Theological Vocabulary Thursday
The Free Offer of the Gospel

August 18, 2011

 

By Ron F. Hale, Minister of Missions, West Jackson Baptist Church. Jackson, TN


Does God have a universal saving will that desires the salvation of all people who will believe, or was our Lord’s atonement only sufficient for some?

Should the Gospel be preached to all indiscriminately with the purpose of calling everyone to repentance and faith?

Is God’s love and saving desire equal or unequal? Does God extend effectual (saving) grace to one group and a common grace to the other?

Is salvation sure and certain of all whom God gave to Christ before the foundation of the world and is in no way conditioned on a sinner responding to the preaching of the gospel?

Is the gospel invitation just a modern method instituted by Evangelist Charles Finney in the 19th century and has no biblical support?

These are questions that relate to the “free offer” or “well meant offer” of the Gospel.  The aim of this article is give some definition to the term, share different perspectives, add some personal views, and ask more questions.

One definition of the term is:

The bona fide (“in good faith”) offer of salvation to all who hear the gospel and will repent of their sins and trust in Christ for forgiveness.  Some non-Calvinists do not think that Calvinists can freely offer the gospel to all persons since they believe in a definite atonement of Christ for the elect alone.  Calvinists respond that the extent of the atonement does not come into play in the preaching of the gospel, for the call is to sinners to repent and trust in Christ; the evangelist need not preach that “Jesus died for you.” The only group that denies the free offer to all sinners indiscriminately is hyper-Calvinism (Shawn D. Wright, “Glossary of Some Important Theological Terms,” in Calvinism: A Southern Baptist Dialogue, Nashville: B&H, 2008, 281).

 

Our Baptist Faith and Message 2000, does address this topic in the following statement:

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord (emphasis added; available at http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp).

 

In thirty-five years of preaching the Gospel, I can honestly say that I’ve never struggled with the questions that I mentioned in the opening statements.  As stated in the Baptist Faith and Message, the Gospel of our Lord is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour!  Yet, it seems that some Christians and Christian groups have struggled with these questions in history.

The teachings of the Protestant Reformed Churches of America (PRCA) on this subject are:

The well-meant offer teaches that God’s grace is universal. The Protestant Reformed Churches maintain that God’s grace is particular, specifically now in the preaching of the gospel. The truth that God’s grace is particular is essential for a confession of the sovereignty of grace. If God’s grace in the preaching is for everybody, it is not sovereign grace. And the truth that God’s grace in the preaching of the gospel is particular, sovereign grace is the very heart of the Reformed faith…

It is indisputable that the Protestant Reformed Churches’ rejection of a well-meant offer and a conditional promise is not and never was motivated by hyper-Calvinism, that is, by a refusal to preach the gospel to every creature, a refusal to call every hearer to repentance and faith, and a refusal to proclaim to everyone the promise that whoever believes shall be saved. This was simply not the issue. Rather, the issue in the doctrine of a well-meant offer of the gospel is this: does God love and have a gracious attitude toward everyone who hears the preaching, and does He in the preaching desire to save everyone? As Hoeksema never wearied of asking, “What grace does the reprobate receive in the preaching?” (emphasis is original; Reformed Free Publishing Association website, “Doctrines We Believe, Well-meant Offer” available at http://www.rfpa.org/catalog/well-meant-offer.php).

 

The PRCA refuse to see themselves as hyper-Calvinists, while resisting the belief that the gospel is meant to be offered to everyone!

In fighting hyper-Calvinism among English Baptists of the 19th Century, Charles H. Spurgeon indicates his fervor toward offering the gospel to all in the following quote:

Brethren, the command to believe in Christ must be the sinner’s warrant, if you consider the nature of our commission. How runs it? “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” It ought to run, according to the other [Hyper Calvinist] plan, “preach the gospel to every regenerate person, to every convinced sinner, to every sensible soul.” But it is not so; it is to “every creature.” But unless the warrant be a something in which every creature can take a share, there is no such thing as consistently preaching it to every creature. (Spurgeon’s sermon on 1 John 3:23: “The Warrant of Faith.”)

 

There seems to be a growing number of Southern Baptists that believe the public invitation is based on defective theology and 19th century gospel gimmicks.  I would ask if the rise or resurgence in the belief of a “limited atonement” fuels the opposition to the public invitation or altar call.  Dr. David L. Allen does a masterful job in his chapter entitled The Atonement: Limited or Universal? (Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism) in pointing out that limited atonement creates serious problems for God’s universal saving will; it provides an insufficient ground for evangelism by undercutting the well-meant offer; it undermines the bold proclamation of the gospel in preaching; and it contributes to a rejection of valid methods of evangelism such as the use of the evangelistic altar calls (p.107).

Dr. Allen asks a powerful and pertinent question: When is the atonement applied to the sinner (p.65)?   He gives three possibilities:

  • It is applied in the eternal decree of God.
  • It is applied at the cross to all the elect at the time of Jesus’ death.
  • It is applied at the moment the sinner exercises faith in Christ.

I contend with Dr. Allen that the atonement is applied when the sinner exercises faith in Christ.  This reality gives me a sense of peace and freedom as I look into the eyes of a crowd or congregation and know the Holy Spirit is going to work and woo as His Gospel is preached.  It still gives me chill bumps to know that God has called me to this high and holy calling.

Are you seeing signs that the “free offer of the gospel” is being questioned or quenched in SBC life?

