Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God. – Psalm 147:1
It is good to sing praises to God, and it is the Christian’s privilege to do so with God’s people each Lord’s Day. God created us to worship him, and has redeemed us through his Son Jesus Christ that we might be “true worshipers,” who “worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). My hope is that God will use our worship services at Grace to make us more and more a people whose greatest delight is to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 1:9).
At the morning service I preached on God’s calling as part of the current series of sermons on the order of salvation (“ordo salutis”).
There are two aspects to God’s call. One is his universal or general call in which he, through the proclamation of the gospel, summons all people everywhere to come to Jesus Christ for salvation. Not all will respond in faith, but all who hear are invited (indeed, commanded! – Acts 17:30) to repent of sin and trust in Christ. Jesus spoke of this universal call when he said, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).
The fact that “few are chosen” points to the second aspect of God’s call, and that is his effectual call. This is God’s sovereign act of not just summoning sinners to believe in Christ, but of powerfully and infallibly drawing his elect to Christ for salvation. When the New Testament speaks of God’s call, it almost always means calling in this sense (e.g., Romans 8:30). In this efficacious call, the Holy Spirit renews our wills and gives us new, holy affections so that we come to Christ not reluctantly or by coercion but “most freely, being made willing by his grace” (Westminster Confession of Faith 1:1).
Like every other divine act by which we are made partakers of salvation in Christ, God’s call highlights the sheer graciousness of that salvation. By sovereign grace God brings us to Christ for forgiveness and new life.
Here are three implications of God’s effectual call:
- God calls you to enjoy and experience all the benefits and blessings of salvation. To be called to Christ is to be brought to the One who is the exhaustless resource of every spiritual blessing – life, peace, joy, blessedness, and hope.
- God calls you into communion with the body of Christ. All whom God draws effectually to Christ and into union with him, he also brings into fellowship with all others similarly called and united with Christ. So we are called to serve, love, and bear the burdens of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have also been called by the grace of God.
- God calls you to live a life pleasing to him. Paul tells the Ephesians they are to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1). So we are called not only to eternal life, but to live in a manner that honors the One who called us to that life.
At the evening service we looked at Lord’s Day 15 of the Heidelberg Catechism, which begins to address the meaning of these words in the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in Jesus Christ… He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.”
Soli Deo Gloria!