George Ella on Doctrinal Matters

The Difference Between John Gill’s Free Declaration of the Gospel to Sinners and the Banner of Truth’s ‘Free Offer’

Dear Brother: What is the difference between Gill’s ‘free declaration of peace and pardon, righteousness, life and salvation to poor sinners’ and the ‘free offer’ and ‘duty faith’ of those who deny outright that Gill appealed to all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel? The difference is that Gill keeps to the gospel as fulfilling what the law could not do, namely provide ‘free grace’. Modern harsh critics of Gill such as friends of the Banner of Truth and Reformation Today, cannot give up their trust in the law for salvation and sanctification. They start with preaching the gospel of duties until faith comes (sic!) and end with preaching sanctification and holiness through keeping the law. There is no room for free grace in their religion, though they might talk ever so much of ‘free offers’. These offers are not ‘free’ but rewards for sinners who exercise saints’ duties. In his essay Three Forms of Law, Maurice Roberts, speaking for the Banner of Truth Trust, divides the Old Testament law into parts that he believes have been abrogated and rejected and parts which have not, taking a midway position between New Covenant Theology and what he sees, quite wrongly, as Westminster Confession Theology. Roberts views part of the Law as still binding on both sinners and saints leaving the impression that therefore Christ has still not fulfilled it. He calls this binding part of the Mosaic Law the ‘Moral Law’, using a pagan, classical term. In his theory, Roberts argues that justification is merely an empty, formal declaration on the part of God which has nothing to do with the separation from the world which holiness and sanctification bring with it. This can only be obtained by law-keeping which means that God can never look upon us as truly sanctified in this life because we can only imperfectly sanctify ourselves by following the Moral Law.[1. See Roberts’ articles, Three Forms of Law, BOT Issue 519 and Godliness, Issue 472.] This is the legal gospel of most of the ‘free offer’ and ‘duty-faith’ community which are now infesting our Reformed churches. For them, the New Testament appears to be a closed book. Obviously, these modern Fullerites follow their favourite guru in rejecting the Biblical and Reformed teaching on justification and with it the essential doctrine of imputed righteousness.

George Ella


George M. Ella is a historian, author and biographer. His writings may be accessed at the online archived, ”Biographia Evangelica”.

George M. Ella, born February 1939 in Yorkshire, England, has lived most of his life on the European Continent. He is a retired Senior Civil Servant formerly employed in teaching, post-graduate teacher-training, chairing examination boards and curricula work. He holds degrees from London, Hull, Uppsala, Essen, Duisburg and Marburg universities with doctorates in English Literature and Theology. Dr. Ella has written regularly since the seventies for a number of magazines and newspapers and published numerous books on Church History, including biographies of William Cowper, William Huntington, James Hervey, John Gill, Augustus Montague Toplady, Isaac McCoy and Henry Bullinger besides works on doctrine and education. He is currently finishing the third volume of his series 'Mountain Movers'; a biography of John Durie; a work on Law and Gospel and further study material for the Martin Bucer Seminar. Dr. Ella is still internationally active as a lecturer and is a Vice-President of the Protestant Reformation Society. He is keenly interested in missionary work and has written on the spread of the Gospel amongst the Same people of Lapland, the people of India and the Native Americans. This present volume follows Dr. Ella's 'The Covenant of Grace and Christian Baptism', also published by the Martin Bucer Seminar. George Ella is married to Erika Ella, nee Fleischman, a former government administrator, and they have two sons Mark (41), Director of a Polytechnic College in Bremerhaven and Robin (39), Leading Senior Physician in a newly-built Geriatric and Psychiatric clinic in Dessau.

George Ella on Doctrinal Matters
George Ella's Biographical Sketches