The Will of God and the Gospel Offer

Ebenezer Erskine

These passages from classical Reformed theologians and preachers speak of God’s desire for or delight in the salvation of those who hear the gospel offer, inasmuch as his revealed will is an expression of his goodness and kindness toward the hearers of the gospel.

Ebenezer Erskine (1680-1754):
God’s beneficent love extended unto all is seen in the offers of Christ

(“God in Christ, A God of Love,” a sermon on I John 4:16, in The Whole Works of the late Rev. Ebenezer Erskine, vol. 1, pp. 280-281)

First, I say, let us view the love of a God of love, in the different kinds of it. 1, Then, He hath a love of benevolence, or good-will, which he bears towards men, particularly towards the whole visible church. The lifting up of the brazen serpent in the camp of Israel, that whosoever looked to it might be healed, was a clear evidence of his good-will unto the whole camp; so the manifestation of Christ in the nature of man, and the revelation of him in the gospel, is an evidence of the good-will he bears unto the salvation of all, John 3:15-16. He declares it on his word, that he is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”; and lest his word should not be believed, he has confirmed it with his oath, Ezek. 33:11, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”

2, He has a love, not only of benevolence, but of beneficence; he not only wishes you well, but does well unto you. O Sirs! many a good turn has he done you, particularly you who are members of the visible church; he gives you line upon line, precept upon precept; he makes you to hear the joyful sound, the voice of the turtle; many a minister has he sent you; many an offer of Christ, and of life through him, has he made to you; many a time has he knocked at thy door, by word, by conscience, and the motions and whispers of his Spirit; so that he may say to us, as he did of his vineyard, Isa. 5:4, “What could have been done more for them, that I have not done?” And because of your obstinacy in unbelief and sin, he may challenge you as he did Israel, and say, Micah 6:3, “O my people, what have a I done unto thee, and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me. Was I ever a barren wilderness, or a land of darkness?” Thus, I say, God’s love of benevolence and beneficence is, in some respects, extended unto all.

3, There is a love of complacency, or delight and satisfaction, which is peculiar only to believers; who because of the excellency of his loving-kindness, do put your trust under the shadow of his wings. O believer, the Lord loves thee, a God of love loves thee, not only with a love of benevolence and beneficence, as he doth others, in some respects, but he loves thee with a complacential love, as so to take pleasure in thee; “The Lord taketh pleasure in his people; he will beautify the meek with salvation.” He loves thee with a love of estimation; he puts such an high value and estimate upon thee, that thou art precious in the sight of the Lord, thou art his treasure, and his peculiar treasure; “The Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” He loves thee with a love of union; he desires thy company, and to hear thy voice, and to see thy countenance: Song 2:14, “O my dove that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and they countenance is comely.”

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