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Robert Campbell

Ron, you are right on target. Lately I have come to the conclusion that all true Ministers of the Gospel will eventually refute Calvinism, especially 5 point Calvinism as they will see the fallacy of it. Like speaking in tongues, it will fade out & eventually you will hear less & less of this weak doctrine. How can those who have been saved by God’s Grace refute God’s Word & the truth thereof. God’s called Ministers have to accept the overall teaching of His Word. Thank yopu my brother for sharing your thoughts. Bob

    Bob Hadley

    Robert,

    You wrote, “Lately I have come to the conclusion that all true Ministers of the Gospel will eventually refute Calvinism, especially 5 point Calvinism as they will see the fallacy of it.”

    I only wish there was even the slightest possibility of that happening but the chances of that happening are actually less than slim to none.

    Grateful to be in His Grip!

    >lt;>’

Scott

The free offer of the Gospel should not be automatically equated with altar calls. Altar calls are a method of offering the Gospel freely, but the Gospel can be freely offered in a sermon without a call to walk to the front of the church.

Grover Westover III

Thank you Bro. Ron for keeping this matter before us. It seems that it isn’t going away anytime soon.

Bob Hadley

Hey Ron,

I agree, as you already know, with you that “that the atonement is applied when the sinner exercises faith in Christ.” This as Scott has alluded to, has nothing to do with the “altar call” although I contend that the altar call is a tool that the Holy Spirit can certainly use to convict someone of their sin and bring them to a decision of saving faith in Christ. For people to assert that this is nothing more than “manipulation” ect. (which I will say no doubt does at times happen when the method is employed irresponsibly) is no different from using different kinds of music in the service to “set the spiritual tone for worship” or even in using different homiletic styles to help make sure the message is received and understood by those listening. It is interesting to me that one thing can be manipulative while other things simply slide under the radar.

The issue of the “well meant offer” is a little ridiculous to me in the first place. As far as I am concerned, Paul clears that up in 2 Corinthians 5 where he writes, 2 Cor. 5:16-21

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. ”

As far as I am concerned, God’s desire is through His Self-revelation to reconcile a lost world unto Himself.. and He uses you and me to participate in that process to reach that world that He loved so much that He gave His Son so that believing in Him no one would have to perish in their sin.

That is as good a “well-meant offer” as I know of!

Grateful to be in His Grip,

><>

    Ron Hale

    Bob,
    Thanks for sharing and for mentioning … II Cor. 5:16-21. God is good and I praise Him for the joy of His salvation!

Chris Roberts

Having just written my own extended post on Limited Atonement, I’ll keep my comment here limited. Many of the questions at the top either present or imply a false dichotomy. The first one is the worst:

“Does God have a universal saving will that desires the salvation of all people who will believe, or was our Lord’s atonement only sufficient for some?”

Yes, God has a universal saving will that desires the salvation of all people who believe, and yes our Lord’s atonement is sufficient for everyone, but no, the atonement was not made for everyone.

Unless these questions are not meant to contrast the Calvinist and non-Calvinist views of the atonement and the offer of the gospel, the implications of the questions indicate either ignorance of the Calvinist doctrine of limited atonement, or willful misrepresentation.

    Ron Hale

    Chris,
    Thanks for your comments and for questioning my questions. Like you … I always enjoy a good and open conversation about issues. I just wish the words “ignorant” or “ignorance” would stop showing up. Blessings!

      Chris Roberts

      I don’t seek to offend, and I’m not calling names, but I’m not sure what else to say when I see such a false depiction of Calvinist theology. It is either ignorance (perhaps the word misunderstanding would be preferred?) or misrepresentation. It is not a fair and faithful summary.

        Ron Hale

        Chris,

        You are free to opine concerning your opinion. May the Lord bless you as we seek to win souls for the Kingdom!

Max

I’ll just stick to the version of Christ’s atonement that I have always had … unlimited entrance His way when any sinner exercises faith in Christ. I can walk the planet and look anyone in the eye and truthfully proclaim “Jesus loves you … He died for you … Jesus Saves!”. That message is in my “knower” … I can’t un-know it because that truth was revealed to me by the Holy Spirit, not by the teachings and traditions of men. My knower (revealed truth) refuses to view souls through any other theological grid. It’s a message that perfectly balances the sovereignty of God with human responsibility, to receive or reject a gift extended by the hand of God. If we allow this free offer of salvation to all people through Christ’s work on the cross to be removed or diluted in SBC message and mission, God will take the torch of evangelism from our denomination and give it to another.

    Ron Hale

    Max,
    Wise words … thanks for sharing!

    Chris Roberts

    “I can’t un-know it because that truth was revealed to me by the Holy Spirit, not by the teachings and traditions of men.”

    Do you mean God is given you authoritative revelation beyond the Bible, or are you speaking of revelation from the Spirit through the Bible?

    “God will take the torch of evangelism from our denomination and give it to another.”

    Not sure what you mean here. What torch of evangelism? How would it be taken away? Who out there that is a Christian does not already have the call to evangelize and the promise of the presence and work of Christ?

      Scott

      I’m with Chris on the “torch of evangelism” comment. The SBC doesn’t have the sole foothold on sharing the Gospel. We are part of the larger body of Christ who are all responsible for sharing his Gospel with the world.

        Max

        Scott & Chris – Indeed, all Christians are called to share the Gospel with all people to the ends of the earth. The SBC certainly doesn’t have a corner on the Truth!

        I was young and now am old and have covered a lot of ground in Southern Baptist life. I truly believe that our denomination has been gifted with a zeal for evangelism … a denominational gift (torch). Others in the corporate body of Christ certainly share that gift (it is, after all, the Great Commission for all believers), but the SBC has agonized and organized in times past to build our denominational thrust to fulfill the call of this overriding gift … to carry this torch faithfully. The effectiveness of any gifting can be suppressed for a season if we grieve and quench the Holy Spirit through division. God commands the blessing to be where there is unity.

          Chris Roberts

          Is there any biblical reason whatsoever to speak of a “torch of evangelism” that is given to specific denominations but might be taken away?

