Martin Bucer on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel



Concerning the True Care of Souls, 1538, translated by Peter Beale, reprinted 2009, Banner of Truth

Ch. 7, How the Lost Sheep are to be Sought

p. 76-8

Luke 14:21-23; John 10:16; Mark 16:15

1 Tim. 2:4
“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”


There are three things to learn from these texts.  The first is that those who exercise Christ’s ministry in his church are to seek to bring all people to the knowledge of Christ….

All people are to acknowledge Christ as their Lord, therefore his kingdom must be proclaimed and offered to all nations.

He does not want to be invited to his banquet only those who show themselves to be citizens and inhabitants of his city, but He tells his servant: ‘Go out into the streets and alleys and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’  And again: ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in.’

Those who are not the elect and do not belong to Christ’s sheep will reveal themselves when, having been diligently sought, invited and urged to come to Christ, they despise the salvation offered to them and reject it, as the Jews did to whom the Lord says in John 10[:26]: ‘But you do not believe because you are not my sheep.’ 

…It is not that anyone can be compelled to come to Christ against his will, but that one should be so persistent with people that to the evil flesh it seems to be a compulsion and urgent pressing, because the Spirit in this way works against the flesh in order to lead people to Christ.


p. 80

How rulers are to assist in the finding of lost sheep.

Secondly, we conclude that, since those who are chief and great are appointed by the Lord to be chief shepherds of his lambs upon earth (because He wishes all souls to be subject to Him), they are responsible to direct and employ all their power and ability as much as possible in order that the Lord’s lambs which are still lost and wandering might be sought with all diligence and truly brought to Him.  These rulers are as God and Christ in the sight of and for all other people, and therefore they must also set forth and carry out in the sight of and for all others the work of God and Christ in continually seeking and saving that which is lost.


p. 82-83

No-one can be compelled to any good thing against his will.

No-one should shy from this compulsion; for St. Augustine is not teaching by this that anyone should be forced to believe against his will, which is the charge customarily laid against this doctrine.  He knew full well that no-one can believe in Christ or do anything good against his will; nor did he want hypocrites who say with their lips that they believe, while with their hearts they do not.  But the holy teacher saw that our kind God bestows his grace and success as much on orderly punishment and force to urge people to forsake evil lusts and desires and turn to sound doctrine and thus to conscientious well-doing, as He does on other words and works which He has ordained for the salvation of mankind.




Instruction in Christian Love, 1523, translated by Paul Fuhrmann, reprinted by Wipf and Stock, 2008,

p. 26-7

Thus man has become selfish.  He serves only himself and seeks but his own interest.  Now man not only does not attain what he seeks, but he has deprived and daily deprives himself of all the benefits and joys which he might and should have from all creatures.  For, just as God deals with perverse men according to their perversity (Psalm 18:27), so also all other creatures turn with God against the perverse.  According to His nature, God does good abundantly and wishes to make every man blessed¹ (1 Tim. 2:4) [“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”]

[¹ Footnote #85:  German:selig.  See note 82. ²]

[² Footnote #82:  German: ‘saeligkeit’, from ‘sal’, a hall or large lower room in ancient German houses, hence possession of goods therein; or from Old German ‘sael’, that is, ‘heil’ hence possession of ‘heil’, for which see note #32. Saeligkeit’ is the possession and enjoyment of the grand total of spiritual goods.]

But if men turn away from God, He must chastise and condemn them; and therein all creatures help their Creator…

p. 30

The [pastoral] ministry serves not some particular men, but the community; it deals not with material but with spiritual things, and leads to eternal blessedness.  Such a ministry consists in this–that the one who is thereto called and ordained by God, dedicates himself to serve God the Father and our Savior Christ in the work of making the sinner blessedAccording to 1 Tim. 2:4, this was the unique office of our Lord and Savior Jesus ChristThe minister therefore willingly stakes not only his body and sacrifices not only his material possessions but also his spiritual life and blessedness, if only his preaching the divine Word would lead others to a knowledge of God, to blessedness, and thereby to praise and eternally to glorify the goodness of God.



Common Places of Martin Bucer, translated and edited by D.F. Wright (England: Sutton Courtenay Press, 1972), from the section on Election, 109-118.  This quote was compiled by David Ponter 

The words ‘in love’ [in Eph. 1:4] allow of two senses: either of our kindness and love towards our neighbor through which imitating God Himself as best we can through his Spirit dwelling within us, we eagerly do good to all men; or of the love of us in an objective sense, the love wherewith God has loved us–so that we have a further mention of the cause of our election, which is solely the boundless love of God with which he embraces us in his Son.



Bucer’s Endorsements

Bucer had an influential advisory role upon the First Helvetic Confession, 1536

The First Helvetic Confession on God’s Love for the Human Race

Bucer praised The Consensus Tigurinis, 1549.

The Consensus Tigurinis on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel



Related Page

The Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel Main Page

Historic Reformed Quotes on the Sincere Free Offer

1500’s – Quotes on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel