John Kennedy on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel

“Whatever your case may be, however unpromising, however different from every other case on the face of this earth, though you should feel that yours is an utterly hopeless case, do not hestitate, but pass it into the hands of Him who says “I will in no wise case out.” It is the desire of his heart and the cause of his glory, as it is the promise of his word, that everlasting salvation in Himself should be yours, to the glory of His Father’s name, to the praise of His rich grace, and to your joy throughout eternity. Oh, do not leave this house to-night without seeking to leave your spirit in the hands of the Lord Jesus, and may the gracious Spirit help you so to do.”

– Sermons, “The Precious Deposit,”  Note that Kennedy draws a connection between God’s desire (disposition toward all sinners) and the promise found in God’s revealed Word.


“God, calling you to His Annointed, speaks to you from His throne go grace, and invites you to Himself as His is seated there . . . And think of the love which God hath commended in the gift and in the bruising of His own beloved Son, as His Lamb.  It is to receive the embrace of that love that the call of the text invites you . . . There is the mistake of hampering your faith by conceiving of the purpose of God as fettering His love, instead of being guided by the revealed character of God, as it appears in the cross. The love of God, as “commended” in the gift and death of Christ, is love to sinners. It is on that revelation your faith has to act, and it is to the bosom of that love you are called to come through Christ crucified . . . while, because believing it to be love to sinners, I perceive it to be such that its provision must be free to such as I am, and that I may reckon, which I come to God, on such being his character, that He shall certainly embrace and bless me. I have to do with the revealed name, not with the secret purpose of God, in dealing with the call of the gospel, and no sinner who comes to Him in response to His call, has any cause to fear that he shall be cast out. “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” Here these words, sinner, and ask God to write them no your heart…  The divine call of the text is addressed to you – and to you because it is addressed to sinners…  God’s voice is always speaking through the written word…

– Sermons, “Jehovah’s Call to Sinners,”  Note that again Kennedy is rooting the free offer of God’s love in the gospel with the revealed character of God found in His Word.   


These words indicate what Christ would fain have. He would fain have sinners coming unto Him in faith for the salvation of their souls. How different this is from coming to crave signs and wonders in order to a bodily cure! This was the errand of the nobleman. This Christ would have, because he would fain be acknowledged as the Annointed and Son of God, because He had delight in salvation, and because He would have God honoured by a simple faith in His testimony. How the heart of Christ rejoiced in faith! How intensely He craved it! How painful to Him was the want of it!

– Expository Lectures, on John 4:43-54, p. 80,  Note that Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “fain” as: to be happy, pleased, desirous, compelled, willing, inclined.”


Christ is the great theme of the gospel, the personal Savior, whom it reveals and presents to us.  He is preached as ‘Jesus Christ the Lord;’  His right to save, certified by His attested commission and His accepted merit; His power to save, extending ‘to the uttermost;’ and His willingness to save, assured both by His death and by His word.  Such is He as presented by God to every creature under heaven, ‘to whom the gospel is preached.'”

Man’s Relations to God, p. 73


True also, the call must be addressed in all sincerity and earnestness by God.  But this is secured in perfect consistency with all the doctrines of Calvinism.

[Margin note: The Gospel call sincere]

Genuine and earnest the gospel call must be: 

(a) because it presents a claim in behalf of Jesus Christ.  He is infinitely worthy of confidence.  He is so in the view of God.  His eye rests on the glory of His beloved Son as Jesus Christ when He calls sinners to believe in His name.  Till I suspect that God is not in earnest in saying, ‘this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,’ I cannot suspect His earnestness in saying ‘kiss ye the Son.’  

(b) It must be so because it is a call to accept of Christ as a Savior in whom the love of God is free, and delights to save all who come to Him.  His call to me as a sinner, as it points me to salvation by grace in Christ, is expressive of all the earnestness inspired by God’s delight in mercy.

(c) It must be so also because salvation by grace is to the praise of His glory.  This is the terminus to which He call the sinner.  His call is therefore expressive of all the earnestness of His zeal for His own glory.

(d) And it must be so as a call to believe, because once it has pleased God to testify regarding Jesus Christ, it cannot be a matter of indifference to Him whether men believe or not.  His zeal for the claims of His own truth, and for the honor of His name as the God of truth, pours an infinite tide of earnestness into ‘the word of faith.’

It is to divine earnestness, as thus accounted for, our minds should be directed when we are plied with gospel calls.  The Son and His worthiness; salvation by grace to the glory of God; the truth and the authority of God; these should be considered as accounting for the genuineness and earnestness of the calls addressed to us.  When a sinner is in earnest under the power of the gospel, it is because these elements of the divine earnestness have touched his heart through faith.  The gospel as the testimony of God, as an authoritative assertion of the Son’s claims, and as revealing a peace in the hand of mercy, bright with the luster of God’s glorious name, has set his soul in motion in unison with the mind of God.  Divine earnestness, thus expressed in the gospel, has been borne in upon his soul, and its strong current bears him on to Christ.

Man’s Relations to God, p. 88-90, it should be noted that while Kennedy believed that the call of God in the Gospel offer was “the desire of His heart,” an earnest, sincere invitation, a commendation of His love to sinners, something God would fain have, it being His “craving,” and it expressing His willingness to save, yet, it was not for Kennedy an act or expression of love to the particular sinner, as is made clear by the surrounding context of the quote above, both before the quote and after it. 


In the gospel the provision of God’s love for the salvation of sinners is revealed and offered… Faith is a believing God as speaking to me—a receiving of what is said as true in its bearing on my own case as a sinner because it is addressed by God to me.’

– MS sermon of Kennedy on Mark 16:16, preached on 10 January 1864. As quoted by Ian Murray, The Cross: the Pulpit of God’s Love, n.d., p. 19





These quotes were compiled by Rev. Rob McCurley and Travis Fentiman




Related Pages

The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel