Posts Tagged ‘External Calling’

A Lesson to the Proud

Spurgeon 6Now, one or two lessons. A lesson to the proud. Come down, proud heard, come down! Mercy runneth in valleys, but it goeth not to the mountain top. Come down, come down, lofty spirit! The lofty city, he layeth it low even to the ground, and then he buildeth it up. Again, a lesson to thee poor despairing soul: I am glad to see thee in God’s house this morning; it is a good sign. I care not what you came for. You heard there was a strange kind of man that preached here, perhaps. Never mind about that. You are all quite as strange as he is. It is necessary that there should be strange men to gather in other strange men. Now, I have a mass of people here; and if I might use a figure, I should compare you to A great heap of ashes, mingled with which are a few steel filings. Now, my sermon if it be attended with divine grace, will be a sort of magnet: it will not attract any of the ashesthey will keep just where they are-but it will draw out the steel filings. I have got a Zaccheus there; there is a Mary up there, a John down there, a Sarah, or a William, or a Thomas, there-God’s chosen ones-they are steel filings in the congregation of ashes, and my gospel, the gospel of the blessed God, like a great magnet, draws them out of the heap. There they come, there they come. Why? because there was a magnetic power between the gospel and their hearts. Ah! poor sinner, come to Jesus, believe his love, trust his mercy. If thou hast a desire to come, if thou art forcing thy way through the ashes to get to Christ, then it is because Christ is calling thee. Oh! all of you who know yourselves to be sinners-every man, woman, and child of you yea, ye little children (for God has given me some of you to be my wages), do you feel yourselves sinners? then believe on Jesus and be saved. You have come here from curiosity, many of you. Oh! That you might be met with and saved. I am distressed for you lest you should sink into hell-fire. Oh! listen to Christ while he speaks to you. Christ says, “Come down,” this morning Go home and humble yourselves in the sight of God: go and confess your iniquities that you have sinned against him; go home and tell him that you are a wretch, undone without his sovereign grace; and then look to him, for rest assured he has first looked to you. You say, “Sir, oh! I am willing enough to be saved, but I am afraid he is not willing.” Stay! stay! no more of that! Do you know that is part blasphemy-not quite. If you were not ignorant, I would tell you that it was part blasphemy. You cannot look to Christ before he has looked to you. If you are willing to be saved, he gave you that will. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be baptized, and thou shalt be saved. I trust the Holy Spirit is calling you. Young man up there, young man in the window, make haste! come down! Old man, sitting in these pews, come down. Merchant in yonder aisle, make haste. Matron and youth, not knowing Christ, oh, may he look at you. Old grandmother, hear the gracious call; and thou, young lad, Christ may be looking at thee-I trust he is -and saying to thee, “Make haste, and come down, for today I must abide at thy house.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- Effectual Calling-A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856

Effectual Calling is an Abiding Call

February 29, 2016 Leave a comment

Spurgeon 6Again, it was not only an affectionate call, but it was an abiding call. To-day I must abide at thy house.” A common call is like this “To-day I shall walk in at thy house at one door, and out at the other.” The common call which is given by the gospel to all men is a call which operates upon them for a time, and then it is all over; but the saving call is an abiding call. When Christ speaks, he does not say, “Make haste, Zaccheus, and come down, for I am just coming to look in;” but “I must abide in thy house; I am coming to sit down to eat and drink with thee; I am coming to have a meal with thee; to-day I must abide in thy house.” “Ah!” says one, “you cannot tell how many times I have been impressed, sir, I have often had a series of solemn convictions, and I thought I really was saved, but it all died away; like a dream, when one awaketh, all hath vanished that he dreamed, so was it with me.” Ah! but poor soul, do not despair. Dost thou feel the strivings of Almighty grace within thine heart bidding thee repent to-day? If thou dost, it will be an abiding call. If it is Jesus at work in thy soul, he will come and tarry in thine heart, and consecrate thee for his own for ever. He says, “I will come and dwell with thee, and that for ever. I will come and say,

Here I will make my settled rest,
No more will go and come;
No more a stranger or a guest,
But master of this home.”

“Oh!” say you, “that is what I want; I want an abiding call, something that will last; I do not want a religion that will wash out, but a fast-color religion.” Well, that is the kind of call Christ gives. His ministers cannot give it; but when Christ speaks, he speaks with power, and says, “Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- Effectual Calling-A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856

Effectual Calling is a Hastening Call

Spurgeon 6Thirdly, it is a hastening call. “Zaccheus, make haste.” The sinner, when he is called by the ordinary ministry, replies, “To-morrow.” He hears a telling sermon, and he says, “I will turn to God by-and bye.” The tears roll down his cheek, but they are wiped away. Some goodness appears, but like the cloud of the morning it is dissipated by the sun of temptation. He says, “I solemnly vow from this time to be a reformed man. After I have once more indulged in my darling sin, I will renounce my lusts, and decide for God.” Ah! that is only a minister’s call, and is good for nothing. Hell, they say, is paved with good intentions. These good intentions are begotten by general calls. The road to perdition is laid all over with branches of the trees whereon men are sitting, for they often pull down branches from the trees but they do not come down themselves. The straw laid down before a sick man’s door causes the wheels to roll more noiselessly. So there be some who strew their path with promises of repentance, and so go more easily and noiselessly down to perdition. But God’s call is not a call for tomorrow. “To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts: as in the provocation, when your fathers tempted me “God’s grace always comes with despatch; and if thou art drawn by God, thou wilt run after God, and not be talking about delays. To-morrow-it is not written in the almanack of time. To-morrow-it is in Satan’s calendar, and nowhere else. To-morrow-it is a rock whitened by the bones of mariners who have been wrecked upon it; it is the wrecker’s light gleaming on the shore, luring poor ships to destruction. To morrow-it is the idiot’s cup which he fableth to lie at the foot of the rainbow, but which none hath ever found. To-morrow- it is the floating island of Loch Lomond, which none hath ever seen. To-morrow-it is a dream. To-morrow-it is a delusion. To-morrow, ay, to-morrow you may lift up your eyes in hell, being in torments. Yonder clock saith “to day;” thy pulse whispereth “to-day;” I hear my hears speak as it beats, and it says, “to-day; “everything crieth “to-day;” and the Holy Ghost is in union with these things, and saith, “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Sinners, are you inclined now to seek the Savior? are you breathing a prayer now? are you saying, “Now or never! I must be saved now?” If you are, then I hope it is an effectual call, for Christ, when he giveth an effectual call, says, “Zaccheus, make haste.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- Effectual Calling-A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856

Effectual Calling is a Personal Call

February 1, 2016 2 comments

SpurgeonNext it was a personal call. There were boys in the tree as well as Zaccheus but there was no mistake about the person who was called. It was, “Zaccheus, make haste and come down.” There are other calls mentioned in Scripture. It is said especially, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Now that is not the effectual call which is intended by the apostle, when he said, “Whom he called, them he also justified.” That is a general call which many men, yea, all men reject, unless there come after it the personal, particular call, which makes us Christians. You will bear me witness that it was a personal call that brought you to the Savior. It was some sermon which led you to feel that you were, no doubt, the person intended. The text, perhaps, was “Thou, God, seest me;” and the minister laid particular stress on the word “me,” so that you thought God’s eye was fixed upon you; and ere the sermon was concluded, you thought you saw God open the books to condemn you, and your heart whispered, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord.” You might have been perched in the window, or stood packed in the aisle; but you had a solemn conviction that the sermon was preached to you, and not to other people. God does not call his people in shoals but in units. “Jesus saith unto her, Mary; and she turned and said unto him Rabboni, which is to say, Master.” Jesus seeth Peter and John fishing by the lake and he saith unto them, “Follow me.” He seeth Matthew sitting at the table at the receipt of custom, and he saith unto him, “Arise, and follow me,” and Matthew did so. When the Holy Ghost comes home to a man. God’s arrow goes into his heart: it does not graze his helmet, or make some little mark upon his armor, but it penetrates between the joints of the harness, entering the marrow of the soul. Have you felt, dear friends, that personal call? Do you remember when a voice said, “Arise, he calleth thee.” Can you look back to some time when you said, “My Lord, my God?” when you knew the Spirit was striving with you, and you said, Lord, I come to thee, for I know that thou callest me.” I might call the whole of you through out eternity, but if God call one, there will be more effect through his personal call of one than my general call of multitudes.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Effectual Calling-A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856

Zaccheus and effectual calling

January 18, 2016 1 comment

CharlesSpurgeon“When Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house.”-Luke 19:5.

NOTWITHSTANDING our firm belief that you are in the main well instructed in the doctrines of the everlasting gospel, we are continually reminded in our conversation with young converts, how absolutely necessary it is to repeat our former lessons, and repeatedly assert and prove over and over again those doctrines which lie at the basis of our holy religion. Our friends, therefore, who have many years ago been taught the great doctrine of effectual calling, will believe that whilst I preach very simply this morning, the sermon is intended for those who are young in the fear of the Lord, that they may better understand this great starting point of God in the heart, the effectual calling of men by the Holy Spirit. I shall use the case of Zaccheus as a great illustration of the doctrine of effectual calling. You will remember the story. Zaccheus had a curiosity to see the wonderful man Jesus Christ, who was turning the world upside down, and causing an immense excitement in the minds of men. We sometimes find fault with curiosity and say it is sinful to come to the house of God from that motive; I am not quite sure that we should hazard such an assertion. The motive is not sinful, though certainly it is not virtuous; yet it has often been proved that curiosity is one of the best allies of grace. Zaccheus, moved by this motive, desired to see Christ; but there were two obstacles in the way: first, there was such a crowd of people that he could not get near the Savior; and again, he was so exceedingly short in stature that there was no hope of his reaching over people’s heads to catch a glimpse of him.

What did he do? He did as the boys were doing-for the boys of old times were no doubt just like the boys of the present age, and were perched up in the boughs of the tree to look at Jesus as be passed along. Elderly man though he is, Zaccheus jumps up, and there he sits among the children. The boys are too much afraid of that stern old publican whom their fathers dreaded, to push him down or cause him any inconvenience. See him there. With what anxiety he is peeping down to see which is Christ-for the Savior had no pompous distinction; no beadle is walking before him with a silver mace; he did not hold a golden crozier in his hand: he had no pontificial dress; in fact, he was just dressed like those around him. He had a coat like that of a common peasant, made of one piece from top to bottom; and Zaccheus could scarcely distinguish him. However, before he has caught a sight of Christ, Christ has fixed his eye upon him, and standing under the tree, he looks up, and says “Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” Down come. Zaccheus; Christ goes to his house; Zaccheus becomes Christ’s follower, and enters into the kingdom of heaven.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Effectual Calling-A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2-Chapter 4-The Effectual Call

September 4, 2015 Leave a comment


We are about to write upon one of the most neglected truths of the Bible. There was much said about it during the Puritan period, and later by Spurgeon and others, but today there is only a voice here and there dealing with this Bible doctrine. We dare say that nine out of ten church members would not even hazard a guess or opinion concerning this blessed truth.

The word “call” is sometimes used to express the act of naming, as, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus” (#Mt 1:21). At other times the word is employed to denote the act of inviting or summoning, as in #Lu 14:13: “When thou makest a feast, call the poor…”

When the word “call” is used for inviting, we must distinguish between a call that is not heeded and one that is successful or effectual- -one that is responded to. The chief aim of the gospel is to call men to salvation through faith in Christ. Now it is obvious that many such calls go unheeded, and men remain lost, notwithstanding plain preaching and urgent appeals. On the other hand, we see the preaching of the gospel effective in many cases—-we see lives transformed by it. We may see a lost man ignore and reject the gospel at one time, and then the next time or at some later time, he is saved by it. What makes the difference? The preacher? No, for it may be the same preacher in both instances. Is the difference in the gospel? No, for it is the very same gospel in each case. The difference is made by the Holy Spirit in His light-giving and life-giving power. When the gospel is preached “in word only,” that is, without the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, the sinner remains spiritually dead, and will be either indifferent or antagonistic to the gospel call.

The effectual call is just about equivalent to regeneration. In #Ro 8:30 we are given the chain of Divine acts in salvation: “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” It is to be noted that “called” is used rather than “regenerated,” Christians are often denominated “the called,” as well as “the born again.”


There are two calls from God to men. One is the general call and goes to all who hear the gospel with the physical organ of hearing; the other is special and effects the salvation of those whom it is given. Men come into a saved state by this divine call. Men are saints by calling. Paul addresses the saints at Rome and Corinth as those “called to be saints.” Paul preached the gospel indiscriminately to Jews and Greeks at Corinth. To the natural Jew it was a scandal, and to the natural Greek it was foolishness, “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (#1Co 1:24). It was only the called among both groups who saw the power and wisdom of God in the plan of salvation through the crucified Christ.

Let us look at some Scriptures that speak of a general call. In #Pr 1:24 God says: “I have called and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand and no man regarded.” This call was externally made by God through the prophets, and was universally ignored—-no man regarded. In #Mt 22:14 we read, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Here is a call that came to a greater number than was chosen and saved. In the parable of the great supper, recorded in Luke 14, none of those who had been invited came-they all with one consent began to make excuse.

Now let us consider some Scriptures that speak of a special and effectual call. In #Ro 8:28 we are told that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Here “the called” means more than “the invited,” for many are invited to come to Christ who never come and hence are not saved, and to whom all things do not work together for good. In #Ro 8:30 we read that the called are also justified. But many are called by the preaching of the gospel who are not justified. Paul is writing about a call that is effectual in salvation when he says in #1Co 1:26 “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” In #2Pe 1:10 we are exhorted “to make our calling and election sure.” In all these passages, calling is more than a mere outward invitation to believe the gospel.


1. It is subjective or internal.

There is an outward or objective call in which the gospel is presented or offered to the sinner. The subjective or internal call is made within the sinner. In this call grace operates on the mind and heart. In this call the Spirit compels them to come in; not by forcing the will, but by changing the mind and heart—-by changing the governing disposition of the soul—-so that they become willing. Bancroft defines the effectual call in these words: “By the effectual invitation or call is meant that exercise of Divine power upon the soul, immediate, spiritual, and supernatural, which communicates a new spiritual life, and thus makes a new mode of spiritual activity possible. Repentance, faith, trust, hope, and love, are purely and simply the sinner’s own acts; but as such are possible to him only in virtue of the change wrought in the moral condition of his faculties by the re-creative power of God.”

2. It is a special call.

There is a general call whenever and wherever the gospel is preached. God is sincere in this call, and the sinner is responsible to heed it, but the fact is he never does. The special call is something over and beyond the preaching of the gospel. The special call is made to those who are denominated sheep, elect, predestinated, and is always effective Christ said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (#Joh 10:27,28). And speaking of the lost sheep among the Gentiles, He said, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice” (#Joh 10:16). Paul recognized the elect when the “gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost” (#1Th 1:5).

Bunyan illustrates the difference between the general and the special call by the barnyard hen. She has a general cluck to which little attention is given, and she has a special cluck for her babies when the hawk is about to swoop down upon them the cluck that brings them flying to find protection under her wings. So God has a special call that brings His lost sheep to find shelter and safety beneath the spreading wings of Calvary.

Spurgeon finds an illustration of this special call in the physical resurrection of Lazarus. He says that if our Lord had not addressed Lazarus personally, saying, “Lazarus come forth,” all the dead would have lived at His command.

Our Lord makes a distinction between the spiritual and physical resurrections in #Joh 5:25,28,29. He is speaking of the spiritual resurrection when He says: :”The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” He is speaking of the bodily resurrection when He says: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves, shall hear his voice. And shall come forth…”

3. It is a miraculous and invincible call.

Peter says it is a call “out of darkness into his marvelous light” (#1Pe 2:9). Christ says that it is a call that makes the dead to live. This call has the power of God behind it. It is the mighty Spirit of God working in grace to make the sinner see his helpless state and the value of the blood of Christ. To successfully resist this call would mean that the sinner is mightier than God. There was death and corruption in Lazarus to keep him from responding to Christ’s command to come forth. But there was power from God that overcame all natural obstacles. There is likewise much in the sinner to resist the Gospel call, but in the effecutal call of the Spirit this resistance is overcome. The effectual call is a Divine call that startles the careless sinner into concern; a call that enlightens the sin- darkened understanding; a call that opens the sin-closed heart to receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. Apart from the work of the Spirit the word of the Spirit will be rejected. Unless the Holy Spirit creates light within the soul, the light within the Book will not be seen. The power of conversion is not in the inspiration of perspiration of the preacher, but in the illumination and regeneration of the Spirit.

The outward call of the gospel by the preacher may be likened to the law indicting the criminal and calling him to trial; the special call is the sheriff coming in contact with the criminal, arresting him and bringing him into court. The criminal’s refusal to submit to arrest is no proof that he is superior to the law; but if the law is unable to bring him into court, that would be proof that he is stronger than the law. Now when the preacher calls upon sinners to repent and believe the gospel and they refuse, this does not indicate that the sinner is stronger than God. But if the Holy Spirit calls him—-comes to grip with his darkened mind to give light—-come to work repentance and faith in him-come to give him a new birth—-and does not succeed, then that would be proof that the sinner was stronger than God, the Holy Spirit. Human depravity is too much for the preacher, but not too much for the Holy Spirit. This is why we pray for God to convert the sinner when we have preached to him.

The general call is like the father calling Johnny to get up early in the morning. He says “okay doke,” turns over and goes back to sleep. The call did not bring him out; it had no effect on him. The special call is the father coming in thirty minutes later. He pulls the cover off and puts on the cowhide. This is effectual and brings Johnny out.

B.H. Carroll likens the general call to sheet lightning which is beautiful and grand, but strikes nothing; the special call is like forked lightning, it strikes somewhere.


1. Human depravity—the condition of fallen human nature makes a special and supernatural call necessary for the conversion of the sinner. Man by nature has his understanding darkened by sin, his heart is hard, and his mind is enmity against God. If the sinner loved God and understood the gospel, he would at once, on hearing the gospel, lovingly and gladly respond to the good news about Christ as the Saviour. But he must undergo a change of mind and heart before he will receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. And this change is not self-wrought, but God-wrought. Paul told Timothy to preach in the hope that “God peradventure will give them repentance (change of mind) to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will,” (#2Ti 2:25-26).

2. This special call of the Holy Spirit is necessary because the gospel call—the word only—is not sufficient for the conversion of the lost man. “Knowing, brethren, beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost…” (#1Th 1:4-5). Bunyan says “I believe that, to effectual calling, the Holy Ghost must accompany the word of the gospel, and that with mighty power.” The gospel is suitable and sufficient as the means of conversion, but there must also be an agent with power to effect it. There must be the Divine workman as well as Divine equipment. The word is said to be the sword of the Spirit. In the call that goes unheeded we have the gospel and the preacher; in the effectual call we have the gospel, the preacher, and the Holy Spirit. And it is the Holy Spirit who makes the gospel effective in the conversion of the sinner.


The effectual call—-the call of the Holy Spirit—-the call that secures salvation—in every case is made in pursuance of God’s eternal purpose. In #Ro 8:28 this call is said to be “according to his purpose”. And #2Ti 1:9 is to the same effect: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Salvation is not an accident—-it is not a chance happening—-but the coming to pass of God’s eternal purpose in Christ. The effectual call is the divine act by which the foreknown are brought into a saved state. It is the inaugural of the elect; the induction into saintship. Salvation is of the Lord, and every Christian should ascribe his conversion to the work of the Holy Spirit. Every Christian is a God made man, and therefore, a grace made man, since he has not merited salvation. It is God who has made us to differ from the lost, therefore, we can humbly and gratefully say with Isaac Watts:

“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room;
When others make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?
T’was the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly forced us in;
Else we had still refused to taste
And perished in our sins.”

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2

Chapter 31-Outward and Effectual Calling

July 30, 2014 1 comment

Outward and Effectual Calling


The atoning work of Christ was not sufficient for the salvation of man.

That work was only Godward, and removed only all the obstacles in the way of God’s pardon of the sinner.

But the sinner is also at enmity with God, and must be brought to accept salvation, and must learn to love and serve God.

The first step here is to make known to man the gospel, which contains the glad tidings of this salvation, under such influences as ought to lead to its acceptance.

The Gospel is, therefore, commanded to be proclaimed to every creature, inasmuch as there is in the work of Christ a means of redemption for every one.

This is the external call of the Gospel.

This proclamation, however, meets with no success because of the willful sinfulness of man, although, in itself, it has all the elements which should secure its acceptance.

God knowing that this is true, not only of all mankind in general, but even of the elect whom he purposes to save in Christ, gives to these such influences of the Spirit as will lead to their acceptance of the call. This is called Effectual Calling.

1. The Gospel is commanded to be preached to all. This is proved

(1.) By such passages as show that the outward privileges of God’s word are no longer to be confined to Israel, but are to be extended to the Gentiles also. This had been foretold in prophecy.

Gen. 18:18; 26:4; Psalm 2:8; Isa. 42:1-4; 49:6, 7, 8; 55:5; 60:3; 65:1-12; Jer. 16:19; Mal. 1:11.

It is also taught in the New Testament in various ways.

Matt. 8:11-13; 12:18-21; 21:33-41; 22:1; 28:19; Mark 12:1-9; Luke 4:20-27; 14:16-24; 20:9-16; John 3:16; 4:20, 21, 39.

(2.) By the history of the extension of this gospel to the Gentiles by the Apostles and their contemporaries, who so preached it, as to show that the Gentiles were not first to become Jews in order to be made partakers of that gospel.

Acts 10th Chapter. Peter sent to Cornelius.

Acts 11:1-18. Peter’s report of that visit.

Acts 11:19-30. The gospel sent to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch.

Acts 13th Chapter. The labors of Paul and his companions.

Acts 15th Chapter. The conference at Jerusalem.

Rom. 1:13-16, and generally the whole of the epistle and of Paul’s other epistles to the churches, especially Galatians.

The above two classes of passages serve to show how the universal preaching of the gospel was impressed upon the early Christians, and consequently that they would be led to give full meaning to other unlimited expressions.

(3.) By such passages as directed the gospel to be preached to all. Mark 16:15; Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13.

(4.) By such as show the freeness with which salvation was offered to all as individuals. Acts 2:39; 11:14; 16:31; 2 Cor. 5:19-21; 1 Tim. 1:15; Tit. 2:11; Rev. 22:17.

(5.) The restrictions which separated the Jews and the Gentiles being removed, the universal offers of salvation made previously to the Jews, may now be applied to all men in general. Isaiah 1:18; 55:1-7; Ezek. 18:21, 32; 33:11.

(6.) The language of Christ to those to whom he spake may also be thus applied. Matt. 11:28; John 7:37.

The above classes of passages show that this call of the gospel is made indiscriminately to all men. No differences of nation, or class, or condition; no question as to election, or non-election, nor as to the purpose to make it effectual, enters into this call. It is made to every one. Nothing is known to those who are to proclaim the gospel which can make its offer to one any more sincere than to another. Whatever differences men may make from personal feeling, or national sympathy, or local attachment, are not only not commanded by it, but are often inconsistent with it.

2. This offer of the gospel meets of itself with no success.

(1.) The testimony of all who have preached it has been that, without special influence of grace from God, the preaching has been in vain. The prayers made to God constantly for such aid furnish universal evidence of such convictions.

(2.) The same testimony is as universally given by those who have received the gospel. Each one ascribes his salvation to the special influences of God.

(3.) This also is the teaching of the Scriptures which declare this fact. Eph. 2:8, is only a specimen of the universal teaching, which will appear more fully elsewhere.

