The Free Offer of the Gospel

In this episode, we speak about the free offer of the gospel. The real point in dispute in connection with the free offer of the gospel is whether it can properly be said that God desires the salvation of all men. This issue was related to several theological controversies of the 1940s and stemming back decades earlier. Much of this particular issue comes the split of 1924 within the Christian Reformed Church which led to the formation of the Protestant Reformed Church under the leadership of Herman Hoeksema.

For some, the antithesis is so absolutized that there can be no real transition from wrath to grace and no free offer of the gospel. Cornelius Van Til spoke of the antithesis as an ethical rather than metaphysical antithesis. In a letter to Jesse de Boer, he indicated that it was merely another way to speak of total depravity.

As we walk through a study committee report delivered to the 15th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, we are confronted with the great mystery of God’s will and his infallible revelation to us in Scripture.


Participants: , ,

Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Gregory Baus

2 years ago

Thanks guys. Two comments:
1. The “report of the minority” is superior and offers biblical correction to your view of God’s desire and “mystery.”
2. This additional material is useful on the topic: https://www.monergism.com/topics/grace/common-grace

Chris Coldwell

2 years ago

Anthony Castellitto

2 years ago

Well spoken and vital distinctions…..

Geoffrey Willour

2 years ago

Great discussion, thanks guys! While I agree with all you were affirming regarding the doctrine of common grace, I have two small quibbles:

(1) I don’t believe Second Peter 3:9 is a helpful passage to bring forward in defense of the doctrine of common grace. In the context of that passage Peter is addressing believers and reminding them of God’s patience toward THEM (“The Lord is not slow…but is patient toward you”); and thus it seems that the “any” in his statement that God is “not wishing that any should perish” has the thrust of: “any of YOU” (and thus, by implication, “any of you who are elect”). God’s patience delays our Lord’s return so that the full number of the elect might be brought to repentance through the gospel.

(2) As Reformed believers of course we affirm “double predestination.” However, God does not “predestine” the wicked reprobate in the same sense in which He “predestines” the elect. (As you brothers know, in the case of the elect God decrees to actively intervenes with His sovereign grace, whereas in the case of the reprobate He decrees to simply pass over them in the operations of His saving grace, leaving them to their own freely-chosen sin, and decreeing to punish them for that sin, for which they bear full responsibility.) In order to avoid potential confusion on this subject (especially when discussing it with the non-Reformed), and also because Scripture uses the term “predestine” positively to refer to the elect, I think it is best to avoid using the word “predestine” when speaking of God’s decree with respect to the reprobate. I think it would be best to follow the example of the Westminster Divines, who in Confession of Faith 3.3 speak of elect angels and men as “predestinated unto everlasting life,” whereas they speak of reprobate angels and men as having been “foreordained to everlasting death.” God’s people are “predestined”; the wicked reprobate our “foreordained”.

Hope I’m not being too picky here, but just thought I’d share some feedback. Again, great job on a difficult subject!

Geoffrey Willour

2 years ago

*are “foreordained”.

Ben Mordecai

1 year ago

Gentlemen, I enjoyed this episode and had been thinking about it enough that I listened again to see if it answered some new questions that I had and since it did not touch on this topic I would like to ask it here:

How does the free offer to the reprobate square with the doctrine of Limited or Particular Atonement? I understand the idea that God has a desire for even the reprobate to repent, but if we affirm that the atonement only paid for the sins of the elect, how can we (hypothetically) or God (actually) say to a reprobate that he would forgive their sins if they would turn, seeing as Jesus did not, in fact, pay for their sins? The free offer would seem to collapse us into Amyraldianism, unless we said something like, “God sincerely calls you to repent such that if you do, it will have already been true that Jesus died for your sins.” In the hypothetical situation, if God sincerely desired a reprobate to repent and he actually did repent, God would suddenly have to come up with a new way to atone for the reprobate’s sins, since Jesus didn’t die for them.

I am wondering if anyone can shed some light on this conundrum.


1 month ago

Hi Ben, you are saying Jesus didn’t die for the reprobate. That is a dangerous statement to make and it is incompatible with Reformed theology. Ursinus in his commentary of the Heidelberg Catechism stated that Christ satisfied for all as it regards to the sufficiency of the atonement, which is the object of faith, the gospel is offered to all men without distinction between elect and reprobate. It is a general announcement or offer a command to believe in the work and person of Jesus Christ that goes out to all sinners without distinction between elect and reprobate, it demands faith and must be believed by both elect and reprobate, the former believe it and the latter do not. So clearly atonement was made for the sins of all men or the gospel could not be preached. The atonement is universal when it comes to the free offer of the gospel, because it the free offer of the gospel is grounded on the sufficiency of the atonement for all men which is affirmed by the Canons of Dort. Christ died sufficiently for all, atoned sufficiently for all men, yet his atonement is efficacious only on the elect. This is no different from baptism, not all the baptized are regenerated, so baptism is not effectual on all, yet it is sufficient for the salvation of all men. Ask yourself this question, did Jesus shed his blood for Judas (the reprobate) ? Of course he did, read Luke22:20, where Jesus tells Judas at the last supper “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” If Jesus told Judas that his blood was shed for him we certainly can tell an unbeliever that Jesus died for him. Just like in baptism, God does not regenerate all of the baptized, so too not all for whom Jesus shed his blood are regenerated, as the example of Judas proves. What you are forgetting is that Christ died sufficiently for all men, but effectually only for the elect.



Reformed Forum
115 Commerce Dr., Suite E
Grayslake, IL 60030

+1 847.986.6140

Copyright © 2020 Reformed Forum