To continue, then, from three weeks back...The Invincible Call of God to Salvation--otherwise known as "effectual calling".
The Biblical truth of the invincible call of God to salvation, known also as effecual calling, answers these questions: Why do some people believe in Jesus, while others do not? Is it because some people are more prone naturally to spiritual things while others are less prone? Is the answer in man or in God? Is our salvation initiated by us or by God? Does our eternal destiny rest in our hands or in the hands of God? Why is it that some receive Christ early in life and others very late in life? (661)
The necessity for an invincible call of God to salvation is to be found in the total depravity and total inability of fallen human beings. That human beings are totally depraved, i.e., that every aspect of their being, intellect, personality, character, body and soul are corrupted by sin, is taught in Romans 3:9–12, 19–20... (661)
Sinners need a BIG and POWERFUL gospel to save them, a gospel which does not stop with a free offer of salvation, for if it stopped with the mere offer, fallen human beings in their depravity and inability, (i.e., their spiritual deadness), would not and could not respond positively to that offer, however freely it is made. (662)
Being dead in our sins, loving the darkness and hating the light, we cannot help ourselves without His help and we cannot in and of ourselves take any steps toward Him, for, as Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). (662-663)
Sinners need a gospel which can get them in their helplessness to Jesus, who is their only hope, their only cure, their only Savior....We must be brought to Him, and powerfully drawn to Him if He is going to save us. This truth of effectual calling shows us the BIGNESS of the Bible’s gospel, its INVINCIBLE POWER TO SAVE and its SUITABLENESS to save the lowest of sinners (Acts 26:18). (663)
The Bible presents us with two kinds of “calls”—The EXTERNAL call and the INTERNAL call, also referred to as the GENERAL call and the SPECIAL call, or the call of the gospel and the call of God the Father. (664)
The external and general call of the gospel originates with the Church of Christ, bearing witness to the world of the gospel of Christ. It is to be issued to everybody indiscriminately: Whosoever will may come! When the Christian presents the gospel to unbelievers, urging them to repent of their sins and trust Christ as
their Lord and Savior, he is issuing the external, general call of the gospel. (664)
The internal and special call to salvation originates with God the Father: “No one can come to Me,” said Jesus, “unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).26 He issues this call to His elect and to them alone: “these whom He predestined, He also called” (Rom. 8:30). No non-elect person has ever heard or will ever hear this saving call of the Father. (664-665)
Therefore, this internal call of the Father comes to a person’s heart with such Divine power that it is invincible, so that no one who receives it can ultimately and finally resist it. It calls the sinner out of darkness into light with irresistible might. (665)
This invincible call of God is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein (WCF, X, ii); and it originates with his free and special love to his elect, and from nothing in them moving him thereunto, because in themselves they are dead in sin (LCQ. 67). (666)
Furthermore, the person whom God effectively calls to salvation, is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it (WCF, X, ii). This Divine call is not mere moral or intellectual persuasion, motivating the sinner to convert in his own ability. It is, as we have seen, the exertion of Divine power upon the elect sinner’s soul giving it a new spiritual life and a new way of living and of acting. It enables him to repent of His sins and believe in Jesus Christ. This repentance and faith are acts of the human being resulting from the radical change brought about in him by the recreative omnipotence of God in regeneration and effectual calling. (666-667)
Ezekiel was told by God to prophesy to a valley of bones, bleached by the sun. He did, and as He did, God raised these bones from the dead to new and obedient living. At the moment the call of God comes to a person, his eyes are blinded, his ears are deaf, his tongue is dumb, his arm is withered, his conscience is calloused, his soul is dead, his heart is stone. But the effect of that call on him is the opening of his blind eyes, the unstopping of his deaf ears, the loosing of his dumb tongue, the healing of his withered arm, the softening of his calloused conscience, the change of his heart to flesh, the resurrecting of his dead soul. (667)
In this invincible call, God does four things to the elect sinner. (1) He convinces and convicts him of his sin and misery...(2) He enlightens his mind in the knowledge of Christ...(3) He renews and liberates his will...(4) He fully persuades and enables him to embrace Jesus Christ, who is freely offered in the gospel... (668)
God alone is the origin of the internal, invincible call: “Walk in a manner worthy of THE GOD WHO CALLS YOU into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12; emphasis added)....No human being has the power to call himself out of his spiritual darkness so that he actually comes to Christ on his own. “Salvation is of the Lord!” God alone must accomplish and apply, as well as plan our salvation; and He has perfectly done so....In one sense, it is God who also issues the external call through His servants, so that to refuse the general call of the gospel is to refuse the offer of God Himself, which refusal amounts to death (Prov. 1:20; 8:36)....But God does not always back the general call of the gospel with omnipotence, which means that the general call can be resisted and rejected. (669)
God the Father, by the agency of the Holy Spirit, is the One who effectively calls sinners to come to Christ, and when He calls them, they come....That inner drawing-call of the Father by His Word and Spirit is always accompanied with Divine omnipotence (John 6:37). The Father not only planned our salvation in eternity before the creation of the world (Eph. 1:3–6); He not only sent His Son to save His people (Matt. 1:21; John 3:16); but He also is involved in the actual applying and conveying of that salvation, accomplished by Christ, to chosen sinners by personally, powerfully and supernaturally drawing them individually to Christ (Rom. 8:20). (669)
God the Father chose us in Christ. He justifies us in Christ. He adopts us in Christ. He sanctifies us in Christ. By initiating the entire process of salvation, the Father CALLS US in Christ. (670)
If in the external call of the gospel we are to present the gospel to all people indiscriminately, to whom does the internal call of the Father come?...The Bible is unmistakably clear that the invincible call of God comes ONLY TO HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE, all of them and only them....God effectively calls to salvation those whom He has predestined to receive salvation in Christ. (670)
FIRST, it is ALMIGHTY and therefore INVINCIBLE and IRRESISTIBLE. Because it comes to God’s elect sinners, still dead in their sins, God’s saving call must come with irresistible resurrecting power, if it is actually to save those sinners.
To say that God’s omnipotence can be ultimately resisted by men, is to set the power of man above the power of God, which is an absurd and blasphemous thought.
John Flavel, an English Puritan, once wrote: “Let the soul whom the Father draws struggle ever so much, it shall come, yea, and come willing too, when the drawing power of God is upon it.”31 John Flavel, The Method of Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1977), 83. (670-671)
SECOND, the invincible call of God is AGREEABLE TO MAN’S CREATED NATURE....God does not draw sinful human beings to Christ asbrute beasts are drawn and compelled. God works upon the mind of the sinner in presenting the word in a convincing manner and He works powerfully on the will and heart persuading them that Christ is worth more than silver or gold. He powerfully renews their wills, changes their hearts, and enables them to come to Christ voluntarily and gladly. (672)
THIRD, God’s invincible call is IMMUTABLE AND IRREVERSIBLE....God’s calling is not subject to change and itwill never be withdrawn. (672)
FOURTH, it is a HIGH calling....This “high calling of God” is “high” for two reasons. (1) It callsus out of sin and out of a world of sin: “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance” (1 Pet. 1:14)....(2) It calls us to holiness of life: “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Pet. 1:15). (673)
FIFTH, it is a SOVEREIGN call of God. (674)
He has chosen to use His Word and Spirit, who convinces us of the divine authority of the written Word and who applies that Word to the hearts of the elect. (674)
When the Holy Spirit couples the invincible call of God with our external call of the
gospel according to the Word of God, sinners come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. (676)
FIRST, the invincible call of God convicts us of our sin and misery.
SECOND, the invincible call of God enlightens our minds in the knowledge of Christ.
THIRD, the invincible call of God renews and liberates our wills, persuading and enabling us to receive Christ as our Lord and Savior and to embrace Him as our prophet, priest and king.
In effectual calling God gives us the disposition, will, heart and unquenchable desire to bow to Christ in love, faith and submission: “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). (678)
If our understanding is not clear on this gracious aspect of the gospel, we will not be correct on any other aspect of it. For the material out of which the gospel is made is not woven but knit material— pull out one thread and the whole garment falls apart. (679)
The invincible call of God is that act of God in us whereby God brings all of His eternal plans and promises into our experience and individual, personal history. (680)
This Biblical truth of the invincible call of God is the nerve of Biblical evangelism. (680)
Belief in this doctrine will keep us from the common sin of presenting a minimal and superficial gospel watered down to make it more attractive and more acceptable to modern man. (680)
"Calling [is] the effect and evidence of election.… every one confirms his calling by leading a holy and pious life.… God effectually calls whom he has preordained to life in his secret counsel before the foundation of the world; and he also carries on the perpetual course of calling through grace alone. But as he has chosen us, and calls us for this end, that we may be pure and spotless in his presence; purity of life is not improperly called the evidence and proof of election, by which the faithful may not only testify to others that they are the children of God, but also confirm themselves in this confidence, in such a manner, however, that they fix their solid foundation on something else.… The import of what is said is, that the children of God are distinguished from the reprobate by this mark, that they live a godly and holy life, because this is the design and end of election [and of effectual calling].”
36. Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, 22 vols., ed. by Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979), 22:376–77 (682)
...how do we make our calling and election sure? First, by believing in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Second, by filling out our faith, furnishing it with Christian virtues. (683)
The same Bible that teaches us to believe in Divine predestination and the priority of regeneration to faith, also teaches us to believe in the free offer of the gospel. The Bible recognizes no conflict between them. Predestination is the guarantee that many will receive the free offer of the gospel. Regeneration and effectual calling enable sinners to receive the free offer of the gospel in faith and repentance. The free offer of the gospel is God’s way of maintaining His claims on the hearts and consciences of human beings, as well as being a constant reminder of man’s total accountability to God. The external, general call of the gospel to the world includes the free offer of the gospel to the world. (685)
By the phrase, “the free offer of the gospel,” we mean the following. (1) It is a FREE offer in that ALL who receive Christ, will be saved. There are no exceptions. It is by faith in Christ alone, and not by human merit or works. (2) It is a PERSONAL offer, in that it is addressed to everyone who hears it....(3) It is a REAL and SINCERE offer....(4) It is a COMMANDING offer (Luke 14:23; 1 John 2:23; John 6:29). The Westminster Confession (VII, iii) states that in the covenant of grace God freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, REQUIRING of them faith in Him, that they may be saved....(5) It is an URGENT and SOLEMN offer. (686-687)
The freeness and universality of the offers of the gospel of salvation are based on three truths:
(1) The unity of God: “Or is God the God of Jews only? Is HE not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one” (Rom. 3:29–30). God saves sinners in such a way as to show that He is the God of the whole world and not just a section of it. Because there is only one God, there is only one way of saving sinners—through faith in Christ.
(2) The universal lordship of Jesus Christ: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Rom. 10:12–13)....
(3) The richness of His grace: “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him” (Rom. 10:12). God is ready and willing to save abundantly all who come to Him through faith in Christ. There are no exceptions (Isa. 55:1–8). (687-688)