicts them of their wickedness and cuts short their excuse for not
coming to the wedding of the King's Son. Also they are not called so
directly by God affecting, changing and regenerating the heart, as
indirectly through men, who may strike their ears but cannot strike
their hearts. And so they are called by the Word preached by men; yet so
that they are not brought by the Spirit of God to communion with
God."--So there must be a distinction between vocatio externa and
Moreover outward Church calling is not imparted to the non-elect in such
wise that God wished to present them with faith, should they refrain
from resisting the activity of the H. Spirit. Otherwise the possibility
would arise of a counsel of God being perhaps rendered futile by man.
Besides it is to be he[re] noted that man can only resist the H.
Spirit.- HEIDEGGER (XXI,10): "Nor does God call particular reprobate in
such wise that He has decreed and wills to give them faith and
repentance just like the elect, provided only they do not resist the H.
Spirit's call, as the "leptologia" (frivolity) of some. There are
no decrees which men or any creature can frustrate. They are altogether
effectual and have a most definite outcome...
13.- In the same way too it cannot
be concluded that because the outward calling of the rejected is
ineffectual it is therefore not seriously meant by God. Outward calling
is always per se a real calling to salvation, since everyone who
follows it up thereby gains righteousness in Christ and eternal life:
only in the case of the godless, it is ineffectual because of their
hardness of heart. Similarly, the calling from God's side is always
seriously intended, since God promises grace even to the rejected upon
the condition of faith, and makes faith for them a duty. But of course
God omits to give faith to the rejected, because he is not bound to do
so in the case of any man.--POLANUS (VI,32): "Ineffectual is of the
reprobate.--It is called ineffectual not per se but per
accidens, not in respect of God who calls, but in respect of men who
have deaf ears of the heart. In itself calling is always effectual,
although it is not so in those who are perishing, as the sun is
effective by his light in itself, although it by no means illumines the
- From this it
follows that even the calling of the godless is on God's side "sincere
and serious" HEIDEGGER (XXI,11): "Whether the serious is opposed to a
joke, God in no way plays in the business of calling; or pretence, He
likewise does not simulate, because He does not profess one thing
outwardly in words, concealing something else inwardly in His mind, but
declares to men by calling His plain, open and steadfast will. And since
the parts of the calling are commands and promises, as often as He calls
He commands and orders them seriously to repent and believe. For He
wills that they repent and believe by his preceptive will and approving
will, although he does not will by His decreeing will, effectual to the
giving of faith and repentance. He has the right to demand
both.--Moreover calling promises salvation, but not to anyone
promiscuously or without condition, only to the believing and repentant
15.- There we must
insist that the word by which the H.Spirit effects is the same by which
God's call is outwardly proclaimed by man.--HEIDEGGER (XXI,22): "The
word is the same which man preaches and which the Spirit writes on the
heart. There is strictly one calling, but its cause and medium is
twofold: instrumental, man preaching the word outwardly; principal, the
H.Spirit writing it inwardly in the heart.
The following extract is from
Turretin's, "Theological Institutes: Selections."
II. Now although we do not deny that the reprobate, who live
in external communion with the Church, are called by God through the
Gospel; still we do deny that they are called with the intention that
they should be made partakers of salvation, which God knew would never
be the case, because in his decree he had ordained otherwise concerning
them. Nor ought we on this account to think that God can be charged with
hypocrisy or dissimulation, but that he always acts most seriously and
Christ in the calling of the reprobate Jews testifies that he had as his
proposed and their inexcusability. In John 9:39, it is said "he came for
judgement, that they which see might not see," that is, who profess that
they see, still do not see, and more blinded. And chap. 15:22, "If I had
come and spoken unto them they had not sin, but now they have no cloak
for there sin."
Although God does not intend the salvation of the reprobate by calling
them, still he acts most seriously and sincerely, nor can any hypocrisy
and deception be charged against him; neither with respect to God
himself, because he seriously and most truly shows them alone and most
certain of salvation, seriously exhorts them to follow it, and most
sincerely promises salvation to all those who do follow it, to wit,
believers and penitents; nor does he only promise, but actually bestow
it according to his promise, nor as to men, because the offer of
salvation is not made to them absolutely, but under a condition, and
thus it posits nothing unless the condition is fulfilled, which is
wanting on the part of man. Whence we cordially embrace what is said on
this subject by the Fathers of the Synod of Dort, chap iv. Th. viii."As
many as are called through the gospel, are seriously called. For God
shows seriously and most truly in his word, what is pleasing to him, to
wit, that the called should come to him. He also seriously promises to
all who come to him and believe rest to their souls and eternal
XV. He, who by
calling men shows that he wills their salvation and yet does not will
it, acts deceitfully, if it is understood of the same will, that is, if
he shows by his will of decree, and yet does not will it, or by the will
of precept, and yet does not will it. But if it refers to diverse wills,
the reasoning does not equally hold good; for example, if he shows that
he wills a thing by the will of precept, and yet does not will it by the
will of Decree, there is no simulation nor hypocrisy here: As in
prescribing the Law to men he shows that he wills they should fulfil it
as to approbation and command, but not immediately as to Decree. Now in
vocation God indeed shows that he wills the salvation of the called by
the will of precept and good-pleasure, but not by the will of Decree.
For the vocation shows, indeed what God wills that man should do, but
not what he himself had decreed to do; it teaches that is pleasing and
acceptable to God, and in accordance with his own nature, namely, that
the called should come to him; but not what he himself has determined to
do concerning man: it signifies what God is prepared to give believers
and penitents, but not what he has actually decreed to give to this or
XVI. It is one
thing to will reprobates to come, to command them to come
and desire it; another, to will that they should not come, that
is, to will the giving them the power to come. God can in calling them
will the former, and yet not will the latter, without any contrariety;
because the former respects only the will of precept, while the latter
the will of Decree... For a serious call does not require that there
should be an intention and purpose of drawing him, but only that there
should be a constant will of commanding duty, and bestowing the
blessings upon whom performs it, which God most seriously wills...
Art 8, of the Third and Fourth Heads
of the Synod of Dort reads:
As many as are called by the gospel are unfeignedly called;
for God hath most earnestly and truly declared in his word what will be
acceptable to him, namely, that all who are called should comply with
the invitation. He, moreover, seriously promises eternal life and rest
to as many as shall come to him, and believe on him.
Thus, in light of what has been said
above, this statement is not affirming that it is God's ardent desire that
all repent and be saved. It is merely declaring that it is acceptable that
sinners should repent according to God's will of command and approbation,
not as to his absolute will of Decree. The statement is only suggesting,
that God does not take pleasure in the death of wicked men, rather, he
takes delight in the sinner's repentance (Ezek. 18:23), and when this is
done, this in turn is acceptable and pleasing to God.
CHAPTER 3. COMMON GRACE
(1) COMMON GRACE AND
discussing the benefits of common grace, viz., rain and sunshine,
restraint of sin and so forth, Kuiper says at length:
What has been said is admittedly an incomplete statement of
the doctrine of common grace, and the theme under discussion does not
require a fuller statement. What the theme does demand is a
consideration of the question whether or not the blessings of the common
grace of God are a product of the atonement...
Berkhof tells us: "Reformed
theologians generally hesitate to say that Christ by his atoning blood
merited these blessings for the impenitent and reprobate. At the same
time they do believe that important natural benefits accrue to the whole
human race from the death of Christ, and that in these benefits the
unbelieving, the impenitent, and the reprobate also share." In support
of this observation he quotes William Cunningham to the effect "that
many blessings flow to mankind at large from the death of Christ,
collaterally and incidentally, in consequence of the relation in which
men, viewed collectively, stand to each other." He further cites Robert
S. Candlish to the effect that "the entire history of the human race,
from the apostasy to the final judgement, is a dispensation of
forbearance in respect to the reprobate, in which many blessings,
physical, and moral, affecting their characters and destinies forever,
accrue even to the heathen, and many more to educated and refined
citizens of Christian communities. These come to them through the
mediation of Christ, and coming to them now, must have been designed for
them from the beginning.
final sentence of the quotation from Candlish is particularly
significant for the present discussion. The blessings of common grace,
although resulting only indirectly from the atonement, were most surely
designed to result from the atonement. The design of God in the atoning
work of Christ pertained primarily and directly to the redemption of the
elect, but indirectly and secondarily it also included the blessings of
common grace. Berkhof's statement that "all that the natural man
receives other than curse and death is an indirect result of the
redemptive work of Christ" is not too sweeping. God had planned it.
At this point I fail to see the
relevance of common grace to the free proclamation of the Gospel. Yet
Kuiper, anticipating this, quickly follows up his point: "No other
blessing of the common grace of God is as great as the universal and
sincere offer of salvation, nor is any other more obviously a fruit of the
atonement." And in
another part of this chapter, Kuiper states, following Van Til, that, "God
can in a real sense manifest favour to them [the reprobate]. This has a
bearing on the universal and sincere offer of salvation. 'We may think'
says Van Til, 'of the universal offer of salvation as an evidence of
To be clear on this, Kuiper in is
work, The Glorious Body of Christ states: "And Scripture tells of a
universal love of God which comes to expression, not only the gifts of
rain and sunshine to the evil as well as the good, the unjust as well as
the just, but also in the sincere offer of the salvation to all who here
It is the logic behind these
statements that I find interesting. It seems that for Kuiper Common Grace
is a designed fruit of the Atonement, and the free offer of the Gospel is
an expression of Common Grace, and by Common Grace Kuiper means God's
universal love and desire for the salvation of all. The issue is not
whether or not the blessings of Common Grace are derived from the
atonement, but what is the nature of this Common Grace. What Kuiper (and
Van Til), has done is to redefine the nature of Common Grace. Traditional
Reformed Theology had maintained that though God is good and kind to all,
these providential blessings are not to be understood as reflecting
soteriological loving-kindness on the part of God. It seems obvious that
Kuiper has gone far beyond Berkhof, Cunningham and Candlish. The barest
reading of Cunningham would show that he would certainly reject the
positing the warrant of the free offer of the gospel, in the doctrine of
aptly put the issues back into their correct perspective:
We do not inquire whether the death of Christ gives occasion
to the imparting of some blessings even to reprobates. Because it is in
consequence of the death of Christ that the gospel is preached to all
nations, that the gross idolatry of many heathen nations has been
abolished, that the daring impiety of men is greatly restrained by the
word of God, that multitudes of the human family obtain many and
excellent blessings, though not saving gifts, of the Holy Spirit. It is
unquestionable that all these flow from the death of Christ, for there
would have been no place for them in the church, unless Christ had died.
The question is, whether the suretyship and the satisfaction of Christ
were by the will of God and purpose of Christ, destined for every
individual of Adam's posterity, as our opponents teach; or for the elect
only, as we maintain.
Cunningham also states affectively:
It is not denied by the advocates of particular redemption,
or of a limited atonement, that mankind in general, even those who
ultimately perish, do derive some advantages or some benefits from
Christ's death; and no position they hold requires them to deny this.
They believe that important benefits have accrued to the whole human
race from the death of Christ, and that in these benefits those who are
finally impenitent and unbelieving partake. What they deny is, that
Christ intended to procure, or did procure, for all men those blessings
which are the proper and peculiar fruits of His death, in its specific
character as an atonement,--that He procured or purchased
redemption--that is, pardon and reconciliation--for all men. Many
blessings flow to mankind at large from the death of Christ,
collaterally and incidentally, in consequence of the relation in which
men, viewed collectively, stand to each other. All these benefits
were,of course foreseen by God, when He resolved to send His Son into
the world; they were contemplated or designed by Him, as what men should
receive and enjoy. They are to be regarded and received as bestowed by
him, and as thus unfolding His Glory, indicating his character, and
actually accomplishing His purposes; and they are to be viewed has
coming to men through the channel of Christ's mediation,--of His
suffering and death.
(2) COMMON AND SPECIAL
The point here is that,
while all things come to all men by virtue of the mediation of Christ, the
actual atonement was designed and intended for the elect only. Kuiper
tends to blur this distinction with his notion of Common Grace and
universal sufficiency. The question remains as to what is the correct
conception of Common Grace. John Gill, whom I take as representative of
early orthodox Calvinism, on this matter states:
The grace of God may be considered as displayed in acts of
goodness towards his creatures, especially men; and is no other than his
free favour and good will to men; it is no other than love unmerited and
undeserved, exercising and communicating itself to them in a free and
generous manner; which they are altogether unworthy of it... The grace
of God arises from the goodness of his nature, and not from
anything in the creature; and is exercised according to his sovereign
will and pleasure... It is independent of all merit and worth in
creatures, and all works done by them...
With respect to creatures, the
objects of it, some distinctions are made concerning it, as of
natural and supernatural grace. Natural grace seems
to sound oddly, and unless guarded against, may tend to confound nature
and grace together; but rightly applied and understood it may be
admitted. What Adam enjoyed, in a state of integrity, above all the rest
of creatures, was all owing to the unmerited kindness of God, and so may
be called grace; as the image of God, in which he was created... So many
things which his posterity in their fallen state enjoy, being altogether
owing to the free favour and undeserved goodness of God, may be called
grace: to have being, and life, as food and raiment, which men are
altogether unworthy of, are gifts and favours; and so may bear the name
of grace, though only natural blessings.
Supernatural grace includes
all the blessings of grace bestowed upon any of the sons of fallen Adam;
and all the graces of the Spirit wrought in them; and which easily be
allowed to be supernatural...
