Jared Smith's Bible Doctrine

33 Bible Doctrine – The Doctrine Of The Free Offer

A transcript of the video teaching

I would like to welcome you back to another study in Bible Doctrine. In our previous study, I began to tackle the three controversial issues which separate 17th century Hyper-Calvinism from 18th century Hyper-Calvinism—the doctrines of duty faith, the free offer and the ten commandments as the believer’s rule of conduct. For this study, I would like to look at the subject of the free offer. The free offer is the belief that the preacher has the biblical mandate to offer the gift of God unto salvation to unregenerate sinners. There is reference to it in the three major confessional statements of the 17th century—(1) The 1646 Westminster Confession—“He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ”; (2) The 1658 Savor Declaration—“he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ”; (3) 1689 Baptist Confession—“he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ”. 

Whereas the doctrine of duty faith centers on the responsibility of the unregenerate sinner, the doctrine of the free offer hinges on the responsibility of the preacher. If it be the duty of the unregenerate sinner to exercise saving faith in Christ, then it must be the duty of the preacher to extend an offer of the gospel to the unregenerate, that they may be given the opportunity to exercise that faith. Now, surprisingly, there are some who deny one of these doctrines, but not the other. I believe, for instance, A. W. Pink rejected the doctrine of the free offer, but insisted on the doctrine of duty faith. Likewise, the Protestant Reformed Churches of America seem to hold that same view—while denouncing the doctrine of the free offer, they condemn groups such as the Strict and Particular Baptists for rejecting the doctrine of duty faith. And then, there was a sovereign grace preacher quite popular during the 1980’s, a Henry Mahan, who also held a view similar to this, saying, that the gospel is more than an offer…it is a command to the unregenerate sinners that they excerisize saving faith in Christ. Henry Mahan, of course, was one of the early leaders of the modern sovereign grace Baptist movement in America. These groups seem to believe that the gospel, rather than being an offer of grace, is a command of duty. However, these doctrines go hand-in-hand—just as the doctrine of duty faith requires the preacher make free offers of the gospel, so free offers of the gospel requires of unregenerate sinners the spiritual and/or moral duty to savingly believe on Christ. In my view, those who reject one of these teachings and not the other, do not fully understand the issues connected with either. It should go without saying at this point in our series of studies, that the one of the distinguishing features of 18th century Hyper-Calvinism was its rejection of the doctrines of duty faith and the free offer.

For this study, I wish to examine the doctrine of the free offer by considering how a number of historic gospel preachers have answered the following five questions: 

1. What is the free offer of the gospel?

2. Why is the free offer a false mode of presenting the gospel?

3. Isn’t the preaching and the offering of the gospel the same thing?

4. How should the gospel be presented if not by the free offer?

5. Is the free offer question an important issue, or one that should be set aside for the sake of Christian unity?

We begin with the first question:

1. What is the free offer of the gospel?

William Gadsby (1773-1844) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher. In 1805, he was appointed pastor of the church meeting at Black Lane, Manchester, a position he held for nearly forty years. In addition to his pastoral labors, it is estimated he traveled more than 60,000 miles, preaching close to 12,000 sermons, participating in the organization of nearly 40 churches, by doing the work of an evangelist. In 1835, he partnered with his son John in the monthly publication of The Gospel Standard Magazine, serving as editor until his death. It is in that magazine, for the year 1890 (pages 254-257), that we find the following statement from Gadsby, on the meaning of the free offer of the gospel:

“We maintain that it is the right for a minister of Jesus Christ to preach the gospel in the hearing of all that hear them; and what we find fault with is not preaching the gospel to all that hear but men pretending that they are authorised to offer the gospel to all that hear them. We consider that to preach the gospel is one thing, and to offer the gospel is quite another thing. Hence when a man gets up into a pulpit, and says, “In God’s name I offer Christ, and pardon, and salvation, to every soul of you present; if you reject this offer, you may never have another; therefore come now and take Christ and salvation, while you have the opportunity; today is the time, tomorrow may be too late, and recollect that it is your own fault that you are not saved for I have this day offered you Christ.” Now, we consider that this is no more like preaching the gospel than a poor deluded Papist, counting his beads, is like the true worship of God. To preach or proclaim God’s will is one thing; but to offer that which is the sole prerogative of God to give and to make manifest, is quite another thing.”

