The Preference for the ‘Call’ of the Gospel!

There are many who prefer to speak of the gospel as an “offer” rather than a call. It is interesting, to say the least, that scripture never uses the word offer to describe the gospel. We have no objection to the word offer as such. In its older sense in means only that in the gospel there is a “showing forth’ of Christ. The Westminster Confession, for example, defines an offer of Christ as a “testifying that whosoever believes in him shall be saved”.

In its modern sense, however, the word offer suggests and is used to teach that God loves all men and wants to save everyone of them, that he makes an effort to save all of them in the gospel, and that whether or not a sinner will be saved is dependent on the will of that sinner. These teachings are all contrary to scripture.

Scripture does not teach that God loves all men (Psalm 11:5; John 13:1; Romans 9:13), nor does it teach that God is trying to save all of them (Isaiah 6:9-11; Romans 9:18; 2Corinthians 2:14-16). Certainly it does not teach that in saving sinners God can be frustrated by their unwillingness, or that he waits, cap in hand as it were, for them to accept his salvation (Psalm 115:3; John 6:44; Romans 9:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). For these reasons we prefer not to speak of the gospel as an “offer.”

A call is different from an offer. It reminds us of the sovereignty of God. He is as King, summons sinners to believe and obey the gospel. It even intimates that he actually does bring some to salvation by his sovereign call. When we remember that it is God who calls, it is not difficult to understand this. He is the one who “calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17).

That call is heard in the preaching of the gospel. It is made effectual to salvation by the inward work of the Holy Spirit, so that some not only hear, but also obey that call. By the Spirit’s work it is God in Christ who calls, not the preacher. The preacher is only an instrument.

That is the reason the ungodly are condemned for disobedience when they refuse to heed the call. By their unbelief they do not refuse a mere man, but the living God himself as he speaks through his only begotten Son. That is serious.

It is also the reason the preacher must bring nothing but scripture. Those who hear must hear God’s word, not the preacher’s notions, philosophies, political commentaries, etc. The preacher must even be careful that he does not obscure the sovereign call of God by adding all sorts of unnecessary begging or “hard sell” tactics, leaving the impression that God waits upon the will of sinners.

It must be clear in the preaching of the gospel that God sovereignly demands faith and repentance of sinners, that he, the Almighty, the Judge of heaven and earth, requires obedience and will punish disobedience. By such preaching sinners are saved, and God is glorified.

By Rev R, Hanko in “Doctrines According to Godliness.”

(James R Hamilton, written October 2020)
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