June 26, 2017

Pierre-Charles Marcel (1910–1992) on the Call of God and the Gospel Offer

Where there is preaching there is the call of God. The word is preached nowhere without its being by the providence and the will of God, who wishes to show his love to and through us. Since it is already established that preaching is the instrumental cause of faith, we may add that when God sends a preacher those who hear must not doubt that God loves them and wishes to provide for their salvation and to call them personally to enter his kingdom . . . . As for the listener, he must be convinced that this word is not of men but of God, and that it does not come to him from earth but from heaven. The remission of sins, the promise of eternal [p. 62 begins] life, the proclamation of salvation are not within man’s power. It is Christ who, through the mouth of his messengers, speaks and promises all. The proffered remission of sins is a veritable promise of God. The condemnation which is announced to unbelievers is a very certain judgment of God.
Pierre Charles Marcel, The Relevance of Preaching, trans Rob Roy McGregor (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1963), 61–62.
(1) Preaching is a public proclamation of the infinite love of God. For everyone indiscriminately (the unconverted who attend worship; those, protestants or no, who abstain from coming to hear the word where it is preached), the preaching of the law and the gospel bears evidence of the boundless love of God. It confirms that God does not take pleasure in the death of the sinner, but in his conversion and new life. It declares that the sacrifice of Christ is, without qualification, sufficient for the remission of all sins, that no one will suffer loss because he has the mistaken notion that this sacrifice is not sufficiently valid and efficacious for all [p. 105 begins] men: “But the free gift is not like the trespass . . . But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more . . . (Rom. 5:15, 20).

(2) Preaching is a safeguard against the self-destruction of man by sin. The preaching of the word is equally a proclamation of the goodness and compassion of God toward all men. By virtue of his holiness God everywhere wills to turn sinners from sin, which leads to death, and by virtue of his goodness and grace, he cautions them against their self-destruction. By seeing to it that the word continues to be preached, God temporarily postpones the execution of the death sentence which must fall inexorably upon all those who will not repent and believe. It a certain sense, the offer of salvation is for them a blessing. The purpose of preaching the word is to revealed clearly to all alike the divine compassion with regard to sinners (Ps. 81:13; Prov. 1:24; Ezek. 3:18, 27; 33:11; Amos 8:11; Matt. 11:20–24, 23:37, etc.).

(3) For those who are hardened in unbelief, the preaching of the word is, every often, also the source of all types of blessings and not (as some might be inclined to believe) just a malediction. Illumination of the understanding, the heavenly gift, participation in the Holy Spirit, and delight in the word of God and in the powers of the age to come, have been and sometimes are the portion of those who have fallen or who will fall away by denying Christ (Heb. 6:4–6).
Ibid., 104–105. On page 106, Marcel also argues that the preaching of the word of God is a “restraining grace.”


No comments: