The Universal Proclamation of God’s Particular Promise
God sends preachers to proclaim the Gospel of God, which is the Gospel of grace to all nations (Mt 24:14), even all creation (Mk 16:15), in accordance with His will (Eph 1:11). Proclamation was all but limited to the Hebrews in the Old Testament era, but from the day of Pentecost, His witness is going to the world (Acts 1:8), to every nation, tribe, and tongue (Rev 5:9; 7:9).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached without discrimination to all people (against Hyper-Calvinism), wherever God sends it through His servants. There are some who mock this universal distribution because they seem to think it has failed to reach its intended audience. They believe it should reach all people, which it clearly does not, in either the Old or New Testament eras. Others attempt to undermine the doctrine of God’s sovereign predestination and election, by claiming God is disingenuous to preach to anyone other than the elect of God (Hyper-Calvinism).
When the Arminian deceptively projects the equivalence of hyper-Calvinism onto Calvinists, who obey the command of Christ, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to all creation (Mk 16:15),’” they create a false dilemma. Our question is, “Can God ordain universal Gospel preaching, with a particular Gospel, without being the cold-hearted monster Arminians claim He must be?”
The Gospel call is heard by elect and reprobate alike. God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent (Acts 17:30). Is it wrong for God to require something man cannot meet with compliance? Man is responsible to obey God, but the Bible is clear that he is unwilling and unable to meet the demands of God (Rom 3:10–12). Being dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1), every person is a child of wrath (Eph 2:3), without God and without hope in the world (Eph 2:12).
For this reason, it is tomfoolery for Christians to claim God is “offering” the Gospel/salvation to everyone. Preaching is not a plea, nor an invitation for dead men to make excellent choices. Gospel preaching is the command of God for men to trust Christ, God’s only begotten Son, for their salvation. Only when the Holy Spirit opens the heart of the hearer to respond to the Gospel is it made effectual unto salvation (Acts 16:14).
God has chosen the means by which His chosen people will come to Him. Those whom He elected to salvation before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4–5), and given by the Father to the Son, will come to Him (Jn 6:37). Absolutely no one can come to Jesus unless God the Father draws (elkuse = drags) him (Jn 6:44, 65).
Salvation belongs to God (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1). It is ordered to the praise of His glorious grace (Rom 9:23) that even one soul has been shown mercy (Rom 9:15). As noted, for even one to come, it must be granted by the Father (Jn 6:65). If one is ordered, she will indubitably come because of God’s irresistible grace. Stated another way, God’s unfailing love compels the chosen object, by first changing one’s nature (from sin to grace), so that one’s will is aligned with His will.
In His grace, God sends Spirit-filled preachers (Is 61:1) with the good news of what God is doing to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21). This is foolishness and a stumbling block for the unregenerate natural man (1 Cor 1:23; 2:14). In His Gospel call, God commands repentance and faith. Those granted grace do indeed repent and believe (Acts 5:31; 11:18; Phil 1:29), and those without grace refuse to come to Jesus because they do not belong to God. They are not His sheep (Jn 10:26).
Through Gospel preaching, heard by many, only some are made alive by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:5, Col 2:13). Jesus said, “For many are called, but few are chosen (Mt 22:14).” The Spirit is the “who” that makes grace irresistible in God effectually calling His elect. Lazarus must come forth to Jesus, at His command, because God made Him alive by His Spirit. This same Spirit of Christ, who raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 8:11), and who raised the elect soul to spiritual life in regeneration (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3), will raise our dead bodies to life on the last day (Jn 5:29). That is serious!
The bad news of God’s Gospel of peace is the inescapable judgment and eternal punishment for fully responsible unbelievers. The inability of the reprobate to respond to the Gospel call (Acts 16:14) does not hinder the message of God’s decreed will to save His elect, who we suffer for when sent to preach (2 Tim 2:10).
The Gospel preacher has no idea who is elect and who is reprobate (Rom 9:22–23). God’s preceptive will is for the command, for repentance and faith from all people, to be issued with utmost solemnity. In faith, provided by the indwelling Holy Spirit, the called elect souls respond with compliant, spiritual hearts of flesh (Ezek 11:19; 36:26), given to them by God.
These regenerated, called soul comes to the Lord Jesus Christ by His grace, in faith, given as a gift to receive rest and eternal life (A serious benefit!). The precise number of God’s elect, redeemed by Christ, given life by the Spirit (Jn 3), granted repentance (Acts 5:31), and faith (Phil 1:29) are coming to Him, as living stones being built as the holy temple of God in the Spirit (Eph 2:20–22; 1 Pet 2:4–5), with Christ as the cornerstone (Is 28:16; Zech 10:4). Jesus is building His church and the gates of hell will not stand against it (Mt 16:18).
Christian, God is most serious with His end goal objective that men who are called should come to Him. He is equally serious about the means by which He is making His salvation effectual. It is perfectly congruent for God to make His Gospel of salvation known to all people through preaching and hearing (universal proclamation); for it tells of His eternal love for Christ and His holy nation, a chosen people of His own possession (1 Pet 2:9), who He covenanted with Himself to save (particular promise).
“You are witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me (Is 43:10).” When this God calls, He is most serious about the consequences for not heeding the call (eternal damnation) and for the right response (rest for the soul and eternal life). Beloved, if you believe these things, you are blessed because you have been truly blessed by Him to believe His good news.
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 14, 2022