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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Calvin Against the Free Offer of the Gospel

Calvin clearly disputed the idea that God wills to save the reprobate when the Gospel is presented to all.  God has only one will, not two wills.  The secret will of God does not contradict His revealed will.  What God commands men to do is a prescriptive will, yet God is not in heaven wringing his hands and hoping someone will choose be saved.  Not only does God know exactly who will be saved and who will be lost but he has predetermined this from before the foundation of the world.  There is no conflict between God's secret decrees and God's revealed will.  God is not "hoping" the reprobate will save himself.  God already knows that this will not happen and there is never any conflict within God over this whatsoever.  God knows what will happen because he has predetermined it, and he has appointed all the means whereby he accomplishes his decrees.  

Calvin says:

Their first objection - that if nothing happens without the will of God, he must have two contrary wills, decreeing by a secret counsel what he has openly forbidden in his law - is easily disposed of. But before I reply to it, I would again remind my readers, that this cavil is directed not against me, but against the Holy Spirit, who certainly dictated this confession to that holy man Job, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away," when, after being plundered by robbers, he acknowledges that their injustice and mischief was a just chastisement from God. And what says the Scripture elsewhere? The sons of Eli "hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them," (1Sa 2: 25) Another prophet also exclaims, "Our God is in the heavens: he has done whatsoever he has pleased," (Psa 115: 3) I have already shown clearly enough that God is the author of all those things which, according to these objectors, happen only by his inactive permission. He testifies that he creates light and darkness, forms good and evil, (Isa 45: 7) that no evil happens which he has not done, (Amos 3: 6) Let them tell me whether God exercises his judgements willingly or unwillingly. As Moses teaches that he who is accidentally killed by the blow of an axe, is delivered by God into the hand of him who smites him, (Deuteronomy 19:5) so the Gospel, by the mouth of Luke, declares, that Herod and Pontius Pilate conspired "to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done," (Acts 4: 28) And, in truth, if Christ was not crucified by the will of God, where is our redemption? Still, however, the will of God is not at variance with itself. It undergoes no change. He makes no pretence of not willing what he wills, but while in himself the will is one and undivided, to us it appears manifold, because, from the feebleness of our intellect, we cannot comprehend how, though after a different manner, he wills and wills not the very same thing. Paul terms the calling of the Gentiles a hidden mystery, and shortly after adds, that therein was manifested the manifold wisdom of God, (Eph 3: 10) Since, on account of the dullness of our sense, the wisdom of God seems manifold, (or, as an old interpreter rendered it, multiform,) are we, therefore, to dream of some variation in God, as if he either changed his counsel, or disagreed with himself?  Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 18, Section 3.

The Westminster Divines agreed with this view since the Confession says:

   2.      Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, (Acts 15:18, 1 Sam. 23:11–12, Matt. 11:21, 23) yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions. (Rom. 9:11, 13, 16, 18)
  3.      By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels (1 Tim. 5:21, Matt. 25:41) are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death. (Rom. 9:22–23, Eph. 1:5–6, Prov. 16:4)
  4.      These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. (2 Tim. 2:19, John 13:18)
  5.      Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, (Eph. 1:4, 9, 11, Rom. 8:30, 2 Tim. 1:9, 1 Thess. 5:9) out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto: (Rom. 9:11, 13, 16, Eph. 1:4, 9) and all to the praise of His glorious grace. (Eph. 1:6, 12)
  6.      As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. (1 Pet. 1:2, Eph. 1:4–5, Eph. 2:10, 2 Thess. 2:13) Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, (1 Thess. 5:9–10, 1 Tit. 2:14) are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified,adopted, sanctified, (Rom. 8:30, Eph. 1:5, 2 Thess. 2:13) and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. (1 Pet. 1:5) Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. (John 17:9, Rom. 8:28, John 6:64–65, John 10:26, John 8:47, 1 John 2:19)  [WCF, Chapter 3, Of God's Eternal Decree, Sections 2-6]


The Westminster Confession of Faith (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

In regards to 2 Peter 3:9, Calvin says in his commentary that the Gospel is applicable to all mankind.  But then he asks and answers his own question:

But it may be asked, If God wishes none to perish, why is it that so many do perish? To this my answer is, that no mention is here made of the hidden purpose of God, according to which the reprobate are doomed to their own ruin, but only of his will as made known to us in the gospel. For God there stretches forth his hand without a difference to all, but lays hold only of those, to lead them to himself, whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world.

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