Removing the Doctrinal Obstacles
to Calvinistic Evangelism

by Mitch Cervinka

Is Calvinism incompatible with evangelistic zeal?  This is one of the objections that is often raised against Calvinism.

One needs only examine Protestant history to see that Calvinists have been on the forefront of evangelism and missions.  George Whitefield was outspoken in affirming all five points of Calvinism, yet he was one of the most zealous and effective evangelists of the Great Awakening.  Wherever he traveled, both in England and America, people would turn out by the thousands to hear him preach in the open fields.  The modern missionary movement began in 1792 when the Calvinistic Baptist, William Carey, left England to minister the gospel in India.  With the help of William Ward and Joshua Marshman, he founded 26 churches and 126 schools, and translated the Bible into 44 languages including Sanskrit.  In 1812, Adoniram Judson, another Calvinistic Baptist, sailed to Burma, becoming the first American to depart for the overseas mission field.  He ministered there for many years, enduring warfare, imprisonment, and the death of his wife.  During this time, he was diligent to produce a Burmese Bible and dictionary, and to personally train men for the pastorate.  Other Calvinistic evangelists and missionaries of note include Jonathan Edwards, Asahel Nettleton and Charles H. Spurgeon.  More than this, the Protestant Reformation was perhaps the greatest evangelistic movement of modern history.  The Lord brought it about through the evangelistic zeal and unfailing courage of men who believed that God is fully sovereign in salvation—men such as Martin Luther, William Tyndale, John Calvin and John Knox, as well as lesser known men such as William Farel, George Wishart, Martin Bucer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and countless others.

Still, there is a lingering suspicion by the critics of Calvinism that fixed decrees, a totally incapacitating depravity, and a redemption that is limited to the elect alone are somehow incompatible with the universal call of the gospel.  Indeed, I fear that we who call ourselves "Calvinists" sometimes have difficulty knowing just how we ought to conduct our evangelism in the light of our Calvinistic convictions.  It is all too easy to lose sight of the Biblical balance and tilt either to the side of a grace-denying Arminianism, or to a barren, isolationist Hypercalvinism.  The truth lies atop the narrow ridge separating these two deep canyons, and it is essential that we seek a clear understanding of how to Biblically harmonize the doctrines of sovereign grace with man's responsibility to come to Christ for salvation, and with our own responsibility to take the gospel to a God-rejecting world.

Many of the works written by Calvinists are intended to defend our position against those who deny that God is sovereign in salvation and who claim instead that salvation depends upon man's free will decision.  However, another threat to Biblical Calvinism comes from those who, through careless reasoning, take the truths of Calvinism and arrive at false and unbiblical conclusions concerning human responsibility and the character of evangelism.  In this treatise, we seek to examine some of the fallacious arguments used by Hypercalvinists and Arminians alike who thereby conclude that Calvinistic doctrine is incompatible with the universal call of the gospel.

Hypercalvinism Contrasted with Evangelical Calvinism

Hypercalvinism is a term that is subject to abuse or misunderstanding.  It is often used in a relative way to refer to any view of predestination that seems more extreme than your own.  For example, some Arminians like to think of themselves as "Calvinists" or "Cal-minians" (i.e. a hybrid of a Calvinist and an Arminian), and brand historic Calvinists as "Hypercalvinists".  However, in the context of evangelism, the terms "Calvinist" and "Hypercalvinist" have well-established meanings in the history of Protestant Christianity, and it is these established views that we wish to examine and contrast in this article.

There are several standards we may use to define historic, evangelical Calvinism.  Perhaps the most natural way is to say that it is the theology taught by John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, his Commentaries and in his other works, such as The Eternal Predestination of God and The Secret Providence of God. Hyper-Calvinism, then, is simply any view that goes beyond what Calvin believed and taught concerning the sovereignty of God, the depravity of man and the way of salvation.  Other criteria we may use to define historic Calvinism would include such doctrinal standards as The Heidelberg Catechism, The Canons of Dort, the 1689 London Confession or the Westminster Standards.  On the issues that divide Evangelical Calvinists from Hypercalvinists, all these sources are in agreement on the side of evangelical Calvinism, so far as they address these matters.

Historic Calvinism teaches that the gospel is to be proclaimed indiscriminately to all men, that all men are responsible to believe the gospel, and that God promises salvation to all who come in faith to Christ to receive it.  For this reason, the term "Evangelical Calvinism" is an apt description of the historic Calvinistic position regarding the gospel.  Historic Calvinists believe in proclaiming the gospel to all men indiscriminately, and calling all without exception to come to Christ and be saved.  Some of the most prominent evangelists and missionaries of history were evangelical Calvinists, including George Whitefield, Charles H. Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Davies, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Asahel Nettleton, John Knox, John Calvin, and many others.

Hypercalvinism, in contrast, teaches that the unregenerate are not responsible to trust in Christ for salvation.  Instead, the gospel call is viewed as being directed solely to the elect of God, and often, only to those who have already been regenerated by God.  Hypercalvinists often manifest an apathy or even an antipathy toward evangelism and missions.  This is epitomized by John Ryland's (Sr.) alleged rebuke to William Carey when Carey expressed a concern for evangelizing the heathen: "Young man, sit down; when God pleases to convert the heathen, He will do so without your help or mine."

Several arguments are given to support the claim that the unregenerate are not responsible to trust in Christ for salvation.  First, it is argued that salvation does not depend upon the will of man, but upon the will of God and that God's decrees were settled in eternity past, hence it is a denial of the doctrine of predestination to suggest that unregenerate men have a responsibility to come to Christ for salvation.  Second, it is argued that unregenerate men are totally depraved, hence totally unable to come to Christ.  Even their understanding is darkened, and hence it is impossible for them to understand what it means to come to Christ in a saving way. Third, it is argued that to make salvation depend on the faith of the individual introduces a human contribution to salvation and thereby denies the meaning of grace, and provides a basis for human boasting. Fourth, it is argued that Christ died only for the elect, and that His death is substitutionary, propitiatory and efficacious for those for whom He died and for no others; hence, there is no possible way a non-elect person could be saved even if he did come to Christ.  Fifth, it is argued by some hypercalvinists that that one does not savingly understand the gospel if he does not acknowledge the efficacious, substitutionary nature of the atonement in precisely the sense that necessitates affirming the doctrine of particular redemption. (In other words, one must embrace the doctrine of Particular Redemption in order to be saved).  A natural corollary to this claim is that there is no objective basis in the gospel alone for an unbeliever to savingly trust in Christ, since 1) he would have to know that he is elect in order to know that Christ died for him, and 2) no one can know himself to be elect until he has faith in Christ.

Each of these arguments is fallacious.

Argument 1:  that it is a denial of the doctrine of predestination to say that unregenerate men have a responsibility to come to Christ for salvation.
To this we reply that God's decrees do not determine man's duty.  Instead, it is God's preceptive will that determines man's duty.  For example, God commands all men to obey His law, yet He has decreed that men will disobey His law.  God's decree that men will disobey does not relieve them of the responsibility to obey.  Likewise, God's decree to save the elect and to condemn the rest does not relieve the reprobate of the responsibility to come to Christ seeking salvation from Him.

God's decrees govern all things, and not simply who will be saved and who will not.  God has decreed from all eternity whatsoever comes to pass in time.  If men cannot be held responsible to come to Christ, simply on the basis that God has decreed they would not come, then men cannot be held responsible for anything they do.  In this case, Adam cannot be held guilty for eating the forbidden fruit and those who crucified our Lord cannot be held guilty for murdering Christ.  In short, no one could be held responsible for any sin he commits.  If this is true, then no one is a sinner, and Christ died for no one's sins (since no one has sinned), and God would be unjust to condemn anyone.  Argument 1 is thus seen to be wholly unscriptural, and falls under the weight of its obvious absurdity!

Moreover, if it is argued that salvation is of God, not man, then we reply that God, in grace, supplies what man, due to his depravity, refuses to do.  Salvation is of the Lord precisely because He causes His elect to obey His command to come to Christ, when they, left to themselves, would forever refuse to do so.  It is no argument, therefore, to say that, since salvation is of the Lord, God cannot command non-elect men to come to Christ to be saved.

We need to understand that predestination concerns not only the destination, but also the path and means whereby we arrive at that destination.  God, in scripture, reveals to us that men arrive at the destination of eternal life through the preaching of the gospel, the regenerating power of the Spirit, and personal faith in Christ.  When predestination loses sight of the intermediate causes—the guilt of mankind, and the means of salvation—and sees it merely as a decree of God that predetermines whether a person will inherit heaven or hell, we have lost the heart of the doctrine and have turned it into a doctrine that appears arbitrary, cruel and grossly unjust.  Predestination is neither arbitrary, nor cruel nor unjust for the simple reason that men sin freely and willingly.  God does not force anyone to sin—we freely choose to sin.  God's decree to allow men to fall into sin was not a decree to force men to sin, nor to create a defect in man that would cause him to succumb to sin.  Man was created upright, but with the ability to sin, and God in eternity past ordained that man would surely sin by his own free will.

It is, of course, a mystery to us how God could infallibly know that unfallen Adam would freely choose to sin.  We humans don't like mysteries we cannot solve, and so we have a sinful tendency to seek a solution to this problem at any cost—and the cost is always that we end up denying an essential Biblical doctrine.  Socinians prefer the Open Theism solution—claiming that God doesn't know all future events with certainty—that He cannot infallibly know the future, free-will decisions of men.  Such a God is not the God of the Bible, who prophesied with absolute certainty and accuracy numerous sins, including the betrayal and crucifixion of Christ and the sins of the Antichrist, and the final rebellion of mankind.  Liberals and Universalists prefer to deny the reality of hell, teaching that God will send no one to hell.  Yet, Jesus spoke more about hell and the Judgment Day than he did about love or heaven, and he was never afraid to tell the self-righteous Pharisees that they were headed for hell.

The Hypercalvinist sometimes seeks to solve the mystery by claiming that God is the author of sin—that He not only predestined that Adam would sin, but actually, in some sense, caused him to sin, and held Adam accountable for the sin He caused Adam to commit.  Such a teaching makes God both unholy and unjust, which is a double contradiction of scripture.  The Westminster divines, when affirming that God predestines some to eternal life and others to everlasting punishment, were discerning enough to explictly deny that God is the author of sin.

God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 3, Article 1.

Just as God does not arbitrarily predestine men to hell, without considering them to be sinners who sin by their own choosing, so also He does not forgive men their sins apart from providing a suitable atoning sacrifice, and requiring faith in the kingly sacrificial Victim who made that sacrifice.  Granted, He also provides the faith He requires of men, but this does not change the fact that the biblical gospel proclaims to all men the necessity of them to trust in Christ, promising eternal life to those who do.  The point is that any view of predestination that ignores human sin or Christ's sacrifice or the necessity of faith in Christ, is a grotesque, unbiblical caricature of the truth.

Argument 2:  that the unregenerate are unable to come to Christ or to understand the gospel.
To this we reply that human depravity consists in a hatred for the things of God, and an unwillingness to submit to God's authority.  Unregenerate men can understand what God requires of them—this is why they often react with such hostility against God's truth and against His people—why they crucified Christ, stoned Stephen, beheaded Paul and killed the many Christian martyrs throughout the centuries.

