A.A. Hodge on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel


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. 20-2139, This quote was compiled by Tony Byrne.

“Since the salvation of guilty sinners is absolutely of free and sovereign grace, and must be received as such, the salvation of every man must depend upon a personal election of God.  God offers salvation to all on the condition of faith.  But He gives the faith to those whom He chooses (Eph. 2:8; Matt. 20:16; 22:14).  Nevertheless, those who refuse to believe and be saved have only themselves to blame for it, because the only reason they do not believe is the wicked disposition of their own hearts, and because God kindly and honestly invites them and promises salvation by his Word, and draws them by the common influences of his Spirit.”


“This works no injustice to those not elected.  They will be only treated as they deserve.  They have willfully sinned.  Many of them have willfully rejected a freely and lovingly offered Christ (Rom. 9:19-23).”



A Commentary on the Confession of Faith, 1870, pp. 170-171.  This quote was compiled by Tony Byrne.


“3.  That the sole agent in this effectual calling is the Holy Ghost; that He uses Gospel truth as his instrument; and that, while all sinners are active in resisting the common influences of grace before regeneration, and all believers in co-operating with sanctifying grace after regeneration, nevertheless every new-created soul is passive with respect to that divine act of the Holy Spirit whereby he is regenerated, may all be proved under the following distinct heads :—


(1.)  There are certain influences of the Spirit in the present life which extend to all men in a greater or less degree; which tend to restrain or to persuade the soul; which are exerted in the way of heightening the natural moral effect of the truth upon the understanding, the heart, and the conscience.  They involve no change of principle and permanent disposition, but only an increase of the natural emotions of the heart in view of sin, of duty, and of self-interest.  These influences, of course, may be resisted, and are habitually resisted, by the unregenerated.  The fact that such resistible influences are experienced by men is proved


(a.)  From the fact that the Scriptures affirm that they are resisted. Gen. 6:3; Heb. 10:29.


(b.)  Every Christian is conscious that anterior to his conversion he was the subject of influences impressing him with serious thoughts, convincing him of sin, tending to draw him to the obedience of Christ, which he for the time resisted.  We observe the same to be true of many men who are never truly converted at all.” 




Related Page

The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel