The Biblical Demand for “Duty-Faith”

INTRODUCTION: In my recent study of the varieties of hypercalvinism, I have come across approximately five basic problems that consistently manifest themselves within the realm of hypercalvinistic doctrine. These five peculiarities may be one, some, or all of the following:

  1. A denial that the gospel call applies to all who hear.
  2. A denial that faith is the duty of every sinner.
  3. A denial that the gospel makes any “offer” of salvation through Christ, that there is any offer of mercy to the non-elect, that denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal.
  4. A denial that “common grace” exists.
  5. A denial that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.

I have chosen to contend against the first and second points above in this post not by the power of my own pen, but that of Arthur Walkington Pink (1886-1952). It is important here to note that Pink held to a very high Calvinism and some have gone so far as to suggest that Pink held to a somewhat modified form of hypercalvinism. It is true that some of his earlier works were marked by certain hypercalvinistic tendencies (i.e., his first edition of the classic and helpful work “The Sovereignty of God”, was later carefully edited by Banner of Truth Trust publishers), namely, that he denied that God loves all His creatures in at least some sense, especially when it came to a discussion of the reprobate. According to Pink, God’s hatred for non-elect sinners allows no room for anything that can properly be called “love.”

Pink’s denial of the love of God toward the reprobate did set him at odds with the historic reformed writings of Calvin, Flavel, Charnock, Manton, most of the Puritans, and the classic reformed creeds and confessions. Nevertheless, in Pink’s later writing and teaching ministry, he encountered a formidable version of hyper-Calvinism, promoted by the Gospel Standard churches of England and he stood firm against it. Pink’s basis for contention was a statement in the Gospel Standard articles of faith that denied (and still denies) that it is the duty of every sinner to repent and believe in Christ.

In the article below, Pink argues against the “Gospel Standard” error, pointing out that if God commands sinners to repent and believe in Christ, then faith is their duty and to remain in unbelief is sinful because they are morally culpable creatures by God’s sovereign determination. In support of his argument, Pink cites many writers who, ironically, would have strongly differed with Pink on the love of God for the reprobate. Notice also that Pink, quoting the first generation reformer John Calvin, affirms an important truth denied by many later Twentieth-Century hyper-Calvinists: that divine mercy is offered to all, indiscriminately, in the gospel.
From Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 15, no. 5 (May 1936)

It is the bounden duty of all who hear the Gospel to savingly trust in Christ, otherwise their rejection of Him would be no sin. Many of our readers will be surprised to hear that this self-evident truth is denied by some who are, otherwise, sound in the Faith. They reason that it is “inconsistent” to call upon the spiritually dead to perform spiritual duties. A certain denomination in England have the following among their Articles of Faith: “We deny duty-faith and duty-repentance—these terms signifying that it is every man’s duty to spiritually and savingly repent and believe (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Matt. 15:19; Jer. 17:9; John 6:44, 65). We deny also that there is any capability in man by nature to any spiritual good whatever. So that we reject the doctrine that men in a state of nature should be exhorted to believe in or turn to God (John 12:29, 40; Eph. 2:8; Rom. 8:7, 8; 1 Cor. 4:7). Therefore, that for ministers in the present day to address unconverted persons, or indiscriminately all in a mixed congregation, calling upon them to savingly repent, believe, and receive Christ, or perform any other acts dependent upon the new creative power of the Holy Spirit, is, on the one hand, to imply creature power, and, on the other, to deny the doctrine of special redemption.”

As some of our readers have imbibed this error, we are anxious to be of help to them. We have therefore decided to follow the article by John Newton on “Ministerial Address to the Unconverted” in the March issue by first giving brief quotations from the writings of the Reformers and Puritans, to show how the framers of those [Gospel Standard] Articles of Faith departed from the path and policy followed by so many eminent saints of God who preceded them.

“The mercy of God is offered equally to those who believe and to those who believe not, so that those who are not Divinely taught within are rendered inexcusable” (John Calvin—1552—”The Eternal Predestination of God” p. 95). “A slight acquaintance with Paul will enable anyone to understand, without tedious argument, how easily he reconciled things which they pretend to be repugnant to each other. Christ commands men to believe in Him, yet His limitation is neither false nor contrary to His command when He says ‘No man can come to Me except it were given him of My Father.’ Let preaching therefore have its force to bring men to faith” (Calvin’s “Institutes” Book 3, chap. 18, par. 13).