Again, grace is, by some,
distinguished into common or general, and special
or particular. Common or general grace, if it may
be so called, is what all men have; as the light of nature and reason,
which every man that comes into the world is enlightened with; the
temporal blessings of life, the bounties of providence, called riches of
God's goodness, or grace, Rom. ii.4. which all partake of, more or less;
and the continuance and preservation of life; for "God is the saviour of
all men," 1 Tim. 4:10. Special or Particular grace is that
which is particular to some persons only; such as electing, redeeming,
justifying, pardoning, adopting and sanctifying grace, Rom. 8:30...
What is important here, is that for
orthodox Calvinism the grace of God is to be distinguished into two
categories General or Common and Special or Particular. The point is,
while admittedly the doctrine of common grace suggests that there is on
the part of God a certain grace, goodness and even love to all creatures,
are these favours indicative of a soteriological grace and love on the
part of God for all men? Heppe answers this point for us:
God's holiness is manifested generally as perfect kindness
and love and as perfect righteousness. Both rest upon a "certain
benevolent beneficent propension towards the creature," which is present
in God MASTRICHT (II, xvii, 3 ). "The love of God is the essential
property or essence of God, whereby delighting Himself in it He wishes
it the good which he approves." To be distinguished are the "general
love of God," the object of which is creation generally, so that "no one
either of men of even demons may say that he is not loved of God;" God
hates the sin of the godless, but loves the nature created by him--and
the "special love of God, by which he peculiarly pursues the separate
elect," POLANUS, (II, 122,). Herein is manifested the "goodness of God,"
according to which God is in and for himself "supremely good" and
towards creation "beneficent" RIISSENIUS (III, 41).
Since then is God's love for the
creature is essentially a "love not due," it appears as grace. "God's
grace is His virtue and perfection, by which he bestows and communicates
Himself becomingly on and to the creature beyond all merit belonging to
it" HEIDEGGER (III, 94). Over and against the misery of the creature
God's love is manifested (1) as mercy. Etymologically
misericordia is wretchedness of heart due to a sense of another's
wretchedness together with alacrity in succouring the wretched"
MASTRICHT (II, xvii, 22); (2) as patience and long suffering.
"Patientia Dei is His most benign will, by which he controls his
anger, that either bears sinning creatures long and puts off punishment,
awaiting their repentance, or he does not pour forth all His anger in
one moment upon them, lest they should be reduced to naught;" and (3) as
gentleness: "God's clemency is His most benign will, by which mindful of
His mercy in wrath He is propitious to us and spares us, although we
have deserved otherwise, preferring our repentance and conversion to our
death" POLANUS (II, 24 and 25).
Heppe in another part of his
Reformed Dogmatics makes the following brief statement:
For those who hear God's call outwardly but are not elected
this outward apprehension of divine grace therefore only means that they
are the more excusable.--HEIDEGGER (XIX, 91): "Although certain benefits
do also redound to some, who are actually perishing, being called
outwardly because of Christ's death and the preaching of the gospel
consequent thereon, but tend rather to anapolagesis [to render
inexcusable] and increase in damnation than to their salvation."
Witsius in similar fashion states:
The suretyship and satisfaction of Christ, have also been an
occasion of much good, even to the reprobate. For it is owing to the
death of the Christ that the gospel is preached to every creature, that
gross idolatry is abolished in many parts of the world, that the wicked
impiety is much restrained by the discipline of the word of God, that
they obtain at times many and excellent, though not saving gifts of the
holy Spirit, that "they have escaped the pollutions of the world,
through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," 2 Pet. ii.
20. And who can in short enumerate all those things which they enjoy,
though not through accident only, and beside the intention of God, and
of Christ, but by the appointment of God? Not indeed with a design and
purpose of saving them according to the Testament; but from a view to
make known his long-suffering towards the vessels of wrath, that is,
those who are to perish, who dwell among those who are to be saved. For
nothing falls out by accident with respect to the intention of God;
every thing being according to his determinate counsel.
Lastly, Turretin makes the following
III. Although the goodness of God extends itself to all
creatures, yet not equally, but exhibits the greatest diversity in the
communication of good. Hence one is general (by which he follows all
creatures, Ps. 36:6, 7); another special (which has respect for men,
Acts 14:17) and another most special (relating to the elect and referred
to in Ps. 73:1: "God is good to Israel")...
IV. From goodness flows love by
which he communicates himself to the creature and (as it were) wills to
unite himself with and do good to it, but in diverse ways and degrees
according to the diversity of the objects. Hence is usually made a
threefold distinction in the divine love: the first, that by which he
follows creatures, called "love of the creature" (philoktisia);
the second, that by which he embraces men, called "love of man"
(philoanthropia); the third, which is especially exercised
towards the elect and is called "the love of the elect"
(eklektophilia). For in proportion as the creature is more
perfect and more excellent, so also does it share in a greater effluence
and outpouring (aporroen) of divine love.
Later, Turretin discusses the
question, "Can there be attributed to God any conditional will, or
universal purpose of pitying the whole human race fallen in sin, of
destinating Christ as Mediator to each and all, and of calling them all to
a saving participation of his benefits? We deny,": and he states:
VII. The question is not whether God is borne by a general
love and philanthropy (philanthropia) towards men as his
creatures, and also bestows upon them various temporal benefits
pertaining to the things of this life (ta biotika); We do not
deny that God has never left himself without witness (amartyron)
with regard to this (Acts 14:17). And we readily grant that there is no
one who does not owe some gratitude to God and who, whatever he is or
can do, is not bound to give thanks to his Creator. But the question
concerns the special and saving love which tends to
spiritual benefits, and by which he willed to have mercy upon them to
salvation. We think this is particular to the elect alone, not universal
and common to all.
if, in the effects of God's general love and in the common
providence by which he is borne to all his creatures (according to the
variety of subjects, distinguished by a greater or less excellence of
nature), there are degrees, does it forthwith follow that there are
degrees affectively in God's special and saving love.
Since his love cannot be vain and inefficacious, those whom he loves
unto salvation he ought to love fully, and even unto the end (Jn.
It should be stressed that God's love,
in whatever form it appears, whether to the creature or to the elect, is
always effectual. It always effects what it sets out to achieve, whether
it be the temporal welfare of the creature, the display of God's
character, or the salvation of the elect. Furthermore, while it seems
clear that while orthodox Reformed theologians have accepted the validity
of the doctrine of Common Grace, they did not so conceive it as reflecting
a desire and love on the part of God for the salvation of all men, even
the non-elect. If this is so, then it can hardly be maintained that the
free offer of the gospel is an expression of God's universal love. It
seems that Kuiper has only introduced the doctrine of common grace, in
order to find some category that plausibly would allow God to have a
non-efficacious love and desire for the salvation of all men. For, apart
from adopting full Amyraldianism, where else in the body of Reformed
theology, could one categorise it? The key point here is, that many of our
great Reformed Fathers did not subscribe to the positions that Kuiper and
others are now espousing.
CHAPTER 4. THE
Now that in all that has been said the
groundwork has now been laid, what I propose to do here is to present a
brief historical analysis of some of the key texts often cited in
connection with the free offer of the Gospel and the doctrine that God
desires the salvation of all men, with the view of specifically discussing
this latter claim. What I intend to do, is to survey these key texts,
discuss how they have been interpreted by Kuiper and others and how they
have been interpreted by a selection of orthodox Reformed theologians.
EZEKIEL 18:23, 31-32 and 33:11
Have I any pleasure [delight] at all that the wicked should
die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his
ways and live.
from you all your transgression, whereby ye have transgressed: and make
you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will you die O house of
Israel. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the
Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
Say unto them. As I live
saith the Lord God. I have no pleasure [delight] in the death of the
wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye
from your evil ways.
Desire or Delight? This is the real
and crucial issue between Kuiper and those similar to him and those who
would disagree with Kuiper's interpretation of the Doctrines of Grace.
Upon this question everything hangs, and not on the doctrines of
Common Grace and the atonement. For surely, as one may so understand this
basic question, all other secondary issues will necessarily follow. On
this question, Ken Stebbins, while discussing the true import of Ezekiel
18:23, 31-32, and 33:11, introduces, identifies and explains the
significance of this point:
One final point needs to be made concerning the use of the
word "desire." As we shall see it is a word that has been quite commonly
used by nearly all Reformed Theologians from Calvin "To desire" has both constitutional
and volitional overtones. It implies, not only a "delight in"
(constitutional), but a positive "wish" or "will" (volitional). As such,
the term is confusing, since we have seen that the Ezekiel passages
speak of God's "delight" as that which constitutes His nature, apart
from, and prior to any consideration of decreeing or commanding. God's
"delight" refers to the very character of God; but "desire" speaks not
so much of His character, as of the volitional expression of that
One is forced to
ask--what volitional expression? Patently not the decree of God, since
then it would only include and say nothing of the reprobate concerning
whom the Ezekiel passages also speak.
Equally obvious is the fact that
God's revealed will cannot be meant. For then all Ezekiel 18:32 says is:
"I command you to turn: wherefore I command you to turn and
But if God's
"delight" refers merely to God's nature, this verse makes for common
sense, i.e., "It is not my nature to delight in your death:
wherefore I command you to turn and live."
In light of the above it would seem
far better to avoid the "volitional" aspect of "desire" altogether and
be satisfied with the word "delight" which I think adequately expresses
the idea of Ezekiel...
Considering Ezekiel 18:23 Gill states:
Perish by the sword, famine, or pestilence, or go into
captivity; this though the Lord's will and work, yet is his strange
work; mercy is his delight. This is not to be understood absolutely; for
he Lord does take pleasure in these things, as they fulfil his word,
secure the honour of his truth and holiness, and glorify his justice,
and especially when they are the means of reclaiming men from the evil
of their ways; but comparatively, as follows: and not that her should
return from his ways, and live? that is, it is more pleasing to
God that a man should repent of his sins [emphasis mine], and
forsake his vicious course of life, and enjoy good things, then go on in
his sins, and bring ruin on himself here and hereafter.
On Verse 32, Gill closes his comments
on this verse with:
I take no delight in your present death, your captivity;
it would be more agreeable to me would you turn from your evil ways
to the Lord your God [emphasis mine], and behave according to the
laws I have given you to walk by, and so live in your own land, in quiet
possession of your goods and estates.
It seems quite clear that here Gill
understands these verses as referring to God's will of approbation. Let it
not be thought that Gill is alone in his interpretation of this verse.
Turretin similarly states:
What God testifies in Ezekiel 18:23, that he has no
pleasure at all in the death of the sinner, but that he should return
from his ways and live; does not favour the inefficacious will or
the feeble would-be of God, because the word chaphets, which
occurs there, does not denote desire so much as delight
and complacency, so that God may be said not to delight in the
punishment of the wicked, inasmuch as it is the destruction of the
creature, although he wills it as an exercise of his justice. So he is
said to will the repentance of sinners approvingly and
preceptively, as a thing most pleasing to himself and expressed
in his commands, although with respect to all of them he wills it
decretively and effectively.
Finally, of these verse, the question
is, "how do these verses relate to the free offer of the Gospel?"
Stebbins, in speaking of the preacher's warrant to offer the Gospel and
then the sinner's warrant to believe, answers:
God's delight that all men turn to Him [is not] our
authority to preach salvation. But we should certainly preach this
aspect of God's nature to encourage sinners to turn...It is God's
delight that men would turn to Him and be saved. He takes no pleasure in
the death of the wicked... To man alone God reveals his nature is such
that He can take no delight in the sinner's death. And this revelation
is given to induce us to be converted.
DEUT. 5:29, 32:29
O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear
me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with
them, and with their children forever.
O that they were wise, that they
understood this, that they would consider their latter end.
Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had
walked in my ways.
O that thou hadst
hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace have been as a river,
and thy righteousness as a the waves of the sea.
As these verses are often cited
collectively, they shall be here treated as a block, though comments will
be made on some individually. Murray and Stonehouse make much of these
scriptures. They are right when they emphasise the implications and force
of the optative in these verses, though wrong, when they go to the
extreme of stating that here we have, "an instance of a desire on the part
of God for the fulfilment of that which he had not decreed." Rightly too,
do they point out that these verses should not be translated or understood
as conditional, so that, as they point out, Deut. 32:29, should not be
translated and understood as, "If they were wise, they would understand
The key question is, how are these
verses to be correctly understood? Many are prepared to inform us as to
what the verses do not mean, but are not so quick to inform as to what
they actually do mean. Owen, for example, states, from among a number of
points, that these verses do not prove a universal atonement or a ransom
for those who will eventually perish, and also that "desires and wishings
should properly be ascribed unto God is exceedingly opposite to his
all-sufficiency and perfection of nature; they are no more in him than he
hath eyes, ears, and hands. These things are to be understood
theoprepos [things proper to God]." Thus for Owen, these
wishes are purely anthropomorphic. This is at
least true. In John Gill's The Cause of God and Truth, he
understands Deut. 5:29 as:
We are not to imagine that such velleities and wishes are
strictly and properly in God; who here speaks... by anthropopathy, after
the manner of men; such desires are ascribed to him in the same way as
human passions and affections are, as anger, grief, repentance, and the
like: nor do such wishes and desires declare either what God does or
will do; but what he approves of, and is grateful to him; as are
an heart to fear him, and a constant and universal obedience to his
In his Exposition, on Deut.
5:29 Gill states:
Not that there is properly speaking such volitions and
wishes in God; but as Aben Ezra observes, the scripture speaks after the
language of children of men; and may be considered as upbraiding
them with the want of such a heart, and with weakness to do what they
had promised; and, at most, as approving of those things they spoke of
as grateful to him... which is the chief view in the expression of
the text [Emphases mine].
