The Character Of The Call
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
We understand that salvation is altogether by the grace of God. It is the result and work of the purpose, purchase, and power of God. Regeneration and effectual calling are no more dependent upon man than election and redemption. We believe by the working of God’s mighty power. The call of God is an irresistible, effectual call. It is a call by the gospel, a call of grace, and a call unto glory.
It is a call by the gospel. In our text, Paul told the Thessalonian believers that God had called them to salvation by the gospel which he preached to them (2 Thess. 2:13-14). He told the Ephesians believers that they came to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ after that they heard the word of truth, the gospel of their salvation accomplished in Christ (Eph. 1:13). This is a matter of immense importance. “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” God does not by-pass the means by which he has ordained the salvation of his elect. To suggest such a thing is utterly ludicrous! If it is God’s pleasure to save his elect by the preaching of the gospel, the only reason he would ever do otherwise would be if he were caught in a bind and could not do things the way he pleases! You don’t ever have to concern yourself about God Almighty ever being caught in a bind! According to the plainest possible statements of the New Testament, God saves his elect, gives them life and faith in Christ, by the sovereign power of his Spirit, only through the instrumentality of the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21-25; James 1:17; 1 Pet. 1:23-25). I stress this fact, because it places upon our shoulders a tremendous burden of responsibility (Ezek. 33:7-9; 1 Cor. 9:16). I take the preaching of the gospel to be a deadly serious responsibility. As a preacher, it is my responsibility to seize every opportunity God puts before me to preach the gospel. It is not enough merely to preach, or merely to preach the doctrinal facts and moral lessons of Holy Scripture. The Word of God has not been preached until the gospel has been preached (1 Pet. 1:25). As individual believers and as a local church, it is our responsibility to use everything God puts in our hands and seize every opportunity he gives us for the furtherance of the gospel. If we faithfully meet these responsibilities and sinners refuse to believe the gospel, their blood is forever upon their heads; but we have delivered our souls and are free of their blood. If we refuse to meet these responsibilities, their blood shall forever be upon our heads.
It is a call of grace. The Apostle Paul ascribed his salvation experience on the Damascus road to the fact that God "called him by his grace" (Gal. 1:15). This call of God is a matter of pure, free, undeserved grace.
God, as the God of all grace, calls sinners to grace and glory by Christ. The super-abundance of God’s grace is displayed in this call. The first open display of God’s grace and the first discovery of his love to a sinner is made when he is called. It is then that God brings salvation, life and immortality to light by the gospel (2 Tim. 1: 9-10).
It is by this call that we were drawn with loving kindness, as a fruit and evidence of God’s everlasting love for us. Therefore, the time of our calling is called the time of love (Jer. 31:3; Ezek. 16:8). When we think of the call of God as the work of his grace, three things come to mind immediately.
1. The call of God’s grace is the fruit of his everlasting love for us (Jer. 31:3).
2. The call of God is issued to chosen sinners according to his sovereign will and good pleasure (Mk. 3:13; Rom. 9:16).
3. The call of God is without repentance (Rom. 11:29).
It is unchangeable, irreversible, and irrevocable. Those who are called of God to life and faith in Christ shall be preserved safe to the kingdom and glory of God and shall most certainly enjoy it in all its fullness forever. It is written “faithful is he that has called you,who also will do it” (1 Thess.5:23-24).
Here is the happiness and joy of this doctrine. Those who are called of God are assured by his Word of their election; for "whom he did predestinate, them he also called". Election and calling always go together. The one is the fruit, effect, and evidence of the other (2 Pet. 1:10). Election is revealed and known by the call of the Spirit through the ministry of the Word (1 Thess. 1:4-5).
Being called of God, we are also comfortably assured of our justification in and by Christ. "Whom he called, them he also justified." If the Lord has called me, then I am justified. Therefore, I have every reason to conclude that I am safe from all charges, from all condemnation, and from wrath to come.
Moreover, if the Lord has called me, if he has granted me faith in Christ, I must, believing his Word, conclude that I shall at last enter into and possess eternal glory with Christ. Are we not assured that all who are called of God are justified, and that those who are justified by God, "them he also glorified"? John Gill rightly tells us that “Between calling grace and eternal happiness, there is a sure and an inseparable connection.”
It is a call unto glory. The call of God is a call to a state of happiness and bliss in another world. God "hath called you unto his kingdom and glory" (1 Thess. 2:12). He has called you to a glory, which is a kingdom; to possess a kingdom of grace here, which cannot be removed; and to inherit the kingdom of glory hereafter, which is an everlasting one.
He has called us "to the obtaining of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 2:14; John 17:22; Col. 3:4) and to eternal glory by Christ Jesus (1 Pet. 5:10). Imagine that! We have been called by God to "lay hold on eternal life", (1 Tim. 6:12) and to an eternal inheritance. And "they which are called, receive the promise of it".
What does all that mean? It means that we shall most assuredly enjoy eternal, heavenly glory; having a meetness for it through the grace of God (Col. 1:12) and the blood and righteousness of his dear Son. Indeed, by Christ’s blood and righteousness, we have a right to it (1 Pet. 1:3-4; Heb. 9:15)
Child of God, we are all "called in one hope of our calling" (Eph. 4:4) to partake of the same inheritance with the saints in light; and to enjoy the same blessed hope laid up for them in heaven. It is for this hope of righteousness that we wait by faith, through the Holy Spirit, trusting Christ alone as our all-sufficient Savior. That inheritance of the saints for which we wait is the very glory of our Savior (John 17:22). The very glory given to him as a man, as our God-man Mediator, shall be ours! Can you grasp what I am telling you? You and I who are called of God are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ”!
No wonder the psalmist sang, "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple" (Psa. 65:4).