Ordo Salutis: God’s Call

When I say Gospel Call, what do you think of? You may think of a great Evangelist or maybe an old school altar call. But really the Gospel call goes much, much deeper than just one man preaching truth. The Gospel Call is something that shakes us to the core of our being, and is a call not of man, but of the King of the Universe.

Can I Get An Amen?

I grew up in a Reformed church. Now, while I love my local church and love my Reformed theology, I am fascinated more by Pentecostal services. While I would never fit in at a Pentecostal church, the preaching at these kind of services amaze me. I can almost guarantee that there will be somebody on a piano ready to play when the preacher starts yelling, and the people will rise up and they will all be clapping and shouting “Amen!”. I love these churches because they are so vibrant and alive that you can feel the energy.

A lot of the preachers at these kind of churches are known for something called ‘call and response preaching’. In this they will say things like “Can I get an Amen?” or “Lift your hands to God’s glory!”, and the audience will reply, naturally, with an Amen and lifting their hands. Now, as I was recently watching one of these kind of services online, I began thinking of the Gospel Call. I began thinking of this ‘call and response’ that God gives to us. As I began to workout this analogy I began seeing where it broke down, namely, in the response.

The Missing Link

The main scripture I want to look at today is Romans 8:28-30.

“28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

This passage is very important not only to this one topic, but to this series as a whole. Here we see a Biblical order for how Salvation works out. So when we talk about our Ordo Salutis, I believe all conversations should begin here. Now, also in this passage we see something very important, the call in verse 30. Here Paul says that all who are Predestined, are called. Now we need to remember that we have been Predestined to be objects of God’s saving grace. But how does this work out? How does this theoretical Predestination translate to something that is practical and tangible? The answer, is the call.

Paul says all those who are called, are justified. Eventually we will get to the topic of Justification, where I can give a full explanation of and implication of the topic, but for now I believe a simple definition will suffice. Justification is an act of God where God the Father pardons, accepts, and declares righteous a sinner on behalf of Christ’s righteousness.  So, what Paul says is the link between the Predestining of sinners to be Justified and the actual Justification of the sinners, is the calling of said sinners.

The Tale of Two Calls

Let us pause for a moment and just define what in the world we are talking about. Ok, before I can define what a call is, you need to grab hold of a theological concept, that is the idea of the difference between The Gospel Call and God’s Effective Call.

The Gospel Call is pretty self explanatory. When someone is sharing the Gospel, it should always end in a call. Imagine if an evangelist got up at a revival conference, and he shared the Gospel. He explains God and His holiness, then he shows how man was created in the image of God and how we as a race had committed acts of Cosmic Treason called sin. He preaches the need of humanity for a Savior from our sin, and how God sent his Son to die and rise again for our sin, then the evangelist walked off the stage. The entire message would be almost pointless. Unless the Gospel is accompanied by a call for response then really, what was the point? The Gospel Call is when someone is called by a Preacher to be saved, but God’s Effective Call is above and beyond that.

God’s Effective Call is the call used upon the Elect at the point of salvation, this call that is not only a proposition, but a command. We see this here in Romans 8:30. You will recall that the call is the link between predestination and justification. Here’s what I need you to see: all those who are called are justified. We clearly are talking about God’s effective call here. God is not playing around with this call, this one is used on the elect, those whom God chose. Those who experience God’s Effective Call are those who will be saved. This call is not going to come back void, because it comes from the very throne of the universe.

What’s The Point?

Why should we study this idea of a effectual call? What’s even the point of this post? Let me give you two reasons.

1. It’s in the Bible.

Use this as a general rule: If it’s in the Bible, it’s important. You don’t get to decide what to study and what not to study in the Bible. It’s in there for a reason. I’ve heard some say that on subjects like this that are particularly divisive, we shouldn’t focus too much on them because people can get offended. That is a horrific thing to say! Look, if we took all the offensive stuff out of the Bible there wouldn’t be anything left to read. Also, if it’s a point of confusion among Christians, than all the more reason to study it! So we can help out our brothers and sisters in Christ.

2. Encouragement To Evangelize

There’s a saying I hear all the time, “Work like an Arminian, sleep like a Calvinist”. I think that might be one of the most misinformed things I have ever heard. I hate it because it connotates that Calvinist take it easy on evangelism, which is a particularly heinous thing to say when the truth is the exact opposite. I want to work and sleep like a Calvinist. I want to work so that I know that my work won’t be in vain, and that all those who can be saved will be. It also humbles us in evangelism because we know that it’s not our preaching that convinces people, but God’s call. As Mark Driscoll puts it, “You only have access to people’s ears, but the Holy Spirit has access to people’s hearts.”

Irresistible?

The obvious question with the idea of God’s Effective Call is this: Does man have a choice? Is there even an option on refusing God’s call? Refusing God’s grace? And if they can’t, wouldn’t that make people just puppets, with no real love at all?

An answer is needed and will be given. That is what I endeavor to answer with my post on Regeneration next week.

-The Ransomed Sinner

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Ordo Salutis: Election

Calvin

Election is easily one of the hottest debate topics in all of Christianity. I’m going to put my opinion out there now, just to get it out of the way. I’m a full-on Five Point Calvinist. I am very much Reformed in my soteriology, really past the point of no return. Now, I don’t want to spend this post defending nor arguing for Calvinism. The whole point of this series isn’t to prove my Order of Salvation is better than yours, but rather to remember how salvation is God’s act of glorifying himself. Predestination is not special in this regard. I want to stand aside, set my opinions aside, and let God’s glory shine through what I write.

What Election Really Is

Many people (Arminians in particular, but not just them) often have a misconception of how I view election. People throw all kinds of accusations at Calvinist that aren’t even true. So I would like to take a brief moment and talk about what Election really is not.

Let’s blast before we build. Election is not an abolition of free will. Election is not a free license to sin without ever truly repentance. Election is not God choosing people to go to hell.  Many will often say that holding to predestination makes Calvinist’s cold-hearted and that we play, what my favorite preacher calls, “Duck-Duck-Damnation”, where we don’t evangelize to lost people. Sadly, this is slandering our point of view by saying that we are dangerous, and that our doctrine is hateful and cruel. That isn’t even close to what the truth is.

Now that we’ve blasted, we can build! Election is God’s sovereign choosing of people to be objects of his saving grace. It’s important to remember our situation when God saves us. We are not naturally good. Rather we are the exact opposite. We are horrifically sinful, evil, and utterly horrendous people! As I said, election is not an abolition of free will, but rather our will leads us not towards God but in opposite direction towards hell. God then sees us running towards hell and instead of letting us perish and die forever like we deserve, He instead is so amazing, so insanely loving, so filled with grace, that He is willing to choose and save those who despise him and spit in his face. And that is the heart and motive in Election. Not some cold-hearted, cruel, loveless salvation, but the exact opposite! The fact that God is  willing to look at us and say “Mine” when all we do is rebel against him, I can do nothing but worship him; this is what election is all about.

What Election Is All About

Now that we know what we’re even talking about, let’s look at God’s amazing work of election that shows his Glory ever so brightly and lovely. Let’s examine the beginning of Ephesians 1:

4 even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.

Let’s take this nice and slow. God (He in verse 4) chose us before the world began. Typically what happens is the Calvinist will stop after the foundations of the world part and just keep on debating. I say that because I have done it. It is so easy to get caught up in the argument, to forget what God’s reason behind predestination is. And here in Ephesians we see three of his reasons.

JLY

1. Love: God’s love is one of the most cliched attributes of God. We have said ‘Jesus loves you’ so many times that it has become waves against a rock; there’s no effect. We need to stop for a second and consider this. Jesus loves you. The almighty, self-sufficient, holy, all-knowing God of the universe loves you. It becomes extremely personal with predestination, because God chooses you, specifically you. Not because of anything you’ve done, but completely out of grace. Grace is key here, because then and only then can we understand the glory of God. Whenever I read verses on predestination it strikes me how often the love and grace of God are so closely tied to election. I’ll give you an example. In Malachi 1:2-3 when God says that he loves Israel, and they question His love, He goes to His sovereign choice over who His people would be. It says ““I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated.” The incredible emphasis of the text is that it is entirely in God’s hands who he chooses to love. Of course this opens up questions over how God can be said to be selective in his love with one verse and seemingly universal in others (such as John 3:16) and that is an important topic that will be addressed elsewhere. For here though we must rest, as Christians, in the incredible truth that God has decided to love us and that choice was entirely his. Both Ephesians 1 and Malachi 1 show this breathtaking truth clearly.  This isn’t a point to defend predestination, rather God uses it to defend His love! Jesus loves you! Praise Him for his love!

2. Adoption: Now I don’t want to spend too much on this point, as I am hoping not to spoil the forthcoming post on adoption, but a word on it is needed here. God doesn’t just elect us to be some faceless number in his Kingdom, but rather to be a beloved member of His family (Galatians 3:26). God is so amazing, that He goes beyond dying for us (which is far beyond what we even deserve) , but now he makes us part of His own family! We are now heirs of the kingdom, to one day be allowed to glorify Him in His presence (Galatians 4:7)! I want to plant a thought in your head to ponder until I write on adoption again, and that is this: why are there genealogies in the Bible? Why did God think it needed to list names in the Bible that no one can pronounce, and these people are never mentioned again? Think about it.

3. His Glorious Grace: Oh the glories of God’s grace! That we mere mortals that rebel day and night against the almighty, holy God, could taste the sweetness of grace. The Gospel is the full expression of all of God’s attributes. There we see God’s sovereignty, God’s glory, God’s mercy, God’s justice, and the most amazing of them all, His Glorious Grace. Why do we deserve this? We don’t! Plain and simple! We deserve death and punishment for what we have done. That’s the glory in God’s Glorious Grace. That He loves us just the way we are and is willing to die for us while we are still sinners. Thanks and praise be to him! Never cease to think of God’s Glorious Grace! Go forth and praise his name, making his name great in all nations. Thank God for His Glorious Grace.

-The Ransomed Sinner