On Deut. 32:29, Gill understands this
verse in the conditional sense. Yet, as Murray and Stonehouse point out,
this is not a necessary rendering. Conceding this, or at least to its
possibility, Gill states:
IV. Supposing the words to contain a wish for wisdom and
understanding in spiritual things, such a wish must be ascribed to God,
but by anthropopathy, or after the manner of men; wishes and velleities
are improperly, or in a figurative way, attributed to God... but as a
man wishes for that which is grateful and agreeable to him, so when God
wishes for spiritual wisdom in men, it only implies that such wisdom in
them would be well-pleasing to him. Besides, such a mode of speaking may
be used either by way of complaint of ignorance, or as an upbraiding
with it; and that in order either to bring to a sense of it, and
encourage to apply to him for wisdom, who gives it liberally, or to
If we accept that Gill in his
understanding of this verse as being conditional was mistaken, then as he
himself points out, the above concession is the correct meaning of this
text. Interestingly, Gill, while commenting on this verse some 30 years
later, makes no mention of conditionality. This time
lapse is significant. Whereas in his Cause of God, written in the
years 1735 to 1748, Gill understood Deut. 32:29, Ps. 81:13 and Is. 48:18,
as being conditional, years later, in 1763 to 1766, when he came to write
and publish his Exposition, he makes no mention of conditionality
in any these verses. Indeed on Ps. 81:13, he states:
What is designed by this wish, which does not express the
purposing will of God; for who hath resisted that? if he had so willed,
he could have given them ears to hear; but his commanding will, and what
is his approving one: to hearken to him is not only to hearken to what
he commands, but to what he approves of; it is the good and acceptable
will of God that men should hearken to the declarations of his will in
the law, and to the declarations of grace in the gospel...
This change on Gill's part, one would
think would also apply to Deut. 32:29 and Is. 48:18. It is admitted, that
in his Exposition Gill does not comment on these verses in the same
manner as he does on Ps. 81:13. Again, Gill is not alone in his
understanding of these verses, Turretin also states aptly:
The passages which attribute a desire or wish to God, do not
immediately prove any ineffectual will in him; but things spoken after
the manner of men must be understood in a manner becoming of God, unless
we wish to adopt the delirium of the Anthropomorphites: If referred to
the past, they mean nothing else than a serious disapprobation of
committed sins, with a strong rebuke to the ingratitude of men and a
declaration of the benefits lost and the evils incurred by their sins;
understand thus the passages, Ps. 81:13, O that my people had
hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways, etc., and Isa.
48:18, O that thou hadst hearkened unto my commandments, that it
might be well with them, etc., they imply only a serious command
supported by promises and threatenings, by which he declares what he
approves as honest and holy, and the great delight he takes in those who
So we have in these passages divine
censures expressed in figurative language, strongly declaring to men what
they ought to do and what is pleasing to God.
Finally, it is not denied that God
would well lament and grieve on account of the continuing apostasy of his
creation (Gen 6:6), as the goodness of God should lead all men to
repentance. Yet it should be kept in mind that the scope of these
expressions is primarily directed to Israel, as God's covenant community
and has reference to their temporal welfare, (verses 29b and 33); and then
by implication, these verses speak also to the Church, as the new covenant
people of God. It should be first demonstrated that these verses,
explicitly, have all mankind in view. Gill alludes to this when he states;
"It ought to be said and proved, that God has vehemently desired the
salvation of all mankind; of which these words can be no proof, since they
only regard the people of Israel..." This is not
to deny that these verses, in a secondary sense, may speak to us of the
character of God, who is grieved by mankind's continual refusal to repent
and turn to God (Gen 6:5-6), and in this manner, their application in
evangelism would be similar to the manner in which Stebbins relates the
Ezekiel passages to the preaching of the Gospel.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the
prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I
have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her
chickens under her wings, and ye would not.
On this verse John Gill says at
1. That by Jerusalem we are not to understand the city, nor
all the inhabitants; but the rulers and governors of it, both civil and
ecclesiastical, especially the great Sanhedrim, which was held in it, to
whom best belong the descriptive characters of killing the
prophets, and stoning such as were sent to them by
God, and who are manifestly distinguished from their children; it
being usual to call such who were the heads of the people, either in a
civil or ecclesiastical sense, fathers, Acts 7:2, and 22:1, and
such who were subjects and disciples, children, 19:44, Matt.
12:17, Isa. 8:16,18. Besides, our Lord's discourse, throughout the whole
context, is directed to the Scribes and Pharisees, the ecclesiastical
guides of the people, and to whom the civil governors paid a
special regard. Hence it is manifest, that they are not the same persons
whom Christ would have gathered, who would not. It is not said,
how often would I have gathered you, and you would not, as Dr
Whitby more than once inadvertently cites the text; nor, he would
have gathered Jerusalem, and she would not, as the same author
transcribes it in another place; nor, he would have gathered them,
thy children, and they would not, which observation alone is
sufficient to destroy the argument founded on this passage of
gathering here spoken of does not design a gathering of the Jews
to Christ internally, by the Spirit and grace of God; but a gathering of
them to him internally, by and under the ministry of the word, to hear
him preach; so that they might be brought to a conviction of and assent
unto him, as the Messiah; which though it might have fallen short of
saving faith in him, would have been sufficient to have preserved them
from temporal ruin, threatened to their city and temple in the following
verses--Behold your house is left unto you desolate: which
preservation signifies by the hen gathering her chickens under her
wings, and shows that the text has no concern with the controversy
about the manner of the operations of God's grace in conversion; for all
those whom Christ would have gathered in this sense were gathered,
notwithstanding all the opposition made by the rulers of the
3. That the will of
Christ to gather these persons is not to be understood of his divine
will, or of his will as God; for who hath resisted his will? this
cannot be hindered nor made void; he hath done whatsoever he
pleased; but of his human will, or of his will as a man; which
though not contrary to the divine will, but subordinate to it, yet not
always the same with it, yet speaks here as a man and minister of the
circumcision, and expresses a human affection for the inhabitants of
Jerusalem, and a human wish or will for their temporal good, instances
of which human affection and will may be observed in Mark 10:21, Luke
19:41, and 22:42. Besides, this will of gathering the Jews to him was in
him, and expressed by him at several times, by intervals, and therefore
he says, How often would I have gathered &c. Whereas the divine
will is one continued invariable and unchangeable will, is always the
same, and never begins or ceases to be, and to which such an expression
as this is inapplicable; and therefore this passage of scripture does
not contradict the absolute and sovereign will of God in the
distinguishing acts of it, respecting election and reprobation.
4. That the persons Christ would
have gathered are not represented as being unwilling to the gathered;
but their rulers were not willing that they should. The opposition and
resistance to the will of Christ, were not made by the people, but by
their governors. The common people seemed inclined to attend the
ministry if Christ, as it appears from the vast crowds which, at
different times and places followed him; but the chief priest and rulers
did all they could to hinder to collection of them to him; and their
belief in him as the Messiah, by traducing his character, miracles, and
doctrines, and by passing an act that whosoever confessed him should be
put out of the synagogue; so that the obvious meaning of the text is the
same with that of verse 13, where our Lord says, Woe unto you,
scribes and pharisees, hypocrites; for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven
against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them
that are entering to go in; and consequently is no proof of men's
resisting the operations of the Spirit and grace of God, but of
obstructions and discouragements thrown in the way of attendance on the
external ministry of the word.
5. That in order to set aside and
overthrow the doctrines of election and reprobation, and particular
redemption, it should be proved that Christ, as God would have gathered
not Jerusalem and the inhabitants thereof only, but all mankind, even
such as are not eventually saved, and that in spiritual saving way and
manner to himself, of which there is not the least intimation in this
text; and in order to establish the resistibility of God's grace, by the
perverse will of man, so as to become of no effect, it should be proved
that Christ would have savingly converted these persons, and they would
not be converted; and that he bestowed the same grace upon them he does
bestow on others who are converted; whereas the sum of this passage lies
in these few words, that Christ, as a man, out of a compassionate regard
for the people of the Jews, to whom he was sent, would have gathered
them together under his ministry, and have instructed them in the
knowledge of himself as the Messiah; which if they had even notionally
received, would have secured them as chickens under the hen from
impending judgments which afterwards fell upon them; but their
governors, and not they, would not, that is, would not suffer them to be
collected together in such a manner, and hindered all they could, their
giving any credit to him as the Messiah; though had it have been said
and they would not,it would have only been a most sad instance of
the perverseness of the will of man, which often opposes as his temporal
welfare as well as his spiritual good.
It seems that what Gill essentially
has to say is fairly conclusive. I would suggest that Gill rightly
identifies the parties involved here, i.e., Jerusalem as opposed to
her children, and in what function Christ was speaking, i.e. as the
Messiah, the perfect human in his preaching and earthly work of gathering
in his sheep. That his earthly ministry and his Messiah-ship must be
thought of here, and not his essential divinity, is surely indicated by
the terms, How often would I have gathered your children.
However, I would suggest that other
parts of Gill's exegesis is faulty, in that he externalises the nature of
the desired gathering. By this Gill suggests that Christ merely desired to
gather the children of Jerusalem to obtain a mere intellectual
assent to his Messiah-ship, so that they would be saved merely from
temporal ruin. Further, Gill, despite his caution and disclaimer, does
appear to indicate that Christ could will and desire something apart from
what the Father would will and desire. Yet, in this, it must be remembered
that Gill did not develop his theology in a vacuum. His interpretation
seems to have had some currency in Reformed thought prior to Gill, and
indeed it would appear that the essential distinction between Jerusalem
and her children can be dated as far back to Augustine of Hippo in the
fifth century. Christopher Ness (1621-1705), in 1700 wrote in the same
This scripture, so common in the mouths, and so frequently
found in the writings of Arminians, so readily produced by them on
almost every occasion against the doctrines of grace; this scripture
taken in its context will advantage them nothing. How often would I
have gathered,, &c. But ye would not. This gathering does
not design a gathering of the Jews to Christ internally, by the spirit
and grace of God; but a gathering of them externally, to hear him
preach, so as that they might be brought to an assent unto him AS THE
This reception of
Christ would not have been saving faith, but it would have preserved
them from temporal ruin threatened in the following verse. This
scripture therefore, (as Acts 7:51) only respects a resistance to
Christ's outward ministry. Jerusalem, i.e., her rulers, received
him not, John 7:48, therefore their house is to be desolated (verse 38;)
the city is one thing and her children another. Here temporal
destruction threatened for neglecting temporal visitations, Luke
19:41. Nationally considered, Jerusalem would have been preserved in its
peace, had the people, upon the rational opportunity afforded them for
receiving the Messiah accepted Christ under that characterisation.
To imagine that Christ sought to have
the Jews assent to him merely as the Messiah, that they might thus escape
temporal ruin, is incredible. David Dickson (1583-1663) comes closer to a
more acceptable view on this passage. While he too made the distinction
between Jerusalem and her children, he manages to avoid the artificial
externalisations of Gill and Ness. Writing in 1647, he states:
In this lamentation our Lord is not to show what power is in
men's wicked nature to convert themselves, or to make use of the means
of conversion, nor what power there is in corrupt nature to oppose that
power which God puts forth in conversion of souls; neither is he
lamenting their case as one unable to obtain his own desired end in the
salvation of such as he intended to save: for no reason can extract
these conclusions necessarily from these speeches. The true sense of
them is obtained without any such inferences; for our Lord as man, and
kindly minister of the circumcision moved with humane compassion for the
miseries of his native countrymen, lets forth his love in this
lamentation and weeping, while he beholds the desperate obstinacy of the
multitude running to perdition, thereby intending to make the reprobate
who should hear his tender bowels inexcusable, and to move the elect to
repentance by this means.
DOCTRINE: [1.] Our Lord, as a man,
in the bowels of compassion was moved in the days of his flesh with the
misery of the most wicked, as this lamentation shows. [2.] When Christ
was most moved with the provocations of the wicked, there was no sinful
perturbation in him, to make him forget to fulfil the law of love to his
most desperate enemies; therefore he laments thus, Jerusalem,
Jerusalem! [3.] So oft as the Lord sends forth his ministers with
offers of mercy to sinful people, so oft is he lovingly calling them to
come unto him; so says he, As a hen gathereth her chickens, how oft
would I have gathered thee? [4.] When the Lord is about to save his
elect children in the visible church, the body or the greatest part of
the people may oppose his work and nill the work which he wills, and
although they be not able to impede his effectual gathering of so many
as he intends to save, yet may they make themselves guilty of impeding
and resisting the will of God, which they cannot overcome; therefore,
says he in this sense, O Jerusalem, how oft was I about to
convert thy children, so many as I had elected, by the offers of mercy
which my servants made unto you, the visible church their mother? And
you would not, but opposed my work so far as you could, in slaying
the prophets and stoning them who were sent unto thee for the
elect's cause who were in the midst of you. [5.] The Lord will pursue
his purpose, and renew messages till he both gain his own and also make
the reprobate inexcusable to the full; for how often, says he,
would I have gathered thy children, and ye would not.
