O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Matthew 23:37.
A reader asks: "Will you please re-explain this passage?" I am happy to do that because it is an important and interesting passage which has often been misinterpreted. Apparently, I explained the passage in an earlier issue, but that was long ago and it will not hurt to look at the passage once again. Note that a parallel passage is found in Luke 13:34.
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The interesting aspect of the interpretation of this passage is found in the fact that it is usually used as proof for the well-meant gospel offer. The well-meant gospel offer teaches that God expresses in the gospel His desire to save all that hear the gospel, and even God's desire to save all men, even those who do not hear it. And, closely connected to this idea, is also the idea that God's expressed desire to save all men is indicative of His love, compassion, grace, and mercy towards all men. Such love, compassion, grace, and mercy are, therefore, common; and it is at this point that the defenders of the well-meant offer also hold to a common grace, or common love, mercy, and compassion.
The ground for this view of the text is said to be found in the fact that Jesus Himself expresses His desire to gather Jerusalem's children as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. Nevertheless, Jesus' desire is frustrated by the unwillingness and unbelief of the citizens of Jerusalem. Jesus is willing; the Jews are not. Jesus wants to save; the Jews persist in unbelief. Jesus longs to have them all in heaven; the Jews nonetheless go to hell because they will not believe in Christ.
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Now, apart from any other question, two things are perfectly obvious in this presentation.
In the first place, it is so obviously Arminian in character that it remains a mystery how anyone professing to hold to the Reformed faith or, even, Calvinism, can possibly maintain it. It teaches openly and simply that Jesus is unable to accomplish what He wills, because man frustrates His desire. Thus, man's hard and rebellious will is decisive. It overrules the will of Christ. It determines the outcome of the whole matter of salvation.
If man is able to frustrate the desires of Christ by his disobedience and refusal to accept Christ's overtures, then he also has the power to accept these overtures and receive Christ by the choice of that same will.
This, it seems to me, is so simple that a small child can understand it.
But let it be understood very clearly that this whole conception is neither Reformed nor Calvinistic, but is simply a wholesale sell-out of the Reformed faith to the blatant Arminianism condemned by the Synod of Dordt and by Reformed churches since Dordt.
Nor do the plaintive and somewhat pathetic accusations of "hyper-Calvinism" made against those who deny the well-meant offer alter one whit the fact that those who hold to the well-meant offer have sold out the store and no longer have the right to claim to be Reformed.
It is interesting to note as well that those who have adopted the well-meant offer have also made some significant concessions to Arminianism in other areas. We could, for example, mention the compromises in the doctrine of total depravity which well-meant offer defenders have made. But especially the crucially important doctrine of sovereign election and reprobation, the benchmark of all true Calvinism and of the Reformed faith, is denied in whole or in part. The denial of sovereign reprobation is probably the reason why a relatively recent issue of Pink's book, "The Sovereignty of God," is a truncated version without any mention of Pink's doctrine of reprobation, a doctrine which Pink believed to the end of his life, and which he had included in his book.
The second remark is equally obvious. Whatever the text may mean, the defenders of the well-meant offer have no right to appeal to it as expressing a desire of Christ to save all men, when the text says nothing of the sort. Those who hold to the well-meant offer read the text as if it said: "How often would I have gathered thee together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"
But the text does not say that. And it must not be made to say that. The text makes a very obvious and careful distinction between Jerusalem and Jerusalem's children. Christ expresses His desire to save Jerusalem's children, but Jerusalem did all in its power to prevent this. That is the meaning of the text -- on the very surface of it.
Does this mean that Christ was unsuccessful in gathering Jerusalem's children? Of course not. He gathered Jerusalem's children during the days of His earthly ministry, and He gathered Jerusalem's children after He was ascended into heaven and poured out His Spirit upon the church. On that first day of the New Testament era, no less than 3000 of Jerusalem's children were gathered.
But there is more to the text. We shall take another look at the same passage in the next issue. Why not save this issue in a handy place so that you can look it up when the next issue arrives?
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 17
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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