“The first part then of Christianity is the preaching of repentance, and the knowledge of ourselves… A man, therefore, is made a Christian not by working but by hearing; wherefore, he that will exercise himself to righteousness must first exercise himself in hearing the Gospel. Now, when he hath heard and received the Gospel, let him give himself to God with a joyful heart, and afterwards let him exercise himself in those good works which are commanded in the law” (Martin Luther—1540—on Galatians, pp. 104 and 185).

“When we meet with a precept, we should simply endeavour to obey it, without enquiring into God’s hidden purpose…. Notwithstanding God’s predestination is most certain and unalterable, so that no elect person can perish, nor any reprobate be saved, yet it does not follow from thence that all reproofs and exhortations on the part of God, or prayers on the part of men, are useless” (J. Zanchius—1562—”The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination,” pp. 49 and 120).

“With the promises there is joined an exhortation or command to believe, which is more general than the promise; because the promise is only made to believers; but the commandment is given to believers and unbelievers also. For the elect are mingled with the wicked in the same assemblies, and therefore the ministers of the Gospel ought indiscriminately to exhort all and every one to repent.” “In very truth, if thou goest forth of this world being no repentant sinner, thou goest damned to Hell: wherefore delay not one minute of an hour longer, but with all speed repent and turn unto God” (W. Perkins—1595—Vol. 1, p. 379; Vol. 2, p. 692).

“Let us be stirred up to repent immediately. Doth not God now warn you? Is it not dangerous living one hour in a state that we would not die in? May God justly strike us on the sudden? Do but purpose to live in sin one quarter of an hour; may we not be taken away in that quarter?” (R. Sibbes—1620—Vol. 6, p. 212).

“We are expressly commanded to believe, and that upon the highest promises, and under the greatest penalties. This command is that which makes believing formally a duty. Faith is a grace as it is freely wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, the root of all obedience and duties, as it is radically fixed in the heart. But as it is commanded it is a duty; and these commands, you know, are several ways expressed, by invitations, exhortations, propositions” (John Owen—1650—Vol. 14, p. 223).

“I say there is no simulation at all of God in this: that which He proposeth is but this; ‘Whosoever believeth shall be saved, and whosoever believeth not shall be damned.’ He sends His ministers to preach this, and to beseech them to believe, and to be reconciled unto God, yea, all they meet with.” “He commands them to preach promiscuously unto all, persuade all, exhort all, unto faith and repentance” (W. Twisse—1653—”The Riches of God’s Love” pp. 73 and 169).

“My counsel (to his unsaved hearers) is this: Stir up your souls to lay hold on the Lord Jesus and look up to Him, wait on Him from whom every good and perfect gift comes, and give Him no rest till He hath given thee that jewel faith” (Thomas Brooks—1653—Vol. 1, p. 144).

“This condition of faith and repentance is suited to the consciences of men. The law of nature teaches us that we are bound to believe every revelation from God when it is made known to us; and not only to assent to it as true, but embrace it as good.” “Our rejection of Christ, and the way of His appointing, is a high contempt of God…. It is a ‘making light’ of a rich feast of God’s providing” (S. Charnock—1660—Vol. 3, pp. 68 and 469).

John Bunyan (1675) in his “The Heavenly Footman”; or a “Description of the man that gets to Heaven,” which is addressed to “All the slothful and careless people,” being an exposition and application of “So run that ye may obtain” (1 Cor. 9:24), closes with, “If thou cost not know the way, inquire at the Word of God; if thou wantest company, cry for God’s Spirit; if thou wantest encouragement, entertain the promises. But be sure thou beginnest betimes; get into the way, run apace, and hold out to the end, and the Lord give thee a prosperous journey.”

“Preach the Gospel to every creature: yet this is not the Gospel to be preached—that God hath promised to save every creature; though upon promulgation of them, it becomes the duty of every one to come to Christ, and a command is laid upon men to do it” (T. Goodwin—1680—Vol. 8, p. 245).

