If regeneration (spiritual rebirth) can be compared to the planting of the seed of the new resurrection life of Jesus Christ in our hearts, then calling can be compared to the rain and sunshine that fall on that seed and cause it to grow and bear fruit.
The calling is sometimes referred to as the "efficacious calling." This only means that the calling is a powerful work of God that always brings about the desired effect, i.e., salvation. Efficacious calling is really the same as "irresistible grace."
When we speak of the calling in the order of salvation, therefore, we are referring not to the preaching of the gospel through which that call comes and which is heard without saving power by many. Matthew 20:16 uses the word "called" in that sense. But we are referring to the work of Spirit in the hearts of those God has chosen by which the preaching of the gospel brings them to and keeps them in salvation.
That needs emphasis. The efficacious calling does not just bring a person to salvation. It also brings about His whole salvation. It calls him powerfully and irresistibly to repentance (Matt. 9:13), faith (Rom. 10:17), holiness (I Thess. 4:7), fellowship with Christ (I Cor. 1:9), liberty (Gal. 5:13), assurance (Eph. 4:4), and finally also to glory with Christ (I Pet. 5:10, Rev. 19:9). The call, therefore, must come all our life and not just as call to holiness and assurance, but also as a call to repentance and faith. As long as we sin and are weak in faith we must be called to repentance and faith.
We say this to counter the notion that is around today. Many seem to have the idea that the efficacious call is only for the unsaved, so that often the minister has no call - nothing to say - to those who have already been saved, though they are as greatly in need of the calling as the rest.
But we wish especially to emphasize that it is Christ who calls (Jn. 10:3, 16, 27) with the voice of Almighty God (Rom. 4:17). By the work of the Spirit that call is applied to the hearts of some so that they hear Christ calling, know His voice and come to Him as sheep to their Shepherd. Is not that wonderful?
And, as John 10:3 says, "He calleth his sheep by name!" The call is not general, but very specific. It implies that Christ already knows His sheep. And indeed He does, for they were given Him by the Father before the foundations of the world (Jn. 10:29).
In calling His sheep by name, however, they do not hear their natural names, Mary or William, or whatever their given names might be. They hear their spiritual names - the names they have received by the very first work of God's grace in their hearts: names such as Willing one, Thirsty One (Rev. 22:17), Hungry One (Isa. 55:1), Labouring and Burdened One (Matt. 11:28).
Indeed it is the calling that makes them hungry, thirsty, burdened by sin and guilt and finally willing also. That is why it is referred to as the efficacious call. Christ's word in the calling is a creative word that brings into existence the thing called for.
What a blessing and a joy, then, to hear Christ's voice calling, and to know that He calls to Himself. Have you so heard Him?
- Volume: 5
- Issue: 3
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
Address13823 Clear Lake Rd.
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