Does the Gospel According to Calvinism Offer Salvation to Anyone At All?

Dr. Picirilli thinks not.  After making the point that Calvinists believe that those reprobates who hear the gospel cannot truly respond to the offer of salvation, he further observes that,

Furthermore, in the Calvinistic system, the gospel is not really offering salvation to any, since neither the elect nor the non-elect can accept the offer or meet its conditions.  In fact, the “conditions” are not really conditions in the Calvinist system.  They are part of the “package” of salvation benefits given to the elect by virtue of the death of Christ for them.

Without realizing it, the Calvinist is finally saying that repentance and faith (as the gift of God in the salvation “package”) are being offered to all who will repent and believe, when in fact none can do so.  This reduces to pure tautology and is no offer at all. (Grace, Faith, Free Will, pp. 117, 118, emphasis his)

What do you think?  Is this a valid point?  If faith and repentance are not conditions met for the receiving of salvation, but rather issue irresistibly from a primary aspect of salvation (regeneration), then it would seem to follow that the gospel offer of salvation is not a genuine offer for anyone.  Does that make sense?  Picirilli continues,

If not all who hear can respond to the gospel, as the Calvinist insists, then only those given repentance and faith can do so.  In consequence, no person who hears the gospel can do so with any confidence that he can respond.  Conversely, all who hear and are not given the gift may conclude that the offer is not intended for them and therefore not rejected by them.  What a person cannot receive, he cannot really reject.  Nor can he be rightly blamed for rejection (although he might well be blamed for being in the condition that brought on his inability). (ibid. 118 emphasis his)

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64 Responses

  1. To your questions: “…What do you think? Is this a valid point?..”.

    My answer: “No, it’s not a valid point”.

    There is a twist in his words which I have difficulty with.

    “….Without realizing it, the Calvinist is finally saying that repentance and faith (as the gift of God in the salvation “package”) are being offered to all who will repent and believe, when in fact none can do so….”.

    I am not certain that is a Calvinist position. At least I can say, it’s not mine.

    Here is an edited addition of those words, had I been the one writing them:::>

    “….Without realizing it, the Calvinist is finally saying that by the Faith of God given to him, repentance (as the gift of God in the salvation “package”) is offered to the one who receives His Faith and believes it. All who will believe, repent; and in fact, none can do so themself, it’s a Gift from God….”.

    The moment I transgress by thinking I have anything to do with it, my salvation, I left the Faith. I see no way of explaining the Truth other than to “reckon” myself dead to sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ.

    My righteousness was, is and always will be counted as unrighteous. My very best effort and success falls short of His! His Cross is redemptive. Mine simply puts my old way of thinking and being to death so that His Eternal Way of Thinking and Being can reign through my life too, as Paul says here:::>

    Rom 5:17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
    Rom 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
    Rom 5:19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
    Rom 5:20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
    Rom 5:21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    That there is Theocentricity. Any thing else is egocentricity.

  2. Suppose we substitute the word “law” for the the word “gospel.”

    “Furthermore, in the Calvinistic system, the law (gospel) is not really offering salvation to any, since neither the elect nor the non-elect can accept the offer or meet its conditions.”

    Now, what do you think?

    Blessings

    Stephen

  3. Now, what do you think?

    I think that even under the law righteousness and life were gained by faith as Paul points out in Rom. 3:19-26; Rom. 4 and 5:17-21 (in other words, perfect observance of the law was never the means by which anyone attained to life and righteousness, cf. Gal. 3:19-26). The law was instituted to make sin utterly sinful and to lead us to Christ (Rom. 7:13, 8:1-4, cf. Gal. 3:19, 24). So the inability we have to follow the law did not leave us without hope, but pointed us to the means of hope, the provision of atonement and life in Christ (Deut. 30:11-19, cf. Rom. 10:3-13).

    The question then becomes: was provision made for all to receive righteousness in Christ, or only to a select few? Picirilli’s points follow from there (and I think Gal. 3:22, cf. Rom. 10:3-13; 11:32 present a compelling argument that the law was intended to lead all to Christ, i.e. the provision of righteousness in Christ is as universal as sin).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  4. Dear Ben:

    I believe what you have said, but one can accept what you have stated and still believe that eternal life and immortality would have been granted to any who kept the law, as Jesus.

    Blessings,

    Stephen

  5. Ben,

    how do you apply these verses with your conclusion?

    “…i.e. the provision of righteousness in Christ is an universal as sin”).

    2Th 3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,
    2Th 3:2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.
    2Th 3:3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.

    What I need help with is understanding why God “gives” His faith to some and not to others? How do you account for that peculiarity of Scripture?

  6. Michael,

    Scripture doesn’t say that.

  7. Scripture doesn’t say that.

    Exactly.

  8. I believe what you have said, but one can accept what you have stated and still believe that eternal life and immortality would have been granted to any who kept the law, as Jesus.

    This could never be the case for those who have sinned (unlike Jesus). The problem has always been sin, and for that reason life could not come from the law. The law makes clear God’s holy standard and shows us that we have fallen short of that standard, but it cannot atone for sin. Once sin enters the picture, the law becomes powerless.

    Also, I think we need to be careful to recognize that the law does not grant life itself. The only thing that can give us spiritual life is a relationship with God. Only through union with God do we share in His life. Sin ruined that relationship and broke that union. Once that union was broken, no amount of obedience to the law could remedy the situation (Rom. 3:20). Only atonement could (Rom. 3:24, 25). Atonement received reconciles us again to God and makes it possible to once again share in His life.

    So while Jesus perfectly obeyed the law, it was not the law that gave Him life. Of course, in the case of Christ, the life of deity always resided in Him. Still, we can see a parallel in that Christ lived His life in submission and obedience to the Father, completely relying on Him throughout His life on earth (and there is a sense in which Christ derived life from the Father by way of His relationship with the Father, and not by simply keeping the law, cf. John 5:26; 6:57). Therefore, Christ modeled faith and trust, by which we are joined to His Father through Him. So again, the issue for fallen man has always been faith and the life and righteousness that comes through faith union with God, and that is what constitutes the offer of the gospel- life and righteousness through faith in Christ. It has never really been about the attainment of life through the law.

    So getting back to the offer of the gospel, do you think Picirilli’s assessment is accurate given Calvinistic presuppositions?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  9. It doesn’t? Hmmmmm? Which Bible are you reading then?

    My Bible says as I cited, “not all men have Faith”.

    As for these words, Ben: “….Only through union with God do we share in His life…”

    Let me ask you, “Who” unites us to God, God or us?

  10. Michael,

    This is a good example of why it is so hard to interact with you, and why my tendency is to ignore you. Why would you think that “not all men have faith” means that faith is an irresistible gift given only to some? That is nowhere even hinted at in the text. You assume that faith is an irresistible gift and then based on this passage draw the conclusion that God only gives this gift of faith to some. But you assume what needs to be proved in your argument (that faith is an irresistible gift). That is what Bossmanham said was not Biblical, and I agree. Since faith is not an irresistible gift from God, then your conclusions based on 2 Thess. 3:2 do not follow.

    So here is my question to you. Based on the context of the verses you quote above, where do you come up with the idea that faith is an irresistible gift of God? Answer that question without quoting long portions of Scriptures outside of 2 Thess. and then maybe we can have a discussion.

    I assume you know that Arminians reject the idea that faith is an irresistible gift given to some due to the fact that the Bible never describes faith that way (and neither does 2 Thess. 3:2). If God enables sinners in such a way that they can either exercise faith or remain in unbelief (as Arminians contend), and in fact many freely choose to remain in unbelief, then it would be just as true that “not all men have faith”.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  11. Well, Ben, you should not presume of me much.

    I don’t understand the idea of “irresistible faith” as you imply I must by asking the question.

    As I have said and will say again, I haven’t much understanding of either Calvin’s thinking or Arminius’.

    I have been strict in my discipline for 35 years to confine my debate and argument to Scripture.

    I will say though, of the many books I have read that supposed Calvinists have written, there is no general agreement on much of what Calvin thought. Within Reformed circles there are inner disputes down through the centuries to date just what this meant or that meant that Calvin meant.

    I can’t say much for Arminian theologians and what they write about Arminius meant. Some of my closest Ministerial associates are confessed “Arminian” Believers. So I don’t seem to pick bones with issues that come up but I do enjoy the privilege of dialogue with them and not separating from them like they were full of AIDS.

    Why I asked that question is based on three places in the New Testament one can “test” their faith to see if they are “saved’ as Paul concluded in 2 Cor. 13. His point is my point in asking you to answer the question I asked you to answer:::>

    [[As for these words, Ben: “….Only through union with God do we share in His life…”

    Let me ask you, “Who” unites us to God, God or us?]]

    I don’t really know what the beef is with Arminians and Calvinists going at each other the way I read on blogs that they do, some calling the others of the devil or cursed or full of lies. Quite frankly it is a shameful thing, in my opinion that men of God or boys and girls would be so selfish and abusive and immature.

    The three areas of concern for me are, 1] do you believe Jesus came in the flesh? 2] Do you confess the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead? And finally, 3] do you confess the that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?

    Answering affirmative to these questions tells me that “flesh and blood has not revealed that to you”. And that God has given to you His Faith. Afterall, it isn’t my faith that saves me, it is His Faith that does that, for me seeing I have already been reckoned dead in trespasses and sins by God already. There is none righteous, no not one.

    Which leads me to wondering what your answer would be to the question I posed above and cite again here:

    “….“Who” unites us to God, God or us?”. I would modify that question this way and ask you to kindly answer it:

    “Who unites us to Jesus Christ, God or us?”

    I have two Scriptures and one Greek word in mind for asking you that question.

    So, I apologize if I come across as offensive to you! Please accept my apology and answer my question, ok?

  12. Dear Ben:

    “This could never be the case for those who have sinned (unlike Jesus).”

    I mostly agree. But, what about Adam? Was he given a “law”? Was eternal life affixed to it?

    Also, Piricilli said:

    “Furthermore, in the Calvinistic system, the gospel is not really offering salvation to any, since neither the elect nor the non-elect can accept the offer or meet its conditions.”

    This logic says that an “offer” of salvation is not “real” if the offer is made to one who cannot accept the offer. This logic says that the “offer” of salvation proves that sinners are able to accept the offer.

    However, do not classical Arminians not believe in the necessity of “prevenient grace” in order for the sinner to be able to accept the offer? If so, does not the classical Arminian also not make the offer not “real”?

    How does the “reality,” or sincerity of the “offer” depend upon the condition of the one to whom it is made?

    Also, how would you or Piricilli deal with the case of Ezekiel being sent to those whom God said would absolutely not receive him or his words? If God made the “offer” to those whom he knew could not, or would not, accept the offer, would this take away from the “reality” or sincerity of the offer?

    Blessings,

    Stephen

  13. Michael,

    Here we go again. You wrote,

    Well, Ben, you should not presume of me much.

    I don’t understand the idea of “irresistible faith” as you imply I must by asking the question.

    O.K., then what did you mean by,

    What I need help with is understanding why God “gives” His faith to some and not to others? How do you account for that peculiarity of Scripture?

    Here you plainly say that God gives faith to some and not to others. Now, do you believe that when God decides to “give faith” to some and not to others, that the ones of whom God decides to “give faith” can fail to receive that faith? If not, then you affirm that God gives faith irresistibly to some and not others, just as I said (a concept that I cannot find in Scripture). It is these kinds of back and forth games based on a lack of clarity on your part, that makes me less and less willing to interact with you at all. Do you see how this can be frustrating? This has been pointed out to you by more people than just me, so I must not be the only one who sees it this way.

    As I have said and will say again, I haven’t much understanding of either Calvin’s thinking or Arminius’.

    Then your time might be better spent if you did not leave comments on blogs (and posts) that are entirely devoted to the issues concerning Arminian and Calvinist theology.

    So I don’t seem to pick bones with issues that come up but I do enjoy the privilege of dialogue with them and not separating from them like they were full of AIDS.

    Are you suggesting that I separate myself from Calvinist as if they were full of AIDS? Are you likewise suggesting that people should shun and separate themselves from people who have AIDS? It is hard to understand why you would feel the need to make such a comment as this. It seems insulting on more than one level.

    Why I asked that question is based on three places in the New Testament one can “test” their faith to see if they are “saved’ as Paul concluded in 2 Cor. 13.

    Notice that you say their faith (as does Paul), which contradicts your prior insistence that such faith is “God’s faith” and not ours, and below where you write,

    Answering affirmative to these questions tells me that “flesh and blood has not revealed that to you”. And that God has given to you His Faith. Afterall, it isn’t my faith that saves me, it is His Faith that does that, for me seeing I have already been reckoned dead in trespasses and sins by God already.

    Are you beginning to see why interaction with you can be very frustrating? So much time is wasted just trying to gain any clarity to what you are trying to say. It doesn’t mean that what you say isn’t important, but there comes a time when one must decide that conversation isn’t worth the investment in time needed just to gain some initial clarity. Sorry, but my time is limited, so I can’t devote my time to discussions which take so long to even gain some measure of common understanding. So if you do not get any responses from future comments that you leave, you can be sure that the reason is based on the fact that I anticipate that it will be too challenging and time consuming to develop the conversation into meaningful or fruitful discussion, and therefore does not constitute the best use of my time at this point.

    Which leads me to wondering what your answer would be to the question I posed above and cite again here:

    Sorry, I won’t be going down this rabbit hole with you. You didn’t bother to answer my question within the context of 2 Thess. as I asked, so there is no need to go elsewhere at this time.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  14. I mostly agree. But, what about Adam? Was he given a “law”? Was eternal life affixed to it?

    Adam was given a command, and life was fixed to it because to violate the command would constitute a lack of faith on Adam’s part, and that unbelief would immediately separate Adam from the source of life- God (“on that day you will surely die”). So the command and the law may be said to give life indirectly, only so much as they facilitate vital relationship with God.

    This logic says that an “offer” of salvation is not “real” if the offer is made to one who cannot accept the offer. This logic says that the “offer” of salvation proves that sinners are able to accept the offer.

    However, do not classical Arminians not believe in the necessity of “prevenient grace” in order for the sinner to be able to accept the offer? If so, does not the classical Arminian also not make the offer not “real”?

    No, precisely because the offer is accompanied by enabling grace, by which the sinner can respond positively to that offer. The offer can be freely received in Arminianism, where in Calvinism the “receiving” is actually part of the offer (faith is part of the salvation package). It is essentially asking sinners to receive the gift of faith and repentance through faith and repentance (which is why Picirilli calls it a tautology).