“Fire burneth where it meeteth with matter combustible, but a reasonable creature needeth to be exhorted to perform acts agreeable to his principles” (T. Manton—1670—Vol. 19, p. 247).

“It is our duty to endeavour what is impossible by our own endeavours to attain—so sin has made it; to avoid all sin, to perform perfect obedience, to love with all the heart” (David Clarkson, associate pastor with John Owen—1682—Vol. 2, p. 131).

“But you will say, if unregenerate men be dead men, to what purpose is it to persuade them to arise and stand up? This difficulty is solved in this very text (Eph. 5:14): though the duty is ours, yet the power is God’s” (J. Flavell—1680—Vol. 2, p. 423).

“It is the known duty of a sinner under the Gospel to turn to God through Christ; and it is also declared in the same Gospel that none can of themselves turn to God and believe in His Son without the help of special efficacious grace; it must hereupon be a man’s duty also to pray for that grace which may enable him thereto” (J. Howe—1690—Vol. 2, p. 346).

“This (Gospel) call contains the command of faith by which all men without exception, to whom God vouchsafes the same, are enjoined to believe in Christ, in that way and manner which is revealed in the Gospel: ‘look unto Me and be ye saved all the ends of the earth’: Isaiah 45:22” (H. Witsius—1690—Vol. 3, p. 353).

“Neither will this assertion make it a vain thing to preach the Gospel to natural people, and to exhort them to true repentance and faith in Christ for their conversion and salvation” (W. Marshall—1692—”The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification,” so highly commended by James Hervey, p. 121).

“And even not coming to Christ, and believing in Him in this spiritual manner, when He is revealed in the external ministry of the Word, as God’s way of salvation, is criminal and blameworthy, notwithstanding men’s want of both will and power” (John Gill—1735—”The Cause of God and Truth,” p. 87).

We could add quotations from others, but the above are from well known, representative, sound, Calvinistic divines; several of them high Calvinists. Yet their holding firmly to the spiritual inability of the natural man, to unconditional election, particular redemption, and the effectual call of the Spirit, did not tie their hands in preaching the Gospel freely, pressing upon their hearers their responsibility, and calling upon them to repent and believe.—A.W.P.
Below is a follow-up article in the August, 1936 issue of Pink’s Studies in the Scriptures:


“We believe that it would be unsafe, from the brief records we have, of the way in which the Apostles, under the immediate direction of our Lord, addressed their hearers in certain special cases and circumstances, to derive absolute and universal rules for ministerial addresses in the present day under widely different circumstances. And we further believe that an assumption that others have been inspired as the Apostles were, has led to the grossest errors among both Romanists and Protestants. Therefore, that for ministers in this present day to address unconverted persons, or indiscriminately all in a mixed congregation, calling upon them to savingly repent, believe, and receive Christ, or perform any other acts dependent upon the new creative power of the Holy Ghost, is, on the one hand, to imply creature power, and on the other to deny the doctrine of special redemption.”

The above are two of the “articles of faith” (quoted by us in full) of an English denomination which still has considerable membership and influence. With almost all their other Articles of Faith we are in hearty accord, as with their marked separation from the world, and the simplicity of their worship. Nor have we one particle of sympathy with the delusive errors of creature ability or general redemption, rather do we unhesitatingly brand them both as lies of the Devil. In his unregenerate state, fallen and depraved man is so completely the slave of sin and the captive of Satan, that he is altogether unable to deliver himself or take one step toward that deliverance; yea, his heart is so corrupt and his mind so at enmity against God, that he has no desire to be brought out of darkness into His marvelous light. Not until the Holy Spirit performs a miracle of grace upon the soul, does its possessor have any spiritual appetite or aspirations; and that miracle He performs only in those for whom Christ died—God’s elect.

Now if we resort to human reasoning it will logically follow that it is quite useless to exhort the unregenerate to turn unto God or come unto Christ; yea, to exhort those who are utterly incompetent to respond, will appear to be most inconsistent and the height of absurdity. But, my reader, the things of God cannot be encompassed by human reason, and the moment we attempt to measure them by the line of our “logic,” we open the door for Satan to deceive by his subtleties. He will tell us that if the Lord our God be one Lord then He cannot be a plurality of Persons, and that if we hold to three Divine Persons we are most “inconsistent” in affirming the unity of God. Satan will tell us that if God be Love then He will never banish any of His creatures to everlasting woe, and that if we hold to eternal punishment of the wicked we are altogether “inconsistent” in believing in the Divine benevolence.

What, then are we to do? This: repudiate all reasoning upon spiritual things as utterly worthless, and believe with the simplicity of a child whatever God’s Word teaches. The Apostles held firmly the revealed truth of a glorious and victorious Messiah, and they could not “harmonize” with that fact a humiliated Messiah that would be crucified: the two things appeared to be altogether “inconsistent” and contradictory. But to them Christ said, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24:25). That, my reader, should be a lasting warning to us of the utter inadequacy of human logic and philosophizing upon Divine things! We must turn from the vain reasonings of the Unitarian, and while holding fast to the Unity of the Divine nature, we must also believe there are three co-equal Persons in the Godhead. We must turn from the vain reasonings of the Universalist, and while holding fast to the love of God, we must also believe in the eternal punishment of His enemies. And why? Because Holy Scripture teaches both!

In like manner, we must turn from the vain reasonings (as in the above Articles of Faith) of the hyper-Calvinist, and while holding fast to the total depravity and the spiritual inability of the natural man, we must also believe in his moral responsibility and accountability to God. It is the bounden duty of God’s servants to tell the unregenerate that the reason why they cannot repent evangelically is because their hearts are so wedded to their lusts; that the reason why they cannot come to Christ is because their sins have fettered and chained them; that the reason why they hate the Light is because they love the darkness. But so far from this excusing them, it only adds to their guilt; that so far from rendering them objects of pity it exposes them as doubly deserving of damnation. It is the preacher’s business to show wherein spiritual inability consists: not in the lack of soul faculties, but in the absence of any love for Him who is infinitely lovely. Far be it from us to extenuate the wicked unbelief of the unregenerate!

The compilers of the above Articles of Faith were very largely influenced by a piece written by William Huntington in 1791, “Excommunication: and the Duty of all men to believe weighed in the balance.” We have space to quote only one paragraph: “When Peter said, ‘Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out’ (Acts 3:19), He that is exalted to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins, sent His Spirit and Grace with the Word to work repentance and conversion in His own elect. And though they spoke the Word, promiscuously to all, yet He only spake it to His own. It was sent with the power of the Spirit. It never was sent with the Spirit of Faith to any but His own: ‘When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the Word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed’ (Acts 13:48). This is the life-giving commandment of the everlasting God, in the mouth of Zion’s King. But what effect has it, or what power attends it, from the mouth of Mr. Ryland or the mouth of Mr. Fuller, when they make it the rule of a dead man’s duty? Just as much as the adjuration of the sons of Sceva the Jew, when they abused the name of the Lord Jesus in commanding the spirit, who left the man and mastered them; and so these labour for the unconverted till they get into the gall of bitterness themselves. . . . Ye might just as well go to the gates of the grave and tell the sleeping dust it is their duty to come forth as Lazarus did. Mr. Ryland may just as well do the one as the other.”

What a confused jumble is that! Confounding the Word of Power (Heb. 1:3) on the lips of Christ, with the Word of Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18, 19) in the mouths of His servants. What the Lord does, is none of our business. The commission He has given His servants is to preach the Gospel to every creature, and they certainly have not fully obeyed until they bid their hearers “Repent ye, and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). Whom God quickens, is His own affair; ours is to faithfully warn the unsaved, to show wherein their sins consists (enmity against God), to bid them to throw down the weapons of their warfare against Him, to call upon them to repent (Acts 17:30), to proclaim the One who receives all who come to Him in faith. In allowing that Peter “spoke the Word promiscuously to all” Mr. Huntington pulled down what he laboured so hard to build up.

