Okay good! Alright guys, Romans 8. Romans chapter 8 verses 29 and 30. As you know, these verses we’re calling “God’s golden chain of salvation,” and there are five links in this golden chain of salvation. It begins in eternity past, in verse 29. It extends into time and then into eternity future in verse 30. And we’ll be in verse 30.
So I want to begin by reading these verses. These verses are a towering mountain peak that really rises above the landscape, critically important. So, we’re slowing down to look at these verses. I mean, they’re so rich that you can just only hardly take it one bite at a time. It’s just so potent.
So, beginning in verse 29, “For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. And these whom He predestined He also called, and these whom He called He also justified, and these whom He justified He also glorified.”
So, as we look at these, I’m reminded I need to begin in a word of prayer. So, let me just lead us in a word of prayer.
Father, as we look now at these verses, we ask that You open our eyes, shine light into our minds so that we can understand and see this passage and these truths. I pray that You would strengthen these men as the Word comes into their heart and into their mind. May they be greatly edified and built up in their faith. So, we commit this to You in Christ’s name. Amen.
Alright, these five links in God’s golden chain: foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, glorification. This is as close to what we call the ordo salutis, which is Latin. Ordo salutis, which means the “order of salvation,” and as coming out of the Reformation especially in the sixteenth century, theologians began to identify what is the sequence, what is the order in which God orders salvation.
And so, this begins in eternity past, in verse 29, with foreknowledge and predestination. We’ve talked about this the last two weeks. Just a quick reminder, “foreknowledge” does not mean foresight. “Foreknowledge” means those whom God previously chose to love with a distinguishing saving love. It is virtually synonymous with the doctrine of election. Then is predestination, and predestination very simply, to put it in colloquial terms, means “the destination is determined before the journey begins.” So, God has marked out on the horizon the salvation of those whom He has foreknown.
Today, we now come to “calling,” and I want to spend our entire time today on “the effectual call of God.” And we call it “the effectual call” because it is always effective. There is a cause and effect. The cause is God’s foreknowledge and predestination that leads to His calling, and this effectual calling will always be successful. It will always triumph in the hearts of those who are called. So that’s why we call it “the effectual call.” So, let’s look at verse 30, and I want to begin by just making comments on these words in the first half of verse 30 and then we’re going to go all over the Bible. So, you’re going to want to have your Bible ready for this. So, verse 30 begins, “And these whom He predestined He also called.”
So, let me draw to your attention three things right there. Number one, the author of the call. It’s He. “And these whom He predestined He also called.” The “He” is God the Father who is calling sinners to Christ. The “He,” you’ll note, “He” is singular. It doesn’t say “They.” It doesn’t say “We.” It’s singular. It’s “He.” It is God the Father who is doing this calling.
The second thing I want you to note is the recipients. Who is God calling? God is not calling everyone effectually. He is only calling those whom He has foreknown and whom He has predestined. He is only calling these, and He is calling all of these.
The third thing that I want you to note is the nature of this call. This word “call” means to utter a loud voice. It means to summons someone from one place to another. It means to summons someone to come to you or to come to another person. And the reference here when he says “called” is to the sovereign effectual call of God by which God summons sinners to His Son.
So, this is where the eternal will of God in eternity past becomes real within time where God’s salvation that He has purposed in eternity past, this is where it invades time. This is where it connects with human hearts. This is where it is applied to individual lives. So, theologians, and I can hear R.C. Sproul in my head saying this, theologians always make careful distinctions. They make very careful thin slices of things. And right here, we need to make a careful distinction. There are two calls in the Bible as it relates to salvation, and if we ever become confused on these two, we’re going to lose our ball in the weeds. So, you understand that Ken?
Okay, the shorter the grass, the better. Okay? That’s rule number one. So, the two calls are the external call and then there is the internal call. So, let’s start with the external call. The external call is the general proclamation of the gospel. It is the general invitation that comes through a preacher, that comes through a parent, that comes through a Sunday school teacher, that comes through the written Word of God, that invites, calls the sinner to come to faith in Jesus Christ. And this is absolutely critical. No one in the history of mankind will ever be saved without first there being the external call. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of truth,” Romans 10:17. You have to hear the truth. You have to read the truth. You have to know the truth before you can be saved.
So, this external call is absolutely critical, and that’s why we go into all the world and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s why we send out missionaries. That’s why we do the work of evangelism. That’s why we bear witness of our faith and tell others about Christ. That’s the external call.
