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.”
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