OUR GREAT SALVATION (2) – THE DOCTRINE OF GOD’S EFFECTUAL CALL/ THE PARABLE OF THE GREAT SUPPER
During the Sunday service Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled “Our Great Salvation” (2)/ the Doctrine of God’s Effectual Call/The Parable of the Great Supper.Her text was taken from the books of Isaiah and Luke 14:12-24. “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine” (Is 43:1)
THE DOCTRINE OF GOD’S EFFECTUAL CALL
This doctrine says that God calls the elect to salvation with a call that never fails!!! God, by His Grace, invites all sinners to accept the free salvation that is offered in Christ Jesus. This is the general external call. All sinners are born as enemies to God. They hate God. For a long time, God ignores their enmity. At God’s appointed time, the Grace of God manifests to the elect. They have heard the call, but like all sinners, they have rejected it. Now, God works in them what is called ‘the effectual call’. God works in their spirits convincing them to come to Christ for salvation.
To call somebody is to speak in a loud voice, as to be heard at a distance, to get his attention. You know when your mother, father, teacher, or pastor calls your name. You feel a strong impulse to obey but you may ignore that call. A stronger form of call is ‘to summon’. This is an official demand to appear in a court of law. The summon has a greater authority. You must go to the court and see the judge. If not, you shall be punished. The highest official form of call is ‘subpoena’. A subpoena is a written order (a writ) from a court for the purpose of compelling an individual to give testimony. Subpoenas must be served in person. His attendance is required, and if he does not show, he may be found in contempt of court, which is punishable with arrest and imprisonment. God’s call comes to the elect in a personal way. It comes thru the writing document which is the Bible. It becomes effectual thru the preaching of the gospel, by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the court of the law, subpoena is seen as negative. Nobody likes to be ordered to come to court and give his testimony by force. But when God, the Judge of all men calls you, it is to bless you with salvation. Glory to God!
The Almighty God calls the elect to salvation. There are two types of call: General and Effectual. The general call that goes to all human beings. All sinners ignore or reject God’s call. John 3:16 is a statement showing God’s general call. The effectual call is towards the elect. It is internal. It is also called ‘irresistible grace’. It is God’s sovereign ‘drawing’ of a sinner to salvation by His Grace. The effectual call so overwhelms the sinner with the love of God, that he cannot rebel against God anymore. He repents and comes to Christ in total surrender. The sinner is ‘compelled’ (Lk 14:23) to come to God. The word ‘compel’ means to urge forcefully, irresistibly; to use overwhelming pressure to make the sinner submit and totally surrender to God. The Holy Spirit overcomes all his arguments by limiting his freedom of choice and action. Without this effectual call, no sinner will be saved. The effectual call applies only to the elect, those whom God has predestined to be saved thru His Son. The effectual call of God feels like a magnetic loving ‘drawing’ towards Christ. God’s call is only for the sake of salvation and for nothing else. This is a call to holiness! It is not a call to wealth and fame. The effectual call is a call to fellowship with God the Father, a call for an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. This is a call to belong to the body of Christ, to join the family of God! The believer becomes one with Christ, one Spirit, and one faith.
Our Lord said this: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:44). In Greek, the word ‘draws’ means to drag, to pull, or to persuade. The effectual call starts like this: God the Father frees man’s will from the power of darkness and of the devil. He also plants the seed of faith. Without the intimidation of the devil as his slave master, man is now free to think and to decide. He will see that God is love and for the first time in his life, he will appreciate God’s Grace. He has faith in God. This is the peculiar work of King Grace. Of his own free will, man will choose Christ and run to Him for salvation. This process that happens in a sinner’s heart is called conversion. Therefore, God’s calling precedes repentance and salvation. As servants of God we must preach, teach, and pray for sinners, patiently waiting for God’s call to manifest. “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim 2:24-26).
All men are born sinners and enemies to God. In the past, God overlooked their ignorance and foolishness. From the moment Christ came to earth, died, and rose again, the excuse of ignorance is cancelled. We are commanded to repent, in the name of Jesus! The resurrection of Christ is a proof that He is now the Judge of all men. All sinners are commanded to come before Him to surrender to Him. The divine subpoena has been handed to all by the Holy Spirit Himself. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Ac 17:30, 31).
As with the teaching on election, some people hate this doctrine. They say that God is ‘forcing’ people to love Him. They say that God is arresting some people to come to court before Him. This is a wrong understanding of God’s Grace and power. “Your people shall be volunteers
In the day of Your power” (Ps 110:3). The word ‘volunteers’ also means to willing ones. In other words, when the elect feels the power of God in His Word, in His Grace, he become a willing lover of God. The truth is that all sinners fight against God’s call. The sinner will resist until King Grace comes out of heaven to meet him, manifesting Himself as this heavenly call. Once a sinner sees King Grace, he cannot fight against Him anymore. All desire to rebel against God dies immediately. Grace never loses any battle. Grace is King! Selah!
