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The Free Offer of the Gospel [Paperback]

John Murray

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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Steven H. Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
John Murray ( 1898-1975) was a Scottish-born Calvinist theologian who taught at Princeton Seminary and helped found Westminster Theological Seminary, where he taught Systematic Theology for thirty years until his retirement in 1966. His Collected Writings of John Murray: 4 vol. set are available.

He begins this posthumously-published booklet, "It would appear that the real point in dispute in connection with the free offer of the gospel is whether it can properly be said that God DESIRES the salvation of all men... the free offer of the gospel to all ... surely respects, not the decretive or secret will of God, but the revealed will. There is no ground for the supposition that the expression was intended to refer to God's decretive will... to say that God desires the salvation of the reprobate ... would be contradiction; it would amount to averring ... that God wills and God does not will. The question then is: what is implicit in, or lies back of, the free offer of the gospel to all without distinction?" (Pg. 3-4)

He admits, "in the case of Deuteronomy 32:29 and Isaiah 48:18... the Lord represents himself ... as earnestly desiring the fulfillment of something which he had not in the exercise of his sovereign will actually decreed to come to pass." (Pg. 11) Of the invitation in Matt 11:28, he says "the basis and background of this invitation are supplied by the uniqueness of the relation that [Jesus] sustains to the Father as the Son... and the sovereignty... which he exercises because of that unique relationship." (Pg. 14-15)

He suggests, "the sum of the matter may be state in the following propositions: It is absolutely and universally true that God does not delight in or desire the death of a wicked person. It is likewise... true that he delights in the repentance of and life of that wicked person..." (Pg. 17) He adds, when it is said that God absolutely and universally takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, we are not speaking of God's decretive will. In terms of his decretive will it must be said that god absolutely decrees the eternal death of some wicked and, in that sense, if absolutely pleased so to decree." (Pg. 21)

He further states, "If it is his pleasure to will that all repent and be saved, it is surely his pleasure that all repent and be saved. Obviously, however, it is not his decretive will that all repent and be saved. While, on the one hand, he has not decretively willed that all be saved, yet he declares unequivocally that it is his will and, impliedly, his pleasure that all turn and be saved. We are again faced with the mystery and adorable richness of the divine will. It might seem to us that the one rules out the other. But it is not so... we are constrained to bow in humble yet exultant amazement before his ineffable greatness and unsearchable judgments." (Pg. 23)

He summarizes, "The most satisfactory view of 2 Peter 3:9 ["The Lord is not slack concerning his promise...; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance"] is: ... the delay of the coming of judgment should be acknowledged as a manifestation of the long-suffering or patience of God with sinners... The delay is not due to slackness in God, but is to be regarded as an expression of longsuffering towards men... He is longsuffering... because he wills or wishes that all should come to repentance... But the will of God that men be saved ... is not conditional. It is not: I will your salvation if you repent; but: I will that you repent and thus be saved." (Pg. 27-28)

He concludes, God himself expresses an ardent desire for the fulfillment of certain things which he has not decreed in his inscrutable counsel to come to pass. This means that there is a will to the realization of what he has not decretively willed, a pleasure towards that which he has not been pleased to decree. This is indeed mysterious, and why he has not brought to pass... what is his ardent pleasure lies hid in the sovereign counsel of his will." (Pg. 29)

Very complex for such a brief work, this book will be of great use to those studying the "hard" aspects of the doctrines of predestination and election.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BIBLICAL Theology appropriate for ANY church! 8 Aug 2013
By George Mattern - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written by a fine and faithful Biblical scholar, this little book is an excellent demonstration of how we must allow the Bible to speak for itself, and then modify our theology to bring our opinions into conformity with the authoritative word of God Almighty. Too often, we would rather modify the Bible so that it fits our own theological system.

To those who would deny the Biblical mandate of universal gospel proclamation under the guise of a distorted, imbalanced, and extreme Calvinistic theoology (which is not, in fact, genuine "Calvinism" at all, but really "Hyper-Calvinism"), it should be said plainly and forthrightly, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition" (Mark 7:9). And Hyper-Calvinism is just that--a tradition based on isolating certain truths to the exclusion of other truths, resulting in a twisted distortion of Scriptural reality. God's commandment to His people is, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to ALL CREATION" (Mark 16:15). We know that this means every person possible, because in the very next verse it identifies the division of the "all creation" into 2 distinct groups--those who believe and those who disbelieve, which encompasses all men, not just the elect. (HINT--the Gospel would have to be preached to everyone in order for the non-elect to disbelieve it.) In faithfulness to this command, we are told that the Apostle John "testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even TO ALL THAT HE SAW" (Rev. 1:2). It seems staggering that anyone could be mistaken about such a simple and fundamental command of God. With such a clear Biblical witness to the Great Commision, this book by John Murray should never have had to be written.

Professor Murray makes a solid and irrefutable case for "The Free Offer of the Gospel" by examining some of the key Scripture texts that have bearing on this issue. As a committed Calvinist, I recommend this book wholeheartedly, as well as Dr. Murray's classic work, "Redemption Accomplished and Applied".Redemption Accomplished and Applied}}

In a similar vein, you'll be very blessed by a book by Iain H. Murray (no relation to John Murray, that I know of) entitled "Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism". The great Spurgeon fought this same battle over 100 years ago--his example is inspiring. [[ASIN:1848710976 Spurgeon V. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Arminian theology couched in presbyterian churches 21 April 2013
By Nancy A. Almodovar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I respect John Murray. I've read other books by him and was edified. However, this whole concept of God's "well meant offer" to the reprobate is just illogical. If you hold to God's Sovereign Election from among the lost mass of humanity then it is inconsistent to hold that God truly offers salvation even to those whom He has not chosen from before the foundation of the world. A few key points here: 1) The unregenerate cannot and will not come to Christ; 2) The Gospel is not an offer but a command; 3) unless one is regenerated by the Spirit of God first they cannot and will not respond to the command to Repent and Believe
with that said, God is not inconsistent. He is not the author of confusion nor does He contradict himself. If He has ordained the Gospel to be the power of God unto salvation, that is only for the elect and not the reprobate. Paul says, by the Spirit of God, that for some the Gospel is the fragrance of life (that would be the elect) but for the reprobate (those never elected unto salvation) it is the stench of death.
I was greatly disappointed in Murray's position (which is the same as the three points of common grace) and was stunned that reformed folk would hold to this particular arminian doctrine. I am an ex-Arminian who is now reformed and when I first heard of these three points of common grace i couldn't help but think, "Who let the Arminians in?" I know I'll be writing an official/published critique but this short one needed to be done here.
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