Another Strict and Particular Baptist preacher was Daniel Whitaker (1800’s). He became the successor of Jonathan Franklin of the church meeting at Redcross Street Chapel, London. It was during his pastoral labors, in the year 1835, that he preached a sermon before an Association of Baptist Ministers, the substance of which was published in a pamphlet entitled, “The Nature and Design of Gospel Invitations”. He explained the meaning of the free offer by identifying four types of invitations:

“I would just observe by way of introduction, that there are four sorts of Inviters in the religious world; namely,

First, The Arminians, who deny the doctrines of election, particular redemption, and efficacious grace in regeneration; and maintain, in their creed, the universality of God’s love, redemption and grace to every man, also the free will of man and his ability to comply with all the invitations of the gospel. Therefore they launch out into the ocean of unlimited invitations, using the most extravagant expressions; such as the following.—,”Come just now; this moment; for the next you may be in hell,” “Christ has died for you, the Spirit is striving with you, and wants you to come to Christ. Angels are hovering over you, waiting to see you willing to come to Christ, and accept the offers of grace; that they may carry the news to heaven; and now God has done what he could to save you; Christ the holy Spirit, and the Angels have done what they could, and we Ministers have done our part; now if you will not be saved after all, the blood of Christ will sink you lower and lower into hell.” These must be considered as extravagant expressions, and altogether unscriptural.

The second sort of Inviters, are the Baxterians, who profess the doctrines of election and particular redemption in a certain sense; namely, that Christ died intentionally for the elect only; but sufficiently for the rest. And therefore they conclude the certainty of the conversion and salvation of the [elect], from the decree of God in election; and the possible and probable conversion and salvation of the [non-elect] from the sufficiency of the death of Christ; maintaining also that it is the duty of all men, where the word is preached, to believe with that faith which hath salvation connected with it at the same time admitting, that no man can or will, have this faith, save God’s elect; and yet they launch out into the ocean of general invitations of a spiritual nature, to dead sinners: but they are not quite so extravagant in their expressions as the former sort; equally foreign however are they from the truth, and not so consistent with themselves; for the [while the Arminians] are all of a piece, and more open than [the Baxterians], not concealing their views, so that we know what they are, and what we shall hear from them. They (the Arminians) are not so calculated to deceive, as [the Baxterians] are, who in a crafty manner hold the doctrines of the gospel, making use of fine-spun definitions, and handling the word of God deceitfully. Of the two systems, I could sooner embrace the former and be an Arminian at once; for there is no medium; salvation is either wholly of grace or of works; election is either true or it is false; redemption is either general or it is particular, both with regard to the intention of God in it, and the price paid to redeem.

A third sort of Inviters, more inconsistent with themselves, than the second I have named. These are such as maintain the doctrines of election, particular redemption the inability of man both natural and moral, to receive spiritual blessings, and the efficacious grace of God in regeneration; that is, that God hath chosen some of lost mankind in Christ, before the foundation of the world, and left the rest to perish; that Christ died intentionally and sufficiently for the elect only and that they alone, through grace will be converted and eternally saved. Not withstanding these views, they invite all indiscriminately, ‘O come to Christ and be saved;’ to exercise living and precious faith in him, though dead in trespasses and sins; not because they think it is man’s duty to have and exercise this faith; for they maintain that it is, the gift of God, a new covenant blessing, and a fruit of the Spirit; but, because they think it is the most successful means of converting sinners, and of leaving the unconverted without excuse.

The fourth kind of Inviters, are those who, with the last named, hold the distinguishing truths of the everlasting gospel; but think it wrong to invite men in general to receive spiritual blessings, and exercise spiritual functions; because God hath not blessed men, in general, with them, neither promised to bestow them universally, but, upon his people in particular; and that men in a state of nature are not in a capacity to receive the one, or exercise the other; namely to receive spiritual blessings, or perform spiritual services. Therefore they make a distinction between the natural man, and the spiritual man; between the natural and moral duties of the [unregenerate], and the new covenant blessings communicated to the [regenerate]. They invite the natural man, to the discharge of the natural and moral duties enjoined upon him [under the covenant of works], by God his, Creator, Preserver, and kind benefactor; and they invite the spiritual man, to receive spiritual blessings [under the covenant of grace], as his privileges. And to serve God not only as his Creator, but as his Covenant God and Father in Christ Jesus. To this [fourth] class [of Inviters] belonged, Dr. Gill; and Mr. John Brine, and of the same kind are the Brethren united in this Society of Baptist Ministers.”

