Thus far, we have described the Gospel and shown the difference between the Law and the Gospel. But all this will be illustrated when we speak of justification, faith, and works. Now only one part, as it were, needs to be added, namely this: just as it is necessary to know that the Gospel is a gracious and free promise, so also it is necessary to know that the Gospel is a universal promise, that is, that reconciliation is offered and promised to all people.

We must retain this universal promise against dangers we might imagine regarding predestination, so that we do not argue that this promise pertains only to a certain few others, but not to ourselves. There is no doubt that this thought troubles the minds of all people. From this have arisen many useless controversies by writers on the subject of predestination. But we must make up our minds that the promise of the Gospel is universal. For just as the preaching of repentance is universal, so also is the preaching of the remission of sins universal. Under this heading belong the various statements of Scripture pertaining to the universality of the Gospel, such as John 3:16: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish . . . ” Likewise in Paul, “God has imprisoned all under sin that He might have mercy upon all” [Rom. 11 :32; cf. Gal. 3:22). This is sufficient instruction for the moment. But below, under the locus on predestination, we must speak again regarding this universal promise.

That not all obtain the Gospel promise comes from the fact that they do not all believe. For the Gospel, even though it promises freely, yet requires faith; it is necessary that the promise be received by faith. The term “freely” does not exclude faith, but it does exclude our worthiness as a condition, as we have said above; and it demands that we accept the promise, and this cannot take place except through faith.

Philip Melanchthon, Loci Communes, trans. J.A.O. Preus (St. Louis: Concordia Pub. House, 1992), 84.

Credit to M. Lynch for the find.

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