The Gospel: A
Call—not an Offer
There are many who prefer to speak of the gospel as an
“offer” rather than a call. It is interesting, to say the
least, that Scripture never uses the word “offer”
to describe the gospel. We have no objection to the word
“offer” as such. In its older sense it means only that in
the gospel there is a “showing forth” of Christ. The
Westminster Larger Catechism, for example, defines an offer
of Christ as a “testifying that whosoever believes in him
shall be saved.”1
In its modern sense, however, the word “offer” suggests and
is used to teach that God loves all men and wants to save
every one of them, that He makes an effort to save all of
them in the gospel, and that whether or not a sinner will be
saved is dependent on the will of that sinner. These
teachings are all contrary to Scripture.
Scripture does not teach that God loves all men (Ps. 11:5;
John 13:1; Rom. 9:13), nor does it teach that God is trying
to save all of them (Isa. 6:9-11; Rom. 9:18; II Cor.
2:14-16). Certainly it does not teach that in saving sinners
God can be frustrated by their unwillingness, or that He
waits, cap in hand as it were, for them to “accept” His
salvation (Ps. 115:3; John 6:44; Rom. 9:16; Eph. 2:8-9). For
these reasons we prefer not to speak of the gospel as an
A call is different from an offer. It reminds
us of the sovereignty of God. He, as King, summons sinners
to believe and obey the gospel. It even intimates that He
actually does bring some to salvation by His sovereign call.
When we remember that it is God who calls, it is not difficult to
understand this. He is the one who “calleth those things
which be not as though they were” (Rom. 4:17).
That call is heard in the preaching of the gospel. It is
made effectual to salvation by the inward work of the Holy
Spirit, so that some not only hear, but also obey that call.
By the Spirit’s work it is God in Christ who calls, not
the preacher. The preacher is only an instrument.
That is the reason the ungodly are condemned for
disobedience when they refuse to heed the call. By their
unbelief they do not refuse a mere man, but the living God
Himself as He speaks through His only begotten Son. That is
It is also the reason the preacher must bring nothing but
Scripture. Those who hear must hear God’s Word, not the
preacher’s notions, philosophies, political commentaries,
etc. The preacher must even be careful that he does not
obscure the sovereign call of God by adding all sorts of
unnecessary begging or “hard sell” tactics, leaving the
impression that God waits upon the will of sinners.
It must be clear in the preaching of the gospel that God
sovereignly demands faith and repentance of sinners—that He,
the Almighty, the Judge of heaven and earth, requires
obedience and will punish disobedience. By such preaching
sinners are saved, and God is glorified.
Westminster Larger Catechism, Q&A 65.
According to Godliness
[Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2004], pp.191-192)