The content of this page is from Bible Doctrine: A Reference for Teens & Adults (Book Two, page 129-147)
Browse and read chapters from this book at http://www.holybible.com/resources/doctrine1/index.shtm


GOD'S CALLING

God's willingness to call sinners to repentance and salvation is an indescribable wonder. Fallen sinners do not call or seek after God, but God yet calls and seeks sinners. No sinner deserves this; God's call is a purely gracious call.

    When studying Genesis 3, a teacher asked his tenth grade class to read verses 8 and 9:

    And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

    And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

    Genesis 3:8-9

    He then asked them the following questions. Can you answer them?

    - "After man's fall into sin. did Adam seek for God, or did God call Adam?
    - How do these verses show us the wonderful graciousness of God's call?
    - How are these verses related to Genesis 3:15?

    And I will put enniity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.?

    Genesis 3:15

    - Why would verse 9 not be possible without verse 15?"

Why is God's free, sovereign, electing love such a precious doctrine to those who have experienced something of their total sinfulness and unworthiness?









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External Call

For many are called, but few are chosen.

- Matthew 22:14

Internal Call

Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, thern He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.

- Romans 8:30

 
     
  • Effectual - Producing the desired effect or result (in this case salvation-producing)

  • The wonderful, electing, gracious love of the Triune God shines forth in His willingness to call sinners to repentance and salvation. This plan was the eternal, electing thought of God the Father; it was bought in time by the redemptive work of God the Son; and it is wrought (worked or applied) by God the Holy Spirit.

    Scripture speaks of the gracious calling work of the Holy Spirit as two different and distinct callings - as an external and an internal calling. What is meant by these two terms?

    God's external (outward or general) call is the presentation and invitation of God's gospel of salvation to all sinners who are brought in contact with His Word. While the external call is necessary (except in exceptional circumstances), it is not sufficient for salvation. Fallen, sinful man, however, rejects the call and invitation of the gospel.

    Therefore, God's internal (inward or effectual) call is necessary. This call is the Holy Spirit's irresistible, saving application of the gospel to the hearts of His children. It is inseparably united to the Spirit's regenerating work in the soul. God's external and internal callings are pictured in the diagram below:



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    While God's external and internal calls have the same source - the Triune God; the same Applier - God the Holy Spirit; and the same instrument - the holy gospel; yet there are clear and significant differences which make these two callings distinct. God's internal call is not simply an extension of His external call, but it is a distinct calling.

    Study the following chart carefully; it presents important distinctions between God's external and internal calls.

    DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GOD'S EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL CALLS
    CALL EXTERNAL CALL INTERNAL
    CALL
    Its recipients

    All who hear the proclamation of the gospel
    (The hearers)

    All who receive the saving application of the gospel
    (The elect)

    The Church Visible The Church Invisible
    Its gracious source

    Common grace

    Saving grace

    Its power of working

    Resistible

    Irresistible

    Its benefits
    Common convictions Saving convictions
    Invitation to salvation Application of salvation
    Restraining of sin and resulting temporal blessings Forgiveness of sin and resulting eternal blessings
    God draws near to the sinner God dwells within the sinner
    The mind and the emotions of the hearer can be touched, producing a change in behavior The mind, emotions, and heart of the person are renewed producing a change of states (from spiritual death to life)
    Warns sinners to repent, believe, and obey Works true repentance, faith, and obedience
    Can produce historical and temporary faith Produces true saving faith

    Denying the necessity of the Holy Spirit's internal calling results in an Arminian, free-will gospel. Denying the value and responsibility attached to the Holy Spirit's external calling leads to fatalism. Both deny truths of Scripture. The one makes man the cause of his salvation; the other makes God the cause of man's damnation, apart from justice. God's Word requires a clear and balanced presentation of both the Holy Spirit's external and internal calls.

         
     

    So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

    - 1 Corinthians 3:7

    For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

    - 1 Corinthians 1:18

    But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

    But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

    - 1 Corinthians 1:23-24

    But the natural man receiveth the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    - 1 Corinthians 2:14

     
         

    How can God's external and internal calls be related to God's Covenant of Grace - in both its outward and inward relationship; and to God's church - both visible and invisible?