To affirm that the ministry of the Apostles (recorded in the Acts) furnishes no precedent for God’s servants today, is as foolish, as “inconsistent,” and unwarrantable, as it would be to say that Acts 6 supplies no present rule for deacons to be governed by! The physical condition of those in the cemetery is vastly different from the moral state of the unregenerate still upon the earth. The former cannot sin, cannot reject Christ; the latter can and do. The former cannot read their Bibles or call upon God for mercy; the latter should! It is because the natural man possesses the same faculties of soul as does the regenerate that he is an accountable creature, responsible to use them for God instead of against Him.—A.W.P.

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13 Comments on “The Biblical Demand for “Duty-Faith””

  1. Thank you so much for posting this, Dustin! I believe that “Duty-Faith” is a term that should be embraced by us who hold to Reformed Theology against hyper-calvinists in a similar way that we have not shrunk back from the term “Lordship salvation” in contradiction to those who deny repentance as necessary for salvation.

  2. I just thought I’d say that I think that a lot of “high Calvinists” are sometimes confused for hypercalvinists because they reject the term “offer”. But that doesn’t mean for them that the gospel should not be preached to all men…It just means that we are not “offered” the chance to believe, but that we are “commanded” to believe. Sometimes some people see these authors contending with the word “offer” and assume that they are really hypercalvinists, but they do in fact preach the duty of all men to believe. But they would say that it is a command and not an offer.

  3. Gomarus Says:

    Thanks for the post. I have not had access to these particular issues of Pink’s “Studies in the Scriptures.”

    In my opinion the root errors of hyper-Calvinism (in it’s historical and technical sense) are contained in your 1 & 2. So, I appreciate your focus on them. Some today are quick to draw a larger circle (labeled Hyper) so as to include any question of the use of the term “offer” or any question of their own understanding of “common grace” — which in many cases seems to me inappropriate.

  4. Tony Says:

    Hi Dustin,

    You comment that you’ve been recently studying the varieties of hypercalvinism. What prompted you to study in these areas recently? And what prompts you to focus on the area of duty-faith that some classical hypers had a problem with?

    As far as I can tell, modern hypers have a problem with #’s 3, 4, and 5. In fact, many of them reason from the definition of hyper-Calvinism that David Engelsma (a Hoeksemian Protestant Reformed Church hyper-Calvinist that denies common grace and the well-meant gospel offer) uses in order to maintain that they themselves are not hyper. Some make a false dilemma as well and say that the gospel is a command and not an offer, when it’s really both.

    As far as duty-faith goes, I think some classical hypers had a problem with it partly because 1) They did not think the gospel covenant was conditional in any sense and 2) They argued that real union with Christ occurs before faith. The elect are justified at the cross or in eternity in their view, so faith is an awakening to that fact by the illumination of the Spirit in the heart of an elect individual, hence all the talk about “sensible sinners” etc.

    Also, notice what Pink says in his words: “It is the bounden duty of all who hear the Gospel to savingly trust in Christ…” By “savingly,” he means it is their duty to believe in the evangelical sense. Some classical hypers dichotomized between 1) a natural or civil repentance and 2) an evangelical repentance. They would say all that hear the gospel are responsible to perform “repentance” in sense #1, but not in sense #2. As you study the duty-faith matter further, watch out for that subtle distinction. It’s alien to our minds because we only think of repentance in the evangelical or “saving” sense that Pink has in mind. Pink is right to maintain that all that hear the external gospel call are duty-bound to believe in sense #2.

    In conclusion, Dustin, I believe you will find, as you continue to study in these areas, that God’s universal love, common grace, the well-meant gospel offer and duty-faith are all logically inter-related. If you would like to talk sometime, please contact me. I’ve been meaning to chat with you since our brief interactions over on UnchainedRadio. I wish we could have interacted more since you seem to have always conducted yourself as a Chistian gentlemen.

    Grace to you,

  5. Gene Says:

    However, as certain critics regularly overlook, this distinction is often employed by high Calvinists as well, who are concerned that persons not be held accountable for their rejection of Christ, as is common to say in general redemptionism and Amyraldianism. It would be hyper-Calvinistic to leave that distinction unqualified, but, in Scholastic disputation, it would not be unqualified by a high Calvinist of the High Orthodox era. Rather, the cause of their rejection lies in their love of their sins, and lying behind their disbelief is not the shield of their inability but the love of sin. So, they are condemned for lack of saving faith (e.g. being unconverted), but for loving their sin and therefore having not believed. Ergo, three things are true: The decree of reprobation is not the proximate and thus moral cause of their condemnation. Men are not strictly condemned for doing things only God can do: eg. regenerate themselves or unbelief in itself as a formal or material cause, and unbelief , because of its source, exaccerbates guilt as an effectual cause, and even to refuse to do even what they can in their natural state *also* exacerrbates their guilt. All unbelief, including the refusal to believe savingly arise from a single moral cause: man’s own love of sin. The concern here is not to deny duty faith as in hyperism, but to address the regressive fallacy by way of scholastic distinctions.

  6. Dustin Says:

    Hi Tony,

    I wrote the above post in response to some research I had been doing on Gospel Standard Baptists, which, as you probably know, are found mostly in England (but a few congregations are here in the U.S.). I have had some discussions with a person who has visited our church that has a Gospel Standard background, and although this person wholeheartedly affirms “duty-faith” and denies the practice of searching for warrants to believe, I need to be “up” on my hypercalvinism so that I can have a productive and intelligent conversation with this person since this is the familiar territory that they are coming from. I will also need to be able to discern accurately whether they hold any other hypercalvinistic tendencies that can potentially cause problems or somehow compromise our church’s firm evangelistic and mission-minded ministry philosophy. I have been aware of the distinction the classical hypercalvinists made by formulating a (1) natural repentance vs. an (2) evangelical repentance and

  7. Dustin Says:


    [I accidentally pressed the “submit comment” button at the bottom, hence the incomplete post above so what follows is the brief completion of that post – DSS]

    . . . I appreciate you bringing that to the blog reader’s attention so that they can study these things to a greater extent. By the way, I found you to be a very respectful Christian gentleman in now defunct forums at and I likewise have enjoyed reading your blog articles, not to mention that we have a common love for a man who has gone home to his reward, Dr. S. Lewis Johnson. God bless my brother!

  8. Tony Says:

    Hi Dustin,

    To illustrate the distinction between civil and evangelical repentance, consider the following law: Thou shalt not speed when driving.

    If one continues to speed, then alot of physical damage can be done to oneself and to one’s neighbors, even to the point of dying bodily. One may also incur fines or be thrown in jail. It’s possible for one to outwardly conform to the “no speeding” law and yet inwardly be a virtual speed demon. One may still crave to speed and frequently entertain thoughts of speeding even while one is conforming to the civil law or outward code. If a speeder starts to outwardly conform to the law, then that can be considered civil repentance.

    If a speeder has a change of mind so that he thinks it’s even wrong to crave to speed in one’s imagination with the result that he turns from such things from the heart, then that is evangelical repentance, so to speak. Not only does this person outwardly conform to the law, but they are inwardly conforming to the “spirit of the law.”

    I trust that you can see the difference. Some classical hypers thought that Mosaic law, as a civil code, commanded natural men to a natural or civil repentance with the result that some physical calamity was escaped. They didn’t think the law of Moses commanded spiritual or evangelical repentance with the result that the soul is saved from eternal calamity.

    So, they (some classical hypers) would say that the law commands all men to what they’re able to do, i.e. to naturally repent in the civil sense. All men are “duty-bound” to repent in the civil sense, but not “duty-bound” in the evangelical sense. Since a command implies ability (some classical hypers agreed with the Arminians on that point) and all men have not the ability to repent in the evangelical sense, the command only makes men duty-bound to civil conformity or repentance.

    Andrew Fuller and others came out of such a system and had to restore the biblical teaching that God commands men to do what they are morally unable to do (command does not imply moral ability), that is to repent in the evangelical sense. They argued for a duty to believe evangelically, or for “duty-faith.” Both terms in “duty-faith” are crucial. Faith is man’s act or his volitional response to God and therefore it is his “duty,” and it is his duty to “faith” in God in the evangelical sense. Some classical hypers thought, “no, faith is not a duty because faith is the gift of God. Furthermore, the law only commanded civil repentance, and so it isn’t even all men’s “duty” to “believe” (to have faith) in the evangelical sense.” The hypers didn’t rightly conceive of what it meant for faith to be the gift of God since they thought initial saving faith was devoid of any positive volitional response from the elect. The elect are passive at the point of initial saving faith because it’s equivalent to regeneration. It’s like the point of initial saving faith, in their conception) is a passive mental awakening to the fact that you’re already justified by Christ on the cross, or in eternity.

    I noted above that the issue of justification prior to faith is also behind the rejection of duty-faith. When Fuller and others argued for “duty-faith,” they were saying that faith was man’s duty in order TO BE JUSTIFIED. In Fuller’s ordo salutis, faith is prior to justification, and therefore faith was that necessary condition to be performed by man BEFORE God would declare him just on account of Christ’s merits. When the elect are in an unbelieving state, they are not justified. They are children of wrath (i.e. subjects of divine displeasure and/or abiding under all the penal sanctions or threatenings, despite the fact that Christ died for them), even as the rest of mankind, just as Paul says in Ephesians 2:3.

    Confusing, I know…but I hope that helps 😉

    p.s. You may want to read this brief quotation by Robert W. Oliver, and also John Flavel’s response to some Baptist Hyper-Calvinists.

  9. Of course we must be careful in matters like the use of the word ‘offer’ not to be, or to make others, offenders for a word. For example I preach regularly at a Church where the Articles of Faith oppose ‘progressive sactification’. It would be easy to say they are wrong. But really the question is what they MEAN by ‘Progressive Sanctification’, which turns out to be a Wesleyan/perfectionist version, not the Biblical doctrine, which they call ‘growth in grace’.

  10. Tony Says:

    Hi Highland,

    I agree with the gist of what you’re saying generally speaking, but I’ve found that hyper-Calvinists bring up the terminology issue when they really have a problem with the CONCEPT that the terms are meant to convey. For example, if they complain about the terms “common grace”, they really just have a problem with the IDEA that the common bounties of providence are evidences of God’s general love (See Matt. 5:45), grace and patience. They particularly have a problem if someone thinks that these general acts of kindness are granted to everyone because God wants to lead them to repentance/salvation (See Romans 2:4). Some hypers will admit that certain “good things” are given to the non-elect, but God’s motive in granting these things to them is ALWAYS and ONLY to heat hell hotter for them. They are ILL-MEANT goodies, so to speak. Calvin’s own understanding of “common grace” provides an excellent contrast. He says the following in his interpretation of 2 Peter 3: 9:

    “He is tardy who allows an occasion to pass by through slothfulness: there is nothing like this in God, who in the best manner regulates time to promote our salvation. And as to the duration of the whole world, we must think exactly the same as of the life of every individual; for God by prolonging time to each, sustains him that he may repent. In the like manner he does not hasten the end of the world, in order to give to all time to repent.”

    Not willing that any should perish. So wonderful is his love towards mankind, that he would have them all to be saved, and is of his own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost.”

    One does not have to agree with Calvin’s interpretation of 2 Peter 3:9 in order to see the underlying theological concepts he’s working with. He rightly understood “common grace”.

    Look at Calvin on Romans 5:18 as well. This is one of my favorite quotes from him since it captures most of the notions in dispute:

    “He makes this favor common to all, because it is propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through God’s benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive him.”

    Those that think of the notion of “common grace” to merely mean that God grants things that are intrinsically good to the non-elect only and always out of pure hatred and wrath have deliberately distorted the true concept of common grace. The Protestant Reformed Church are of this variety. If one says what I have said about Calvin and the classical concept of common grace, then they will be accused of taking things “out of context”. That’s the standard hyper accusation on this subject. What Spurgeon said of some hypers in his day also applies to some in our day:

    “I have fancied I have seen in certain hyper-Calvinists a sort of Red Indian scalping-knife propensity; an ogre-like feeling with respect to, reprobation; a smacking of lips over the ruin and destruction of mankind; as to all of which, I can only say that it seems to me to be “earthly, sensual, devilish.”