    How does the “reality,” or sincerity of the “offer” depend upon the condition of the one to whom it is made?

    Because in Calvinism the reception of the offer is part of what is being offered. Therefore, one can never really receive what is offered since “receiving” is part of what is being offered (again, it boils down to tautology). However, if faith and repentance is not part of the “salvation package” being offered, then salvation can truly be received by faith or rejected in unbelief, making the gospel offer a legitimate offer (legitimate in that it can actually be received or rejected).

    Also, how would you or Piricilli deal with the case of Ezekiel being sent to those whom God said would absolutely not receive him or his words? If God made the “offer” to those whom he knew could not, or would not, accept the offer, would this take away from the “reality” or sincerity of the offer?

    No, because God’s foreknowledge is not causative (therefore, “would not”, rather than “could not”). God foreknew their response, but the offer was still genuinely available to them and they were fully capable of responding positively to it, though God knew they would not.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  15. Kang,

    as to this question::::> “….Now, do you believe that when God decides to “give faith” to some and not to others, that the ones of whom God decides to “give faith” can fail to receive that faith?….”.

    Yes, I can refuse to receive from God anything He wants to give me. The failure is all mine, not God’s in any way, shape or purpose.

    There would be two reasons for it. One, I am just stupid and ignorant and don’t comprehend the blessings God wants for me to receive from Him, i.e., the forgiveness of sins and the inheritance, or, two, I am not of God’s but of the devil’s camp, a God hater, wanting to be like the devil who wanted to be like God, selfish and self loving he brought about such evil, wickedness and darkness God has judged him to eternity in the fires of eternal damnation.

    I do believe I have the will to choose God’s Plan of Salvation for my life too, to receive the forgiveness for my sins which I do not deserve and I now live the rest of my days on earth for God’s, Christ’s and the Holy Ghost’s Glory. I want to be a part of the plan of preaching this Gospel of the Kingdom to every creature for a witness and then the end shall come.

    Anyone who does not is either stupid or evil or both!

    As for this phrase: “….God gives faith irresistibly to some and not others…”.

    Huh? Who can resist God? Can you? You can disagree with God and refuse to receive from God the faith that saves you from the consequences of your own sins. I do not highly recommend that, though! 🙂

    As for these questions: “…. It is these kinds of back and forth games based on a lack of clarity on your part, that makes me less and less willing to interact with you at all. Do you see how this can be frustrating? ….”.

    Yes I can see that coming under and serving your neighbor is frustrating, but I remind you of a couple of Points Our Lord and Master made, one from Himself and another through Paul the Apostle:::>

    Mar 10:35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
    Mar 10:36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?”
    Mar 10:37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
    Mar 10:38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
    Mar 10:39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized,
    Mar 10:40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
    Mar 10:41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.
    Mar 10:42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.
    Mar 10:43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
    Mar 10:44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
    Mar 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

    and

    1Co 13:4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
    1Co 13:5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
    1Co 13:6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
    1Co 13:7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
    1Co 13:8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

    On this point, I am glad you make the distinction:::>

    “….Notice that you say their faith (as does Paul), which contradicts your prior insistence that such faith is “God’s faith” and not ours, and below where you write,….”.

    I think we will have to respectfully disagree here. It is a matter of meaning and interpretation what meaning Paul meant when making the association with “their faith”.

    You, I guess, believe that belief originates with you and it is based on “your” faith that you believe the Truths of Christ, 1] confess Him as Lord and believe God raised Him from the dead, 2] believe Jesus was born of a woman, 3] know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God???

    I do not believe these Truths, [the knowledge of them], originates with me. I believe the reason I believe those three things is because of “What” God gave me as gifts; i.e., gift of Grace, gift of Mercy, gift of Faith, which gains for now and at the end of my days the Gift of Righteousness and Eternal Life.

    If you mean to say that “your” faith comes out of baptism or daily death life experiences where God saved you, is saving you and will save you, then we agree with one another on this point of Faith.

    That is my distinction and I believe I am on solid ground, the Scriptures, when making it.

    Kang, to be very frank and honest now, this is offensive to both the Lord and me, these words in light of the fact that “God is Love”:::>

    “….Sorry, but my time is limited, so I can’t devote my time to discussions which take so long to even gain some measure of common understanding…..”.

    I refer you back to 1 Corinthians 13 and hang my head in shame for you. Those words betray you. Well fine and good, that is your choice. None of us is perfect and I do not condemn you for the obvious here. I do point to the fact that you can agree with me that our “love” isn’t nearly as unending and without limits as His Love is for us as revealed to Paul the Apostle, who penned those famous words, 1 Corinthians 13:7-8. Yes, my love is weak and deadly. His is not and He demonstrates it personally to me now daily in that while I was a sinner, evil to the core, Christ died for me. Now, daily, I have the privilege of fellowship and communion with God and His Love!

    Well, Ben, I am sorry for your ending remarks. I will go back and look at 2 Thess. and give you my honest understanding afterwards, then.

    I would hope you would reconsider, for the Lord’s sake, not mine or yours, with regard to your dealings with me.

    I understand that this is your blog. You are the one who wrote those words that I then asked you for clarification because of.

    Let me answer the question myself. You may or may not agree with the answer?

    God unites me to Christ. I was dead in trespasses and sins. It was a merciful act on God’s part to conjoin me to and reanimate me with Christ. God, Christ and the Holy Ghost are the “life” giving Spirits. They joined me to Them. They first loved me. They placed on me this calling, this election and anointing. They sought me out. I did not seek them out.

    Now that I am alive in Christ, I live to walk in daily baptism and pick up my Cross each day. Now I am being transformed to be Christ centered. Now I am no longer self centered, although, when I get frustrated, like you are saying in here about me, I tend to become pushie and snappy and crappy. less tolerant with those that cause me grief. God is patient with me. I am one He has touched, called, elected and now has sent back out into this world He saved me out of so I am now sojourning in it, not of it, to serve my neigbhor and lay my life down for others that they might see Him and what He has done, is doing and will do until the end of time when time will be no more.

    Again, I extend my apologies to you and if I have offended you, please forgive me?

  16. Kang,

    Having read again 2 Thessalonians, 1, 2 and 3 the question is this that you asked me to review, “do all men have Faith”?

    No, not all men have “His” Faith, that is, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Some men, for whatever reason, Adam’s nature of which all humanity is from, or because of the lusts and desires of the world, or because of the pride the Devil spoils a person with or their own inherent nature of sin, are just evil, haters of God and man. These are natural brute beasts and must be stopped and will be stopped and condemned by God to the eternal fires prepared for the Devil and his angels.

    Paul points to “our own inabilities” about having something to do with our own Salvation when we read these words from 2nd Thess. 1:11-12:::>

    2Th 1:11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,
    2Th 1:12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I am posting here with this confidence, that it is God who makes me worthy of His calling and fulfills every resolve for good and every work of faith through me by His power at work in me and not mine.

    Why?

    Paul goes on and says that it is so that the name of the Lord Jesus may be glorified in us and us in Him, “according to the Grace of Our God and the Lord Jesus Christ”! I hasten to say the focus is shifted off me and onto Them, God Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ Our Lord by the Power of the Holy Ghost.

