Our Calling: Effectual and General
Memory Verse: Romans 8:28
Prayer: That God may call many of those that we witness to into a saving knowledge of Christ.
Key Verses: 1Cor. 1:24-31; 1Pet. 2:9,10; 2Tim. 1:9; Eph. 2:1-5; Jn. 6:44,45,65; Prov.1:24;
Ps. 110:3; 2Pet. 1:10.
Those whom God has predestinated unto eternal life, He is pleased in His appointed time, effectually to call, by His word and Spirit, out of their state of spiritual death, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:30; 2Thess. 2:13-14; Num. 23:19). Election has to do with the purposing and planning of salvation. The atonement has to do with the provision of it. That work was only Godward, and removed only all the obstacles in the way of God’s pardon of the sinner. But the sinner is also at enmity with God, and must be brought to receive salvation, and must learn to love and serve God. God must enlighten man’s mind spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone and giving unto them a heart of flesh (Acts 26:18; Eph. 1:14-18; Ez. 36:26,27). God renews man’s will, and His almighty power effectually draws them to Jesus Christ, so that they come freely (Deut. 30:6; Ez. 36:27; Ps. 110:3).
God has left to His children and to His church the task of proclaiming the glad tidings of the Gospel message to a lost world, that through this means men will be placed under such influences as to lead them to salvation. The Gospel is therefore commanded to be proclaimed to every creature, inasmuch as there is in the work of Christ a means of redemption for those who believe (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; 20:20-21). This is the external or outward call of the Gospel (Isa. 45:22, 55:6; Matt. 11:28; Mark 2:17; Rev. 22:17). This proclamation, however, meets with no success because of the willful sinfulness of man.
There is an outward call, and there is an inward call. In the book of Acts we read of these two calls. In Acts 26, Paul preached to Agrippa, and in verse 28 Agrippa says, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” In Acts 16, Paul and Silas sang praises to God, and in verse 30 the Jailer says, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved.” Why the difference in attitude between Agrippa and the Jailer? God made them to differ! See 1Cor. 4:7.
The outward call to sinners is through the preaching of the Gospel message (Acts 17:30-34; 2Cor. 5:20). The outward privileges of God’s word are no longer to be confined to Israel, but are to be extended to the Gentiles also (Gen. 18:18, 26:4; Isa. 42:1-4, 49:6-8; Jer. 16:9; Matt. 8:11-13). The history of the preaching of this Gospel to the Gentiles by the Apostles and others show that the Gentiles were not first to become Jews in order to be saved (Acts 10,11,13,15; Rom. 1:13-16).
Many other scriptural passages show that this call of the Gospel is made indiscriminately to all men. It is not meant to be confined to the elect only (Matt. 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen). We are commanded to preach the Gospel to all. No difference of nation, or class, or condition. No question as to election, or non-election; nor as to the purpose to make it effectual, enters into this call. This call is intended for all men, though all do not hear it. We who preach the message are not to consider that we might be speaking to the elect or to the non-elect. God has a purpose in our getting the message out to as many as we can contact.
The Holy Spirit, the author of the word, works through the word to show men their sinful condition and need of a Saviour (Acts 7:51,52; Rom. 1:17-32). We see the indirect work of the Holy Spirit from Gen. 6:3, done through men, such as Enoch and Noah, in the preaching of the word. We see also that the Holy Spirit convinces of sin, righteousness and judgment (Jn. 16:8-ll), yet this still does not cause men to believe and accept Christ for salvation.
This outward call of the Gospel, by itself, is always ineffective (Isa. 65:12). Because of man’s depravity, the preaching of the Cross alone is never sufficient to bring him to Christ. He needs more than an outward call (Rom. 1:16; 1Cor. 2:14). Man must be enabled to turn from sin and believe on Christ (Jer. 13:23; Jn. 12:39-40, 6:44,65).
Arminians say that God in making a general call to sinners is insincere, because that men are unable to respond to this outward call. But God is sincere (1Tim. 2:4; Ez. 33:10,11). God’s call to all men to repent and to believe the Gospel is no more insincere than His command to all men to love Him with all the heart. If it is proper to publish the commands of the law, it is proper to publish the invitations of the Gospel. Nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth except his own inherent depravity and voluntary refusal to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The effectual or inward call is of God’s free and special grace alone (2Tim. 1:9; Eph. 2:8), not from anything at all foreseen in man; nor from any power or agency in the creature (Eph. 2:5; 1Cor. 2:14). Man, being dead in sin and trespasses until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, is thereby enabled to answer this call (Eph. 1:19-20). The salvation of men is ascribed to grace, and to grace alone, to the exclusion of all merit and work (Rom. 3:27; 4:25; 9:11; Gal. 2:16). The Holy Spirit takes the preached Gospel, and opening the heart of the sinner (Acts 16:14), applies the word to the heart in regenerating power (Rom. 10:9-17). It is then, and only then, that man is able to understand and receive the things of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit must give spiritual life to dead sinners before they can receive Christ (Eph. 1:17-19). The life which the Holy Spirit thus gives is characterized and evidenced by the immediate exercise of repentance and faith (Eph. 2:8-10). Man repents and believes with the new nature. So we see that this effectual call is not only through the Gospel, but it is through the Gospel as applied by the Holy Spirit.
This inward call is particular, by means of which the chosen objects of God’s saving grace are singled out. God has in His sovereignty, from eternity past, chosen each individual that would make up His Family, His Kingdom and His Church (Eph. 1:4-5). No matter what be the final destiny of any soul it will redound to the glory of God (Phil. 2:5-1l). This particular, effective call from God to the soul of man is never resisted. Yet, in responding to the call, man acts voluntarily and freely (Rom. 8:28,30; 1Cor. 1:24). One short illustration shows the difference between the inward and outward call. The sun and the north wind both said that they could get a man to take off his heavy coat. The north wind tried first and blew fiercely but the man only tightened his grip on his coat. The sun then took over and gently began to warm the air until finally the man was forced to take off his coat (voluntarily and freely).
There is one more subject we need to cover in only a few lines left in this lesson. What happens to dying infants? The word of God teaches that a child is born guilty of original sin and with a totally corrupt nature which it receives from its parents (Rom. 5:12-14; Ps. 58:3). Infants are not conscious sinners. They are incapable of personal transgressions. However, no one can be saved outside and apart from Christ. All those who die in infancy are elect infants. Infants are both guilty and condemned, but the dying infant is elected by the love of the Father, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit. more than one third of the human race die in infancy. So infant souls will probably make up the majority of those in heaven. See 2Sam. 12:23.