f The Wittenberg Door: The Gospel Call

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Gospel Call

When thinking of salvation, it is appropriate to step back and understand that salvation is the work of the Trinity. In eternity past, the Father marked out those who would be saved (election). At the appointed time, the Son came into the world and secured the redemption of His people. Finally, the Spirit, working through the word, applies that redemption to the elect. A key part of this process is the gospel call, which takes two forms.

The general (or external) call

We find in Scripture that the gospel call is distributed indiscriminately. This call to repentance and faith goes out to all hearers. The great Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon was once asked why he didn’t preach to the elect only. His response is reported to have been, “If I know the elect had yellow stripes down their backs, I would be running around London lifting up shirts.” The elect is known only to God. Thus those responding to the Great Commission proclaim Christ to all.

This external call includes (1.) A declaration of the plan of salvation. (2.) The promise of God to save all who accede to the terms of that plan. (3.) Command, exhortation, and invitation to all to accept of the offer mercy. (4.) An exhibition of the reasons which should constrain men to repent and believe, and thus escape from the wrath to come. All this is included in the gospel. For the gospel is a revelation of God's plan of saving sinners . . . This call is universal in the sense that it is addressed to all men indiscriminately to whom the gospel is sent. It is confined to no age, nation, or class of men. It is made to the Jew and Gentile, to Barbarians and Scythians, bond and free; to the learned and to the ignorant; to the righteous and to the wicked; to the elect and to the non-elect.

Charles Hodge (1797-1878)

For many are called, but few are chosen

Matthew 22:14

5) "The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up.

6) "Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.

7) "Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.

8) "Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great." As He said these things, He would call out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

11) "Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God.

Luke 8:5-8, 11

The Effectual (or inward) call

For the elect, a special inward call from the Holy Spirit accompanies the general call. This call brings the sinner, who is dead in his sins (Gen. 2:16–17, 3:1–7; Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1–3; Col. 2:13), to life. By this work of the Spirit, through the word, faith is granted to the sinner—he is enabled to believe all that is promised in the gospel.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins

Ephesians 2:1

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God

Ephesians 2:8

--The Catechizer

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