Now, I want to give you some verses under the external call. The first would be Matthew 22 verse 14. It’s at the end of the parable of the king who gave a banquet and invited people to come to the banquet. But you had to put the king’s robe on in order to enter the banquet. And in verse 14, it’s the last verse of this parable, it says, “Many are called, few are chosen.”
So, here “calling” and “chosen” are not one and the same group like it is in Romans 8:29 and 30. This call is synonymous with the general invitation to come to faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus, in His own public ministry, continually was giving the external call. Jesus was in reality an itinerant evangelist just going from city to city. He wasn’t a pastor. He wasn’t an elder in a local church. He was an itinerant evangelist going from city to city and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and calling men to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” So, Jesus was always giving the external call.
Let me give you some verses, Matthew 11:28 to 30. “Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls. For My burden is easy, and My yoke is light.” That’s the external call, Jesus throwing open the gates of paradise and extending His arms to the multitudes to come to Him by faith. John 7 verse 37, “Jesus said, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. And out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” That’s the external call. And you and I, as we live our Christian lives, are mouthpieces for this external call. It starts with our own children. It starts with our own family. It extends to friends. It extends to people we meet and people with whom we have an acquaintance, and we extend the external call, “Come to Christ. Believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, that’s the external call, and contained in the external call is the truth of the gospel, the sinfulness of man, the saving work of Christ, and the necessity of repentance and faith. No one will ever be saved until they know they’re lost. No one will ever be saved until they know the seriousness of their own sin and the condition by which they stand before God. It’s not enough just that they’re going through difficult times. Jesus has not come to save you out of trials; He’s come to save you out of your sin. And not only the seriousness of sin, but also the work of Christ, His work upon the cross to save us, to bear our sins, to shed His blood, to make the only atonement for our sins. And then, people also must be told how they are to respond by repentance and faith.
So, that’s the external call, okay? That is not what is mentioned here in Romans 8 verse 30. This is the second aspect of the call, and it is the effectual call, the internal call. So, external can only go to the ear; the internal call must go to the heart, and only God can take it from the ear to the heart. And this is the call of God that penetrates into the depths of the human heart, and I’m choosing my words here very carefully. It apprehends the heart, it arrests the soul, and it draws the sinner to faith in Christ, okay?
Now, what I want to do right now is take us through the New Testament, and we’re going to go to a bunch of verses, alright? So, I would encourage you to track with me. You may want to just write all this down, but we’re going to go to a bunch of verses, okay? I want to really nail this down. I want the Bible to speak for itself. So, let’s come to John chapter 6, and in John chapter 6 and in verse 44. It’s a very critical passage. John chapter 6, in verse 44, we see how powerful this call is. Jesus said, and by the way, these are the words of Jesus, and Jesus is saying this to lost people. He is saying this to unconverted people. And sometimes, I hear people say to me, “Hey, you can’t talk about the sovereignty of God in salvation to lost people. That’s only family, you know, family truth that we share with ourselves.” Wrong. Wrong, okay? So just delete that. Jesus is saying this to thousands and thousands of lost people. He has just fed the five thousand, which in reality was probably about twenty thousand. It was five thousand men. So, easily another five thousand women, easily another ten thousand children. It was really a crowd of about twenty thousand who followed Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee after He fed the five thousand. And if anything, they picked up more people as they ran around the coastline to be on the other side when His boat arrives. So, Jesus now is like preaching, it’s almost like in a football stadium, to great masses and multitudes of lost unconverted people. And Jesus says, for example, in verse 35, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” So, it’s a sermon to come to Him by faith.
Well, look at verse 44. This is really almost strange sounding. He says, “No one can come to Me.” Now, do you know the difference between “can” and “may”? I learned that early as a child. “May” is a word of permission. “Can” is a word of ability. Everyone may come, but Jesus says no one can come. And to come to Christ is to believe in Christ. And Jesus says, “No one can come to Me” because of the total depravity of their human nature. Their will is in bondage to sin. They are slaves of sin. Their minds are in darkness. Their hearts are ensnared by the devil and by their own sin. That is why Jesus says, “No one has moral ability to come to Me.”