3. This failure is not due to any deficiency in the gospel.

(1.) None can doubt the fullness of the scheme of redemption contained.

(2.) None can question the facts as to personal sin and need of Christ which are made known.

(3.) None can deny the freeness with which it is offered.

(4.) No one can deny that he is one of those to whom it is offered.

(5.) All persons admit that God will give it to any who will forsake sin and strive to lead a new life trusting him for help.

(6.) Every one is convinced that he can turn away from all acts of sin and live the contrary life of holiness and obedience, if he will.

(7.) It is universally acknowledged that God is worthy to be believed in every statement he makes.

It is because of the above and kindred facts that our Lord says: John 12:48. “The word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

4. The Scriptures teach us why this word is rejected. It is not from want of evidence, nor from intellectual doubt, but always because of something sinful, either in the heart or will.

Some of the reasons which the Scriptures thus give are presented in Hill’s Bible Readings, p. 99, as follows:

(1.) Pride, which may be national, Matt. 3:9; John 8:33; Acts 13:45; 17:5; 22:21, 22; intellectual, Matt. 11:25; John 9:39-41; Rom. 1: 21, 22; 1 Cor. 1:19-21; or social, John 7:48.

(2.) Self-righteousness. Mark 2:16; Luke 7:39; 18:10-14; Rom. 10:3.

(3.) Love of praise. John 5:44; 12:43.

(4.) Love of the world. 2 Tim. 4:10; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15.

(5.) Love of money. Mark 10:17-24; Luke 16:13, 14; 1 Tim. 6:9, 10.

(6.) Cares of the world. Matt. 13:7-22; Luke 10:40.

(7.) Fear of man. John 7:13; 9:22; 12:42.

(8.) Worldly self-interest. Mark 5:16, 17; John 11:48.

(9.) Unwillingness to separate from impenitent friends. Luke 9:59-62.

(10.) Unwillingness to believe what they cannot understand. John 3:9; 6:52-60; Acts 17:32; 1 Cor. 2:14.

(11.) Unwillingness to have their sins exposed. John 3:19-20.

(12.) Unwillingness to submit to God’s authority. Luke 19:14; 20:9-18.

(13.) Prejudice against the messenger. Matt. 12:24; 13:57; John 1:46; 6:42; 7:52; 9:29.

(14.) Spiritual blindness. Matt. 13:15; 1 Cor. 2:14.

(15.) Unfaithfulness to the light which they had. John 12:36.

(16.) Waiting for a convenient season. Acts 24:25.

(17.) Frivolous excuses. Luke 14:18.

(18.) Lack of deep convictions. Matt. 13:5; 22:5.

(19.) Lack of earnestness. Luke 13:24.

(20.) Neglect of the Bible. Luke 24:25; John 5:39; 7:27; Acts 17:11-12.

(21.) Neglect of religious meetings. John 20:24.

(22.) Blindness to special opportunities. Luke 19:44.

(23.) Desire for special signs. Matt. 12:38, 39; 16:1-4; John 6:30; 1 Cor. 1:22.

(24.) Regard for human traditions. Matt. 15:9; Mark 2:23-28.

(25.) Insincerity. Matt. 15:7-8; 21:25-31; Acts 24:26.

(26.) A controversial spirit. Matt. 22:15-40.

(27.) A murmuring spirit. Matt. 25:24.

(28.) Having no desire for God. John 5:42; Rom. 1:28.

(29.) Hatred of God and of Christ. John 15:22-25.

(30.) Hatred of the truth. Acts 7:51-54; 2 Thess. 2:10-12; 2 Tim. 4:3.

(31.) The power of the devil. Matt. 13:4-19; John 8:44; 2 Cor. 4:3, 4.

