Called of God
James Smith, 1859
"He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 2:14
As God has chosen his people to salvation — so he calls them by grace to the knowledge and enjoyment of that blessing. Many are outwardly called by the gospel — who are not chosen to salvation; but all who are chosen to salvation, are called by invincible grace. "Many are called — but few are chosen," said Jesus. The effectual call of God is an inward attraction. Our Lord testified, "No man can come to me — unless the Father which has sent me draws him." And God said of his ancient people, "I have loved you with an everlasting love — therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you."
The gospel is the instrument which God employs, and by that instrument he draws the soul . . .
from sin — to Jesus;
from works — to grace;
from the world — to himself.
By a secret power exerted within him, the man finds that he can no longer . . .
live in sin,
indulge his evil passions, or
enjoy the world as heretofore.
He must retire to pray, to read his Bible, and seek the salvation of his soul. He wants rest for his soul, he sighs for rest — but no rest can he find — until he finds it at the feet of Jesus.
This leads me to observe, that this call of God is represented by inner spiritual instruction. Christ himself, referring to the Old Testament, said, "It is written in the prophets, they shall be all taught of God; every one therefore that has heard and learned of the Father — comes unto me." The inner teaching of the Father therefore, brings us to the Son, and we come to the Son . . .
as sinners — to be saved;
as weary souls — to find rest; and
as wretched creatures — to be made holy and happy.
All who come to Jesus thus, are sure of a kind reception, as it is written, "All whom the Father gives me, shall come to me; and him that comes I will never cast out." The coming sinner then, is sure of a kind reception. The inward teaching, not only enlightens — but quickens; not only makes discoveries — but imparts spiritual life and energy. Consequently, divine teaching never fails to accomplish its aim, which is to bring the soul to know God in Christ, and to love, confide in, and obey him.
So that, while there is attraction and instruction — it is in order to dedication. All who are called of God — become dedicated to God. They consecrate themselves, body, soul, and spirit to his service. They wish to live for him, to live like him, and to live forever with him. If therefore we are called of God . . .
we are drawn to him,
we are taught to know him, and
we heartily and unreservedly dedicate ourselves to him.
Called of God — we call upon God.
Drawn by God — we follow on to know God.
Taught of God — we come to Jesus, obtain salvation, and then give up ourselves wholly to God.
The author of this call is God himself. He uses his Word, he employs his ministers — but he himself works. There is a power apart from his Word, there is a power superior to ministers, exerted — when a soul is brought to God. Man naturally runs away from Christ, and says as Peter did once, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." No unregenerate sinner can love holiness, or feel comfortable or at home in the presence of the Holy One. There must therefore be a change of nature, producing a change of mind — which God alone can effect.
Besides, it is a call from all old associations, connections, and employments; to the performance of new duties, and the enjoyment of new privileges; and no one but God has authority to call a man thus. As a creature — the Creator has; as a subject — the Monarch has; as a criminal — the Sovereign in the exercise of his clemency has. The potter has not more right to, or authority over, the clay taken from his own pits — than God has over us his dependent and sinful creatures. If he will — he may. Blessed be his name, he makes use of his authority to accomplish the purposes of his mercy!
As God alone has the authority to call, So God alone has the power necessary to render the call efficient. If God speaks only by his providence, or his Word, or his ministers — man responds "like the deaf adder, that stops up its ears, refusing to listen to the voice of the charmer — however skillful he may charm." If he says, "Come with me," the reply is, "I will no!." If he says, "Son, go work today in my vineyard," the reply is still, "I will not!" The soul therefore must be made willing in the day of his power; and this willingness must be produced without doing violence to man's nature, or at all interfering with his responsibility, or accountability.
To accomplish this — the wisdom, grace, and power of a Divine agent is required. God therefore, and God alone, can effectually call the sinner; hence, the called are said to be "born of God," to be "begotten again," to be "created anew in Jesus Christ," and to be "new creatures."
The means usually employed by God is the gospel, which gospel is to be preached to all, as a message from God — but it is only applied to some by the Holy Spirit. It invites all. It warrants all to believe in Christ. Yes, it lays every soul that hears it, under an obligation to do so, for "this is his commandment — that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ." It is therefore the duty of each one that hears the gospel, to believe it; not only so — but to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, as made known by that gospel. But though all are warranted, invited, yes, commanded, to believe — yet no one will — unless by the sweet persuasive power of God, they are induced to do so.
