Outlines of Theology
Chapter 8 – The Attributes of God
75. How can the invitations and exhortations of the Scriptures, addressed to those whom God does not propose to save, be reconciled with his sincerity?
See above (Question 42), the distinction between God’s preceptive and his decretive will. His invitations and exhortations are addressed to all men in good faith:
first, because it is every man’s duty to repent and believe, and it is God’s preceptive will that every man should;
second, because nothing ever prevents the obedience of any sinner, except his own unwilling–
third, because in every case in which the condition is fulfilled the promise implied will be performed;
fourth, God never has promised to enable every man to believe;
fifth, these invitations and exhortations are not addressed to the reprobate as such, but to all sinners as such, with the avowed purpose of saving; thereby the elect.
page 229, Banner of Truth edition
How does this doctrine [Predestination] consist with the general gospel offer?
In the general offers of the gospel God exhibits a salvation sufficient for and exactly adapted to all, and sincerely offered to every one without exception, and he enfolds all the motives of duty, hope, fear etc., which ought to induce every one to accept it, solemnly promising that whosoever comes in no wise shall be cast out. Nothing but a sinful unwillingness can prevent any one who hears the gospel from receiving and enjoying it.
The gospel is for all, election is a special grace in addition to that offer. The non-elect may come if they will. The elect will come. The decree of election puts no barrier before men preventing them from accepting the gospel offer. Any man, elect or non elect, will be saved if he accepts. The non-elect are left to act as they are freely determined by their own hearts.
There is just as great an apparent difficulty in reconciling God’s certain foreknowledge of the final impenitence of the great majority of those to whom He offers and upon whom He presses, by every argument, his love with the fact of that offer: especially when we reflect that He foresees that his offers will certainly increase their guilt and misery.
The System of Theology Contained in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1888, by A. A. Hodge and J. A. Hodge, pp. 20-21, 39, This quote was compiled by Tony Byrne.