ATTRIBUTES OF THE EFFECTUAL CALL OF GOD
*THOSE WHOM GOD ELECTS, HE CALLS, JUSTIFIES AND GLORIFIES! “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Rom 8:28-30)
*GOD’S EFFECTUAL CALL IS A HOLY CALLING, ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE AND GRACE
God, “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2Tim 1:9).
The false prophets may deceive the elect for a time, by preaching wrong doctrines. But this deception is not forever. Apostle Paul said this: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal 1:6, 7). The Grace of God calls you from the world, from backsliding!
*GOD’S HEAVENLY CALL IS MANIFESTED THRU THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL AND IT IS FOR THE GLORY OF CHRIST
“For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:22-24)
“But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 2:13, 14). “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus” (Heb 3:1). Preaching the Gospel was primary. When the crowds came to Jesus seeking miracles, He told them: “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Lk 4:43). God calls people to salvation thru the preaching of the Gospel! God has predetermined this call by His own purpose in eternity past. He has assigned salvation to some, and He reaches out to save them through this call. He calls them out of darkness. He calls them out of unbelief. He calls them out of confusion and chaos. He calls them out of sin. This is God’s sovereign, saving call. And He is unyielding in exercising His power to make the elect sinner come into His court, come in and be presented as forgiven, and justified, and on the way to eternal glory.
*THOSE WHO ARE CALLED REPENT, GET BAPTIZED AND FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
“Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Ac 2:36-39)
*BY HIS MERCY, GOD CALLS THE ELECT FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT, FROM BONDAGE TO FREEDOM, THAT WE MAY PRAISE GOD
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Pet 2:9, 10)
*GOD’S INVISIBLE CALL SHOULD MANIFEST AS A HOLY LIFE
“Therefore, we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 1:11, 12)
*GOD’S EFFECTUAL CALL NEVER FAILS- IT ALWAYS WORKS UNTO SALVATION AND MINISTRY – CHURCH IS THE ASSEMBLY OF THE CALLED ONES
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable [for He does not withdraw what He has given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call]” (Rom 11:29; AMP)
“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ… God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor 1:1-3,9). Paul was ‘called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ’. No man appointed him to this office. God called him. The elect who are saved ‘are called to be saints’. They are blessed with grace and peace from God the Father and God the Son.
In Greek, the word ‘church’ is ‘ekklesia’. It means ‘the called ones’. God calls us from the world to have fellowship with Christ. We are called out of the world to become members of the Body of Christ universal. The local church is ‘a mixed multitude’. There are believers (the called ones) and religious unbelievers (who called themselves). Serving God in your local church is compulsory. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb 10:24, 25). In the local church we learn how to serve God by serving others.
THE PARABLE OF THE GREAT SUPPER (Luke 14:12-24) “COME, FOR ALL THINGS ARE NOW READY”
A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Parables in the Bible are not to make things easier. They are a form of God’s judgment on those who hear but do not understand. Only the Holy Spirit can interpret a parable. Understanding a parable in the Bible brings great comfort and courage. This is because only the true believers understand its meaning and wisdom.
Our Lord was invited by one of the Pharisees to his house for a banquet. During the supper He told the guests a parable about a wealthy man who invited others to a great feast. The rich religious rulers were the guests. They were already offended that Jesus was healing the sick on the Sabbath Day. When Jesus said that rich people should invite the poor and the lame, they got even angrier. Then one of the religious rulers exclaimed: “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God!”. This man assumed that because he is a religious leader, he will surely be invited at God’s feast in God’s Kingdom. He could not imagine that he will be left out. That is when Jesus told all the guests this parable of the Great Supper. A wealthy man prepared a great feast and he invited many to come. A feast is to encourage human relations. People gather to rejoice and to appreciate their friends or neighbors.
At that time, it was the custom to make two invitations. The first invitation was given in advance. The host needed to know how many people will attend his dinner, to make the right preparations. Animals had to be slaughter and wine had to be bought. When ‘all things are now ready’, the second invitation was made. Once the people agreed to come in response to the first invitation, they were bound to attend the party.
This man invited many other wealthy men like him. They all agreed to come. It was now time for the second invitation. The servants went to the same people who agreed to attend the feast, telling them to come now. They said: ‘Come, for all things are now ready!’. It was at this point that they all made excuses. The first one said that he bought a piece of land, but he wants to see it. This was clearly an excuse. Nobody buys a land without seeing it. The second man said that he bought five pairs of oxen and he wants to try them. This is also an excuse for none buys animals without trying them if they are healthy or if they can work in harmony. The third man said he just got married and he cannot come. He should have bought his wife along, but he loved his family life more than the host of the feast. These are all cheap excuses. Who buys five second hands cars without seeing them? None, of course! They raised the hopes of the host by promising to attend the feast. But they never wanted to come to His house. They deceived the host! They forgot that none could mock God! “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal 6:9).
