November 10, 2008

Robert Reymond's (1932–2013) Denial of God's Universal Saving Will

25. Some Reformed theologians teach that God can and does earnestly desire, ardently long to see come to pass, and actually work to effect things which he has not decreed will come to pass. Basing his conclusions on his expositions on Deuteronomy 5:29, Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11; Matthew 23:37 and 2 Peter 3:9, John Murray states in "The Free Offer of the Gospel," Collected Writings of John Murray (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1982), that God represents himself as "earnestly desiring the fulfillment of something which he had not in the exercise of his sovereign will actually decreed to come to pass," that he "expresses an ardent desire for the fulfillment of certain things which he has not decreed in his inscrutable counsel to come to pass," that he "desires . . . the accomplishment of what he does not decretively will," that Christ "willed the bestowal of his saving and protecting grace upon those whom neither the Father nor he decreed thus to save and protect," that "God does not wish that any man should perish. His wish is rather that all should enter upon eternal life by coming to repentance," and finally, that "there is in God a benevolent lovingkindness towards the repentance and salvation of even those whom he has not decreed to save" (4:119, 130, 131–132). John H. Gerstner similarly asserts, but without the requisite scriptural support, in A Predestination Primer (Winona Lake, Ind.: Alpha Publications, 1979) 36–37, that God sincerely "strives with men whom He knows and has predestined should perish," that "God, who knows all things, including the fact that certain persons will in spite of all efforts reject and disbelieve, continues to work with them to persuade them to believe," and that "God, who knows the futility of certain endeavors to convert certain persons, proceeds to make these endeavors which He knows are going to be futile." If one followed this trajectory of reasoning to its logical end, one might also conclude that perhaps Christ, though he knew the futility of his endeavor, did after all die savingly for those whom his Father and he had decreed not to save. But all such reasoning imputes irrationality to God, and the passages upon which Murray relies for his conclusions can all be legitimately interpreted in such a way that the Christian is not forced to impute such irrationality to God. For these other interpretations I would refer the reader to John Gill, The Cause of God and Truth (Grand Rapids, MI: Sovereign Grace, 1971), 4–6, 22–26, 28, 62.
Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998), 692–693n25.

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From the above citation, one can see that Robert Reymond does not think that God in any sense wills, wishes or desires to save the non-elect, in contrast to John Murray and the early John Gerstner. I say "early" John Gerstner because he changed his position (from that which is in his Primer), as can be seen in his Foreward to David Engelsma's Hyper-Calvinism & The Call of the Gospel, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1994), vii–ix, and his statements in Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Critique of Dispensationalism, 2nd ed. (Morgan, Penn.: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000), 142–146.

It is also astonishing to see Robert Reymond's reference to and approval of John Gill on this point.

Similarly, Gordon Clark, who also appeals to John Gill on the will of God, said:
If this verse [Deut. 5:29] or any verse speaks of God as wishing the salvation of someone whom he has rejected as reprobate, there would be an inconsistency implying hypocrisy.
Gordon H. Clark, Biblical Predestination (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1974), 130. Also, in Clark’s commentary on 2 Peter 3:9, he said, “...God does not will the salvation of every member of the human race. It is not his will that every man without exception should repent.” See New Heavens, New Earth: A Commentary on First and Second Peter (Hobbs, NM: The Trinity Foundation, 1993), 231–232.

Gill, Hoeksema, Clark, Engelsma, and Reymond are all in agreement on this particular topic, though they differ on other matters.

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