Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

God Calls Sinners to Salvation

Written by Rev. G.R. Procee
God calls sinners to salvation in Christ. That is the blessed content of the Gospel. God calls from darkness into His marvellous light.

We find this in Genesis 3, immediately after Adam and Eve have run away from God behind bushes. God addresses them with His penetrating but merciful question: "Man, where art thou?" It is an everlasting miracle of grace that God calls sinners to Himself.

This calling has taken place continually throughout the history of the human race. We read in Genesis 12 about the calling of Abram. Abram was living in idolatry, but God entered Abram's life and called him to leave the land of his birth and go to another land, a land that God would show him.

It is typical for God to call sinners. We too, by nature, live in the land of spiritual darkness. The land of our spiritual birth is the land of death. We are also called to forsake our old life and to walk in a new life with God.

In Scripture we repeatedly see how God calls sinners to salvation. Israel was called by the ceremonies of the law to confess their sins. The prophets urged the people to seek the Lord and to find life. God has no pleasure in our death, but that we turn to Him and live (Ezek.18:23). During His ministry on earth, the Lord Jesus called sinners to repentance and salvation. The apostles went out preaching "repentance and remission of sins" (Lk.24:47.

God calls by means of the preaching of His Word. This shows us how important the preaching of God's Word really is. The New Testament draws attention to the power of preaching: It is the "ministration of the Spirit" (2 Cor.3:8); "the preaching of the cross is É the power of God" (1 Cor.1:18); the servants of the Lord are called "stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor.4:1); ministers are ambassadors of Christ who bring about reconciliation: "Be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor.5:18). God calls sinners through the preaching of His Word. This shows us the great significance of the preaching of God's Word.

By God calling man, He shows us our sins and miseries. Salvation is presented to us in Christ, for He is the God-given Saviour. This command and urgent call to come to Christ and to flee to Him goes to all who are under the Gospel. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt.11:28). This promise of forgiveness and salvation must be explained. Those who turn to this Saviour and believe in Him shall not perish, but receive life everlasting.

In the Bible we find different responses to God's calling. Pharisees persisted in unbelief because of the blindness and hardness of their hearts. They rejected God's calling while others followed the Lord Jesus. They all heard God's call. The way in which this happened differed. Only two words were enough for Levi: "Follow Me" (Matt.9:9), and he stood up, left his toll booth and followed Christ. There also was Zaccheus, who when he received Christ in his house, experienced an immediate conversion to the Gospel in his life. The Samaritan woman was called by the Lord Jesus in a completely different manner. There are other examples, such as Nicodemus, Bartimaeus, and Mary Magdalene, who all experienced God's call in their lives.

In our day many despise the Gospel call and are disobedient. They neglect God's invitation and reject the offer of life and salvation. They do not believe the Lord and His Word. It is terrible to reject God's call. Unbelief keeps a person outside the kingdom of God. Unbelief causes the internal corruption of the heart to manifest itself. It gives in to the call of the world and makes a person vulnerable to the attacks of the devil. Unbelief hinders one in approaching God in prayer. It hinders one's salvation. Unbelief calls God a liar. Unbelief is the cancer of the soul (Brakel).

God calls us from our natural darkness into His glorious light. The only true response is that of faith. Some who hear the call in their lives are affected. They are humbled and realize their guilt. They cry out for the Saviour. They confess their sins and desire no other righteousness than that of the Lord Jesus Christ. They hear the voice of the Lord calling them. They are turned from their wicked ways and begin to live a new life with God. They learn to be obedient to His Word.

The blessings of Christ are imparted to such people. They receive the full satisfaction which Christ paid for their sin. His perfect righteousness is laid to their account. They know the grace of walking in a new life of obedience and love to the Lord. They have peace in their souls. To them is granted a sure hope of everlasting glory after this life.

All these blessings are granted to them by faith. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom.5:1).

Faith, however, is not the result of man's work, but it is the gift of God. Faith is worked by God's Spirit. God sends His Holy Spirit into sinner's hearts as a gift of His grace. Scripture is very clear about this: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph.2:8); "To another faith by the same Spirit" (1 Cor.12:9); "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake" (Philip.1:29).

The Holy Spirit illuminates those whose understanding is darkened and who are alienated from God by the ignorance that is in them. The Holy Spirit opens their eyes for their lost condition and their state of darkness. They see the filthiness and abomination of their life and heart. This awakens in them a desire for life and salvation. They are urged to seek God and His grace. The Holy Spirit causes them to despair of their own righteousness and shows them their need of a Surety--One Who can pay for their sins, satisfy the justice of God and merit the right to eternal life for them. The Holy Spirit points them to the Christ of Scripture.

The Spirit convinces them that this salvation is also offered to them. With their whole heart they delight in the offer of this Surety, and they are led to believe the Gospel call. They surrender themselves to Him to be brought to salvation. They are led to appropriate Christ. They embrace Him and rely upon His faithfulness and power. By faith they lean on Him and entrust themselves to Jesus. From that time on their soul continues to be focused on Him. The measure of light they have will vary from time to time in the life of a Christian and assaults of darkness can be their portion; yet from now on their hope is upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

God calls us to repentance. In the same way as He came down to Adam, He asks us: "Man, where art thou?" Have we learned to hear this call by faith? Have we learned to acknowledge our guilt and fled in surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ?

The Lord is willing to work faith and to grant repentance. Faith and repentance are no pre-requisites which man has to fulfil in order to merit salvation. They are gifts the Lord grants by His grace. He is willing and able to teach these matters, also in your life. Let your prayer be: "Bow down Thy ear, O Lord, and hear, for I am poor and great my need." Remember that He hears the needy when they cry.

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