David Campbell

Max,

Im interested in what you have to say about those who never hear the gospel.

Max

David,

Your question is a difficult one and heart-breaking to reflect on. To offer an answer is perhaps beyond human comprehension. When I ponder such things, I always start with what I know as I develop a thread of understanding in line with Biblical conviction.

I know that outside of Christ, there is no hope for the world. No other way, no other name, no other foundation. “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is in Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

I know that those who suppress the truth will be judged. No argument, no excuse. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20).

I know that all tribes and nations have unlimited access to salvation through Christ. No other plan. “As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame. For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:11-15).

While the un-evangelized may be lost, they do not have to remain so. And so I go. This is all I know.

    Ron Hale

    Tony Byrne (his website) … says this is his favorite John Calvin quote:

    “He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him.” John Calvin on Romans 5:18

    Calvin saw that the “well meant offer” was to “all” (the whole world). He did not teach a “limited atonement” as do many neo-Calvinists today.

      Chris Roberts

      First, what’s important is not what Calvin believed but what the Bible teaches. That a system of theology bears his name does not mean it will today agree with him in every point. Or do non-Calvinists suddenly want Calvinists to rely on Calvin rather than the Bible?

      Second, quotes from Calvin on the issue abound from every side. There is, of course, the rather unfortunate quote that would seem to position Calvin in the camp of limited atonement: “I should like to know how the wicked can eat the flesh of Christ which was not crucified for them, and how they can drink the blood which was not shed to expiate their sins?”

      Third, we cannot forget what Calvin says on 1 John 2:2, which to me seems to seal the deal on his views of limited atonement: “They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world. For then is really made evident, as it is meet, the grace of Christ, when it is declared to be the only true salvation of the world.”

      He accepts the formula, “sufficient for all but efficient for the elect” but says it is not applicable here; rather, Calvin says 1 John 2:2, while not meaning Christ died for the reprobate, does mean Christ died for the whole Church, no matter where they might be found in the world.

      Fourth, in Calvin’s comment on Romans 5:18 he is using biblical language – particularly the phrase “the sins of the whole world” which would seem to point to 1 John 2:2. But as we note in his comment on 1 John 2:2, he does not interpret those words as meaning Christ died for every person.

      In fact, in Romans 5:18, he is saying there is a universal offer of the gospel – something all but hyper-Calvinists would affirm – but that it ends with the offer. No benefits of justification are extended to any but those who receive him – and, Calvin certainly believes, the only ones who receive him are the elect.

        Ron Hale

        Chris,
        A wise man once said, “For Calvin, the Atonement is universal in extent and limited only in its application, namely, to those who believe.”

          Chris Roberts

          …except that’s not what Calvin himself said, and that’s more important than what Geisler said…

Steve Evans

Whosoever will, whosoever will, send the proclamation over vail and hill. ‘Tis a loving Father calls the wanderer home – whosoever will may come.

David Campbell

Max,

I enjoyed reading your thoughts, and reflected upon the verses you provided to establish them. You all but said the unevangelized eternally perish. Assuming this is your belief, why would Christ make atonement for all men, but refuse many the opportunity to repent and believe?

David Campbell

Christiane,

Please expound upon your comment… Im not sure I follow

David Campbell

Here are some quotes from Calvin that actually pertain to the article above.

The mercy of God is offered equally to those who believe and to those who believe not, so that those who are not Divinely taught within are rendered inexcusable”

“A slight acquaintance with Paul will enable anyone to understand, without tedious argument, how easily he reconciled things which they pretend to be repugnant to each other. Christ commands men to believe in Him, yet His limitation is neither false nor contrary to His command when He says ‘No man can come to Me except it were given him of My Father.’ Let preaching therefore have its force to bring men to faith”

Mark

Hi Ron,

You quoted the BFM stating that salvation is “offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer.” In light of this quote and since the title of this post has to do with the free offer of the gospel I have questions.

According to the BFM, is salvation offered to those who do not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior? And was salvation not obtained for the unbeliever?

Ron Hale

Mark,
The BFM2000 goes on to say, “There is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.”

The Gospel is offered to … all sinners [Jesus came to seek and to save sinners] and is applied and effective as the sinner turns (repents) and trusts (believes and receives Jesus). God is good!

    Mark

    Ron, of course the BFM states, “There is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.” That goes without saying and that doesn’t address my question in light of the topic and the BFM quote referenced. Even those who would deny the free offer of the gospel believe there is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus.

    I agree that the gospel is freely offered to all, but, again, what do you make of the BFM stating that salvation is “offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer?”

      Ron Hale

      Mark,
      If you have something to teach me (us) let’s hear it; you know I’m always open.

        Mark

        Ron,
        I am merely asking you on the grounds on which you presented this material on the free offer in light of the BFM quote. I’m not claiming to teach anyone anything. I’m not sure why you are asking me about things which you posted about.

        As I read it the BFM is speaking of salvation in the quote in question rather than the free offer of the gospel. So it seems particular in so far as who is offered salvation and whom Christ blood obtained redemption i.e. believers only.

Les

Ron,

I always appreciate when we are talking about the free offer of the gospel. Would that we were zealously out there offering it more than we do.

That said, I beg to differ with the way you’re characterizing Calvinism. As has been pointed out, your beginning question is really a straw man.

I won’t insert scripture. We all know the ones involved. But here are some scriptural givens.