Fallen man could trust in Christ if only he were willing to do so.  His inability to believe results from his incalcitrant unwillingness to believe, and is not due to any lack of natural ability to exercise faith. Unbelievers exercise faith every day:  some trust in their good works, some trust in their science (so-called) or in their unbiblical philosophy, some trust in idols or false religion.  Their problem is that their faith is misplaced—it is placed in anything except Jesus Christ and His cross.  The reason why their faith is misplaced is because of their enmity against God.  They seek a salvation that does not lead them to the one true God, and so they reject the salvation God has provided in His Son.

Man's depravity does not relieve him of responsibility, but is, in fact, the very source of his sin and guilt.  He deserves the wrath of God because, in his depravity, he very willingly despises God and His Word.  His "darkness" and "ignorance" are due to the fact that he willfully rejects and ignores God's truth, and not due to any lack of mental capacity to understand the gospel or to exercise faith in Christ.

Argument 3:  that it introduces a human contribution to salvation and denies the meaning of grace.
To this we reply that the kind of faith God requires is one that looks in confidence to Christ, not to self.  Faith is not a "thing" that man contributes, but is a forfeiture of any claim to self-reliance, and hence leaves no room for boasting.  When the defeated enemy is told to "Surrender or die!" he does not boast of his good sense to surrender.  The fact that God makes faith a condition for receiving forgiveness does not make it a work of righteousness or merit, nor a ground for boasting.

The true character of faith is exemplified by the publican who cried out "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" (Luke 18:13).  Here, we see that forgiveness is in the hand of a sovereign God to give or withhold as He pleases.  Faith approaches God and pleads for mercy, and God, in compassion, pities the man who seeks mercy in this way.  Hence, salvation is not automatically or mechanically procured by faith, but is sovereignly given by a compassionate God to the person who, through faith, seeks mercy from God and sees Christ as the perfect Savior who can save to the uttermost all who come to God by Him (Hebrews 7:25).

Actual salvation is entirely of God's grace, but this does not prevent God from setting forth a hypothetical way of salvation whereby men may receive forgiveness if only they, of themselves, would trust in Christ.  Scripture often affirms that God does set forth just such a hypothetical way of salvation, just as it also affirms that all men, due to their depravity, refuse to avail themselves of it.  No man will approach God for mercy unless God first regenerates his soul, giving him a desire for God's mercy.  Salvation is always, therefore, entirely of God.  However, this consideration does not preclude God from demonstrating the utter depravity of men by offering pardon to them on the condition that they trust in Christ in order to receive it, which leaves them wholly without excuse for rejecting this offer.

Argument 4:  that Christ bore the sins of the elect only, and that there is no provision in the cross for the non-elect, and hence no way that God could save them even if they did come to Christ in faith.
To this we reply that God has the sovereign freedom to save anyone He wants to save, and that we should never think of Him as being a slave to His eternal decrees nor to any supposed limitation in the work of Christ.  If the impossible did happen—that a non-elect person were to come to Christ—then God would have foreseen this in eternity past, and would have chosen him to salvation, and given Christ to die for his sins.

Because of the infinite dignity of the person who died at Calvary, the atonement is necessarily of infinite value—amply sufficient to atone for the sins of all men without exception.  The limitation of the cross is not in its value, but in its purpose and application.  We should never suppose, if God wanted to save more people, that Christ would have had to suffer more than He did.

God transcends creaturely time. He inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15) and, with Him, a day is as a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8).  Likewise, the sacrifice of Christ, by its very nature, is a work that transcends time, because at the cross God laid on Jesus the sins of elect men, some of whom had died long ago, some who were still living, and others who would not come into being until centuries later.  Nor would their sins exist until centuries later.  Hence, God, in some sense, reached forward in time to take those sins and lay them on Jesus.  If He wished, God could now take the sins of other men and reach backward in time to lay them on Christ as well.  The cross does not limit God's sovereignty, but is rather an instrument of His sovereignty that allows Him, without violating His perfect justice, to save whomever He pleases.

I am not suggesting that God does, in fact, impute to Christ the sins of anyone other than His elect, but only that He has the sovereign freedom to do so, which implies that He can honestly say to the nonelect man "You, too, may have eternal life if only you will come in faith to Jesus Christ to receive it."  Hence, man's stubborn rebellion is the only thing that stands in the way of his receiving salvation when he hears the gospel.

Argument 5:  that there is no basis in the gospel for an unbeliever to savingly trust in Christ, since he would first have to know that he is elect in order to know that Christ died for him.
If it is required for saving faith that men believe that the work of Christ is substitutionary and efficacious only for the elect of God, then no man can have confidence in Christ's ability to save him until he is assured that he himself belongs to the elect.  How does a man come into possession of such knowledge?  Does God, at regeneration, zap us with the knowledge and assurance that we are elect, so that we can then conclude that Christ's work is efficacious for our sins?  This would make saving faith dependent upon a subjective feeling, rather than upon the clear statements of God's Word.  No man alive on earth today can go to the scriptures and find his name written there.  God does not give us in scripture an inspired list of the names of His elect people. (Note: If He did, then parents would be consulting the list when naming their children!)  If saving faith depends upon having a subjective sense of our own elect status or of our regenerate condition, then it is a "faith" that looks to other conditions and considerations than Christ alone for its assurance.

When Scripture tells us to make certain of our calling and election (2 Peter 1:10), or when it says to "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith" (2 Corinthians 13:5), it is addressing believers.  These passages are not addressed to a "regenerate unbeliever", teaching him that he must determine whether he is elect before he can have saving faith.  Rather, they are warning believers to examine their faith to ensure that it is genuine.

True saving faith has these elements:  (1) a sense of our own sinfulness and desperate need of forgiveness, (2) an understanding that Jesus Christ, by His death on the cross, satisfied God's justice so as to become the perfect Savior for everyone who comes to Him seeking forgiveness and reconciliation to God, (3) confidence in God's promise to save all who come to Christ for salvation and (4) the willingness to approach the sovereign God whom we have so sorely offended, crying out to Him for mercy while looking in confidence to Christ as the perfect Redeemer for sinners.  In none of these elements is there the need to believe that Christ died only for an elect people, nor to worry whether I am included in that number.  We come to Christ and trust in Him without knowing whether we are elect, and later conclude that we are elect, based on seeing the fruit of election (i.e. faith in Christ, repentance from sin, love for Christ, love for His Word, etc.).  Saving faith is the first fruit of regeneration.  It cannot, therefore, be conditioned on seeing some other fruit of repentance in the heart or life of the individual.

The Gospel Call is Addressed to Elect and Reprobate Alike.

The expression "The Universal Call of the Gospel" denotes the idea that God, in the gospel, freely calls unto faith and salvation all men who outwardly hear the gospel, whether elect or not.  This is undoubtedly the primary point of distinction between Hypercalvinism and Evangelical Calvinism. Hypercalvinism rejects the "Universal Call" doctrine, while Evangelical Calvinism embraces it.

Note that we are here referring to the "external call" of the gospel—the audible proclamation of salvation in Christ, coupled with an exhortation to come to Christ to receive it.  This is distinct from the "internal call" of the Spirit of God, which is directed to the elect only, and which infallibly results in regeneration and saving faith.  God's Holy Spirit attends the preaching of the gospel, and He often calls men internally (effectually) during the external (outward) proclamation of the gospel.  It is the internal call that causes the elect person to respond in true faith to the external call.

Compare Matthew 22:14 with Romans 8:30 to see the scriptural basis for distinguishing the external call from the internal call.

Matthew 22:14 - For many are called, but few are chosen.
Romans 8:30 - and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
Our Lord, in Matthew 22:14, affirms that there are many who are called but are not chosen.  The context is plainly speaking of spiritual salvation.  It is a parable about people who were invited to a great wedding feast but refused to come and consequently were cast into outer darkness.  Romans 8:30, on the other hand, affirms that everyone who is predestined to eternal life is called, and everyone who is called is subsequently justified and glorified.  In short, our Lord, in Matthew 22:14, teaches that many who are "called" were never chosen, and will perish in hell, whereas the inspired apostle, in Romans 8:30 teaches that everyone who is "called" is saved and will never perish.  This would be a contradiction if we did not recognize that calling in Matthew 22:14 is an outward, audible summons to come, whereas in Romans 8:30, it is the Spirit's work of heart-transformation so as to infallibly bring forth faith, resulting in justification.

The Universal Call is plainly affirmed by the Synod of Dort, which says that the gospel is to be proclaimed to all men, that many who are called through the gospel perish in unbelief, and that the reason they perish is not due to any deficiency in the sacrifice of Christ, but that they have only themselves to blame.

The Canons of Dort (1618)

Section 2 - Christ's Death and Human Redemption Through It

Article 5: The Mandate to Proclaim the Gospel to All
Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be announced and declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people, to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel.

Article 6: Unbelief Man's Responsibility
However, that many who have been called through the gospel do not repent or believe in Christ but perish in unbelief is not because the sacrifice of Christ offered on the cross is deficient or insufficient, but because they themselves are at fault.

The "Universal Call" view would seem to be the most natural way to understand the many Bible passages that exhort the lost to seek God, or to come to Christ for salvation...
Amos 5:4 - For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel, "Seek Me that you may live."
Isaiah 45:22 - Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.
Isaiah 55:6 - Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.
Acts 17:30-31 -  The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
Revelation 22:17 - The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

  What is Not Intended by the 'Universal Call'.
We need to understand precisely what is not intended by the "Universal Call" doctrine, as it is used in evangelical Calvinism.

First, we do not mean to suggest that any non-elect person might actually come to Christ and be saved, but only that they are both commanded and invited to come to Christ, and are promised salvation if they do.  They could come, if only they would hate sin and love righteousness, and see Christ as the only Savior of men.  However, because of their total depravity, unregenerate men will never, of themselves, truly wish to be saved from the sin they so much love, and for this (as well as for their other sins), God holds them guilty and deserving of everlasting punishment.

Second, we do not mean to suggest that God has a purpose to save the non-elect, or that He naively supposes that some non-elect person might actually respond in faith to the gospel.  God's purposes are never thwarted by man's rebellion.  God is the sovereign King of creation who "works all things after the counsel of His will" (Ephesians 1:11).  He declares "My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure" (Isaiah 46:10).  God offers salvation to the non-elect to demonstrate the depth of their rebellion and depravity and to leave them the more inexcusable for their sin and unbelief.

Third, we do not mean that God loves the non-elect savingly or redemptively, since scripture says that election and regeneration are the sure fruits of God's redemptive love.

Ephesians 1:4-5 - In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself
2 Thessalonians 2:13 - But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.
Ephesians 2:4-5 - But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Titus 3:4-6 - But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Moreover, the inspired apostle assures us of our salvation by saying that nothing can separate us from God's love.  This would provide no comfort or assurance at all if God loved all men, for it would mean that God sends to hell people whom He loves.  Scripture intends for God's elect to take comfort in the fact that God's unchanging love for them will never permit them to perish in hell.
Romans 8:38-39 -  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
However, even though it is false to say that God loves the non-elect savingly or redemptively, we nevertheless affirm that it is most appropriate for God's ministers to have a great burden for the unsaved, and call men to faith in compassionate, persuasive, compelling terms, even to the point of saying "Why will you die?" (Ezekiel 18:31), or feeling and expressing great sorrow over their impenitence and the horrific judgment it will cause them if they remain impenitent (Romans 9:1-3; 10:1; Exodus 32:31-32).

Fourth, we certainly do not mean to suggest that the purpose of the atonement was to save all men without exception.  God has an elect people, and He gave Christ to die in their place, bearing their iniquities, taking upon His own person the full and complete wrath of God for their sins.  God has no wrath left to pour out upon those for whom Christ died.  He perfectly satisfied (i.e. propitiated) God's wrath on their behalf, and it is therefore impossible that any for whom Christ died could come under God's condemnation.

Had Christ died as a Substitute for all men, then all men would necessarily be saved.  Yet Scripture is clear that many will be cast into the lake of fire and will suffer there eternally for their sins.  It is one thing to say that the death that Christ died is of sufficient value to save all men.  It is quite another to say that He died for all men, or in the place of all men.  We affirm the infinite value of Christ's death, but deny that it was God's purpose to redeem all men by the sacrifice of Christ, and we likewise deny that God, in any sense, applies the sacrifice of Christ to the non-elect.

Fifth, we do not mean to suggest that passages such as 1 Timothy 2:4 (God "... desires all men to be saved ...") or 2 Peter 3:9 (the Lord is "... not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance ...") teach that God wants all men to be saved.  While we certainly agree that God's preceptive will is pleased with human faith, obedience and repentance, and that God's anger is aroused by man's unbelief, disobedience and unrepentance—nevertheless, exegetically, neither of these verses will bear a universal interpretation.

1 Timothy 2:4 says that, because God "desires for all men to be saved", Christ therefore "gave Himself as a ransom for all".  Unless you are willing either to deny Particular Redemption, or to ignore the context of 1 Timothy 2:4, there is no sensible way to exegete the passage to mean that God desires the salvation of the non-elect.  The Greek word translated "all" frequently means "all sorts of" or "all categories of" rather than all without exception.  In context, Paul clearly has in mind all ranks of men (see verses 1 and 2, where he gives as an example of "all men" kings and "all who are in authority"), and all nations of men (see verse 7, where he affirms that he is "a teacher of the Gentiles").  1 Timothy 2:4 teaches us that God has chosen men of all ranks and nations of men. This gives us encouragement to take the gospel to all men, regardless of their status or nationality, confident that God has His elect people among all classes of men.

Likewise, 2 Peter 3:9 is set in the context of God's patience toward "you"—"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."  In context, Peter draws a profound contrast between "you" believers and certain mockers who would come in the last days, whom Peter repeatedly refers to as "they" and "their" (vss. 3-7).  He affirms that the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, for the day of judgment and destruction of these ungodly men (vs. 7).  In contrast, he says that the Lord "is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance."  His patience is not for the sake of all men, but for all of you.  It certainly is not for the sake of those ungodly men for whom the heavens and earth are reserved for judgment and destruction.

Hypercalvinism's Response to the Universal Call.
So how does hypercalvinism handle the passages which teach the Universal Call?  The hypercalvinist typically counters by saying that all the gospel invitations are directed to the elect only, rather than to all men alike.  The universal terms of the gospel, such as "all the ends of the earth" and "all men everywhere" are understood to refer to geographical extent or all categories of men, rather than to all men without exception, since God has declared in scripture that He has chosen men of all classes and nations of men unto salvation.  Moreover, the gospel invitations are directed to those who are "weary and heavy-laden" (Matthew 11:28), to those who are "thirsty" and who are "willing" (Revelation 22:17), and to those who "have ears to hear" (Mark 4:9).  These terms describe the elect person who has been awakened to his need of Christ, and not to the non-elect, who are steadfastly blind to the danger that awaits them.  Besides this, the hypercalvinist argues that the non-elect are spiritually dead, and hence unable to comprehend the terms and promises of the gospel. Thus, when the gospel is proclaimed, it is only those whom God draws to Christ who are able to understand the gospel and respond to it.

While it is certainly true in scripture that universal terms such as "all men" and "the world" often refer to classes and nations of men, it seems considerably strained to suggest that they have this meaning when a general proclamation is made to men, such as "Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth" or "he commands all people everywhere to repent". The context of Acts 17:30 demonstrates that the apostle intends more than the elect only, for he adds "because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness".  Who will argue that "world" here intends the elect only?  It is because he will one day judge the whole world in righteousness that He today commands all men everywhere to repent. Can the command be more restrictive than the reason the command is given?  To this, he adds "of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."  To whom is the resurrection of Christ an assurance that God will one day judge the world in righteousness?  To the elect only?

While it is true that it is God who gives men ears to hear, and makes men thirsty for the water of life, and makes them willing to come to Christ, yet, it is the obligation of every man that he should have hearing ears, and should be thirsty for the things of God, and should be willing to come to Christ.  The fact that the gospel invitations are often addressed to those who do have ears to hear, or who are thirsty and willing, is no argument against a universal obligation of men to come to Christ.  Their lack of a spiritual appetite, and their unwillingness to come to Christ, simply adds to the severity of their sin, increasing their punishment on the day of judgment.

Calvinism sees a parallel between evangelism and Christ's command to dead Lazarus to "Come forth!" from the tomb (John 11:43).  We therefore sometimes compare evangelism to preaching in a graveyard, calling upon men to "Come forth!" from their graves.  We would expect no response at all, if God did not choose some unto salvation, and raise them to spiritual life from their deadness in sin, so that they are enabled to hear and heed the gospel call.  This is a valid analogy to teach the necessity of the inward call, and to encourage evangelists to have confidence when proclaiming Christ to spiritually dead sinners who would never come to Christ of themselves.  It is the inward call that gives hope to the evangelist that the outward call will bear fruit.

However, the analogy breaks down at precisely the point where the hypercalvinist seeks to make his point.  We would never expect a physically dead person to be responsible to obey the command to "Rise from the dead" or "Come forth from the tomb" since his dead, lifeless body is able neither to hear the words spoken to it, nor to stand on its feet and walk out of the tomb.  However, the spiritually dead person is "dead" to the things of God in a somewhat different sense than this.  When the gospel is preached to the spiritually dead person, he does not remain inert or unaffected by the proclamation of the gospel.  Instead, he becomes uncomfortable, angry or even hostile toward the messenger.  He is "dead" so far as having any positive inclination or desire to submit to God or come to Christ.  However, his will is very much alive in a negative sense—rebelling against God's rightful authority, hating true righteousness and willfully rejecting Christ.

Thus, hypercalvinism has a defective view of human depravity.  Man's depravity does not keep him from understanding what the Bible claims about the nature of God and our obligation to obey Him.  Rather, the more that unsaved men hear about the God of the Bible, the more angry and rebellious they become against this God.  The Jews gnashed their teeth at Stephen and stoned him to death because they so hated the words he spoke to them (Acts 7:54-60).  If they didn't understand what Stephen was saying, they wouldn't have become angry with him.  Instead, they would have called him a fool and walked away, shaking their heads.

Unregenerate men can understand quite well what the Bible says about God, sin, righteousness and salvation.  Their problem is that they despise God and righteousness.  They regard the gospel as foolishness (1 Cor 1:23), because it tells them how to be delivered from the sin they so much love.  Theirs is a problem of rebellion, unbelief and ungodly desires, rather than of a simple inability to understand what scripture teaches.  It is true that scripture says that their understanding is darkened (Ephesians 4:18), but the sense in which this is meant is that they don't want to know the truth, and even when they are told the truth, they try to hide from it by denying it, distorting it or attacking its heralds (John 3:19-20; 15:18-23).

Paul tells us that even natural revelation gives a sufficient witness of the existence and glory of God to leave men inexcusable..

Romans 1:18-20 - For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Scripture is also clear in its teaching that God calls unto salvation men who are not chosen to it.
Matthew 22:14 - For many are called, but few are chosen.
This is the concluding remark made by our Lord after He declared the parable of the royal wedding feast where all those who were invited to the feast refused to come, and in response, the king sent his armies to destroy those who had been invited.  The king then sent his servants to go into the streets and highways and invite those whom they found.  One man who came to the feast was found not wearing the proper attire.  After the king confronted him concerning this, the man was speechless and the king had him cast into "the outer darkness" where "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth"—a clear reference to the eternal punishment that awaits the unsaved (Matthew 21:2-14). The parable makes it clear that God invites unto salvation men and women who were not chosen to receive it.  Verse 14 makes it clear that God outwardly calls even non-elect people unto salvation.

"... you are unwilling to come to Me that you may have life."
Perhaps the clearest proof in scripture of a universal call of salvation is found in the epistle of John, where our Lord confronted some unbelieving Jews and charged them with self-destruction because they refused to come to Him to receive the life He gives.

John 5:40 - You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.
These Jews searched the scriptures, hoping to find the way of eternal life in them.  Jesus affirms that eternal life can be found in scripture, because scripture testifies of Himself, who alone is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6).  But there was a problem:  Even though these Jews were eagerly searching the scriptures seeking eternal life, they were unwilling to come to the Savior to whom the scriptures testified.  They would not come to Christ that they might have life.

According to our Lord, the obstacle to their being saved was not God's decree, but their own unwillingness to come to Christ for salvation.  They were responsible to come to Christ.  They had opportunity to come to Christ.  They would have received life from Christ if only they had come to Him.  However, in their depravity they were unwilling to come to Him, and so they perished in their unbelief.

Their unwillingness is evidence of their total depravity. They did not want the "Way" of salvation that God graciously provides to men.  But notice carefully our Lord's words to these unbelievers:  "... you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life."  The words "so that you may have life" make it clear that, if only they had been willing, they could have come to Him, and He would have given them life.  According to this passage, the only reason why they did not receive the life He gives is because they were unwilling to come to Him to receive it.  Hence, Christ was fully able to save them, but He saves only those who come to Him to receive life.  (We will discuss in later sections how this is compatible with the doctrine of particular/effectual redemption and with the meaning of grace).

Even John Gill, who occasionally expressed hypercalvinistic views, explained this passage by saying that these unbelieving Jews were blameworthy for not coming to Christ for salvation.

... and this perverseness of their wills to come to Christ, when revealed in the external ministry of the word, was blameworthy in them, since this was not owing to any decree of God, but to the corruption and vitiosity of nature; which being blameworthy in them, that which follows upon it must be so too; and it was the greater aggravation of their sin, that they had the Scriptures which testified of Christ, and pointed at him as the way of life, and yet would not come to him for it:

John Gill, exposition of John 5:40.

