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All Articles For Taking Heed to the Doctrine

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As the next step in his “apology for particular grace,” Kuyper goes through the entire Bible, showing “that the Holy Scripture indeed teaches particular grace” (Dat De Genade Particulier Is, p. 162). He covers the Old Testament in three stages, the period from Adam to Noah, the period from the patriarchs to Moses, and the period of the prophets.

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Abraham Kuyper wrote the book, Dat De Genade Particulier Is (That Grace is Particular), because many were raising the motto, “Christus pro omnibus(Christ for all),” to a “shibboleth of evangelical truth” .(p. 3). By this “Christ for all” was meant “that Christ, according to the intention and tendency of His self offering, died for all men, head for head and soul for soul” (p. 3). Although the doctrine of universal atonement was on the foreground, Kuyper correctly saw that the real issue was the teaching that grace is common to all men.

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It is widely assumed that the well-meant gospel-offer, or free offer, has strong backing in the Dutch Reformed theologian, Abraham Kuyper. Is not the crucial question in the controversy over the offer, whether grace is common or particular? And did not Kuyper write a massive, three-volume work, De Gemeene Gratie (Common Grace), in which he propounded the view that God has a favorable attitude towards all men and that a power of God works in all men, restraining sin in the unbelieving world and enabling them to do much that is good and beautiful?

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Although the reprobate “are made partakers of external vocation,” Turretin denies that they are called “with the design and intention on God’s part, that they should become partakers of salvation.” There are two reasons why they are called externally by God in the preaching of the gospel, neither of which is a sincere desire of God that they be saved. The first is that the reprobate “are mingled with the elect,” so that “the Call cannot be addressed to men indiscriminately without the reprobate as well as the elect sharing in it” (p. 385).

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We are presently examining the doctrine of the call of the gospel in Reformed theology of the past. We are concerned to discover whether Reformed theology has historically maintained the doctrine of the well-meant offer of the gospel, as is confidently asserted and widely accepted today, so that the denial of the offer must be regarded as conflicting with classic Reformed thought, if not as hyper-Calvinism. In the previous article, we looked at the theology of John Calvin. We now consider Francois Turrettini. 

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John Calvin takes up the doctrine of the call of the gospel in Book III of the Institutes, in connection with the doctrine of God’s eternal election. In chapter XXII, section 10, after he has taught that God elects some to Salvation and reprobates others to perdition, he notes that “some object that God would be inconsistent with himself, in inviting all without distinction while he elects only a few.

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Herman Hoeksema has been instrumental in the development of the Reformed faith. The area of his outstanding contribution is the doctrine of the covenant: what the covenant is; the sovereignly gracious nature of the establishment and maintenance of the covenant; the inclusion of the children of believers in the covenant; the Biblical basis of infant baptism; and related truths.¹ The prominence of the doctrine of the covenant in Scripture and its significance for the Reformed faith are widely recognized. 

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It has been our purpose so far in this series of articles to show that denial of the well-meant offer of the gospel is not hyper-Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinism we have defined as the heresy that denies that God’s external call in the preaching of the gospel goes out to others than the elect and that inevitably results in the restriction and, finally, the loss of lively, promiscuous proclamation of the gospel. We found the essential evil of the well-meant offer to be its doctrine that God is gracious in the preaching of the gospel of Christ to all hearers, not only...

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That Biblical, Reformed preaching includes the call to every hearer to repent and believe is plainly and emphatically the teaching of the Canons of Dordt. “. . . the command to repent and believe ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of his good pleasure sends the gospel” (II, 5). There are “many who are called by the gospel (who) do not repent, nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief” (II, 6).

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