Another Strict and Particular Baptist preacher was Job Hupton (1762-1849). In 1794 he was appointed pastor of the church meeting at Claxton, Norfolk, a position he held for fifty-five years. He was a fierce opponent to the teachings of Andrew Fuller, publishing a book in 1843 entitled, “Ministerial Offers of Spiritual Blessings not Warranted by Scripture.” Here is a statement from this book on the nature and meaning of the free offer:

“Long have our pulpits rung and our presses teemed with offers, tenders, and overtures of mercy and grace, pardon and peace, life and salvation, Christ and heaven. Ministers of all denominations are zealously employed in making these offers, tenders, and overtures: in whatever else they differ, in this they are in perfect unison. Here the avowed Arminian and the reputed Calvinist join hands; and although it is difficult to say which of the two is the most strenuous for general offers, it is easy to determine which is the most consistent. These offers and overtures accord very well with the Arminian notions of universal grace, general redemption, the sovereignty of free will, and the imperial powers of human nature; but neither the wisdom of man, nor the deeper sagacity of angels, will ever be able to reconcile them with Jehovah’s perfections, with the volume of revelation, and with legitimate Calvinism.”

And so, we have here the statements of three men, each holding to the covenantal framework of 18th century Hyper-Calvinism, all of whom rejected the free offer of the gospel, yet maintaining the biblical mandate for a full and free gospel to be preached to all sinners. This leads naturally to the next question,

2. Why is the free offer a false mode of presenting the gospel?

Once more, we turn to William Gadsby and the same article recorded in The Gospel Standard, 1890, pages 254-257:

“[The free offer] represents both Christ and God the Father as poor disappointed beings, quite unable to subdue the heart of a poor dying worm. And what encouragement can there be in such a gospel as this for any poor, broken-hearted, self-despairing sinner in the world to trust in the Lord for salvation? Who dare trust the concerns of eternity in the hands of a Being, who cannot obtain a favour which he desires and seeks with earnest supplication upon his knees? But, thanks be unto God, we have not so learned Christ; “we know that whatsoever His soul desireth, even that He doeth.” Hence, says Christ, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come unto Me and him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.” “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power.” “And all Thy children shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be the peace of Thy children.” “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold, them also I must bring and they shall hear My voice.” What has an offered gospel to do with such eternal bulwarks as these? When all free-will offers are sunk in oblivion, God’s immutable shalls and wills must stand. Bless His precious name, there is nothing precarious in the salvation of His people; He does not leave it to them whether they will accept offered mercy or not; no, they shall hear His voice, and they shall live.”

Another Strict and Particular Baptist preacher was Israel Atkinson (1817-1881). In 1854, he was appointed pastor of Ebenezer Chapel, Richmond Street, Brighton, a position he held for Twenty-seven years. In 1850, he published a book against the free offer called, “The ‘Grave Question’ Considered: Being a Reply to Mr. J. Cox; Shewing that Indiscriminate Commands to Spiritual Exercises, and Indiscriminate Invitations to Spiritual Provisions, are not Authorized by the Word of God.” In summary, he sets out five reasons why the free offer is an unbiblical method of presenting the gospel:

“1. Universal invitations and commands of a spiritual nature are without Bible precept. They have no tenable standing upon any one fairly explained text of the whole book of God. They form no part of the law, nor of the gospel.”

2. Universal invitations and commands of a spiritual nature are without Bible precedent. However ancient their use may be, certainly that use has not been taken up from any rightly understood custom of inspired men recorded in the Scriptures. Their use may indeed be ancient…but when men shall become subject to the decisions of sovereignty, and the dictations of Scripture, universal invitations…will die a violent death by the hand of those who have nurtured them.

3. Universal invitations and commands of a spiritual nature are without propriety. What might be justly thought of a person directing a blind man by visible signs, or a deaf man by audible sounds, may fairly be concluded of him who indiscriminately invites men to things spiritual.

