Davenant Not As Deviant?

Some of what Davenant writes is clearer than other parts. But it seems that a primary thought is that Christ died for the world in a universal sense, from which flows what are nowadays called the gifts of common grace, and warrant for the indiscriminate preaching of the gospel. From such preaching, if he pleases, God brings some — his elect — to faith and new life in Christ.

—Paul Helm, Hypothetical Universalism

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  1. Davenant’s last words on the the atonement in his posthumous “A Dissertation on the Death of Christ, as to its Extent and special Benefits.” “There was in Christ himself a will according to which he willed that his death should regard all men individually; and there was also a will according to which he willed that it should pertain to the elect alone” (424, 425).

    D. Broughton Knox— Were it not true that Christ had died for all men, it would not be possible to extend a universal offer; for the offer, if it is to be a true offer, must rest on true and adequate grounds, which cannot be less than the death of Christ for those to whom the offer is being made (468).

    John Piper, “God loves you, and he offers you in Christ the fullest possible redemption in everlasting, all-satisfying fellowship with himself…Jesus sincerely desires all to be saved, yet he does not always act to bring all to salvation…. “God desires the salvation of the lost, but he does not save all of them.”

  2. Respectfully, I think that is an over complication. Jesus does not freely and genuinely preach the gospel to all. He spoke in parables because there were some whom he did not want to understand his words, lest they should repent and be healed. To the Pharisees, he said things like: John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

    Rather than freely and sincerely offering them the gospel, he explicitly confirms them in unbelief.

    WE, on the other hand, who are not God, who do not know who is elect or reprobate, we must freely offer the gospel to all.

    But also the Holy Spirit, whose testimony to our hearts results in regeneration, does not freely and sincerely offer his testimony to all either. Most are confirmed in unbelief.

    As Paul says, he sends them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie.

    • Mike,

      Our Lord did say, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” That’s a free, well-meant gospel offer. He did weep over Jerusalem but, as you note, that’s not all he did or said.

      Along side “inclusive” themes there are “exclusive” themes in Scripture. Nevertheless, as we seek to determine what we should say the evidence weighs toward speaking more inclusively, while recognizing that God in his mysterious providence is always operating behind and through the means of grace to accomplish all his purposes, both election and reprobation. The fact of the latter does not authorize us to withhold the gospel from sinners and the supposition (guess) that they might be reprobate. We are neither God the Son incarnate nor are we even apostles. We are mere ministers of the Word.

      I’m sure we agree.

      • Yes, we do agree. Whatever we say about Jesus, WE aren’t Jesus. As Michael Horton likes to say, WWJD? isn’t always the right question to ask.

        Good point about Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Very good point.

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