We continue to work our way through Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology and we are currently on chapter 33, The Gospel Call and Effective Calling.
How do people become Christians? Simple…the Gospel. It is through the proclamation of the Gospel that people repent of their sins and put their faith in the sufficiency of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for their salvation. Romans 1:16 states, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
But why do some people believe in Christ after hearing the Gospel and some do not? It is because there is a Gospel call and an effective call. The Gospel call goes out to many people. An example of this is Matthew 11:28. Jesus proclaims, “Come to me, all who labor…” Many of those who heard this call from Jesus did not actually come. They ignored the call. For those people the call of Christ had no salvific effect.
However, there were some who accept the invitation. Examples of this would be the twelve disciples. The gospel had an effect on them. Why? Because their calling came with power, not just with word. Paul speaks of this in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5, “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”
Therefore, it is important to recognize there are two Gospel calls, a general call and an effectual call. It is only the effectual call that summons the sheep of Christ. Jesus unpacks this truth in John 10:26-27, “but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” For God’s elect (see last week’s blog) they will follow Jesus because they are already his before time. Those who hear the Gospel and never follow, don’t because they are not of the elect (chosen).
The Apostle Paul teaches this exact point in Romans 8:29-30, “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. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Only those who God foreknew are predestined. Only those who are predestined are called. Only those who are called (effectual) are justified. Only those who are justified are glorified.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” – 1 Peter 2:9