4. Universal invitations and commands of a spiritual nature are without profit. All Bible promises are made and confirmed in Christ to specified characters only: hence also their propriety…He who makes a promise to any one in the name of the Lord, that is not a promisee by the will of God, exceeds his commission, misrepresents his Master, and raises a vain expectation.

5. Universal invitations and commands of a spiritual nature are without prudence. Universal invitations, if those who use them are not satirical, are, indirectly, an imprudent bolstering of men in the deceitful conceit, that unto them belong the issues from death.”

One who lived and ministered long before William Gadsby and Israel Atkinson was a Congregational preacher named Joseph Hussey (1660-1728). He was converted to Christ in 1686 after reading Stephen Charnock’s, “The Existence and Attributes of God.” In 1719, he was appointed the pastor of the church meeting at Petticoat Lane, London. He subscribed to 18th century Hyper-Calvinism, setting out a clear case against the free offer of the gospel. In 1707, his teachings on this subject were published in a book called, “God’s Operations Of Grace But No Offers Of His Grace.” He sets forth a clear statement in the first chapter on the reasons why the free offer is a false mode of presenting the gospel. I will quote only part of his argument:

“The word “offer” is not to be found in Scripture in any other sense than to sacrifice; and to be sure, when these men offer Christ, they do not mean that they sacrifice him; no, they have another meaning in the term, as it relates to the preaching of the Gospel, though they thus express themselves. And therefore they speak sometimes of offers of Grace; sometimes propounding the offer; sometimes proposals of the Gospel offer; sometimes tenders of the Gospel; sometimes tendering Salvation, which are all Blind and Scripture-less forms!…The Oracles of God have an elegant variety of expression, to set forth the preaching of Jesus Christ. As for example, it is called speaking, I Cor.2:7,13, speaking the word, Phil.1:14, preaching, Acts 20:25, preaching the Gospel, Lk.30:1, preaching glad tidings, Isa.61:1, preaching the kingdom of God, Acts 28:31, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, Matt.4:23, teaching, Col.1:28, teaching the word of God, Acts 18:11, teaching the things that concern the Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 28:31, showing the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God, Lk.8:1, declaring glad tidings, Acts 13:32, showing by the Scriptures, Acts 18:28, bringing glad tidings of good things, Rom.10:15, &c., and the like. But never once in all this variety of phrase, do the Scriptures call preaching the Gospel by the names and phrases of offering, proffering, propounding or tendering Grace, Christ, Salvation and glad tidings to sinners.”

3. Isn’t the preaching and the offering of the gospel the same thing?

We turn again to William Gadsby and the same article recorded in The Gospel Standard, 1890, pages 254-257:

“Should it be said that preaching the gospel and offering the gospel are the same thing, then I apprehend that wherever we find the terms preached or preaching, in the Word of God, we may translate them offer or offering; but if they will not always bear this translation, they cannot be the same thing. Let us just try a passage or two by this rule: “And, as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” If they proclaimed that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, it appears consistent; but to say they offered that the kingdom of heaven is at hand would be ridiculous. “Being grieved that they taught the people and preached, through Jesus, the resurrection of the dead.” But how would it read, “offered the resurrection of the dead”? Let men offer and proffer as long as they will, no man can come unto Christ except the Father draw him…An offered gospel will be like water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; but the gospel of Christ shall win its way, and prosper in the thing whereunto He hath appointed it.”

4. How should the gospel be presented if not by the free offer?

William Styles (1842-1914) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher, serving the churches in London which belonged to the Metropolitan Association of Strict Baptist Churches. In 1902 he published a book entitled, “A Guide To Church Fellowship As Maintained By Primitive Or Strict And Particular Baptists”. It is perhaps, as close to a body of divinity produced by the Strict and Particular Baptists since that of John Gill, though on a much smaller scale. Under the section which deals with the presentation of the gospel, he writes:

“Preaching the Gospel is, therefore, the declaration of all the great and gracious facts on which the redemption and renovation of sinners depend. It is not reiterating the name of Christ without reference to the purpose which center in the person of the Son of God. It is not threatening men with damnation if they do not instantly believe the message of mercy. It is not shouting, “Come to Jesus,” without declaring to whom the invitation extends. It is not begging and intreating natural men to become spiritual men, and to do what only spiritual men can. It, however, is,—what the words referred to express and involve—the intelligent and comprehensive exhibition and exposition of the “way of salvation.” (Acts 16:17) The Gospel is a declaration of the way in which sinners are saved by sovereign mercy, sacrificial merit, and spiritual might, and due prominence should be given to the will of the Father, the worth of the Son, and the work of the Holy Ghost.”