When the host was told about these men, how they found excuses not to attend His feast, he became angry. At that time, to reject such an invitation was considered an insult. Sometimes these incidents led to war. The angry host then told his servants to go and call the ordinary people on the streets, the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind. They were all surprised and delighted that they have been invited by such a great man. They all came and rejoiced at the dinner table.
But there was still room in the hall. The host then told his servants to go far to the villages, to the ‘highways and the hedges’ and ‘compel’ people to come. The word ‘compel’ means to constrain, to urge forcefully or irresistibly, to use overwhelming pressure to make someone to submit, to surrender. It means overcoming resistance by a force that limits the opponent’s freedom of action or choice. This invitation went to people who do not know the host. They are not people of the city. They are farmers and countrymen. They may even be thieves and robbers who hide in the countryside. The host insisted that the servants should ‘force’ them to come and be blessed at the feast. This is how the hall was full of people who can never repay the kindness of the host.
In this parable God is the Host of the Great Supper. He invited men to come and be saved. This is God’s general call. The prophets in the Old Testament stand for the servants who called all people to God’s salvation. For example, God used Isaiah to call people to free salvation.
“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation” (Is 25:6-9;NIV). “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy, and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live” (Is 55:1-3)
This was the first invitation. All the Jews said yes and amen to it! They were waiting for the Messiah to come and tell them that ‘all things are now ready’. Then Jesus came to them. As a Man on earth, Jesus stands for the servant who calls people during the second invitation, to the feast organized by His Father. He says: “Come, for all things are now ready!” He is the Lamb of God who will soon die on the Cross to save those who believe. On the Cross, Jesus said: “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30). In other words, ‘everything is now ready!”. Grace has opened the door to the Feast. The people who made excuses stand for the Pharisees and the religious rulers in Jerusalem. They refused to come to partake in the free salvation because they hated King Grace. They thought that they already belong to the kingdom of God, so they refused to come when invited.
The second group of people invited were the poor found on the streets of Jerusalem. These the ordinary Jewish people who accepted Jesus gladly as their Messiah. In the Old Testament, no man who has a physical deformity can become a priest or can approach God in the temple (Lev 21:16-21). Now, in the Kingdom of God, all these men rejected by the law, have found Grace in salvation, by the Blood of the Lamb.
The last group of people who were ‘compelled’ to come are the Gentiles. The Holy Spirit arrests them and brought them to Jesus. These are the elect among the Gentiles. They heard the Word and could not resist it! They have no money to pay the host. They come as they are, presenting only their needs. But they have faith that the host is the great King, and the supper will give them salvation. Sadly, the rich religious rulers refused to come. The door of salvation was shut before their faces. There is a point when Grace shuts the door to salvation. Grace says: “It is too late!” Religious spirits deceive many! King Grace says: “Because you refused to believe, now you cannot believe in Me!” Like Lot’s wife, God fixed them in their unbelief! They became salty pillars of God’s judgment! What a sad story…
The word ‘excuse’ means to be free from commitment. Excuse is a false reason that you give to explain bad behavior, for breaking a promise, or for absence. Excuse is an explanation for self-justification, to release a person from a duty or a promise. Thru the excuse, you indirectly ask for forgiveness for breaking his heart. James Moore wrote a book titled: “Yes, Lord, I have sinned, but I have several excellent excuses”. If you replace repentance with an excuse for sin, God will not accept it. A man who is addicted to giving excuses, why he cannot give his life to Christ, will eventually deceive himself and believe his own manufactured excuses. He becomes hard-hearted. He will always reject God’s call to salvation because he thinks he is saved already. On many invitation cards you see written at the bottom: RSVP. This stands for “please reply” (in French). It used at the end of a written invitation to mean that you should let the people who invited you know whether you are coming.
(By the way, like taking drugs, giving excuses is an addiction. It is a form of self-deception. The most common excuses people give for not doing the right thing, for not becoming successful in business are these: “I have no time/ I have no money/ I am too old or too young/ I will fail/ Nobody will buy my product”. If your thinking is based on excuses, you can never make progress in life! Repent! Trust God! Move on!)
This parable reveals the power and love of God. As you can see, God loves family and friends. He loves to have them around and rejoice. You can see also the sovereign will, the power of Grace, and the effectual call of God in salvation. The great supper stands for the offer of salvation found in Christ alone. On the table you find the bread of eternal life, the wine of the forgiveness of sins, the oil of joy, the jug of the living water, the cake of justification by faith and many dishes of blessings for body, soul, and spirit! God is waiting for you sinner to come for salvation! Come, for all things are now ready! On the Menu it is written “Jesus died and rose again for you!” Come! “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14).
“Oh, love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in Thee
I give Thee back the life I owe
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be” (By George Matheson, 1882)
Worship the Lord!