And in spiritual matters, and this may sound shocking to some, no one has freedom of the will to come to faith in Christ because you are chained to your sins and you cannot come until there is a divine intervention. And the divine intervention is the call of God that is so powerful that when God calls the individual to faith in Christ it overcomes all resistance in the heart of the one who is called and literally draws them to Christ. And I want you to see this in verse 44. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”
Now, this word “draws” literally means “to drag.” And sometimes, I hear a preacher say something like, “Hey, God will never drag anyone to Christ.” Well, then no one’s going to be saved, because the sinfulness of the human heart is welded and anchored to its own ways. God must overpower and draw.
Now, I’m going to give you some cross-references. I don’t have time to turn to every one of these, but you can just jot down these cross-references. John 21 verse 8; it’s where Peter goes back to his fishing business after the resurrection of Christ and he’s out in the Sea of Galilee with some of his other disciples, and Jesus is on the shoreline, and they see Jesus. And Peter finally figures out who it is and jumps out of the boat and starts swimming.
Well, it says that he draws the net, and it’s so specific John records and says there’s 153 fish in the net. So, they were Baptists. They were keeping count right there of how many fish were in that net. So, but think of Peter with those burly strong arms, those forearms, and pulling the net ashore and having to drag it as it comes to the shoreline as the depth of the water is no longer deep enough for the fish to even float. He drags them onto shore. That’s the very word that’s used.
Now, I want to give you another one, Acts 16. In verse 19, Paul goes to Philippi. He preaches the gospel, and he creates a disturbance in Philippi. And the government officials have to arrest Paul because he’s disturbing the peace, and they drag Paul before the authorities and then throw him into prison. You remember, in the middle of the night, God sends an earthquake and throws the prison doors open, and the Philippian jailer is eventually saved? “What must I do to be saved?”
Well, it says in Acts 16 verse 9 they literally dragged Paul. They dragged Paul through the streets of Philippi. That’s the very word that’s used in John 6 verse 44. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them.” It’s a powerful drawing.
Now, I’m just going to give you the other cross-references just so you can see it. Acts 8:3, it’s what Paul was doing before he was converted. He was just dragging the Christians to stand trial. Acts 17:6 and Acts 21:30, it’s the very same word and it’s translated in the New American Standard every time as “drag.” The only time it’s translated “draw” is in John 6 verse 44. It means “to drag,” literally to for God to lay hold of the one whom He calls and bring them into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
So, in John chapter 10 and in verse 3 and 4, John chapter 10 verses 3 and 4, and by the way it’s my favorite chapter in the whole Bible. I love this chapter. It’s the discourse of the Good Shepherd. Now, here’s another thing you need to know. This sermon is preached to unbelievers. This sermon is preached to those Pharisees at the end of John chapter 9. And this is one of those places where it’s an unfortunate chapter division because John 9 and John 10 just go together. So, you need to note that Jesus is not preaching to a Wednesday night small group fellowship. He is preaching to the Pharisees and to the religious leaders of Israel who are blind and who are unconverted. And Jesus says to them in John 10 verse 3, “To him the doorkeeper opens. And the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
That is the call of God. It’s represented here by the metaphor of “the voice of the shepherd.” And please note, he doesn’t call every sheep on the planet. He calls those who are his own sheep, and he calls them by name. He calls them individually by name. Just like whenever you were converted, He called you by name, and you may have had your brother and your sister on either side of you. You may have been sitting in the middle of a church that had two thousand people, but when He calls you, He calls you individually by name. Now, you don’t hear the audible voice of God. It’s much louder as He arrests your heart, and like a magnet drawing a metal object you were drawn in that moment to Christ and you entered into the kingdom of heaven.
Alright, back to the book of Romans, Romans chapter 1. We’re going to have to put the pedal to the metal here. Romans 1 and verse 6. And we looked at this when we began our study of Romans some time ago. And in Romans 1, he talks about the gospel, verse 1. He talks about faith in Christ, verse 5. And in verse 6, he talks about how it is that anyone exercises saving faith in Jesus Christ. And in verse 6, he says, “among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ.” The “called” refer to those who were foreknown and those who were predestined to believe in Jesus Christ. And the reason that they believe in Jesus Christ is because they were called by God, and the call secures the result. And it’s repeated again in verse 7, “To all who are beloved of God in Rome called as saints.” It’s one of the most important truths in the entire Bible.
Come to Romans chapter 9 and verse 24. And in Romans chapter 9, he talks about the sovereign election of God before the twins were even born, “Jacob I loved; Esau I hated,” as “the potter has a right over the clay to fashion some to be vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, others vessels of mercy prepared for life.”