This question, however, in my opinion, is best answered by William Gadsby in the same article recorded in The Gospel Standard, 1890, pages 254-257. I ask you give special attention to the lengthy quote I will now read, for in it contains the substance of what 18th century Hyper-Calvinists preach to all sinners—the elect and the non-elect; the sheep and the goats; the regenerate and the unregenerate; the believers and the unbelievers. In the hearing of all that come under the sound of their voices, here is the message of 18th century Hyper-Calvinism:

“We believe it right to preach both law and gospel in the hearing of all that hear us; to declare that God made men upright, but that he has ruined himself by sinning against God, and has merited eternal wrath at the hands of justice, and that such is the nature and holiness of the righteous law which man hath broken, that it extends to the principles and thoughts of the heart, and condemns for both: “Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things, (both in thought, word and deed), written in the book of the law to do them.” “By the deeds of the law, no flesh living can be justified”; and yet “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

“We consider that Jehovah is bound, in real love and strict justice to His own holy nature to vindicate the honour of His law. Sooner than God could repeal one jot or tittle of His law, the whole race of man must sink into black despair for ever, for the law is holy, just and good, and a holy, just and good God must in love to Himself vindicate a just and holy and a good law. This we preach in the hearing of all that hear us.

“When we are upon this subject, we also preach that there is no escaping, by works of righteousness which we can do, the just vengeance which we have merited, and that the only way in which God can be just and the justifier of the ungodly is by the atoning blood and the justifying righteousness of Jesus Christ. We repeatedly declare that there is no other name given under heaven among men whereby sinners can be saved but the name of Christ, that there is redemption through the blood of Christ and no other way, and that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved, and shall never be confounded world without end.

“We feel a real pleasure in declaring that Christ is both able and willing to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them; nor do we neglect to tell all who hear us that this salvation is all of grace, and that there is nothing uncertain or precarious in it but that the promise is sure to all the seed of promise; for the eternal God, in everlasting love, has elected unto Himself a people whom He will save with an everlasting salvation, let what will oppose. The Three-One God has entered into an everlasting covenant on behalf of the elect, and Christ, as their Surety, has taken their cause into His own hands and has made Himself accountable for all their sins. Yes; He has really taken into union with His Deity the seed of Abraham, and in this nature He has fully atoned for all the sins of the elect, and divine justice is well pleased with the satisfaction He has given; so that He has not merely made it possible for sinners to be saved, but made the everlasting felicity of His people sure. He has finished transgression; and by one offering has for ever perfected them that are sanctified, or set apart in Him, their Head. “The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Not, “They shall have an offer of mercy made unto them”; but they shall be crowned with everlasting joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

“We declare that all the elect of God are justified in the righteousness of Christ; for in the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. We also preach that it hath pleased the Father that in Christ should all fulness dwell, so that whatever His people need for life or holiness, in time or in eternity, it is all secured in Christ, their living Head.

“We insist upon the necessity and describe the nature of repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ; but we preach them both as the free gift of God: “Then hath God unto the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Christ is exalted at the right hand of the Father to give repentance unto Israel and remission of sins; and He is the Author and Finisher of faith.

“We also preach the absolute necessity of the Holy Ghost to quicken the dead; to enlighten the blind, to convince of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, and to take of the things which are Christ’s and show them to His people, and so exalt Christ in their hearts.

“We separate the precious from the vile in tracing the footsteps of the flock of Christ and the work of the Holy Ghost in their souls; and we attempt to describe their various feelings under His divine teachings. We enter into their hopes and fears, their ups and downs, cowardice and zeal, defeats and victories, sorrows and joys, fastings and festivals, contractions and enlargements, misgivings, temptations and triumphs. We trace them in their suits of mourning, when their Master’s presence is withdrawn and their comforts appear to be dead; and in their beautiful garments of praise when their comforts return on jubilee days.