  • Arminian - A follower of the teachings of Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609), a professor in the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Arminius taught that every sinner received sufficient grace in the death of Christ to have the ability to believe in, choose for, and turn to, God of himself. Moreover, Arminians deny the Five Points of Calvinism

  • Fatalism - The false belief that since all events are predetermined by God, man should do nothing because his actions will not be of any consequence

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    Can God use His general revelation of creation, providence, and the voice of conscience in converting sinners? When this happens, does God work through His Word or does He use general revelation to lead sinners to His Word? Explain.

         
     

    How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

    And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

    But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who bath believed our report?

    So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

    - Romans 10:14-17

    And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

    - Mark 16:15

    And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

    - Luke 24:47

    And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.

    - Revelation 14:6

     
         
  • Indiscriminately - Without distinction or favoritism

  • While God calls sinners to the knowledge of His existence through creation, providence, and man's conscience, these do not proclaim the way of salvation in Jesus Christ - the gospel.

    The word "gospel" means "good news" or "glad tidings." The gospel declares the way in which God can manifest His love to sinners and in which sinners can be restored into communion with God. It testifies of Jesus Christ and His substitutionary and mediatorial work. Through Jesus Christ a way is opened for sinful people to again approach, and be received in favor by, a holy God; a God who opened a way where fallen man could not. This is "good news" for sinners - this is the gospel message.

    The calling work of the Holy Spirit, God's external and internal calls, refers to the call of the gospel - God's calling of sinners to salvation in Jesus Christ. Therefore, God's external and internal calls do not come to every person. God's external call is heard by those who are brought in contact with His Word - the gospel. God's internal call is the application of the gospel message to the hearts of all His elect - all those who are and will be saved. While God's law is necessary to work conviction of a person's sin and lost condition, it is the gospel which proclaims and offers God's plan of redemption in Jesus Christ. God's call to salvation is the gospel call.


    GOD'S EXTERNAL CALL

    God's external call is His declaration of the gospel to all people wherever His Word is brought. It includes the following three elements:

    1. A declaration of the plan of salvation - the content of the gospel

    2. A sincere, well-meant declaration of the offer of salvation - the invitation of the gospel

    3. A declaration of the promise that all who repent and believe will be saved - the promise of the gospel

    The content of the gospel refers to the presentation of God's plan of salvation in Jesus Christ and His redemptive work. The gospel is to be indiscriminately proclaimed to all. It is to be preached to all ages, ranks, nationalities, and classes of people; to both the just and the wicked.

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    THE CONTENT OF THE GOSPEL CALL

    And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations. beginning at Jerusalem.

    - Luke 24:47

    And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

    - Mark 16:15

    Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

    - II Corinthians 5:20

    And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.

    - Revelations 14:6

    Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

    And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

    - Acts 13:38-39

    The invitation of the gospel is the serious, sincere, well-meant offer of salvation in Jesus Christ proclaimed to sinners in the preaching of the gospel. All are invited to come to Christ for salvation through a way of repentance and faith. That fallen sinners refuse God's sincere invitation and do not desire to repent and believe is not the fault of the gospel nor its offer, but the fault lies in the recipients of the invitation.

    THE INVITATION OF THE GOSPEL CALL

    Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye all the to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

    - Isaiah 55:1

    Seek ye the LORD while He may be ye found, call ye upon Him while He is near:

    Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him: and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

    - Isaiah 55:6-7

    In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.

    - John 7:37

    And the Spirit and the bride say, Come, and let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

    - Revelation 22:17

    Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

    - Isaiah 45:22

    Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, 0 house of Israel?

    - Ezekiel 33:11

    Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

    - Acts 3:26

    This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

    - I Timothy 1:5

    Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

    - Matthew 22:4

    Why is mission work, the bringing of the gospel to all people, very important?


         
     

    The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son.

    And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

    Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

    But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:

    And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

    But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

    - Matthew 22:2-7

     
         

  • Recipients - Those who receive a certain item



    Read Numbers 23:19

    God is not a man, that He should lie: neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?

    How does the truth of God's immutability emphasize the sincerity of His gospel invitation and promise?

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    Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

    Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto Me, and cat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

    Incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

    Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near:

    Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him: and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

    For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD.

    For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

    For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

    So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thihg whereto I sent it.

