For the Christian readers online this morning, I’m sharing a Q&A moment with the reformed thinker Dr. R. C Sproul, who to many is an absolute champion of the faith. Before reading my thoughts on the subject matter, really listen hard to both the lady’s question and the subsequent response.
[Leave a comment below if you’ve noticed anything you’d like to point out before reading my reply] I’m having to get into the habit of listening for when Dr. Sproul is going to change the question he’s asked. The questioner asked is the grace of God available to all. So, to clarify, they’re asking is an opportunity at gaining salvation sincerely presented by God to all people. Is the offer made in good faith, is it a bona fide offer free of fraud or deception. Is it well-meant. Dr. Sproul clarifies by asking “Regenerative grace?” So the gift of the Holy Spirit. “Is an offer of God’s help available to everyone?” Is the offer of the Holy Spirit’s regenerative power open to everyone. After receiving clarification Dr. Sproul immediately says “No.” So he appears to be saying no, no the offer of the Holy Spirit is not a good faith offer made to everyone. God may say “All who will may come!” There’s something in the small print however. If Sproul really answers no then the Gospel offer of salvation isn’t a bona fide offer available to every person.
Then however, within 20 seconds, Dr. Sproul changes the question to “Is God obligated to impose saving faith upon anyone?” Upon which he replies no again (as if to reinforce their first no). Dr. Sproul continues to insist God’s impelled by nobody to give His saving grace into people’s lives (though that’s not the lady’s question). “He sovereignly determines to have mercy upon whom he will have mercy…God owes me no grace whatsoever.” Dr. Sproul comments. It seems to me as if Dr. Sproul, instead of answering plainly, muddied the waters so to avoid giving a potentially unattractive answer. Dr. Sproul remakes the question “Does God offer everyone an opportunity to be saved?” into “Is God under an obligation to FORCE regenerative grace upon people?” Although that’s such an inaccurate way of restating the lady’s question.
That is not the woman’s question. She asked about availability. Are people who’re ultimately lost, people who reject the Gospel of grace, given a capacity by God to receive and accept that grace. Is the good news really good news for everyone (Luke 2:10). In Luke 2:10 an angel reveals to [the shepherds] “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Myself and a friend discussed this too. If we’re duty bound to believe in the Gospel message, and God (as understood by Calvinists) doesn’t give everyone an opportunity to have “regenerative grace”, then the good news isn’t good news at all, rather, for the vast majority of people, the news would be an occasion for more severe condemnation. The angel explained that the Gospel is good news for all people, and yet, if God does withhold our ability to accept His news, it’s simply a new law with which to condemn people for not believing.
Only if an opportunity for God’s saving grace is available to all can the good news really be good news for all of humanity.
If, heaven forbid, Christ didn’t die for everyone (as the Calvinist believes), then what is the unbeliever being judged for? God is supposed to be judging man for rejecting Christ’s work upon the cross, however if Christ didn’t die for A, B and C, why are A, B, and C punished? They’ve denied work that wasn’t done upon their behalf, so why are they duty bound and even punished for [not] believing in something which wasn’t done upon their behalf.
Insofar as Dr. Sproul is concerned I’m reminded of when Christ taught “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” By answering a question which nobody asked I’m not entirely confident he’s heeding the advice.
― T. C. M