The Calvinistic Puritan expositor, Matthew Henry, explains the passage  by saying that Christ "offered life, and it was not accepted" and "The only reason why sinners die is because they will not come to Christ for life and happiness"...
"You will not come to me, that you might have life, v. 40.  You search the scriptures, you believe the prophets, who you cannot but see testify of me; and yet you will not come to me, to whom they direct you."  Their estrangement from Christ was the fault not so much of their understandings as of their wills.  This is expressed as a complaint; Christ offered life, and it was not accepted.  Note, First, There is life to be had with Jesus Christ for poor souls; we may have life, the life of pardon and grace, and comfort and glory: life is the perfection of our being, and inclusive of all happiness; and Christ is our life. Secondly, Those that would have this life must come to Jesus Christ for it; we may have it for the coming for.  It supposes an assent of the understanding to the doctrine of Christ and the record given concerning him; it lies in the consent of the will to his government and grace, and it produces an answerable compliance in the affections and actions. Thirdly, The only reason why sinners die is because they will not come to Christ for life and happiness; it is not because they cannot, but because they will not.  They will neither accept the life offered, because spiritual and divine, nor will they agree to the terms on which it is offered, nor apply themselves to the use of the appointed means: they will not be cured, for they will not observe the methods of cureFourthly, The willfulness and obstinacy of sinners in rejecting the tenders of grace are a great grief to the Lord Jesus, and what he complains of.

Matthew Henry, Unabridged Commentary on John 5:40.

The universal call is basic to Evangelical Calvinism, for it sets forth what we may call the "kernel" of the gospel, stating that Jesus Christ is the sacrificial "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), that eternal life may be found in Jesus Christ alone (Acts 4:12) and that whoever comes to Jesus Christ by faith will assuredly receive eternal life (John 3:16; 6:37).  These are essential gospel truths we must believe and obey in order to be saved.

However, due to his utter depravity, no unregenerate man will ever obey these kernel truths, and so, if anyone is to be saved, there is need for God to intervene into the heart of the individual.  Thus, there is more to the gospel than is presented in the kernel we must believe.  The "expanded gospel" teaches that God has chosen a people for Himself out of the mass of fallen humanity, that He gave Christ to be their Substitute to efficaciously redeem them from their sins, and, in time, He sends His Holy Spirit into their hearts to regenerate them, so that they will believe and obey the kernel of the gospel.

The kernel of the gospel teaches that all men have the opportunity to come to Christ and be saved.  The expanded gospel teaches that the only ones who will avail themselves of this opportunity are those whom the Father makes willing.  The kernel of the gospel is an expression of God's grace, in providing a way of salvation to men that was purchased solely by the sufferings and death of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The expanded gospel reveals a fuller expression of God's grace—revealing His pure, unmixed sola gratia—saving rebellious sinners who would never have been willing to come to Christ unless God had first changed their hearts to make them willing.

Thus, the expanded gospel fulfills the conditions of the kernel of the gospel.  Augustine prayed "Father, command what you will, and grant what you command."  This is precisely how Evangelical Calvinism views salvation.  In the kernel of the gospel, the Father commands us to come to Christ and be saved.  In the expanded gospel, He grants the faith that He commands us to have, so as to secure and ensure our salvation.

The Value and Efficacy of the Atonement.

In his sermon, The End of The Wicked Contemplated by The Righteous, Jonathan Edwards addresses non-elect people and plainly says that Jesus Christ "... offers you the benefits of his blood while you are in this world, and often calls upon you to accept them; ... "

... Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, will have no pity on you. Though he had so much love to sinners, as to be willing to lay down his life for them, and offers you the benefits of his blood, while you are in this world, and often calls upon you to accept them; yet then he will have no pity upon you. You never will hear any more instructions from him; he will utterly refuse to be your instructor: on the contrary, he will be your judge, to pronounce sentence against you. ...

Jonathan Edwards - The End Of The Wicked Contemplated By The Righteous

In another sermon, God's Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men, he expresses the same conviction...
God can, without prejudice to the glory of any of his attributes, bestow salvation on any of the children of men, except on those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. The case was thus when man fell, and before God revealed his eternal purpose and plan for redeeming men by Jesus Christ. It was probably looked upon by the angels as a thing utterly inconsistent with God's attributes to save any of the children of men. It was utterly inconsistent with the honour of the divine attributes to save any one of the fallen children of men, as they were in themselves. It could not have been done had not God contrived a way consistent with the honour of his holiness, majesty, justice, and truth. But since God in the gospel has revealed that nothing is too hard for him to do, nothing beyond the reach of his power, and wisdom, and sufficiency; and since Christ has wrought out the work of redemption, and fulfilled the law by obeying, there is none of mankind whom he may not save without any prejudice to any of his attributes, excepting those who have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost. And those he might have saved without going contrary to any of his attributes, had he not been pleased to declare that he would not.

Jonathan Edwards - God's Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men

These sentiments are not peculiar to Edwards, but are characteristic of Evangelical Calvinism.

But how can we proclaim to all men—elect and non-elect alike—that God will save them if they simply come to Christ in faith?  Isn't this a denial of Limited Atonement?  How is God able to offer salvation to men for whom Christ did not die?  To answer this question, let us take a theological journey along a route that considers a number of diverse answers and the difficulties with each of these answers.  At the end of our journey, we hope to reach the correct answer.

1. We begin our journey with the idea that the gospel does not need to be a genuine call to the non-elect, since God knows that they will never repent of their sins nor come to Christ.  The problem with this view is that it seems to impugn the character of God, charging Him with insincerity and deceitful dealing.  It is like promising a man that you will give him a million dollars if he can leap over the Statue of Liberty unassisted.  You don't have a million dollars to wager, but you know he can't do it anyway, so you feel safe in making the promise.  The problem is that it is an empty promise—you couldn't make good on it if you wanted to, since you don't have the million dollars to give.  Shall we say that God is incapable of granting forgiveness to reprobate men, and that He is merely taunting them by saying "I will give you eternal life if only you come to Christ in faith?"  Under this interpretation, their inability to come is matched by His inability to forgive, which makes Him appear just as foolish and insincere as the sinners to whom He is making this empty, insincere "promise".
2. We next consider the Arminian's answer: God is able to offer salvation to all men on the condition of faith simply because Christ died for all men.  The problem with this answer is that it fails to do justice to the substitutionary nature of the atonement.  If Christ died in a person's place, taking upon Himself the full punishment for all that man's sins, then how can God still condemn the man?  If Christ died for all without exception, then God would not have any wrath left to pour out on anyone, and so all men would necessarily be saved.  Universalism, rather than Arminianism, would seem to be the logical consequence of a universal atonement.

The Arminian typically replies to this objection by saying that salvation is always conditioned on faith, and that God poured out His wrath on Jesus sufficiently to save the man.  However, if the man does not accept the sacrifice that Jesus made, then God has the right to withdraw the offer of salvation and to charge the man doubly guilty—once for His own sins, and secondly, for the wasted suffering that it caused Christ on his behalf.

The problem with this explanation is that it makes the sacrifice of Christ a potentially useless, wasted work that saves no one.  What if no one had decided to believe in Christ?  Then Christ would have suffered in vain, and His sacrifice would have saved no one.  This view says that, each time a person dies in unbelief, Christ's suffering for him was a useless, wasted effort.  Another problem with this view is that it says that God cannot save a man unless that man gives his permission.  The Arminian claims that God sincerely wants everyone to be saved, and even gave Christ to die for everyone's sins, and yet, God's desires and plans are frustrated by man's rebellious will.  This is a denial of God's freedom and sovereignty.

3. The third stop on our journey is to modify the Arminian's answer slightly.  We don't have to say that Christ actually died for all men, but only that His death is of sufficient value to redeem all men.  This avoids the problem of saying that anyone is lost for whom Christ died, while preserving the idea that God could save others if He wished.

Usually, this view is summed up by saying that the atonement is limited in its purpose and application, but infinite in its value.  We should note that virtually all evangelical Calvinists would agree with this statement.  Here are some representative quotes...

The value of the atonement depends upon, and is measured by, the dignity of the person making it; and since Christ suffered as a Divine-human person the value of His suffering was infinite. ... The atonement, therefore, was infinitely meritorious and might have saved every member of the human race had that been God's plan.  It was limited only in the sense that it was intended for, and is applied to, particular persons; namely for those who are actually saved.

Some misunderstanding occasionally arises here because of a false assumption that Calvinists teach that Christ suffered so much for one soul, and so much for another, and that He would have suffered more if more were to have been saved.  We believe, however, that even if many fewer of the human race were to have been pardoned and saved, an atonement of infinite value would have been necessary in order to have secured for them these blessings; and though many more, or even all men were to have been pardoned and saved, the sacrifice of Christ would have been amply sufficient as the ground or basis of their salvation.

Loraine Boettner - The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
(Philadelphia, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1973), pp. 151-152.

1. THE EXACT POINT AT ISSUE.  The question with which we are concerned at this point is not (a) whether the satisfaction rendered by Christ was in itself sufficient for the salvation of all men, since this is admitted by all;  (b) whether the saving benefits are actually applied to every man, for the great majority of those who teach a universal atonement do not believe that all are actually saved; (c) whether the bona fide offer of salvation is made to all that hear the gospel, on the condition of repentance and faith, since the Reformed Churches do not call this in question; nor (d) whether any of the fruits of the death of Christ accrue to the benefit of the non-elect in virtue of their close association with the people of God, since this is explicitly taught by many Reformed scholars.  On the other hand, the question does relate to the design of the atonement.  Did the Father in sending Christ, and did Christ in coming into the world, to make atonement for sin, do this with the design or for the purpose of saving only the elect or all men?  That is the question, and that is the only question.

Louis Berkhof - Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972), pp. 393-394.

This doctrine has a long and respectable history, having been expressed by John Calvin and also by the Synod of Dort.
Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church.

John Calvin - Commentary on 1 John 2:2.

The Canons of Dort (1618)
The Second Main Point of Doctrine
Christ's Death and Human Redemption Through It

Article 3: The Infinite Value of Christ's Death
This death of God's Son is the only and entirely complete sacrifice and satisfaction for sins; it is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world.

Article 4: Reasons for This Infinite Value
This death is of such great value and worth for the reason that the person who suffered it is—as was necessary to be our Savior—not only a true and perfectly holy man, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Another reason is that this death was accompanied by the experience of God's anger and curse, which we by our sins had fully deserved.

Even Arthur W. Pink, who is regarded by some to have taught Hypercalvinism, held that the atonement was unlimited in its value.
In closing this section of the chapter let us say that the only limitation in the Atonement we have contended for arises from pure sovereignty; it is a limitation not of value and virtue, but of design and application.

Arthur W. Pink - The Sovereignty of God (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1975), p. 86.

Acknowledging that this is a much more satisfactory answer than saying that Christ died for the sins of all men, we nevertheless find that it is not altogether satisfactory.  It seems to think of the atonement merely as an infinite "treasury of merit" that can be "applied" to men at will.  This seems to overlook or deny the necessity of Christ to act as a substitute for those who are redeemed by His death.

To rephrase the objection, how could an atonement of infinite worth save anyone if Christ did not actually bear their sins when He died.  The question is not "Did Christ suffer enough to save them?" nor is it "Is He a person of sufficient worth and honor to render an atonement of infinite value?"  The real question is Did He act as their Substitute?  Did He bear their sins in their place?  If so, they will necessarily be saved.  If not, then His death cannot save them, no matter how much value it may have.

