The Agent of the Call
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” (2 Peter 1:10)
The key word to be lifted out of the text is “calling.” The “calling” is a Position (or Place) that God “calls” His people to, in His Sovereign work of Grace, in Regeneration.
The Greek word used here in the text is: κλῆσις – klēsis – klay’-sis; which means the favor and privilege of the call. This word, klesis, is from the shorter form: καλέω – kaleō – kal-eh’-o; to call, to bid, to call (forth).
The Position (or the calling – klesis) is the place of favor that the child of God is called (kaleo) unto by God; which is a position of the knowledge of his Justification in the Atonement of Christ on the Cross. This position is not only a position of favor – but also a position of privilege and of opportunity to receive from God, and to serve God acceptably. This position (or calling) of the regenerated child of God places one in the eye of God; as a position of Justification (or one of being declared righteous). And in the eye of the believer, it is “an understanding” of him being a child of God; God is his Father; he is loved of the Father, and forgiven of the Father; and the knowledge of the believer that he is an heir of God and joint-heir of Jesus Christ.
The “calling” (or the Position of the converted sinner) is not the problem in the modern day pulpit of America. The problem is the explanation of the “call” itself (that is the Greek word “kaleo,” to call); or how the sinner comes to the Position of favor and privilege with God as sons of God (or the calling).
In the Evangelical church today, many pastors preach the Grace of God in Jesus Christ, and then end up, during the so-called “invitation” time at the end of the preaching hour, pleading and begging the sinner to come down and “accept” Jesus Christ as Savior. Some preachers even go so far as to tell the sinner, if he would come and quote after him the sinner’s prayer, then he would be “saved.” Others even say that God has done all He can do, and now you have to do your part to get God to come and “give” you Salvation; they say that the sinner’s part is to believe from “the bottom of his heart” (wherever that is). They say, when the sinner does this, then God will come to the sinner and give him salvation. If this be so, then the sinner is in charge of his own eternal destiny (that is choosing God at his own discretion), and all of God’s Plan and Purpose in Christ would be for nothing – if the sinner’s coming to Christ is in his own volition, or because of his own decision-making process, without God first giving the dead sinner life (or the ability to come to Christ).
But the Scriptures reveal no such practice in the early church. The “receiving” of Christ as Savior is passive on the receiver’s part; but is active on God’s part (1 Cor. 4:7). The New Testament reveals that the sinner must be moved upon by God (passive on the sinner’s part); then (and only then) does the acted-upon sinner come to God and confess God as his Savior.
See Paul’s conversion in Acts 9:1-17; Paul (whose name was previously Saul of Tarsus) was on his way to the city of Damascus to destroy the believers in Christ (called that Way), to kill and incarcerate Christians. Until God intervened in Paul’s life – and stopped him by blinding him; and turned Paul from being a persecutor of Christians, to becoming a Christian himself – Paul was on his way to do evil against God’s people. The account of Paul’s conversion was orchestrated by God, and not by any of Paul’s merits.
Not Paul, not any man, can come to God; or does he even want to come to God in his own will; until he is changed by God, and drawn by God in the power of God, to change his ways from unrighteousness to righteousness. This is because he is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins, and is controlled by the “old man” (or the flesh), until he is regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Only God can quicken a spiritually dead sinner in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1; Jn. 6:63); and give him repentance; and draw him to God (Jn. 6:44-45); and bring him to believe (Jn. 6:29) that Jesus Christ’s Atonement on the Cross as Sacrifice, Substitute, and Savior is the payment, the ransom, the redemption price, to satisfy (or appease or propitiate) God for the sin debt of the sinner; because only God is Life Himself, and only God can give life. The creature cannot give himself physical life or spiritual life.
But what the Scriptures do reveal is that after the sinner has been quickened and drawn and taught by God (Jn. 6:44-45), and given the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and the gift of repentance is manifested by the application of the law of God to his spirit (Rom. 7:4-14); and confession is made by the quickened sinner’s mouth of his belief that Jesus Christ is his Savior (Rom. 10:9-10) – then the quickened sinner requests water baptism (Acts 8:36-37; 10:44-48).
But no Scripture relates the modern day begging and pleading to the sinner to come to the front altar of the church and follow the preacher’s description for personal salvation. The preacher has been called of God to uplift Christ; and this is done as he preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul reveals the purpose of the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in (Rom. 1:16-17). The preacher cannot give the dead sinner spiritual life and the Gospel does not give the sinner life; but the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been ordained of God to reveal: (Rom 1:17) “For therein (that is, the Gospel; see verse 16) is the righteousness of God revealed (that is, the Gospel of Jesus reveals not gives; that is, it manifests the in-worked righteousness of God) from faith to faith (see Rom. 10:8; Deut. 30:12-14): as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Christ is the Faith; the only life the sinner can live comes from The Life Himself, Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:16, 20); and Christ, The Gift, living in the sinner, is not by the works of man (Eph. 2:8-9); but is by, or through, the Gift of God to the sinner.)