    For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

    Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

    - Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-13

     
         

    The promise of the gospel is that all those who come unto Jesus Christ will in no wise be cast out. All those coming to Christ, repenting of their sins and believing in Him, shall receive complete forgiveness and salvation. Again, it is neither the fault of the gospel nor of its promise that sinful man ignores and despises these rich and gracious promises.


    THE PROMISE OF THE GOSPEL

    For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    - John 3:16

    If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    - I John 1:9

    For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee.

    - Psalm 86:5

    For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

    - Ezekiel 18:32

    Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.

    - Hosea 6:1

    Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with Me.

    - Revelation 3:20


    To be placed by God under His external call - to hear the content, invitation, and promise of His gospel proclaimed - is a tremendous privilege, but also a great reponsibility. Left to himself, natural man ignores, rejects, and despises God's outward call. This, however, does not make the contents, invitation, and promise of God to be faulty or insincere. The problem lies with the self-centered, rebellious sinner who hates God and does not desire reconciliation and communion with Him.

    Our forefathers explained the sincerity of the gospel's content, invitation, and promise; and man's guilt of its rejection, in the Canons of Dordt, as follows:

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    Canons of Dordt:
    Heads III and IV - Articles 8 and 9

    Article 8 - As many as are called by the gospel, are unfeignedly called. For God hath most earnestly and truly declared in His Word, what will be acceptable to Him; namely, that all who are called, should comply with the invitation. He, moreover, seriously promises eternal life, and rest, to as many as shall come to Him, and believe on Him.

    Article 9 - It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ, offered therein, nor of God, who calls men by the gospel, and confers upon them various gifts, that those who are called by the ministry of the Word, refuse to come, and be converted: the fault lies in themselves; some of whom when called, regardless of their danger, reject the Word of life; others, though they receive it, suffer it not to make a lasting impression on their heart; therefore, their joy, arising only from a temporary faith, soon vanishes, and they fall away; while others choke the seed of the Word by perplexing cares, and the pleasures of this world, and produce no fruit. - This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower (Mt. 13).


    The following stories help illustrate the truth that sinful man's rejection of the gospel does not make its content, invitation, and promise insincere.

      A department manager at Sears placed an ad in the local paper selling a certain snowblower for $425.00 that normally sold for $549.00.

      However, hardly any snow had fallen that winter, and now that it was March, people reading his ad did not feel they needed a snowblower. No one responded to the manager's ad.

      That no one was interested or responded, did not make the content, invitation, and promise of the manager's ad insincere, however. Anyone interested could have received a snowblower for the stated price.

      God's external call is His "advertisement," His proclamation, of His gospel. Its content, invitation, and promise are sincere even when sinful people are not in- terested in, and do not respond to it. What is offered in the external call of the gospel? What is the price? Why does fallen man despise this offer?

  • Unfeignedly - Sincerely; uprightly; without pretence or deceit

  • Comply - To fulfill; to agree; to act according to the wish or command expressed


         
     

    Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded;

    But ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof:

    I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.

    - Proverbs 1:24-26

    But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows.

    And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.

    - Matthew 11:16-17

    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

     
         

    Jesus died to secure the salvation of His children, but His payment is of infinite value, sufficient to expiate, to atone for, the sins of every sinner on earth. How do these two truths relate to God's two callings?

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    Then said He unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:

    And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

    And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

    And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

    And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

    So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

    And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

    And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

    For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

    - Luke 14:16-24

     
         

    When viewing God's Covenants of Works and Grace, how does man's despising of the gospel result in a double rejection of God?

      Some years ago, a rich gentleman sent an envelope addressed to "Any Sinner" to a village post office. The post office clerk jokingly drew different persons' attention to the strange address, but no one claimed the envelope.

      After leaving it for thirty days in the "Unclaimed Mail" bin, the clerk returned it to its sender stamped, "No such address."

      The unclaimed envelope contained a treasury note worth $1,000.

      The gentleman's gift and offer were sincere. Everyone's despising and mocking of it, did not remove the validity of its value.

      What comparisons can you make from this story to God's external call?

    Rejecting God's external call - despising God's gospel invitation - is very serious. It is a personal rejection of God Himself; it is an insult to God and His gracious invitation.

      Imagine planning for a family wedding. As the time draws near, you mail personal invitations to those you wish to invite to the wedding and reception.

