Jan 23, 2010

Is the Gospel an Offer? - quotes from John Gill

Is the Gospel an Offer?
quotes from John Gill

1) The gospel is indeed ordered to be preached to every creature to whom it is sent and comes; but as yet, it has never been brought to all the individuals of human nature; there have been multitudes in all ages that have not heard it. And that there are universal offers of grace and salvation made to all men I utterly deny; nay, I deny they are made to any; no, not to God’s elect; grace and salvation are provided for them in the everlasting covenant, procured for them by Christ, published and revealed in the gospel, and applied by the Spirit; much less are they made to others wherefore this doctrine is not chargeable with insincerity on that account. Let the patrons of universal offers defend themselves from this objection; I have nothing to do with it; till it is proved there are such universal offers, then Dr. Watts’s reasoning on that head, will require some attention; but not till then. Sermon 7: THE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION STATED, AND SET IN THE SCRIPTURE LIGHT.

To all which I reply, that God’s act of election does no injustice either to the elect or non-elect; not to the elect, to whom it secures both grace and glory; nor to the non-elect, or to the rest who are left out of it: for as God condemns no man but for sin, so he has decreed to condemn no man but for sin. And where is the unrighteousness of such a decree? It would have been no unrighteousness in God to have condemned all mankind for sin, and would have been none in him, if he had decreed to condemn them all for sin. If therefore it would have been no injustice in him to have decreed to condemn all mankind for sin, it can be none in him to decree to condemn some of them for sin, when he could have decreed to have condemned them all. Herein he shows both his clemency and his justice; his clemency to some, his justice to others. As to the things particularly instanced in, I answer, that when this author points out any offers of help in a saving way God has made to all mankind, or to any to whom he has decreed no saving help, and then threatens them with a severer damnation for non-acceptance of them, I shall attend to the charge of unrighteousness. Sermon 94, AN ANSWER TO THE BIRMINGHAM DIALOGUE-WRITER.

To which I answer, that salvation is not offered at all by God, upon any condition whatsoever, to any of the sons of men, no, not to the elect: they are chosen to it, Christ has procured it for them, the gospel publishes and reveals it, and the Spirit of God applies it to them; much less to the non-elect, or to all mankind; and consequently this doctrine, or God according to it, is not chargeable with delusion and insult. When this author goes about to prove any such offers, I shall attend to them; and if he can prove them, I own, I must be obliged to think again. Sermon 94, AN ANSWER TO THE BIRMINGHAM DIALOGUE-WRITER.

This doctrine is farther charged with insincerity, or as representing God as an insincere and deceitful Being; since he offers to sinners a salvation never purchased for them, and on conditions not to be complied with. The answer to this is, that salvation is not offered at all by God, upon any condition whatsoever, to any of the sons of men, elect or non-elect; and therefore God, according to this doctrine, is not chargeable with insincerity and deceit. SERMON 95 AN ANSWER TO THE BIRMINGHAM DIALOGUE-WRITER.

This author owns, that hereby we are consistent, in preaching and writing, with ourselves and scheme, and so not chargeable with self-contradiction; and since it is of a piece with the rest of our tenets, and is likely to share the same fate with them, we need not be in much pain about the consequences of it. But this tenet, that there is no offer of salvation to men in the ministry of the gospel, is said to be inconsistent with all the dictates of reason, our ideas of God, and the whole system of the gospel: not surely with all the dictates of reason; for how irrational is it, for minister to stand offering Christ, and salvation by him to man, when, on the one hand, they have neither power nor right to give; and, on the other hand, the persons they offer to, have neither power nor will to receive? What this author’s ideas of God are, I know not, but this I say, it is not consistent with our ideas of God, that he should send ministers to offer salvation to man, to whom he himself never intended to give it, which the ministers have not power to bestow, nor the men to receive: but, it seems, denying offers of salvation, is inconsistent with the whole system of the gospel; the Bible is hereby knocked down at once, and made to be the most delusive, and cheating book in the world; when the whole Bible is one standing offer of mercy to a guilty world. What! the whole Bible? the Bible maybe distinguished into these two parts, historical and doctrinal; the historical part of the Bible is surely no offer of mercy to a guilty world; the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth, in the first verse of it, can hardly be thought to be so. The doctrinal part of it may be distinguished into law and gospel; the law, which is the killing letter, and the ministration of condemnation and death to a guilty world, can be no standing offer of mercy to it: if any part of the Bible is so, it must be the gospel; but the gospel is a declaration of salvation already wrought out by Christ, and not an offer of it on conditions to be performed by man. The ministers of the gospel are sent to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15.) that is, not to offer, but to preach Christ, and salvation by him; to publish peace, and pardon as things already obtained by him. The ministers are kerukav, criers or heralds; their business is khrussein, to proclaim aloud, to publish facts, to declare things that are done, and not to offer them to be done on conditions; as when a peace is concluded and finished, the herald’s business, and in which he is employed, is to proclaim the peace, and not to offer it; of this nature is the gospel, and the whole system of it; which preaches, not offers peace by Christ, who is Lord of all. As for the texts of scripture produced by this writer, several have nothing in them respecting pardon, life and salvation, and much less contain an offer of either; as I have shown at large in my first part of The Cause of God and Truth; whither I refer the reader;… SERMON 95 AN ANSWER TO THE BIRMINGHAM DIALOGUE-WRITER.

