Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Gospel is not an offer; it's a statement of fact

I can’t count the number of times I’ll be debating a hyper-Calvinist on the topic of the universal gospel call to salvation when I hear their rebuttal to my claim that it’s a free invitation that made even to sinful men:
The Gospel message is not an offer; it’s a statement of fact. God is not calling all men to salvation for He does not call, He demands. He does not offer, He directs. The gospel is a statement: If you come, then you will be saved.
But although this logically follows from the concept of a strictly Limited Atonement, of only a select number of people even being savable to begin with, it’s not true at all. The Gospel defies being reduced to this state because for it to be so God must be some kind of impersonal force, like gravity. As long as there is no notion of a personal God, or the remembrance of the man Christ Jesus entreating and pleading with sinners to come to Him, the gospel can stand as a bare statement of fact, but as soon as a person is involved, then it’s personal, and when it’s personal, it’s an offer.
This is foundational to the way we communicate as creatures- even the meanest interpretation the gospel message is still instinctively understood to be an offer.  For example, if I tell my two year old daughter to go into the kitchen if she is hungry and I will get her some food I have made to her an offer, I have no longer given a bare statement of fact. “If you go into the kitchen, then I will feed you” is not in the form of “if you eat your hunger will be abated” because it presumes I have feelings, actions, and a will, and likewise does my daughter. She can reject my terms, I can choose the conditions upon how I will feed her, we can negotiate together, but none of that would be possible if I had given her a mere fact.  At two years old she understands this- even if her response is rebellion “No, I want to go to the table, feed me there” she demonstrates her understanding of the interplay going on.
When the hyper Calvinist asserts that God does not make an offer when He issues an invitation all they are doing is being disingenuous with language, and pretending God is not a person. There is simply no other way to construe “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will given you rest” than as an invitation, or an offer, made from one mind to another, with the intent to communicate a tender compassion without committing mental suicide and suffering a total break with reality.
God is not merely a force or fact, He’s a person, with desires, a mind, and language. The gospel is therefore not merely a news item stating salvation is available; it’s an offer made with intent.

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