1. Calvinism as some call it, or simply the sovereignty of God in all things including salvation, teaches that God alone saves, apart from any effort of man.
2. God has elected some for salvation, not all for salvation.
3. The atonement was not for all, else all would be saved.
4. If the atonement was indeed not for all, then it follows that some will not be saved.
5. We are told to proclaim the gospel.
6. We are not told to preach only to the elect.
7. The gospel will be effectual only for the elect.
8. The gospel will never be effectual for the non-elect.
9. The non-elect do not believe because their will is in bondage the same as all men’s will is in bondage.
10. The elect eventually believe as the Spirit works faith and repentance in their hearts.
11. If it were not for the Spirit working in the heart to quicken (make alive) the heart, no man would ever believe, because all men are dead in their sins.
12. The apostle Paul answers any objections about fairness and such in Romans 9.

Therefore, this staunch Calvinist (believer in the absolute sovereignty of God) never hesitates to proclaim the gospel to anyone. I never wonder or worry whether they are elect or not.

BTW, for what it’s worth, I was ordained SBC having graduated from Mid-America Baptist Seminary back in the 1980s and served in several pastoral positions in the SBS before becoming ordained in the PCA.

    Ron Hale

    Les,

    Thanks for sharing, and according to my article, I quoted Dr. Allen:

    “Dr. Allen asks a powerful and pertinent question: When is the atonement applied to the sinner (p.65)? He gives three possibilities:

    ?It is applied in the eternal decree of God.
    ?It is applied at the cross to all the elect at the time of Jesus’ death.
    ?It is applied at the moment the sinner exercises faith in Christ.”

    Les, according to your theology … When is the atonement applied to the sinner?

    Last, did you receive any Reformed teaching at MABTS …or …. how did your journey take you to the PCA?

    Blessings!

      Les

      Ron, sorry for the delay in replying. I didn’t see this back up stream till tonight.

      The second part first. “Last, did you receive any Reformed teaching at MABTS …or …. how did your journey take you to the PCA?

      No I did not. In fact, MABTS was/is not too friendly to Reformed theology I believe. My journey to the PCA took place back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I was a pastor in a SBC church and again, Reformed theology was not well received. I had some good friends/brothers in the PCA and began looking into it more. I took classes at Covenant Theological Sem. Gradually I came to embrace covenant theology. As I said below, there are many things the PCA and the SBC have in common theologically. Of course paedobaptism is not one of the.

      Now the first question. “Les, according to your theology … When is the atonement applied to the sinner?

      I agree with the WCF.

      “To all those for whom Christ has purchased redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same; making intercession for them, and revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation; effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by His word and Spirit; overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.”

      The LBC similarly,

      “To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same, making intercession for them; uniting them to himself by his Spirit, revealing unto them, in and by his Word, the mystery of salvation, persuading them to believe and obey, governing their hearts by his Word and Spirit, and overcoming all their enemies by his almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to his wonderful and unsearchable dispensation; and all of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.”
      The WCF Shorter Catechism.
      25. How doth Christ execute the office of a priest??A. Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice,[68] and reconcile us to God,[69] and in making continual intercession for us.[70]
      and…
      Q. 29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ??A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.
      30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ??A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.
      So to Dr. Allen’s question, “Dr. Allen asks a powerful and pertinent question: When is the atonement applied to the sinner…”
      I would answer it is applied by the Spirit when God is giving us the gift of faith. The atonement was accomplished on the cross when Jesus said, “It is finished!” It is applied to the elect when they are born again.

    Bob Hadley

    Les,

    You wrote, “Here are some Scriptural givens” followed by a number of statements. I do not see your points as Scriptural givens.

    1. Calvinism as some call it, or simply the sovereignty of God in all things including salvation, teaches that God alone saves, apart from any effort of man.
    Your statement is certainly an accurate statement concerning Calvinism, but not a Scriptural given. God is certainly sovereign in salvation but the conclusion that God and God alone saves apart from any effort of man, is a calvinistic conclusion… and that is not a misrepresentation of Calvinism; it is a simple fact.

    2. God has elected some for salvation, not all for salvation.
    3. The atonement was not for all, else all would be saved.
    4. If the atonement was indeed not for all, then it follows that some will not be saved.

    Once again, this is an accurate depiction of Calvinist teaching but not Scriptural givens. There is no place in the Scripture that says God has elected “some to salvation.” The only thing that is obvious is that not all are saved. The assumption is that SINCE all are not saved, then God never intended that they be saved in the first place. Therefore the atonement was not intended for all, but only for the elect. Your conditional statement in #4 is an accurate statement; is not a Scriptural given.

    7. The gospel will be effectual only for the elect.
    8. The gospel will never be effectual for the non-elect.

    I prefer to say the gospel will be effectual only for those who believe. The gospel will never be effectual for those who do not believe. It is amazing to me that this whole issue completely ignores revelation and reconciliation, which are clearly God’s initiatives. Both revelation and reconciliation require a response, which is ours to make. Calvinists make the argument that non-Calvinists place more importance on the will of man in conversion than the will of God, as if that challenges God’s sovereignty. Calvinists are guilty of the same thing in saying that man’s inability trumps God’s ability to reveal Himself or reconcile a fallen world unto Himself. To me, if we want to talk about Scriptural Givens, I am going to stand on revelation and reconciliation that lead to saving faith and repentance as opposed to regeneration leading to saving faith and repentance. The latter being the crux of Calvinism.

    11. If it were not for the Spirit working in the heart to quicken (make alive) the heart, no man would ever believe, because all men are dead in their sins.

    Your statement here is certainly accurate at least in its assertion of the role of the Holy Spirit’s initiative in salvation. Salvation is not possible apart from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. A person cannot be saved unless and until he comes to grip with his lostness and His need for God’s forgiveness and Christ’s atoning work at Calvary. The central issue is right here; “Does regeneration lead to saving faith and repentance or does saving faith and repentance bring about regeneration?” This is it. Everything else supports and defends this ONE premise.

