Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

The Free Offer of the Gospel With Provision

I was blessed to read a local Free Presbyterian Church site that wrote of the free offer of the gospel.  The site maintained that it is the duty of the Church to preach the gospel and that they were fervent in their evangelism because of the call of God to take the gospel to all.  I was encouraged by this.  They are absolutely correct in avoiding the hyper-Calvinism tendency to avoid preaching the gospel to all because the hyper believes that the gospel is only for the elect and the elect will be saved by the sovereignty of God no matter what and all this protects the glory of God and His grace.

Charles Spurgeon battled this in his day.  Many Calvinists accused Mr. Spurgeon of being an Arminian because of his constant call for all to come and be saved yet Spurgeon maintained his belief in unconditional election.  Spurgeon believed that both were truths in Scripture: that God calls all sinners to repentance but the elect alone will come and be saved.  John 6:37 was Spurgeon’s favorite passage.

My issue as an Arminian with all this is not the call to salvation.  I agree that God calls all to salvation.  John 3:16 is clear that God loves the world and desires the world to be saved.  1 Timothy 2:4 says that God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  Ezekiel 18:32 says that God does not delight in the death of the wicked.  Acts 2:38-39 says that the promise of salvation is for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.  This call, as the Free Presbyterian site agrees, is to all.  Revelation 22:17 says that all may come and drink of this water of life.  Matthew 22:9 says that we can invite all to the wedding feast.  Because of the nature of Jesus’ authority (Matthew 28:18) we can go into all nations and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).

In my estimation, the nature of the call goes hand-in-hand with the provision that God has made for our sins.  The Calvinist replies while the call goes out to all, only the elect respond and repent and God has only provided for the elect’s sins.  The rest of humanity is passed over and reprobated to hell by their own sins (though their nature has been predestined by God as well as their sins but the mystery is how God can hold sinners punishable for their sins that they committed by His sovereign will).  The Arminian viewpoint is that both are true: the universal call and the provision therein for the atonement.  I see both as true.

The atonement only makes provision for the one who repents (Romans 3:23-25).  The elect are those who repent.  When a sinner repents, they become part of the elect of God (1 Timothy 4:10).  The elect are those who are in Christ Jesus (“His elect”).  Jesus shed His blood for His sheep (John 10:11), for His Church (Acts 20:28), for our sins (Galatians 1:4), for Paul the Apostle (Galatians 2:20).  Yet He also shed His blood for the world (John 3:16; 1 John 4:14).  Through the blood of Jesus, sinners can come before God and be saved (Hebrews 9:14).  This salvation has come for all people (Titus 2:11) but only those who repent and believe the gospel are saved (2 Thessalonians 2:12).

A key verse here is 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 which I think holds all these truths together.  The verse reads:

13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.

Three truths are presented here.  First, the sovereignty of God is seen in verse 13 with “God chose you.”  God chooses us in Christ Jesus who is the provision for our sins (John 3:14-15).  Jesus is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.  He is the one who bore our sins before a holy God (Romans 5:8-9).  This is by the sovereign will of God (Acts 2:23).  The Father sent the Son to die for the sins of the world that whosoever may come and be saved.

Secondly, the provision must come by the proclamation of the gospel as we see in verse 14.  Even my Calvinist brethren agree with me here.  The elect are saved by hearing the gospel and repenting of their sins.  This is the truth of Romans 10:14-17.  The command of Jesus is to go and preach the gospel to all (Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47-49).  The Lord has given us the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this truth (Acts 1:8).  As we preach the gospel, the Lord is faithful to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).  As we preach the gospel, the gospel opens the sinners hearts to the truth of salvation in the Lord Jesus.  The Spirit of God works through the gospel to draw sinners to salvation (John 6:44; 16:8-11).  The conviction of the Spirit prepares the sinner for the gospel and for true repentance.

Lastly, not only do we see provision and proclamation but we see perseverance in verse 15.  After we are saved by the sovereign hand of God working through the gospel, we must stand firm in the gospel.  This is a biblical truth found through the Bible.  God’s warnings to the Israelites was to remain faithful, stand firm in true worship, teach the children the truth of God, don’t abandon Yahweh for false gods, etc.  This is equally true for the New Testament disciple.  Jesus said that if we keep His word (present active sense), we will never see death (John 8:51).  Paul beat himself to make sure he was a slave of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  Paul also warned the Corinthians to remain in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  Paul also warned the disciples in Colossae to remain steadfast (Colossians 1:21-23).  If Israel could be cut off, so can we (Romans 11:20-22).

All these truths: provision, proclamation, and perseverance are the keys of salvation in the Arminian understanding.  The focus is always on Jesus and what He has done for us.  We preach Him (2 Corinthians 4:5).  We call all to repent and believe the gospel.  We preach that Jesus demonstrated His love for lost sinners by dying for them on the cross.  We proclaim this truth to lost sinners.  We preach that God does love sinners because He has demonstrated His love on the cross through His Son.  We don’t mind preaching this truth to sinners and to saints.

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