The Bible declares explicitly that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10: 17). Without the faithful proclamation of the Gospel, there will be none who can come to the saving knowledge of Christ Jesus our Saviour.
Disciples of Jesus Christ are called upon in the Great Commission to preach the Gospel generally, indiscriminately and without prejudice (Mk 16: 15). Yet only those who have been effectually called of God would have their hearts converted. This distinction is taught throughout Scriptures and calls attention to the fact that effectual calling consists of two parts, namely, the external call and the internal call.
The difference between the two calls lies in the kind of heart condition that receives the Gospel. Jesus illustrated this truth with the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13: 3-8. The same seeds are sown but the grounds upon which they fell determined their respective results – whether fruitless or fruitful.
The external call thus refers to the offer of salvation through the preaching of the Gospel, while the internal call is attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit in the bearing of fruit unto salvation. The former is man’s duty while the latter belongs to God’s predetermined will in election.
All who have experienced the grace of God cannot deny that He is infinitely good to mankind who is undeserving of His love and care. Sadly, despite the gracious appeal of the Gospel, many remain unyielding to its free offer. This should not surprise us as we are saved by God’s grace and not by our own merit: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2: 8-9).
Hence, the external call can be resisted and rejected, in which case, it proceeds no further and falls short of the internal call because of unbelief. Under no circumstances can those who reject the Gospel’s call blame anyone but themselves: “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thess 2: 10-12). God holds them fully accountable on the Day of Judgment.
Furthermore, effectual calling is closely associated with the doctrine known as “Irresistible grace” – the fourth point of the Five Points of Calvinism (T-U-L-I-P). This doctrine recognises that sinful man will never respond positively to the Gospel unless God begins the work of converting his soul. As we know, salvation is the work of God. Hence man cannot thwart or resist His will and purpose.
On the road to Damascus, the resurrected Christ confronted Saul and issued him a call that transformed him from a persecutor of Christians to a preacher of the Gospel to the Gentiles. The Apostle thus testified, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Cor 15: 10).
However, let us be mindful that today God calls sinners unto salvation through the simple preaching of the Gospel. Remember the parting words of our Saviour, Jesus Christ in the Great Commission: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt 28: 18-20).
Thus, it is the duty of every member of the Body of Christ to proclaim the Gospel, inviting all to come to Christ by faith in order to obtain forgiveness of sins and the promise of everlasting life. We cannot merely sit back, pray, and wait for others to do their part while neglecting ours. Our Lord Jesus laments this great neglect in Luke 10: 2: “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
As believers, it is not for us to tell apart the saved from the unsaved. Our great duty is to obey the Lord by issuing the external call through the proclamation of the Gospel. Ask ourselves: “Have we been active in fulfilling the Great Commission? Have we been the Lord’s willing instruments to draw others unto grace and salvation in Christ Jesus?” “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Jas 4: 17). Amen.
– Bro Kelvin Li