Friday, August 21, 2015

The King's Edict


I often encounter Christians on the internet who believe in particular redemption while also insisting that the gospel is a well-meant (sincere) offer of salvation to all of humanity (WMO). This is the most popular belief found among most professing Calvinists today, though it is an extraordinarly irrational position. To demonstrate this irrationalism, I usually ask them, "How can you sincerely offer eternal life to a man for whom Jesus Christ did not die?" The most common response I receive is the question, "How do you know whom Christ didn't die for?" The implication of this question is that if one denies the WMO, then they are likewise saying that we should only preach the gospel to the elect, and since we have no way of knowing who are elect among the unconverted, then this is an irrelevant observation. But this is an unwarranted and unnecessary conclusion to draw from a denial of the WMO. The observation that the gospel is not a WMO has no bearing on the broadcast audience, but rather has bearing on the nature of the broadcast message. Consider the following...




The King's Edict


The fact that we do not know for whom Christ died as we go about the business of Gospel ministry is precisely why we cannot misrepresent the gospel as a well-meant or sincere offer of salvation to all of humanity. Given that those who are the objects of God’s saving mercy are explicitly named in covenant before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5) and that this group does not constitute all of humanity (Matthew 25:41) it is therefore evident that to present the gospel as a sincere offer of salvation to all of humanity is a misrepresentation of the King’s edict. Those who do this are misrepresenting the saving work of God by proffering a potential for salvation that lies outside the domain of the established and revealed covenant upon which their ersatz offer is based. An ambassador who makes promises or offers to individuals that fall outside of the King’s covenant is a poor ambassadors indeed, in that he has failed at his primary task of accurately representing the position of the King himself.


Examining the "Sincerity"

Let me draw this out more explicitly. First let’s look at the notion of SINCERITY. If you have two men in your gospel audience and one of them is elect, it is impossible to say to them, “The gospel is SINCERELY offering you eternal life” because the Lord Jesus Christ did not die for one of those men. The doctrine of particular redemption (limited atonement) makes this a matter of indisputable certainty. To suggest that it is possible to SINCERELY offer eternal life to a man for whom Jesus Christ did not die is to suggest that there must be some valid means other than the intercession of Christ whereby men can be saved – and that teaching is an abomination (I Timothy 2:5). So we see that the doctrine of limited atonement destroys the concept of a SINCERE offer of salvation to the non-elect, because Christ did not die for them, irrespective of whether or not we know their elect status.

Examining the "Offer"


Now consider the notion of the OFFER. For that let’s train our attention on the elect man. If Jesus Christ’s work in saving his people from their sins is both monergistic and 100% effectual, and it undeniably is (Romans 8:31-39), then the gospel cannot be merely OFFERING salvation to the elect, as in a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, because Christ work accomplishes its end – he SHALL save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), he should give eternal life to as many as the father has given him (John 17:2) and he gives life unto his sheep and they shall never perish (John 10:28). No, the gospel is not OFFERING eternal life even to the elect, because since the saving work of God is monergistic (Romans 5:19) and salvation is by sovereign grace (Romans 9:16) and it is not by works of righteousness which they have done (Titus 3:5), their redemption is an objective historical accomplishment already (Hebrews 9:12). Their receiving such truth by faith is not a ratification or effectuation of a potential salvation OFFERED, it is a covenantal evidence of an actual salvation ACCOMPLISHED. That is an incredibly important and gospel-message-shaping distinction.

The Nature of the Broadcast Message


The result of these unavoidable logical ramifications of salvation by sovereign grace is not that those in gospel ministry should attempt to adjust the size of their broadcast audience. Admittedly we do not know who among the unconverted are of the elect. It would be a fool’s errand to try and ascertain this beforehand. So we should commit ourselves to PROCLAIMING the truth of the gospel to all who are willing to listen. I’ll state that again because it is commonly misunderstood: Gospel ministry should be involved in proclaiming gospel truth to any and all who are willing to listen. That said, the truths of sovereign grace do not require us to adjust the size of our broadcast audience, but rather require us to correctly represent the nature of the broadcast message. For the aforementioned reasons the gospel is not a sincere offer of eternal life issued to all of humanity. That is an abject misrepresentation of the King’s edict issued by poor ambassadors who have not take the time to properly understand the nature of the covenant they claim to represent. The gospel is the PROCLAMATION of the finished work of Christ on behalf of his chosen people (I Corinthians 15:3-4), not an offer of potential eternal life issued to all of humanity provided they meet the condition of faith. The gospel proclaims the objective historical fact of the redemption of God’s people as a past accomplishment of the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:12), and assures those who believe this testimony that they HAVE eternal life (John 6:47) and admonishes them to serve the Lord by walking in gospel obedience as their reasonable service (Romans 12:1).

FINALLY


Stated plainly, to the extent that one is going about the business of making GOSPEL OFFERS to all of humanity, they show themselves to be poor ambassadors who by misrepresenting the King’s edict prove themselves to be removed from the King’s business of PROCLAIMING the GOSPEL of the finished work of Christ on behalf of God’s chosen people, May God bless our studies and understanding of what he HAS ACCOMPLISHED so that we may PROCLAIM this truth to all who are willing to listen and in so doing connect those who have the ears to hear with their King's edict.

2 comments:

  1. I was searching for the combination of "proclaim" and "captives" in scripture. I found, Luke 4:18 says, "He hath anointed me...to preach deliverance to the captives."

    Then 1 Peter 3:18-20 where Christ preached to those in Hell.

    Were there children of God there who needed to be told they were free, or was this just a notice to those of His judgement on them before the days of Noah.

    Or, maybe another explanation.

    Kindest regards,
    Gary

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  2. Do you believe it is possible for people to understand the true gospel without ever hearing it? The reason I bring this up is after reading some of your blogs I get the notion that you might think it is posssible. For example Charles spurgeon or John Piper you and I agree their doctrines contradict themselves but have they ever heard it properly explained.

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