4. We now move along to the fourth stop of our journey.  This is a refinement on our previous answer, as we inquire: What does it mean to say that "Christ died for a man's sins?"

To say that "Christ died for a man's sins" means simply that God has forensically imputed that man's sins to Christ.  In other words, it is a legal judgment on God's part, to accept Christ's sufferings and death in the place of the individual as the proptitiation of His wrath against the individual's sins, and to impute Christ's perfect righteousness to him.  We have already seen (from Boettner's quote above) that, if God had chosen to save a greater number of people, Christ would not have needed to suffer any more than He already did.  It is not a matter of Christ suffering so much for this person's sins, and so much for that person's sins.  The degree and duration of our Lord's suffering was sufficient to save universes filled with Adam's sinful offspring.  Thus, the only thing that determines whether Christ died as the Substitute for a particular man is whether God the Father judicially imputes that man's sins to Christ at Calvary.

Hypothetically speaking, what if God changed His mind after Christ's suffering had ended, and decided He wanted to save some more people than He had originally purposed to save?  Would Christ need to go back to the cross?  Or, could the Father simply make the legal decision to impute the sins of these people to the atonement Christ had already made, without the need for Him to return to the cross?  As a Judge sitting on the bench, could He simply decide to impute their sins to Christ, or would it be too late?  Would it be any different from the way that the Father imputed the sins of His elect to Christ?

Perhaps the only objection that can be made against this view is that the imputation of our sins had to occur at the time of the crucifixion, when our Lord was actually suffering on the cross.  To make an additional imputation centuries later would be illegitimate, since, at the time of His suffering, our Lord was not actually accounted as bearing their sins.

5. We proceed to the fifth stop of our journey: God transcends time, and the atonement itself transcends time. This is evident from the fact that Christ died for the sins of many people who were not even born yet when He died.  Their sins had not yet been committed.  Hence Jesus died for sins that didn't yet exist!  Somehow, God was able to reach forward in time and take the sins committed at a future time in order to lay them on Christ at Calvary.  Which means that, to God, both past and future are an ever-present "now".  God is not subject to the same creaturely time constraints that we are.  God inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15), and with Him, a day is as a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8).  We are living nearly 2000 years after the cross, but God is ever-present at both places in time.  He can still lay upon Christ at Calvary the sins committed by people today.  This is, in fact, how He laid our sins upon Christ.  The passage of time does not limit His ability to act.

The objection to this is that God's purpose is single and unchanging.  To speak hypothetically of what God might do or could do is to deny that His counsels are fixed, eternal and immutable.  It denies His perfect wisdom to suggest that He might tomorrow decide to do something different than what He in eternity decreed to do.

6. Hence, we arrive at the sixth stop of our journey. God knew in eternity past who would come to Christ for salvation, and He gave Christ to die for all whom He foresaw would believe.  Because God is omniscient and transcends time, He could, when He formed His decrees in eternity past, foresee the actions, thoughts and decisions of men in the distant future.  If an unregenerate person were to freely respond in faith to the gospel, God would have foreseen this in eternity past, and would have made sure that his sins were laid upon Christ.  No one, therefore, needs to feel that he is excluded from coming to Christ by worrying that Christ did not die for his sins.  If he chooses to come to Christ, then God foresaw that in eternity past, and would have laid the man's sins on Christ.

This view sounds suspiciously like the first view considered—namely, that God knew that no reprobate person would come to Christ, so He didn't have to provide salvation for them.  However, the difference is in the way we view God's "knowledge" that no one would believe.  The first view considered God's knowledge in an absolute sense, that since no non-elect person would ever come to Christ, therefore there was no need to consider providing redemption for that person.  The sixth view, on the other hand, considers as a hypothetical possibility, "What if some non-elect person did come to Christ?" and replies by saying "In that case, God would have foreseen his faith, and would have laid his sins on Christ."  The sixth view thus avoids the objection raised by the first view, by providing a hypothetical way for God to have provided redemption for those who were not chosen unto salvation.

It should be noted that the sixth view neither requires nor rules out a redemption of sufficient value to save all men.  This is because the decision whether to provide redemption for a particular person is still made in eternity past, when God's eternal decrees were formed.

Two objections can be raised to this point.  First, that God did not merely foresee who would believe, but has immutably predestined the outcome.  God's decrees are not contingent upon men's actions.  Rather, God has sovereignly decreed in eternity all that will ever come to pass in time.  He doesn't modify His decrees on the basis of what He foresees men will do.  Instead, the thoughts and decisions of men are merely the outworking of His decrees.

The second objection is similar:  This view destroys the unity of the decrees by suggesting (hypothetically) that there might be people who, although not elected by God, would believe anyway, and that Christ therefore might have died for men who were not chosen by God unto salvation.  It thus denies the doctrine of Particular Redemption, by suggesting that Christ might have died for non-elect people.

Both objections are answered by this consideration:  We are not claiming that any non-elect person might actually come to Christ, or that Christ actually died for any non-elect people.  We are instead considering hypothetically what God was able to do in order to see how He could legitimately invite non-elect men to come to Christ for salvation, while knowing full well that they, in their stubborn depravity, would never be willing to come.

God often speaks to men hypothetically of what "might have been" if only they had responded in faith and repentance.

Isaiah 48:18 - "If only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, And your righteousness like the waves of the sea."
Luke 19:42 - saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."
John 5:40 - You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.
Acts 13:46 - Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles."
Hebrews 4:6-7 - Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS."
This, of course, does not prove that men have the moral ability to believe or repent, but it does demonstrate that they are responsible to do so, and that God declares to them what might have been, if only they had responded in faith.  What we have attempted to do in this section is to show the legitimacy of God's promise regarding "what might have been".  Christ can legitimately say, "if only you had been willing to come to Me, I would have given you eternal life."

Hypercalvinism has the tendency to see all things as being caused directly by the predestinating will of God in a purely deterministic way.  Evangelical Calvinism, however, confesses that God's sovereignty respects the will of the creatures, and acknowledges the liberty and contingency of second causes.  The Westminster Confession of Faith declares this plainly...

Chapter III
Of God's Eternal Decree

I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

Westminster Confession of Faith (1646)

In analyzing man's responsibility to obey the gospel, we are considering a merely hypothetical situation in order to understand how God can, in good faith, set forth a promise of salvation to all men, with the stipulation that they must come to Christ to receive it.  God's decrees have to do with what will actually occur, and not with the hypothetical consideration of what would occur under different circumstances.

God teaches us in scripture to think of Him as a God who responds to human petitions in prayer.  We are not to allow considerations of His immutable decrees to inhibit us from praying earnestly for the things we need.  God wants us to think of Him as a loving Father who tenderly responds to the prayers of His children.  Scripture often speaks in such a way as to suggest that prayer can change God's mind.

James 5:16-18 -  ... The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
Genesis 18:24-26 - "Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" So the LORD said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account."
While we confess that prayer does not actually change God's mind, we nevertheless recognize that Scripture often presents us with such a picture of prayer, and that it is not wrong for us to plead earnestly with God for the things that are truly needful for us to have.

When the publican prayed "God be merciful to me, the sinner!" (Luke 18:13), he hoped his prayer would persuade God to look upon Him in mercy.  Indeed, Jesus tells us that the publican "went to his house justified" (Luke 18:14).  This is common language in scripture, teaching us that it is not wrong for us to pray as though God's decisions might be influenced by our pleas.

The publican likely did not understand the doctrine of election.  However, by praying that God be merciful to him, he was, in effect, praying "God, number me among your elect people."  Thus, we do not need to ask, "How could Christ potentially redeem non-elect people?"  Instead, when we tell people to "Call upon the Lord for salvation," we are, in effect, telling them to pray that God has chosen them unto salvation in order that they might be redeemed by Christ.  A God who could hear all our prayers in eternity past is fully able to answer such a prayer.  Granted, it is God who gives men the desire to pray the sinner's prayer, but this is merely God granting what He commands—God, in sovereign grace, giving us the desire to do what we, in our depravity would never willingly do of ourselves.

The Relation of Faith to Grace.

Scripture describes our salvation as being wholly the work of God.

Jonah 2:9 - ... Salvation is of the Lord.
John 6:65 - no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.
John 15:16 - You did not choose Me but I chose you ...
Romans 9:16 - So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
Romans 11:5-6 - In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God's gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
Ephesians 2:4-5 - But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Ephesians 2:8-10 - For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship ...
Theologians refer to this as monergism—the work of a single being (i.e. God)—as opposed to synergism—a cooperative effort between man and God.  Because salvation is monergistic, it is entirely a work of grace.  There is no room for human efforts or contributions to the work of salvation, since this would destroy its monergistic character, and would detract from the supreme glory that God receives in our salvation.  The saved sinner knows full well that he was totally undeserving of God's kindness and that he can claim no merit or goodness of his own as the basis why God saved him rather than his neighbor.  Salvation is of grace.  Indeed, it is of grace alone.  This is what the magisterial Reformers understood well, and thus one of the great battle-cries of the Protestant Reformation was Sola Gratia—grace alone!

How then can we imagineeven hypothetically—that men could be responsible to come to Christ to receive salvation?  Suppose they did come through their own resources, and that God, in response to their coming, saved them.  Wouldn't this nullify grace?  Wouldn't this make salvation a joint effort between man, who must come to Christ, and God, who grants salvation in response to the coming for it?  Such a "salvation" would not be a monergistic work of God, and hence would not be a work of pure, unadulterated grace.

In response to this, we note several facts:

First, whether it seems reasonable to us or not, Scripture teaches that the unsaved are responsible to come to Christ seeking salvation, and God promises eternal life to all who come.  We are not permitted to deny the plain teaching of scripture simply to make it fit our theological presuppositions.

John 5:40 - ... you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.
Acts 13:46 - Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles."

Second, there are varying degrees of grace.  The word grace (Greek: charis) simply means unmerited favor.  This word existed in the Greek language long before it was used in inspired Scripture to describe God's sovereign grace in salvation.  It was used of kindness that one person showed to another, or of a favor that one person might perform for another.  It did not possess the technical meaning of a sovereign, monergistic work of God.

Even in sacred Scripture, the word "grace" does not always have the technical meaning of sovereign, monergistic grace.

Luke 6:32 - If you love those who love you, what credit [charis] is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
Luke 17:9  - He does not thank [charis] the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?
Acts 2:47 -  praising God and having favor [charis] with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 7:10 - and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor [charis] and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household.
Acts 24:27 - But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and wishing to do the Jews a favor [charis], Felix left Paul imprisoned.
Acts 25:2-3 - And the chief priests and the leading men of the Jews brought charges against Paul, and they were urging him, requesting a concession [charis] against Paul, that he might have him brought to Jerusalem (at the same time, setting an ambush to kill him on the way).
... etc.
It is true that the sovereign grace described in scripture is a purely monergistic work, and that this is how God actually saves totally depraved sinners who are resolutely unwilling to come to Christ.  But this does not rule out the possibility that God could set forth a hypothetical, synergistic way of salvation to men if He wished.  True, such a salvation would be less gracious in character than the monergistic salvation that He actually performs, but it would not be devoid of grace.