    I believe revelation and reconciliation lead the unregenerate to saving faith and repentance that brings about regeneration, or new birth. It is AFTER saving faith is exercised that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the heart of an individual. In fact, no where in the OT is regeneration even hinted too. Period. Everything in the OT centers around man’s response to God initiative as seen in His Commandments and the Sacrificial System and even their response to the Promised Son. God’s promises are extended and His invitation is constant: “I want to be your God and I want you to be My people.” This was God’s personal invitation to the people of Israel but it was also His general invitation to the people of all nations. As other nations saw God at work in the lives of the children of Israel, they were invited to take Him as their God as well. This is why David wrote, “Blessed is the Nation whose God is the Lord.” Ps 33:12. Now before anyone jumps up and says that David is speaking of the Nation of Israel here alone, go read the whole passage. David clearly states that

    “Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. 9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
    10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. 11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    The people He has chosen as His own inheritance… 16 No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for safety; Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. 18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, 19 To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine. ”

    God’s desire all along has been the salvation not of a few, but that of the whole. The fact that some and even many refuse to come, is no indictment on God but rather on us! God’s desire is to have a relationship with ALL who will come to Him, at His invitation.

    This notion that God chooses who will and who will not come to salvation is bad theology at best in my book and is most certainly not a Scriptural given.

    Grateful to be in His Grip!

    ><>’

      Les

      Bob,

      I plan to comment more fully when I get my computer back later today. I’m on my iPad right now and it’s really hard to comment more fully than just short responses.

      God bless,

      Les

      Les

      Pastor Bob,

      I was going to take the time to reply with scripture to each point you make about my points. However, I visited your website and see that you are quite clearly not a Reformed pastor and in fact devote your website to refuting Reformed theology.

      I’ve been down that road before…a back and forth with non-Reformed folks, each trying with scripture to convince the other. It ends up being quite an unproductive use of time.

      So, I will simply refer you to the confession of faith I subscribe to (with scripture proofs) so you can see there my counter points to your comments.

      http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/

      God bless you,

      Les

        Bob Hadley

        Les,

        I really do listen to what people have to say… even when it differs from what I believe. We have crossed paths before and I have a lot of respect for what you say and for how you say it. My real point was the phrase… “But here are some scriptural givens.” and then the 1,2,-12.

        They are solid Calvinist statements but NOT “spiritual givens.” Basically, that was my point.

        I still maintain that revelation and reconciliation at what leads one to saving faith and repentance. This is also my primary contention with Calvinism.

        Thanks for your input!

        Grateful to be in his Grip!

        ><>’

          Les

          Bob,

          We’ve crossed paths before? Your name does look familiar, but I can’t remember where. Was it on another blog?

          Anyway, thanks for your gracious tone. I suppose I should have not said “scriptural givens” without some qualification. What I intended was that “here are some points of Reformed theology that have scriptural bases.” All I meant was that I didn’t want to have to plug in verses for each one since we all know which ones I would have used.

          I didn’t mean that someone like Ron or you don’t have any scriptural backing for your view. Obviously you do. We just differ on the interpretation of those “disputed” verses…such as John 1:12-13. I am not trying to start a debate on those verses. Just showing an example where we probably interpret passages differently.

          I’ll subscribe to your blog and maybe offer some comments there.

          Anyway, God bless you.

Ron Hale

Mark:

You said: As I read it the BFM is speaking of salvation in the quote in question rather than the free offer of the gospel. So it seems particular in so far as who is offered salvation and whom Christ blood obtained redemption i.e. believers only.

Me: When the BFM uses the words …”is offered freely to all” … then yes it is touching on the subject of the “free offer of the Gospel.” And, yes it is also speaking of salvation.

Remember the Serpent story and Moses lifting up the bronze serpent on the pole? It was offered up for all who had been bitten … could look and live. Those who “looked” lived. Those that did not look … did not live.

Though God provided atonement for all … only those obedient to the Gospel (those who look to Jesus) are the ones who live (eternal life).

Do you believe the atonement is applied the moment the sinner exercises faith in Christ?

Les

Ron,

I always appreciate when we are talking about the free offer of the gospel. Would that we were zealously out there offering it more than we do.

That said, I beg to differ with the way you’re characterizing Calvinism. As has been pointed out, your beginning question is really a straw man.

I won’t insert scripture. We all know the ones involved. But here are some scriptural givens.

1. Calvinism as some call it, or simply the sovereignty of God in all things including salvation, teaches that God alone saves, apart from any effort of man.
2. God has elected some for salvation, not all for salvation.
3. The atonement was not for all, else all would be saved.
4. If the atonement was indeed not for all, then it follows that some will not be saved.
5. We are told to proclaim the gospel.
6. We are not told to preach only to the elect.
7. The gospel will be effectual only for the elect.
8. The gospel will never be effectual for the non-elect.
9. The non-elect do not believe because their will is in bondage the same as all men’s will is in bondage.
10. The elect eventually believe as the Spirit works faith and repentance in their hearts.
11. If it were not for the Spirit working in the heart to quicken (make alive) the heart, no man would ever believe, because all men are dead in their sins.
12. The apostle Paul answers any objections about fairness and such in Romans 9.

Therefore, this staunch Calvinist (believer in the absolute sovereignty of God) never hesitates to proclaim the gospel to anyone. I never wonder or worry whether they are elect or not.

BTW, for what it’s worth, I was ordained SBC having graduated from Mid-America Baptist Seminary back in the 1980s and served in several pastoral positions in the SBS before becoming ordained in the PCA.

Joshua

“Are you seeing signs that the “free offer of the gospel” is being questioned or quenched in SBC life?”