To which he answers, “When we are upon the nature of the gospel and the universality of its offers, there is no need to evade the argument, by transferring the scene to the heathen world.”

I am at a loss to know what argument is evaded by putting the question; for, if grace is free and common to all men, if God’s decree of salvation is universal, and reaches to all the individuals of mankind, and Christ has died for them all, then, surely, the heathen world has a concern in these things; and it must seem strange, if all this is true, that the knowledge of salvation, and the means of it, should not be afforded them, and they left in their sins to perish without law. Where is the grace of this scheme? What is now become of free, common, and universal grace? And an idle thing it is, to talk of the universality of the offers of the gospel, when the gospel is not preached to a tenth part of the world, nor anything like it; when multitudes, millions, whole nations know nothing of it. What this man means by saying that this is equally a difficulty against God’s government of the world, I know not; since this argument does not concern God’s government of the world, but the administration of his grace to the sons of men. SERMON 95 AN ANSWER TO THE BIRMINGHAM DIALOGUE-WRITER,

He, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. — Isaiah 55:1. 1.

THESE words are no call, invitation, or offer of grace to dead sinners, since they are spoken to such who were thirsty, that is, who, in a spiritual sense, were thirsting after pardon of sin, a justifying righteousness, and salvation by Christ; after a greater knowledge of him, communion with him, conformity to him, and enjoyment of him in his ordinances, which supposes them to be. spiritually alive; for such who are dead in sin, thirst not after the grace of God, but the lusts of the flesh; Gill, Cause of God, 19-20.

The argument above cited, is founded on a manifest falsehood, that the apostles tendered the saving grace of God to all men, without exception whereas they tendered it to none, but preached the Gospel to all, without any distinction of persons who came to hear it. The Arminians frequently argue from an universal offer of the Gospel to an universal redemption; such whose ministrations run in he strain of offers and tenders, would do well to consider this, and deliver themselves from this argument, who only are pinched by it. Gill, Cause of God, 53.

It is intimated, that, “supposing an absolute decree of reprobation, the tenders of the gospel to reprobates must be false and hypocritical; and the offers of grace are not made in good earnest, and with sincerity.” But it should first be proved, that there are any offers of grace at all, made to any, whether elect, or non-elect. The gospel is not tendered to the elect, but is the power of God unto salvation to them. The grace of God is bestowed upon them, applied to them, and wrought in them, but not offered. And as for the non-elect, grace is neither offered to them, nor bestowed on them, and therefore there can be no falsehood or hypocrisy, dissimulation or guile, nothing ludicrous or delusory in the divine conduct towards them, or anything which disproves God’s act of preterition or reprobation. Gill, Cause of God, 156.

10) It is also said, that “whereas the justice of God shines evidently from the doctrine which asserts that God doth only punish men for willful sins, which it was in their power to avoid; it never can be glorified by that doctrine which supposes, that he punisheth men with the extremest and most lasting torments, for not accepting those offers of grace tendered by the gospel, which it was not possible for them to comply with or embrace, without that farther grace which he purposed absolutely to deny them.” I reply, for my own part, I do not think that any man will be punished for not accepting offered grace, he could not comply with or embrace, for want of further grace, because I do not believe that grace was ever offered to them; but then they will be punished for their willful contempt and neglect of the gospel preached unto them; and for their manifold transgressions of the righteous law of God, made known unto them; and surely this doe. trine can never be derogatory to the glory of God’s justice. Gill, Cause of God, 181.