Paul may preach, and Apollos may persuade — but unless God works — no soul will be saved. When the hand and power of the Lord was with them, a great company believed and turned to the Lord; but when they preached alone, some mocked, some cavilled, and others expelled them out of their coasts. O the obstinacy of man, the obduracy of the human heart; for he will neither bow to God's authority, nor accept of divine mercy! He will neither obey God's law, nor accept of pardon and salvation presented to him in the gospel. If therefore man, any man, is saved — it must be by grace alone! For God must not only provide salvation, and present it as a free gift to man — but he must also apply it, or persuade man to receive it — or he will prefer to perish with the voice of mercy sounding in his ears!
God calls us to believe his truth, and to be sanctified by his Spirit, in order to our being saved. We are not to be saved as passive matter, or merely animated matter — but as intelligent and accountable creatures. We must believe the truth — that is our own act and deed. We must be sanctified by the Spirit — that is altogether of God. The Lord works in us — and then we work. He gives the grace — and we act as the result of it. The truth believed, is the means of our sanctification, as the Lord prayed, "Sanctify them through your truth, your word is truth." The Spirit working with the truth and by the truth — purges, purifies, and sanctifies us. "God has not called us be impure, but to live a holy life."
But the ultimate end of our calling is "to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." We are called to obtain glory. In our BODIES — which will be rendered incapable of pain. For in the state to which we are to be introduced "there shall be no more pain." O what a prospect for those who are always suffering now! No more pain! Our bodies will be incorruptible, powerful, spiritual, and glorious! So the Apostle testifies, contrasting the state of the body at death — and at the resurrection. O blessed words! O delightful prospect! Hear, believe, and rejoice! "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.
The body that is sown is perishable — it is raised imperishable;
it is sown in dishonor — it is raised in glory;
it is sown in weakness — it is raised in power;
it is sown a natural body — it is raised a spiritual body."
These poor, vile, diseased bodies of ours, will be made just like the pure, healthy, holy body of Jesus! Yes, as the body of Jesus is at this moment, at the right hand of the Father — so will the bodies of the Lord's people be, after the resurrection. Glorious bodies! Bodies as glorious as the body of Jesus. Then as our Master said, "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father."
We are called to obtain glory in our SOULS too. Glorious knowledge, for then shall we know, even as also we are known. Glorious purity too, for then shall we be without fault before the throne of God; without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.
"O glorious hour! O blessed abode!
I shall be near, and like my God,
And flesh and sin no more control,
The sacred pleasures of the soul!"
We are called to obtain "the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." The glory which he procured to confer upon us, and which will redound to his honor forever. In reference to which, the Holy Spirit is said to be given us as "the pledge of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory!" The glory which Jesus promised, "My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish — ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" Eternal life! That is — perpetual existence in comfort, honor, joy, and perfect happiness.
It is the glory which Jesus prayed for, in that incomparable prayer: "Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they will see My glory, which You have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world!" To be with him, to behold his glory, and to share in that glory — what blessedness is this!
It is the glory which he himself bestows, and into which he will introduce all his people by-and-bye. "Then shall the king say to those on his right hand, come, you who are blessed of my Father — inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!" Prepared for us from of old — we are preparing for it now; and when our preparation is complete — we shall be introduced to it.
It is the glory which he himself enjoys. If we suffer with him — we shall be also glorified together. When Christ who is our life shall appear — then shall we also appear with him in glory! O height of blessedness — to enjoy the glory of Jesus! The head and the body, the bride and the bridegroom — sharing in the same splendor, and enjoying the same perfect happiness forever.
We are called to be a glory to our Lord Jesus Christ now, by the holiness and usefulness of our lives, being ready to do or to suffer for him. In the end, he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all those who believe. To be a glory to Jesus — unspeakable honor! To glorify Jesus — unutterable happiness! Yet, we are called to glorify Jesus, and to be a glory to Jesus both on earth and in Heaven, in time and eternity! Thanks, thanks, everlasting thanks, to free grace, sovereign election, and invincible calling! Everlasting thanks to our gracious and merciful God!
Beloved, are you among the called of Jesus Christ? Have you heard the great Shepherd's voice — and followed him? Has he taken you forth out of the world, and led you among his flock, and into his fold? Our calling proves our election, and our election secures our calling, perseverance, and glorification. "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.
And those he predestined — he also called;
those he called — he also justified;
those he justified — he also glorified."
Blessed be God, his plans never fail, his purposes cannot be frustrated, his promises are never broken. What he purposed — he promised; and what he promised — he performs. His mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures from generation to generation. Having begun a good work in the hearts of his people — he certainly carries it on. Having chosen to save them — he will certainly do so! For whatever devices may be in man's heart — the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand: and his counsel is this, that "Israel," including all his chosen and beloved people, that, "Israel shall be saved in the Lord, with an everlasting salvation; they shall not be ashamed or confounded, world without end!
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!"