Jesus left us an example of the Gospel “loosing” the quickened sinner brought from a spiritually dead condition to a resurrected alive condition in the raising of Lazarus in (John 11:25, 41-44). Jesus set the stage to teach that He is The Life; and also the Giver of Life to the dead in (Jn. 11:25-26) “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (26) And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”
Jesus teaches this spiritual truth by raising Lazarus from the dead. He does this by His spoken command, (Joh 11:43) “And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.” Jesus is illustrating the power of His spoken command (the Greek Wd. used in (Joh 6:63) illustrates this truth, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words (the Gk. Wd. is G4487 ῥῆμα; rhēma; hray’-mah; From G4483; an utterance (individually, collectively or specifically); that is, the spoken command of God); that I (Jesus speaking) speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” This is exactly what Christ did at the tomb of Lazarus when He cried with a loud voice, and commanded Lazarus to come forth. Lazarus did come forth out of the tomb, alive and bound in his grave clothes; proving that Jesus had all power, even over death and the grave. Therefore, teaching the truth of (Jn. 11:25-26) is: in Christ is Life, and in Him is no death. Thus, teaching a spiritual truth that only Christ can make a spiritually dead sinner spiritually alive, in and through His (Christ’s) power alone.
The second truth that Christ taught in the raising of Lazarus to life from the dead, is the importance of the Gospel being preached wherein the quickened (made alive) sinner must be loosed from his grave clothes, (Joh 11:44) “And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.” Lazarus had to float out of the tomb for he was bound head to toe with his grave clothes (this shows that Lazarus came forth by the power of God; for he could not even walk bound in his grave clothes). Therefore, God said “loose him,” that is, from his grave clothes.
This is what the Gospel does for a quickened sinner, (Rom 1:16-17) “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (17) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” That is, the Gospel gives knowledge to the quickened sinner, who has the ability to see and hear spiritual truths, of the righteousness of God that had been given to the quickened sinner, by God, in the regeneration process. The quickened and drawn sinner is literally loosed by the Gospel, revealing to him that he in fact is alive, and has been given the righteousness of Christ, and is now Justified by Christ’s righteousness; and therefore has been forgiven in the Atonement of Christ on the Cross. He is revealed in the Gospel of Jesus that this position he is now in was performed by the Power of Jesus Christ; based upon the Plan and Purpose of God in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:4-11; 1 Cor. 1:18, 21, 24).
So, Jesus taught two very important spiritual truths in the raising of dead Lazarus to life again, and telling those around him to loose him. The first truth is that Jesus Christ has the power to raise the spiritually dead, and only Christ has this power. Secondly, the Gospel had been ordained to “loose” the grave clothes of the quickened sinner. This loosing is the giving the knowledge to the quickened sinner that Salvation is in Christ and not in man. It is Christ that is the Giver of Spiritual Life, and no man could give himself life from the dead. It is Christ that is his Sacrifice, Substitute, and Savior; therefore, Christ is his Salvation, his All in All; even Eternal Life is in Christ and Christ in him (2 Peter 1:1-4; 1 Jn. 5:20).
Then, after Lazarus’ resurrection, the next account that is given of Lazarus is (Joh 12:1-2) “Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. (2) There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.” Here is a great spiritual truth presented to us of those Christ has raised from spiritual death: you see the resurrected Lazarus dining with the Lord Jesus Christ, typifying the communion and fellowship with Christ that all God’s children have in Christ, as they stand on resurrected ground. Also, this reveals the daily fellowship with Christ the resurrected child of God has, as he feeds daily upon Christ. Also, for the future, it reveals the child of God as he looks forward to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb of God that was to come, and shall ever be throughout all eternity; and His communion and fellowship will never cease with His Children.
In closing, the first answer involved in answering the question in this series of “What is the Call?” is the definition of the call. It is the effectual call of the spiritually dead sinner, dead in trespasses and sins, by the Person of Christ (by His spoken command; the Rhēma Word of Christ; Jn. 6:63) in the process of regeneration. In Christ and in Him alone is Life; and He alone is the Giver of Eternal Life; He alone is the Agent of the Effectual Call of Grace that gives Spiritual Life to the spiritually dead sinner. This process in time is called “Experiential Justification”; wherein the spiritually dead sinner is quickened by the Spoken command of Christ to “come forth from the dead.” And then, those whom God had called to preach the Gospel are called on to “loose” the quickened sinner from his grave clothes by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ (the message being a “done salvation” in Christ from Eternity past, to Eternity future; Salvation by Grace, and grace alone); wherein the quickened sinner comes to confess Christ is his Salvation, and then come to fellowship with Christ on the basis of Christ living in the believer, and to have the knowledge that in Christ he shall never die again. That is, he will never be spiritually dead in trespasses and sins ever again; he will never be separated from the Love of God – forever (Rom. 8:29-39).