III. It is further urged, that “the doctrine of man’s disability, by the fall of Adam, to do what is spiritually good, is inconsistent with the new covenant of grace, established in the blood of Jesus, and tendered to all to whom the gospel is vouchsafed.” Some men, indeed, plead for offers of Christ, and tenders of the gospel; but the offer or tender of the new covenant, is what I never met with in other writers. If this covenant is tendered, upon the conditions of faith and repentance, to all to whom the gospel is vouchsafed, how can it be said to be established in the blood of Jesus? It must be very precarious and uncertain, until the conditions of it are fulfilled by those to whom it is tendered. The doctrine of man’s disability to do what is spiritually good, may seem inconsistent with the covenant of grace, to such who have no other notions of it, than that it is a conditional one; that faith, repentance, and obedience, are the conditions of it; and that these are in the power of man to perform; but not to those who believe, and think they have good reason to believe, that the covenant of grace is made with Christ, as the head and representative of the elect, and with them in him, and with them only; and that, with respect to them, it is entirely absolute and unconditional, to whom grace is promised in it, to enable them to believe, repent, and obey. The covenant of grace supposes the disability of man to do that which is spiritually good, and therefore provides for it; for God promises in this covenant to put his law in the inward parts, and write it in the hearts of his people: yea, to put his Spirit within them, and cause them to walk in his statutes; and says, they shall keep his judgments, and do them. (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:27.) Gill, Cause of God, 184.

Though Christ did not offer or tender the blessings of grace to any, much less to them in general; but as a preacher of the Gospel, published the truths of it to all; and as the Mediator of the new covenant, dispensed the blessings of it to those who were (not should be) given him by the Father. Gill, Cause of God, 88.

That no man can be condemned at the last day for neglecting that great salvation tendered to, or purchased for him; Christ having neither purchased for or offered to them any salvation, unless he offered to them that salvation which he never died to purchase for them.” It is certain, that for those who shall not be saved, salvation was not purchased, nor should it be offered to them, nor indeed to any. Such for whom salvation is purchased, are the church whom Christ has purchased with his own blood; and to these, this salvation is not offered, but applied. The Gospel is not an offer, but the power of God unto salvation, to these persons. Gill, Cause of God, 103.

Such who have only an external revelation of him by the ministry of the word, are obliged to believe no mole than is included in that revelation, as that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, who died and rose again, and is the Savior of sinners, etc., but not that he died for them, or that he is their Savior. It is true, the ministers of the Gospel, though they ought not to offer and tender salvation to any, for which they have no commission, yet they may preach the gospel of salvation to all men, and declare, that whosoever believes shall be saved: for this they are commissioned to do: Gill, Cause of God, 164.

15) First, This may be considered either as a call to saints, to such who have a work of grace already begun in them; and to such it is a call, not only to the means of grace, but to partake of the blessings of grace; to come as thirsty persons, eagerly desirous of spiritual things, “to the waters”, the ordinances, and drink at them; to “buy wine and milk”, spiritual blessings, signified hereby, without “money, and without price”, these being to be had freely: and these are also called as laboring under a sense of sin, and under a spirit of bondage, to “come” to Christ for “rest”, peace, pardon, life, and salvation, Isaiah 55:1 Matthew 11:28 and these in and by the ministry of the word, are called, excited, and encouraged to the exercise of evangelical graces, wrought in them, and bestowed upon them; as repentance, faith, hope, love, and every other; such were the three thousand converts under Peter’s sermon, and the jailor, who were under a previous work of the Spirit of God, when they were called and encouraged to repent and believe in Christ, Acts 2:37,38 16:29-31 and these are also called, and urged, and pressed, in and by the ministry of the word, to a constant attendance on ordinances, and not to forsake the assembly of the saints, and to a diligent performance of every religious duty, and to be ready to every good work in general: or this external call may be considered, as a call of sinners in a state of nature and unregeneracy; but then it is not a call to them to regenerate and convert themselves, of which there is no instance; and which is the pure work of the Spirit of God: nor to make their peace with God, which they cannot make by anything they can do; and which is only made by the blood of Christ: nor to get an interest in Christ, which is not got, but given: nor to the exercise of evangelical grace, which they have not, and therefore can never exercise: nor to any spiritual vital acts, which they are incapable of, being natural men, and dead in trespasses and sins. Nor is the gospel ministry an offer of Christ, and of his grace and salvation by him, which are not in the power of the ministers of it to give, nor of carnal men to receive; the gospel is not an offer, but a preaching of Christ crucified, a proclamation of the unsearchable riches of his grace, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and life, and salvation by him.

16) Yet there is something in which the ministry of the word, and the call by it, have to do with unregenerate sinners: they may be, and should be called upon, to perform the natural duties of religion; to a natural faith, to give credit to divine revelation, to believe the external report of the gospel.

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The Cause of God and Truth by John Gill [Read Here]

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