Back to the esteemed Westminster Divine William Greenhill and his work Christ’s Last Disclosure of Himself. Joel Beeke and Randall Pederson in their work Meet the Puritans comment that, “These sermons offer some fine material on… the free offer of the gospel.” (Meet the Puritans, Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Book, 2007, p300). Indeed!
Now last time, in my first post on Greenhill, I highlighted two evidences that Christ is willing to save sinners 1) His commands 2) His sweet invitations. This week I’m going to pick up on some more of his 15 evidences that Christ is willing to save sinners.
Point 7 is particularly interesting and relates to the end and nature of the gospel ministry. Greenhill writes that Christ’s willingness to save sinners appears “in that the Lord Christ has instituted and appointed… His ministers, and sent them to woo, entreat, beseech, and draw men unto Him” (p137). For Greenhill, the very purpose of the ministry “is to make known His [The Lord’s] forwardness and readiness to receive sinners, and to go forth in His name, and to get them to come to Christ” (p137). Greenhill notes that “the great work of the ministry is to make known the willingness of Christ, and to bring sinners unto Christ so that they might have mercy from Him” (p139).
How many today have this conception of the ministry? I have highlighted several times on this blog Durham’s conception of the purpose of the ministry and it is the same as Greenhill’s.
Of importance to Greenhill is the fact that it is not merely the preacher who is beseeching sinners but “God beseeches sinners, and therefore we beseech you” (p139). This flows from the nature of the ministry – the minister is only an ambassador with no message of his own; his duty is to relay his master’s message. This also flows from the high view that the Reformed faith has of preaching. The Second Helvetic Confession says, “Wherefore when this Word of God is now preached in the church by preachers lawfully called, we believe that the very Word of God is proclaimed…” The faithful preacher speaks the words of God. Again Durham makes this point repeatedly.
Point 10 highlights that it is “strong evidence that the Lord Christ is willing to save sinners and do them good in that He is grieved, troubled, and affected greatly that sinners will not come to Him” (p141). Citing Christ’s Lament over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41) Greenhill comments that “Christ is grieved to the heart that men and women do not come to him… Christ weeps over souls, families, and cities” (p142). Oh for the compassion of Christ!
There is much of value in Greenhill’s other points but I’ll stop here. I would like to return to Greenhill at some point in the future on the idea of preparationism (the sinner has to prepare himself for coming to Christ by so much mourning over sin, thus placing the warrant to believe in the sinner’s own sorrow) as a cursory reading of him may give the idea he leans towards this.
I’ve got a lot more material to post on the free offer from Durham and others but I may soon start mixing things up a bit and posting on some other aspects of Durham’s theology. Various topics will probably come up e.g. the Call to the Ministry, Prophecy, Song of Solomon, the Sabbath. He has many helpful things to say that are not related to the free offer 🙂