My family and I read about the Gospel call in our after-breakfast Bible reading in the past two days. We read mainly from Chapter 33, “The Gospel Call and Effective Calling,” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994). However because I believe that God’s giving people free will allows them to say “Yes” or “No” to His call, I don’t accept the Calvinist concept of effective calling. Thus I substituted a paragraph from Chapter 5, “The Salvation of Man,” of William W. Menzies and Stanley M. Horton’s Bible Doctrines: A Pentecostal Perspective (Springfield, Missouri: Gospel Publishing House, 1993) for “Effective Calling,” the first of the three sections in “The Gospel Call and Effective Calling.” The other two sections are “The Elements of the Gospel Call” and “The Importance of the Gospel Call.”
Jesus clearly taught that God calls people to Him, telling a crowd, “No man can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV), and his disciples, “When he [the Helper or Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Paul indicates that the main instrument that God uses in calling people is the Gospel message, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Menzies and Horton comment, “The Holy Spirit does not force his attentions on the individual, but He does call sinners to come to Christ. Sometimes it is called the doctrine of vocation, or calling. Arminians and Calvinists alike are agreed that God takes the first step in the salvation of sinners. He issues the invitation” (page 103).
The Elements of the Gospel Call
God’s invitation uses human preaching of the Gospel. Grudem identifies three important elements of that preaching:
1. An explanation of the facts concerning salvation, which includes at least the following:
a. “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23).
b. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
c. “Christ died for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8) to pay the penalty for our sins.
2. An invitation to respond to Christ by repenting and coming to him in faith. The invitation is expressed thus by Jesus, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Natthew 11:28-30). See my next post on the need for both repentance and faith in responding to the invitation.
3. A promise of forgiveness and eternal life. This is brought out by Peter’s words to people at the temple in Acts 3:19, “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out” and of Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, what whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
The Importance of the Gospel Call
The human preaching of the Gospel is so important that Paul says, “How then will they call on him whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching” (Romans 10:14).