Calvin On Luke 2:10: God Invites All Indiscriminately To Salvation

For God had promised Christ, not to one person or to another, but to the whole seed of Abraham. If the Jews were deprived, for the most part, of the joy that was offered to them, it arose from their unbelief; just as, at the present day, 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.

John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke, vol. 1, trans. William Pringle (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 115–16.

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  1. I can’t seem to square this with the doctrine of election. Can you help me Dr. Clark. It seems to put the onus on man as if his gratitude will then result in God being gracious. I’m sure I’m incorrect but I would appreciate any help.

    • Brett, i am having the same problem! 🙁
      How does election and pre-destination fit into what Calvin said? More importantly, into what scripture says?

      • Ryan and Brett,

        The biblical doctrine of the free offer of the Gospel is the mainstream, confessional doctrine of the Reformed churches. We confess that the same God who has unconditionally elected his people, in Christ, from all eternity also chooses to administer his gracious election through the visible church, through the free, well-meant offer of the gospel. God the Holy Spirit works through the preaching of the gospel and the free offer to bring his elect to faith.

        We offer Christ freely and seriously to all because we preachers do not know whom God has elected and reprobated. We speak the way God speaks: “Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest.”

        Here is Mr Murray’s account of the free offer.

        Here are resources on the free offer. Listen especially to the three chapel messages by Hywel Jones.

        See Heidelberg Catechism 65.

        Reformed Christianity does not have to choose between God’s sovereign, unconditional election and the external administration of the gospel.

  2. Dr. Clark,

    Maybe I did not articulate myself well. I understand that we are to freely offer and preach the Gospel to all men. As we do not know who have been chosen for salvation.

    My issue with the quote was not the free offer from man’s perspective but from God’s. The quote seems to say that God offering grace to some is not based on His decree from eternity past, but on their ingratitude when the free offer is given.

    On a side note I look forward to your lectures on Sola Scriptura this October in Medford, OR.


  3. “[I]f it is equally in God’s power to convert men as well as to create them, it follows that the reprobate are not converted, because God does not wish their conversion; for if he wished it he could do it: and hence it appears that he does not wish it.”—John Calvin on Ezek. 18:23

  4. “Here we have a remarkable passage, by which we are taught, that, whatever may be the issue of our preaching, it is, notwithstanding, well-pleasing to God, if the Gospel is preached, and our service will be acceptable to him; and also, that it does not detract in any degree from the dignity of the Gospel, that it does not do good to all; for God is glorified even in this, that the Gospel becomes an occasion of ruin to the wicked, nay, it must turn out so. If, however, this is a sweet odour to God, it ought to be so to us also, or in other words, it does not become us to be offended, if the preaching of the Gospel is not salutary to all; but on the contrary, let us reckon, that it is quite enough, if it advance the glory of God by bringing just condemnation upon the wicked.” —John Calvin on 2 Corinthians 2:15

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