      Would you not be insulted if no one responded; if all were too busy with other things to attend; if all despised your invitations?

      Imagine the President or Prime Minister inviting you to a special dinner with him. Would he not be justly insulted if you ignored his invitation or made yourself too busy with other things?

      Who can describe the depth of insult when a sinner ignores the personal invitation from the God of the entire universe, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords?

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    Rejecting God's gospel invitation not only deeply insults God's condescending goodness, it also insults the deep expression of His love in Jesus Christ. In the sending, humiliation, and death of His Son, God opens His "Holy of holies," He bares His heart of love, revealing His wonderful, gracious desire to restore, and again commune with, man. To despise and reject the gospel invitation is to crucify the Son of God afresh, to count His blood as an unholy and worthless thing, and to despise the calling work of the Holy Spirit. Is it any wonder that Scripture speaks of the rejection of the gospel as a most frightening sin with most fearful consequences?

    If non-elect, unbelieving sinners will not believe or respond to the external call, why should the gospel be preached to them? Why preach the gospel to all people indiscriminately? Why not preach only to the elect? The gospel must be preached, the external call must be brought, to all people for the following five reasons:

    1. The gospel must be preached to all because it is God's command to do so. God's revealed will, His express command, is to "preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:9). In His secret will and decree, God knows who His elect are, but we do not. God instructs us to obey His revealed will and commands: "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the works of this law" (Deuteronomy 29:29).

    We may not strive to be wiser than God nor attempt to place contradictions between God's revealed and secret will. We are commanded to sow the seed of the gospel everywhere, but to leave the increase of it to the Lord.


      In the vision recorded in Ezekiel 37, we read that God sent Ezekiel into a valley which was full of very dry, dead bones. God commanded him to preach to these dead bones and say, "O ye dry bones, hear the Word of the LORD" (Ezekiel 37:4).

      Does this make sense? Can dead, dry bones respond to the Word of the LORD?

      God asked Ezekiel, "Son of man, can these bones live?" What did Ezekiel answer? "O Lord God, Thou knowest" (Ezekiel 37:3).


      How does this example illustrate God's command to preach the gospel to every creature - including those dead in sin - because it is His command to do so?

         
     

    Then began He to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, because they repented not:

    Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

    But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

    And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

    But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

    - Matthew 11:20-24

    The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: becuase they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

    The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

    - Matthew 12:41-42

    For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

    How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him.

    - Hebrews 2:2-3

     
         

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    What encouragement can be found in the fact that God is still calling sinners?

    2. The gospel must be preached to all because it is precisely that which every sinner needs. The gospel contains the perfect remedy for every sinner's disease; therefore, it is to be proclaimed and promoted.

      A minister was once walking and speaking with a non-believing soap manufacturer. The soapmaker stated, "The gospel you preach has not done much good in the world. I see lots of wickedness and all types of wicked people yet!"

      Just then they passed several children busily making "mud pies." They were covered with dirt from head to feet.

      The minister stopped. Staring at the children, he replied, "Sir, the soap you sell has not done much good in the world. I see lots of dirt and all types of dirty people yet."

      "Oh, yes," the soapmaker responded, quite surprised by this reply, "but if my soap were applied to these children, it would certainly clean them up!"

      "That is precisely the same with the gospel I preach," the minister added. "The gospel cleans when it is applied. But may I ask you one question? If you saw many dirty people would you decide to quit making soap or would it give you a desire to sell it all the more?"

      How does this story illustrate the necessity of preaching the gospel to all people because it is precisely that which every sinner needs?

    3. The gospel must be preached to all because it proclaims God's concern for, and claim upon, every person. Preaching the invitation of salvation to every person proclaims that deliverance is still possible for sinners; the day of salvation is not past. As the invitations of Noah to enter the ark testified to every hearer that the door of the ark was not yet closed, so the preaching of the gospel proclaims that salvation can yet be found in the great Ark of Refuge, Jesus Christ.

    God's commanding all sinners to repent and believe also testifies of His Creator's right upon each individual. Although man sinned and turned from God, God has not given up His rightful claim upon man. Man is still required to obey his Creator and His call. If a person does not, he slights God and increases his guilt.

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      One morning, a teacher greeted his class and asked, "What are the three most important letters in the English language?"