No. What I continue to see, from laypeople and SBC scholars alike, is a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Reformed beliefs. Your list of questions, presumed to represent Reformed beliefs, are almost all seriously flawed and fail to represent the beliefs of Reformed brethren. Whether this was done unintentionally or intentionally, this type of discussion based on doctrinal ignorance needs to become the exception and cease being the norm in SBC conversation. How many years now has Calvinism been a much discussed topic in the SBC? And yet, the majority of blog posts, paper articles, and conversations are filled with misrepresentations of what Calvinists actually believe. This type of behavior, whether intentional or not, is wrong and fails to represent truth. If we truly belong to God who is truth then let us speak truth.

Ron Hale

Joshua,
Thanks for posting your feelings, although I do not agree.

You said: Whether this was done unintentionally or intentionally, this type of discussion based on doctrinal ignorance needs to become the exception and cease being the norm in SBC conversation.

Me: I just hate it when the “ignorance” word shows up and its the second time today.

I wish you well in your studies and hope you have many, many great years in sharing the Word and extending the free offer of the Gospel!

Ron Hale

Joshua,
One basis for my first question is …

1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith
Chapter 3: Of God’s Decree

3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.
( 1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:5, 6; Romans 9:22, 23; Jude 4 )

4. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
( 2 Timothy 2:19; John 13:18 )

5. Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him thereunto.
( Ephesians 1:4, 9, 11; Romans 8:30; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Romans 9:13, 16; Ephesians 2:5, 12 )

Les

Ron, I’m not understanding how that section of the LBC leads to that first question. Here is how I would answer the question:

Does God have a universal saving will that desires the salvation of all people who will believe, or was our Lord’s atonement only sufficient for some?

Scripture says that God desires that all men be saved. Reformed folks interpret that verse in 1 Tim 2 to mean all kinds of people, not every single one. We recognize that God’s will is multi-faceted…that if he willed all men to be saved (decreed it) then they surely would be. Obviously neither you nor I believe every single person will be saved. We’re not universalists.

So in some sense God desires all men to be saved, and we can also affirm that God does not ake pleasure in the punishment of the wicked.

On the atonement, surely Christ’s shed blood is sufficient for an infinite number of people. The better question is, is it efficient or effectual foe every single person. In other words, was Jesus’ death intended to atone for the sins of every single individual who would ever live. I think not. Again, the atonement put away the sins and paid for them for everyone, that is universalism.

But back to the LBC, it makes the Reformed case very well…that the atonement was for particular people and not for everyone.

    Bob Hadley

    Les,

    You wrote, “Scripture says that God desires that all men be saved. Reformed folks interpret that verse in 1 Tim 2 to mean all kinds of people, not every single one. We recognize that God’s will is multi-faceted…that if he willed all men to be saved (decreed it) then they surely would be. Obviously neither you nor I believe every single person will be saved. We’re not universalists.”

    This is a flawed argument. God’s desires are “never fully met” where man is concerned; thus we have the definition of sin, “that ALL fall short of the glory of God.” (before and after regeneration)

    God’s decretive will is an interesting concept indeed. One could make an argument that God’s commandments express His decretive will. It can also be argued that His covenants express His decretive will. The problem is, in those examples the only one keeping them is Him. God always keeps His promises and He always does what He says He will do.

    I see no evidence in the Scripture that God ever makes his decretive will effective in the lives of anyone. There are plenty of examples where men responded to God’s instructions and followed His direction for their lives but this whole concept of God’s decretive will being carried is not so clearly born out in the Scripture.

    Grateful to be in His Grip!

    ><>’

      Les

      Bob,

      We’ve gotten into that distinction in God’s will on another thread. I’ll just point out here how I see it in broad terms.

      Decretive Will: this is His will decreed, and why he decrees to happen will surely will happen. You said you don’t see “evidence in the Scripture that God ever makes his decretive will effective in the lives of anyone.” I’ll just point to one glaring example in scripture…Jesus death and resurrection. It was decreed and did happen in real time and obviously was/is effective in the lives of many. The secretive will cannot be thwarted.

      Preceptive Will: This is God’s will as it is revealed in His law. For instance, it is will that we not murder, steal, etc. Obviously some do these things.

      Theologians sometimes put forth other categories. I’ll leave that for later.

Joshua

I just hate it when the “ignorance” word shows up and its the second time today.

Perhaps the word ignorance has shown up because your questions indicate a level of ignorance regarding Reformed doctrines.

Are you aware of how your questions have missed the mark in properly representing the Reformed position(s)?

Thanks for your blessings!

    Ron Hale

    Joshua,
    A wise Christian biz man once said, “It’s your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude.”

    Take care!

Joshua

I apologize if my replies have shown a poor attitude. This was not my intent. If your assessment stems from the discussion of the word “ignorant” I assure you that my use of the word is merely technical and not meant to disparage you in any way.

You did not answer my previous question and so I am still confused as to whether or not you understand how your opening questions are in error and fail to represent Reformed beliefs. Will you respond to this issue?

Thanks!

    Ron Hale

    Joshua,

    Sorry that you don’t like my questions or my article — many readers did — I received a number of e-mails and a few phone calls. I would encourage you to write your own article and submit it to SBC Today (I’m just a writer and have no official connection with the blog) but I would ready enjoy reading your rebuttal on … the free offer of the Gospel. Until then … let’s keep sharing the Good News!

      Joshua

      ” but I would ready enjoy reading your rebuttal on … the free offer of the Gospel.”

      I have asked you two times if you were aware of how your questions misrepresent Reformed beliefs and you continue to not answer the question. It appears there is an unwillingness to discuss what you have written and therefore I feel as though a rebuttal, as of now, would only fall on deaf ears.

        volfan007

        If Ron has not written about the Reformed view as you feel it should have been….you’ve been invited to write a rebuttal….so, write it.