Those who may suggest that we can
learn nothing about the character of God from Christ's lament are surely
mistaken. Though Christ speaks as the Messiah, it is surely a truth that
Mt. 23:37 "can only be viewed as an expression of divine nature through
human forms; such an expression being the supreme example of
anthropomorphism." The question
is, how and in what sense is Christ's lament a supreme anthropomorphic
expression of the character of God? Stebbins comes close to this when he
states: "'With tears and sighs He bewails the ruin of Jerusalem. He
desires not their ruin. He delights in their repentance.'" Turretin
explains how it can be that Christ would thus bewail Jerusalem's
destruction; and would rather delight in their repentance. Again, in the
context of his refutation of Arminian principles, Turretin states:
This two-fold will [the antecedent and consequent will
alleged by Arminians] cannot be proved from Matt. 23:37, 1. Because it
is not said that God willed to scatter those whom he willed to gather
together; but only that Christ willed to gather together those whom
Jerusalem, that is the chiefs of the people nilled to be
gathered together; but notwithstanding their opposition Christ did not
fail in gathering together those whom he willed: Whence Augustine
Enchiridion. c. 97, She indeed was unwilling that her sons should be
gathered together by him, but notwithstanding her unwillingness he
gathered together his sons whom he willed. Jerusalem, therefore, is
here distinguished from her sons, as the words themselves prove, and the
design of the chapter, in which from verse 13 to the 37th, he addresses
the Scribes and Pharisees, and rebukes them, because they neither
went into the kingdom, nor suffered those that were entering to go
in. 2. The will here alluded to, is not the decretive, which is one
and simple, but the preceptive [emphasis mine], which is referred
to vocation, and is often repeated by the preaching of the Word, How
often would I? And so Christ here speaks as the Minister of
Thus Turretin, borrowing from his
understanding of the distinctions in the will of God, draws from them and
applies them to the situation at hand. So it seems clear that here Christ
laments the destruction of Jerusalem, and such a destruction would surely
be grievous to him. To think otherwise of him would surely be an insult to
his character. Furthermore, this interpretation does not involve one in
the problem that Christ sought to gather Jerusalem in its entirety,
and that in this he was then frustrated, and hence he lamented. Christ can
truly lament Jerusalem's ruin, because the rulers of Jerusalem sought to
impede his attempts to gather in his sheep, the lost sheep of the house of
Israel (Mat. 15:24), and as a consequence, judgement will befall them.
Lastly, it must be asked, should we not be satisfied with this
construction of the text? Do we need to infer that Christ desired and
willed the salvation of all Jerusalem, a desire and will he never willed
or desired to effectuate, and thus laments that his will is resisted and
that in consequence, judgement will soon fall upon the House of Israel? I
2 PETER 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men
count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any
should perish, but that all should come to
Reformed theologians have often
differed over the correct interpretation of this verse. Ken Stebbins
explains the issues at stake here:
No verse has perhaps caused more contention in regard to the
free offer than 2 Peter 3:9...
Two interpretations of this verse
are offered. Both are feasible depending upon whom Peter had in mind. If
he had in mind an argument for refuting scoffers, his train of thought
runs like this: "Listen you" (hence humas) "scoffers who mock the
Lord's patience, you are wrong if you interpret such longsuffering as
indicative of God's unending benevolence toward you. The only reason God
is longsuffering is that He takes no delight in your death and is giving
you an opportunity to repent before it is too late..."
Others say that Peter has in mind an
argument for encouraging believers as they faced the opposition of
scoffers. In such a case he is saying:
"Let us not lose heart, God is being longsuffering towards
those of the elect who have not yet repented. He does not will that
they perish and is therefore giving them space to repent so that they
might be saved and added to our (hence hemas) number."
Murray and Stonehouse are able to
adopt the former interpretation by doing some sleight of hand
theologising. They state that the phrase you-ward, their preferred
reading, should not be limited to those addressed in the Epistle, but
should be taken to include all men. In
opposition to this, Gill states:
3. To inquire who these are [the you-ward or
us-ward]. It is evident that they are distinguished from the
scoffers mocking at the promise of Christ's coming, verse 3,4, are
called beloved, verse 1, 8, 14, 17, which are to be understood either of
their being beloved by God, with an everlasting and unchangeable love,
or of their being beloved as brethren by the apostle and other saints;
neither of which is true of all mankind. Besides, the design of the
words is to establish the saints in, and comfort them with the coming of
Christ, until which, God was long-suffering towards them, and which they
were to account salvation, verse 15. Add to this, that the apostle
manifestly designs a company or society to which he belonged, and of
which he was a part, and so can mean no other than such who were chosen
of God, redeemed from among men, and called out of darkness into the
marvellous light; and such were the persons the apostle writes to.
Prior to this Gill states that the
phrases any and all are specifically limited by the
us-ward--as he explains:
2. It is very true that tines, any, being
opposed to pantes, all is a distributive of it; but then the
any and the all are to be limited and restrained by the
us, to whom God is long-suffering; God is not willing that any
more should not perish, and is willing that no more should come to
repentance than the us to whom his long-suffering is salvation.
The key, therefore, to open this text lies in these words eis hemas,
to us-ward, or for our sake; for these are the persons God
would not have any of them perish, but would have them all come to
So for Gill, it is clear that the
us-ward sets the constraints on who God was not willing should
perish and who he would have be saved. To paraphrase the text, it might
read something like this, "the Lord is not slack concerning his promise,
as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing
that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to
repentance." Each added clause is an amplification of Peter's thought.
First he tells us that God is patient with us, then he explains the nature
of this patience by telling us, negatively, that he would have none of his
people perish, and then positively, that he would have them all come to
repentance and be saved.
question is, is there any other supporting evidence for this
interpretation? Gordon Clark offers some interesting points. Adopting the
second interpretation, he offers two proofs for a particularistic
interpretation of this verse:
Since God has made and appointed the wicked for the day of
evil, as 2:3, 4 have already said, as 2:9 virtually implies, and as is
indistinctly stated in Romans 9:17-22, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, or as
Prov. 16:4 says, "The Lord has made everything for its own end, yea even
the wicked for the day of evil," it follows that God does not will the
salvation of member of the human race. It is not his will that every man
without exception should repent. Repentance is a gift of God, and if God
willed to, he would give everyone repentance. But obviously he does
What Clark has to say is true in
itself, yet strictly speaking, those like Murray and Stonehouse would and
are quick to point out, that they are talking about God's revealed will or
will of approbation, not his decretive will, to which the texts Clark
adduces surely refer. Importantly, in strict Reformed theology, the will
of precept and approbation does not have any volitional components. So, as
it stands, Clark may have refuted the Arminian conception of this verse,
yet it does not affect the first interpretation as outlined by Stebbins.
Clark offers a second proof for his preferred interpretation:
Peter is telling us that Christ's return awaits the
repentance of certain people. Now, if Christ's return awaited the
repentance of every individual without exception, Christ would never
Like Clark's first proof, this too
could suffer from the same defect as above. Yet in another sense, it does
not. What Clark is pointing to is the idea that the longsuffering on the
part of God is for a definite purpose. A purpose deliberately connected
with the return of Christ. Gill points out that, Peter here is suggesting
that the Lord's return is deliberately delayed until the full number of
the elect are saved. Thus, this
may seem to indicate that there is a strong sense of deliberation
and purposiveness on the part of the Lord, on the ground that it is not
the Lord's purpose or intention that any of his elect perish, and thus he
deliberately delays he return. This is what Turretin appears to allude to,
when he says: "from the fact that Peter wishes to give the reason of that
longsuffering through which God puts off the consummation of the ages
(which cannot be drawn from his command [his revealed will], but
from his wise counsel [his decretive will] for the sake of the
elect, by which, as on account of the elect alone, he preserves the world,
so he puts off the promise of his coming, even until each and everyone of
them is brought unto salvation, Rev. 6:11).
The final point remains: if this is
granted, then Peter cannot be referring to the revealed will, or the will
of approbation, for purposiveness and deliberation are not aspects of
either of them. If all this is granted, then Stebbins is surely right and
would seem to reinforce this, when he also points out that, "the word
'willing' (Gk = boulomenos) certainly implies more than just a
disposition in God's nature. It indicates a definite purpose or
intention... Consequently, the second interpretation seems more
reasonable." And thus God
could not, indeed does not desire that all be saved.
Finally, if the suggested internal
evidence adduced does not convince, then all that can be said is that the
analogy of faith, the body of scripture and its teachings, must
decide the issue. For some, who have different presuppositions,
presuppositions based on an understanding of other parts of scripture,
such as those already discussed and expressed, their inclination is to the
latter interpretation. For those who have another set of presuppositions,
they will be inclined to the former interpretation. Which leaves the
question, is it legitimate to interpret one text in isolation, and in a
contrary manner to the rest of Scripture, and is such an interpretation
probable? Clearly, those who deny this paper's exegesis in the above
texts, will simply deny the question, while those who accept this paper's
exegesis of the above texts, must answer the question one way or the
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
son, that whosoever believeth on him, shall not perish but have
The question here is: what is the
meaning of the term "world"? Some modern Reformed thinkers have
interpreted this as meaning men as sinners--election or non-election not
considered." If this is
so then the text would read:
For God so loved the world, i.e., men as sinners, election
or non-election not considered, that he gave his Son, that whosoever
believe on him should not perish, but have eternal
says that John 3:16 was 'not written for the elect alone.' He then states
that this verse is an expression of God's universal love, 'which comes to
expression, not only in the gifts of rain and sunshine to the evil as well
as the good... but also in the sincere offer of salvation to all who hear
the Gospel.' Clearly for
Kuiper, God's love and the world as use here, are as
extensive as the universal blessings of rain and sunshine.
If this is correct, this
interpretation has made God's saving love universal along with the
atonement. For the sense of this verse is, that he gave his Son for those
whom he loved. One has now moved into Amyraldianism. That is, God loves
men as sinners, election and non-election not considered. He
decrees to provide an atonement for these prior to his decree of election.
Out of which, whosoever may happen to believe will be saved. Those who
espouse this line have surrendered to Amyraldian principles on this verse.
And this fact can never be under-emphasised.
Another difficulty then, is how does
one square the Amyraldian interpretation of verse 16 with the
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the
world; but that the world through him might be saved.
If the world in v. 16 means, "men as
sinners, election or non-election considered," does that not imply that
Christ came to save all men, men as sinners, with their election not
considered? Does it then not imply that Christ failed? I would
suggest that many have reduced the word "might," into mere wishful
Would it not be
better to interpret the term "world" distributively? Thus understood,
Jesus is teaching Nicodemus a lesson. Which is, that God's love is not
limited to Jews only, but that he loves all kinds. He loves Englishmen,
Arabs, Jews, Australians, Russians and even Americans. Not that he loves
every Australian, or every American, or every Arab. Furthermore, it is to
these of all races that his son was given. "That whosoever"--meaning those
of the various races he loved--"believeth on him, should not perish." It
is these that he came not to condemn. It is these that he will effectually
and securely save. In this way, I believe the two "worlds" in both verses
can mean the same, and the verses are consistent with the rest of
scripture and the sense of this text. Needless to say, this interpretation
is the same as that of Turretin, Owen, A.A.Hodge, Witsius, Haldane, Gill,
and many others, and has been the traditional Reformed interpretation of
representative of the Reformed tradition states:
The world for which Christ is said by the Evangelist
John to have died, and to which he was sent, cannot be extended without
limitation to the whole human family; for innumerable multitudes of the
world which it composes, perish; but it denotes, either the universality
of God's elect, or some of all people indiscriminately, Jews and
Gentiles. The evangelist alludes to the promise made to Abraham, that
"in his seed [i.e., Christ] all families of the earth should be
Speaking of the motive of God in
sending his Son, in this passage A.A. Hodge states well:
The scriptures habitually affirm that the motive which led
the Father to give the Son, and the Son to die, was not a mere
general philanthropy, but the highest, most peculiar and personal
love. Christ's true purpose in dying can certainly have no more exact
and complete impression than his outpourings of soul in the ear of his
Father on the terrible night preceding his sacrifice, recorded in the
seventeenth chapter of John. If ever real design of his death was
uppermost in his heart and speech, it must have been then. If ever the
motives which led to his dying in strong action, it must have been then.
But all that he says of the world is, that he does not pray for
it. All the unutterable treasures of his love are poured forth upon
those whom the Father gave him out of the world. John 17:19: "For
their sakes," he said, "I sanctify myself"--that is, devote myself
to this awful service. John 17:13: "That they might have my joy
fulfilled in themselves." "Greater love hath no man than this, that a
man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). "That ye may be
able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breath, and length,
and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth all
knowledge, that ye might be filled with all fullness of God" (Eph.
3:18,19). "Hereby perceive we the love of God"--"In this was manifest
the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son
into the world." &c. (1 John 3:16; 4:9,10). This love of Christ for
his Church has for its type the personal and exclusive love of the
husband for the wife (Eph. 5:25-27).
It is inconceivable that this
highest and most peculiar love, which moved God to give his
only-begotten and well-beloved Son to undergo a painful and shameful
death, could have had for its objects the myriads from whom, both before
and after Christ, he had withheld all knowledge of the Gospel; or those
to whom, while he gives them the outward call of the Word, he refuses to
give the inward call of his Spirit. Can such a love as the death of
Christ expresses, welling up and pouring forth from the heart of an
omnipotent God, fail to secure the certain blessedness of its objects?
Paul expresses his opinion upon this precise point: "He that spared not
his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how, shall he not
with him freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32.)... It is surely
an abuse of Scripture to say that the elect and the reprobate, "those
appointed to honour" and "those appointed to dishonour," those who "were
of old ordained to this condemnation" and those who were "ordained unto
eternal life," those whom God "hardeneth" and those upon whom he "hath
mercy," the "world" and those "chosen out of the world," are all
indiscriminately the objects of this amazing, this Heaven-moving, this
But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse
you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully
use you, and persecute you: That you may be the children of your Father
which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the
good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for
nothing again: and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the
children of the highest: for he his kind unto the unthankful and to the
evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your father is also
Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he
did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling
our hearts with food and gladness.
The key question is, what is God's
motive behind this goodness to all? Some would have us believe that in
these verses, though God may be good to all, it does not imply a good will
or intent. Others would deny that God is even good to all. Then there are
those who go to another extreme and infer from these texts that, on the
ground that here it is said that God is good and kind to all, even loves
all, that this is indicative of an ineffectual, though saving love of God
for all men, a saving love that lies at the back of the free offer of the
The Reformed have always affirmed
God's goodness and even love to all his creation. This goodwill regards
the temporal welfare of all God's creatures, and indeed, as Paul says, it
is given to lead (i.e., to direct), men to repentance (Rom. 2:4).
