The Free Offer may be defined like this:Maurice Roberts, "The Free Offer of the Gospel," Banner of Truth 503–504 (August–September 2005): 39.
It is the invitation given by God to all sinners to believe in Jesus Christ, with the promise added that if they do so believe they will at once receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
Implied in the concept of this Free Offer are the following ideas. The Offer made is for all who hear it, whether they be elect or not. The Offer is not to be restricted or modified by the preacher in his presentation. The Offer is an expression of love and grace on God's part towards sinful, unbelieving men. The Offer is sincere on God's part, and it is genuinely and well meant. The Offer is addressed to sinners as they are and requires of them repentance and faith.Ibid., 39.
Roberts deals with two objections to the Free Offer. The first he calls 'English Hyper-Calvinism,' which involves the denial of 'duty-faith.' Here is the second:
(2) God gives no 'well-meant' offer to any but to the elect. This view might be termed 'Dutch-American Hyper-Calvinism', as it is associated with the Dutch American theologian of the twentieth century, Herman Hoeksema, the founder of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America. The argument is this: God has elected some sinners to eternal life and reprobated others; God makes no promise or offer in the gospel to any except the elect.Ibid., 40.
Implied in this view are the following points: God in no sense loves the non-elect. There is no grace of any kind, either Saving Grace or Common Grace, given or offered to any except elect persons. It would be insincere of God to offer Saving Grace to those whom he has eternally reprobated – and this is a thing impossible. God cannot be said to desire or to wish anything which he has not decreed to happen, since this would be tantamount to frustrating God's will. It is not proper for a preacher to 'offer' Christ promiscuously to a mixed audience of Christians and non-Christians. We may not teach that it is possible for God to will according to his precept what he does not will in his eternal decree.
2. Dutch-American Hyper-CalvinismIbid., 42.
The starting-point of this view is that God's will is one, not manifold. If he has eternally elected only some to eternal life it is wrong to suppose that he gives a well-meant offer of salvation to any but the elect only.
We would respond to this view as follows. The fact is that the Bible does speak of God as wanting and wishing all sinners to be saved. See the texts: Isa. 45:22; Ezek. 18:23, 30–32; Ezek. 33:11; Matt. 23:37; Luke 13:34; 1 Tim. 2:3–4; 2 Pet. 3:9. This is as certainly a matter of divine revelation as is his eternal election. Both are stated as revealed facts in scripture.
The way to interpret scripture is not to stress one truth to the detriment of another but to hold both truths at the same time. So we affirm both God's eternal election and his well-meant offer to all sinners who hear the gospel. We are obliged to do this because this is how God himself reveals his will to us. Put simply, it is this: God has fixed the number of the elect from eternity past; yet God desires every sinner who hears his gospel to receive it and to be eternally blessed in Christ.
At the end of this article, Roberts supplies the readers with several quotes from orthodox writers affirming God's desire to save all men, such as John Calvin, Francis Turretin, William Greenhill, David Dickson, Thomas Halyburton and Patrick Fairbairn.