We begin by reviewing what we have covered. First, the condition of man is such that he cannot save himself, or contribute to his own salvation. Secondly, we saw that the Father elected some to salvation before the creation of the world. Election is the work of the Father. In our last installment, we looked at how the Son of God secured the salvation of His people on the cross. Efficacious redemption is the work of the Son. In this installment, we will see that in our salvation, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all working in the same direction. Our topic here concerns what occurs in the lives of individuals when they are born again. This is the work of the Spirit. We may refer to this as the effectual or resurrecting call.
Three Uses of Call
There are three different ways in which the Bible uses the word call or called. We need not spend a lot of time on the first use — it is simply a synonym for named.
And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ (Matt. 1:16).
But the second and third usages are often confused in the minds of Christians, so we must spend more time on them.
The General or Indiscriminate Call
The Bible uses the word call or called in the sense of invite or invited. In other words, the one invited can take the invitation or leave it. For example:
When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand . . . (Matt. 15:10)
In this passage, Jesus is simply inviting men to hear what He has to say. There is no indication of any special power in the invitation. There is a passage where the word is used in this general way with regard to salvation. For many are called, but few are chosen (Matt. 22:14).
We can see that this call is not efficacious because it is set in contrast with God’s choice, which is efficacious. So the word called may legitimately be used in a general, indiscriminate way. There are many of those who are not elect who do hear the gospel invitation — it falls on their ears. And in this external way, they are invited. But because of the sinfulness of their hearts, they will not respond to the invitation. Unless . . .
The Effectual Call
The Bible also — very clearly — uses the word called as a label for those who are believers, in contrast with those who are unbelievers. In other words, there is a saving call which is not extended to every last person. For example:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose . . . Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified (Rom. 8:28,30).
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:22-24).
. . . who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began . . . (2 Tim. 1:9)
In these passages, we see that effectual calling is securely linked to:
· God’s predestinated purpose beforehand
· Our final glorification
· Understanding of the cross
It is not based upon:
· Our receptivity to the cross — our receptivity to the cross is based upon it.
· Our works — in any way, shape, or form.