Biblical Christianity

Q&A

The Gospel Call

Posted on May 21, 2009 at 9:02 PM

     When Paul talks about the way that God brings salvation into our lives, he says: "Those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified" (Romans 8:30). Here Paul points to a definite order in which the blessings of salvation come to us, Although long ago, before the world was made, God "predestined" us to be his children and to be conformed to the image of his Son, Paul points to the fact that in the actual outworking of his purpose in our lives God"called" us. Then Paul immediately lists justification and glorification, showing that these come after calling. Paul indicates that there is a definite order in God's saving purpose (though not every aspect of our salvation is mentioned here). What Paul indicates in Romans 8:30 is that calling is an act of God. In fact, it is the act o the Father whom predestines people "to be conformed in the image of his Son". When God calls people in this powerful way, he calls them "out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 peter 2:9); he calls them "into the fellowship of his Son"( 1 Cor. 1:9) and "into his own kingdom and glory" (1 Thess. 2:2, 1 peter 5:10; 2 peter 1:3). People who have been called by God "belong to Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:6). Called to freedom (Gal 5:13) and have come into a realm of peace (1 Cor. 7:15; Col. 3:15). And eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12). This calling has the capacity to draw us out of the kingdom of darkness and bring us into God's kingdom so we can join in full fellowship with him: "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. 1:9). God's effective calling comes through the human preaching of the gospel message, because Paul says "To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 2:14). This is not to say that everyone whom hears the gospel responds, but nevertheless the work of the Holy Spirit intercedes to open the heart of those in some cases.  Effective calling can be defined as follows from Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem: {Effective calling is an act of God the Father, speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel, in which he summons people to himself in such a way that they respond in saving faith}. It is important that we not give the impression that people will be saved by the power of the call apart from their own willing response to the gospel. Although it is true that effective calling awakens and brings forth a response from us, we must always insist that this response still has to be voluntary, willing response in which the individual person puts his or her trust in Christ. Prayer is very important in matters such as these for effective evangelism. God must work in the hearts of those whom hear the gospel to truly respond in genuine confession and repentance (Romans 10:9-10) otherwise there will be no genuine saving response. Jesus said "No one comes to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44). An example of the gospel call working effectively is seen in Paul's first visit to Philippi. When Lydia heard the gospel message, "The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul" (Acts 16:14). Anyone who comes to Christ for salvation must have at least a basic understanding of who Christ is and how he meets our needs for salvation. An explanation of the facts concerning salvation must include at least the following:

1. All people have sinned (Romans 3:23) 2. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) 3. Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8). Just understanding the facts in themselves or agreeing with them are not enough for one to be saved. There must be an invitation for a personal response on the part of the person who will repent of their sins and turn to Christ for salvation by placing their trust in Him and what he has done for us. John talks about the need for personal response when he says "He came to his own, and his own received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God" (john 1:11-12). It is sufficient to note that if we come to christ and trust him to save us from our sin, we cannot any longer cling to sin but must willingly renounce it in genuine repentance. A genuine gospel proclamation must include an invitation to make a conscious decision to forsake one's sins and come to Christ in faith, asking Christ for forgiveness of sins. The doctrine of the gospel call is important, because if there were no gospel call we could not be saved. "How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?" (Romans 10:14).  The gospel call is important also because through it God addresses us in the fullness of our humanity. He does not save us "Automatically" without seeking for a response from us as whole persons. Rather, he addresses the gospel call to our intellects, our emotions, and our wills. He speaks to our intellects by explaining the facts of salvatrion in his word. He speaks to our emotions by issuing us to hear his invitation and respond willingly in repentance and faith, to decide to turn from our sins and receive Christ as savior and rest our hearts in him for salvation.

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