Sunday, January 20, 2008

Tentative positions on the topic of 'common grace' and the 'free offer'

After my previous studies and various interactions leading to the previous posts, I have sortof settled on a more matured view of the entire issue with regards to 'common grace' and the 'free offer', and would attempt to consolidate them into precise written form from the many thoughts and interactions I have had.

1) God gives to all His creation what can be called 'Common providential grace', or simply providence. It is emphatically denied that He gave to His creation 'Common salvific grace'.

2) By 'Common providential grace', this refers to the general benevolence of God towards His creation, in upholding and substaining them, in providing for their needs in general, in giving rain, sunshine and other physically good things to everyone, and in restraining the sinfulness of Man.

3) By 'Common salvific grace', this refers to the favor which God grants upon all Man in such a way that He intends all things for their good, including that He desires them to repents and thus be saved.

4) Closely related to the idea of 'common salvific grace' is the idea of the 'well-meant offer'. We reject the 'well-meant offer' but embrace the concept of the 'universal unconditional offer'.

5) By 'well-meant offer', or 'sincere offer', is meant that God has a sinere and ardent desire that all Man should repent and that God desires their salvation.

6) By 'universal unconditional offer', is meant that God's offer of salvation is not discriminatory against people from any tribe, nation or tongue, ethnicity or 'skin color' — hence universal, and that it does not have a condition which Man must fulfil to obtain this offer — hence unconditional. (Well, beside being human)

7) The proclamation of the Gospel should be done with the 'universal unconditional offer' and not the 'well-meant offer'.

8) In evaluating such issues, attention must be made to the entirety of Scripture.

9) The idea of collective and individuals is very important and must be affirmed within this topic, or everything would end up in irrationality. The best known example of ideas about the collective is that of people in the Covenant, which is implied from Covenant Theology.

9) It is affirmed that Scriptures talks about God desiring to save sinners in a ways that He intends their repentance. Such talk in Scripture like Rom. 2:4 however must be noted in their context, which shows that God's desires and intentions here are expressed towards the collective and realized in the elect within the collective Covenant people.

10) Another important point to take note is that the class of evil people ≠ the class of reprobates. Therefore, that God is good towards the wicked cannot in any sense mean anything with regards to the issue of whether God is good towards the reprobates, since God has His elect even within the wicked (cf the example of Nebuchadnezzar, not to mention some of the Ninevites of Jonah's day)

11) The writings of the Reformers and Puritans are in full agreement with such a view. In fact, they are more truthfully interpreted as teaching such since they hold to Covenant Theology, which forces the differentiation between the collective and the individual.

12) The passage of Ez. 18 can be said to apply only to the Jews and therefore to the collective Covenant community circa Rom. 2:4. However, in Ez. 18:23 and Ez. 18:32, God declared that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. We can interpret this text to mean that God is comparatively happier (anthropomorphically speaking) in repentance than in judgment, yet this has nothing whatsoever to say about God desiring their salvation in an absolute sense.

13) On a parallel track, God delights in repentance because it brings conformity with His Law. Therefore, to say that God likes and loves repentance does not imply that God desires the salvation of someone, although repentance would necessarily lead to salvation. As an analogy, just because person X wants to eat lots of ice-cream does not imply that he desires to be fat, although he would be fat (simplistic scenario), as his reason for so desiring is that he just loves the taste of ice-cream.

14) As such, God's command for all to repent is not that He desires any individual salvaton per se. God only intends the salvation of the elect, but He delights and wants repentance of all because they bring the person in conformity to His Law and thus bring glory to His name.

15) The Gospel is thus a sincere command instead of a sincer offer. It is thus based on a higher, more theocentric basis of the glory of God based upon the command to conform to His Law, instead of the anthropocentric basis of the plea of God to rebel sinners begging him to accept them (ie I want to save you, but you would not allow me to).

Hope this is fine.

1 comment:

Spiritual Israel said...

Hi Daniel,

I highly recommend that you read David Engelsma's book : HYPERCALVINISM AND THE CALL OF THE GOSPEL, available at