The Will of God and the Gospel Offer
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.
John Flavel (1627-1691):
Christ’s vehement desire for union with sinners
(England’s Duty Under the Present Gospel: Eleven Sermons on Revelation 3:20, in The Works of John Flavel, vol. 4, pp. 69 and 117)
The exercise of his patience is a standing testimony of his reconcilable and merciful nature towards sinful man. This he shewed forth in his patience toward Paul, a great example of his merciful nature, for a pattern to them that should hereafter believe on him, I Tim. 1:16. The long-suffering of God is a special part of his manifestative glory; and therefore when Moses desired a sight of his glory, Exod. 34:6. he proclaims his name, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” He would have poor sinners look towards him as an atoneable Deity, a God willing to be reconciled, a God that retaineth not his anger for ever; but if poor sinners will take hold of his strength, and make peace with him, they may have peace, Isa. 27:4. This long-suffering is an attribute very expressive of the Divine nature; he is willing sinners should know, whatever their provocations have been, there is room for pardon and peace, if they will yet come in to accept the terms. This patience is a diadem belonging to the imperial crown, of heaven; the Lord glories in it, as what is peculiar to himself, Hos. 11:9. “I will not execute the fierceness of my anger; for I am God and not man.” Had I been as man, the holiest, meekest, and mortifiedst man upon earth, I had consumed them long ago; but I am God and not man, my patience is above all created patience; no husband can bear with his wife, no parent with his child, as God hath borne with you. That is one reason of Christ’s waiting upon trifling sinners, to give proof of his gracious, merciful, and reconcilable nature towards the worst of sinners.
His sorrows and mourning upon the account of the obstinacy and unbelief of sinners, speaks the vehemency of his desire after union with them; it is said, Mark 3:5, “When he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts,” etc. You see from hence, that a hard heart is a grief to Jesus Christ. O how tenderly did Christ resent it, when Jerusalem rejected him! It is said, Luke 19:41, “That when Jesus came nigh to the city, he wept over it.” The Redeemer’s tears wept over obstinate Jerusalem, spake the zeal and fervency of his affection to their salvation; how loth Christ is to give up sinners. What a mournful voice is that in John 5:40, “And you will not come unto me, that you might have life.” How fain would I give you life? but you would rather die than come unto me for it. What can Christ do more to express his willingness? All the sorrows that ever touched the heart of Christ from men, were upon this account, that they would not yield to his calls and invitations.