A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance
Fred G. Zaspel
Oh my, what a wonderful little book this is! If you have any hesitation, any question at all lurking in the back of your mind whether a Calvinist has the right to offer the gospel freely to all, you must read this book. MacLeod will convince you very quickly that “the free offer of the gospel” is both our right and our responsibility. And he will convince you with such passion that you will never hesitate again.
Hyper-calvinists have long argued on various grounds that the doctrines of total depravity, divine election, limited atonement, and such, are incompatible with the free offer. Those who argue this way, thankfully, are relatively few in our day. But they do persist, and every Christian needs to be armed against such misguided thinking. And I don’t know a better little book to recommend than this by Donald MacLeod. He answers all the hyper-calvinist arguments with vigor, and he expounds this wonderful doctrine of the free offer with his characteristic thoroughness, insight, and passion. What a gem this is. Certainly every preacher should read this book!
This is now the first book I will recommend on the subject.
From the “Introduction”
This from MacLeod’s “Introduction”
There can be no denying the fact. Paul states it again in 1 Corinthians 2:14: the ‘natural’ man cannot understand spiritual things, and because he cannot understand them he cannot accept them. To him the gospel, and especially the word of the cross (2 Cor. 1:18), comes across as ‘foolishness’. It makes no sense. This is a note the Bible sounds repeatedly, and it is summed up in one of the most solemn paragraphs of the Westminster Confession (9:3) which lays down that man, by his fall into a state of sin, is completely unable, by his own strength, to convert himself, or even to prepare himself for conversion. His heart is closed against the gospel, he is a slave to unbelief, and completely blind to the beauty of Christ.
It is tempting to draw from this what looks like the castiron inference that there is no point in trying to persuade spiritually-dead men and women that it is their duty to repent and believe. The dead, after all, respond to no stimulus. They take no action, they make no decisions, and so any appeal to them is futile. Worse than that, urging them to believe confirms the delusion that they can believe and can repent and can turn to God at any moment of their own choosing. To put it in more philosophical terms, insisting that it is people’s duty to believe seems to imply that they have the ability to believe.
Why then did the great Calvinist evangelists venture forth to the scattered hamlets and the great cities of Britain and America, and to the mission fields of India, Africa and China, to plead with all who heard them to turn to the living God? Did they not believe in the bondage of the human will? Of course they did! How then could they motivate themselves to such a futile action?
The short answer is, Because they took their cue not from human logic, but from the example of the Lord and His apostles, and accordingly saw it as their mission not only to proclaim the gospel but to persuade people to believe it.
This is one of the most soul–stirring, liberating books that I have read on this subject. Donald MacLeod provides the reader with a necessary reminder to seek to persuade and implore men and women on Christ’s behalf to be reconciled to God. I hope that it will show up in my preaching. I commend this book particularly to a rising group of young reformed pastors who when it comes to this matter of the ‘free offer’ are in danger of being tripped up by their own theological shoelaces.
Compel Him to Come In has all the trademarks we have come to recognise in Professor Donald Macleod’s writings: mastery of doctrine, fulness of biblical insight, cogency of reasoning, clarity of expression, and an eloquence driven by the subject matter. At first you will think you are reading a powerful exposition of the free offer of the gospel in the face of criticisms and misunderstandings of reformed theology. It is indeed that. But by the end you will realise it more. For Compel Him to Come In is really about the gospel itself. A book for all, it is a must–read for preachers, not least because it models the powerful, passionate appeals it commends.
Table of Contents
1 The Free Offer and Man’s Spiritual Bondage
2 The Free Offer and the Doctrine of Predestination
3 The Free Offer and Limited Atonement
4 The Free Offer and Divine Sincerity
5 Delivering the Free Offer
6 The Free Offer: Knowing Where the Fish are Hiding
7 The Free Offer and the Messenger
Appendix – Sermon by C. H. Spurgeon: Compel them to Come In
I hope this book receives the very wide reading it deserves. Thoroughly informed, insightful, stirring. I promise – once you start reading you won’t want to put it down.