There are many who preach the Gospel, whether they are of the persuasion that God is sovereign over all things or whether they believe He has left them to respond to a presupposed “prevenient” grace, who, when they preach the Gospel, do so as the free offer of the gospel. In this respect, the preaching is the same, for we are taught that the Gospel is to be offered to all, irrespective of those it is preached to, as we are taught in the Great Commission and many other Scripture passages, such as 2 Corinthians 5, for instance.
Please do not misunderstand: This is not “the well intended offer” which Pastor Fernando so strongly and rightly comes against – in short, we recognize there is nothing well intended for a sinner who has not been, and never will be, born again by God’s sovereign Grace in and through Christ Jesus our Lord, by His Holy Spirit – not eternally, in any case.
The sovereign choice of God is the basis of free grace, not the overriding choice of a will yet dead in trespasses and sins, so that those who stand justified and sanctified before the sovereign God of Scripture will have no room for boasting – indeed, it is our contention that even those so justified and sanctified would, without the grace of God which is entirely effectual, are yet so sinful that, without that all-encompassing grace, yet be sentenced to hell eternally.
This does not mean we are to pursue sin that grace may abound, as Paul so emphatically states in Romans 6, but that, recognizing that unmerited value of our Lord taking our sins as His elect, and God imputing the righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are to recognize that “…the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).
No, the free offer of the Gospel is doing that which we are commanded to do by our God and Savior, along with the rest of His grace-given commandments; however, the Christian who has responded to this gospel, having been born again according to the electing and transforming grace of God in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ through the agency of His Holy Spirit, must face this particular commandment as that which encapsulates all the commandments; that is, the voice of the one who gives the gospel relies on the Holy Spirit for the results, not just of the preaching of the gospel to all, or even the result of one being born again or not by the Spirit of Grace, but of a life that will testify to that Gospel so preached.
However, it does not end here, for once God has called His own to Himself, there is the matter of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is for that purpose that the church of Jesus Christ was established by Him through the apostles.
It may be compared to giving a man in the middle of a vast desert who is dying water, and food, then showing him the way out of the desert – although all finite analogies break down when speaking of spiritual things, this is the best we can use to compare the gospel given to a man, then pointing him to a good, Bible believing New Testament church that is as local to him, and as true to that Gospel He has been given, as possible.
It is a simple, yet much neglected matter, and has resulted in many a person receiving the Gospel of Grace yet never being given the local church location whereby he may grow in the Christian grace by which he has been saved.
It is all very well to say that God is sovereign, and will lead the person to the proper church, but this hardly fits the New Testament paradigm, or model – people were never left without a local church to fellowship in the light of Christ with like-minded believers in that which we are to learn how to walk in this grace by the faith which we received to repent unto eternal life, yet we fear this is much the case these days, and the church is so much the poorer for this fact.
Therefore, when you share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with anyone and everyone to whom the Lord is pleased to use you to do such, it is well to be prepared to point them to a local church whereby they may grow in that grace by which they were saved.
There are many lists on the Internet, these days, of such local churches, and we dare say there are many local churches to which one would greatly hesitate to send one to who confessed Christ Jesus as their Lord. Discrimination in doctrine should not only be one’s leading in this, as God wills sovereignly wills (and He does, make no mistake), but the love which saved them should compel them as much as it did the apostle Paul, who founded so many churches, and cared for them all, as an apostle was to do.
Consequently, to care for the sinner who has been saved necessitates that we be ready to point them to the nearest established, like-minded local church, and not leave them with that endless supply of sovereign grace with no place for it to flow from them to other members of the body of Christ Jesus, our Lord: We would not leave the man in the middle of the desert, after all, and simply find it sufficient that he would neither starve or perish from lack of water – we would show him where the nearest town or city was, that he might find his way back to the life of civilization.
How much more important is it that a saved sinner find his way into the union that started and continues through the Head of the church – through being included in a covenant community whereby he may grow in that fellowship that is the citizenship in the eternal kingdom of God?
So, when you preach the Gospel by which you were saved to others, for all the Spirit of God appoints to respond, remember to consider the fact that the covenant community of the saints is not merely an addition to the gospel, but part and parcel of that life more abundant that all who are Christ’s are to apprehend and experience and grow in now, as well as in the age to come.
Peace and Grace – Bill