        Apparently, Ron has no desire to get into a back and forth, tit for tat, type of thing.

        David

          Joshua

          This site describes itself (at the top of the site) as a place for Baptist “dialogue.” It is unfortunate it is becoming a place of “monologue.”

David Campbell

Les,

Les, I believe this is a forum for baptists. Thats great that you are a convinced Calvinist, I am as well. However, you associate with those who teach the heresy of infant baptism. I would prefer you to refrain from lecturing any of us until you repent of this evil. The link may help… http://www.reformedreader.org/history/howell/evilsofinfantbaptismtoc.htm

    Ron Hale

    David,
    The theological term or topic … of this article is: The Free Offer of the Gospel.

    Let’s stay on topic on this thread. I don’t believe in infant baptism but we’ve stayed on topic for most of this thread … as it comes winding down.

    Les

    David, I am a baptist. But is this forum open only to baptists anyway?

    And, though I responded earlier below, I feel I must say that infant baptism is definitely not heresy. You calling that is an offense to many Christians around the world. As Ron said below, that is not the subject of this post anyway.

    If you would like to discuss that subject in another forum, please feel free to email me at les at haitiorphanproject dot org

    Blessings,

    Les

      David Campbell

      Les,

      You belong to a liberal mainline protestant denomination that teaches in opposition to the most cardinal baptist distinctive, believers baptism. Please refrain from associating with the baptist name, for your toleration and practice of this evil is treasonous towards our baptist heritage.

      http://www.reformedreader.org/history/howell/evilsofinfantbaptismtoc.htm

        David Campbell

        Les,

        My apoligies for mixing you up with the PC(USA)… They are the liberal mainliners… Not the PCA…

          Les

          David, glad that is cleared up. The PCA really has more in common with Baptists than many Baptists think. We do in fact practice believer’s baptism, as well as paedobaptism of course. But as you know, we heartily reject baptismal regeneration.

Ron Hale

Joshua,

You said …

“This site describes itself (at the top of the site) as a place for Baptist “dialogue.” It is unfortunate it is becoming a place of “monologue.””

Me: When guys use the word “ignorant” in their first post toward the writer … the mood for dialogue shrinks rapidly.

Besides … if you’ve been following Bro. Joe’s articles on the Fruit of the Spirit … I’m trying very hard to glorify the Lord in my choice of words. Let’s get ready for the Lord’s Day.

    Mark

    For the record, stating that someone is ignorant is not ad hominem. If the statements did not display ignorance of their topic then it should be relatively easy for the one who made the statements to demonstrate as much.

    That said, here are a few comments on the beginning question of this post.

    I don’t think any Reformed person would deny that God desires the salvation of all who will believe. Some may quibble that the atonement is only sufficient for the elect while others hold that it is sufficient for all with both parties agreeing that it is efficient only for the elect. None of these positions deny the free offer of the gospel, IMO.

    Of course the gospel should be preached indiscriminately with the purpose of calling everyone to repentance and faith.

    Salvation is sure and certain of all whom God gave to Christ before the foundation of the world, but the means with which they must respond is by hearing and believing the gospel. This does not deny the free offer of the gospel, IMO.

    Many believe the altar call as practiced, and sometimes abused, is a relatively modern invention thought to have been popularized by Charles Finney. I’m not sure what Reformed person would deny a gospel invitation. Not using the popularized type of altar found in churches today does not deny the free offer of the gospel, IMO.

Les

David, part of me thinks you are essentially viewing me as a heretic (along with Calvin, Luther and modern day men such as Sproul and Jim Boice). Another part of me thinks you surely write tongue in cheek.

In either case, my comments were not meant to be lecturing.

Mark, I agree with what you say re the altar call. Not having one at the conclusion of preaching in no way means the free offer of the gospel was not made. One can call people to Christ without requiring them to come forward or raise their hands. I see it done all the time.

Joshua

“When guys use the word “ignorant” in their first post toward the writer … the mood for dialogue shrinks rapidly.”

Sir, I have explained my use of the word “ignorant” and that it was not used in any derogatory manner but simply employed to describe a lack knowledge of Reformed beliefs. I am ignorant of many things and if I were to represent someone’s beliefs inaccurately, I would understand if someone presumed my error to be rooted in ignorance rather than malice and would be thankful for such presumption. I believe your misrepresentation of Reformed beliefs to be made in ignorance, not malice. I, nor anyone else here, has said, “Ron Hale is ignorant.”

Your unwillingness to dialogue regarding the accuracy of your opening questions is most unfortunate.

Debbie Kaufman

Charles Spurgeon asks a good question and so I will ask you Ron. Why in the Old Testament did God choose just Israel? Why not all the nations? Why just one nation? Israel?Was God unjust?

    Ron Hale

    Debbie,
    The missionary mandate doesn’t start in the N.T., it starts in Gen. 12 with the call and covenant with Abraham. God promised to show him a land, the promise of a great nation was made, and God would use that nation to bless all the nations of the world. God blessed them to be a light to the nations; to show God’s love and truth. From them came the Savior as the fulfillment of the promise (Acts 3:25-26). God is so good … For God so loved the world (the nations)….

Steve Evans

Let’s all just go and share the Goods News with someone regardless of our bent toward or away from Calvinist opinion. Many people need to hear what we defend, so let’s obey Matthew 28: 19-20

Debbie Kaufman

Steve: Fact: There is a huge controversy right now. One that involves Calvinism. I didn’t start it. I didn’t write this article or other articles written on Calvinism that are clearly wrong in what Calvinists believe. This site did. Others have. I and others have known for five years that the tide against Calvinism and attempting to discredit at the cost of even misrepresenting would happen. You can look at any writing 5 years ago from various people, this was predicted beginning with the first of Conservatives to be misrepresented and ousted from their Southern Baptist positions. Calvinism was bound to be on the list. 5 years later it is. Exactly as predicted. Who knows who it will be next, since those who wish their brand of doctrinal purity, whatever that is, to be the only ones left in SBC life or office.

