Lesson 33 – Undeniable Bible Truths
We have studied the doctrine of “Irresistible Grace” for several study sheets now. We have seen that this means that God’s grace cannot be resisted when He operates by the Holy Spirit to bring the salvation treasured up in Jesus Christ to a sinner. There are several Scriptural terms that are used to describe God’s operations of grace. The reason, no doubt, that the Scriptures use several terms to describe this operation is that the work is so great that no one term is sufficient to describe it in all its aspects. To gain a more complete understanding of this great work of God, we will now consider several of these terms:
Called Of God
When God calls to the one who is dead in the darkness of sin, that one becomes alive in the light of the Lord. This powerful call raised Lazarus from the dead, will raise the bodies of the dead at the last day, and spoke the worlds into existence. Peter says, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” (I Peter 2:9).
John Gill says of this call, “not of an external call by the ministry of the word only; for many are called in this sense, who were not chosen, redeemed, and sanctified; but of an internal, special, powerful, holy, and heavenly calling, by the spirit and grace of God.”
Paul shows that the ones who are called are the same ones who are predestinated, justified, and glorified. Their calling is just as sure as their predestination, justification, and glorification. He says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, the He might be the firstborn among many brethren, Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30).
Several verses in I Corinthians 1 speak of this heavenly calling:
“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.”
(I Corinthians 1:2)
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
(I Corinthians 1:9)
This calling is entirely attributed to God, who is faithful.
The gospel is received with gladness only by those who have been called:
“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
(I Corinthians 1:23-24)
The calling of God concerns only the vessels of mercy, that is, the elect, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles:
“And that He might make know the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.”
To make it plain that this calling is according to the purpose of God and is not, in any sense a work of man the Scripture says, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (II Timothy 1:9).
Because this call of God’s Holy Spirit is always effective in bringing salvation to the sinner, it is often known among theologians as the Effectual Call.
In Colossians 1:13 this being brought to salvation is called a translation or change: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.” Notice that the Lord does the work here. The ones acted upon are passive.
A New Heart
The Lord through Ezekiel spoke words that many Bible students think are to be taken in a spiritual sense and that refer to regeneration. I think so myself:
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”
John Gill says of this passage:
“It cannot be taken out by men of themselves: nor by ministers of the word; but by the powerful and efficacious grace of God; giving repentance unto life; working faith in the soul to look to a crucified Christ.”
Law Written In The Heart
Concerning the Covenant of Grace, of which the Old Testament Covenant was in many ways a type and shadow, God says, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God and they shall be to Me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:10-12).
Gill has this to say concerning this covenant:
“This is the sum and substance of the covenant which God promised to make with, or to make manifest and known to His chosen people, the true Israelites (God’s children), under the gospel dispensation … not that part of our flesh that is called the heart; ;but the souls of men, such hearts as are regenerated and sanctified by the Spirit of God … which is done not with the ink of nature’s power, but with the Spirit of the living God–II Cor. 3:3.”
Washing Of Regeneration
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
God saves sinners. They do not save nor help save themselves. It is done according to His mercy, not for anything deserving found in the sinner. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. The washing is not water baptism for this is a righteous work (Matthew 3:15). Regenerating grace is here meant, or a being born of water and of the Spirit (John 3:5). “Renewing of the Holy Ghost” is meant in the sense of renewal by the Holy Spirit (a subjective genitive construction in the Greek — A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament). We are made new creatures in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
Thus we have studied some of the principal terms that describe how salvation is brought to the sinner.
1. Why is God’s operation of grace on the heart of a sinner described by several different terms in the Scriptures?
2. Why is the call of the Holy Spirit to a sinner for salvation sometimes referred to as the Effectual Call?
3. Who writes God’s law in the hearts of elect sinners?
4. How do we know that the “washing” referred to in Titus 3:5 is not water baptism?
We have memorized Psalm 110:3; II Corinthians 4:6; John 5:25; John 3:8; John 6:37,44; I Peter 1:21, and John 6:29.
Let us memorize Titus 3:5.