Why would God hold forth such a hypothetical way of salvation?  —The reason is simply to show that men will not avail themselves of it, even when it is freely offered to them.  It demonstrates the depth of their rebellion and depravity.  It plainly demonstrates the absolute need for a monergistic salvation.

Third, there are two different ways to think of faith with respect to salvation.  One way is a total denial of the gospel, but the other is in complete harmony with it.  If we suppose that faith is the "missing ingredient" in salvation—that Christ did 99%, and that we must supply the remaining 1% by believing, then we have turned salvation into a synergistic works-based system that rewards man for doing his part.  If, on the other hand, we understand that salvation is always subject to the sovereignty of God to give to whomever He wishes, and that God, in mercy, is pleased to have mercy on the man who comes to Christ in faith, then we are not saying that man contributes anything to salvation.  All we are saying is that God is pleased to make the "great exchange"—imputing the sinner's sins to Christ, and imputing Christ's righteousness to the sinner—to anyone who looks in faith to Christ for salvation.

It is a sign of extremism—whether among Arminians or Calvinists—to conceive of salvation in purely mechanical or deterministic terms.  The extreme Arminian tends to view God as a cosmic vending machine who dispenses salvation whenever we push the button of faith.  The extreme Calvinist tends to view salvation merely as a fatalistic theological proposition: If God has chosen you, then you will be saved. —Period!

Both views have the tendency to depersonalize God and to dethrone Him.  Both views seem to represent Him as a clever inventor who initially set up the machinery of salvation, but who is now little more than the impersonal power source of that machinery.  Both views tend to downplay the necessity of seeking mercy from an offended God who has the sovereign right to either grant or deny mercy.  Both views have the tendency to conceive of saving faith in coldly impersonal, barren intellectual terms, and fail to see the necessity of approaching the living and sovereign God and appealing to Him to grant mercy and pardon.

Granted, because of man's utter depravity, God must provide the faith.  However, this does not mean that unregenerate men are not responsible to have faith. Adam before the Fall was able to trust God for his daily needs and for his continued existence.  God holds us responsible to do what we (in Adam) were able, prior to the Fall, to do—namely, to trust Him.  In the Fall, man lost the ability to exercise faith only in the sense that unregenerate man no longer has any desire to love or trust a holy, sovereign God.  This is expressed in his free choice to reject God, and to trust in anything and everything except God.

Man has the natural ability to exercise faith—this is abundantly evident in the fact that unregenerate men trust in themselves, in their morality and good works, in idols, in false religion and false philosophies, in false prophets, in wealth and influence and in every other imaginable thing except the one true and living God.  It is for this very reason—that man could trust in God if he wanted to—that he is fully responsible to trust in God, and infinitely guilty for failing to do so.  The fact that he is incapable of loving and trusting God does not relieve him of responsibility to do so, but is rather the very source and reason for his guilt.  It is no different from saying that a crime-hardened criminal who has lost all sense of compassion and mercy is considered totally responsible and very guilty for his crimes of cruelty.  His incapacity to do good does not justify his evil.

Fourth, the very nature of true faith is that it is Christ-directed rather than self-directed.  Works-righteousness is simply a name for trusting in self.  The Bible says that we cannot be saved by our works simply because we are not able, of ourselves, to produce the flawless righteousness that the infinitely holy God requires.  Those who think they can be justified by their own good works have no comprehension of the utter holiness and purity of almighty God, nor of their own utter sinfulness and depravity, and the degree to which that sinfulness contaminates even our best efforts.

True faith, then, acknowledges that we can produce nothing of eternal value, and that we need an external righteousness—the spotless, radiant perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ—in order to stand uncondemned in the sight of God.  True faith is undivided trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.  It denies that there is anything in us deserving of God's favor.  We sometimes speak of "the empty hand of faith"—an outstretched hand that simply asks for mercy from an offended God, having no hope of receiving mercy other than (1) knowing that God is often pleased to show mercy to sinners who seek it from Him and (2) trusting His promise to be merciful to those who look to Christ alone for salvation.

A House with No Doors.

Saving faith is more than merely assenting to some formulation of the doctrine of the atonement.  A person can embrace correct doctrine and still be unregenerate.  This is what James meant when he wrote:

James 2:19 - You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
Thus, there is more to saving faith than simply affirming correct doctrine about the value and extent of the atonement. Saving faith must assuredly affirm certain basic doctrines, but it is more than merely embracing the right creed.

To exercise genuine saving faith, I must trust Christ for my own salvation.  I must embrace Him as my own Savior.  I must see Him as a Savior who is abundantly able to save me from my sins. I must have an objective basis in the gospel on which to have confidence in Christ's ability to forgive my sins.  I must have this foundation in order to exercise faith in Christ.

Granted, it is the Holy Spirit who creates faith within us through regeneration.  But faith is a response to the truth concerning Christ proclaimed in the gospel.  It is a response of confidence in Christ's ability to save me from my sins and in His willingness to save all who trust Him for salvation.  If Christ's ability to save is limited to His elect people, then how can I have any confidence in His ability to save me from my sins unless I first know that I am one of His elect people?

Hypercalvinism creates a problem by portraying Christ as being unable to save anyone except His elect people.  Hypercalvinism's "gospel" is "If you are elect, then Christ died for you—trust in Christ and be saved".  The glaring problem with this approach is that it means that no one can exercise saving faith until he knows himself to be one of God's elect people.  How can I trust Christ to save me if I'm not sure whether He died for me?  How can I know that Christ died for me if I don't know whether or not I am elect?  Scripturally, the only way (apart from special revelation) a person could know that he is among the elect is to first exercise faith in Christ.  Hence, hypercalvinism creates the dilemma that a person cannot exercise faith until he knows himself to be elect, yet he cannot know himself to be elect until he exercises faith.

Evangelical Calvinism escapes this dilemma by saying that the atonement is of sufficient value to save all men, and that this provides a sufficient basis for the new convert to see Christ as a Redeemer who is fully able to save anyone who comes to Him seeking mercy.  We affirm that Christ did not actually die to save anyone except His elect. However, by affirming that Christ is able to save all men without exception, we leave the door of faith open for the elect man who does not yet know himself to be elect. This affords him an objective basis in the gospel, once he is regenerated by the Holy Spirit, to embrace Christ by faith without first needing to know that he is elect.  Once he has faith in Christ, he can afterward conclude that he was chosen in Christ from all eternity.  However, this knowledge is a fruit of saving faith, not the basis for it.

One could, of course, say that the Holy Spirit "jump starts" our faith by simply "zapping" us with the confidence that we are elect and that Christ died for our sins.  In this case, there is no rational basis in the gospel for our faithwe are simply reprogrammed by the Holy Spirit at the instant of regeneration to have confidence that we are among those for whom He diedthat we are among His elect people. Such a view is inconsistent with the many scriptures that appeal to men generally to come to Christ and receive salvation.

Isaiah 45:22 - Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.
Acts 17:30 - Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,

Such a view denies the Biblical truth that the gospel is instrumental in our salvation...

Romans 1:16 -  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Romans 10:14 , 17 - How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? ... So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
1 Peter 1:23 - for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.
Acts 10:43-44 -  "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins." While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.
And such a view denies that believers are to make sure of their calling and election through self-examination...
2 Corinthians 13:5 - Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?
2 Peter 1:10 - Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
Short of special revelation, it seems that the only way hypercalvinism can avoid this dilemma is to claim that regneration precedes faith by a measurable period of time, and that the regenerate person must first recognize within himself a changed character, by which he can conclude that he is regenerate (and hence elect), prior to exercising faith in Christ.  Once he senses that he is an elect person, he can conclude that Christ died for him, and this gives him a logical basis to trust Christ to save him.

There are many problems with this view...

First, it denies that faith is the first and primary fruit of regeneration.  According to this view, some other fruit of regeneration must precede faith, and must become the basis by which the regenerate person may conclude that he is elect and be justified in exercising faith in Christ.

Second, it makes saving faith to be dependent upon a subjective factornamely, my assessment of my own regenerate status.  This is a risky basis for our faith since anyone can be deceived concerning his regenerate condition.  This would be especially risky for a new convert, who would not be well equipped to appraise his own spiritual condition, and could easily be deceived.

Third, it seems ludicrous to suggest that a person could justifiably conclude that he is regenerate if he does not yet have faith in Christ.  A "regeneration" devoid of faith is like a day devoid of daylight—it is one in which the primary evidence for its existence is absent!

Fourth, all the supposed "evidences" of regeneration—such as an interest in the gospel, conviction of sin, horrors of hell, a desire to escape eternal judgment, a purpose to forsake sin, an interest in sound doctrine—are sometimes seen in non-elect people who, despite all their apparent concern for their souls, end up rejecting Christ.  Such "evidences" for regeneration constitute an insufficient basis for one's confidence that he is elect or that Christ died for him, and hence provide no warrant for faith in Christ.

Fifth, it denies that saving faith is faith in Christ alone.  Instead, it is a divided faith—whereby the new convert trusts partly in Christ' work of redemption, and partly in his fallible appraisal of his own regenerate condition.

Sixth, it denies that we are justified by faith alone, for it teaches that the person is converted temporally prior to exercising faith in Christ.  It disconnects regeneration from evangelism, suggesting that God may regenerate a person sometime prior to his hearing the gospel.  However, Peter is clear in saying that we "have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God" (1 Peter 1:23).  The Word of God is instrumental, not merely in bringing forth faith from a regenerate man, but in bringing regeneration to an unregenerate man.  It never accomplishes this apart from the Spirit of God, but rather the Spirit applies the Word to the heart to bring about the great work of regeneration which manifests itself in saving faith.

God carries out His good pleasure in the elect and works in them true conversion in the following manner. He takes care that the gospel is preached to them, and powerfully enlightens their minds by the Holy Spirit, so that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God. By the efficacious working of the same regenerating Spirit He also penetrates into the innermost recesses of man. He opens the closed and softens the hard heart, circumcises that which was uncircumcised, and instils new qualities into the will. He makes the will, which was dead, alive; which was bad, good; which was unwilling, willing; and which was stubborn, obedient. He moves and strengthens it so that, like a good tree, it may be able to produce the fruit of good works.

Canons of Dordt, 3:11.

Notice that Dordt begins with the preaching of the gospel, and not with the work of the Spirit, in describing how conversion is brought about in the elect.  The Spirit and the Word always work together to bring about regeneration and conversion.  The only exception to this would be God's elect who die in infancy.

Seventh, it is unscriptural.  The Bible nowhere suggests to us that our faith is to be based upon some appraisal of our regenerate condition.  When scripture calls on us to trust in Christ, or to come to Christ, it never says that we are to first determine if we are elect or regenerate as a warrant for our faith.  Rather, we are simply called upon to see Christ as the perfect Savior for sinners—as the one who can save to the uttermost all who come to God by Him.