    Paul said something similar at Ephesians 2:18.

    As for these words here:::>

    2Th 2:9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,
    2Th 2:10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

    I would say that without “His” Faith at work in me, I too would come under this powerful deception of the activity of Satan who works in the world among men with power and false signs and wonders and all wicked deceptions. We see that the reason for this is because this sort of person, one without “His” Faith, is perishing!

    Why are they perishing? Well Paul says because they refuse to “love the Truth and so be saved”!

    I believe Paul is building on his eariler teachings about none being righteous, no not one and that all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God and without God’s help no one would be saved. Jesus teaches as much when you read His foretelling of the end at Matthew 24:22. He also, in everything he teaches, seems to have the Words of Jesus in mind as he gives them to King Agrippa at Acts 26.

    To be honest, these words are difficult for me to understand:::>

    2Th 2:11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,
    2Th 2:12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    God being Great and irresistable, why does He not send them Salvation instead of a strong delusion, that they may believe the Truth and not what is false?

    I do gain comfort and am edified with these words after, though:::>

    2Th 2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
    2Th 2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,
    2Th 2:17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

    Again, what these words do is shift the focus from being “self centered” to being “God centered” with regard to His Faith, even when it comes to “His Faith” at work in me.

    Paul makes this appeal to look to Our Lord Jesus Himself and God Our Father, who loved us and “gave us” eternal comfort and good hope through grace. These things comfort our hearts and “establish us” in every good work and word.

    So, I am able to be taught here about your point which I made above, which I hope makes clear my view on these words:::>

    2Th 3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,
    2Th 3:2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.

    For me, “not all have faith”. Some people in this world are deluded by the power of Satan and what is false and wicked, selfish and evil and the reality, quite humbling, to say the least, that Paul would humbly request prayers from the True Believers that the Word of God would go forth by their work and word and that they, by their prayers, would be delivered from wicked and evil men. “For not all have faith.”

    With these words I would hasten to say, I am looking to the Faithfulness of the Lord to establish me in Truth and guard me from evil men, who have the evil one’s evil, working in them, “his” faith and not the “gift” of “His” Faith given to all those who call upon the name of the Lord:::>

    2Th 3:3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.

    Now, to conclude, I would button hole this final passing word of Appeal by Paul to the reader with another, similar word from 1 Thessalonians.

    2Th 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

    and

    1Th 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    1Th 5:24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

    Again, for me, the shift from “my” faith to “His” faith is paramount. And I would encourage you to give as much attention to “His” Faith when teaching doctrines as we see Paul the Apostle does when we learn from what he teachings.

  17. Michael,

    Like you said, we are just going to have to agree to disagree. I am sorry that you see my decision to no longer engage in certain discussions with you as an act of impatience or lack of charity. That is not the case at all. Patience and being willing to go on and on with someone without ever getting anywhere are two very different things. What you have written above is very confusing to me (and some of it seems rather rude as well), and it would take a great deal of time and effort for me to get the clarity I need to even respond. And I fear that in attempting to get more clarity from you, I would only get more confused as your posts seem to only add to confusion the more they try to explain. This may be a shortcoming on my end, but regardless, I don’t see it as a fruitful use of my time. Sorry if you find that offensive for some reason. It is in no way meant to be personal.

    Please understand that I will no longer be responding to any subsequent replies on your part.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  18. Does the gospel according to calvinisim ofer salvation to anyone at all? Yes it does to those who would beleive.

    Galatians 1: 4-5) who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
    Isaiah 53:11) He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.
    Luke 1:68) “ Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
    For He has visited and redeemed His people, And has raised up a horn of salvation for us.
    As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
    Who have been since the world began, That we should be saved from our enemies
    And from the hand of all who hate us
    Romans 5:8-10) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
    Romans 8:33-34) Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
    matt 7:13) “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

  19. Picirilli’s point as emphasised by kangaroodort was not denying that the scriptures do indeed state that there are those whom God will save (as the previous comment does well to establish). It is rather focused on whether this salvation exists as a “genuine offer” as we understand the nature of an offer, as opposed to salvation being completely impelled upon (in opposition to offered) the one who is saved.

    I think you may have missed the actual topic being discussed.

  20. randy,

    Thanks for the Scriptures. Like Jay said, I think you may have missed the point. In Calvinism, faith and repentance is part of the salvation package, so it is hard to see how salvation can be a legitimate offer to anyone when that important consideration (from the Calvinist perspective) is factored in.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  21. Thank you Jay and Ben for clarafiying that for me .

    I am not sure what Dr. Picirilli means by ,’in the Calvinistic system, the gospel is not really offering salvation to any, since neither the elect nor the non-elect can accept the offer or meet its conditions.
    In the calvinistic system.There are no conditions to be had here at all it is called irresitable grace. I do not see that as a system. I see it as biblical truths. (Romans 1:16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.( 2 TIM 2:10 ) Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

    So to say in the calvinistic system there is no salvation offered to anyone is not a true statement. I would like to no where dr. picirilli obtained his information on calvinisim?
    God bless

  22. Ben,
    I beleive Dr.picirilli is correct. Salvation is not offerd to anybody.Was salvation offered to the diciples? Was it offered to the apostles? Was salvation offererd to anyone in the bible? If I can draw you to a conclusion to the matter. Salvation is never offered it is only given.The question is who is it given to?
    God bless
    Randy

  23. randy,

    Are you the same person as Randy Powers?

  24. Correct, I am the same person.

  25. OK. Well, you seem to either contradict yourself or you have just changed your mind about things since you first affirm that it is not true that in Calvinism salvation is not offered to any, and you then say that salvation is not offered to anyone, but rather given. So I am not sure which post to respond to, since they seem to be saying completely different things. Maybe you could clarify things a bit.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  26. Ben,

    I want to apolagize for any confusion in my responses.
    When I first read dr. picirilli’s ststement you posted on you sight i did’nt quite undestand it, as you pointed out.
    I beleive the word offering or the word offered is not a part of salvation. Beceause as i stated before salvation is not offered to anyone salvation is given.
    So I would afrm salvation is never offered to any one.
    It is not a truth taught in the bible. Salvation is given to people.
    The question is who is it given to?

  27. Randy,

    I think you would be hard pressed to demonstrate that salvation is never offered in Scripture. Anytime people are called on to believe and repent unto salvation, an offer is being made. Jesus said,

    “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).

    That is plainly an offer of rest in Christ [salvation] which is given to anyone on the simple condition of coming to Christ [through faith]. Offers like this can be found all throughout Scripture (look at Acts 2:37-40; 3:19; Rev. 22:17 for example). This is so obvious in Scripture that even Calvinists won’t typically deny it. In the Picirilli quote above, Picirilli was interacting with prominent Calvinist writers who were trying to reconcile the plain Biblical data concerning the legitimate offer of salvation with the contradictory doctrines of unconditional election and unlimited atonement. So, in denying that the Bible offers salvation to anyone, you even put yourself at odds with most Calvinists, who hold, inconsistently, that the gospel does constitute a bone fide offer of salvation to all (though when their logic is followed as Picirilli points out, there really is no offer being made).