Yet this goodness to all should not be so construed as to indicate a
saving love of God for all men.
Commenting on Matt. 5:45b, Gill
For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil, and on the
good. Christ instances in one of the greatest blessings in nature,
the sun, so useful to the earth, and so beneficial to mankind for
light and heat;... which he has made, and maintains, orders to run its
race, and upon all good and bad men: one as well as another; all equally
share in, and partake of its benign influences, and enjoy the
comfortable effects and blessings of it: and sendeth rain on the just
and unjust: that is, on the fields of persons of such different
characters, even both the early and the latter rain; which makes the
earth fruitful, crowns it with goodness, and causes it to bring forth
bread to the eater, and seed to the sower. This is one of the most
considerable blessings of life; the gift of God's sole prerogative; it
is peculiar to him; it is what none of the vanities of the Gentiles can
give; and yet is bestowed by him on the most worthless and undeserving.
This flows from that perfection of God, which the Cabbalists call
"chesed, mercy, of benignity, to which it is essential to give
largely to all, both to the just and the unjust..."
Dickson states similarly:
To persuade us to obey this command, our Lord sets forth
five motives. The first is, because so we may make it appear to others
and to your own heart also that ye are the children of God whose
bounty is extended in giving the common use of his gifts unto his evil
and unjust enemies. DOCTRINE: [1.] By imitating the bounty of God, we
shall grow more and more like him, we shall more and more make it appear
that we are renewed unto the image of God; therefore says he, That ye
may be the children of your Father. [2.] We should not lightly pass
by the common favours of God bestowed upon men, as the benefit of the
sun and rain, but must observe the goodness of God therein toward men,
in making his sun and his rain to fall on the unjust.
Calvin says also:
But it is his will, that we should imitate his fatherly
goodness and liberality... Christ therefore proves from the effect, that
none are the children of God, but those who resemble him in gentleness
and kindness... "He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and
sendeth rain on the just and the unjust." He quotes two instances of the
divine kindness toward us, which are not only known to us, but common to
all: and this very participation excites the more powerfully to act in a
similar manner towards each other...
Poole aptly unfolds the Reformed
concept of God's general kindness, love and favour to all, and God's
special love, kindness and favour to his elect:
As your heavenly Father hath a common love, which he
extendeth to all mankind, in supplying their necessities, with the light
and warmth of the sun and with the rain; as well as a special love and
favour, which he excerciseth only towards those that are good, and
members of Christ; so ought you to have: though you are not obliged to
take your enemies into your bosom, yet you ought to love them in their
order. And as your heavenly Father, though he will one day have a
satisfaction from sinners, for the wrong done to his majesty, unless
they repent; yet to heap coals of fire on their heads, gives them good
things in common providence, that he might not leave them without
witness, yea, and affords them the outward means of grace for their
souls: so, although you are bound to seek some satisfaction of God's
honour and glory from flagitious sinners, and though you may in an
orderly course seek a moderate satisfaction for the wrong done to
yourselves, yet you ought to love them with a love consistent with these
things; so that you may imitate your heavenly Father, and approve
yourself to be his children.
On Luke 6:35b-36, Gill again states:
For he is kind to the unthankful and the evil: by
causing his sun to rise, and his rain to fall on them, as on the
righteous and the good; for as the Jews observe, "there is no difference
with him, whether on the right hand or on the left; for he is gracious
and does good, even to the ungodly." And elsewhere they say that " he
does good, and feeds the righteous and the ungodly." Be ye therefore
merciful, &c. Tender hearted, kind beneficent to all men,
friends and foes: as your father also is merciful; that is, your
father which is in heaven; who is good to all, and his tender mercies
are over all his works...
On Acts 14:17, Gill says:
Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness,
&c. Of his kindness and goodness to them; for during this long
interval and period of time; for though they had not the written law,
yet they were not destitute of the law of nature; and had besides, many
instances of providential goodness, by which they might have known God:
and should have been thankful to him, and glorified him as God, and not
have worshipped the idols of their own hands: the goodness of God should
have led them to repentance, and not have been abused to so many wicked
purposes as it had been: in that he did good: in a providential
way, to persons very undeserving of it, of which some particular
instances follow: and gave us rain from heaven,... a wonderful
blessing this is to mankind, and which God gives to the just and the
unjust, and did give to the ignorant and idolatrous Gentiles... and
fruitful seasons: spring, summer harvest, and autumn, at which
several times, different fruits of the earth appear; filling their
hearts with food and gladness: giving sufficiency of food, and even
an abundance of it, and that for pleasure and delight, as well as for
support and refreshment.
On this verse Calvin says clearly,
"but how unworthy soever we be and straight, yet the fatherly love of God
breaketh through even unto the unworthy. Especially the generality of
mankind doth testify that the benefits of God do never cease, wherein he
appeareth to be our Father."
It is hard to imagine that words like
love, kindness, mercy and so forth, as used both in scripture and in the
cited commentaries, do not imply a good intent and motive. It is equally
hard, as to how it could be conceived that we are to imitate the Father,
by loving all, while the Father whom we are enjoined to imitate, allegedly
does not love all. Thus, I can see no good reason for not accepting these
verses at their prima facie level. On the other hand, we are not to
infer from these texts that God desires the salvation of all. As Berkhof
rightly says, though God "showers untold blessings upon all men and also
clearly indicates that these are expressions of a favourable disposition
in God, which falls short, however, of the positive volition to pardon
sin, to lift their sentence, and to grant them salvation."
If any ask, "how can God be good to
all?" Gill answers:
God is infinitely good; as his understanding, wisdom,
knowledge, and other perfections of his, are infinite; so is his
goodness; he is abundant in it: it is so great, that it cannot be said
how great it is; finite minds cannot comprehend it; the height, depth,
length, and breadth of it, of it are unmeasurable; it knows no bounds
nor limits; it is so perfect that nothing can be added to it...
God is immutably and eternally good;
the goodness of creatures is but as the morning cloud, and early dew,
which soon passes away... but the goodness of God is invariably the
same, and endures continually; and thought there have been, and are,
such large communications of it to creatures, it is the same as ever,
and remains an inexhaustible fountain.
The goodness of God is communicative
and diffusive; he is good, and he does good; "the whole earth is full of
his goodness,' Psalm 119:68 and 33:5. there is not a creature but what
partakes of it, more or less, in some manner or another; but then it is
communicated according to his sovereign will and pleasure.
Finally, as to the question of the
relationship of these verses to evangelism, Stebbins again correctly
demonstrates their connection with the preaching and reception of the
God's general benevolence [is not] our warrant [to offer
Christ to all]. Though again we should preach this aspect of God's
nature to encourage sinners to turn. It is by God's grace that He gives
sinners space to repent... God is appeasable and approachable and ready
to bless as soon as the sinner turns... God's benevolence is also to be
our example. We are to show love to all men, as unlovely as they may be,
because God does so... We are to be perfect in the way that God is
perfect, doing good to all men... Love of God is our ultimate motive in
preaching the Gospel. But because we love God, we seek to be His
children... and love all men. This is our motive not our warrant.. The
sinner should also ponder God's benevolence toward him in times past
when he received many mercies and kindnesses at the hand of the Lord. He
is not seeking to be reconciled to a malevolent deity who would punish
him without cause, but a God who is benevolent, and who has already
shown love where love was not deserved.
Now it is possible to schematise the
basic differences between Kuiper and our older Reformed theologians:
(A) Reformed theologians in the past have believed:
1. God has no unfulfilled desires or
2. God has, apart
from his general non-saving love to creation, a saving and efficacious
love only for his elect.
God designed and sent his Son to make an atonement of infinite worth and
sufficiency, for his elect only.
4. The atonement, by its very
nature, secures salvation for all those to whom it was intended.
5. The basis of the Gospel call is
Christ's infinite sufficiency, coupled with the command to preach to all
6. The warrant to
believe is that there is an atonement sufficient for all who put their
trust in Christ, together with the command to believe and
(B) Neo-Amyraldians, like Kuiper, hold:
1. God has both desires and volitions
that will never be fulfilled and desires and volitions that will be
2. God has a
saving, yet non-efficacious love, for the non-elect, and a saving,
efficacious love for his elect.
3. God designed and sent his Son to
make an atonement universally sufficient for all men, unconditionally for
elect and conditionally for non-elect.
4. The atonement is efficaciously and
unconditionally applied to the elect.
5. The basis of the Gospel call is the
universal sufficiency of the atonement, coupled to the view that, in some
sense, Christ died for all men.
6. The warrant to believe is that
Christ made a universally sufficient atonement, in some sense died for all
men, and God desires the salvation of all men--even the non-elect.
The hallmark of Neo-Amyraldianism is
its inherent dualism. Everything has a double application. There are two
desires, one will be fulfilled, the other not. Two types of love, one
fulfilled, the other not. Two types of an atonement, one applied the other
not. Whereas, for the older Reformed divines, there is an inherent sense
of monism, where everything has only a single application; God has only
one type of desire, viz., that which will be accomplished; God has only
one type of saving love, viz., that which is efficacious; God has only one
type of an atonement, viz., that which is designed to efficaciously
procure salvation for the elect, and be sufficient for all their
Conceptually, it has
been clearly shown that the freeness and sincerity of the offer and call
of the Gospel does not hinge on either a universal atonement, however
conceived, or on a universal grace, again however conceived. For the
Gospel call and offer to be sincere and free, all that is needed is an
atonement sufficient for all who will come, and a God who is faithful in
his promises to 'in no wise cast out any who come,' indeed, he will bless
them with eternal salvation.
In all this then, what I have set out
to achieve is to demonstrate that the so-called Calvinism of Kuiper is
nothing more than Neo-Amyraldian principles cloaked in Reformed concepts
and terminology. I have set out to do this by discussing some of Kuiper's
key points, and comparing them, point for point, with some of our older
Reformed divines. It is admitted that much more could have been said, and
that what has been presented is only an introductory outline of the
issues. Yet I believe that, in what has so far been shown, it is clear
that Kuiper's theology of Grace is by far different from that of some of
the Reformed world's greatest theologians, such as John Owen, Francis
Turretin, William Cunningham and A.A. Hodge.
Kuiper has based his article on both
faulty logic and causal reasoning. He has said that from the atonement,
there are universal and incidental benefits accruing to the non-elect, and
that this was designed to be so. In this he agrees with Cunningham and
Candlish. But then he leaps from these universal non-saving benefits, to a
universal, conditional, objectively real, and designed sufficiency of the
atonement itself. Importantly, what Kuiper has done here is to wrongly
moved from the truth that there are non-saving benefits of the
atonement which are universal, the notion that the atonement itself
is universal. He then
argues, that from this universal sufficiency, we have the warrant to
preach the gospel. He has God ardently and lovingly desiring the salvation
of the non-elect, upon which God provides an atonement sufficient for
them. And, we are to tell all, even the non-elect, if we were to know
them, that God would have them be saved, knowing full well that God will
never grant them the faith to believe. On the other hand, God also loves
the elect, he has provided an atonement for them. What is more, he loves
them just that bit more, in that he will effectually apply it to
Many like Kuiper have
also in the end, short-cut Biblical evangelism, reducing it to a more
palatable mixture of truth and error. It is easy to say to everybody that
God loves you, He desires your salvation, sent his Son to die for you, if
you believe. Conversely, I have a warrant to believe, because God in some
sense loves me, and that Christ, in some sense, died for me. They have
attempted to make it easier for the non-Christian to believe.
What I have said here is not so
strange when compared to the statements of Hodge. Speaking of the
Amyraldian Doctrines of Grace, he makes the following point which also is
applicable to Kuiper's conception of the Doctrines of Grace; "This view
represents God as loving the non-elect sufficiently to give them his Son
to die for them, but not loving them enough to give them faith and
repentance." Owen is
It is answerable to the goodness of God, to deal thus with
his poor creatures? to hold out towards them all in pretence the most
intense love imaginable, beyond all compare and illustration,--as his
love in sending his Son is set forth to be,--and yet never let them know
of any such thing, but in the end damn them for not believing
It is all one as if a
prince should say and proclaim, that whereas there be a number of
captives held in sore bondage in such a place, and he hath a full
treasure, he is resolved to redeem them every one, so that every one of
them shall come out of prison that will thank him for his good will, and
in the meantime never take care to let these poor captives know his mind
and pleasure; and yet be fully assured that unless he effect it himself
it will never be done. Would not this be conceived a vain and
ostentatious flourish, without any good intent indeed towards the poor
captives? Or as a physician should say that he hath a medicine that will
cure all diseases of all, but lets very few know his mind, or any thing
of his medicine; and yet is assured that without his relation and
particular information it will be known to very few. And shall he be
supposed to desire and intend, or aim at the recovery of all?
Of Kuiper's theology, one wonders what
value is there in this? Is this really the answer to the "problem" the
particularity of the atonement and the sincerity of the free offer of the
Gospel? Has this relieved, or enhanced the charge of duplicity on God's
part? Would it not be better to follow the advice of Owen and Cunningham?
We are not to pry into the secret will of God. We proclaim that Christ
will save all those who put their trust in him. We proclaim man's duty,
God's promises and God's warnings. If done in this way, then there is no
need to talk of paradoxes and contradictions. If any reject his theory as
being contradictory, Kuiper accuses them of merely following human
reasoning. He says we are to hold to the contradiction. The so-called
contradiction, or mysterious 'paradox,' is a figment of his mind. It is
the logical conclusion of his illogical and false system.