We come to verse 24, “even us whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” And it is this call that makes the sovereign election of God real in the life of the individual person. God calls them, and when God calls, they come because His voice is so powerful and it is so irresistible.
Alright, come to Romans 11 and verse 29. Verse 28, let me start with verse 28, “From the standpoint of the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But for the standpoint of God’s choice, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” When God calls, they come, and God never changes His purpose in extending this call.
Now, come to the book of 1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians chapter 1. And 1 Corinthians chapter 1 has a repeated focus on the call of God. And in 1 Corinthians chapter 1, beginning in verse 1, “Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” To be an apostle was not “whosoever will may come.” To be an apostle, you had to be singled out by the will, sovereign will of God to be an apostle. But look at verse 2, “To the church of God which is at Corinth.” Now, let me just pause for a moment. The word “church” simply means out of the original Greek “the called-out ones,” ecclesia. “Ec” means “out of”. Clesia come from this root word kaleo, which means “to call”. The word “church” just simply means “the called-out ones.” We are those who have been called out of the world and out of darkness into fellowship with Jesus Christ. That’s what the word “church” means. It doesn’t mean a concert.
Okay, so verse 2: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Please note the order. God calls first, then man calls upon the Lord. No one will ever call upon the name of the Lord until they’re first called by God the Father. And it’s God the Father who initiates our salvation at every point. God is never responding; God is initiating. We are responding. A fundamental principle of theology is God is always previous. God’s never playing catch-up.
So, come to verse 9, 1 Corinthians 1 verse 9, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Now, let me tell you why this text is very important. Some people try to get around the truth that I’m telling you by saying it’s only a call to service but it’s not a call to salvation. I don’t know if you’ve heard that lame excuse. Verse 9, in and of itself, and there’s twenty other verses, but this verse alone shows that you are called into a saving relationship, a personal relationship, with Jesus Christ when God calls. So, God is faithful, which really means God is faithful to His eternal choice and His eternal purposes and will bring it to fulfillment within time. God is faithful through whom you were called into fellowship, and that’s synonymous into relationship, with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now, come to verse 24, and Paul talks about the preaching of the cross. Look at verse 18, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” So, if the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, how are those who are perishing ever going to believe? How will they ever come to faith in Christ?
And the answer is, the call of God will call them out of their unbelief into relationship with Jesus Christ. And verse 24 identifies them as to those who are “the called,” and that definite article “the” makes this a very specific group. It’s “the called.” It’s “the called” who are summoned and subpoenaed by God the Father to come to faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, in verse 26, he shows us how strange it is who God has called because these are not the rich and the famous and the powerful of the world. There will be a few of those, but by and large, God has called those that the world rejects, so that God will receive all the glory through the work of the church. So, like what he says in verse 26, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise.” And when he says “wise” here, he’s referring to those who were educated in the academies of the world and who had been trained in the philosophies of Plato and the other Greek philosophers in Athens, “not many wise by the world’s standards.” They didn’t have all the credentials and the degrees after their name because he says “according to the flesh.” He is referring to human standards. “Not many mighty,” and there he is referring to those with great influence in the world and clout. “And not many noble,” and when he says “noble,” he’s talking about of blueblood birth, those who are in the upper crust of society.
Now, there will be some. Joseph of Arimathea was well endowed. Job and Abraham were very high up in the social structure of the world. There are some like that. Solomon was the richest man who probably ever lived. But by and large, that’s not who God’s calling to Himself. God is calling not many noble, of upper birth. In verse 27, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong, and the base things of the world God has chosen, and the things that are not. The “things that are not” refers to people who are just zeroes. You know, they didn’t make who’s who; they made who’s not. You know, they are just not anything. That’s who God has called to Himself to make them trophies of His grace and make something great of them so that all the credit goes to God.
So, look at the next verse, verse 29, “So that no man may boast before God.” You hadn’t brought anything to the table except the sin that was laid upon Christ. Alright, let’s keep going. Come to the book of Galatians, Galatians chapter 1 and verse 15. And what I want us to see is that this thread runs through the entire New Testament, this doctrine of the effectual call of God. And so, in Galatians 1 verse 15, “But when God who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace.” You see, there was nothing in Paul that caused God to call him.