    In conclusion, also consider these words by Charles Spurgeon:

    “I cannot imagine a more ready instrument in the hands of Satan for the ruin of souls than a minister who tells sinners that it is not their duty to repent of their sins or to believe in Christ, and who has the arrogance to call himself a gospel minister, while he teaches that God hates some men infinitely and unchangeably for no reason whatever but simply because he chooses to do so. O my brethren! may the Lord save you from the voice of the charmer, and keep you ever deaf to the voice of error.”

    Grace to you,

  11. Tony Says:

    One may also want to check the many Calvinistic quotes that Colin Maxwell of Cork Free Presbyterian Church has compiled:

    Free Offer Calvinists

    Look at this one by Calvin again:

    “God invites all indiscriminately to salvation through the Gospel, but the ingratitude of the world is the reason why this grace, which is equally offered to all, is enjoyed by few.” (Synoptic Gospels 1:116)

    Calvin did not hesitate to say that the gospel is an “invitation” and “offer” given by God to the world indescriminately through the external call. He would not deny that the gospel is also a command, but it is also an “invitation” and an “offer”.

    Beware of hyper-Calvinistic false either/or dilemmas! They are legion.

    The Calvinist and Reformed theologian W. G. T. Shedd is also good on these points:

    God offers Christ’s sacrifice to every man, without exception, and assures him that if he will trust in it he shall be saved, and gives him common grace to help and encourage him to believe. This is a proof that God loves his soul and desires its salvation. But God does not, in addition to this universal offer of mercy, promise to overcome every man’s aversion to believe and repent and his resistance of common grace. Election and preterition have no reference to the offer of salvation or common grace. They relate only to special grace and the effectual application of Christ’s sacrifice. The universal offer of mercy taught in this section evinces the universality of God’s compassion towards sinners.”

    W. G. T. Shedd, Calvinism: Pure and Unmixed (Banner of Truth, 1986) p. 27.

    If one goes around underlining these Calvinistic truths in discussion forums or in the blogosphere among other so called “Calvinists”, one is sure to encounter ALOT of resistance. It’s evidence that we have serious problems in our own ranks. One might with good reason say that hypers are more dangerous than Arminians just by the fact that the hypers tend to be more theologically sophisticated. Ultra-fine distinctions are employed and sophisticated “logic” is used to escape the simple biblical notions that God loves all mankind, grants common grace to all, wants all to repent and believe (well-meant gospel offer) and commands them all to do so (duty-faith) when the gospel is proclaimed. These doctrines are thought by some to threaten divine sovereignty when that’s not the case at all. We need more men like John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and Andrew Fuller who proclaimed the fullness of these truths together. This would soften our hearts and make our appeals warm. Discern the balance in this quote by Jonathan Edwards (the paranthetical “duty-faith” comments are mine):

    “Seeing therefore that it is so evident, that you refuse to accept [duty-faith] of Christ as your Saviour, why is Christ to be blamed that he does not save you? Christ has offered himself to be your Saviour in time past, and he continues offering himself still, and you continue to reject him [duty-faith], and yet complain that he does not save you. – So strangely unreasonable, and inconsistent with themselves are gospel sinners [duty-faith]!…That so glorious a person should be thus treated, and that when he comes on so gracious an errand! That he should stand so long offering himself and calling and inviting. As he has done to many of you, and all to no purpose, but all the while be set at nought [duty-faith]. Surely you might be justly cast into hell without one more offer of a Saviour! yea and thrust down into the lowest hell! Herein you have exceeded the very devils; for they never rejected [duty-faith] the offers of such glorious mercy; no, nor of any mercy at all.” (Sermon on The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners. Works, Vol 1 BOT p.676/677)

  12. Tony Says:

    Hi Dustin,

    I only just now saw your comments. Thanks for the gracious reply 🙂 May God continue to bless your ministry and your studies as you seek to build up his church to the praise of his Son.

  13. Martin T Says:

    Highland Host,

    Curiosity got the better of me and I followed the link to your blog where, I discovered that a. we have met but b. we don’t hold the same views on soteriology that I had assumed that we did (by virtue of where we met 😉
    That should keep you guessing until you read my comments on your 16th Dec. entry.


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