    I hope that you will reconsider your position on this point.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  28. Yes Ben, denial of a genuine universal offer of salvation in the gospel is considered a mark of Hyper-Calvinism, which is considered a heresy by regular Calvinists. They are inconsistent in doing so, but happily correct to insist that God does offer salvation to all in the gospel (it’s so biblical that they admit it to be true despite its inconsistency with other C doctrine). At least Randy is consistent in his Calvinism. Unfortunately, that puts him at odds with Scripture as you point out.

  29. I will have to read more because I do not see an offer either.

  30. Mitch,

    How would you define offer? It is rather baffling to me that you do not see salvation being offered to anyone anywhere in Scripture (which seems to be what you are saying). What about the Scriptures I mentioned above?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  31. It is a little weird. When writing this post I certainly didn’t think I would get Calvinists essentially agreeing that the Bible offers salvation to no one. Wild.

  32. When it comes to the Scriptures that you mentioned I do not see an offer. I will try to study the verses you have “offered” 🙂 to see if I can see an offer being made.

    I will not have time today, but will take a look when I get a chance.

    Grace & Peace

  33. Well, Mitch, just fr your information, according to Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs, Hyper-Calvinism:

    “is actually a rejection of historic Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinism entails a denial of what is taught in both Scripture and the major Calvinistic creeds, substituting instead an imbalanced and unbiblical notion of divine sovereignty.”

    And,

    “A hyper-Calvinist is someone who either:
    Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear, OR
    Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR
    Denies that the gospel makes any “offer” of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal), OR
    Denies that there is such a thing as “common grace,” OR
    Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect. ”

    Now, of course, Scripture must determine our views. But the universal offer of salvation is so obvious in Scripture that Arminians and Calvinists agree that it is the Bible’s teaching.

  34. Mitch,

    That would be nice, but I wonder why you can’t leave a quick definition of “offer” as a point of reference. I ask this because it seems to me to be painfully obvious that there is an offer being made in those passages and numerous others like it. I wonder if you are working with a very different understanding of what “offer” means. Unless you are, I can’t imagine what you would need to study.

    Here are a few basic definitions that I think fit the bill, considering the context of what we are discussing:

    Offer [1]
    1) “to present for acceptance or rejection”
    5) “to make available”
    Offer [2]
    1) b. “an undertaking to do an act or give something on the condition that the party to whom the proposal is made do some specified act or make a return promise.
    [Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary]

    Offer
    1) “To present for acceptance or rejection”
    [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language]

    God Bless,
    Ben

  35. Ben,

    Forgive my overlooking the request for a quick definition, I have no objection to the definitions that you have put forth.

    That being said I do not believe that there is a well meant offer of the Gospel.

    Arminian,

    While Mr. Johnson is a fine man that does not make what he says the end all be all of it. I’m not the only one that rejects his definition of Hyperism.

    I do agree that Scripture is clear and that there is no offer.

    I really must go now.

  36. Arminian,

    Right. Here is another one,

    “Hypercalvinism is what one gets if one takes biblical doctrine then goes beyond what the Bible says. Hypercalvinism teaches that God works without means. In other words, if one is elect, then God will save that person even if they never hear the gospel or believe in Jesus as savior. Hypercalvinism teaches that since there is an elect people, we need not evangelize. Since God is completely sovereign over all things then man is not responsible for his sin. Since Christ died for his people then the gospel is not genuinely offered to those who are not elect

    http://semperdeogloria.blogspot.com/2009/09/hypercalvinism-this-is-repost-of-one-i.html

    He continues,

    All these are found within the boundaries of Hypercalvinism. But none of them are biblical. All of them are, as the Hypercalvinists would say, the logical conclusions that you would get if you followed Biblical Calvinism to it’s ends. But no Biblical Calvinist teaches these things. Hypercalvinism is wrong because it goes beyond what the Bible teaches. All these things I have mentioned are NOT taught in the Bible. Nor can they be derived from the Bible’s true teaching.

    Bold emphasis mine.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  37. I do agree that Scripture is clear and that there is no offer.

    I will be very interested to hear you defend that assertion.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  38. Ben,

    Just to be clear, the denial of the well meant offer does not make one a hyper. I would add that no major Reformed Confession teaches the well meant offer. I am open for correction on that, but from my reading and understanding that is not in there.

    As for the quotes you quoted, I do not endorse nor do I believe them to be an accurate view of my belief. My sole objection is to the simple fact that there is no such thing in all of Scripture that teaches the well meant offer.

    Anyways, I did not want anyone to infer that I endorsed those views that you quoted.

    Grace & Peace

  39. Fair enough Mitch. Are you suggesting that God makes an offer, but the offer that God makes is not “well meant”, or are you suggesting that God makes no offer at all (which would sure seem to reflect the views you claim not to hold).

    If God makes offers that are not “well meant” then what does that say about God, especially when there is no indication that those offers are not “well meant” when made, by God, in Scripture? Again, I look forward to hearing you explain these things. No hurry.

    God Bless,
    Ben

    P.S. I am feeling a little under the weather so I am not sure I will be at work tomorrow, which means that I may not be able to discuss this further till Monday at the earliest.

  40. I would add that no major Reformed Confession teaches the well meant offer.

    I am pretty sure the following comes from the Westminster Confession (can’t get much more “major” than that),

    Concerning those who are saved in Christ, the doctrine of God’s eternal decree is held in harmony with the doctrine of [God’s] love for all [humankind], [God’s] gift of [God’s] Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and [God’s] readiness to bestow [God’s] saving grace on all who seek it; that concerning those who perish, the doctrine of God’s eternal decree is held in harmony with the doctrine that God desires not the death of any sinner, but has provided in Christ a salvation sufficient for all, adapted to all, and freely offered in the gospel to all; that men [and women] are fully responsible for their treatment of God’s gracious offer; that [God’s] decree hinders no [one] from accepting that offer; and that no [one] is condemned except on the ground of his [or her] sin.

    Of course, the Confession fails to explain how these things can possibly be “held in harmony” (beyond mere assertion), but still, there you have it.

  41. Ben,

    I think that is from an addition to the Westminster Confession made by the PCUSA in 1903. However, the original still contains the notion of grace offered to all in the gospel, as in this quote of the Westminister Larger Confession:

    “Are the elect only effectually called? A. All the elect, and they only, are effectually called;(1) although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the word,(2) and have some common operations of the Spirit;(3) who, for their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ.(4)

    (1)Acts 13:48
    (2)Matt. 22:14
    (3)Matt. 7:22; Matt. 13:20,21; Heb. 6:4-6
    (4)John 12:38-40; Acts 28:25-27; John 6:64,65; Ps. 81:11,12”

  42. For what it is worth Mitch, you make a brilliant point!

    When you are raised with “decision” theology, the idea of being adopted into the Family of God, predestined and foreordained is not a option.

    If there is no offer then there is nothing left for me to do about my salvation seeing an offer requires me to accept it or reject it.

    If there is no offer then the Sovereign God can, as Scripture teaches, create children of wrath for the sole purpose of revealing Children of Mercy.

    Another thing, I have always wondered about LFW in light of the prayer the Lord taught? How can one hold to LFW and pray “lead me not into temptation and deliver me from evil”?

    I can say without equivocation that I do not want to have anything to do with evil or death. Both of these realities I have faced continually, evil and will finally face, death, when I expire and leave the carcass I reside in presently.