Hence, the gospel does not weary the unbeliever with concerns about his elect status.  Instead, it promises salvation to every sinner who trusts Christ as his Lord and Savior, calling upon Him for mercy—confident that He is fully able to save him from his sins.

This conclusion agrees with the Canons of Dordt, which assert that faith in Christ is the evidence of our election, rather than a sense of our election being the basis for our faith and confidence in Christ's ability to save us.

Assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God's Word— such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.

Canons of Dordt, 1:12.

Notice carefully that Dordt asserts that the assurance of our election is based on our having "... a true faith in Christ ...", among other things.  Those who do not yet have a "true faith in Christ" have no legitimate warrant for believing themselves to be elect.  It is true that regeneration precedes faith in logical order, because no one will embrace Christ by faith unless God has changed his heart through the miracle of regeneration.  However, it is erroneous to say that a person's faith in Christ is dependent upon his prior self-appraisal of his regenerate condition.  Chronologically, faith issues forth immediately when a person is regenerated by God.  Scripture never gives us reason to believe otherwise.

The Biblical order of salvation is this...

  1. The gospel is preached to us.
  2. God regenerates us during the proclamation of the gospel.
  3. We trust in Christ proclaimed in the gospel.
  4. We later perceive ourselves to be elect, based on our having trusted in Christ and observing the other graces of regeneration.
If hypercalvinism were true, then a person would first have to know that he is elect before he could have any confidence in Christ's ability to save him from his sins.  In this case, the 3rd and 4th points would be reversed, and our faith would reside partly in Christ's death for us, and partly in believing ourselves to be elect.

Effectual Calling and Regeneration.

It is profitable for us to investigate further the relationship between effectual calling, regeneration and saving faith.  It is clear from scripture that regeneration is the logical prerequisite for exercising saving faith.  An unregenerate man, because of his total depravity, has no desire or willingness to trust in Christ.  God must give him a new heart before he will be willing to believe in Christ.  Hence, we affirm that regeneration is the source or cause of saving faith, and that regeneration precedes faith.

Ezekiel 36:26 - Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Acts 16:14 - A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.
Ephesians 2:4-5 - But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Titus 3:4-7 - But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Philippians 2:13 - for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
John 6:65 - And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."

The question we wish to address, however, is whether faith is the immediate consequence of regeneration, or whether a person could be regenerate for a substantial period of time before he actually believes in Christ.  This appears to be related to the matter of Hypercalvinism—first, to that branch of it that claims that a person must know himself to be elect before he can savingly believe in Christ; and secondly, to those who limit their evangelism to those who seem to show evidence of the Spirit's work in their hearts.

A legitimate problem we seek to investigate in this section is how it is that God seems to be working in a person's heart prior to that person expressing faith in Christ.  The path to saving faith is often a long one that involves initial skepticism, followed by persuasion of truth, conviction of sin, having terrors of hell, and understanding the subsitutionary nature of the atonement, before he finally calls out to Christ for mercy.  This process may take many days, weeks or even months or years.  Many believers can recount the various ways in which God was leading them to Christ over a prolonged period of time before they ever trusted in Him.  The question is this:  At what point is such a man regenerate?

If he was not regenerate until he exercised faith in Christ, then how is it that such a man could have had such an interest in the things of Christ while he was still an unregenerate man?  Some would conclude from this that God has already regenerated him, but that it takes time, study and additional exposure to the Word of God before the man understands the gospel adequately for his regenerate heart to embrace Christ by faith.

In response to this, we should note that there are people who show a similar concern for their souls and end up not trusting in Christ.  A person who exhibits such an interest in the gospel, and such a sense of his own sinfulness and of God's imminent judgment, may eventually embrace Christ by faith, or he may, despite all his apparent distress and convictions, turn away from Christ.  In fact, he may even profess faith in Christ for awhile, and later turn away.  From these observations, we may conclude that emotional pre-faith interest and convictions are not necessarily evidence of a work of regeneration.

The rich young ruler, for example, demonstrated a concern for eternal life, yet was too much attached to worldly possessions to repent and follow Christ (Mark 10:17-23).  Many of our Lord's disciples left Him after He taught them that no one could come to Him unless it was granted to them by the Father (John 6:65-66).  Some of the Pharisees came to John the Baptist seeking to be baptized by him, and he sent them away, calling them a "generation of vipers" (Matthew 3:7).

The answer seems to be that the Holy Spirit has a variety of operations.  Some of them necessarily result in salvation and others do not.  The Westminster Confession refers to these latter ones as "common operations of the Spirit"...

Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 10,  Article 4

Hence, the Holy Spirit may be actively working in an unregenerate person's life to convince him of his own sinfulness and depravity, or of the inevitability of judgment, or of the truthfulness of God's Word, or of the need for repentance and faith in Christ, and yet, the person may end up never trusting in Christ.  This is because regeneration is a separate work from all these operations of the Spirit, and while the Holy Spirit will typically lead the elect person through these various stages of conviction, he is not justified before God until the Holy Spirit regenerates His soul, resulting immediately in saving faith.  Others who are not elect may likewise be led through one or more of the various stages of conviction, yet will eventually turn away from Christ because the Holy Spirit never performs His work of regeneration in them.

What about the "Universal Passages"?

Arminians often cite such passages as John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world..."), 2 Peter 3:9 ("The Lord is ... not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance") and 1 Timothy 2:3-4 ("God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.") as evidence that God loves all men and desires the salvation of all men.

Sometimes, well-intentioned Calvinists cite these passages to prove that God has a desire that all men trust in Christ and be saved.  These brothers sometimes accuse anyone who does not agree with their "universal" interpretation of these passages as being Hypercalvinistic.  I believe these men are sincere, and I agree with them that God, in the gospel, freely calls all men unto faith in Christ.  However, I sincerely believe them to be mistaken in their exegesis of these particular passages.  I draw this conclusion primarily on exegetical grounds—that these passages, in context, do not teach, and cannot be made to teach, that God loves all men, or that He desires the salvation of all men.

Of the many Calvinists who cite these passages to prove that God desires the salvation of non-elect men, I have never yet found one who gives a meaningful exegesis of any of these passages in context.  Moreover, many Evangelical Calvinists throughout history have shared my convictions on these passages.

When we examine the context of John 3:16 and 1 Timothy 2:3-4, we find immediately that they are discussing the purpose for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  It is at the very heart of John 3:16—"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son".  Likewise, verses 5 & 6 of 1 Timothy 2 continue the thought begun in verses 3-4, to teach that "... there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all ...".  It is impossible to understand these passages in a universal way without concluding that Christ died for all without exception, which, of course, contradicts the many passages which teach that Christ died exclusively for His sheep (John 10:11), His church (Acts 20:28), His wife (Ephesians 5:25) and His elect (Romans 8:32-33).

On the other hand, 2 Peter 3:9 is in a context that contrasts the believers with certain scoffers who would arise in later days, and Peter uses the pronouns "you, your" and "them, their" to distinguish between them.  Peter says, concerning the scoffers: "But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:7).

It is in this context that Peter draws a contrast, writing that God "... is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."  This agrees with the opening words of Peter's epistle, which addresses his recipients as "those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1).  Clearly, Peter is addressing believers only in 2 Peter 3:9, saying that God is patient toward His elect, giving opportunity for all of them to come to repentance.  Clearly, he does not include in verse 9 the scoffers for whom God has reserved the fire of judgment.

For further study, I would recommend John Gill's excellent book, The Cause of God and Truth, which considers these and other passages in greater depth.

Was John Gill a Hypercalvinist? [1]

John Gill (1697-1771) was a prolific writer with a gifted intellect and understanding of Scripture and of ancient Jewish literature.  He wrote a large, two-part systematic theology, and a complete commentary on the Bible.  Being a former pastor of Spurgeon's first church, the New Park Street Chapel in London, he authored many sermons as well.  Although I have read his commentaries on many different scriptures, a few excerpts from his systematic theology, and much of his expositional material in his masterful book, The Cause of God and Truth, I nevertheless have but scratched the surface of all that he has written.  Except for the sermon excerpt below, I have never yet found anything in Gill's writings that one could properly call "Hypercalvinism".  Although this excerpt indicates that he did hold such views, it appears that he seldom expressed them, and I would wholeheartedly, with Spurgeon, commend Gill's works as some of the most profitable study materials available.

The whole of divine revelation is to be believed, which God has made by his prophets, whether of the Old or of the New Testament; and which is all comprehended in these words our Lord began his ministry with, believe the gospel (Mark 1:15); not to believe this, is the damning sin of unbelief, so much spoken of in the New Testament; this was the sin of the Jews, and in which the greater part died, that they believed not the Jesus was the Messiah, and other important truths concerning him, though they came with such full evidence; this is the sin of all, to whom the external revelation of the Gospel comes, and they believe it not; this is the sin of the Deists of the present age, of all deniers, rejecters, and despisers of the Gospel; who either neglect to examine the evidence of it, or notwithstanding the evidence of it, reject and condemn it: what will the end of such persons be, that obey not the gospel of Christ, that do not embrace, but neglect or despise it? They will be punished with everlasting destruction; he that believeth not this revelation shall be damned. This is the condemnation, the cause and aggravation of it, that light is come into the world and men love darkness rather than light (John 3:19); the darkness of nature, rather than a divine revelation. This sort of unbelief, and not want of special faith in Christ, is the cause of men's damnation. No man will be lost or damned, because he has not this faith; to say that God will damn any man because he has not this special faith in Christ, is to represent him as the most cruel of all beings, as the Arminians say we make him to be; to damn a man for that which is solely in his power to give; for no man can believe in Christ with this sort of faith, unless it be given him of his Father; and which yet he determines not to give unto him, as unto all the non-elect: and which man never had in his power to have or to exercise, no, not in the state of innocence. Can any man believe, that God will ever damn a man on such an account as this? This is just such good sense, as if it should be said, that a malefactor dies at Tyburn, for want of receiving the king's pardon, he did not think fit to give him; it is true, if the king had given his pardon, and he had received it, it would have saved him from dying; but then it is not the want of the king's pardon, or of his receiving it, that is the cause of his condemnation and death, but the crimes he was charged with, and convicted of in open court. So, though if it pleases God to give men special faith in Christ, for the remission of their sins, they will certainly be saved; but then it is not the want of this faith in the blood of Christ, for the pardon of sins, that is the cause of any man's condemnation and death, but the transgressions of the law of God, and the contempt of his gospel they have been guilty of. As is the revelation which is made to men, such is the faith that is required of them. If there is no revelation made unto them, no faith is required of them; and unbelief, or want of faith in Christ, will not be their damning sin, as is the case of the heathens; for how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher (Rom. 10:14)? No, they will be condemned, not for their want of faith in Christ, or his gospel, which they never heard of, but for their sins committed against the law and light of nature; as many as have sinned without the law, shall perish without law (Rom. 2:12): if a revelation is made, this is either external or internal; if only an external revelation is made, the faith required is an assent unto it, and a reception of it; and such who do not attend to the evidence it brings with it, or reject and despise it, shall be damned: but if besides the external revelation and internal revelation is made by the spirit of wisdom, in the knowledge of Christ; or God by his word calls men effectually by his grace, and reveals his Son in them, as well as to them; this sort of revelation comes with such power and influence upon the mind, as certainly to produce a true and living faith in the soul, which infallibly issues in eternal life and happiness; and of such persons, and such only, acts of special faith in Christ, are required: and though the sin of unbelief is often found in them, it is such as is consistent with true faith in Christ, and which in the issue is overcome by it: this is the sin of unbelief, that is opposite to special faith, and obstructs it in its acts; but partly because it is pardoned with the other sins of believers, and partly because it is finally subdued and vanquished, it is never the damning sin of any.