      Seeing the puzzled looks on his students' faces, he said, "I will show you."

      With large clear letters, he wrote on the chalkboard, "N - 0 - W"!

      "'Behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation' (II Corinthians 6:2). Tomorrow the door might be eternally shut for you."

      How does this example illustrate the necessity of preaching the invitation of the gospel to every creature because it proclaims God's concern for, and claim upon, every person?

    4. The gospel must be preached to all because it glorifies both God's grace and righteousness. Proclaiming the content, invitation, and promise of God's gospel to all, richly testifies of His wonderful grace. What king has ever displayed such grace toward rebels as God has in His gospel offer?

    God's righteousness will also be glorified, however, in the condemnation of those who despise such a gracious forbearance and offer of salvation. God's righteousness will stand out in clearest light against their grievous sins of rejection.

         
     

    For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

    II Corinthians 6:2

    Today if ye will hear His voice,

    Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness.

    - Psalm 95:7b-8

     
         

    In Acts 24:25 we read of Felix's response to Paul's preaching.

    Acts 24:25


    And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled and answered, Go thy way for this time; when 1have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

    We never read that his convenient season ever arrived. What lesson can we learn from this?

  • Forbearance - The act of holding back; exercising patience


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    How does the proclamation of the gospel to all people glorify both God's graciousness and righteousness?

      Imagine a king who fought against and conquered a city of rebels - citizens who had revolted from under his reign and had declared war against him. In the war, the rebels caught, mocked, tortured, and killed the king's son.

      Would you not expect the king to command that all the rebels be killed?

      But what if the king offered full pardon to all who came forward to confess their wrongdoing and to ask for his forgiveness? Would this offer not glorify the king's graciousness and his desire to save instead of destroy?

      But imagine that many of the rebels refuse his offer. They will not repent or ask him for forgiveness. Would not his righteousness be glorified in the destruction of these ungrateful rebels?

      How does this example illustrate the necessity of preaching the gospel to all people because it glorifies God's graciousness and righteousness?

    5. The gospel must be preached to all because it is the means through which God has chosen to work. God will bless the preaching of the Word both outwardly and inwardly.

    Outwardly, God's call will produce gifts of morality, restraint of sin, historical belief, impressions of the truth, a speaking conscience, an awareness of God and His truth, and other improved, external behaviors.

    Inwardly, God will irresistibly and savingly apply the gospel to the hearts of His children as will be discussed in the next section entitled "God's Internal Call."

      When discussing the necessity of mission work, a student mentioned that bringing God's Word produced outward as well as inward fruits. The class then formed an extensive list of outward benefits from the teaching of God's Word on a new mission field. How many benefits can you name?

      Regarding inward fruits, their teacher pointed them to Romans 10: 14-17.

      How does this example illustrate the necessity of preaching the gospel to all people because it is the means through which God has chosen to work?

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    If God's external call - the proclamation of the content, invitation, and promise of the gospel - is not saving, if it does not cause sinners to respond in repentance and faith, this is not due to a lack of graciousness in the gospel call. In the gospel call, no one is excluded because his sins are too great, or because he has sinned too long, or because he was not invited.

    What effect has the gospel call produced in your life? Are you still resisting, or have you, by grace, surrendered to its call?

    Despite the graciousness and wonderfulness of God's external call, sinful man consistently refuses to respond to its invitation. Due to our total depravity - our sinful enniity, pride, and blindness - we will not turn to God. We refuse to repent from our sins and to beg Him for forgiveness.

    The despising and rejecting of God's gospel call is fallen man's natural, insulting, and deadly response - one which greatly adds to his guilt and condemnation. The terrible truth of sinful man's rejection of the external call is stated in the scriptural references below.

    SINFUL MAN'S REJECTION OF GOD'S EXTERNAL CALL

    Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded;

    But yet have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof:

    I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.

    - Proverbs 1:24-26

    Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

    - Isaiah 53:1

    Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before Mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.

    - Isaiah 65:12

    Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

    - Hebrews 2:3

    Then said He unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:

    And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

    And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it.. I pray thee have me excused.

    And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

    And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore cannot come.

    - Luke 14:16-20

    And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.

    - John 5:40

    But to Israel He saith, All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

    - Romans 10:21

    And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

    For many are called, but few are chosen.