  43. Arminian,

    Thanks for the clarification, though even that revised version would probably still be considered a major reformed confession. I am struggling with the idea that God makes an offer that is not “well meant”. Doesn’t that just mean that God makes an offer that He does not mean? How then is that really an offer at all? How then is that not deceptive on the part of God? I look forward to hearing Mitch explain his view on all of this.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  44. Ben,

    When the gospel is preached, an invitation is issued by the lord to all people to come to him for salvation. However the natural state of all people renders them incapable of responding to this invitation, except to reject it. So when God calls an elect sinner to repentance and faith in christ jesus, he does by sending his Holy Spirit to work a great change in that sinner’s heart,enabling them to see their sin and their need of a Saviour and leading them to put their faith in Christ alone for salvation. The Lord, by his spirit, irresistibly draws his elect to himself, raising them to spiritual life and making them willing to trust in Jesus.

    Scripture references:
    matthew 11:28-30
    John 6:37
    Matthew 23:37
    John 5:40
    Ephesians 1: 12,19
    Ezekiel 11:19-20
    Psalm 110:3
    2 Thessalonians 1:11

    God bless ben

    Randy

  45. Ben,

    When it comes to the Westminster Confession I believe that when you see “offer” you are using the modern view of the word. If you have the time you could read the minutes and see that the Confession does not teach the well meant offer. In fact, it was a major sticking point with some in attendance. Most advocates of the well meant offer readily agree that the Confession does not teach it and that is why most appeal to silence when advocating their particular view.

    I believe that the Gospel is a command and not an offer. It’s not “God loves you and He really wants you to be saved, just make a decision”. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe. So as Michael pointed out above there is no offer being made. Now we “call” all men to repent and believe because it is their duty to do so, but the Spirit inwardly calls all those that were chosen in eternity prior to the foundation of the world.

    So when you preach the Gospel to all men to repent and believe, you are not giving them a choice you are proclaiming to them the command that comes straight from God.

    If it were a mere “offer” than for God to be righteous and just all would have to be given the “offer”. Yet we know not all have been given the “offer”. Also, there is nothing wrong with accepting/rejecting an offer per se. I could not hold someone accountable if I gave them an “offer” and they picked something I did not like. I could “offer” my daughter a chocolate bar or broccoli for a side dish and if she picks the chocolate bar I could not then say she did something wrong. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with accepting/rejecting and “offer”, there is no further blame that could be added. Yet when the Gospel is proclaimed to the reprobate they are heaping further condemnation upon themselves because they are violating a direct command.

    Grace & Peace

  46. Dear Ben:

    You have got you a “Hyper” Calvinist in Mitch. Having been a Hyper (Hardshell), but thankfully, no longer, I know the arguments being “offered” by Mitch on the word “offer.”

    Of course, he is correct to say that believing and repenting are commands, but he is wrong to think that something like salvation can be both a command and an offer.

    The word “give” does sometimes, as the Calvinist asserts, mean to irresistably impart, but NOT always. The word “give” sometimes means “offer” and a close look at the bible examples of usage will show this.

    When God says “I set before you this day, life and death, therefore, choose life,” he is definitely holding out both a command and a loving offer.

    I would love to debate this topic formally with a Hyper like Mitch and some of today’s “reformed” Calvinists.

    Blessings,

    Stephen

  47. Mitch,

    I am impressed upon with this one known “fact” that the “first” time an offer is ever made in Scripture is Chatper three of Genesis and made by the serpent to Eve, an offer by the way that is at the center of all debates between good and evil.

    It is equally illucidating to read the exchange of “words” between Jesus and Saul of Tarsus, who, after he “responded” to the Truth, no offer in those exchanges mind you, became the greatest recorded Apostle of them all:::>

    Act 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.
    Act 26:14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
    Act 26:15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
    Act 26:16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,
    Act 26:17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles–to whom I am sending you
    Act 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
    Act 26:19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
    Act 26:20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

  48. That should be “CANNOT be both a command and an offer, not “can.”

  49. Stephen,

    are you not mistaken then about the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen?

    When one wants to make offers, one should know they are coming from one of two sources, “only”, that is, from God, which is not an offer only a declared “truth” of evidences not seen, such as adoption, predestination or foreknowledge or Satan, who can illucidate things he only knows as a delusional creature and bases his offers on.

    I would hope you would agree that God is not delusional but the One who deludes those who persist in the error of unseen things?

    We are saved by Grace through Faith and that too is not of ourselves.

    Jer 7:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
    Jer 7:2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the LORD.
    Jer 7:3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.
    Jer 7:4 Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’
    Jer 7:5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another,
    Jer 7:6 if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,
    Jer 7:7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.
    Jer 7:8 “Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail.
    Jer 7:9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,
    Jer 7:10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–only to go on doing all these abominations?
    Jer 7:11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD.
    Jer 7:12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.
    Jer 7:13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer,
    Jer 7:14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh.

  50. Stephen,

    I consider someone a “hyper” if they say only to preach and proclaim the Gospel to the elect. So if a “hyper” knew that one was not elect he would not proclaim the Gospel to that person. That is not even remotely what I believe nor have I stated anything that resembles that.

    A careful reading of the minutes of the Westminster Confession would quickly convince you that the well meant offer was not taught. Surely you would agree with that? As for arguments for “offer” I’m unaware of these arguments I have made. For all those interested in this topic please read the Confession and the minutes, more importantly the minutes, because they give you a true representation of what was being discussed and debated.

    I believe any fair minded person will come to the same conclusion that a majority has come to and that is that the well meant offer is not taught in the confession.

    Michael,

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. What proponents of the well meant offer say is that God loves you and longs to save, but that He is not able too because He has given you that choice

  51. Mitch,

    yes and amen. I was taught this so I am just repeating something learned about Spiritual adoption in relation to Spiritual election.

    If we will just reason ourselves with God as one He adopted, that He made the choice, when one was not as yet a Spiritual son or daughter, even in infancy, you quickly realize just how much you had to do with yourself being transferred from one dominion to another. You realize you had nothing to do with it.

    It’s unimaginable that a three week old baby made a decision about “when”, “who”, “where” and “why” their “what and how” came about in the new found land and relationship that now exists.

    Someone adopted me into Their Spiritual Family. I didn’t adopt Them. In fact, as I recall with my own personal experience, I wasn’t in love with God nor was i seeking Him to find Him out at the time enlightenment came into me.

    I was amazed that a light went off within my heart and mind the day I read these words:::>

    Mat 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

    When you study the verses just prior to that one with the idea of an offer being made to Mary, you quickly see and understand God made no offer to her, He through Gabriel, simply declared to her His Will and intent and she accepted it and then began declaring it herself:::>

    Luk 1:38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

    In the Hebrew’s household, all Jewish girls were taught that their Messiah would be born just as the Prophets wrote. It left in their own imaginations that question, “am I the one”? What we realize here with Mary is her understanding of Who God “elected” her to be became known first to her by declaration from Gabriel and then she in turn simply began declaring the Will of God about herself.