It was all of grace. It was simply because of the favor and compassion of God that God called Paul to Himself. Come to chapter 5 and verse 13, Galatians 5 verse 13. He says, “For you were called to freedom, brethren.” That means, before you were called you were in slavery. You were in slavery to your sin. You were in slavery to the kingdom of darkness. You were in chains of darkness. You were held in a prison house of your own sin until that day God called you to freedom. And He called you out of your imprisonment, and God loosened the chains and God swung open the prison door, and He called you out to Himself and called you into freedom from your sin to live as God has intended a person to live.
Alright, come to Ephesians, Ephesians 4 and verse 1. Paul writes, “Therefore, I the prisoner of the Lord.” Let me just stop right there. Every time I read that I love that. He will not even acknowledge he is a prisoner of Rome. “I am a prisoner of the Lord. I’m here in this prison by divine appointment. God has purposes for me to be here, one of which is to write this letter, the book of Ephesians.” It has the smell of the prison house in it, even as it comes to the Ephesians.
So, he knows he is there by divine appointment. “I’m the prisoner of the Lord,” not of Caesar. And he goes, “I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called. You see, you’re not just called to heaven; you’re called to holiness. And the only people that are going to heaven are those who give evidence that they’ve been called to holiness. How do you know if you’ve been called? You walk in a manner worthy of your calling. It doesn’t mean you’re perfect, and it doesn’t mean you never sin, but it does mean you’re headed in a new direction. You’re no longer going according to the course of this world. You now have done an about face because God has turned you around and you are now walking the narrow path that leads to life. And you are to walk in a manner worthy of your calling.
And then, in verse 4 he says, “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were also called in one hope of your calling.” You see how important this doctrine of calling is. You would have never believed in Jesus Christ if you had not been called. And when you witness to others, no one would ever believe the gospel, except with your external call God also issues the internal call and brings them to faith in Christ.
Alright, come to 1 Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 and in verse 12. I love to hear the pages of your Bible turning, okay? Just rattle them good. First Thessalonians 2 and verse 12, he says, “so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
So that tells us very clearly that before you were called you were in another kingdom. You were in the kingdom of darkness. You were in the kingdom of sin. And God had to call you out of that kingdom into His kingdom, His kingdom of grace and holiness and love and peace. And the only way to go from that kingdom to this kingdom is not that you were smarter than anyone else. It is not that you connected all the dots and figured it out. It is that God called you and God apprehended you and God drew you. And I’m going to say correctly, God even dragged you into relationship with Jesus Christ, and He gave you a new heart so that you believed in Christ lovingly, and you wanted to believe. But it is because God called you and brought you to that point. This has to be right because it gives God more credit, if for nothing else.
Alright, look at 1 Thessalonians 4, chapter 4 and verse 7. “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, here’s what we see. All these links are forged together. Everyone whom God calls, He calls to faith in Jesus Christ, and everyone that He calls to faith in Jesus Christ, He also calls to sanctification. He never calls someone to impurity. He calls them to purity. And then ultimately, He’ll call them to heaven when they die. But it’s all the same chain. These are just different links in the same chain.
Alright, 2 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians chapter 1 and verse 11, “To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling.” Now, this does not mean you have to be worthy in order to be called. What this means is the very opposite, that if you have been called, you will live like it and you will live in a manner that is worthy of the call that has come upon your life. And this is how this is. It is a high call to lowly walk, to humility and to holiness. This high heavenly call of God has come upon your life now for you to live in lowliness of mind and humility of heart and holiness of life.
Second Timothy. We’re going to get this in. Second Timothy chapter 1 and verse 9. The sentence starts in verse 8. “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.”
Now, how is it that anyone believes in the gospel, and how do they experience the power of God in the gospel at the end of verse 8? The answer is found in verse 9, “who has saved us.” Now, how has He saved us? How has He brought us into salvation? “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works.” In other words, there was nothing that we did to deserve to be called, but according to His own purpose, and that purpose is His eternal purpose from before the foundation of the world. It refers to His sovereign choice of those whom He would foreknow and predestine. But according to His own purpose and grace, which again underscores that it’s not of works, it’s not of merit. It’s not of anything good that was in us. It was in spite of us. It was by His grace, which was granted us in Christ Jesus, please note this, from all eternity.