    - Matthew 22:3,14

         
     

    Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

    If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.

    - Isaiah 1:18-19

    Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.

    - Hebrews 7:25

     
         


    Why are sins against the gospel, against the Holy Spirit's calling, sins of the worst degree? Why will the sins of despising and rejecting the gospel be punished most severely?



    Read II Timothy 2:13

    If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself.

    How does this verse relate to God's gospel remaining true, despite the sinner's unbelief?

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    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

    According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:

    Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

    To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved.

    In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

    - Ephesians 1:3-7

     
         

    How many comparisons can you find between the father and son in this story and God the Father and His sinful human sons? What contrasts did you discover?


    GOD'S INTERNAL CALL

    After man rejected God and chose sin in Paradise, it would be most understandable if God would have sentenced all mankind to eternal death. However, God chose to reveal His wonderful grace; He proclaimed His rich offer of salvation in Jesus Christ - His external call.

    When totally-depraved man only chooses to reject God's gracious invitation of salvation, however, one could justly conclude that all is certainly lost for all mankind. Yet this is not so! The gracious depths of God's love transcend the depths of man's sin. God will conquer sin and redeem chosen sinners. He will restore communion with His lost people. God will irresistibly and savingly apply His external call in the hearts of His elect, and they shall be saved. They will graciously be restored into communion with God. Who can comprehend the depth of God's gracious heart of love? This leads us into the doctrine of God's internal call.

    The following story provides a faint human example of the difference between God's sincere, external call and His saving, restoring, internal call.


      A son was stationed in a remote village in Africa, separated by a considerable distance from his father who remained behind. Father and son communicated regularly by means of shortwave transmitter units.

      However, after a serious disagreement with his father, the son became angry with his father and smashed his transmitter. Every day the father faithfully called his son, sending him messages which offered forgiveness and expressed his desire to communicate again. Due to his rebellious destruction, however, the son never heard the loving invitations of his father.

      Finally, the father traveled to his son's village, found his home, restored their friendship, and repaired his transmitter. Father and son again enjoyed communicating together.

      How does this story illustrate man's spiritual deadness and lack of response to God's sincere, external call? What pictures God's internal, saving call and man's restoration into communion with Him?

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    God's internal call can also be named His inward, irresistible, effectual, or efficacious call.

      The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines the Holy Spirit's internal calling in the following manner in Question and Answer 31:

      Q. What is effectual calling?
      A. Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, He doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

      The godly minister, Rev. T. Doolittle, when preaching to his congregation on the Holy Spirit's internal call, asked if any of his catechism students could answer the Shorter Catechism's question, "What is effectual calling?" using the pronouns "me" and "my" for "us" and "our."

      A solemn silence followed; many realized the seriousness of the question. A young man stood up which heightened the felt importance and anticipation of the moment. By grace, with deep conviction, he clearly stated, "Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing me of my sin and misery, enlightening my mind in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing my will, He doth persuade and enable me to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to me in the gospel."

      The resulting effect was deeply moving on the entire congregation and many eyes were bathed in tears.

      Can you, by grace, personally answer this question as this young man did?

    God's internal call is not simply an extension of His external call. God's internal call has the following distinctives:

      1. It refers to the Holy Spirit's almighty, efficacious, saving work.

      2. It flows from the Father's electing grace, the Son's redeeming grace, and the Holy Spirit's applying grace.

      3. It results in an eternal change of states in the elect; it is a calling which will never be taken back or lost.

    The Holy Spirit's internal, saving calling is spoken of frequently in Scripture. The verses on the following page provide some examples.

  • Efficacious - That which is effectual, which produces the desired effect or result


         
     

    Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.

    - Romans 8:30

    But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingbiock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

    But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

    - 1 Corinthians 1:23-24

    And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing, words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

    That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

    - I Corinthians 2:4-5

    For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost.

    - I Thessalonians 1:5a

     
         
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    What eternal ground of security and comfort is removed by those who believe in salvation by their own free will, choice, and derision? Why?







         
     

    So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

    - Romans 9:16

    Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    - John 1:13

    Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

    - Titus 3:5

     
         
    GOD'S INTERNAL CALL

    And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

    - Acts 16:14

    Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.

    - Romans 8:30

    Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power.

    - Psalm 110:3a

    No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me.