    It indeed is true that evangelism is a necessary part of Election as you point out above in your response. The way we know one is an “Elect” is not given to us but by their response as our response was also, to the declaration and proclamation of the Gospel that became within us. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

    I like the way Paul describes this mysterious Work of Salvation through the proclamation of the Gospel, here:

    Col 1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
    Col 1:4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,
    Col 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
    Col 1:6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing–as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
    Col 1:7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf
    Col 1:8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

  52. Hello Ben,

    I hadn’t looked at your blog for a little while and come back to find Michael/Natamllc continuing to post in his rude, confusing and divisive manner. He keeps making rude comments. He keeps writing posts that are confusing and make no sense. He keeps engaging in proof texting where he posts long lists of bible verses that have nothing to do with the discussion at hand. I think he should be banned from posting here because he engages in the same things over and over. Things that do not add to discussions, attempt to take the discussion away to tangents of his own interest that have nothing to do with current discussions, things he is repeatedly told to change and makes no effort to do so.

    Ben you have perfectly good and reasonable discussions here that he sidetracks with his postings. His useless posts need to be eliminated, when will you do so? We can ignore them, but they take up space and he continues to do the same things over and over again, though repeatedly he has been told to post differently.

    Robert

  53. Ben,

    As always thank you for the interaction and dialogue. I will be out of pocket for at least a week, possibly more, so I will have to leave this discussion as is.

    I do hope that you get to feeling better and that the Lord blesses and keep you.

    Grace & Peace

  54. Hi Ben,

    I just returned from being out of town and read the following comment from Mitch:

    Mitch States:

    When it comes to the Westminster Confession I believe that when you see “offer” you are using the modern view of the word. If you have the time you could read the minutes and see that the Confession does not teach the well meant offer. In fact, it was a major sticking point with some in attendance. Most advocates of the well meant offer readily agree that the Confession does not teach it and that is why most appeal to silence when advocating their particular view.

    I believe that the Gospel is a command and not an offer. It’s not “God loves you and He really wants you to be saved, just make a decision”. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe. So as Michael pointed out above there is no offer being made. Now we “call” all men to repent and believe because it is their duty to do so, but the Spirit inwardly calls all those that were chosen in eternity prior to the foundation of the world.

    So when you preach the Gospel to all men to repent and believe, you are not giving them a choice you are proclaiming to them the command that comes straight from God.

    If it were a mere “offer” than for God to be righteous and just all would have to be given the “offer”. Yet we know not all have been given the “offer”. Also, there is nothing wrong with accepting/rejecting an offer per se. I could not hold someone accountable if I gave them an “offer” and they picked something I did not like. I could “offer” my daughter a chocolate bar or broccoli for a side dish and if she picks the chocolate bar I could not then say she did something wrong. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with accepting/rejecting and “offer”, there is no further blame that could be added. Yet when the Gospel is proclaimed to the reprobate they are heaping further condemnation upon themselves because they are violating a direct command.

    (End of Mitch’s comment.)

    If you examine the way Mitch treats the word OFFER, you will see that he tries hard not to grant the normal sense of the word. This is immediately apparent when he says that your view of the word OFFER is according to the *modern* view of the world, which he contrasts to how he claims the Westminster Confessors handled it (and perhaps *did* handle it). [I assume by “modern view” he refers to that view which derives from Modernism (in language, arts, and sciences), roughly, the period from the 1860s to the 1970s, *its defining characteristic being relativity of viewpoint.*] Thus Mitch implicitly makes the argument that the only *historical* use of the word OFFER in the era of the Westminster Confessors was how the *Confessors* used it! Of course, this is false, since the word OFFER, among the general populace even during the era that witnessed the formulation of the Westminster Confessions, was not defined according to how the Westminster Confessors defined it.

    In fact, Mitch seems to deny that there are such things as offers at all. I believe this is why he refers to what he calls “the well meant offer,” as though God could make a kind of offer other than something “well” and “meant.” This of course he doubtless does to make room for the idea of divinely commanded reprobation, i.e. an offer to the unelect that is not really an offer, or in his words, an offer that is not WELL MEANT, i.e., an “offer” (in quotes). Thus, he baldly states that men are saved through command of God, and that there is no divine offer. By the word OFFER in *this* particular instance, he means it in the normal sense of the word (i.e., as *you* understand it).

    In his last paragraph Mitch uses the word OFFER seven times, and puts it in quotes six of the seven times [i.e., referring to is as an “offer”]. Even when he talks about the hypothetical circumstance of himself making an *offer* to his daughter of either chocolate or broccoli as a side dish, he feels compelled to put the word OFFER in double quotes! He seems loath to refer to any offer at all because, as a 5 point Calvinist, he cannot admit of anything finally but divine command. This is why he also puts the word CALL in double quotes (i.e., “call”), when he refers to how “[Christians] “ “call” all men to repent.” I think Mitch ought, if language means anything, simply use the term DIVINE COMMAND instead of “offer” or “call,” since his world view apparently allows ONLY God to bring something *ex nihilio*, including man’s thoughts and choices.

    This is why I have said before that Calvinist biblicists do not share the same meaning of words with non-Calvinist biblicists. Theirs is a dialectical theology content only to subvert words; therefore OFFER is so frequently here put into quotes, to make the naive reader suppose that an OFFER is what Mitch refers to. Technically speaking, the Calvinist (Mitch here) is not referring to anything, since he defines OFFER on both sides of the dialectic. [Therefore, when we argue against but one side of his dialectical equation, it ought to be understood that we argue as though it were not dialectic so that we may draw inferences about one given statement, insofar, that is, as we can even call such an expression a STATEMENT. (And therefore we speak as we do.)]

    Indeed, although I haven’t yet seen a Calvinist formulate it as such, their refusal to be bound by the normal historical meanings of words seems to assume that history’s definition of words *is itself* at fault. After all, can the history of men in depravity get anything right, even language?! And so we are asked to throw ourselves upon an ahistorical hermanetuic. But as to why our confidence in such a hermeneutic should rest upon *Calvinism,* instead of upon Christian Scientism or Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnessism—all three of which likewise employ an ahistorical hermeneutic using the same biblical word symbols as Calvinists—remains the question.

    Given these considerations, I think we may safely say that he who preaches anything but the univocy of language, figures of speech notwithstanding (being taken for what they are), preaches another gospel.

    Incidentally, the analogy of Mitch offering (may I use this word without quotes?) his daughter the choice of either a chocolate bar or broccoli *as a side dish*, along with his conclusion that no accountability would therefore be inherently applicable, is not an accurate view of choice as God has given it to man, as I as a non-Calvinist define it. A chocolate bar “as a side dish* would be *harmful* (since it would be calorically immoderate and dietically imbalanced). God’s choice to Adam and Eve was not of this sort (more on this in a moment). In short, what Mitch describes is a *temptation.* But what God presents, regarding Choice, is always *bare presentation.* In other words, there is a difference between bare presentation and temptation. God never attempts to build (through thought presentations to a man’s mind, left for a man’s consideration) a desire for rebellion against Himself, but the opposite. For example, Christ always had the bare presentation before Him of turning stone to bread during any point of His 40 days in the wilderness. This was always a possibility. But the Spirit did not urge Christ toward that rebellion (of living by bread alone). That was done by Satan. Satan took the divine bare presentation of possibility (choice) and attempted to urge Christ toward the wrong end of that choice. The urging toward the wrong is what made it a temptation.