5. The offer of the gospel thus referred to is denominated the External Call.

It is made to man through the senses, and consists in a declaration of the nature of salvation and an offer of it upon the conditions of faith and repentance. It is enforced by statements as to the sinful condition of man and his need of a Saviour; by the command of God to repent and believe; and by exhortations and threats, as inducements to the acceptance of salvation through it. It is spoken of in the Scriptures, as a call, in passages which have no reference to its becoming effectual, and in some which contrast it with the effectual calling of others. Prov. 1:24; Isa. 65:12; Matt. 9:13.

6. But, in contrast with this usage, is the more common one, by which the called in the Scriptures are those who are actually brought to the reception of the truth and participation in salvation.

(1.) In those passages which speak to church members of their calling as something different from the mere outward call. Rom. 8:30; 9:11-24; 1 Cor. 1:9-26; Gal. 1:6-15; 1 Thess. 2:12; 5:24; 2 Thess. 2:14; Eph. 1:18; 4:1-4, 5; 2 Tim. 1:9; Heb. 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:9; 5:10; 2 Pet. 1:3-10.

(2.) Christian believers are spoken of as the called. Rom. 1:6; 8:28; 1 Cor. 1:24; Heb. 9:15; Rev. 17:14.

7. The effectual call of these is due to the purpose and act of God. Matt. 11:25; Rom. 8:29, 30; Rom. 9:15, 16; 1 Cor. 1:26-31.

8. The agent by which this is accomplished is the Holy Spirit by whose influences the saved are led to the exercise of repentance and faith. John 6:44, 46; 1 Thess. 1:5, 6.

9. Such an agency is necessary to overcome the moral condition of man as “blind” and “dead in trespasses and sins.” 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:1, 5

10. In connection with this doctrine of the Effectual Calling of some, has arisen a question as to the sincerity of God in making the outward call to those who do not accept. It is said that the fact that it is made by him, knowing that men will not accept it without his efficient grace, and yet not purposing to give that grace, argues insincerity in the offer.

To this the following replies may be made:

(1.) If it be true that he does make the outward call, and does not give to all, but to some only, the efficient grace, the very character of God is an assurance of his sincerity. The real question here, then, is an inquiry into these two facts. If they be taught in the Scriptures, it is impious and blasphemous to doubt God’s sincerity.

(2.) This inquiry would never have arisen, had God only made the general offer and left all men to perish in its rejection. But, if so, his additional grace to some does not in any respect argue his insincerity in the partial grace thus shown to others.

(3.) The very nature of the gospel offer, as before stated, shows God’s sincerity. It is one which has all the inducements for its acceptance which one can imagine, and that acceptance depends simply upon the willingness of each man to take it.

(4.) Lest any should doubt the sincerity of God, he assures us of that fact in his word. Paul describes him, 1 Tim. 2:4, as one “who willeth that all men should be saved.” God himself says, Ezek. 33:10, 11: “And thou, son of man, say unto the house of Israel: Thus ye speak, saying, Our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we pine away in them; how then should we live? Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”

Compare this with Heb. 6:13-18: “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And thus, having patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men swear by the greater; and in every dispute of theirs the oath is final for confirmation. Wherein God, being minded to show more abundantly unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”

11. The attempt has been made by Lutheran theologians, and adopted by some others, to harmonize the sincerity of God’s External Call with the salvation of some only, by supposing that God gives equally to all his Spirit, which makes salvation effectual in some, but that those who reject the gospel resist the Spirit given to them, and thus refuse, while the others yield to it, and thus are saved. They say, therefore, that it is thus true that all have the Spirit equally, and yet that the salvation of the saved may be said to be by the grace of God.

The natural objection to this explanation is that not only is the salvation of men ascribed to grace, but to grace alone, to the exclusion of all merit and work. See Rom. 3:27 to 4:25; 9:11 and Gal. 2:16. But if some do not resist and others do, however much of grace there is, there is certainly some merit in those not resisting by which they can boast over others who resisted. Notice especially Rom. 4:16: “For this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace; to the end that the promise may be sure to all the seed.”

Another objection is that the salvation of the saved is distinctly based in the word of God on the Election of some: “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Eph. 1:4, 5, 6.


Rev. James Petigru Boyce, D. D., LL. D.,–Abstract of Systematic Theology–First published in 1887