If I should refer to all the passages of Holy Writ that prove that the complainants contradict Scripture when they insist that God sincerely seeks the salvation of the reprobate through the preaching of the gospel, this discussion would become practically endless.
And I intend to conclude it in this article.
Hence, I will just make a few selections, in order that it may become abundantly evident that my position is not based on human reason, but on the revelation of God in the Holy Scriptures.
Let us attend to, the context of that well known passage: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” We read there: “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father; and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Father will reveal him.”
Let us, in connection with this passage, briefly notice the following points of importance:
1. That Jesus here answered. Answered whom? Evidently, the Father. But to what do His words and thanksgiving here contain an answer? To something the Father had done, and that, too, through the preaching and labors of our Savior. This is evident from the context. While the Lord preached the gospel of the kingdom and performed His mighty works, a twofold effect had become evident. There were the mighty, who always took the kingdom of God by force, whether it was John or Jesus that preached its gospel; and there were the miserable men of that generation, whom Jesus compares to the children on the market, calling unto their fellows: “We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.” Never did they enter the kingdom of heaven. John preached it, but they said that he had a devil, because he came neither eating nor drinking; Jesus came eating and drinking, and they called Him a glutton and winebibber. To John they piped, and he would not dance; hence, they must have nothing of his gospel. Before Jesus they lamented, and He would not mourn; and, therefore, they rejected His gospel. And in connection with this latter effect of His preaching, the Lord upbraids the cities, “wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not.” vs. 20.
A twofold effect, therefore, had become manifest under the same preaching.
2. That Jesus ascribes this twofold effect to the work of the Father. He is the Lord of heaven and earth, sovereign also with respect to the work of salvation. The preaching of the gospel becomes effective only through His power and operation. And that operation is twofold: He hides the things of the kingdom of God? and He reveals them.
3. That all this is quite in harmony with the truth, that no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; and that no one can know the Father, but the Son, and to whom the Son will reveal Him.
4. And that the ultimate reason and cause of this operation of the Father, according to which, even under the preaching of the gospel, He hides and reveals, is the good pleasure of God: “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.”
Now let the complainants make plain that they do not flatly contradict these words of Jesus, when they insist that God sincerely seeks the salvation of the reprobate through the preaching of the gospel.
May I, further, just remind the complainants of the passage in? And let it suffice to point out the main line of the apostle’s argument. He explains the fact that many Israelites had not obtained salvation, while the remnant obtained it, from the sovereign purpose of God concerning election and reprobation. The Word of God had not become of none effect, even though many Israelites were not saved, for only the children of the promise are counted for the seed. And these are the elect in distinction from the reprobates, Jacob in distinction from Esau. Even in relation to Israel as a nation God remains sovereign to save whom He will: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” vs. 15. And, after he referred to God’s sovereign dealings with Pharaoh, he concludes this section with the words: “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”
I would very much like to see the complainants explain this passage in such a way, that it becomes plain that they do not openly contradict the Scriptures when they hold that God sincerely seeks the salvation of the reprobates.
One more passage,: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph, and maketh manifest the savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are a savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient unto these things?”
The point here is: 1. That the apostles, in their preaching of the gospel, are both, a savor of death unto death, and a savor of life unto life. And 2. That in both cases they are a sweet savor of Christ unto God. And the preacher of the gospel that is not willing to be such a sweet savor unto God in them that are saved and in them that perish, simply cannot be a minister of the Word of God.
But what then?
What becomes of the contention of the complainants that God sincerely seeks the salvation of all men, the reprobate included, through the preaching of the gospel?
And what to think of their final statement: “The supreme importance for evangelism of maintaining the Reformed doctrine of the gospel as a universal and sincere offer of salvation is self-evident”?
Do they, in this statement, not reveal their real intention? They first claimed that the Reformed doctrine of the gospel honors the paradox, the contradiction: God wills to save all men; He wills to save only the elect. Must they, then, not preach that paradox, if they would proclaim the full gospel, according to their own contention? Must they not do justice to that gospel, and hide nothing of it, whether in “evangelistic” work, or in the ministry of the Word in the Church?
But no; here they tacitly admit that, for evangelistic purposes, their paradoxical gospel is not suitable. And so they propose to forget the one side of their paradox, and to present the gospel only as a “universal and sincere offer of salvation.” And that means that they intend to limit themselves to the proclamation that God sincerely seeks the salvation of all men.
In practice, they intend to preach an Arminian gospel.
They are afraid of their own paradox.