When we are willing to discuss(based on the truth of what Calvinists believe not on charactures built) the discussion is squelched into what Joshua rightly calls monologue. Not to be challenged. This is how it has always worked. And yes, it works beautifully. Blogs make it work even better because the site owner has complete control of the discussion and the comments. The group or person is then discredited because research on the truth is not done. What people read is what they believe. This site counts on that. Now, when discussion and challenge is issued, folks like you come along and say share the Gospel as if we need a reminder. I agree. But I don’t need a reminder. I do it because I love the Gospel and people enough to share. This is meant to squash challenge, and nothing more. You know that, I know that.

But in the meantime Calvinists existence in the SBC is being threatened. Somehow I don’t think those who wish to squash Calvinism being taught in the SBC to be much of a threat however because the bigger Calvinists are not responding. That says something to me. I believe they would only respond if there were a big enough threat. So this must be a very small minority. That is my guess. But it’s just a guess.

Steve Evans

“folks like you” Would that be a slam? Regardless of your intent I will graciously say I hold no ill will toward anyone on here. Or for those on the pro-calvinist blogs who have attacked my Pastor, Brad Whitt, for his stand.

Steve Lemke

Joshua,
You have mentioned in several posts that you think Ron Hale has incorrectly depicted “Reformed beliefs” in some undefined way. You say that as though “Reformed beliefs” were a monolithic and unchangeable set of laws with which every Calvinist in the world agrees. As Kenneth Stewart (a person within the Reformed tradition) points out in his new book Ten Myths about Calvinism, to assume such a monolithic position would be incorrect. I would strongly encourage you to read my recent review of that book in SBC Today, and then read the book yourself. In fact, there are many Calvinisms. This is especially true with regard to perspectives on the well-meant offer. There are at least 16 Presbyterian denominations in North America (PCA, as Les is, or PCUSA, etc.) not to mention others partial Calvinists such as Calvinistic-leaning Baptists. And dozens of positions in between. All that Rev. Hale would have to do to establish his position is to cite one or more Calvinists who have asserted these positions (which he could easily do), and his point would be established. At least some Reformed persons have said what he asserted. I’ve seen those quotes myself.

However, your own Calvinistic beliefs seem to differ at points from those opinions that Hale mentioned. Don’t keep us in mystery. Just let us know the points with which you disagree, and cite the scholars who endorse such a position.

As for this being a “monologue,” the posting of your comments and Hale’s invitation for you to write a rejoinder indicates clearly that such a depiction in inaccurate. That would be a dialogue, not a monologue.

By the way, “inaccurate” is a much kinder term than “ignorant.”

Les

On the subject of altar calls, and since Spurgeon is quoted, here is Spurgeon on altar calls:

“Oh, that you would trust in the Lord Jesus! Repose in him, and in his finished work, and all is well. Did I hear you say, “I will pray about it”? Better trust at once. Pray as much as you like after you have trusted, but what is the good of unbelieving prayers? “I will talk with a godly man after the service.” I charge you first trust in Jesus. Go home alone, trusting in Jesus. “I should like to go into the enquiry-room.” I dare say you would, but we are not willing to pander to popular superstition. We fear that in those rooms men are warmed into a fictitious confidence. Very few of the supposed converts of enquiry-rooms turn out well. Go to your God at once, even where you now are. Cast yourself on Christ, now, at once; ere you stir an inch! In God’s name I charge you, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, for “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

http://www.apibs.org/chs/1795.htm

Steve Lemke

Just a follow up thought — I came across this Facebook post by David Ponter, a Calvinist in the John Owen tradition, proposing an analogy to argue that the well-meant offer does not square with the doctrine of limited atonement. Here is his Facebook explanation of this parable:
“Ive proffered a parable that I think exposes the problematic at the back of one counter to my claim that limited atonement (as defined by Owen, et al) precludes a sincere offer.” The parable is available at
http://www.theologyonline.org/blog/?p=1190.

Joshua

Southern Baptist James P. Boyce addresses the “sincere offer” in his Abstract of Theology.

“In connection with this doctrine of the Effectual Calling of some, has arisen a question as to the sincerity of God in making the outward call to those who do not accept. It is said that the fact that it is made by him, knowing that men will not accept it without his efficient grace, and yet not purposing to give that grace, argues insincerity in the offer.

To this the following replies may be made:

(1.) If it be true that he does make the outward call, and does not give to all, but to some only, the efficient grace, the very character of God is an assurance of his sincerity. The real question here, then, is an inquiry into these two facts. If they be taught in the Scriptures, it is impious and blasphemous to doubt God’s sincerity.

(2.) This inquiry would never have arisen, had God only made the general offer and left all men to perish in its rejection. But, if so, his additional grace to some does not in any respect argue his insincerity in the partial grace thus shown to others.

(3.) The very nature of the gospel offer, as before stated, shows God’s sincerity. It is one which has all the inducements for its acceptance which one can imagine, and that acceptance depends simply upon the willingness of each man to take it.

(4.) Lest any should doubt the sincerity of God, he assures us of that fact in his word. Paul describes him, 1 Tim 2:4, as one “who willeth that all men should be saved.” God himself says, Ezek 33:10-11: “And thou, son of man, say unto the house of Israel: Thus ye speak, saying, Our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we pine away in them; how then should we live? Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”

Boyce, James. Abstract of Systematic Theology (p. 279). Kindle Edition.

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