“An Holy Calling”
“Who hath 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 us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” – 2nd Timothy 1:9
Here we find salvation stated before calling by grace; and, indeed, if we take a proper view of the subject, it was so in the mind and purpose of God. God the Father saved, or secured, the elect in Christ before the foundation of the world. Hence Jude says, “Sanctified by God the Father;” that is, set apart by God the Father, as the people of His holy choice, and so made the special care and charge of Christ: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:4-6). And though the elect fell, with the rest of mankind, in Adam the first, they never fell as considered in Christ; but, as the Holy Ghost says by Jude, they were “preserved in Christ Jesus;” and in God’s own time they are called.
It is the believer’s blessedness that each glorious Person in the Godhead has a glorious hand in his salvation. God the Father saved, chose, sanctified, or set him apart, in Christ, before the world was; God the Son took humanity into union to His personal Godhead, and thus became incarnate, lived a holy life, suffered, bled, died a solemn death, rose again from the dead, ascended up on high, having led captivity captive, and is now exalted at the right hand of the Father, ever living to make intercession for him. Thus Christ has meritoriously saved the elect by His life, obedience, death, resurrection, exaltation, and intercession. As it is written: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:32-34). Thus the blessed Redeemer “was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification” (Romans 5:25); and, bless His precious name, He has been the destruction of death, hell, and sin. The gloriously blessed God-man Mediator “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). So that, before the world was, the church was saved purposedly by God the Father; in time, meritoriously by the God-man Mediator, who now lives above to make intercession for them; and, in the day of God’s power, they are saved manifestively and vitally, by the “washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).
Now, not a particle of this is either for, or according to, our works; for it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us;” or, as our text has it, “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works” (2nd Timothy 1:9).
What an indescribable mercy it is that salvation is of the Lord; yea, that God Himself, as the God of Zion, is our salvation. Blessed, triumphant faith, under the sweet power and unction of God the Holy Ghost, can, at times, sweetly sing, “Behold, God is my salvation! I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2). This salvation contains a complete deliverance from every foe and soul-damning danger, and it is a complete salvation to every real good. We have all spiritual blessings in Christ, all bliss and blessedness secured in Him; for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell. He is full of grace and truth; and of his fulness we receive, and grace for grace. All things are the real believer’s; for he is Christ’s, and Christ is God’s; and, as I said before, this glorious salvation is all of grace, not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Now, my text says, “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling.” This call is the solemn, soul-quickening, heart-rending call of a Holy God; not a mere call to hear the Word preached, nor to attend upon public means; many are called to these things whom God never chose in Christ; but this is a holy calling from death to life, from darkness to light, from the power of sin and Satan to the living God. This call makes the sinner feel his own guilty and ruined condition as a sinner against a holy God. He is called to see sin in the light of God’s countenance, to feel its awful plague, and to tremble – before God on the account of it; and he is called to feel that his case is too desperate for him to help his own soul. The more he tries and toils, the deeper he sinks in a feeling sense of his own ruin and misery. Help himself! He finds he can as soon create a world as do it. Therefore, with heartrending groans, he is called to cry, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” But he is effectually called to feel and see the emptiness of creature goodness, and to thirst for the living God; nor will anything short of Christ, and a full and free salvation by and in him, satisfy his quickened soul. Hope deferred often makes his heart sick; but still the divine power by which he is called keeps him to the point; and the issue shall prove that he is called to have fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, with his love, blood, sufferings, and obedience, to hold sweet converse with him, as his own Lord and Redeemer, and to sweetly say, “My Beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song of Solomon 2:16). For “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1st Corinthians 1:9). All the blessings couched in this glorious, endearing character, God has called the real believer to the fellowship of; and, in the Lord’s own time, he shall share in the sweet enjoyment of them.
O the wonders of God’s love to His people! Come, poor sin-oppressed, guilt-smitten, law-wrecked, world-despised, Satan-hunted, self-condemned, heart-tortured, self-loathing sinner, hope thou in the Lord; for, with all thy fears and faintings, misgivings, staggerings, stumblings, sighings, and groanings, by and bye thy dear Lord will manifestively put His arms of everlasting love under thee, and say, – ”Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon; look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lion’s dens, from the mountains of the leopards. Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! How much better is thy love than wine, and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!” (Song of Solomon 4:8-10). Thus the real Christian is called to be made partaker of Christ’s holiness, and to hope in Him as the God of hope; yea, to believe in Him as the glorious Resurrection and the Life; and in the end feelingly to say, “O Lord, thou art my God, and I will praise thee.” He is called to receive a full and free pardon through the blood of the Lamb, and to feel the soul-cleansing efficacy of that blessed fountain. In a word, he is called to hope in Christ, believe in Christ, trust in Christ, glory in Christ, teem out all his complaints unto Christ, confess with abhorrence his vileness to Christ, and supplicate his throne for daily grace and mercy; to live for Christ, and to live to Christ, and to be daily concerned to honour and glorify Him in this world. Christ dwells in him, and he dwells in Christ, and they are manifestively one. Holiness is his delight, and sin is his burden. His sweetest and most heavenly moments are when he can hold intercourse with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, when the world drops its charms and God is all and in all. He is, in the Lord’s own time, called to feel that Christ has made him free, and he is free indeed; and with holy solemnity he exclaims, “What, then! Shall I sin that grace may abound? God forbid! Shall I sin because I am not under the law, but under grace? God forbid!” (Romans 6:1-2; Romans 6:14). Thus, he is called with a holy calling, by a holy God, to holy things; and at last he shall be called to heaven, when it shall be fully made manifest that he is called to a holy end.
A few more struggles, poor burdened believer, and thou shalt see all is well. Expect no good from corrupt nature. God has called thee to feel that in thy flesh dwells no good thing. Why look for the living in such a dead, corrupt mass? God help thee to flee to, rest upon, and live in Christ. Thou art called to be partaker of his holiness, not thy fleshly works, but to flee from them, and daily to twine round and hang upon Christ. There may thy soul be stayed, for in Him thou art complete, and nowhere else.
Well; this salvation and this holy calling are not according to our works, but according to God’s purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. Salvation, in all its bearings, is according to God’s own purpose and grace, secured in Christ before time. Thanks be to God for that. All we feel and fear, all our sins and woes, all our darkness and deadness, loathsomeness and vileness, cannot alter God’s purpose and grace, which is secured in Christ. Remember, poor, tried, tempted, tossed-about sinner, it is of God’s grace; yea, God’s purposed grace. Thy miseries tend to prove that this glorious salvation, this holy calling, are just what thou needest—just suited to thee; and it is God’s own purpose to call thee to the sweet participation of them. They are thine by the solemn purpose and free-grace grant of a covenant God; and each glorious Person in the one undivided Jehovah takes pleasure in putting thee in possession of it. The time will come when thy Lord will say to thee, “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee; and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee;” (Isaiah 62:4-5); “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. He will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). The glorious marriage of the Lamb and his wife will very soon be consummated in everlasting bliss and blessedness; and “blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).
That the Lord may, from day to day, be graciously pleased to grant to his saved, called children much of his presence and love, is the prayer of A SOLDIER.
By William Gadsby – August, 1835.