    - John 6:44-45

    Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

    - I Timothy 6:12

    But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.

    But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

    - I Corinthians 1:23-24

    For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

    - Romans 11:29

    Even when we were dead in sins, (God) hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).

    - Ephesians 2:5

    God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

    - I Corinthians 1:9

    There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling.

    - Ephesians 4:4

    That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory.

    - I Thessalonians 2:12

    Believers in man's free will deny the truth of God's internal call. They believe that there is only one call of God - an external call. According to them, man freely chooses whether to accept or reject the gospel invitation; he has the ability to do either. Some believers in free will (the Pelagians) teach that man is born neutral; he can freely choose the gospel's or Satan's call, God or self, salvation or damnation, heaven or hell. Other believers in free will (the Semi-Pelagians) teach that the death of Christ removed original sin from all people on earth, and therefore every person has the ability to freely choose Christ or Satan, God's will or self will, life or death. The result in both cases is the same - the doctrines of man's total depravity and God's limited atonement, unconditional election, internal calling, irresistible grace, and regeneration are denied.

    Our church forefathers expressed this truth very clearly in the following statement:

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    Canons of Dordt:
    Heads III and IV - Article 10

    But that others who are called by the gospel, obey the call, and are converted, is not to be ascribed to the proper exercise of free will, whereby one distinguishes himself above others, equally furnished with grace sufficient for faith and conversion, as the proud heresy of Pelagius maintains; but it must be wholly ascribed to God, who as He has chosen His own from eternity in Christ, so He confers upon them faith and repentance, rescues them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of His own Son, that they may show forth the praises of Him, who hath called them out of darkness into His marvelous light; and may glory not in themselves, but in the Lord according to the testimony of the apostles in various places.

    For additional information regarding the errors and dangers of teaching free will, refer to Chapter 25 on the Five Points of Calvinism.

      Late one evening, two people were finishing a lengthy debate regarding God's salvation - whether it took place by the free will of man or by the free grace of God.

      "If that which you say is true," the one woman concluded, "then I would like you to tell God in your prayers tonight that you spiritually began with Him, before He began with you."

      This remark stunned the other woman. "I do not dare to say that," she replied.

      "Then why do you dare to say to others what you do not dare to say to God?" the first lady asked.

      Which is first in the salvation of a sinner, God's work or man's work? Who first enlivens and turns a sinner's heart - the Holy Spirit or the sinner? Why?

    Some churches teach that the internal call always accompanies the external call; that God's saving call always attends the proclamation of the gospel. This is also not true. God's internal call is irresistible and saving. If it always accompanied the external call, people would be saved every time the preaching of the gospel took place. God is sovereign. He has blessed the preaching of His Word that three thousand were savingly called under one sermon, but there are also times in which no one is saved. God's external and internal callings are separate.

         
     

    Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

    Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

    - Acts 2:37,41

    When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

    Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,

    And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

    - Acts 7:54,57,59

     
         

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    For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

    But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

    What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?

    Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

    - Romans 2:28-3:2

     
         




    When speaking of God's call, "today" is God's Word; "tomorrow" is Satan's word. What does this statement mean? Whose word are you following - God's or Satan's?


    Emphasizing the truth of God's one-sided grace and work in election, atonement, regeneration, and His internal, irresistible, saving call, however, must not produce carelessness or inactivity on man's part. The Holy Spirit's normal manner of accomplishing His inward call is to work through His external call - through God's means of grace.

    In exceptional circumstances, the Holy Spirit will accomplish His internal, saving work without using His external call. This happens in cases of infants, young children, mentally-handicapped persons, and others who cannot be meaningfully reached by means of the external call. However, the Holy Spirit's normal manner of working is to savingly apply the external call in the hearts of those who are saved. Therefore, placing ourselves under, and actively using, God's Word is very important. Never ignore, despise, or put off God's gospel call.

    What is your response to God's outward call? Have you experienced your deep need for the Holy Spirit's inward call?

      Debra's mother meditated upon her conversation with her fourteen-year-old daughter. After asking her daughter if she desired and prayed for a new heart to love and serve God, Debra had replied, "Yes, someday I want that, Mother; but first I want to have a good time in the world with my friends. But when I'm old - yes, I know - I will need to be born again and serve God."

