Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It Shall Prosper



I have often been asked why I so frequently write against the notion of the Well-Meant Offer of salvation to all of humanity (WMO). My answer is that this belief is among the very most prevalent errors in Christendom today. The WMO distorts the nature of the gospel message and in so doing posits a God who contradicts his own testimony regarding election (Ephesians 1:4-5), particular redemption (John 17:2), and the purpose of the gospel (II Timothy 1:10). The prophet Isaiah wrote...

"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)

This verse of scripture is bursting forth with theological truth, provided we are willing to investigate it. Isaiah's testimony is that the word of God is 100% effectual in accomplishing its intended task. If the "word" to which Isaiah makes reference includes the gospel, then Isaiah's statement has unavoidable theological implications. Consider this:

Q:  Does the gospel "prosper" in the work of eternally saving all men?
A:  No. The bible's testimony is that some men are not eternally saved (Matthew 25:41).

Q:  Then can the eternal salvation of all men be "the thing whereunto God sent" the gospel?
A:  No. It cannot, because it does not prosper to that end.

Q:  Then can the gospel be a well-meant offer of salvation to all of humanity?
A:  No. It cannot be because the salvation of all men was never its purpose.

That logic is both relentless and unavoidable. It is the complete undoing of the Well-Meant-Offerism upon which the majority of evangelicalism finds its unsure footing. The gospel is not an offer, it's a proclamation, and we need to understand that with clarity if we are to avoid distorting the nature of the gospel message by misrepresenting the purpose of Christ's atoning work.





4 comments:

  1. It is a difficult concept in John 3 -- Jesus even acknowledging it. It involves both at the same time, God's justice and His mercy.

    He speaks to Nicodemus as one who does not believe. And, those who do not believe are "condemned already." So, it follows, if they have not been born again, and thus, unable to come to the light, is their "belief" a matter of their own will, or God's will.

    I believe the gospel is a proclamation to the captives -- His children. But, it is also a condemnation to the others. If justice has already been served -- God having mercy on whom He will, it seems their condemnation, in a manner of speaking, is that they will not believe.

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  2. When one looks at statements like John 3:36 - "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" - I believe that in order to properly understand this statement, it is important to answer the question - what perspective gives rise to this remark? In other words, is this statement speaking from a covenantal perspective or from an experimental perspective?

    If we consider this statement from the standpoint of the covenant, then it is categorically false. Consider this, there was a time when Paul did not believe on the Son in the way that John 3:36 has in mind. It therefore would be incorrect to state that "Paul shall not see life" given that Paul was clearly embraced in the covenant and thus his eternal salvation was a matter of certainty from BTFOTW, though he did not ALWAYS believe. So John 3:36 cannot be speaking from the standpoint of the covenant, because ALL MEN begin their existence in a faithless state of depravity and unbelief.

    However, if we consider John 3:36 from an experimental standpoint, then the statement makes sense, IMO. In other words, it is saying, "From the standpoint of observation, those who believe have eternal life and those who do not believe lack what the bible describes as the primary evidence of salvation - which implies their condemnation from an observational standpoint." So we must regard this statement as experimental or observational in nature and not absolute or covenantal, given that we see men moved by God from unbelief to belief over the course of their natural lives.

    Your statement regarding an element of "condemnation" involved in the gospel message is well stated. Paul put it this way, "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?" (II Corinthians 2:15-16)

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  3. Yes, exactly. The hostility sometimes observed in others toward believers, toward the gospel, toward Christ -- toward the love of God, that is the only thing that could save them -- is so irrational and otherworldly, it is an amazement to me. They seem provoked over nothing and in full rebellion against everything good, upright and holy. As if a switch has gone off and they will spend what time remains in full, head-on rage against their Creator and anything they feel represents Him and His work.

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    1. What you say is certainly true. Ironically, this observation affirms a truth found in the word of God which such people reject, namely that "the carnal mind is enmity against God." (Romans 8:7) I am a firm believer that we must proclaim the truth of God's grace in accomplishing the salvation of his people with such clarity that the message cannot be misunderstood. I likewise believe that apart from having a spiritual mind, one cannot believe such things, because they are hated and regarded as foolishness by the natural man (I Corinthians 2:14). So the old adage that "you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink" is applicable, if incomplete. We might do well to append, "and horses that aren't thirsty are liable to kick your front teeth out if you try and make them."

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