I mean, God’s so far out ahead of this whole process of salvation that it comes crashing into our lives at a moment in time when He calls us, but this whole thing began in eternity past when He chose us and now called us within time. I don’t know about you, but one, I love this. Two, this causes my heart to rise up and just praise the name of God that He didn’t leave me in darkness, and it causes me to want to now live and walk in a manner worthy of the calling that has come upon my life to live in a distinctly different way. And this liberates me to witness and to tell others about Christ. I don’t have to arm twist anybody. I don’t have to manipulate anything. I just need to be a faithful witness, and God will call him whom God is going to call into relationship with Christ. And this causes me to want to get on an airplane and fly around the world, because He’s got elect all around the world, on every different continent. And so, this puts high octane into our tank that we’re working in partnership with God, but God’s the one driving this whole enterprise of salvation.
Alright, let’s keep going. Oops! Go back. 1 Timothy 6 verse 12, got one out of sequence, “Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.” You cannot take hold of, and the idea here is the fullness of abundant life in Christ, except you first be called to eternal life in Christ.
Alright, Hebrews chapter 3 and verse 1, “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus.” You and I have been made partakers of a heavenly calling. I mean this call has come down out of heaven. It has come down from the throne of God above. It has descended like a meteor falling out of outer space and just crashing into our lives in order to lay hold of us and bring us into relationship with Christ.
Alright, come to 1 Peter, 1 Peter chapter 2. And we’re just doing a walk through the New Testament, and this doctrine of being called by God is just so important that I want to stress this with you today. 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 9, speaking to the church and using Old Testament imagery drawn from the nation Israel, “But you are a chosen race.”
That’s what the church is, a chosen race. “A royal priesthood.” We’re all priests. We all have direct access to God. We don’t need a priest. We are a priest, and we have a high priest in the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t need any intermediary between us and God. We have Jesus Christ to take us directly to the throne of God the Father, and we have been made a royal priesthood.
Now notice, “a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Whether you grew up in the church, whether you did not grow up in the church, whether you were a heathen and a pagan, whether you were a morally good person, before you were converted, you were living in darkness, darkness in your mind, darkness in your heart, until that day when you heard the external call and the truth of the gospel was set before you. But then, God summoned you out of the kingdom of darkness and drew you into the kingdom of His light. And “light” here refers to truth and holiness. “Darkness” refers to error, lies, and impurity.
And quite frankly, sometimes I’m amazed when some people say, “You know, I don’t know if I’m saved or not.” It is possible, but it’s a stretch. Like, you don’t know that you’ve been called out of darkness into light? That’s a pretty big deal. You don’t know whether you’re in the grave of sin or you’ve been made alive in Christ? You’re oblivious to that? When God calls, it is so powerful and so strong, it’s a game changer. It is a life-changing call.
I’ve got a couple more here. Look at verse 21, 1 Peter 2 verse 21, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you.” So, there’s more to this call. Not only you’re called into relationship with Christ, you’re called to personal purity, but it’s a package deal. You’re also called to suffer because you’re now identified with a crucified Savior who has been rejected by the world. And let me just tell you, if He came back today, they’d crucify Him again. The world hasn’t gotten any better. If anything, it’s gotten worse. He would not receive any better treatment.
So, we now stand in His place. And there is going to be some flak that we catch for our faith. That’s just par for the course. That’s just the way that it goes. Now, it doesn’t happen in the same amount to everyone. There are some countries in this world. We’ve got some Chinese brothers right now who are being persecuted severely in China. We live in Dallas, Texas, and we’re not living under the same conditions, but there is still nevertheless a rejection with some that we face. And it maybe it’s nothing more than we’re cut out of certain circles of friendships. It may be that we lose a business deal or that we are considered by our family to be, you know, just “Wow, you’re so narrow-minded. You’re one of those Christians.” Whatever the form of the pushback is, if you’re called, you’re also called to suffer for the gospel, for the sacrifice that we make.
Now, I have one more verse just to give you some sense of hope, 2 Peter 1. And I told you this is a Bible study, so we’re covering a lot of verses here. Second Peter 1 verse 10, and this is a great one to end on. “Therefore, brethren,” so he is talking to believers, “be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you.” What he is saying is you need to make certain that you’ve been called by God. You need to make certain you’ve been chosen by God.