    Even so, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve (unlike Mitch’s daughter whom one assumes has had previous experience with the taste of chocolate, or else there would be no reason why she would choose the chocolate as opposed to the broccoli) had no prior experience that would lead them to particularly desire the taste of the forbidden fruit *anymore than any other fruit, which we may also assume was likewise pleasant to the eyes*. God’s choice was thus a bare presentation, not a temptation. Satan, however, attempted to build in Eve a desire for the forbidden fruit. And he did this, not even by saying it was tastier, but by saying it would achieve a higher knowledge like God’s* and not result in death. THEREFORE, when we consider that when one intends the *wrong* end of choice, God having made but a bare presentation of choice, we may say this: acting against God DOES make such an act ACCOUNTABLE. This is contrary to Mitch’s conclusion about the nature of choice, were it (according to him) even to exist. Astonishingly, it does not appear that Mitch would believe that even Adam was given a choice regarding the forbidden fruit, but only a divine command to eat it. This, despite the divine command to Adam NOT to eat of it.

    Again, Ben, I do not see how anyone, IF he subverts language fully, finally, consistently, and unrepentantly to deny the trueness of God’s character, can also be said not to be preaching another gospel.

  55. I hope to respond to some of these comments some time tomorrow.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  56. Ben, (& Mitch)

    I do think I was overstating at least one thing. Mitch did say that the question about OFFER was a sticking point during the formulation of the Westminster Confessions. So I was wrong to say that Mitch held that the only *historical* use of the word OFFER in the era of the Westminster Confessors was how the (I should have said, prevailing) *Confessors* used it. Sorry Mitch!

    Having said that, I do think it needs to be pointed out that the word OFFER was understood (defined) by the general populace of that era differently than how those [prevailing] Confessors handled it (if they admitted of the word at all), who seem to have denied that God makes any offers at all, but rather and merely issues divine commands.

  57. Isaiah 55:1

    “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
    Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
    Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”

    Nope. No. Nothing. No offer there. God brings horses to water AND makes them drink.

    Luke 13:34 – “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”

  58. I’m just always surprised how many people marry their theology, THEN try to find out what the bible says. Nothing matters but what the scripture teaches. Be weak on what Calvin wrote. Be ignorant of Arminius. But don’t be unintelligent on the Word.

    Better to say “I’m not sure yet” than to say you are sure and be wrong.

  59. Steven,

    Great Scriptures and great points. Scriptures like that could be easily multiplied. Even if we just want to focus on commands, it is still an offer of eternal life and salvation conditioned on obedience to the divine command to repent and believe (i.e. life and salvation is freely offered to all who will obey the command to repent and believe).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  60. Not just an offer – it’s a passionate offer from a concerned Father.

    60 comments, and no compelling scripture to the contrary of your last paragraph. Truth is simple. Lies are complex, and need much more work to be propped up.

  61. I agree absolutely with the first quote. God does not “offer” anyone anything. What God did do is make provision for salvation for His elect by sending Jesus to die on the cross to redeem them. And, what is more, Jesus actually does save every single one of them, so many that heaven is filled with multitudes of the elect. God commands all who hear the Gospel to repent and believe. He can do so because He is not obligated to save anyone at all. He could justly damn everyone. He destroyed the entire race in the flood, with the exception of Noah and his wife and 3 sons and their wives. I suppose you’re going to say God was unjust for that? He destroyed old and young, men and women and justly so on the basis of Adam’s original sin and the wickedness of their thoughts.

    What I disagree with is the second statement:

    “If not all who hear can respond to the gospel, as the Calvinist insists, then only those given repentance and faith can do so.”

    Absolutely right. God commands fallen men to do what they are unable to do. But that does not remove their moral accountability since Adam caused the curse of original sin upon them. God gave Adam free will and he chose to disobey.

    “In consequence, no person who hears the gospel can do so with any confidence that he can respond.”

    No. Anyone who is touched by grace through hearing the Gospel does respond and he can be confident that God keeps covenant with everyone who sincerely comes to Him in faith. The proof that we are elect is our response! Anyone using election and reprobation as an excuse is condemned already because they “refuse” to believe. (John 3:17-18).

    “Conversely, all who hear and are not given the gift may conclude that the offer is not intended for them and therefore not rejected by them.”

    No, anyone using this excuse is not morally justified since we are all guilty of Adam’s sin. If the preaching of the law of God drives someone in the other direction they now add their own active rebellion to Adam’s rebellion and their just end is condemnation. The reprobate demonstrate their rebellion by the fact that they refuse to believe. This is true whether your view is Arminian or Calvinist. Those who refuse to believe are damned by their refusal to believe. The Calvinist position, however, is more consistent with Scripture since the Scriptures teach that all have died in Adam and all have sinned and all alike are under God’s wrath. No one “deserves” mercy. Mercy is given by God’s sovereign and secret will, yet all who reject the command to repent and believe are condemned because of God’s revelation in the visible creation (Romans 1:18ff) and because of their unbelief (John 3:17-18; 36).

    “What a person cannot receive, he cannot really reject.”

    Well, by this argument, then the Arminian position is the same since obviously not everyone can receive the Gospel command to repent and believe. If so, then all who heard it would receive it. The fact that they do not proves they are unable to do so. So simply because they cannot receive it does not mean they are not morally accountable for their rejection of God’s command to repent and believe in Christ.

    ” Nor can he be rightly blamed for rejection (although he might well be blamed for being in the condition that brought on his inability). (ibid. 118 emphasis his)”

    If the Arminian says that people cannot be blamed for their rejection of the command to believe in Christ and his way of salvation, then the Arminian must believe that all are going to heaven? No one is guilty of anything nor can they be held accountable for their willful rejection of Christ, according to this argument.

    Man’s inability to break free of sin in his own strength is no excuse for his willful rebellion and rejection of God’s provision for redemption through the preaching of the Gospel.

    Obviously, God is just and is under no obligation to show even one of us mercy. The real miracle is that He saves anyone at all.

    (Romans 9:18ff).

  62. Romans 1:18-20 (ESV)
    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

    Now, Scripture clearly says that men are without excuse, even if they do not hear the Gospel preached, which is the sole means of being saved. (Romans 10:3ff).

    Is God unjust in condemning those who do not hear? Paul clearly says that God is just in damning them simply on the basis of the evidence of the visibile creation.

    Charlie

  63. Charlie,

    The reason I rarely post on blogs anymore (even though I love this one!) is that so few people can actually communicate effectively. Instead of sticking to the topic at hand, comments invariably turn into a “statement of faith” about how God saves people, the Calvinist position, etc. Little can be gained from such a dialogue.

    Regarding the question of the thread, does God offer salvation to men or does he not, I have listed two scriptures that state offers from God. One is an open invitation from God through Isaiah, looking forward to the christian age. God offers everyone, even those with no means of purchase, to come and buy food and dine with Him in fellowship.

    The second passage listed above was regarding Jesus’ desire to save the city of Jerusalem and her people. He offered – but they would not. He wanted it – but men did not. Free will at work, but God still just as active on their hearts.

    These seem to point to genuine offers. What is the Calvinist response? (Since you have to respond, otherwise your theology would be destroyed)

  64. If faith is your own effort, then it seems that most men do not have faith. If they have “free will” (semi-pelagianism), then we ought to see all men choose to be saved. If not, then it would appear that the corruption of sin overcame prevenient grace, which is unable to cancel out the slavery/bondage of sin and its effects on the mind, heart and will of man.

    So prevenient grace seems to fail the vast majority of the time.

    “Irresistible grace”, on the other hand, always works and the “effectual call” actually does draw men to saving faith.

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