Column: The Doctrine of Salvation: The Gospel Call—Part 1

Published 1:02 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Hank Walker | Pastor at Peach City Fellowship

In our examination of the first “step” of God’s “Order of Salvation,” we saw divine ELECTION defined as: “God’s sovereign prerogative over whom He chooses to save.” Yet, we know that God does not simply “zap” His chosen ones with salvation; He uses the “means” of the Word and a herald/evangel to CALL people to eternal life. While Paul laid that responsibility squarely upon God’s shoulders—“Those whom He (God) predestined He also CALLED; and those whom He CALLED He also justified” (Romans 8:30)—he made it clear that to be saved, people must “hear,” and that requires that someone be “sent” with the “good news” (Romans 10:14-15).

To understand the divine CALL, we must first distinguish between the EXTERNAL and INTERNAL/EFFECTUAL calls. The former is simply the proclamation of the gospel to whoever will listen. Since we aren’t privy to who God’s elect/chosen ones are, we “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). The external call, then, is universal.

The internal/effectual call is entirely different. When the gospel is proclaimed, it usually falls on spiritually deaf ears. It takes a work by God the Spirit to enliven a sinner’s ears. Paul described this dynamic well when he told the Corinthian church, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). This is what Jesus meant when He explained to Nicodemus that the Holy Spirit brings about the new birth internally and invisibly: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So, it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:6-8). Just as we contributed nothing to our physical births, we cannot simply “decide” to be spiritually “born again.”

Next time, we will look at what makes up the external call of “the GOSPEL.” After that, we will look at what happens to a person when the Holy Spirit calls internally/effectually.

Grace and peace, y’all! Soli Deo Gloria