Now, there’s nothing you can do to alter the irrevocable eternal will of God. The way you make it certain is you have to be certain, ensure, that you have repented of your sins and that you have denied yourself and that you have stepped out of the crowd and that you have taken up your cross and you now are a follower of Jesus Christ, not a follower of the church, not a follower of denomination, not a follower of a Christian concert, a follower of the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You need to make certain that you have put your entire trust and faith in Jesus Christ. And to believe in Christ does not mean that you just simply check some boxes, “I believe this. I believe this. I agree with the doctrinal statement.” The word “faith” means commitment, that you have committed your entire life to Jesus Christ, that you’ve got both feet in the boat, that you have crossed the line, that you have left the world behind. You’re in the world. You’re no longer of the world, that you have left the world behind and you’ve come through the narrow gate. And you’re now on the narrow path that is headed to life, and you need to make certain that this reality has taken place in your life. And you need to be certain that you’re walking in a manner worthy of your calling because it’s the fruit that’s being produced in your life that makes certain that you are rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ.
Everyone who is rooted and grounded in Christ, there will be the fruit of repentance and the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of a changed life. Good fruit means there’s a good root. If there’s bad fruit, that means there’s bad root. So, when he says, “Make certain about His calling and choosing you,” he is saying you need to have the assurance of your salvation, that it’s not something you’ve done, but it’s something that God has done in your life that began in eternity past when He sovereignly chose you and now within time has called you to Himself.
Now, I’m looking at the clock. I’m going to end with this. I want to be crystal clear. I want to give you some words now in conclusion to define this call that has come on your life. Number one, it’s eternal. It is an eternal call that began before the foundation of the world. It’s rooted and grounded in eternity past. It is an extension of His sovereign election.
Second, it is a divine call. It is God’s call upon your heart and upon your life. Third, it’s individual. He doesn’t call groups. He doesn’t call entire families. He calls individuals within families. He calls individuals within groups and within nations. It’s an individual call.
And the best illustration of this is when Jesus stood before the grave of Lazarus. He said, “Lazarus, come forth!” And if He had only said, “Come forth!” the whole graveyard would have emptied, but He said, “Lazarus!” And it was only Lazarus who came forth at that moment. It’s the very same way in salvation when He calls you by name.
Fourth, it’s penetrating. This call plunges into the depths of the soul and re-vibrates within your heart. It cuts to the bone, to the very innermost being of who you are and what you are. It doesn’t lay on the surface of your life.
Fifth, it’s arresting. It is an arresting call. It literally arrests you like an officer would arrest someone who has broken the law. We are all lawbreakers, and it has apprehended us and captured us and has brought us to Christ.
Sixth, it’s drawing, and we’ve already talked about this, but it literally drags and hauls the person to Christ.
Seven, it’s irresistible. Who is greater than God? Who has greater power than God? And when God calls, He overcomes all resistance and He conquers the proud heart, and He brings that one to Himself.
And then eighth, it’s inaudible. You don’t hear a real voice, and if you ever did hear a real voice, we need to check you into a padded room. And I can tell you it wasn’t God. The call of God is an inaudible voice that is so loud within the heart and within the soul that it drowns out every other call from the world. And it drowns out every call of temptation, and it drowns out every other call that would try to hold you back and keep you in your sin and not to commit your life to Christ. No, the call of God is so loud that it drowns out those other voices, and you alone hear the call of God, and you are drawn into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ.
Now, when you were converted, when you were saved, you probably didn’t know all this. I didn’t know all this. It’s only later as we look back that you learn from the Bible how it is that I have come to be a believer in Jesus Christ. It’s only as we look in the rearview mirror and can see what happened that moment, that time when we were brought to Christ, we see now more and more of God than we ever imagined.
So, let us rejoice that God didn’t leave us in the kingdom of darkness but that loud arresting, irresistible, irrevocable heavenly call came to us and literally brought us into the kingdom of heaven.
So, I know we’ve covered a lot of territory, and I’m just dying to open this thing up for discussion, but I look at the clock and I know I need to let some of you go to where you need to go. And so, I want to be mindful of that. If you want to stay, we can talk about this a lot, but it’s critically important that we understand the Bible, and all that matters is what does God have to say about this? It doesn’t matter how it seems to me. All that matters is how is it revealed by God in His Word. And there are so many verses on this that it’s pretty hard to miss though I did miss it for a long time. But it’s not because I knew too much of the Bible; it was because I knew too little of the Bible until I got in and began to dig.
So, let me close in a word of prayer.
Father, thank You for this study that You’ve allowed us to have. Thank You that You have called us to Yourself and that this powerful call so overpowered our hearts that we had to follow You, that we had to believe in You. And that’s the only explanation for which we find ourselves in Christ today. So, thank You for this. Give us eyes to see the truth of Your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.