“We give a description of their enemies, together with their dens and holds and artful workings; but we assure the saint of victory through the blood of the Lamb. We lisp forth a little of the beauty and preciousness of Christ in His Person, undertakings, work, blood, righteousness, offices, characters, relationship, fulness, love and loveliness.

“We in our ministry feel a solemn pleasure in attempting to range in the immeasurable field, and soar up towards the unsearchable heights, and plunge into the fathomless depths of the unutterable love of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost to His people. We describe, as far as the blessed Master gives grace and talent, both the internal and external glory of the Queen the Lamb’s wife. And we endeavour to detect hypocrites and expose the fallacy of their hopes, and apprise them of the just doom that awaits them, if they die in the state they are in. And we encourage every self-despairing sinner to hope in Christ, and to wait at the door of mercy, begging, praying and hoping till the Lord come; to believe in and rest upon Christ as the only Saviour of poor sinners. We preach the various branches of divine truth in the gospel of Christ, in doctrines, promises, invitations, precepts, encouragements, ordinances, cautions, etc. And we endeavour to point out the characters and cases to whom these truths are immediately applicable in their various situations and circumstances.

“Thus we separate the precious from the vile and, as instruments in God’s hand, we endeavour to comfort the family of God with the same comforts wherewith we ourselves have been comforted of God, and so give a portion of meat to each in due season. And we exhort God’s people to be careful to maintain good works; and these things we preach in the hearing of all that hear us.”

Now, is there anything in this type of preaching that justifies the terrible allegations brought against those who reject the free offer of the gospel? They charge us with not preaching the gospel to sinners; or for being afraid of preaching the gospel to sinners lest the non-elect should believe; or for being against the work of evangelism and world missions; or for having no love for the lost or urgency in preaching the gospel to them. Are any of these charges justified, when you see for yourself, what it is we preach in the hearing of all that hear us?

5. Is the free offer question an important issue, or one that should be set aside for the sake of Christian unity?

And we turn again to William Styles, who in the same book, under the same section, warns of a great falling away of those once confirmed in the faith, if they compromise on this important matter on the mode, or method, of setting forth the good news of glad tidings in Christ.

“Bitter things have been said and written about Strict and Particular Baptists, because instead of offering Christ to sinners and urging faith as a legal duty, they present the invitations and promises of the Gospel in a hypothetical way. This, however, has the highest authority [in Scripture]. It is a distinguishing feature of the Creed of the Strict and Particular Baptists to repudiate the doctrine of offered grace, not only because it has no authority in the Word of God, but because it involves a contradiction to the testimony of the Bible to men’s real condition as lost and helpless sinners…Calvinists who urge them are compelled to advance plausible reasons for so doing. Some (for example) have been driven to the fiction that a distinction should be drawn between the merit of Christ’s atoning work—which is, they plead, infinite, and its application, which, they admit, extends to the elect only. Yet, if other men are willing to rest in this infinitude of unavailing merit, while the elect must be saved these may be saved. Thus a popular preacher—once a Strict and Particular Baptist—holds “the certain salvation of some men, and the possible salvation of all men.” On the ground of this truth (?) it is urged that general invitations are consistent with God’s covenant order of things. It is hoped that the fallacy of this notion will be evident to every reader, and that he will repudiate the mistaken view of the proclamation of the Gospel which originated it. General invitations are often the point of departure from the truth of the Gospel—the first false step in the direction of great and grievous error. May we avoid them, whatever sacrifice may be involved by our adherence to the truth.”

Yes, the free offer issue is a vital matter in the grand scheme of gospel truth and its injurious influence among the people and churches of Christ. What sacrifice may be required of us in the repudiation of such error only God knows. It may require you as a church to go without a pastor or preacher for an indefinite period of time, if the only men available are those who deceitfully handle the gospel of our Lord—that is a sacrifice! It may require you to leave the church of your membership, if such mishandling of the gospel is done by your pastor and visiting preachers—that is a sacrifice! It may require you to meet in the privacy of your home for worship, following online video teachings, if another church of good standing cannot be found—that is a sacrifice! It may require you to breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, for how can two walk together, especially as future husband and wife, if they be not agreed on matters so fundamental to truth—that is a sacrifice! My dear friends, the nature of your sacrifice will be evident as you walk with the Lord in the integrity of your hearts, but one thing I know, if you reject the free offer of the gospel, sacrifices will be required!

