January 1, 2012

S. Lewis Johnson (1915–2004) on the Universal Offer and God's Desire for the Salvation of All Men

Fifth, the gospel is offered indiscriminately, because God desires that every man believe. God should be guided by his own inner feelings, if I should use that term of God, not by those of sinful man. Why can he not say, as the Bible suggests, "Turn ye, turn ye. For why will ye die?" If a man has a kind and compassionate nature, it's unreasonable to require that he suppress it's promptings in case he sees a proud and surly person who is unwilling to accept a gift. The fact that men are unresponsive does not mean that God should thereby not be compassionate. Good and kind offers may be offered and be sincere, even though those to whom they're given may be individuals of whom it is known that they will reject. The universal offer of the benefit springs out of God's will of complacency. The Bible says he has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Further, God may properly call upon the non-elect to do a thing that God delights in simply because he does delight in it. The Divine desire is not altered by the Divine decree of preterition. Resistance does not diminish His desire. There exists in God the desire that men be saved. There exists in God the will, assuming this position, that the elect be saved. These, the will and the desire, exist simultaneously in God, and they do not contradict one another.

After this section, Johnson goes on to approvingly quote R. L. Dabney's work on the will of God in God's Indiscriminate Proposals of Mercy, though Johnson (a strict Calvinist) never seemed aware of Dabney's moderate atonement views. The same can be said about his references to W. G. T. Shedd in the same series.