John Gill, Faith in God and His Word (a sermon on 2 Chronicles 20:20)

While much of what Gill writes in this excerpt is quite true, I must take issue with his claim that God does not hold men accountable for not having what he calls "special faith in Christ".  This "special faith" is the only kind of faith that brings salvation.  The lesser sorts of faith—faith in the testimony of general revelation, or belief in monotheism, for example—are inadequate to bring salvation.  Yet, Jesus Himself accused the Jews, saying "you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life" (John 5:40).  The kind of faith intended by "come to Me" is one that would have provided life, and Jesus says that their unwillingness to come was the pivotal reason why they did not receive that life.  Clearly, Jesus did hold these Jews accountable for failing to have the sort of faith that results in eternal life.  Gill's statements do not harmonize with Jesus' accusation against the Jews.

Gill is correct in saying that a person does not need to be guilty of this sin in order to be damned, since men are already guilty of the sin of Adam, and of thousands of sins they have personally committed, as well as of their perpetual rebellion and hostility against divine authority.  However, by denying that men are held guilty for not exercising saving faith in Christ when He is presented to them in the gospel, Gill is making an exception where scripture makes no such exception.  Unbelief is just as inexcusable as every other sin men commit, and this includes the unbelief of failing to come to Christ to receive salvation.

Gill's argument as to why men are unable to exercise saving faith is based upon what he perceives as the extraordinary character of such faith.

.. to say that God will damn any man because he has not this special faith in Christ, is to represent him as the most cruel of all beings, as the Arminians say we make him to be; to damn a man for that which is solely in his power to give; for no man can believe in Christ with this sort of faith, unless it be given him of his Father; and which yet he determines not to give unto him, as unto all the non-elect: and which man never had in his power to have or to exercise, no, not in the state of innocence. ...
Gill's argument is proven to be fallacious by this obvious consideration:  Instead of "special faith in Christ", put "perfect obedience to His Law".  Can any man keep God's Law perfectly?  Obviously not!  Yet, Gill's argument would imply that God is "the most cruel of all beings" to require of men perfect obedience when it is not in their power to render such obedience.

This is no doubt why Gill adds the qualifier "... no, not in the state of innocence."  Obviously, God can justly require of us that which He originally gave mankind in creation.  When Adam sinned, he destroyed, not only his innocence, but also his ability to render perfect obedience to God's Law.  This same sinful corruption was passed down to all his posterity, Christ alone excluded.  So Gill is seeking to avoid the comparison between obedience to the law and faith in Christ by saying that man was originally able to keep God's Law, but even Adam, in his original innocence, had no ability to exercise saving faith in Christ.

But, on what ground does Gill base his claim that Adam did not have this ability?  If he claims that the gospel was not proclaimed to Adam until after the Fall, and then not in its full clarity, we would certainly agree.  However in that case, Adam's inability would be due, not to any deficiency in Adam's ability to exercise faith, but rather in the fact that the object of saving faith was hidden from him at that time.

Now that Christ has been fully revealed in the Gospel, the only inability that remains is due to human sinfulness, and not to any obscurity in the revelation of Christ.  Scripturally, the only reason why an unregenerate sinner cannot savingly believe in Jesus Christ is because the person is opposed to all that Christ stands for.  It is not because saving faith is such a monumentally difficult thing to bring forth, but because rebellious sinners are steadfastly insubordinate to God's rightful authority and unwilling to concur with God's verdict that they deserve His wrath, and hence unwilling to seek the remedy He provides in the person of Christ.

Gill seems to be saying that saving faith is more difficult to achieve than perfect, heartfelt obedience to the Law would be.  If this is his meaning, then he is claiming that Adam, in his innocence, would not have been able to trust in Christ even if the gospel had been clearly revealed to him. (It is not relevant to reply that an innocent man would have no need of salvation, since God could have allowed Adam to incur the guilt of sin without becoming polluted with the corruption of sin.  According to Gill, Adam would still have had no ability to savingly trust in Christ apart from special grace.)

Is it harder to exercise saving faith than to keep God's Law perfectly from the heart?  It should be obvious that even God's elect people, who have been granted special faith by God's effectual grace, are still not able to keep God's Law perfectly.  We sin daily, and anyone who claims not to sin is self-deceived and makes God out to be a liar.

1 John 1:8-10 - If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
Paul describes the simplicity of saving faith in Romans 10:6-10 ...
Romans 10:6-10 - But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: "DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, 'WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' (that is, to bring Christ down),  or 'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, in your mouth and in your heart" —that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Notice here that Paul is clearly speaking of saving faith, for he says that the person will be saved who confesses Jesus as Lord and believes in his heart that God raised Him from the dead.  Moreover, he says that the word is "near you", and it is on this basis that he exhorts his hearers to trust in Christ and confess His lordship.

This statement is found in the larger context of Israel's unbelief.

Romans 10:14-21 - How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; "THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD." But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says, "I WILL MAKE YOU JEALOUS BY THAT WHICH IS NOT A NATION, BY A NATION WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WILL I ANGER YOU." And Isaiah is very bold and says, "I WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO DID NOT SEEK ME, I BECAME MANIFEST TO THOSE WHO DID NOT ASK FOR ME." But as for Israel He says, "ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE."
In this passage, Paul is refuting those who tried to excuse Israel's unbelief by saying "Israel had never heard the gospel."  Paul counters this objection by saying "Indeed they have", and he then quotes the Psalms, Deuteronomy and Isaiah, concluding that Israel's unbelief is due their being "a disobedient and obstinate people."

Paul's point here is the same as Jesus' point in John 5:40—namely, that the only reason why unregenerate men do not embrace Christ in saving faith is that they find nothing attractive in Him.  They love their sin and despise His authority and righteousness.  Their unbelief is willful, blameworthy and inexcusable.

Jesus made it clear that genuine faith can be small or great, but that even the smallest faith has the power to move mountains.

Matthew 17:20 - And He said to them, "Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you."
Gill might argue from this passage that saving faith must therefore be a divine work, for no human work could have such power.  However, this misses the point of what faith is, and why it is powerful.  The power of faith does not reside in itself, but in its object.  A mustard-seed sized faith can move mountains for the simple reason that genuine faith looks to Christ who, as Almighty God, has the power to move mountains.  Saving faith joins us to Christ so that we receive the benefits of the death and resurrection of Christ, such as the forgiveness of our sins and the Spirit's sanctifying work in our lives to metaphorically move the mountains of sin, darkness and remaining unbelief.

But, if a person did exercise saving faith, and God, in response, regenerated his soul, this would mean that faith precedes regeneration.  Yet, scripture teaches us that faith is always the result of regeneration, not its cause.  So then, Does faith precede regeneration, or does regeneration precede faith?  Again, we must distinguish between the hypothetical and the actual.  As we observed earlier, God often reasons with the unsaved, reminding them of what "might have been" if only they had been willing to exercise saving faith.  This hypothetical salvation teaches that, if only unregenerate men would come to Christ in faith, they would receive all the blessings and benefits of union with Christ, including redemption, justification, regeneration, adoption, sanctification and glorification.

However, the reality is that unregenerate men are too stubborn and rebellious to come to Christ in genuine saving faith.  God therefore demonstrates His pure, unalloyed, monergistic grace by regenerating people who are still in rebellious unbelief—changing the heart of the rebellious unbeliever so that he willingly comes to Christ in genuine faith.  The hypothetical salvation set forth in the universal call is one in which man must respond in faith, and God will then grant all the blessings of salvation.  The way that salvation actually works, however, is that God must first regenerate the human heart, which infallibly results in saving faith, as He moves the individual to respond to the universal call.

The hypothetical way of salvation is hypothetically synergistic, and makes regeneration depend upon the human response of faith.  However, this hypothetical salvation is never realized, due to human depravity.  Instead, God, in sovereign mercy, saves men monergistically, for if He did not intervene to regenerate unbelievers, all would perish in unbelief and spend eternity in the unquenchable flames of hell.  We praise God that He saved us in spite of our unceasing rebellion and animosity toward Him!


Biblical theology is perpetually challenged by the human tendency toward imbalance—emphasizing one truth to the exclusion of another.  A true scholar of God's Word must be willing to embrace both the truth that salvation is always a monergistic work of God, and also that God calls men indiscriminately to come to Christ in faith to receive forgiveness and eternal life and holds them guilty for not coming.  These are not two incompatible assertions, but rather two clearly revealed, Biblical truths that can be reconciled without doing violence to either.  It is fitting that God should invite even the non-elect to come to Christ to receive salvation, for this demonstrates the kindness of God and fully manifests and underscores the fact that they alone are to blame for the horrific eternal destiny that awaits them.

If we are unclear as to how Calvinistic truths harmonize with the call of the gospel, it will impair the effectiveness of our evangelism.  If we err on the side of Arminianism, our evangelism will likely degrade into efforts to sugar-coat the gospel and strip it of its convicting, heart-piercing elements, in order to make it more appealing to the unsaved.  The end result is that people may profess faith in Christ for all the wrong reasons, will remain unregenerate, but will become blinded to their continuing need of salvation. Arminian evangelism also tends to burn out the evangelist who supposes that the burden of converts depends upon his own abilities to persuade and cajole people into making a profession of faith.

If we err on the side of Hypercalvinism, our zeal for evangelism will be consumed by doubts about the appropriateness of beseeching unregenerate people to come to Christ, or of promising salvation if they will but come to Christ to receive it.  The question "But what if they are not elect?" may keep nagging at us, and we may decide to omit any explicit calls to faith or repentance.  Our gospel may degenerate into "If you are elect, you will come to Christ, and if not, then anything I say to you will fall on deaf ears,"  or we may decide that we should try to second-guess who is elect and only give the gospel to them.

The issues raised in this article are vital to our evangelistic ministry.  If we do not answer these questions well, we cannot expect the sort of evangelistic fervor and effectiveness that characterized the ministries of the Reformers and Whitefield, Edwards, Nettleton and Spurgeon and of the pioneering missionaries such as Carey and Judson.  Beliefs have profound consequences in our lives and actions—sound doctrine is essential for effective ministry.  It is my prayer that this article will start you thinking about these issues and that you will come to a position that leaves you with a renewed commitment to the doctrines of grace, along with a renewed compassionate zeal to proclaim God's mercy to perishing sinners.


[1]  I would commend Michael Haykin's excellent article Hyper-Calvinism and the Theology of John Gill for further study.

Home | The Gospel | Search | Comments?
Articles | Books | Conferences | Hymns | Library | Links 
21st Century Puritan Web Site - 1997-2012 Mitch Cervinka