Now it’s my turn. Having given the opportunity for these historic preachers to state their case, I wish to close this study, which will be done in the next five minutes, by highlighting the reasons I reject the free offer of the gospel.

First, the preacher is not authorized to offer the gospel to sinners. The gospel is God’s to give, not the preacher’s to offer. The preacher is commissioned to preach the gospel; to teach the gospel; to rebuke, reprove and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. But he is not commissioned to offer the gospel. Nowhere in scripture is he given that authority. A preacher who offers the gospel oversteps the boundary of his commission, usurping the authority of Christ. 

Second, the unregenerate sinner is not authorized to receive the gospel. So long as the sinner remains in an unregenerate condition, he/she is under the authority and jurisdiction of the covenant of works, not the covenant of grace. Therefore he/she has no warrant to receive the gift of God unto salvation.

Third, the unregenerate sinner is not able to receive the gospel. So long as the sinner remains in an unregenerate condition, he/she cannot stretch out a hand, as it were, in the receiving of God’s gift. That gift, by its very nature, must be freely imparted to the soul by the gracious and efficacious power of the Holy Spirit, through the experience of the new birth. This renders the free offer null and void. 

Fourth, a free offer is an unfree gospel. The very nature of an offer requires the unregenerate sinner do something in order to receive what is offered. That something may be walking the church aisle, repeating a prayer, making a decision or even exercising faith. Whatever that something is places a duty, or a tax, on the gospel which makes it no longer free. A free offer of the gospel is a taxed gospel. We often enjoy shopping in the duty free stores at the airport—there are no added taxes. The gospel is duty-free, God has imposed no taxes or duties on it. Yet those who offer the gospel tax it invariably with the duty of saving faith. The free offer is no longer a free gospel; an unfree gospel is no longer the gospel of Christ; those who make free offers are therefore propagating a false gospel. Let others embrace the free offer of a false gospel, we will forever hold to and defend the free gospel of Christ!

Fifth, the free offer is a man-made mechanism for proselyting new converts. Whereas Christ commissions His ministers to freely preach the full gospel which is designated evangelism, yet these free offer men are in the business of making personal converts which is nothing other than proselyting. 

Sixth, the free offer is an exploitation of the non-elect. By the use of psychological tactics, preachers with their free offers are able to manipulate the non-elect into making decisions for Jesus. Their ultimate goal is the stroking of their egos and the building up of their little kingdoms (churches) on the earth. The non-elect may be fitted to destruction, but God forbid that we should ever make merchandise of them for our own benefit and profit. What a despicable way for believers in Christ to use the non-elect!

Seventh, the free offer can only be given sincerely if the atonement of Christ sufficiently covers the sins of the non-elect. A general atonement is the basis for all free offers of the gospel, for unless it be possible for those unto whom the offer is given to become partakers of that gift, the preacher is making a false promise and is therefore a false witness. It is for this reason free offers of the gospel are a central doctrine in the Arminian scheme of salvation, whereas it has no legitimate place is the scheme of sovereign grace. A person claiming to be a Calvinist, professing to believe the atonement of Christ is limited and particular, yet makes free offers of the gospel, only reveals his true colors as a free will Arminian. 

My dear friends, we believe in the work of evangelism, not proselyting. We believe the gospel is to be fully and freely preached to all, but not falsely and foolishly offered to any. We nurture a zeal and passion for souls. We are urgent in our work, telling poor needy sinners about the Savior. But we reject the doctrine of the free offer, believing it is a man-made contrivance engineered to proselyte unregenerate sinners. Is this is a vital matter of gospel truth? Anything which perverts the gospel should be refused as anti-Christ propaganda. The free offer dishonors Christ, undermining His redemptive work and sidelining the effectual power of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. I recommend, if you belong to a church or attend a place of worship where the gospel is trodden under the foot of men in that fashion, then you should use your feet to exit that place and never step foot there again. Find a preacher who honors Christ, defending His redemptive work and makes front and center the necessity of the new birth, for as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach (not offer) the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things”.

My time is far spent, so I wish upon you a blessing. May the Lord continue to manifest His presence in your walk with Him and bestow upon you the riches of His gospel blessings in Christ!