      Several days later, a box of flowers was delivered to Debra's home. Its attached card read, "To my dear daughter. With love, Mom."

      Excitedly, Debra tore off the wrapping and opened the box. To her shock and disappointment, she found twelve old, wilted roses - the leaves were all drooping and shrivelled and several petals had already fallen off.

      "Mom!" Debra called, running into the kitchen and showing her mom the box. "Thanks for the roses ... but, look! The flower shop must have forgotten to deliver them for a few days!"

      "No, dear, I wanted to give them to you this way. I thought you would like them like this," her mother calmly replied as she continued cutting her carrots.

      Debra was stunned. She felt insulted and angry. "That's nonsense, Mom," she finally blurted. "How could you ever think I would like this gift!"

      Her mother turned and seriously said, "Debra, when we talked together a few days ago, wasn't this the type of gift that you felt the Lord would like, that you told me you wanted to give Him? If God would be pleased with this type of gift, you should be, too, don't you think?"

      "I understand," Debra seriously replied.

      Delaying, despising, and rejecting God's gospel call is most serious. Why?

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    Catechism Memorization

    Questions from Rev. A. Hellenbroek's Divine Truths - Chapter XIII

    1. For what purpose was Christ exalted?

    To apply His benefits to His people.

    2. How may Christ's benefits for His people be distinguished?

    Into two types: (1) benefits in this life and (2) benefits in the life to come.

    3. What benefits does Christ bestow upon His people in this life?

    Effectual calling, justification, and sanctification are three of Christ's main benefits.

    4. What benefits does Christ confer upon His people after this life?

    Resurrection, final judgment, and eternal life.

    5. How many types of callings does God exercise?

    Two: (1) an external calling and (2) an internal calling.

    6. How does God send forth His external calling?

    Through the hearing or reading of His Word (Prov. 9:3-6).

    7. How does God send forth His internal calling?

    Through the Spirit of God who effectually applies the Word of God (Jer. 31:33).

    8. Who are externally called by God?

    All who come in contact with God's Word, including those who are not elected. "Many are called, but few chosen" (Mt. 20:16).

    9. Is the external calling universal?

    In Christendom, but not through the whole world.

    10. Is the external call more widespread now than under the Old Testament?

    Yes, in the Old Testament dispensation the external call was sent to the Jews only, but it is now sent also to the Gentiles.

    11. Is there a calling from nature that leads to salvation?

    No, nature reveals nothing of Christ, outside of whom there is no salvation.

    12. Is the external calling sufficient for conversion?

    No. "So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase" (I Cor. 3:7).

    13. What must accompany the external call to make it effectual in the heart?

    The internal calling of God, as we see in Lydia. "Whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken by Paul" (Acts 16:14).

    14. Who are internally called?

    Only the elect. "Whom He did predestinate, them He also called" (Rom. 8:30).

    15. What is the internal calling?

    A powerful changing of the whole man.

    16. Is there anything to be changed in man?

    Yes, his heart, understanding, will, affections, and walk of life.

    17. In what condition are these faculties by nature?

    The heart is totally depraved; the understanding, darkened; the will, perverse; the affections, irregular; and the walk of life, sinful (Eph. 4:18; Rom. 8:7).

    18. What do they become by effectual calling?

    The understanding is enlightened to know God in His all-sufficiency (I Cor. 2:12-13a). The will is changed to serve and glorify God (Rom. 7:15). The affections are purified to hate sin, to love God as the supreme good, and to desire holiness (Rom. 6:19). The walk of life is sanctified.

    19. Is this internal calling efficacious?

    Yes, it has an irresistible power (Eph. 1:19-20).

    20. Is there more in the internal call than external persuasion?

    Yes, an inward inclining of the will of God's elect
    (Phil. 2:13).

    21. Does God compel the will of the elect?

    No, He makes His elect willing (Song of Solomon 1:4).

    22. How is the efficacy of the internal calling expressed in Scripture?

    It is called a creating. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Eph. 2:10). It is also termed a drawing; "No man can come unto Me, except the Father, which hath sent Me draw him " (John 6:44).

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    The content of this page is from Bible Doctrine: A Reference for Teens & Adults (Book Two, page 129-147)
    Browse and read chapters from this book at http://www.holybible.com/resources/doctrine1/index.shtml


     

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