In the end, it must be admitted that
Kuiper, Fuller, and others like them, hold to a universal conditional
sufficiency for all men, and an unconditional efficient atonement, which
God only applies to the elect at his own good pleasure. These people have
taken the term 'infinite sufficiency' and redefined it as, 'universal
sufficiency,' while expecting us to believe that the old orthodox
Reformers understood it after the same fashion.
The most unfortunate lesson from all
this, is that, without realising, much of Reformed Christendom has been
misled. It is the error-laden truth, found in their systems, which has so
easily misled Reformed Christians into erroneous understandings of the
Doctrines of Grace. Many are now under the false impression that their
Neo-Amyraldian mixture of iron and clay Doctrines of Grace are the same
Calvinistic Doctrines of Grace, as espoused by the leading Reformers of
the Reformation. It is time that many of today's Reformed Christians begin
to examine their theological presuppositions, and for some, admit that
they have actually, whether consciously or unconsciously, adopted
Neo-Amyraldian principles. Furthermore, they should stop caricaturing all
contra-Amyraldian theology as hyper-Calvinism. It is time
that many modern Reformed theologians and Christians acknowledged that the
great majority of credible Reformed theologians have neither been
hyper-Calvinist or Amyraldian.
The following books which deal with
the subjects, and related issues in this paper, are recommended for
J.A. Haldane The Doctrine
of the Atonement. This is a fine work from Haldane. Here Haldane seeks
to refute the calvinistic universalist Wardlaw. As such it should be
The Atonement. This is a thorough and comprehensive study. A must
for any student of the theology of the Atonement.
G. Long Definite Atonement.
This is a fine work. The book consists of good positive scriptural
exposition of various key biblical texts.
Hugh Martin The Atonement. A
very good work. Here Martin, deals with the calvinistic universalist Ralph
Wardlaw, from the perspective of the Covenant of Grace and Christ's
Nettles By His Grace and For His Glory. Nettles has a very
interesting chapter entitled Christ Died for Our Sins, According to the
Scriptures. Here Nettles tackles the sufficient for all, efficient
for the elect paradigm, and his comments and views essentially concur
with those expressed in this paper.
J. Owen The Death of Death.
Owen's work is a masterpiece. This is a must to read.
N. Robertson Church-Members
Hand-Book of Theology. Harrisonburg, Va: Sprinkle Publications, 1983.
Robertson has three sub-sections in his chapter on the Atonement,
entitled Of the Value and Sufficiency of Atonement, The Extent
of the Atonement, and The Specific Design of the Atonement. In
these three sub-sections Robertson's understanding of these issues exactly
concurs with the views outlined in this paper. The work also has the added
value, in that it refutes various attempts to modify the extent of the
atonement by Calvinistic Universalists.
W. Rushton Particular
Redemption. A fine work on Andrew Fuller.
K. Stebbins Christ Freely
Offered. This is an excellent work. Stebbins deals marvellously with
the questions of the Will of God, and Common Grace in relation to the free
offer of the Gospel. Should be studied by all.
F. Turretin Formula Consensus
Helvetica, his Institutes of Elenctic Theology, and his work
The Atonement, the latter being an extract from his
There are also those old
Scottish divines like Rutherford, Dickson, John Brown of Wamphray, and
many others who held to a contra-Amyraldian theology of Grace.
Furthermore, Heppe surveys quite adequately the beliefs of 16th and 17th
Reformed theologians. All these men developed a theology of Grace, that
walked a middle road between so-called Hyper-Calvinism, on the one side,
and various versions of Amyraldianism on the other. It is the works of
these men, that we should all seriously study, master and re-publish.
THE CALL OF THE GOSPEL IN RELATION TO CHRIST'S ATONEMENT
COVENANT OF GRACE.
Andrew Fuller once said:
Concerning the death of Christ, if I speak of it
irrespective of the purpose of the Father and the Son as to its objects
who should be saved by it, referring merely to what it is in itself
sufficient for, and declared in the gospel to be adapted to... It was
for sinners as sinners. But if I have respect to the purpose of the
Father in giving his Son to die, and to the design of Christ in laying
down his life, I should answer, it was for his elect only...
The particularity of
redemption...consists in the sovereign pleasure of God with regard to
the persons to whom it is applied. Rushton. op. cit. p
to this, Warfield observes:
There are others, however, who affected by what they deem
the Scriptural teaching concerning the universal reference of the
redemption of Christ, and desirous of grounding the universal offer of
salvation in an equally universal provision, conceive that they can
safely postpone the introduction of the particularistic principle to a
point within the saving operations of God themselves, so only they are
careful to introduce it at a point sufficiently early to make it
determinative of the actual issue of the saving work. They propose
therefore to think of the provision of salvation in Christ as universal
in its intent; but to represent it as given effect in its application to
individuals by the Holy Spirit only particularistically.
Speaking of the Amyraldian
understanding of the atonement, Warfield also has this to say:
The Amyraldians "point with pride" to the purity of their
confession of the doctrine of election, and wish to focus attention upon
it as constituting them as good Calvinists. But the real hinge of their
system turns on their altered doctrine of the atonement, and here they
strike at the very heart of Calvinism. A conditional substitution is no
condition to God, if you grant him even so much as the poor attribute of
foreknowledge, they necessarily turn away from the substitutive
atonement altogether. Christ did not die in the sinner's stead, it
seems, to bear his penalties and purchase for him eternal life; he died
rather to make the salvation of sinners possible, to open the way of
salvation to sinners, to remove all the obstacles in the way of
salvation of sinners.
what obstacle stands in the way of the salvation of sinners, except
their sin? And if this obstacle (their sin) is removed, are they not
saved? Some other obstacles must be invented, therefore, which Christ
may be said to have removed (since he cannot be said to have removed the
obstacle of sin) that some function may be left to him and some kind of
effect be attributed to his sacrificial death. He did not remove the
obstacle of sin, for then all those for whom he died must be saved, and
he cannot be allowed to have saved anyone. He removed, then, let us say,
all that prevented the way for God to step in and with safety to his
moral government to save men. The atonement lays no foundation for his
saving men: it merely opens the way for God safely to save them on other
We are now fairly
on the basis of the Governmental Theory of the Atonement... In other
words, all the substance of the atonement is evaporated, that it may be
given universal reference... If it does nothing for any man that it does
not do for all men why, then, it is obvious that it saves no man; for
clearly not all men are saved. The things that we have to choose
between, are an atonement of high value, or an atonement of wide
extension. And this is the real objection of Calvinism... it
universalises the atonement at the cost of its intrinsic value, and
Calvinism demands a really substitutive atonement which actually saves.
And as a really substitutive atonement which actually saves cannot be
universal because obviously all men are not saved, in the interests of
the integrity of the atonement it insists that the particularism has
entered into the saving process prior, in order of thought, to the
Another way of looking at this, is to
keep in mind that the word 'atonement' should not be so abstracted from
its original meaning. The word atonement, is related to the word
'propitiation.' This signifies to 'turn away wrath, to appease.' Yet also,
the term atonement, connotes the other ideas of 'reconciliation,' and
'redemption.' Furthermore, the heart of the atonement, is its
substitutionary, or vicarious nature. Thus the questions can now be asked,
did Christ appease or turn away the wrath of God for all, elect and
non-elect, if they believe? Did the atonement reconcile all, elect and
non-elect, if they believe? Did the atonement redeem all, elect and
non-elect, if they believe? The answer to these three questions is
emphatically no. So, to speak of an atonement sufficient for even the
non-elect, must only rob it of all content.
Tackling the issue from the
perspective of the Covenant of Grace, Hugh
Martin, referring to the universal Calvinist Ralph Wardlaw, states:
...Being a believer in the doctrines of election and of the
necessity of regenerating grace, he held that the sovereign purpose of
God comes afterwards, in the order of nature, to determine to whom the
atonement shall be rendered actually fruitful of saving results. This,
of course, is to acknowledge, in some sense, intentionally at least, a
covenant of grace. But it is a covenant conditioning not Christ's work,
but merely the Spirit's...
And it is a covenant with the
Spirit, only because it is a covenant with CHRIST--the immeasurably
Anointed One of God, anointed of the Holy Ghost, and endued with power
to give the Spirit to as many as the Father hath given him. To dislocate
here, is to derange everything.
To place Christ and His work outside
this covenant, in order to give His redemption the aspect of larger
graciousness and indefinite relations to all men universally, is to
pervert the entire doctrine of the Covenant,--to turn aside, as its very
fountain-head, that river the streams whereof make glad the city of
Moreover, under the
pretence of enlarging the aspects of Grace, it achieves most effectually
a precisely opposite result. For to bring the covenant of grace in order
to limit the application and circumscribe the effectual results
of an atonement in its very nature and accomplished merit unlimited, and
the actual blessings of a mercy, already in the field without limit, is
surely too offensive to expect acceptance with thoughtful and generous
minds... But to introduce a covenant of grace, as an instrument
for the limitation of grace, is at once an insult to the human
understanding and a travesty of the divine Wisdom.
A correct application of the
doctrine of the Covenant is, in like manner, eminently serviceable in
refuting the argument for an indefinite atonement based on the alleged
necessity of providing a foundation for the universal gospel call.
For--not to speak of the very obvious considerations that the command of
God is sufficient warrant to "go into all the world and preach the
gospel to every creature"--any intellectual difficulty that reverential
minds may feel on this point should be allayed, if not indeed removed,
by observing the relation in which the gospel call stands to the
Covenant of Grace.
relation is very intimate. The gospel call comes forth from the
covenant, and summons sinners into it. It is a voice from within the
covenant, addressed to those that are without, with the view of bringing
them within. Its administration is itself one of the stipulations of the
To make the Call
proceed upon grounds broader than the Covenant, and on considerations
not contained within it, is in my opinion, to create a necessity for
reconciling and harmonising to an extent and of a kind which it will be
found in strict reason utterly impossible to meet...The Call itself is
destroyed in all the intrinsic worth and in all professed design of it,
as a call to the Covenant, and to all its free grace and sure and
saving blessings, if it be a call coming from any quarter but the
Covenant itself--be it even from Christ, if it be not from Christ as the
THE ROLE OF PARADOX IN KUIPER'S THEOLOGY.
Kuiper states that God who knows whom
he has decreed will be saved and damned, still offers the damned
salvation, still desires their salvation, and has designed an atonement to
be sufficient even for them. If one queries this, Kuiper, in the next
paragraph invokes the concept of paradox. Yet this is not just like any
other paradox; this is one that is unresolvable. The question is, what is
the difference between an unresolvable paradox and a contradiction? I am
convinced that an unresolvable paradox is as good as, and the same as, an
outright contradiction. What can be said here? Firstly, as far as I can
ascertain, traditionally, Christian apologists have always attempted to
avoid such paradoxes. Traditionally, Christians never viewed apparent
contradictions as the end of knowledge, but just its beginning.
Indeed, it may be fairly said that
those who have opposed Christianity and its truths, have often invoked
contradictions to invalidate biblical truth. By this it is meant, that
consistency is a sign of truth, and non-Christians (and non-Reformed
Christians), in the past have attempted to prove the invalidity of certain
biblical truths on the basis of alleged inconsistencies or contradictions
between two or more biblical truths. The Christian apologist, while
admitting that many biblical truths are complex and not reducible to
simple equations, have nonetheless, traditionally replied, that there are
no contradictions between Biblical truths, or that, one or both of the
truths in any one or more set of truth claims, are either true or
false or in need of modification. The doctrine of the Trinity is an
example of this. Unitarians object that to believe that three equals one,
involves one in believing a contradiction. Christian apologists have
responded that there is here no contradiction here, because three can be
one in different senses. Thus, in the case of the trinity, as to their
nature and essence, the three persons are one. Yet, as to their
personality, they are three. Now, if we were to say that, in the same
sense, the three as to their personalities were indeed one, then we would
be involved in a contradiction, in that we would have three persons and at
the same time have one person.
The real question is not that we do
not know how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit can be one in essence
but three in personality, but whether it is so (i.e.,
whether there is within the unity of the God three persons); an important
distinction to keep in mind. The how implies the need of faith and
submission to God's word, as does equally the fact that it is so. This
distinction also applies to other biblical truths, such as the human and
divine nature of Christ, God's sovereignty and man's responsibility, and
the presence of evil and the existence of God, to name but a few.
Now however, if we apply Kuiper's
logic, we would have to affirm with those who oppose Christianity, that
there are real and unresolvable paradoxes in the body of Christian truth.
Yet to do this we place ourselves on dangerous ground, in that, other than
simply affirming that any two or more given biblical truths are all
equally true, how are we to judge the veracity of God, and on what grounds
are we able to determine the truth or falsity of any claimed biblical
truth? Because, for some of us, the internal and external consistency of
any truth claim is one key determinant to the truth or falsity of any
truth claim. Internally, that truth claim must be consistent in its parts.
If we chose to reject this truth test, I suggest we are in danger of
heading into the area of irrationality.
I suspect Kuiper and Van Til would
have none of this. Indeed, they would accuse me of rationalism. In a
sense, if this is where we left the matter, the charge might hold. That
is, if we were like Aristotle and created an absolute law out of the
principle of non-contradiction, i.e., it is not possible for
something to be both p and non-p, at the same time and in
the same senses. Yet this is not what we do. The law of non-contradiction
is valid because it resides in God. It is not possible for God to reveal
contrary truths, not because he is in some sense constrained by
this law, but because this law resides in his very nature.
James alludes to this: "Every good and
perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from heaven from the Father of
lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow or turning."
He goes on to inform us that, in contrast to earthly wisdom, God's wisdom
"is from above is first pure, then peaceable, and gentle, and easy
to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and
In support of Kuiper's paradoxical
theology, he scolds those who may disagree with him:
Sad to say, there are those who stress the doctrine of
divine election so as to rule out the love of God for all living men.
