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What Is the Gospel (Against Hyperism)?

We continue here with the question: "What is Hyper-calvinism?" And we wish to show in this article why the command to repent and believe must be preached not only to those whom God has chosen to save, but also to those whom He has not chosen, i.e., to elect and reprobate both. There are two reasons.

First, as far as the elect are concerned, the call or command of the gospel is the power by which God brings them to faith and repentance (according to His purpose and by the sovereign operations of the Holy Spirit). This is what we sometimes refer to as the effectual call of the gospel. When the gospel is preached, it is with saving effect!

Augustine showed that he understood this when he said of the rebukes of the gospel that "the rebuke is the grace," the grace, that is, by which God convicts His elect of sin, and begins to draw them to Himself (Jn. 6:44). In that too the gospel is, then, the means by which God sovereignly, powerfully, irresistibly calls to Himself His own.

Psalm 19 speaks of this when it says that God's law converts the soul, His testimony makes the simple wise, His commandment enlightens the eyes (vss. 7, 8). Romans 1:16 adds that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Romans 10:17, 18 tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God. I Corinthians 1:18 says that the preaching of the cross is the power of God (cf. also verse 21).

Preaching is this because Christ Himself speaks through gospel preaching. Hyper-calvinists have said that the call of the gospel as preached by Christ and the Apostles could be such a power, but not the preaching of preachers today. Nevertheless Scripture assures us that all preaching is the means by which Christ Himself sovereignly calls His own.

He says in John 10:27, "My sheep (and there are no exceptions) hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." Indeed, it is only because they hear Christ's voice that they can be saved. No other voice has the power to give them life like Lazarus and bring them out of darkness into marvelous light. So too, we read in Ephesians 2:17, that He came and preached peace not only to the Jews but to the Gentiles, to those who were far off.

With respect to those who are not chosen, the preaching of the call of the gospel is also important. Because Christ speaks through it no one can ever come under the preaching of the gospel and not be affected for good or for ill. To those who are not chosen and who continue in unbelief, the gospel is the means for hardening and condemnation.

This is the difficult part of preaching, the part concerning which Paul is thinking most of all when he says, "Who is sufficient for these things?" (II Cor. 2:16). No preacher wants to see this negative fruit nor does he actually seek to be a means of hardening, but if He understands Scripture and his own calling then he cannot avoid it. If the gospel is to be the power of God unto salvation it must also be a power unto condemnation.

Scripture itself speaks of this in Isaiah 6:8-13 (notice Isaiah's response) and in II Corinthians 2:16, where we read that the gospel is a savor of death unto death to some.

The sweet savor of Christ is unto death to some in the preaching of the gospel!

All this is simply to say that the gospel is its own power. It needs not the eloquence of the preacher, nor anything else. Its power is manifested in all that is preached but especially in the glorious call of the gospel, the call to repent and believe, the call that brings and gives repentance and faith to those whom God has chosen.

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Additional Info

  • Volume: 6
  • Issue: 18
Hanko, Ronald

Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)

Ordained: November 1979

Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017


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