They pride themselves in their Calvinism, but theirs is a kind of
rationalism. Unable to square with their logic one plain teaching of the
Bible with another just as plain, they do violence to the word of God.
Some cannot square these
doctrines, simply because they do not believe that these are genuine
doctrines in need of squaring. Some simply believe, on the basis of
scripture and not rationalistic principles, that the doctrines which
Kuiper wants to square, are not Biblical doctrines in the first place. All
agree, that it is the scriptures that are the key, and the lock is not
rationalism or irrationalism, but the correct interpretation of the
scriptures. Rationalistic thinking, or irrationalistic thinking, is only
of importance in that either one may determine the presuppositional
approach to the interpretation of the scriptures. Clark surely speaks to
the heart of the matter when, speaking of Murray and Stonehouse and their
idea that "God himself expresses an ardent desire for the fulfilment of
certain things which he has not decreed," states aptly:
Now note what has happened. The two authors have used
exegesis and argument in such a way as to produce a contradiction. But
they are so sure of their arguments that they are unwilling to admit
that they could have possibly made a mistake. This is not intellectual
modesty. When one's thoughts lead one to a contradiction, the logical
and humble thing to do is to go back and find where the mistake
Bavinck H. The Doctrine of God.
Trans. by William Hendriksen. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust,
Berkhof L. Systematic
Theology. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1984.
Boyce J.P. Abstract of Systematic
Theology. 1887; rpt. California: The den Dulk Christian Foundation,
Calvin J. Concerning
the Eternal Predestination of God. Trans. J.K.S. Reid. London: James
Clarke & Co. Limited, 1961.
---- Commentary on a Harmony of the
Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,
---- Commentary Upon
the Acts of the Apostles. Vol 2. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,
Candlish R.S. The
Atonement. London: T. Nelson and Son, 1861.
Charnock S. Discourses Upon the
Existence and Attributes of God. 2 Vols. 1853; rpt. Grand Rapids:
Baker Book House, 1988.
G.H. I & II Peter. 2 Bks in 1. New Jersey: Presbyterian &
Reformed Publ., Comp., 1980.
---- The Atonement. Maryland:
The Trinity Foundation, 1987
---- Predestination: The Combined
Edition of Biblical Predestination and Predestination in the Old
Testament. New Jersey: Presbyterian & Reformed Publ. Comp.,
Coles E. A Practical
Discourse of God's Sovereignty. London: Joseph Smith, 1835.
Crawford T.J. The Doctrine of Holy
Scripture Respecting the Atonement. Edinburgh: William Blackwood and
Historical Theology. 2 Vols. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark,
Dickson D. A Brief
Exposition of the Evangel of Jesus Christ According to Matthew. 1647;
rpt. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1981.
---- Commentary on the Psalms.
2 Vols. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985
Engelsma D. Hyper-Calvinism and the
Call of The Gospel. Grand Rapids: Free Reformed Publishing Company,
Gerstner J.H. Wrongly
Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism.
Brentwood: Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publ., 1991.
---- Repent or Perish. PA: Soli
Deo Gloria Publishers, 1990.
Gill J. A Body of Systematic and
Practical Divinity. Arkansas: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1987.
---- The Cause of God and
Truth. London: W.H. Collingridge, 1855.
---- An Exposition of the Old and
New Testaments. 9 Vols. 1809-1810; rpt. Arkansas: The Baptist Standard
The Doctrine of the Atonement. Edinburgh: William P. Kennedy,
Heppe H. Reformed
Dogmatics. Set Out and Illustrated From the Sources. 1950; rpt. Trans.
by G.T.Thomson. Ed. by E. Bizer. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,
Hodge A.A. Outlines
of Theology. 1869; rpt. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust,
Atonement. London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1868.
Hodge C. Systematic Theology. 3
Vols. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979.
Hulse E. The Great Invitation.
England: Evangelical Press, 1986.
---- The Free Offer of the Gospel:
An Exposition of Common Grace and the Invitation of the Gospel.
England: Carey Publications, 1973.
Kuiper R.B. For Whom Did Christ
Die. Grand Rapids: W.B.Eerdmans, 1982.
---- The Bible Tells Us So.
Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978.
---- The Glorious Body Of
Christ. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1983.
---- God Centred Evangelism.
Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1978.
Long G. Definite Atonement. New
York: Backus Book, 1977.
The Doctrine of Salvation. Parts 1, 2, and 3. Sterling: Grace
Abounding Ministries, 1979-1980.
---- The Salvation of All Men: A
Doctrinal Study on the Extent of the Atonement. Virginia: Grace
Abounding Ministries, n.d.
MacLean W. Arminianism Another
Gospel. Pensacola: Chapel Library, 1989.
Martin H. The Atonement.
Edinburgh: Knox Press, 1976.
Mitchell A.F. & Struthers. H.
Minutes of the Sessions of the Westminster Assembly of Divines.
Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1874.
Murray J. & Stonehouse. N.B.
The Free Offer of the Gospel. A Report to the General Assembly of
the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1948. Reprinted. n.p. n. publ.
Ness C. Antidote to
Arminianism. 1700; rpt. London: Ward and Co., 1850.
Nettles T.J. By His Grace and For
His Glory. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990.
Owen J. The Death of Death in the
Death of Christ. 1852; rpt. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust,
Pink A.W. The
Sovereignty of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990.
---- The Attributes of God.
Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988.
---- Gleanings From the Scriptures:
Man's Total Depravity. Chigago: Moody Press, 1987.
Poole M. A Commentary on the Holy
Bible. 3 Vols. Virginia: MacDonald Publ. Comp., n.d.
Reymond R.L. The Justification of
Knowledge. New Jersy: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company,
Church-Members Hand-Book of Theology. 1874; rpt. Harrisonburg, Va:
Sprinkle Publications, 1983.
Rushton W. Particular
Redemption. 1831; rpt. North Carolina: Primitive Publications.,
Rutherford S. Christ
Dying And Drawing Sinners to Himself. London: Andrew Crooke,
Shedd W.G.T. Dogmatic
Theology. 3 Vols. 1888; rpt. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House,
Smeaton G. The
Doctrine of the Atonement As Taught by Christ Himself. 1871; rpt.
Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1953.
---- The Apostle's Doctrine of the
Atonement. 1870; rpt. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House,
Sproul R.C., Gerstner J.
and Lindsley A. Classical Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan
Publishing House, 1984.
Stebbins K. Christ Freely
Offered. Dapto: Covenanter Press, 1978.
Strong A.H. Systematic
Theology. 1907; rpt. Valley Forge: The Judson Press, 1970.
Styles W.J. Manual of Faith and
Practice. London: Robert Banks & Son, 1897.
Turretin F. The Atonement of
Christ. Trans. by J.R. Willson. 1859; rpt. Grand Rapids: Baker Book
Institutes of Elenctic Theology. 3 Vols. Trans. by G.M. Giger., Ed.
by J.T. Dennison Jr. Presbyterian and Reformed Publ., 1992
---- Theological Institutes:
Selections. Trans. by G.M. Giger. Ed. and Abr. by J.H. Gerstner.
Michigan: Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches,
Walker J. The
Theology and Theologians of the Scotland: Chiefly of the Seventeenth and
Eighteenth Centuries. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1888.
Warfield B.B. The Plan of
Salvation. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Comp.,
Witsius H. The
Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man: Comprehending A Complete
Body of Divinity. 2 Vols. 1822; rpt. California: The den Dulk
Christian Foundation, 1990.
I am aware that there are some, past
and present (e.g., A.W. Pink and J.A. Haldane), who object to the
use of the word offer in the context of this type of theological
discussion. Throughout this paper, I use the term 'offer,' as an umbrella
term that includes within it such biblical tenets as, presentation,
proclamation, command, call and invitation. It is hoped that the concepts
behind the use of the word in this paper will be acceptable to all
The Plan of Salvation. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1984), pp
87-104; and Roger Nicole's article Amyraldianism in The
Encyclopedia of Christianity. Gen. Ed. E.H. Palmer. (Delaware: The
National Foundation for Christian Education, 1964). There have been many
who have subscribed to Amyraldian tenets, such as Richard Baxter, Thomas
Boston, Andrew Fuller and Ralph Wardlaw.
Kuiper and others like him, may, as a
consequence, profess to subscribe to either the Supralapsarian or
Infralapsarian order of the decrees. See on this B.B.Warfield. op. cit. pp
These extracts are
meant to be only a selection of particularly relevant quotations, other
standard Bible commentators and theological works should also be
R.B Kuiper. For
Whom Did Christ Die? (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1982), pp
It is a mistake to
define Hyper-Calvinism, in terms of the Free Offer of the Gospel, and
God's alleged non-efficacious desire for the salvation of the non-elect.
Were one to do this, then such theologians as A.W.Pink, John Owen, William
Cunningham, and Francis Turretin, among others, would then also have to be
classed as Hyper-Calvinists.
Articles of Faith, and Rules.
(England: The Gospel Standard Societies, 1988), Arts 23, 26, 29, 33, and
34. The clearest proponent of this system, as far as I know, is W.J.
Styles. Manual of Faith and Practice. (London: Robert Banks &
Son, 1897), pp 202-253.
Articles of Faith and Rules.
This paradigm also
forms the explicit kerugmatik foundation of Arminian
FWDCD. pp 80-81. [Emphasis mine.] What Kuiper says here is not
enough. He and others, must show from the scriptures that God and
Christ so designed and purposed that the atonement be objectively and
universally sufficient for all.
Ibid. p 86. [Emphasis
John Owen. The
Death of Death in the Death of Christ. (1852; rpt. Edinburgh: The
Banner of Truth Trust, 1983), p 119. [Emphasis mine.]
Here, it can be seen that Kuiper has
clearly quoted Owen out of context. Kuiper has quoted Owen as simply
saying: "It was the purpose and intention of God that his Son should offer
a sacrifice of infinite worth, value and dignity, sufficient in itself for
the redemption of all and every man." FWDCD. p 80.
Kuiper leaves his readers with the
impression that when Owen spoke of the infinite sufficiency of Christ's
Atonement, he meant it in the same way as Kuiper has so explained. It is
as if Kuiper has read no more of Owen than his own quotations. Kuiper is
too intelligent not to have realised that Owen's understanding is
diametrically opposed to his own. Indeed, many of Kuiper's citations
e.g., those of Cunningham, C. Hodge, and Bavinck are out of
context, and the reader is left with the perception that there is a unity
of thought between Kuiper and those he cites. It is clear that Kuiper has
not handled his sources responsibly.
Kuiper. FWDCD. p 80. [Emphasis
See Second Head.
Art. 8, on Dort's consideration of the true nature of conditionality in
And if Rushton, and
Boyce, have quoted and understood Andrew Fuller correctly, and I think
they have, then this likewise is the heart of Fuller's theology. William
Rushton. Particular Redemption. (1831; rpt. North Carolina:
Primitive Publications, n.d.,), pp 15-19; James P Boyce. Abstract of
Systematic Theology. (1887; rpt. Florida: den Dulk Christian
Foundation, n.d.,), pp 311-317. See Appendix 2. concerning
FWDCD. pp 80-81.
Herman Witsius. The Economy of the
Covenants Between God and Man: Comprehending a Full Body of Divinity.
(1822; rpt. California: The den Dulk Christian Foundation, 1990), b. ii.,
ch. ix., s. 2.
Ibid. b. ii., ch.
ix., s. 5.
The Atonement of Christ. Translated by James R. Willson. (1859;
rpt. Michigan: Baker Books, 1978), pp 123-124. See also A.A. Hodge. The
Atonement. (Edinburgh: T. Nelson & Sons, 1868), pp 29, 328-329,
333 and 345-356; and Heinrich Heppe. Reformed Dogmatics: Set Out and
Illustrated From the Sources. Trans. by G.T. Thomson. Edited by E.
Bizer. (1950; rpt. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), pp 475-479. Here
Heppe surveys 17th century Reformed divines, such as Caspar Olevianus,
John Cocceius, and Leonard Riissen. Their views on this matter are in
accord with those cited in the body of this paper.
William Cunningham. Historical
Theology. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1864), Vol 2. p
Ibid. Vol 2. pp
FWDCD. p 86. See also p 94.
Owen. op. cit. pp 186 and
Atonement. op. cit. pp 191, 192 and 193. See also Heppe op. cit. pp
514-515; and also John Calvin. Concerning the Eternal Predestination of
God. Trans. by J.K.S Reid. (London: James Clarke & Co. Limited,
1961), pp 105-106, on the universality of the gospel offer. This work was
also published under the title of Calvin's
Cunningham. op. cit.
Vol 2. p 344-345. See also Witsius. op. cit. Vol. 1. p 353, and Hodge.
The Atonement. p 386.
See also Owen op. cit. pp 182-190;
Cunningham op. cit. Vol 2. pp 343-348; and Hodge The Atonement. p
386; and Witsius op. cit. b. iii., ch. v., s. 20; and James Haldane.
The Doctrine of the Atonement. (Edinburgh: William P. Kennedy,
1862), pp 104, 109, and 113.
Elisha Coles A Practical Discourse
of God's Sovereignty: With Other Material Points Derived Thence.
(London: Joseph Smith, 1835), p 153.
Turretin. The Atonement. pp
179 and 181-182. See also Cocceius, cited in Heppe. op. cit. p 516; and
Witsius op. cit. b. iii., ch. v., s. 20.
It is important to note carefully
here, that Kuiper in another work says that, Rom 5:6, along with John
3:16, were "not written for the elect alone." Kuiper. The Glorious Body
of Christ. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1983), p 180. Here Kuiper
clearly links the atonement with the design, and its substitutionary
nature. Kuiper in his analysis of John 3:16, also informs us by
implication, that the Son was given for all humanity and not the elect
alone. See also his work, God Centred Evangelism. (Edinburgh: The
Banner of Truth Trust, 1978), p 31. As for Rom 5:6, Kuiper's error is
easily corrected. The ungodly here, is to be taken as the elect,
because, verse 8 limits the scope of the death to the us whom God
loved. This is further confirmed beyond doubt, in the next verse. This
death for the ungodly was for their justification and
FWDCD. pp 86, 94. [Emphasis mine.] Note carefully, Kuiper does not
say that, had God so designed to save an enlarged number of the elect,
there would have been an atonement infinitely sufficient to save them
also. No, he has said that God had so designed the atonement to be
universally sufficient for all men, elect and non-elect, even
though God never intended or designed that the non-elect would be saved.
This is the heart of the difference between a hypothetical sufficiency and
a conditional sufficiency.
Owen. op. cit. pp 110-117. It is
important to note that the only conditionality is in the Gospel offer, and
not in the atonement itself.
Ibid. pp 111-112.
Ibid. p 123.
Second Head of Doctrine. Art.
Atonement. pp 150 and 156. See also Warfield. op. cit. pp 94-95; also
Heidegger, cited in Heppe. op. cit. pp 514-515; and Hodge. The
Atonement. pp 371-374, and 384.
Kuiper. FWDCD. p 86. [Emphasis
emphasise the distinctions between the Decretive, and secret will of God
(eudokia, voluntas beneplaciti) which are contrasted to the
preceptive and revealed will of God (euarestia, voluntas
signi) The former are all distinct nuances of the same essential
thought, as are also the latter. See Cunningham. op. cit. Vol. 2, pp
451-454. Other standard Reformed systematic works should also be
Theological Institutes: Selections. Trans. by G.M. Giger. Ed. and
Abr. by J.H. Gerstner. Michigan: (Theological School of the Protestant
Reformed Churches, 1980), T. 3, Q. 15, S. 1-2, 4-5, 8-9, and
Heppe. op. cit. pp
Ibid. pp 88-89. All
of what Heppe has to say on this is important and should be studied
The Doctrine of God. Trans. by William Hendriksen. (Edinburgh: The
Banner of Truth Trust, 1979), pp 237, 238, 239 and 240.
J. Murray & N. B. Stonehouse.
The Free Offer of the Gospel. (A Report to the General Assembly of
the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1948. Reprinted. n.p. n. publ. n.d.),
Witsius. b. ii., ch.
ix., s. 8. See also Owen, op. cit. pp 84, 115, 116, 118, 126, 130 and 210.
See on this, Turretin, The
Atonement. pp 148, 165-167; Selections. T. 3, Q. 16. and T. 4,
Q. 17.; Cunningham. op. cit. Vol. 2. pp 334, 339 and 340; Also Hodge,
The Atonement. pp 348-349.
Haldane. op. cit. pp
Cunningham. op. cit.
Vol 2 pp 396-397 and 402-403. See also Charles Hodge. Systematic
Theology. 3 Vol. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Comp., 1979),
Vol 2 p 653.
Thomas J. Crawford.
The Doctrine of Holy Scripture Respecting the Atonement.
(Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1883), Note G, pp
Institutes of Elenctic Theology. 3 Vol. Trans. by G.M. Giger., Ed.
by J.T. Dennison Jr. (Presbyterian and Reformed Publ., 1992), T. 4, Q. 17,
Heppe. op. cit. pp
512-513, 516-517 and 518.
Turretin. Selections. T. 5, Q.
2, S. 2, 10, and 14-16. pp 384-385 and 386-388. All of what Turretin says
on this is of value, and should seriously be studied by all. Hodge also
has some interesting comments that should be perused, The
Atonement. pp 374, 377, 333 and 335; and also his Outlines of
Theology. (1869; rpt. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1983), pp
See also the
concurring statement by Turretin. Institutes. T. 4, Q. 17, S.
FWDCD. pp 83-84.
Ibid. p 84.
Ibid. p 88.
R.B. Kuiper. Glorious Body of
Christ. pp 108-181.
Turretin. The Atonement. pp
Cunningham. op. cit.
pp 332-333. See also Hodge. The Atonement. pp 331-332.
John Gill. A Complete Body of
Doctrinal and Practical Divinity. (Arkansas: The Baptist Standard
Bearer, 1987), p 82.
Heppe. op. cit. pp
Witsius. op. cit. b.
ii., ch. ix., s. 4. See also Haldane. op. cit. pp 134-134.
Turretin. Institutes. T. 3, Q.
20, S. 3-4.
Ibid. T. 4, Q. 17,
S. 7 and 16. Turretin's main aim here is to refute the notion that God
desires the salvation of all those who hear the external Gospel call. His
arguments are compelling and should be studied.
Ken Stebbins. Christ Freely
Offered. (Dapto: Covenanter Press, 1978), p 20.
John Gill. An Exposition of the
Old and New Testaments. 9 Vols. (1809-1810; rpt. Arkansas: The Baptist
Standard Bearer, 1989), Vol 4. p 98. See also Matthew Poole. A
Commentary on the Holy Bible. 3 vol. (Virginia: MacDonald Publ. Comp.,
n.d.), Vol. 2. p 715.
Ibid. See also Gill's The Cause of
God and Truth. (London: W.H. Collingridge, 1855), pp 24-26.
Turretin. Selections. T. 3, Q.
16, S. 18. See also T. 4, Q. 17, S. 33.
Stebbins. op. cit. pp 98 and
J. Murray & N.
B. Stonehouse. op. cit. pp. 8-10. On page 9, Murray and Stonehouse do
concede that conditional interpretation of this verse cannot be
completely ruled out.
Owen. op. cit. pp
Gill. The Cause
of God. p 5. [Emphasis mine.]
Ibid. p 11.
Gill. Exposition. Vol 2. pp
Ibid. Vol 4. p 49.
See also David Dickson. Commentary on the Psalms. 2 Vols.
(Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1985), Vol 2 pp 57-59.
Turretin. Selections. T. 3, Q.
16, S. 17. See also Poole on Isaiah. 48:18. The Anthropomorphites were an
early Christian sect, who believed that God had actual body parts and
passions. This should alert us to the danger of basing one's theology of
God on figures of speech. For the correct understanding of the Bible's use
of anthropomorphic language see, for example, Poole and Gill on Gen 6:6,
and Turretin, Gill, C. & A.A. Hodge, and other Reformed systematic
works on the doctrine of the Immutability of God.
Gill. The Cause of God. p 5.
See also Gordon H. Clark. Predestination. (New Jersey: Presbyterian
& Reformed Publ. Comp., 1987), bk 1, pp 130-131.
Gill. The Cause of God. pp
C. Ness. Antidote
to Arminianism. (1700; rpt. London: Ward and Co., 1850), pp 92-93.
This work was heartily recommended by Owen, and so, it is also possible
that he too adopted this interpretation.
D. Dickson. A Brief Exposition of
the Evangel of Jesus Christ According to Matthew. (1647; rpt.
Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1981), pp 317-318.
Stebbins. op. cit. p
Turretin. Selections. T. 3, Q.
16, S. 12. See also G. Long. The Doctrine of Salvation. Part 3.
(Sterling: G.A.M., 1979-1980), pp 58-59.
Stebbins. op. cit. p 118. Stebbins'
usage of the greek hemas you-ward. and humas us-ward,
reflect the different manuscript readings of this verse.
Murray & Stonehouse. op. cit. p
Gill. The Cause
of God. pp 62-63.
Ibid. See also Turretin.
Institutes. T. 4, Q. 17, S. 39.
Gordon H. Clark. I & II
Peter. 2 Vols. in 1. (New Jersey: Presbyterian & Reformed Publ.,
Comp., 1980), Bk. 2. p 71.
Ibid. The point that it is invalid to
claim that the first interpretation is incorrect, merely on the grounds
that, as claimed by some, this interpretation has God's will being
frustrated, does not strictly apply here to Clark's point. Clark's
emphasis is on a will that will never come to fruition, not that
the plans and purposes of God are thus frustrated.
Gill. Exposition Vol 9. p
Institutes. T. 4, Q. 17, S. 39. [Emphasis mine.]
Stebbins. op. cit. p 118. See also on
2 Peter 3:9, G. Long. The Doctrine of Salvation. Part 3, pp 61-65;
or similarly his treatment on this verse in his Definite Atonement.
(New York: Backus Book Publ., 1977), p 122; and W.G.T. Shedd. Dogmatic
Theology. 3 Vols. (1888; rpt. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing
House, 1971), Vol 2, p 481. If one still dissents from this conclusion,
then as Bavinck, op. cit. p 236, and Turretin, Institutes. T. 4, Q.
17, S. 39, suggest, this willing can only refer to mere complacency, with
no volitional components within it. Kuiper, Murray and Stonehouse, want it
both ways, they want to have a volitional Will of
A notable proponent
of this interpretation is Erroll Hulse. After suggesting that to identify
the term 'world' with the elect is erroneous, he argues for this
John 3:16 views the world not in terms of elect or
non-elect, but as a sphere representing fallen mankind as a whole,
estranged from God, far away from him...
E. Hulse. The Great Invitation. (England: Evangelical Press,
1986), p 73.
Body of Christ. pp 180-181.
Not to mention, how are we then to
interpret such verses as John 1:29, 6:51, and 1 John 2:2, to name but just
 Turretin. The
Atonement. pp 167-168.
A.A. Hodge. The Atonement. pp
376-377. See also Turretin. Institutes. T. 4, Q. 17, S.
FWDCD. pp 84 and 88. See also Murray and Stonehouse. op. cit. pp 5
Exposition. Vol 7. p 33.
Dickson. Exposition of
Matthew. pp 65-66.
John Calvin. Commentary on a
Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (Grand Rapids:
Baker Book House, 1984), Vol 1. pp 306 and 307.
Poole. Commentary. Vol 3. p
Exposition. Vol 7. p 563.
Ibid. Vol. 8. p 278.
J. Calvin. Commentary upon the
Acts of the Apostles. Vol. 2. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984),
Systematic Theology. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1984),
p 445. See also G.H. Clark. on Ps. 145:9, Predestination. bk 1. p
132; and also the brief comments of J.H. Gerstner. Wrongly Dividing the
Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism. (Brentwood: Wolgemuth
& Hyatt Publ., 1991), p 131. Gerstner also has some brief but
pertinent remarks on the free offer and call of the gospel in relation to
R.B. Kuiper, Murray and Stonehouse and others, pp 119-120 and
Gill. Body of
Divinity. p 93. For a thorough Biblical and Reformed discussion on
God's goodness see, Stephen Charnock. Discourses Upon the Existence and
Attributes of God. 2 Vols. (1853; rpt. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,
1988), Vol. 2, pp 209-355. One the question of how it could be said that
God, can in different senses, both love and hate the non-elect,
which some may deny, see Stebbins. op. cit. pp 30, 33-34, 59-64 and
surrounding context; and Berkhof. op. cit. pp 445- 446.
Stebbins. op. cit. pp 98 and
FWDCD. pp 78-79 and 86.
Hodge. The Atonement. p
Owen. op. cit. pp
126 and 127.
In this he follows
Van Til, who held that God could truly reveal mutually contradictory
truths. See on this, Robert Reymond's critique of Van Til, in his
Justification of Knowledge. (New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed
Publ. Comp., 1979), pp 98-105. See also Appendix 3.
For example, Fuller stated: "In
short, we must either acknowledge an objective fullness in Christ's
Atonement, sufficient for the salvation of the whole world, were the whole
world to believe in him; or, in opposition to Scripture and common sense,
confine our invitations to believe to such as have believed already."
Quoted in Rushton; op. cit. p 18. See also Erroll Hulse. The Free
Offer: An Exposition of Common Grace and the Free Invitation of the
Gospel. (England: Carey Publ., 1973), In this work, Hulse
unfortunately gives the impression that there is a simple dichotomy.
Either one believes in a universal conditional sufficiency, with the
various theological appendages, or one believes in Hyper-Calvinism.
For an historical survey on their
theology, with reference to the extent of the Atonement, see Walker.
The Theology and Theologians of Scotland. (Edinburgh: T & T
Clark, 1988), pp 67-94. This is a fine historical survey.
Warfield. op. cit. p
Ibid. pp 94-96.
See also Crawford op. cit. Note G pp 513-516. He explains that neither
Arminians nor Calvinistic Universalists - the latter calls the
semi-Arminians - succeed in their attempts to resolve the apparent tension
between election and limited atonement in regard to the sincerity of the
free offer; and that both attempts must by necessity divorce the work of
Christ from the work of the Spirit. What he has to say is excellent and
should be perused. This is also Rushton's main contention in his critique
of Andrew Fuller. Again what he has to say is excellent.
Martin in his preliminary
discussion states: "The Doctrine of the Atonement ought to be discussed
and defended as inside the doctrine of the Covenant of Grace." The
Atonement. (Edinburgh: Knox Press, 1976), p 9.
Ibid. pp 17-18, 20-21 and 23.
It should be noted that there are
Biblical paradox', such as, Mark. 4:25, 8:35 and 10:31. These are clearly
resolvable, in that they refer to similar terms but which are used in
different senses. What Kuiper proposes to us is something completely
James 1:17 and
3:17. See also Hebrews 6:17-18 and Numbers 23:19.
R.B. Kuiper. The Bible Tells Us
So. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1979), p 65.
Gordon H. Clark. The
Atonement. (Maryland: The Trinity Foundation, 1987), p 90. For a
general discussion on God, Logic, Paradox and Mystery and an excellent
critique of Van Til's understanding of the role of Logic and Paradox, see
R.C. Sproul, J. Gerstner and A. Lindsley. Classical Apologetics.
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), pp 72-82 and